Friday, July 1, 2011

Open Doors

As usual I'm blogging to procrastinate. If nothing else that's what this blog has been good for. I officially have two months and four days left in Korea and this means two months and four days to make a plan for what I'm doing next, plan a ridiculous number of lessons for all the teaching I'm doing this summer (yep no deskwarming this "vacation"), make some semblance of a plan for my trip to Bali and the Philippines (in true Rachel fashion this is less pressing to me seeing as all my trips are rather spontaneous), figure out packing and shipping my stuff somewhere (since I don't have a future plan or home yet, sigh), figuring out getting all my money sent to my U.S. bank account after I leave, planning and finalizing my visit to my friend in South Africa and seeing my family (or maybe just my dad) in Botswana, and most importantly keeping busy with the awesome activities I've been doing here and seeing important people before I leave. This flurry of activity is also my attempt to reduce the mix of confusion about liiiife, sadness about leaving Korea, and general stress about making a plan that I've been feeling lately.

REALLY don't want to say goodbye to these little guys.
Also, as you can see I have great classroom management skills (NOT!)
Two weeks ago I was forced to officially tell my school that I'm not staying for another year. I was half hoping the renewal notice just somehow wouldn't come and I could keep playing the game where I haven't in fact booked my tickets to South Africa and I am still very much unsure about whether or not I will stay another year (which actually isn't so far from the truth). My announcement brought more sadness than I expected and each day my students (even the devil ones) seem to get cuter and more pleasant, making me wonder if I made the wrong decision. And my after school class doesn't help matters. A few of my little 1st and 2nd graders are beginning to read and it fills me with such pride and joy only to be crushed two seconds later when I get the sinking realization that I'm leaving them in two months and they could be stuck with a terrible, loser native teacher who either doesn't care about them and or doesn't know how to teach little ones who speak almost no English (not that I really know how to either). That's a bit extreme, but regardless I will be creating a VERY detailed plan of everything I've done with the little ones in the hope that their little sponge brains will continue to absorb English once I'm gone.

So even though on a daily basis, I get frequent semi freak out moments of "Where in the world will I be at the end of September?", "I will have no job in September!", "What am I doing with my life?", "Did I make the right decision not to stay at my current school?" I am TRYING to chill out and realize that some things are just not in my control. I've always been the person who at least SEEMS to have her life together. I always have a plan. I always am employed. I always know where I'm going next. I'm obsessive about saving money so that I always have emergency money (that got me far since I have less money in my savings at the moment than I did in middle school). Well right now I'm not going to pretend that I have my life in order any more, because I most certainly don't. I don't have a plan for next year, I am very poor but luckily completely debt free at the moment (adios student loan!), and I don't even know where my family will be in two months. In the midst of my confusion and obsessing I stumbled upon (quite literally stumbled upon) this quote:

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." 
 Helen Keller

I think right now I'm a bit stuck looking at the door(s) of happiness that have recently closed: this year in Korea, wonderful opportunities for travel the last four years, good internships, etc, that I haven't quite found that new door. Or it hasn't opened for me just yet. I've often had the image of being in a waiting room with doors surrounding me and the feeling of being trapped. Which doors are open? Which is the right one to go into? So for now I'm searching for that door by filling out lots of applications and trusting that God will open the right door for me.

But in the midst of my waiting this past month has been filled with lots of wonderful adventures:

-Running my last half marathon (until it cools down at least) in a beautiful mountain city two hours away from Seoul (Hwacheon). Clean refreshing air and good weather even if it was a bit hot! Plus lots of freebies of course!

-Spent the beginning of the month taking advantage of a long weekend to couch surf in the southern coastal city of Busan. Beautiful weather, and wonderful people!

- Two weekends ago hiking the second tallest mountain in Korea in Jirisan National Park with two of my good friends. A weekend completely void of other waygooks (foreigners) surprisingly, and lots of friendly, kind and generous Koreans. From the moment we stepped off the bus there were kind Koreans helping us. We stayed in a minbak which is like budget hotel where you sleep traditional Korean style on the floor in a small room. It was quite pleasant and a good night's sleep for the money. On the entire hike friendly Korean hikers (all AT LEAST 20 years older than us) stopped to chat, share food with us, or get pictures with us. I successfully understood and spoke some Korean and I was once again amazed at how kind and generous Koreans usually are. I'm going to miss hiking in Korea!

-Going to see German films at the Goethe Institute in Seoul with a new German speaking Korean friend.

-Attending Language Cast meetups in Seoul to meet friendly people and practice my German and Korean.

Picnic in the park while learning Korean 
-Continuing to meet with my amazing language exchange partner to study Korean. Usually I compare my Korean to those who speak it much better than me but when I think about how far I've come and how I can now understand quite a bit and have a simple conversation, I suppose I've done well given my sub-par study efforts. My language partner, Eunjung has become a close friend and yet another person who I REALLY don't want to say goodbye to. She has promised to visit me wherever I go next and I most certainly will be returning to Korea in the near future to visit her and some of the other lovely people I've met here. She has been an incredible friend and teacher for me, and I've enjoyed helping her with her English.

Due to my obsessive planning nature all my weekends for the next two months besides three are fully booked. Looking forward to a visit from a friend I haven't seen in two years (this weekend! YES!), mud festival, helping at an English vacation bible school, and couchsurfing in the Philippines and Bali with lots of beach, mountains, scuba diving and relaxing time. But in the meantime, for my friends around the world and those who think I always have my life together: I don't have too much of a clue where I will be or what I will be doing post September, and I REALLY don't have my life together. Just waiting, waiting for the right door to open.

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