...and what have I learned? What have I done? What do I miss? These are all very good questions, thank you so much for asking!
I think I'll start by saying some things that I miss:
1. My friends. Of course my friends! Most of them seem to be a little bit crazy, just like me, and there are so many memories that I have with them that holds a special place in my heart and my mind. (Especially Kelly Seim, who has coerced... ahem, I mean mentioned that she would like to see her name mentioned here.) So here are a ton of pictures of friends from home, and I hope none of them are offended that I am posting these.
|Friends at my going away party.|
|The gang at Traveling Tuesday.|
|Heidi, Natalie and I doing a poker run on the way to pig wrestling.|
Yes, you read that correctly, and no, we did not wrestle any pigs.
|The girls on the way to pig wrestling.|
|At the Brewers game on the Capone's bus.|
|Some of the main people who made trivia what it was.|
Love you guys!
|Jenny and I checking some things off the list|
during a treasure hunt.
|Me with Erin in her full stage makeup for Evil Dead.|
Probably my favorite show on the UW-Manitowoc stage,
everyone was fantastic!
|Maria and Jenny decided to draw chalk outlines of each other|
on the sidewalk after finding chalk in the bathroom.
|From Halloween one year...|
At least my friends can be as creepy as I can!
|Rachel (I met her in Manitowoc and we were roomies in Milwaukee) and I.|
|Micaela (one of my roommates in Milwaukee) and I, |
I think celebrating finals being over.
|With Tom and Jessica.|
|My Elsa's crew from when I worked in Milwaukee.|
Love these guys, sad I haven't seen them in AGES!
|Dani (Elsa's coworker) and I.|
|More Elsa's crew.|
|Elsa's coworkers, another Halloween picture.|
|Great ladies from Milwaukee!|
|Nick and I, friends since high school.|
|Danny, Kyle and I when we lived in Boston.|
|Danny, Kyle and I on facial night.|
|Old school picture... Sadly, I don't have too many pictures of my high school clan.|
(Probably because it was before digital cameras became inexpensive!)
|My group of theater geek friends in Manitowoc...|
We rented out the theater to watch Rocky Horror Picture show,
complete with costumes and all the props.
|Kirsty and Natalie, Applebee's coworkers.|
|Night out after work at Applebee's.|
Which is why we're all wearing black.
|I love this picture.|
This is our normal.
2. My family. One great thing about moving back to Manitowoc was that I was surrounded by family. Everyone is just a phone call away though, and it has been great to be able to Skype with my brother and his family!
3. Working at the Courthouse Pub. It might seem strange to miss a job in a restaurant, but I truly do. I miss walking into a restaurant and knowing half of the guests and being able to joke around with friends my entire work shift. It was like a family, and I miss the place and the people.
|The gang dressed up for Halloween.|
(Which apparently is the only time I can't take pictures,
which should be obvious from the sheer amount of pictures from that day.)
|Working at the Pub street party.|
|Pub boys after the Domestic Violence Center fundraiser.|
4. Being able to read things. One of the strangest things for me here is that I can't read anything. Well, I've almost learned the Korean alphabet, so I can read a few things, but they are in Korean, so I don't understand them. At first it was a novelty to see Korean writing everywhere, now it can be a bit frustrating. It took me 15 minutes a few days ago to figure out whether or not a bottle of juice was mango or some other mystery fruit (thankfully, it was mango juice--the kids at school requested it and I did not want to disappoint them!).
That about sums up the things that I miss, so on to what I have been doing. Seeing as it is winter, which is eerily similar to Wisconsin winter (huge changes in temperatures, some rain, a bunch of snow, below zero), I haven't done to many things outside because it is so cold! Spring should be arriving soon, so I will definitely be having more adventures in the near future. As it is, though, I have been to the toilet museum and the zoo. I have spent some weekends in Seoul, heard a fair amount of live music (last weekend I saw a funk band which was really good), seen street performers and witnessed spontaneous dancing, met a ton of new people and made some new friends. I have gotten lost so many times it's not even funny, but I have always made it to my destination safely with a new story to tell and things learned. I've been in Korea for two months, and it is starting to feel like I actually live here!
And what have I learned?
1. Fantastic people are from everywhere. I was fortunate when I arrived to meet many people that are part of the Byeongjeom expat family within the first week. I have met so many people with such different personalities from such a multitude of countries that it's quite amazing. And the people are quite amazing, as well. I know that no matter where I might travel to in the future, it will be no problem to find friends and people that are willing to help the newbie out.
2. I can read Hangul and speak several Korean phrases. Hangul is the Korean alphabet, and I have finally learned how to read it. It's pretty quick to learn, but I haven't had time to sit down and really apply myself until recently. The unfortunate thing now is that even though I might be able to read Korean, I don't understand it. I can also order food in Korean, and say thank you, please, and hello. I'm working on expanding my vocabulary, but I can get by with the little that I do know.
3. Children are crazy. I've never worked with kids before, so working with students that are anywhere from six to 13 is a very unique challenge. The young ones are always incredibly high-spirited and fun, but the students tend to get quieter and more sullen as their age increases.
But why are they crazy, you ask? Let me give you an example. School is on the sixth floor of our building, so everyone takes the elevator up. The native English teachers always go down to try to meet the kids as they get off the bus before work. One day, we were waiting for the elevator, and all we heard was high-pitched screaming all the way from the ground floor to the sixth floor. It was terrifying. I thought someone might have gotten murdered, but no, the kids apparently just wanted to have a screaming contest.
4. Korea is one of the safest places in the world. Koreans don't steal. You could leave your iPad on a table in a bar or restaurant, and you would find it there the next day when you go to look for it. There is not much violence at all--I've never seen a bar fight, I've never heard Koreans yell at each other, and I feel quite safe if I'm ever walking somewhere alone.
And that's all I can think of for right now. Life is good; I have good friends, a job that I might finally be getting the hang of, and so many adventures just waiting for me! I definitely think I made the right choice in coming to Korea.