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  • Writer's pictureLulu Johnson

Week 13, 14 & 15: Struggles

Hello everyone! Again, sorry for my infrequent posting schedule. So I am now a good 4 months into my stay here in South Korea. Nothing much has changed with my homestay family or school life. I continue to eat meals and hangout with my homestay family. I continue to do Hapkido and feel like I've learned a lot of new moves. Teaching has been interesting. I love my students and love that they participate in the games that I make. It has been interesting trying to co-teach and I think I've come to realize that I prefer to teach alone rather than with a co-teacher. Having a co-teacher is just a bit more difficult than when I work alone.

Besides the homestay life and school life, I feel like a lot has changed within the past couple of weeks mainly my struggles with homesickness. I think I have gotten over the "honeymoon" period of being in South Korea and now I am starting to feel really homesick and missing my family and friends. I miss having a native English speaker and the ease of it all. It's so taxing and energy draining to always be trying to know what others are saying around me and to really have to focus on the words and body language of the speaker. It's just mentally exhausting but I do feel like I'm learning more Korean this way. It's just once in a while, it would be nice to not have to closely pay attention to the body language or the words when spoken. However, I know I came to South Korea with no language knowledge so that is on me. I should not expect the native people of South Korea to speak English and truly it is on me to learn Korean, not for the natives to learn English. Another thing that I miss about the States, they actually know what savory means. All of the food here is either sweet or spicy but nothing is savory. I've tried getting garlic bread and sour cream and onion chips but it is all still very sweet. I'm just craving the comforts of home and miss my family a lot. I have been trying to stay busy during this time so that I don't mop around and feel even worse. My friends have come to visit me in Gyeongsan and I've spent a lot of time with my host family which has really helped with the homesickness. All in all, I expected to be homesick so this doesn't come as a shock to me.

Another aspect that has been somewhat of a struggle is trying to be current with the American news. My host family does not own a T.V so I haven't seen any news broadcast since leaving America. The only time I got any type of American news was when I went on social media. Currently, I have tried to make it my goal to read the New York Times or CNN news daily so that I can be kept up to date on what's happening in the States. When I was back in the States, I never thought about how often I heard about the daily news and the easy of access to it. But while here in Korea, I could easily shut myself out of the American news cycle and be completely ignorant to what has happened in the States. I think this has allowed me to realize how ignorant I was to the world news. While reading my daily dose of American news, I also try to read up on all of the daily international news and it's been very eye opening to me. As frustrating it can be to read the American news, it also gives me a sense of connection to home.

Anyhow, this past weekend I travelled to southern Korea into the province of Jeollanam-do and into the city of Yeosu. Yeosu is a port city and is one of the prettiest places to visit in South Korea. While in Yeosu, I met up with none other than Matthew and Diana. The first night we didn't do a whole ton but instead walked around and ate marinated crab since that is what Yeosu is known for. To be honest, I don't know if I would try this again. The crab was raw and it was good. But it also was a lot of work to eat it and it just tasted like raw fish. It wasn't super unique and the flavor wasn't as great as I thought it would be. I'm glad that I tried the marinated crab but I don't know if I would crave it because it was a lot of work to eat it. The next day, my friends and I decided to do bike rails which is basically like a path that you bike on along the coast. It was super fun and the scenery was beautiful. Then we ate and had crabs for dinner. The crabs were amazing and probably one of the best meals I have had in South Korea. After dinner, we then went to the cable cars and had a nice night ride. Yeosu, is so pretty during the night time and it was beautiful to see all of the lights and night activity life of Yeosu. The weekend trip was much needed and I'm so glad I was able to see my friends while exploring another part of South Korea.

On a completely different topic, on 4/29/2021, I was notified by my school that we have 6 positive covid cases. This amount of cases is the most we have had since the beginning of school and it is quite a lot compared to the average amount. Currently, as I'm typing this blog up, I am waiting to get my Covid test. I'm not allowed to leave my office and all classes have been cancelled. All of the students, teachers and school faculty are required to get tested, including all of the students who had online classes today. All of the students who had online classes have to come into school to get tested. It's crazy to think the school goes to these types of measures for six cases in the entire school of over 2,000 students but I'm also glad for this as it makes me feel safer and more comfortable. I will most likely get my results back by tomorrow morning just like last time. I'm hoping I'll get the results back before this weekend so that I don't have to worry about it but I also don't have any plans this weekend so it'll be nice to just relax and chill. Anyhow, again sorry for the infrequent posts and I will try and update more often. Stay safe everyone and enjoy these pictures and videos!

Update on the Covid testing: I had to help out with the school wide Covid testing and it was honestly one of the most stressful and saddest scenes I have ever seen. Have y'all ever seen hundreds of preK-6th graders get tested for Covid. Here in South Korea you get two swab samples taken at the time of the test. One that's to the back of your throat and one that is in the nose but feels like it's reaching into your brain. Everyone who gets tested for Covid gets these two types no matter what age you are. I just witnessed over hundreds of kids get the Covid test and more than half left crying and in tears. Some of the kids had to be held/strapped down by teachers as they were screaming bloody murder because they didn't want the testing. There was so much screaming and tears during this three hour testing that I felt so bad for all of them. I tried to help the best I could and comfort the kids but it was still so sad to see them go through that. However, some kids did amazing. Probably better then some adults would have to be honest. This was the second time the entire school had to get tested this year and the efficiency of this round was so much better than the last. Every single student, teacher and faculty member were tested within three hours. It's amazing how efficient it was. Anyhow, due to the school wide testing, school has been moved to online so no students or teachers will be going into school tomorrow which is pretty nice, because after today's events, it'll be very nice to have a day off to rest/relax and do work at home.


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