Saturday, May 28, 2011

Three Months In: State of the Union

I'm one-fourth through the year, which is pretty nuts. In most ways I feel like I just got here. I still know basically nothing about this place. Wanna know something about the South Korean government? That sucks, because I don't know anything. I think they have a Prime Minister.

Still, it hasn't gone by in a flash. I'm so acclimated at this point that in some ways America seems like a long time ago. Thirteen weeks. That feels about right.

When Mike and I first talked about coming here, the work was basically an afterthought. Travel, nightlife, girls - the conversation centered mostly around these things. We were only gonna work 30-35 hours a week after all. And the fact that these schools eagerly hired us, with zero experience, on the basis of a ten minute phone interview -- it all just made the job seem like a joke, something easily phoned-in.

But yeah, work pretty much dominates your time. I'm at school from 10 until 6 or 7 most days. And though I get an hour for lunch, and though there are ten minute breaks scattered throughout, it's surprising how quickly 30-35 hours turns into basically the whole week. And that's not counting the time it takes to make lesson plans (annoying), write evaluations (brutal), do phone teaching (story for another time), etc.

So that took some getting used to, especially when you're like me and you once slept on a bare mattress for two months because you were too lazy to wash the sheets. Going from America to South Korea was easy. I got used to that as soon as the jet lag wore off. Going from a lifetime of inactivity to working a new and difficult job all day - fuck, that was an adjustment. And the stress of the job had the effect of making my homesickness (which was otherwise mild) suddenly very acute. I came home most nights drained, sad and lonely. March wasn't a lot fun.

But (of course) it didn't stay that way. It's like exercise I guess: you suck at first, and it sucks. Then you do it more, you get better, and gradually it becomes rewarding. The shitty early days become a point of pride. And though you respect the coming challenges, you look forward to them too. Kind of.

So work is work, which for the most part means: it isn't fun. But otherwise there is nothing to complain about. My co-workers, as mentioned, are very solid. My apartment has two bedrooms. I've been paid twice and already have more money than I've ever had. The country is safe, friendly and fun (thanks Prime Minister!) Just being in a foreign country makes whatever you do seem exciting, so I never feel boring or lazy (even when I totally am those things). And when you're out at night, or walking through the city on a Saturday afternoon, it's hard to look around and think anything other than "I'm so glad I did this." 

But yeah, phone teaching is a pain in the balls.

No comments:

Post a Comment