I've just reached the two-month milestone here in Korea. It's hard to imagine that those pre-departure jitters were over sixty days ago. That strange, dream-like feeling of waking up to the voice of a pilot speaking a foreign language on a jet bound for Asia, all the while wondering what exactly I'm doing with my life— that was two months ago!
At this moment, it's difficult to wrap my head around this. No doubt, there has been struggles. Beginning a new life in a foreign country is by no means an easy task. Not only do you have to navigate new roads in new cities, but you have to manage something that at home seems so basic— the language. Or the language barrier, to be more precise. This is something I took for granted at home. For the most part, we can speak with anyone (in English) at any given time.
While there are many English speakers (and learners) here in Korea, it's not always possible to communicate or express exactly what you're trying to say— this is often a challenging task, even among native speakers in your home country. As I'm sure many people can attest to, communication is the cornerstone of human relationships. It's a grave mistake to take it for granted.
As far as the teaching goes, it has been an interesting and unique endeavor thus far. Teaching and entertaining 19 groups and 596 different students each is week is chock full of challenges. Not to mention that these kids are 12-14 years old. After all, I remember being that age and trying to learn a new language. It certainly didn't have my complete attention. Attempting to put myself in the shoes of these children is the best way for me to understand and fully embrace the students.
Admittedly, during the first few weeks, going in to teach every morning was an intimidating experience. Now that I have gotten my feet wet, I can say that this anxiousness has faded significantly. It's certainly still early on, but I now know what is expected of me, which helps in the day-to-day grind. Basically, I am expected to formulate a few lessons a week that I will repeat for each group of students. It's all about getting into a new rhythm.
Just a few short weeks ago, my new friends and I experienced the massive metropolis that is Seoul, South Korea. And boy, is it massive! With so much to see and do, it is an ideal place to spend a weekend with friends. Although it was a short trip, we packed quite a bit of adventure into the weekend. Click here to watch the video.
We got an up-close look at the Han River after renting bikes, which turned out to be an amazing way to see the waterfront— highly recommended. Next up was exploring Gyeongbokgung Palace. This was a picturesque area with a stark contrast between the sleek, gleaming modern buildings and the traditional, archaic palace. If this Seoul spectacle isn't enough, you can gaze at the beautiful mountains encircling the city.
On our final day in the Seoul, we took the opportunity to check out some magnificent views. A 60-minute wait to take the tram up to Namsan tower— a monumental structure perched atop a mountain— led to us hoofing it to the top. Gotta work for the view! It did not disappoint. The views were second to none. Seoul was immeasurably vast from this vantage point.
Another highlight was the Cherry Blossom festival in Jinhae. These beautiful, whitish-pink flowers were bursting with color as they blossomed for the thousands of people who came out to catch a glimpse. It was a struggle to find a motel because of the influx of people in Jinhae. We finally found one in a town 20 minutes away, where five of us squeezed into a two-person room. Since it was my birthday weekend, celebration was in order. The following night we headed to Busan, checked into an awesome hostel, and went out for the night. We woke up Sunday morning with a spring in our step, because we were heading to the Holi Hai Festival— an Indian paint-throwing bonanza. This was a fantastic way to cap off an exciting birthday weekend. Click here to see the video recap
Since we were on the go for two consecutive weeks, we decided to kick in Daegu the weekend before last. However, this did not put a halt to our adventures. We decided to try our hand at an eco-adventure at Herb Hillz— about a 20-minute bus ride from downtown Daegu. The park featured many different things, including rides, zoo animals and sculptures, but we came for the ziplining, of course. I have to admit— it was quite a lot more intimidating than I anticipated. Being high up in the canopy is quite the rush. The video can be seen here.
Despite the challenges of living and working in Korea, it has been an invigorating experience. I can't decide if it's because of the new sights and sounds or the new friends from all corners of the globe. Maybe it's the unknown possibilities that await us. I could take a quick flight to Beijing to see the Great Wall of China or jet on over to the Philippines to experience the turquoise water and the pristine sand on the island of Boracay. That's now my reality. These far-reaching possibilities beautifully align with my passions and what I want to do with my life. Traveling and experiencing new cultures makes me feel fully alive.
Following the adventure and our inner light will eventually lead us to fulfillment within our lives. We should all walk with pride, enthusiasm, and fearlessness towards what makes us feel fully alive. Our quest in this life is to seek the immense power of raw experience.
Break Your Boundaries.