In a matter of less than 36 hours, I will soon be moving away from the comfort confines of my own home, friends, family, town, Chicago, my home-state, country, and of course, Western culture. It didn't seem so long ago when I got laid off back in the summer, and was contemplating my next move when I stayed over at my friend's place down in Andersonville. In a matter of months, I had gone through the process of taking my TEFL certification classes, hunting down jobs, talking to various recruiters, mulling through job offers, getting the proper paperwork for my work visa, finishing off my travel checklist (i.e. bank account, shopping, bill payments), and trying to remain patient through my parents' incessant nagging. Now I'm within said hours from my 14-hr flight.
The popular question that I've been getting from many of you is “Are you nervous?” Truthfully, I haven't been feeling nervous at all during this whole time. In fact, I've been, for the most part, fairly subdued. If I wasn't getting the daily reminders from my friends and family, I probably would have made myself believe I wasn't going anywhere. As deeply excited as I am about this extravaganza, I have learned to remain humble, but more importantly, be appreciative about this transition. I have had quite a few things on my mind: 1) I am traveling for the first time by myself overseas, not to mention, working over there for at least a year. 2) I will be working for the first time in months, and will be doing full-time teaching for the first time ever. 3) I am living in a land where everyone kind of, sort of look like me, yet I'll feel somewhat out of place. I have this strange feeling that I'll end up attracting unneeded attention from the Koreans because of my height. For the record, there are hardly any Asians who reach above 6 ft. I'm sure the minute I land at Incheon International Airport, people will probably confuse me for Godzilla. Another downside about my uncommon Asian size is the lack of clothing and shoe size that would fit my need, thus creating more hell and agony by having to add more clothing and extra shoes and socks into my luggage. 4) Everything I'll be experiencing everyday will be new, rewarding, and imperfect.
On arrival, I'll most likely stay overnight at the airport, and await for my shuttle bus to take me to my orientation site. There, I will be training at Dankook University—Cheonan Campus in Chungnam which is approximately an hour south of Seoul for two weeks. "http://www.dankook.ac.kr/html/english/index.html). Originally, the training site was to be held in Seoul, but I was placed in the first orientation group to be trained in Chungnam. Though I would have loved to experience Seoul first-hand, I am actually more excited about being in the Chungnam province since it was an area that I was looking at before I accepted the position in Busan. Also, I am looking at the possibility after my first year to teach in that province.
Note: I will be rather busy for the first few weeks so I may not be able to make phone calls, or respond to email, Facebook, MySpace messages in a timely manner. I recently set up my Skype account. For those who aren't aware of what Skype is. It's an Internet phone/AIM/text service provider. It's free to install. The benefits include free calls between Skype users, low rates when calling a mobile/house number, and even cheaper rates internationally. Check out www.skype.com for further info. I highly recommend using it as I believe this will give me better outlet to reach many of you. You just have to buy yourself a microphone or headset.
On a sad note, I will be disconnecting my phone since it will not work overseas, and even if it does, the rates would be a little costly. I'm full of chagrin over giving up a number I've had for 6 years, but it is what it is. R.I.P. 630-776-0529. I don't have a phone number set up at the moment, but once that happens, I will keep you informed.
Lastly, I am thankful to everyone for taking the time to either attend one of my parties, hang out with me, send me your best wishes through email, Facebook, MySpace, and hear from you over the phone or on IM. It means that much to me and then some. You have made the last month incredibly memorable, and I couldn't have asked for better people to celebrate my upcoming journey with. As I've overstated many a times in previous messages, I am appreciative for the advice, love, and support that you have given me. I hope that I have done what I can to show my appreciation right back to you. I look forward to staying in touch and having the opportunity to share my new journey with all of you.