I have no idea what’s going on

We're going to need a lot of kittens.
Please enjoy this kitten (includes bonus kitten).

It’s July 17. I certainly thought I’d know where I was going by now. But I don’t have a job yet. It’s really starting to wear me down.

I got really upset with my placement agency in early July. (I’m going to name them eventually so that other people can use the information, since there’s a lack of good reviews and information out there. Right now, I don’t think it would be wise to do so.) Mainly, the recruiter in Korea wasn’t answering my questions. So I asked to be moved to their China program. China is so eager for teachers, I’ll be much easier to place, right?

Well. I have yet to hear anything. It’s really getting me down, I have to say. I’m going to be 40 a month from today. What do I have to show for it? I’m leaving my job and my home, giving up my sweet kitty, and for what? I thought it was a sure thing, but it feels like a gamble. And like every other gamble in my life, I seem to be betting wrong.

I’m looking for other jobs without the agency. It’s quite apparent that I put too much faith in them. I haven’t gotten any results yet. It sounds like things tend to be very last-minute in Asia generally, but if you factor in the time needed to get a visa, time is getting short.

I’m really trying to stay positive about this and keep going. I still have hope and a lot of skills to offer. But it’s getting really difficult. I hope I can look back at this and say, wow, that was all for nothing. Who knows, though?


Unskinny bibimbap

My 비빔밥 is not quite this delicious-looking, but it's all right.
My 비빔밥 is not quite this delicious-looking, but it’s all right.

I haven’t posted in a few weeks because not a lot is happening. I still don’t know where I’m going to be in Korea, but I think I will have an interview soon. I was asked to resend my resume, so I am optimistic. I am trying to engage in magical thinking by painting my nails in work-appropriate neutrals so I will be interview ready. I created an intro video of myself so that the Koreans will know that I can speak clearly and am not a total ding-dong. I hope that speeds things along

Once I get a contract signed with a Korean school, I will apply for a visa. Then once that’s approved, it’ll be about 5 or 6 weeks before butt meets airplane and I leave. So if I get an offer soon, my original estimate of August would be accurate. If I don’t, then the estimate is wrong. What can I do? It’s been a great exercise in letting go of expectations.

Someone asked me a few days ago, “Do you like Korean food?” Uh, I hope so. I have tried the kimchi (김치 if you’re nasty) at World Street Kitchen and it was delicious (but I would probably eat my own hand if World Street Kitchen cooked it). I made bibimbap at home, and it was pretty good. I mean, it’s just rice, egg, and whatever vegetables or kimchi or meat you feel like tossing in there, as I understand it. I have heard that fruit is expensive in Korea, but rice and vegetables seem to be plentiful. Frankly, I could stand to use a few LBs, so if I’m not in love with the food, that may be for the best. I’m not going to starve, anyway.

Learning Korean is a little tricky. I have the consonants down pat, but the vowels are a little wobbly. So thankful for YouTube lessons where I can hear a native speaker pronounce them. I have a book that I will likely recommend if I ever stop feeling like I’m getting my ass kicked every time I open it. Anyway, the author feels that, in order to learn Korean correctly, the language should be written in Korean, not Romanized letters. So, 한글, not hangul. I agree, but it’s been frustrating. (BTW, I’m using Google Translate for the 한글 in this post. I don’t know how to type in Korean yet. I can just about sound out words, but I should practice spelling them by sound.)

Ah, well, a little practice every day and I think I’ll get there. I don’t think I’ll ever sit down and read a novel for fun in Korean, like I can in Spanish (just barely), but that’s fine.

Bucket list: Had a Jucy Lucy. Delicious, five stars, would eat again. Went to the Minnesota Zoo. Got animal poop on my arm, but had a great time otherwise. Victor’s 1959 is planned for next week. The rest of the list items are less important, but if it’s not too much stress, I’ll get to them.

yes no excuse me

Cherry Blossom Festival.  That's kind of awesome, right?
Cherry Blossom Festival. That’s kind of awesome, right?

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.

I’m going to Korea

A photo of the Korean DMZ. This is a place I could totally go and visit, because holy crap, I'm going to live in Korea.
A photo of the Korean DMZ. This is a place I could totally go and visit, because holy crap, I’m going to live in Korea.

It’s official. I’ve been accepted to the program I applied to (to which I applied, WHATEVER). I’m totally going. In August. For two semesters minimum. I don’t know a lot more right now. I’m slightly freaking out, but as I get used to the idea that’s starting to go away.

Move over Spanish, I’ve got some Korean to learn.