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.