7 Weeks, 7 Lessons

On the 29th of February, Kris and I will finish our first year-long teaching contract in Korea. I cannot believe that time has flown by so fast. It seems like only a few weeks ago when we stepped off of the plane and were swept into an ominous black taxicab. We feel like we’ve known some of our friends here for many years already. And yet, it still feels like we are incredibly new to both teaching and Korea in general. With only seven weeks remaining until we leave Dongtan and start the next chapter of our adventure, here are seven things I have learned in my time in Korea so far.

1.) No matter how far away from each other you are, family and friends stay together. Whether we have brief discussions and catch-up sessions via Skype, post meaningless links to each other on Facebook, or get together on grand trips to Australia, it is very easy to keep in touch with one’s family and friends.

2.) Moving away teaches you who your true friends are. It is very easy to maintain friendships when those who you feel are close to you are within close proximity. When you are on the other side of the world, with a time difference of seven hours, and plans need to be made to communicate, it reveals who is willing to take the effort to do so. Some people you chat to on a constant basis. Others you don’t even need to do that much.

3.) Non-verbal communication is extremely powerful. You are trying to buy an incredibly necessary item. The shopkeeper and yourself do not share a common language. You awkwardly flail your hands in what you hope is close enough to an accurate depiction of your necessity. The shopkeeper smiles eagerly. They take you to something completely opposite to what you intended. You wince, smile nervously, and try again until you get it correct. Moments like that help you observe that communication goes so much further than words.

4.) Cleaning cat litter on a daily basis is far cleaner and easier than doing so on a weekly basis. Not to mention cleaner, quicker, and far less smelly.

5.) Coming home and trying to write (or otherwise pursue ones hobbies) is tiring, but rewarding. After nine hours of herding small children in the general direction of education, the idea of performing actions that require further effort is not a pleasant one in the slightest. However, I have produced some of my best work (including the majority of these blog posts) in the evenings after teaching. Sometimes, you just have to do what has to be done. It is worth it in the end.

6.) Cats like nothing more than destroying things. In the time that we have played housekeeper to our two lovely furry babies, our apartment has taken a bit of a beating. They have clawed much of the upholstery. They have removed a panel from underneath the sink. They have scratched the side of our wooden cupboard in their constant jumping atop of it. And they have looked adorable throughout all of it. Annoyingly so.

7.) Things that would be impossible alone are within your reach if you have good support. Neither Kristen nor myself would be here without each other. I would never have gathered the motivation to complete all of the admin necessary to reach Korea. Kristen would have left within the first month without my moral support. I would not have had the courage to move to part-time employment (to focus on my writing and Dota-related endeavours) without Kristen’s reassurances. Together, we are far stronger than we are alone.

I have grown more in this year than I have in a long while. It has not been easy, but with Kristen’s help, I have managed to try and follow my dreams. In the coming months, my pursuit of Internet notoriety will intensify. For now, I am trying to savour the last few days with my current children. They aren’t making it easy – they’re being particularly rowdy and disruptive – but time is passing faster than ever. I can’t wait to see what the future will hold.

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