Celebrating Small Victories in Korea
With having made such a big transition, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the sudden changes to the world you knew and rightfully so. I remember I was a little anxious on my 1st day in Seoul because it was like the band-aid was finally ripped off ,and it hit me that my life for the next year will be here now.
After some confusion at our drop-off point last Monday, I visited my school later that day to introduce myself to all the faculty and staff in Korean. Afterwards, my co-teacher graciously took me to get a SIM card for my phone, but things didn't work out as planned. My co-teacher had to leave to have dinner at home so I went to the nearby mall and found a restaurant to dine at. I was starving, but the hostess said I needed to use my phone to make a reservation...which I didn't have at the moment. After wandering around for another 20 minutes I found a restaurant to have dinner. Finally! Koreans don't usually dine alone though so I felt all eyes looking at me. It was the loneliest dinner ever despite me having no issues dining solo at home. *Cue tiny violin* I held back tears and felt proud of myself for handling the day's twists and turns. Of course I had a good cry in my new apt to release all of the feels I was processing. I think I was just relieved to know that I was OK and everything will be too.
Since being here, I've realized so many tasks that I've taken for granted. Simple tasks that took me 20min or so at home have taken me much longer here simply because I'm a foreigner whose not aware of the processes and norms yet.
For the most part, I'm a roll-with-the-punches kind of person. To me it's vital to always look at the bright side! So I'm sharing all my mini-victories with you all thus far. : )
Never underestimate the power of a hot shower! Since it's so humid here I just assumed only cold water would be available until winter. My co-teachers had a good laugh. Turns out I had to turn on a boiler and figure out a few buttons.
2. Taking out the Trash
Sounds so simple right? Welp here in South Korea everyone is strict with how people handle food waste and recycling. So much so that, some place have security looking after the bins to ensure you've disposed of everything properly. I had no idea where the dumpsters were until I spotted a woman holding bags. I prayed she was about to take out the trash so in the most non-creepy way I followed her and sure enough I found trash-topia! No more hoarding trash and recycling in my place!
3. Ordering Food & Asking The Server to Omit Something
I know I could just point to the menu if I wanted, but I like to practice my reading and speaking skills. I've been able to ask for something, ask the server to make the item without something, and inquire if something on the menu is still available or not. All basic Korean but a win nonetheless! Korean food tastes better when you work for it.
4. Basic Communication
So far, I've been able to have small simple conversations with my coworkers and it's really fun. I try to practice speaking whenever I go somewhere after work too. Only a couple of times did someone have no idea what was coming out of my mouth. This led me to deploy my best charade strategies but more on that later.
5. Taking the Subway & MAKING It To The Right Place
Though I have taken public transportation numerous times around the world, it still makes me nervous. I have been especially nervous since I don't have a proper phone plan but I did it! As expected, it's a really straightforward system. You just need to be mindful of the exit numbers you use since there are multiple.
6. Exploring My Neighborhood Without Getting Lost
Each day after school, I've been making a point of walking a little further than I had the previous day. I'll also go into shopping complexes to get familiar with the stores and other places near me. Since I'm pretty sure I'm one of the only foreigners in my neighborhood I am often met with many (non-threatening) side glances. It must be entertaining for them to see me walk back and worth when I can't find the proper escalator right away. (Below is my neighborhood!)
After being faced with a myriad of mysterious buttons, I took a moment of silence for the clothes I would inevitably lose once I pushed what I presumed was "start". After 45 minutes of waiting in agony, I celebrated the fact that I indeed had clothes I could wear to work the next day! My gracious coworkers confirmed with me the next day what the buttons meant. Now I could tell you which setting to wash your sheets in! Laundry is so fun when you know what you're doing.
8. Leading English Classes
The fact that I have survived these past 2 weeks has given me so much confidence and has been a real sigh of relief! I have already learned so much as a teacher and am having a great time with all of the students. The best is seeing that the students for the most part have been enjoying themselves in my class. I'm excited to see my growth throughout the year.
There you have it! Take a moment to appreciate all of the little victories in your life. Little victories can add up to big confidence and happiness boosts. If you're teaching for the 1st time, realize that you have already accomplished so much!
Thanks for Reading! :)