Yet again, I have failed posting on a regular basis. I have no true excuse except working full time and wanting to experience living in a foreign country. I really do need to get better at this…
It is 2PM on a Thursday. If this was normal day I would be about to start my 5th and final class of the day. The 9th graders are fun to have at the end of the day. I teach them Cultural Geography, which seems like a course I was preparing for since I was eight and stepping out of the airplane onto the tarmac in Africa.
Come to think of it, even if Korea wasn’t in the middle of an epidemic today would have actually been the start of finals. I would have actually been knee deep in grading and probably brain dead…because giving a final is almost as…”brain killing”…as taking one (just in a different way).
Because of the MERS (more about that later) scare, my school has been closed for the past week. I have been “desk warming” for what seems like three years but in reality has only been seven days. Considering we were not sure of how long we would be closed I was productive the first day off. I completed a lot of my work, got through an insane amount of backed up grading, and even wrote my report card comments. All within the first day. The second day I cleaned my classroom and packed up my drawers. On Friday, I pretty much did the same thing…and watched tv shows. Lets just say by yesterday I was more than a little bonkers.
My brain, nor my body, knew how to feel about not having stress. My brain was shocked that i could think about other things. After spending a year finishing up grad school, and working full-time at a school who over works their teachers I was pretty much going through shock. I found myself daydreaming, using my imagination and reading a lot. All things that do not seem too bad…but like all things they aren’t bad in moderation. Honestly, I have been such an airhead in the past three days. With all that said, I feel as though my body is getting use to not having stress and I am starting to be able to focus more. It helps that my kids are starting to turn in their replacement finals (a reflection essay). It gives me something to do.
As I read the reflections from my students I am overwhelmed with the comfort that I do not have to say goodbye to them yet (except the seniors…I will miss them too but they are moving on to bigger and better things…its different). As some of you know already I have decided to stay in South Korea. I have also decided to stay at my teacher overworking school. Many were surprised and sad. The truth is that God closed a lot of doors and kept this one here in South Korea open. As time began getting closer to me saying goodbye I started to question my choice. I WANT to go home. I miss the comfort of living in a culture that allows me to be almost invisible. I am tired of getting my introverted self up and prepared to handle cultural differences just to go pick up some water at the corner 711 (yes we do have them here). When I began to think about it though those reasons are not reasons to leave a country.
I found myself telling people I would be leaving but I would be back. Then one day it hit me. If I leave now it would never be the same. Yes I could come back but the current eleventh graders (seniors next year!) wont be here. My current 7th graders would be high schoolers! I began to realize that what I was leaving behind, in order to take a break, would all change. I put in so much effort, time, and countless prayers to influence my students to have character that could change the world for the better. To leave them to someone I didn’t know or trust kinda freaked me out.
I know what you are thinking…”Lisa, they are just kids.”… that is true but they are kids who have dedicated so much time to. Also due to small class sizes and just the kids are I know I will never find kids who are like them. Sure, I’ll be just as dedicated to my next set of students as I am right now to these kids but these one collectively a special group. That almost never happens for a teacher. Sure a teacher can get connected to one or two of their students in a class but as a whole high school…now that is odd.
With that said I am staying another year in South Korea. I am trusting God and allowing myself to just be open and to remember why I decided to come back…..For the kids who make me cry as I grade their reflection essays because they have improved so much, they have made connections to history and their life that most adults have yet to make or one of the hardest students to teach sincerely thanks you for teaching when they thought they knew everything. I know that at the end of the summer when I am forced to get back on a plane bound for Korea, I will have to force my legs to get through security, to sit myself in my seat and finally to step off of the plane onto another foreign tarmac.
Yes, I am living through an epidemic currently in Korea. Though media seems to be making a rather fearful stance life has not changed much. Sure I have worn my mask more around public areas. I also wash my hands more and simply remove myself from extra crowded (every place in Korea is somewhat crowded) places. The news seems to film only people who are wearing their masks. Though in reality there is probably 1 in 6 who are actually wearing their masks. Also the MERS is actually not transmitted easily. So if you are worried or scared for my life you do not really have to be. It is safe and precautions have been taken to keep me, the other teachers and the students at my school. Thanks for caring though! ❤
I plan on writing more about MERS later but because I feel this is already a very LONG blog and you are excited to see that the end is near, I’ll stop here and let you wait in anticipation for my first hand experiences living through an epidemic…