Our time in Korea has not been ideal. It's been far less rewarding than most expats'. The main cause of all our trouble here has been our hagwon (Yoon's English Forest), but sometimes it's difficult to separate our business culture experience from our overall culture experience.
So, I thought I'd post the top six "good things" that have come out of living in Korea. No, not all of them are directly correlated to Korean culture, but they've been made possible by this journey.
- Personal Growth
Korean culture is backwards from U.S. culture in many ways. Working and living inside it has been a challenge from day one. It seems that everyday I had to relearn how to problem solve and step outside my comfort zone. I tend to keep to myself and not ask for help, so starting from the ground up has been a really good experience for me.
2. The Kids
Working with kids is always rewarding. While they give us hell sometimes, it's only a handful that are actually true troublemakers. The rest of them are a mix of clownish girls and boys who just want your attention.
I wish I had more photos of students, but here are some memorable kids:
Jenny and Ann. You might remember Ann from a video I posted when Mom was here titled "Ann talks about bodily functions."
Cameron. He's a smarty, but he's a crier. He cried about everything from forgetting his homework to losing a foot race from the street into Yoon's.
Mattew and Eric. This dynamic duo will do anything to weasel out of work. But, it's all in good fun. Mattew knows just about every way to say "What?" in English. There were always periods of class which were punctuated with Mattew's barely restrained giggling and repeated "Pardon me?" "I'm sorry?" "Come again?"
3. Korean food
Being a vegetarian in Korea is difficult, but manageable. It really taught us how to eat our veggies and enjoy a wider range of flavors and textures (both in Korean recipes and others).
Remember the first time we ordered pizza and it came with ham? We were so sad. And hungry.
First experience with bibimbap. Note that in this post we call Chun wha "Kim." Is that her English name? I actually have no idea.
Homemade puchingeh and overcooked rice.
Kimbap and ramen.
Rainbow ddeok (rice cake). My favorite.
Homemade bibimbap with brown rice.
Ddeokguk (rice cake soup) for Korean New Year's.
"Nostalgia Drink" is not for Ian.
Sushi and yubu chobab (I can't remember the fried tofu stuffed with rice's Japanese name).
Take out bibimbap, all mixed up.
4. The People
Sure, our company sucked and the director is an evil dictator. But, we met some really wonderful people here (Korean and otherwise) and we've built some international friendships.
Haso teachers (and Chang su).
Hayley, SJ and Kate.
Jeff, Adam, Matt and Albert.
Iris and Michelle.
Tina (in the maroon, I don't remember her friend's name, we only met her the once).
Rahee (far right).
Chun wha, Chang su and Min su.
We're about to embark on a trip back around the world and we got to spend New Year's in Japan. Neither of those things would be possible without our time teaching here.
Zojoji Temple, Tokyo.
6. Our Marriage
Hopefully, it's a given that a married couple be best friends. But, dropping ourselves into this new culture has made Ian and I iron clad. We've shared a one room apartment for almost a year. We (literally) do everything together. And, we faced a bully of a company together.
Thank you for reading!