I'm really good and breaking things into small manageable segments. Perhaps it's my love of math, my excruciatingly boring summer internship four years ago that forced me to break my eight hour day into slightly more manageable fifteen minute segments, or my OCD running habits. Whatever it is, I have now broken down my remaining months in Korea. Less than two weeks until my next day off. Two short weeks, then three weeks until July. Then two weeks of classes until summer vacation. Then two weeks until Philippines and Bali, then two weeks and bye bye Korea! Craaazy when I break things down into two to three week segments! I am now experiencing a mixture of excitement and sadness about finishing this segment of life.
Living in Korea and perhaps living abroad in general is like a long roller coaster ride. The beginning is filled with lots of quick ups and downs that are super exciting! There are so many new tastes, customs, sights, and people to meet. Then comes the biggest hill in the roller coaster ride. Slowly, slowly you start chugging up the hill and all the things that were once new and exciting have now become boring and obnoxious. Would you stop spitting in public already? I really don't feel like stepping in your phlegm and hearing you hack a loogie every five minutes. But then you reach the top of the hill and you can see the end of the ride. It's all downhill in one dizzying, exhilarating blur. That's where I'm at. I'm trying to frantically take everything in, try everything I haven't tried yet, see as many places as I can, and continue to cultivate the amazing friendships I've made while still seeking to make new random connections and friends, but all this is going by at a frantic high speed (but I seem to always attack life full steam ahead anyway).
My last few weeks have been filled with probably my favorite aspect of traveling and living in new places: meeting people. These past three weeks have allowed me to expand my random connections. Meeting the son of the owner of the number one tortilla company in Korea (as if there's many more than one tortilla company in Korea)? Check. Free tortillas? Working on it. A week ago a friend and I headed south to Gyeongju to run a half marathon and enjoy cherry blossoms. Being the cheapos and curious folks that we are, we once again couchsurfed. A nice Korean professor who was gone for the weekend gave the key to his apartment to two of his students. We stayed in his apartment for two days and were showed around by his friendly and comical students. I don't think I've laughed so much in a long time (which is saying something considering I probably laugh around 50% of the day). One of the students has never had a "foreign friend" before so he was so thrilled to meet my friend and I that he even signed up for facebook to keep in touch with us. Our conversation with these two quirky gents drifted between broken English, and something resembling charades. It still amazes me how relatively easily human beings can understand each other in spite of language differences. I look forward to more adventures with these new friends!
Besides meeting new people I am excited for four more months with my incredible group of friends here, enjoying runs on the color infused streets of Incheon for the next couple weeks as the spring flowers peek out from the metal jungle and human storage units, cramming my brain with as much Korean as I can before I leave and likely forget everything I've learned, and stuffing myself with the deliciousness that is Korean food before it's taken away from me. With all these exciting things to look forward to and the absolutely perfect weather that has finally graced Incheon, I was actually half tempted to stay another year the other day. If I ignore the little part of my life that is "teaching" (if you can actually call what I do teaching) Korean devil children, my life here isn't so bad. Part of me craves being able to stay in the same place for just one more year instead of continuing my life habit of packing and unpacking, saying goodbye and saying hello. But my perpetual antsiness and realization that "teaching" English to Korean children is most certainly NOT my life calling prevents me from sticking around. Instead, in true Rachel fashion I'm on an application rampage. Stability aside in just over four months kimchi will be sadly lacking from my diet and I won't be bowing to every person I meet. Having a home would be nice, but hopping to another new and exciting place would be even nicer.
P.S. I received a wonderful but also heartbreaking compliment from my 5th grade co-teacher the other day. "You are a really good teacher. I really hope you stay in Korea."
My response: "Uhhhh... thank you! I guess I have a lot of thinking to do and decisions to make."