For those of you keeping score at home—or wherever you call home these days—it has been exactly six months that I arrived at the Dongbu Bus Terminal in Daejeon and basically picked up where I had left off last September.
Well, not really picked up where I had left off; after all, I would be going to a new school and living in a new town, and with only two suitcases in tow, it was more like starting all over. Nonetheless, returning to Korea would be a piece of cake for this old Korean hat, right?
Or so I thought as I headed down to Daejeon after spending the night in Seoul. As soon as I saw the terminal, I felt as though I had stepped back in time—back to 1990. This is not Kansas—oops—Seoul anymore, Toto. Then, when one of the office staff took me to my new apartment, this shoebox-shaped rabbit hutch that would be “home,” he kept on apologizing to me for the dreary accommodations and that after living in Seoul and teaching at Yonsei, I would be disappointed. Thanks, dude. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear.
Well, I was disappointed to an extent, but I was also happy that I had a job and teaching again. Last November-January when I was in the States I was really worried about finding work again. As much as I had wanted to spend some quality time back home (I did for the most part) I really couldn’t enjoy myself because I wasn’t sure what I would be doing next. (Note to self: next time I decide to quit or resign, have something lined up. It makes life easier.)
I will admit that I struggled the first couple of weeks I was here. That’s when the reality set in that living and teaching here was not going to be like it was for me when I was at FLI. Suddenly, having only five weeks vacation a year compared to the 12 I had at FLI made me feel very depressed, especially when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to travel to Thailand as much as I have in the past to get inked. (It would get more depressing and frustrating later when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to be with On as much as I would like this year.)
The money was a lot less, but I had an apartment (unlike FLI where I paid 760,000 won a month, about $750.00) so that kind of evened things out.
The teaching was never a problem. I was lucky to get an easy schedule (nice having Fridays off my first semester here; hope I didn’t piss off any veteran teachers) and my classes were okay for the most part. There was a bit of learning curve for me getting used to teaching here and a different language program but I hung in there and I think I did okay (my student evaluations were pretty good).
So, now I am ready to start the second half of my one-year contract here. My attitude is basically, “I did okay the first six months, now let’s make the most out of the next six months and see what happens.” Will I be here in Daejeon a year from now? So much depends on what opens up in November. I will get a raise next year and one more week of vacation, and On will come to Korea, so…who knows.