Contrary to most people my age, this is the first time I live on my own. It’s been an interesting experience so far. People tell me that depression will hit at month three, but we’ll see about that. So far, although I do wonder what’s going on back home sometimes because I don’t get all that much news, it feels good to be responsible for everything I do.
There’s a lot of things that we learn along the way from our family about how the world works. Simple things like how to choose meat at a grocery store, or how to pay bills, or do your laundry. Things like that.
And while it’s nice that I did learn all those things back in Canada, the nice thing about Korea is that I really had to relearn all those chores. Grocery stores out here work very differently from the way they did back home. Banks? Know what I can about Canadian banks and everything from writing a cheque to handling my RRSPs– when it’s in Korean, it’s totally different.
So Canadian ways have been a nice basis for me– but it doesn’t tell me everything. It’s just nice to know that this is one way of doing things, and that I still have an opportunity to relearn these things on my own.
I’m getting stuff done.
Language really is a barrier around here, but to assume that only spoken language matters would be an underestimation of our ability to communicate. I didn’t think the barriers would be as short as they are. Yet, here I am– I am shopping, eating, and learning in a country that is not English. Things that are especially technical like learning to perform new kicks in TKD or how to explain chord techniques in guitar… they’re not things that are easy to explain, but there are other ways.
I’m feeling good lately. I think the initial amazement at my job is wearing off, but it’s being replaced by a genuine happiness in what I am doing out here. This isn’t just the “honeymoon phase” of a new thing in life… this is really, me, being where I want to be and doing what I want to do at the moment.
I wanted to describe something the other day but I haven’t had much time for sleep lately with all the things going on. One of them is that the difference between all my previous martial arts training and taekwondo has finally surfaced– and that would be in the fancy kicks. They might have questionable use in the streets, but damn, when you have to jump over a barrier to kick a target in midair, that’s pretty damn fun. It’s a wonder I never tried it before!
My mind wanders to Lionheart or Bloodsport, where Van Damme does split kicks in the air (yes, we had to try that, even though I cannot do the splits).
Aside from TKD, I went to my second guitar lesson on tuesday. I was a bit annoyed because I wasn’t able to figure out a lot of the chords that the teacher had given me to learn for the song we were working on. I scored the internet, but it turns out that a lot of the chord notation for composite chords is teacher-specific– not everyone uses the same kind of notation to write down what they want to do. But when I got to the lesson, I asked exactly what each mark meant and then just tabbed everything so there would be no ambiguity. I managed to get most of the song down passably (lets say… a grade of 60%) and then he introduced the second part of the song. While practicing, I broke the only soft pick that I had, so I’m going to have to find a place to buy a new one. I didn’t know it would make so much difference, but really, i can’t use medium or hard yet because the rebound is just too strong for my current dexterity or something.
As I took a shower yesterday, I took my time– the side of my left index finger burned, along with my fingertips, from practicing– I never noticed, but hitting the strings with a pick causes a much louder vibration than when you just use your nails or the flesh of your fingers, and those vibrations drill right into your left string-holding fingers. My muscles were also a bit tired, even though TKD was on monday night– my body just isn’t used to jumping around.
But you know, that’s progress– slow.
My counsellor called in sick yesterday, so I had nobody to ask for help about how to perform a bank transfer. Turns out it was easier than I thought– I just went to an ATM machine, spent a minute or two trying all the buttons, and voila! I paid for my trip to Taiwan on a Korean ATM machine with little or no English. I’m so proud of myself.
Today is wednesday– halfway through my workweek. It’s strange how when i’m here, I don’t get that sense of dread or duty that I did at the hospital. And it has nothing to do with the fact that people die in a hospital (which, ideally, they don’t do in a school). It’s just that work at the hospital felt like something I had to do more than something that I enjoyed doing. But I suppose that must be obvious: otherwise, I wouldn’t be here in Korea right now, teaching.
When I come to work, it’s not exactly that I jump to the occasion but more like, it’s something I agree to do, and moreover, it’s something that I want to do well, better than any job I’ve ever had. This doesn’t mean that I’m great at it– it means I don’t go into class necessarily thinking “okay, well, I just have to survive 6 more hours of this.”
It’s a nice feeling to not have any bad feelings.