When it comes to keeping this blog updated, no matter how hard I try, I still find myself falling short of my own expectations. In a perfect world, I would have the energy and corresponding bursts of creativity every few days, which would then translate to fabulous pictures and revelationary insights.
But my everyday life here has reached such a level of normalcy that nothing strikes me as particularly interesting or worthy of a blog post. Gone are the days when I would get lost: now I know exactly which bus numbers to take to get from my apartment to Homeplus, downtown, and to school. I no longer stress out about where to eat: I can read Hangeul, so I can take a seat in pretty much any restaurant I want to and order something. Complaining about my workload at SLP is thoroughly uninteresting, as it even bores me (the complainer). Suffice it to say: I continue to come home exhausted by the demands of administration and the needs of my children and my kids are adorable and will be accompanying me home on my airplane as I will be adopting my 10 Pooh Bears (I wish). I find myself feeling significantly less claustrophobic in situations that would have given me palpitations before: just last week, I handled cruising around Myeong-dong in search of summer-clothes without a breakdown! Jostling on the subway and the eternal race for a seat on the bus has become ordinary, as has the sprinkling of Korean words in G’s and my English conversations: “Chuggelai?” (“Do you want to die?”) “Kamsahamnida” (Thank you) “Aniyo” (No). I have heard from friends who returned home after their 12 month teaching stint that the reverse culture shock is even more daunting than the initial one. I never could believe it until now.
It is hard to believe that G and I have a mere 3 months = 12 weeks = 87 days in Korea remaining. While our weekends used to consist of visiting a new location within Seoul on both Saturday and Sunday, we no longer have the energy and stamina to push through anymore. I remember the days when I felt guilty about “not taking advantage” of all that Seoul has to offer; these days, I have no problem with spending at least one of my precious two days in either Anyang or Uijeongbu, relaxing and soaking in the sunshine; I can count on one hand the places that I have not yet seen in Seoul and still desire to, so the pressure to keep moving has decreased significantly. Last weekend, G and I spent Saturday lounging on a mat underneath the Rainbow Bridge in Uijeongbu (it was so hot, we absolutely could not sit in direct sunlight) having a picnic, napping, and watching other Korean families who had the same idea as we did. And despite the fact that I accomplished absolutely nothing, in its own way, it was absolutely perfect.
As our days slowly wind down here, G and I have begun to earnestly plan our 8-week long trip in Southeast Asia. My school wants to know on what date they can book my ticket home, which means that I have to have a pretty good idea of how long we will be traveling for. So far, we have a pretty good itinerary, one that incorporates the Philippines, Bali, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, although we will only be able to hit a few major sights in each in order to leave us time to relax. The researching and planning process of trips has always inspired and excited me; I was always the trip planner (finding the cheapest flights and best accommodation) within my own family. When we initially began discussing our trip, I felt sure that 8 weeks was enough time to thoroughly explore Southeast Asia; as usual, my grasp of geography has let me down, as I now realize how immense and expansive the entire region is. I could spend my entire 8 weeks in Laos (one of the countries that I used to be least interested in) and still not see everything! Regardless, we are trying to keep from being overwhelmed by the pressure of seeing as much as possible by keeping in mind that this is supposed to be a VACATION.
I still have no idea what I will be doing after my time here has come to a close: so far, the plan is to live at home for about 8 months while working in order to save some money. Whether I will move to Chicago afterwards to attend Northwestern for grad school, move to Chicago to work, or stay in Southern California remains to be seen. For now, I am taking life one day at a time. I can’t take the unknown all too seriously when I have BALI in my immediate future ☺.