Week 10 & 11 & 12: seasonal change
Hello everyone! I'm so sorry it's been a while since I've last posted. Partly, because I feel like nothing much has happened but also at the same time, I haven't had the time. It's been about 3 months since I left the States. For teaching, week 10, 11 and 12 have been to similar to what the previous weeks have been like. A lot of lesson planning and a lot of desk warming. Even though I am not teaching all of the time, I am some how completely exhausted by the end of the day. The students have gotten used to me and have started calling me Lulu 샘, which basically is like a nickname for teachers. I am happy that they no longer call me Lulu Teacher. They are always so curious about me and life back in the States and continue to ask me questions. I have also realized that though I like teacher, it is not the career for me in the long run. I'm glad I'm able to experience what being a teacher is like but have found that it's just not the profession I want to be in. I knew this coming into Fulbright as I have always wanted to become a doctor and still plan on heading to medical school after Fulbright but it's nice to experience something else to confirm my career pursuit.
On the host family side of things, it's been great and somewhat okay. My relationship with my homestay parents have continue to be amazing and I'm learning more and more Korean, while I teach English to them. My relationship with the oldest host sister has also been amazing. Every night, she will read a couple of pages from Magic Tree House in English to me and I will help her out if there are some difficult words to pronounce but honestly, I'm so impressed with her English reading level for only being in 6th grade. After, she's done reading Magic Tree House, then it switches to me. I have been reading Korean books to my host mother most of the time with sometimes my host dad joining and my oldest host sister joining as well. My Korean reading level is slowly improving and I'm starting to feel more confident speaking Korean in public. My relationship with my little host sister is so-so at the moment. Over the past couple of weeks, her behavior has frustrated me to the point of annoyance and I'm currently trying to figure out how to navigate this. Overall, my homestay experience is still amazing and I wouldn't trade any of my experiences, even the bad, as it has taught me more about myself and my way of thinking.
On another completely different topic, so in South Korea they have a bunch of cherry blossoms and it’s cherry blossom season so it’s been a really beautiful past couple of weeks and I’m hoping they will continue to last for another couple of weeks. If any of y’all have ever been in Washington DC during the cherry blossom season then you probably know how pretty it is. Everywhere you go, you can find a row of flowering trees and it’s so so pretty.
On the weekends, I have been quite busy everyday. The weekend of my 9th week, I went to a chiropractor with my host dad because we both had body pains. My host dad has chronic back and hip pain from his several years of Hapkido training and I pulled a muscle or something during Hapkido in my back so I had some bad back pain for the previous couple of weeks. Korean chiropractors are much different from American ones because Korean chiropractors focus more on one part of the body and do adjustments as well as massages. Whereas, I feel back in the States, chiropractors tend to adjust the entire body.
On the weekend of the 10th week, I did a language exchange in Daegu. It was interesting but I don't think I will go back frequently. It was a nice way to meet people but I didn't learn any Korean and feel like it benefits people wanting to learn English more. I also went to an oriental medical clinic for my neck pain and headaches. Honestly, this is the most I have ever gone to clinics and hospitals but my host parents have been quite concerned. If I was back in the States, I wouldn't have done anything about this because I've gotten them before and normally just need rest and time. But Korean culture is different. Korean people tend to go to the doctors for everything even if it's just a cold, or headache which is why I think my host parents schedule all of these appointments for me. I got acupuncture and cupping which is traditional Chinese method of relaxing the muscles. I have to go back for a few more sessions so we shall see how the results are.
On the 11th week of the weekend, I finally left the Gyeongsan/Daegu region and visited my friends who live south of me. I went to Changwon and Masan to visit Matthew, Diana and David. Even though the weather was rainy the entire weekend, I had so much fun just hanging out with them. I got to meet Matthew's homestay family and they are also so very sweet and kind. We had an international pingpong match in which I either represented the USA or China. Unfortunately, I never won a match. The weekend was truly such a fun time of catching up, meeting new people, shopping and of course eating amazing food.
It for sure was a memorable weekend and not just because I saw my friends. On my way back to Gyeongsan, I had booked a train ticket because that's how I got to Changwon in the first place. I felt pretty confident in my public transit abilities and got on a train thinking it was the train I had booked for. By the time, I realized I was on the wrong train, the train had closed it's doors and was pulling out of the station. Some background information, trains in South Korea are very punctual. They arrive on the dot and leave on the dot. You get about 1-2 minutes to hop on the train from when it arrives. The train I booked for was to arrive at 4:27 and leave the station at 4:29 and the train I had gotten on arrived at 4:20. At first, I thought it was weird the train was 7 minutes early but I didn't think too much about it until I realized I was on the wrong train. I didn't realize I was on the wrong train until I couldn't find my seat but by then, the train left. I quickly tried to get off but, the train was moving and I couldn't get off. I didn't know what train I was on and where I was heading so I rode the train for about 20 minutes before an employee asked for my train ticket. With my broken Korean and translation app, I told him I was on the wrong train and didn't know how to get off. I also asked where we were heading. Luckily, he was a very kind man and helped me figure out everything. Again, luckily for me, the train was heading in the direction that I needed to go so I just hopped off at the next stop and rebooked my ticket and got on the right train. All in all, I made it back home. Anyhow, that's how the past three weeks have gone for me. I hope everyone is doing well back in the States and miss you all.