Enter week 3 of our lives in the Republic of Korea.
It feels more like 3 months, yet we're just now starting to settle in. We have been given a computer and microwave, our internet is connected (and lightening fast!), we have cell phones, we know our home address, we've met several foreign and Korean friends, lesson planning is becoming routine, and we are starting to feel comfortable going into restaurants alone.
Still, there's so much left to learn here. All of my Korean friends tell me that my accent is great, which makes me happy, but it's also a burden. I say something to a Korean, who then assumes that I speak fluent Korean because my pronunciation is good and begins chattering away at me. I then have to interupt them and tell them that I speak very little Korean. Pronunciation don't mean squat when you only know 20 words.
Luckily, the Korean people are friendly and welcoming. Sara and I don't feel afraid or embarassed about trying to adventure out. On Saturday, we took a cab to the Andong Dam where we took pictures and searched (ironically) for some water to drink. We scaled a small mountain at a slope of about 65 degrees in tennis shoes. We also went over the Wolyeonggyo Bridge, which is the longest foot bridge in Korea. It's named for the view one can see from it during the night of the moonlight reflecting on the river. We were there during the day, but will be sure to go back at night for the full experience.
On Saturday we went to Akdong, the "new downtown" here in Andong. New downtown is right. This neighborhood is bigger in every way than old downtown Andong. Wider streets, bigger buildings, more restaurants and bars (or hofs), and a movie theater that we will be frequenting. The night ended with Sara and I having a late dinner and some drinks with 2 foreign friends and 2 Korean friends.
And so now begins another week of teaching. Today is light, with only 2 classes and an English camp (voluntary after-school English lessons). Tomorrow will be heavy, going to Youngnam for 6 straight classes, then to Andong Elementary for the class I am now painfully aware that I will be teaching until June. The rest of the week unfolds as always, and I'm sure there will be new challenges to face and more things to discover.
But as I sit in my room, listening to children chanting in Korean outside my window, I try to absorb it all and convince myself that this isn't a vacation or overseas internship. I'm not here on some sort of retreat, and no one is coming to get me. I don't have a return ticket, and people back in America are all going on with their daily lives without me there as a regular part. And that's just fine.
This is my job. And this is my life.
At least for now.