“I’m only going to stay one year!” At least that’s what I told myself when I moved halfway across the world. Fast forward 365 days. When the moment came where I had to decide whether I should go back to Toronto or re-sign my contract, it only took a millisecond for me to admit, “I’m not ready to go back home.” I’ve been living in Busan, South Korea for a year and two months (!) and as a returning EPIK teacher, here are 4 things that are different this time around:
1. As a picky eater, finding food I like is way easier
For the first few months of living in Busan, I struggled to find food I enjoyed. My stomach wasn’t used to the copious amount of spicy sauce on my chicken, sugar on bagels, or salty seafood soups. Now that I’m familiar with the area I live in and have searched high and low for grocery stores that sell my favourite foods and restaurants that serve dishes I love, I feel better knowing that I always have a go-to meal figured out.
2. Patience when it comes to language barriers
I didn’t speak a word of Korean when I first arrived in Busan and felt constantly lost, frustrated, and remember almost bursting into tears one night because I didn’t know how to tell a taxi driver directions home. I have developed more patience when it comes to not being understood. I’ve learned there are different ways of communicating whether it be hand motions, broken Korean, or even pictures. I keep a photo in my phone of the hospital name near my house so taxi drivers always know where to drop me off.
3. Bonds with my students are stronger
I am lucky enough to stay in the same school this year. My students and I have a great relationship and they were delighted to see me again, and vice versa. The best part of returning to the same school is that lesson planning is a piece of cake since it’s already done! I simply develop the ideas from the past year and intertwine it with what I know will engage my students.
4. Do more, see more, travel more
I jam-packed my schedule last year with events and festivals I wanted to attend yet still didn’t check everything off my list. Now that I have extended my stay I can finally go to Daegu’s Lantern Festival this month, travel to New Zealand and Australia in August, and run the 10k marathon I didn’t have time for last year in October. So much to do, so little time.
This post was created for EPIK e-Press.