I arrived back in Korea to start my second year here on February 27th. We had our first day of the new school year on March 2nd, and it’s now been about 7 weeks back at school.
And those seven weeks have, unfortunately, seen some of loneliest most anxious moments while living in Korea.
I don’t know exactly how to begin explaining this, but I really want to try because I think it’s important that don’t just talk about pretty cafe’s and how much a love my students on this blog. Those things are all real parts of my life, but so is this stuff. This not so fun stuff.
If I’m not being challenged or working towards something my mind starts to stumble. While I was living in America, Korea seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel. Something new, something difficult, something I’d have to really work at.
And it was. I came and I was so happy last year. I loved figuring out how to live here, learning Korean, and making lessons that the kids would like and learn from. I loved that it was hard but also easy. It was something I could try to understand a little bit more everyday, but also a place where I could enjoy so many exciting new things.
Not once last year did I ever consider not re-signing my contract and staying for another year. Not once did I ever think to myself, “What the heck am I even doing with my life? Why am I living in Korea of all places?”
But since this new year has started I have thought those things.
When I came back to Korea this time I was excited for all the new things that I was going to be starting. A new batch a of kids, a new hobby, a new small group.
But when I arrived I had an office full on entirely new people, a new head teacher, my new little ones were not excited about my class the way the little ones were last year, my second grade boys got 중2병 seemingly over night, I felt lonely, and out of no where the anxiety that Korea had taken from me was back.
I’m writing this now because I want to share this part with you guys, not because I’ve figured out why I suddenly felt so sad and disappointed. But just because I want to be clear that moving to Korea isn’t always perfect and easy.
I didn’t post very much in March because I couldn’t think of anything to write. I had some nights lying awake in my little apartment with a tightness in my chest wondering why I’d given up my entire life and family to come to this country.
That Saturday in Seoul that I mentioned in my March Update I sat alone in my guest house and felt the loneliest I ever have.
Maybe it was a mismatch of expectations.
Maybe I was expecting to feel the same way at school that I felt last year. But I don’t.
Maybe I miss my two old co-teachers who left because we had such a good thing going.
Maybe it’s because my first graders aren’t enchanted with me the same way I remember the first graders being last year. We have a LOT of new troublemakers in this batch and that makes me nervous for the year or years ahead.
Maybe it was coming back from America where I was so comfortable, and understood, and things were easy for two weeks. Maybe I was just missing my family really desperately.
I don’t know what it was, and I’m still trying to figure it out.
But I think I’m doing everything I need to do to keep things at bay.
My volleyball team, even though it’s taken up a lot of my time, has been really good for me. It get’s me out, interacting with people, exercising, and doing something that I can count on myself to be good at. Unlike many things in this country.
I’ve started taking more pictures again, even getting back into my old film camera, and posting more on here which is really important to me.
And for my classes I’m trying to let go of all my expectations for them and just meet them where they are.
Today I had a grade one class that I’ve really struggled to connect with go incredibly well. And when I sat back down at my desk after I had that kind of fuzziness that I remember feeling so often last year with my good kids.
Things are looking up. I haven’t really been anxious at all the past 2 week. But I wanted to write this anyway because something this is just how life is. Sometimes it’s really good and sometimes it’s not, and that’s okay.
At the end of the day “good” doesn’t necessarily mean easy. And so I know that my life here still very very good. And I’m thankful for that.
If there are any other EPIK-er’s who’ve been at their school for more than a year reading this I’d be curious to know about your experience starting again. Thanks as always for reading, and I hope this post finds you well!