Currently sitting in my apartment in Daegu, South Korea. So far, it's been a wild ride— a total whirlwind. About two weeks ago, I was anxiously awaiting for my departure date to come to Korea. Since then, I've experienced an INSANE few days of travel— 3 flights, 5 different airports, and 2 bus rides until finally reaching the orientation site in the city of Busan.
Ahhh, the orientation. In all honesty, it was a big ol' mess of meeting new friends from all corners of the globe, eating tasty food, and balancing the enjoyment of nightlife while adhering to an 11pm curfew. The classes and demonstrations that we participated in were certainly welcome and helpful. Some of it was a bit much, but I thought the orientation served its purpose of preparing us to teach English in South Korea.
On the final night of the orientation, we anxiously awaited our placements. Our large group (all headed to Daegu) piled into the large lecture hall, teeming with nervous excitement. As everyone collected their brown envelopes, a buzz broke out with questions and wonder about what students we would be teaching and where exactly in Daegu we would be situated. Would we teach teenagers or would we be with the youngsters? Would we be in the boonies or more centrally located? All our questions would be answered soon enough— whether we were ready or not.
It turned out I got not one, but TWO middle schools in Dongbu (east side of Daegu city). I have to say it's a nice area, and it's about a 20-minute subway ride to downtown. The apartment is solid—fully furnished with ample room for one. Plus, beautiful hikes and mountain views are within striking distance. I truly have nothing to complain about with my placement.
This big change has not come without its challenges, however. This much change in a short period of time is taxing on the mind and body. Completing tasks that I would consider fairly simple back home—shopping for household items, setting up a bank account, hooking up Internet, or activating a cell phone—suddenly becomes quite a challenge in a foreign country. It can be a bit disheartening not being able to order something at a cafe, because you can't properly communicate what you want.
On top of these considerable challenges, I came down with a deep cough and cold shorty after moving into my new place. It was most likely brought on by the rampant illness spread around at the orientation site or the stress and exhaustion that comes with living abroad. The cold has now subsided, and I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that I've only been in Korea for two weeks. There has been so much happening that it has seemed like a month has gone by. If someone told me it was April, I would believe them.
Reflecting on these challenges in Korea is refreshing, because it is a reminder of why I chose to jump at this opportunity. We MUST confront challenges and allow ourselves to be vulnerable in order to grow and expand. Through our experiences, we shape what we know and understand. If we actively place ourselves in unfamiliar situations and surroundings, we permit true growth.
At first glance, it may seem that this growth is for ourselves. On the contrary— it is for others. When our knowledge deepens from new experience, we are more receptive of others who may have different or alternative views than you or I. Our growth benefits all of the Universe. If you're scared of the decision you're making, you are on the correct path. The moment you feel that you're losing all control is the moment you realize you're pushing your limits in all the right directions.
Break Your Boundaries.