It’s Really Happening

So I received my visa number today, made an appointment at the Korean consulate in Seattle for 10:00 AM on Thursday.

I am arranging my transportation to Seattle, and my recruiter called me and told me to send her my visa confirmation so that they can research cheap flights to South Korea. So unless anything comes up between now and then, it is happening. These details are basically just a formality, from my understanding. I will be moving to South Korea to teach English for one year.

It is strange when things actually fall in place and happen. You have a plan, and it is executed, but between then and now, so much happens, and your perspective changes so much. But this is a broad statement that can be applied to anything.

I was pending on going to do this two years ago, but it was not the right time I suppose. I have memories of researching the EPIK public school program while I was working my first official ESL teacher job back in the Bronx in 2008. I didn’t wind up in Korea at that point, but in Southern California. And then Israel, then Egypt and Jordan. Then I moved to Portland, Oregon, for about a year and a half. I stayed put sometimes, working as a freelance writer or substitute teacher, but other times I ventured off, to Washington, to California, to Mexico, to Canada and back.

Right now I’m finishing packing up my room. It’s beginning to look less and less like my dwelling. My boyfriend already moved out.

I went to New York for a few days to drop off some of my informal clothes and pick up some warm weather/teacher clothes. Said bye to the city I was born for an indefinite period. Back here, I’m just tying up loose ends now, counting off the days, while taking care of the boring paper work and other errands.

I will miss Portland, I really will. I’ll miss riding my white Schwinn bike, which was the first bike I really learned how to ride with. I’ll miss the coffee, the air, the bridges, the concerts, the house I lived in, the cats in the streets, the 24 hour tacos and food carts, the creeps on the bus and the endless rose and vegetable gardens. I’ll miss my friends visiting me and going on adventures. I’ll miss my lifestyle. I’ll miss Oregon, the hot springs and the breezy coast and green forests and mountains. Maybe I’ll even miss the rain.

It is definitely time to move on. I’ve wanted to do this for a while. My contract is for one year, so I’ll certainly be there for that long. The future after that is uncertain, but I hope to determine some of that when I am there. I have many vague ideas, but nothing for sure. Right now, I’ll just hang out here in limbo and wait for things to work themselves out before I board the plane.

Interviews Abroad

Lately I’ve been having a lot of phone interviews for positions teaching English in South Korea. I think this is an interesting way to learn about a place I have never been.

For instance, yesterday I learned that the country code of South Korea is 820 based on a call to my cell phone.

I had another interview about four days ago from a man who originally lived in Virginia who is currently in Daegu, South Korea. He told us that to get there in the first place, you must take a plane to Seoul, the capital city, and then take a four hour bus to Daegu. He informed us that all of the signs there will be in Korean and we won’t be able to read anything when we arrive. He also told us that if we get sick of Korean food, there is a plethora of bad American food options, including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Dominos. He also mentioned Costco more than once, and said how there is a movie theater on the top floor there that plays American movies with Korean subtitles. I am not sure if this is quite the experience I wish to gain while being abroad, but it is nice to know that there are comfort nostalgia zones for others. It reminds me of when my Taiwanese students would show me their 711 cards full of Asian characters and cute, colorful cartoons. Globalization…

I am also having another phone interview later for Daejeon, which is the fifth largest city in the country. Having never heard of this place, I looked it up on Wikipedia, and found that it was a place full of math and science institutes. It also has a subway. I was unaware of all of this information.

I also heard from another interview that the weather in Korea is humid year round. Being from the Northeast, I always thought that humidity was a summer factor that did not carry into the cold months, but apparently this is possible. Learning how to feel new weather is always part of the traveler’s journey.

Normally I find job interviews fake, boring and perfunctory, but this time around, I am having an interesting learning process.