Monday, May 23, 2016

Two + weeks in...

My good pal Gabby is in the midst of making some goodbyes herself, and reminded me of a great song by Rend Collective that encapsulates a lot of the feelings and thoughts that we've both had about big transitions in our lives. Have a listen! The Cost by Rend Collective.

Settling in somewhere is always by increments, until one day you wake up and realize, "Hey...I feel at home!"
I am not quite there, but I think the freedom that comes from knowing that I won't be gone in a year has helped me to do the little things that make a place feel home for me. In the past two weeks I bought three succulent plants for the window by my desk in the teacher's office, and I bought a soap dish.

I've realized how much physical environment effects me, in the "making something my own" side of things. Actually as I write this I realize that I need to do some things to my classroom to make it my own. I think that will help me settle in there well too. Decorating time!

The past two weeks have been a lot of fun as well as Hope was here for 10 days, from May 9-17. I can't speak for her, but it was such a feeling of wholeness to have a piece of the people of I love in the U.S.A here together with the people I love here. I hope more chances like that can happen fairly often in the future! I was so thankful to everyone here for making her welcome, especially Yoonseo and Jae and Karen. You guys are wonderful!

Two highlights stand out for me from Hope's visit--the first was at the Jjimjilbang, the public baths. When you visit the public baths, they give you a locker to put all your things in while you are bathing, and the kiey to the locker is on a little bracelet that you wear so that you don't lose it. It also serves as a mini credit card of sorts if you want to buy anything at the bath shop (shampoo, soap, scrubbies, lotion etc) or in the common area at the snack shop. When you leave, they scan the little key and you pay the tally off. It's generally a good idea to not misplace it, so naturally I did. Somewhere between my last rinse off from the sauna and going to my locker, the key disappeared from my wrist. Standing clothes-less, I thought perhaps when I took off the sauna clothes, I had also pulled off the key. Cue digging through the laundry basket. No dice. The lady from the bath shop came over to help, and still we couldn't find it. Then I remembered that I had put it in a different laundry place. The bath shop lady fetched a master key in the meantime and let me into my locker so that I could stop searching in the nude, and then sent me and my friend Anna down to the basement and out into the parking lot to a spot where laundry was dumped. We search through the small pile of laundry there but the key again eluded us.

By this time, I was just planning to pay the $20 ish replacement fee and be done with it, but as we were preparing to leave, the bath shop lady suddenly asked me the number of my locker.
She held up a key with the matching number that had been on the bath shop counter, probably brought in by someone after it fell onto the ground. She told me to put out my hand and she gave me two smacks. It was hilarious and I definitely deserved it. So ended the saga of the missing key.

The second highlight was our trip to Insadong to the Poop Cafe. As many already know, poop is cute and funny here, not gross, and is fair game as a theme for a cafe, or decoration on notebooks or erasers or anything. I had heard about the cafe from Michaela, and looked up some pictures. It looked pretty fun, so off we headed on Saturday morn.

 It did not disappoint. Poop hats for crying out loud!

Also a mint chocolate latte in a toilet bowl mug. Classy city.

Another really great time was visiting Yangpyeong and Dumulmeori, the same place I went in the winter with Josiah the last time I was here. Yoonseo took us after church on Sunday, even though it was kind of rainy. It was still beautiful and we had a really nice time together the three of us. Later that evening Hope and I went to Dalkkalbi together, and then Yoonseo picked us up and we all went to see Captain America: Civil War.

The next morning Hope was set to go to Gimpo airport early in the morning to get to her 9:25 flight, and was planning to just take the airport bus there, but Yoonseo volunteered to drive her there, which was a really amazing gift. I was able to come along and see her off that way. I thought I would do pretty well, since I've been saying goodbye a lot recently, but goodbyes never really get any easier. I was glad Yoonseo was there to cheer me up.

On the Connexus side of things, there have been both really heartwarming times so far and some struggles. One class was were able to work through some conflict with minimal input from me. My 5:30 Blue class had a disagreement over a game before class started and so during conversation time when I asked "How are you?" they both said "Annoyed."
"Do you want to talk about it before class?" I asked them. "Do you want to talk about it with a different teacher, Minji teacher?" I thought maybe they might want to speak in Korean, and I wasn't sure if I knew enough Korean to facilitate a good conversation.
"Yes talk, no different teacher."
So I decided to just have them each tell their side of the story, which they did in a mix of English and Korean. They had been playing a dice game, and had added the numbers differently. I wasn't sure what to say, so I just said,
"So you thought of different numbers, so it was annoying because you disagreed? But, it's ok if we think of different numbers. We're all part of the same class. We can play again tomorrow and try to get the same number."
After that I asked how they were feeling, and they both said, "Not annoyed." So we started class, and it went very well! I was really proud of them that they were willing to talk about the problem instead of just staying annoyed. I was also amazed and thankful that the mish-mash of English and Korean was enough to communicate well.

My 6:30 class is struggling a little bit with the two boys in that class going overboard with jokes and being too rough with each other. Hyundo and Woochan like to play pranks like hiding behind doors to scare each other, and daily rush the door, pushing and shoving each other. At first, I thought they had come to a good compromise. Hyundo, the older of the two, suggested they do rock, paper, scissors to decide who gets to go out the door first. I thought that was smart, and I was glad to see his leadership in that. However, it became apparent to me that there is underlying annoyance going on there. We tried to have a little talk about it in class today, but it seems like trying to get to the bottom of it only made them more annoyed at each other. The atmosphere in class is starting to get tense. I think I will need some help with this class soon to try to ease the hurt feelings. They both told me today that "they don't want to get closer" to each other, which was really sad to hear, but I think born out of being totally annoyed at each other for the pile of not-so-funny jokes they had been playing.

So those are some things that are happening here! Also:

Community News:
- Prep for Yoon Gushik's wedding on Saturday is going well, but there is still a lot to do. We've done a lot of construction and landscaping projects. Pictures to come of the sweet new lawn area by the parking lot!

- I'm starting language exchange with Hyesun next week...we will meet on Wednesday evenings! 기대할게요!^^

- Karen and I are hoping to start Bible study back up...really in need of that, I think!

Quotes from the Community:

Miseon: Lomie, how well to you know Abby imo?
Lomie: I know everything. She even came to Pennsylvania with her mom to my gwandma's house and had a tea party.

Yoonseo: Aurie, do you love me?
Aurie: No.

Yoonseo: There is a Korean saying that all the the food you don't eat you have to eat in heaven...
Abby: That's not really a problem, since you would have forever to finish it.
oonseo: Then with poop on top, how about THAT?

Hyundo: Teacher, what is your ideal type?
Abby: I like a funny and kind man. What is your ideal type?
Hyundo: My ideal type is ramen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Korea 2.0

Well, well, well....Look what we have here! Since I have now returned to the land of Morning Calm (misnomer at times...although from the third floor up, we're above a lot of the noise!), it is also time for the revitalization of this blog.

Since this time around it is more like a every day life blog as opposed to a "let me document this year abroad blog" the format might change. But for now, I will continue with the tried and true format. So here's the blog music, which I have been humming as I unpack and get settled. As I will mention in this blog post, I feel especially like welcoming Jesus in with praise to my life here in Korea after the events that happened on the way here: Here For You by Matt Redman

So let me begin with painting an image for you: 5'8" young woman in a large straw hat and knee high boots sitting on the floor of an airport with a guitar and overloaded carry-on suitcase bawling her eyes out because of a flight that has been cancelled.

Not my best moment.

I arrived in San Francisco to discover that my Singapore Airlines flight to Seoul, the one that would get to Korea in time to be there for a dear friend's wedding, had been cancelled. But how did I find this out? I randomly met an old Korean man who looked as lost as I was looking for the international terminal. Turned out he was on the same flight as me (God Moment No.1). He asks me as we got onto the shuttle together, "Did you get the text message about the change for the flight?"

No I had not. I would also not get any communication personally until after the time that the flight would have been taking off, so unless I had met this man, I wouldn't have known one thing about what was going on at all. Jesus likes to outdo himself sometimes in the whole "miraculous meeting" arena.

We arrived at the Singapore airlines counter to find that the flight had been cancelled and the next Singapore airline flight wasn't until the next morning at 8:40 am, which would mean I would miss Sarah's wedding. They also seemed reluctant to look hard for another flight from a different provider. Cue tears, lots of them. Thankfully, Yoonseo was still awake, so I was able to let him know about the problem, and Josiah and Ana were available as well. Josiah called me and prayed with  me, and set about looking to see if another airline or airport nearby had any flights. He found one right away, and with those specifics in hand, I was able to ask if the airline could get me onto that flight. It took some waiting, but soon a woman came back and said that they had booked me onto a flight to LAX, and from there to Incheon (God Moment No. 2). I would arrive at 6 am Saturday morning, giving me six hours to get to the wedding in Cheongju. It was possible!

All the running around in Airports (can you say going through security THREE TIMES) got me so whooped that by the time I was on the Korean Air flight in LAX at 11:55 pm, I was almost completely asleep before takeoff. I have such a hard time sleeping on planes, but this time I was able to sleep 5 whole hours (God Moment No. 3). This meant that when Yoonseo picked me up at the airport, I had plenty of energy for the wedding, and didn't feel unbearably tired until around 9 pm, which was an ok time to sleep. I ended up sleeping straight through the night, from 9:30-5:45am...a good 8 hours of sleep (God Moment No. 4). On Sunday I took a brief nap in the early evening, but again was able to sleep the whole night. Not having to deal with bad jet lag has been such an incredible blessing.

On Monday, Hope also arrived in the evening, and I didn't realize what I good thing that would be for me, even though I wondered if having a visitor so soon after arriving would be stressful or not. Having someone to "show around" has enabled me to revisit all the places here that I knew and loved, and somehow through that I feel like I've 'rediscovered my roots' in a way, just by walking the ways I used to, and doing the things I used to do.

For instance, today I bought a bag of apples from the apple/fruit seller who always was outside the old Connexus building. It still cost 5,000 won, and he still gave me an extra apple with a smile like he used to. I know he didn't recognize me, but I knew him, and that was a really happy thing. I felt the same way going back to my favorite stationary store, Papearl, and seeing that the same guy worked there.

So adjustment is going well, I think, but I know that there is still more ahead, little by little. Today's added adjustment is my first full day of teaching. I feel ready!

Nothing yet, but will start El Deafo on the bus to Jamsil tomorrow morning!

Plans with Hope:
Wednesday Evening: Dalkkalbi or Samgyupsal and maybe 2nd Floor Cafe
Thursday morning: Jamsil and Olympic Park
Thursday evening: Dalkkalbi or Samgyupsal
Friday Morning ???
Friday Evening: Jjimjilbang with Anna!
Saturday: Hongdae, Insadong (?) (subject to change)
Sunday: Yangpyeong (?) (subject to change)

Community News:
* Sarah and Noah stopped by with Sarah's family on their post-wedding tour. They brought hugs and chocolate!!
* Plan is in the works to visit Gangneung (Yoonseo's hometown) with Connexus teachers in early June. I have heard that a zipline will be part of this. Cue fanfare!
* Gushik Yoon's wedding is on May 28 (Mom's birthday!), so there are a lot of wedding preparations going on. It looks like I will be a co-MC with Yoonseo to do the English translation of some of the wedding (don't worry, it will be from written material--my listening comprehension in Korean is not even close to that good haha).

No community quotes yet, but they'll be here when people start saying funny stuff. *hint hint*