Fall In a Foreign Land

Fall In a Foreign Land

Well…as I write this I am stoked because the Giants just won the World Series-again-3 times in 5 years…which is insane. And, today is Halloween. Which means it is October 31st. Which means it is nearly November. And another year has almost gone by again. I have been in Korea for a little over 8 months now. The last 6 weeks have been interesting. I fractured my toe (good times!), had a friend visit & got deathly sick (which resulted in me being bedridden for 4 days which was crazy). So, with all this ‘me-time’ I have had a LOT of time to think. And a LOT of time to watch stuff on netflix 😉

Let’s start at the beginning…2nd semester after the Chuseok holiday was a rough couple of weeks. And then, one Thursday afternoon, as I was walking home from school I tripped on the uneven cobblestone sidewalk (yes-cobblestone). OUCH! I like to call it ‘California meets Korea’ (b/c of course I was wearing flip flops!). It hurt so bad I wasn’t sure my toe was still attached-you know the kind of hurt I am talking about! I couldn’t even scream b/c I couldn’t get words out-and then limped home to ice my throbbing toe. The funniest part was an ajumma (Korean grandma) that was walking past me saw it, actually stopped and stared at me and very slowly said ouchhhhh. Went to my doc the next day and she sent me to an orthopedic down the street. That was an interesting encounter…he was scared of me at first (this I know after being here this long) but he was relieved when I spoke slowwww and used simple words. Then he felt comfortable and his English was actually not bad. We took x-rays and he gave me the good news. Of course I sent a pic of the x-ray home to my friends dad who is a doctor to get a 2nd opinion (this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me well!). He confirmed. Awesome.

Then I got this cool boot-my friend Anne made a typical ‘Anne’ comment and said ‘not sure what is more tragic, that boot or socks with Toms?!’ haha (pic below) WELL the answer was I was trying to wear tennies and my foot couldn’t get into them…but the socks were already on and I was over it. I was NOT trying to be a fashion statement that day-let me tell you. My sister laughed at me when I told her this story-she thought it was exceptionally funny that I rode my bike to the doctor. BUT, the way I look at it, it was less walking on my throbbing foot/toe! I have been lucky, in my 33 years I have never had to wear a boot/cast, etc. AND for that I am grateful! And, don’t ever want to have this ‘experience’ again-talk about a pain in the arse! I think the boot was overkill-but I also wanted to prevent any further injuries (or any of my 500 students running into me while running around like crazy monkeys which is the usual!).

A week later my friend came to visit…the timing wasn’t the best because I wasn’t ‘100%’ but we made the most of it and had a great time-she had a list of things she wanted to do in Korea and we made it happen! It was so fun to have a visitor here-having someone from home see my life here, and after being here this long I finally felt like I could show her around and knew where I was going. I also FINALLY found the norebong I went to back in March for a friends bday that I loved-the place smelled like a candy store (and let me tell you-Korea doesn’t smell like a candy store ever soooo this is an amazing thing!). We had so much fun singing for over an hour in our ‘singing room’ 😉 It was a whirlwind trip-she was here for 72 hours! The week after she left I got a sinus infection and strep throat. At the same time. And then, 5 days later, bronchitis. I know. I know. What the heck, right?! That is what I was thinking…but clearly the universe (i.e. God) was telling me something. And I listened 🙂 I slowed down…really I did. And then I got bronchitis again hahaha

With all this ‘me-time’ though I was able to do a lot of thinking. I feel like I had a clarity/eye-opening month and realizations about a few things. I also re-evaluated how I spend my time and who I spend it with. That might sound harsh but why surround yourself with people that don’t add to your life? I also finally bought an oven here (imagine large toaster oven-pic below!). I know that baking will be nice to do…especially since Winter is coming! I have baked brownies twice and peanut butter cookies once. Not sure what is next on the list…

I just ended my Halloween English Festival-it was a ton of fun and the kids really enjoyed it. I only taught 3rd and 4th graders for this festival and I had them for 2 periods back-to-back/block schedule. At first I was a tad concerned…it is hard enough to keep them focused for 40 minutes in English class, how was I going to do 80?! Well, I am a rockstar-or maybe an arts & craft star?, and made it happen. It was great to see the kids have time to just be creative-they were decorating their own pumpkin ‘mask’ (the school wouldn’t let me carve for obvious reasons AND they don’t really have pumpkins to carve here-they do-but not easy to find. Plus my co-t said no way to that idea). I also taught them the history of Halloween and what other countries do for Halloween. AND, we watched Scared Shrekless…I saw it over 10 times this week…I think I memorized it! The most important thing they learned though was this, when you say trick-or-treat you get candy. They REALLY understood this concept 😉

I realized just the other day that this semester will truly be over before I know it. I have 3 weeks until I teach about Thanksgiving for our final English Festival for the school year. Then I have 3 weeks until the last week of school before winter break. Then, when we get back from winter break (which I will have camps to teach for 2 weeks and then vacay for 2 weeks), we have 3 weeks and then the second semester of teaching is DONE. Wow. Crazy.

So…with the exception of injuring my toe, a friend visiting, being sick & my English Halloween Festival it has been a quiet month. Well, a quiet month for Erin Kennedy 😉

After 8 months in Korea…

  • I will never find sitting on the floor to eat dinner comfortable.
  • I don’t understand squatting (unless camping or at an orchard party when I was in high school!)
  • Motorcycles have the right of way. Always.
  • Be aggressive and show those motorcycles who’s boss! 
  • You can change your mind about a place. Daily. 
  • Gyms here suck. End of conversation.
  • Teaching overseas is a job. 
  • Slurping & smacking…why????
  • I miss hot water to wash my hands at school-thank gosh for hand sani!
  • I miss ground turkey meat.
  • I love living somewhere that has seasons (I say this before the cold winter hits mind you!) but experiencing Spring, Summer (HUMID!!!) and Fall has been really cool-the leaves are just gorgeous right now!
  • Someone speaking to me in Korean-and still going on even when I have the confused ‘what the …?’ look on my face.
  • The locals recognizing me-it feels nice. Like, clearly I stick out like Where’s Waldo BUT when I bike to school and see the same moms walking their kids to school, or the shop owners, or even the ajummas that are selling the fruit on the sidewalk and they say hi/acknowledge me I smile and the world is okay again.
  • If I EVER see someone (specifically foreigner) struggling in the USA again-looking lost, etc. I will do whatever I can to help them. I know all too well how it feels and want to make a difference to someone else! Pay it forward people. 
  • But most of all, I have learned MORE about myself over the past 8 months than I thought possible. I have learned stuff that I didn’t even think I would learn. And for that I am grateful to have this crazy adventure experience!
My ball and chain for 30 days!

Welcome to Asia 🙂

Jackie and me in Seoul!

Game night at Marie’s-got to play my favorite 5 crowns!!! (and of course we had delish food as always-thanks Marie!!)

Flat Stanley project with my Art Class-thanks to Jennifer Santos for making this happen!

Teeny tiny ‘oven’ 😉

View from my school-love the Fall colors!
Cute little 3rd graders posing!
Happy class=happy teacher!
That’s a wrap-Happy Halloween from Bukbu Elementary School!!!

I teach my 3rd graders more than the ABCs…representin’ the best state!

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