Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Getting this show on the road

A while back when I began making plans to spend a year teaching in Korea I also decided that I would start myself one of those nifty little travel blogs, you know, a digital diary of all the goings-on with plenty of photographic evidence that I'm not actually making this up from the corner of my bedroom. 

So here it is in all its this-basic-layout-is-really-the-best-someone-as-photo shopped-challenged-as-myself-can-manage glory. 

I'm starting this blog for a few reasons, some which are probably pretty obvious:

1) It'll be a great way to keep everyone I'll be missing back home up-to-date with what I'm getting up to in Korea. Sure I have Skype and email and Facebook but I like the idea of having one tidy spot for pictures and text to fill in the blanks. 

2) The blogs of other English teachers working in Korea have been hugely informative and I'm hoping in turn I can do the same for others. I know for a fact I wouldn't feel half as prepared as I do now if it weren't for all the advice and enthusiasm I've come across in dozens of blogs. I know you can't ever be entirely ready for what's going to come your way but sharing those experiences as you go can really benefit the person coming along behind you. Even in the application process I've hit a lot of bumps and I plan at some point in going into detail about those so new prospective teachers can avoid the same issues. Give and take folks. 

3) Most people when they hear I'm going to teach in Korea have been really excited for me which is awesome. Everyone has told me to stay safe and not accidentally wander into the North and I'm totally appreciative of that kind of support. On the other hand there have been a few (and really it's just been a few) people who hear I'm going to Korea and make some kind of comment about "that part of the world" or shake their head as though if only I knew what I was getting myself into then I wouldn't be going. 

I have a big problem with that second reaction. Those types of comments reek of xenophobia and ignorance. Also they sort of suggest that I'm pretty stupid which, despite my having for many years believed the "D" in the Disney logo to be some sort of weird "G" (come on though, lots of kids thought that!), I tend to take offense to. 

So I'm also hoping that this blog and my experiences, good and bad, will show those types of folks what Korea is really like. It's not cool to judge, especially if you're just making claims about an entire country and culture without really knowing their story. 

And speaking of my Korean experiences, I'll be heading out in just about a month now! My training begins November 22nd in Seoul and as long as that goes smoothly I start teaching the 29th in Incheon. Basically I'm a bundle of anxiety and excitement. Sometimes I fall asleep imagining all the amazing places I'm going to see and if I'll be able to snag tickets to the Pusan International Film Festival and other nights I nearly give myself a migraine worrying about the tests during the week of training, the enormous language and culture barrier I'm about to face, and if I'll get fined for putting out my trash and recycle wrong (I've heard stories!). 

But those both seem like pretty reasonable emotions when you're about to pack up and leave for a year. I'm not much of a traveler, though I'd like to be. I've only left the country once, four years ago, for a brief stint and I've never flown alone.  I'm not quick to pick up new languages and I've never lived by myself before. If you think the glass is half empty this might seem like a recipe for a disaster but if you see it half full it might seem like the best thing I've ever decided to do with my life. 

I guess you will just have to stick around to find out. 

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