I have been thinking about my first night in Guatemala. I had been traveling since midnight that morning, transferring from planes to a taxi to three chicken buses to a boat to a tuktuk. It was pouring rain and I got lost from the boat dock to my school. I don’t do well on little sleep. I arrived at my host family’s house at about 5 pm and went straight to bed. As I tried to relax enough to drift off to sleep, I thought, “I wish people here would just speak English. I know they aren’t doing anything wrong, but I’m just so damn tired that I want to hear English.”
That feeling did pass, and I’m not here to advocate for Esperanto or universal English. But I know that there will be moments like that when I live in Korea. A blog I follow called them “Starbucks Days,” where you don’t want to go do something fun and culturally interesting. You just want the comfort of home.
I’m starting to feel freaked out as the reality gets more and more distinct. People ask me, “Are you excited?” And I’m like, “Right at this moment, no.” Right now I’m worrying about missing my cat and missing my friends and family. I’m worried that I’ll lose my documents. I’m worried that Koreans will think I’m fat and gross and old. I’m worried that my doctor will find something at my next physical that means I can’t go.* I’m worried that I’ll hate teaching and/or that I’ll have a mean co-teacher.
I have started studying Korean by listening to Pimsleur CDs in the car. It’s a little tricky. Yes, no, and excuse me are the words I know most consistently. Oh, and hello and goodbye, and maybe a few others. All audio–I haven’t even begun trying to read written Korean. I also have a Korean dictionary with some exercises in it, but I haven’t really looked at it (my home life has been very stressful lately). I mean, it’s more than I knew two weeks ago.
All other things being equal, yeah, I’d stay in Minnesota. I like living here. I like speaking English. I want to travel, but I like having a stable home. But I think the easiest way to get where I want to be (teaching) is through getting teaching experience. If I can’t do it here, I’ll go somewhere else. It doesn’t have to be forever, although it could be.
*And maybe that’s ironic–scared of going, scared of not going.