Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Life updates

I've decided to stay in Korea for now-- and at the same hagwon I've been with for three years now. It wasn't an easy decision, and required a full pros-and-cons chart and everything, but in the end it came down mostly to not fixing what ain't broke.

I'd decided to move to Seoul, actually, so I could spend some time seeing more of the city, and had launched a full-scale job search after telling my current school I wasn't going to renew. I went on a number of interviews, met some nice people and saw some pretty nice places, but never did get an offer that was better than what I've got now. That, plus the hassle of moving-- and a month of personal vacation for signing on again here-- made leaving seem like a poorer and poorer choice.

I'm quite happy with my decision-- I was actually kind of elated when it was finalized. I'd thought I was looking forward to moving, but coming closer and closer to the day when I'd leave all my students and coworkers was apparently depressing me, because I bounced right back up when I got to tell them I was staying. Now that I know I've got the rest of the school year with my current crop of kinders, I've been getting much more involved with their development and am doing my job much better.

Since I've decided to stay here, at least for the time being, I've also decided to feather my nest a little bit. Since moving in three years ago I've treated my apartment as temporary housing, like a hotel, and haven't really done a lot to personalize it or make it nice (beyond the requisite Home Plus flower decals on the walls). Since I initially thought I'd only be here a year, I didn't really see the point of making it a "home" and loading myself down with stuff I'd just have to mail or get rid of at the end of the contract. The same reasoning carried me through years two and three, each of which I thought would be my last. The whole time I've been here, I never really bothered to make my apartment a "home."

It's understandable, in one way. Expats are in a weird position: you don't want to get yourself too involved in where you currently are, because the more entanglements you have the more difficult it is to pack up and go home again. Friends are one (good) entanglement, and romances are another. Putting lots of time and effort into a home or apartment is like admitting that you expect to be there for the long haul, and for some people I'm sure that's scary.

I don't plan to be here "for the long haul" (though, again, I've already surprised myself three times), but I've started to think that people need a home-space that they can fully occupy, even if it's only for a little while. Maybe that's how you become an adult-- take charge of what's around you, decide how you want things and take the steps to make them that way. It's more than I ever really did as a child, it's much more than I did in college or right afterward, and until now it's more than I've done with my apartment here. Having a few things I like also inclines me to take better care of them than I do of the ragbag bedding and plastic dishes left behind by former teachers. By viewing this place as temporary, I absolved myself of a lot of housekeeping responsibilities-- but I also missed out on a lot of the privileges of having my own place.

So, from now on, things to do:

*Translate all the controls on the washer and thermostat, rather than using only the buttons the former tenant pointed out to me when I moved in.

*Hang posters on the wall.

*Get rid of all the crap I've accumulated since moving in here, keeping only the things I need, like and want.

*Etc. I'll post pictures if I ever manage to make the place sightly.

Yours, Kate