Day One at School


My ride was to pick me up in the late morning & drive me to my first day of school. I had gotten up early because I had my own list of things to do so that I could feel some sense of being settled. About take my first shower in Hayang, I turned the water on to warm up. Why wasn’t the water warming up? Man, no hot water my first day! Is this gonna be a long year or what! I got dressed…showerless…First was to go out and find some 220 volt adapters. I walked around my new digs in search of this. I live in a little country town called Hayang. It is near Daegu University. So I actually live in the the heart of where many of the University students reside. My apartment complex is only a few stories tall, but I am surrounded by many, many of the same type of buildings, most housing University students. I begin checking out my neighborhood, making sure I know where I live & not to stray too far so I can get back home…because Mapquest here has no use…I poke around and find this business that maybe a hotel, not quite sure…But there is a young lady at the counter who I am hoping can assist me. I show her my cel phone hoping she would understand what I am looking for. There is also an elder man sitting at one of the tables who seems interested in my little gadget of a cel phone. The young lady & elder man attempt to help me. After close to a half an hour of futile attempts to resolve my issue, the lady makes a phone call. A few moments later this young man shows up with a 220 converter! OMG! I am so grateful. I offer to pay him & he refuses. With the blink of an eye he is gone! Where did he go? I din’t even pay him. The lady assures me it is OK. I thank the young lady & elder man as best I could and walk out of the business. I am now in business! 🙂

Small mission accomplished. Off to school. Jenny & Eric pick me up for school. The drive is not far. Within 5 minutes we arrive at school. I spend some time meeting my fellow English teachers and getting acquainted with my surroundings. My fellow English teachers are all Korean. Three women, all of whom I am older than. But all of whom speak Korean as their native language. One of the teachers majored in English (just one of her majors) during her college studies, the other teachers speak English pretty well too. After a short time at my ‘home school’, I am driven to another one of the ‘sister’ schools for a day of teacher training. I arrive & am very warmly greeted by the school staff. So much activity going on. I am introduced to a couple of the ‘Foreigner Teachers’. One of them (call her ‘D’) takes me under her wing & into one of the classrooms to give me a teacher orientation. She goes over some basics of the Ding Ding Dang philosophy & how to read the lesson plans. Thinking I understand, we press on. This Ding Ding Dang school is in more of a city. D takes me to one of the big banks in S Korea so I could exchange my US currency for the Korean Won. We then take a short walk to a nearby cafe for my first Korean lunch. I had Bibibop: a combination of rice, vegetables, with a cooked egg placed on top of this delicious dish. It is served in a clay bowl if served hot & a metal bowl if the cold (summertime) version is served. More on the Korean food details in a later post or two…During our time together I told D about my cold shower water. She said that I had to turn on the heater to heat the water pipes for a shower. So, this was ‘operator error’ that was an easy fix. Thank goodness.

Back to school. The remainder of the day is spent observing the Foreigner teacher classes. I was scheduled for about six classes the first day to observe. I was doing my best to stay awake & alert & observe these classes. Believe me they were interesting, I was just suffering from jet lag! I didn’t think I would be jet lagged but it was hard to avoid. I think I sat the last class out & waited for my ride to take me back to home.

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First Stop…Grocery Store


So as my new employer wisked me away from my final flight of the evening, he & his wife took me to the grocery store to pick up some food & basic living essentials. The grocery store was nice & air conditioned, stocking many food stuffs & products I recognized, but the whole Korean language/monetary system was a bit overwhelming after such a long flight. Some basic veggies, orange juice, Top Ramen type noodles and we were off to my new apartment.

Just a few minutes drive away, we arrived at my new place. We loaded or arms with my luggage & groceries & began climbing the stairs to the third floor…#307 to be exact. The door is one with a keyless entry. Convenient..no keys required in S Korea! No car, no apartment key! Awesome! As long as I can remember the door code I will be OK. 🙂 Of course, the door is opened & everyone stops abruptly to do what?? Remove their shoes of course! We all leave our shoes at the door & come into the apartment. Of course I speak no Korean, my employers speak little English. The next few minutes Eric spent pointing & demonstrating how to turn on the gas to the two burner oven, how the bathroom shower operates, which side of the sink is hot/cold water, turning the TV on & off, how to operate the air-conditioner, turning the heater on/off. Jenny was putting my groceries way. I could barely keep up! Like a tornado, they brought me in, give me the quick tour, put my food away & were out just like that! Wow!

I felt like I packed a lot of stuff, maybe the hauling of my bags from SFO to Korea it just seemed liked I was carrying all of my worldly belongings. But I realized I didn’t bring much when it only took me five minutes to unpack. Of course one of the reasons this was so quick was because I could start unpacking, but couldn’t finish. I didn’t have any hangers, but most importantly, I did not have the voltage converters I so desperately needed to connect to my computer! And anyone who knows me well, knows that I go through widthdrawls if I cannot connect to my computer! I had 110 plugs & I was now living in a 220 volt country. Ah…I am not in California anymore!

Time for some sleep..because I begin my first day of work tomorrow…

Chris

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S Korea Here I Come!


NOTE: I published this post a few days ago as a page. I am re-publishing as a post. Still trying to get the hang of the whole blog thing….More to come this weekend for sure…with pictures!!! 🙂

Hi All!

Yes, I have arrived safe & sound in South Korea. This is an email that I wrote my first Saturday here…which has now been 51 days! Man how time flies!!! Yes, it has taken me a few days to get this blog up & running, but now I have so much to write about. Hope you all enjoy it.
I am here & it is finally Saturday morning. Flight was a breeze-with a bit of turbulence but much smoother than I expected. And the few cocktails I had helped for sure! Just kidding. No alcohol really. A couple of decent flight meals. A couple of nice women to sit by for the 12 hr flight. I’d say the hardest part (other than the heavy luggage I toted around on my own…) was catching the connecting flight. I had a 2 hr layover, but we were delayed on the tarmac for the first flight for about 20 mins or so. To even catch the first flight I had to show my passport & itinerary a zillion times it seemed. At the tix counter, the security checkpoint, the gate that I flew out from…man! Then they say: put it away before you get on the flight! Pretty funny. I was telling the lady I sat next to all about Footprints & how I got to be sitting next to her on my flight to Korea. She was there for a few days on biz. When landing in Incheon, I had to go through an Immigration line..about a mile’s walk from the airplane I left it seemed. I had to pick up the two bags I checked (a huge roller bag & smaller suitcase, plus my binder (why I thought I needed to carry this I am not sure…what a pain!), my purse, my new laptop in it’s own carry case-which of course I had to unpack at each security checkpoint! And remove my coat & sweater. No problem!!! :-)) Oh and of course the shoes too…man! So I of course waited in the wrong immigration line…somehow thinking I am all of a sudden a Korean because I am here in Korea. Ha! No wonder people were looking at me funny. Blonde & with a a heavy orange coat on (well it was raining in SF when I left & I will need the coat here eventually..and of course it would not fit in my already over the limit stuffed rollerbag that only cost $50 extra! Thank goodness the flight was paid for! (and that I sold my car & computer!) I think my bag was about 13 or 14 lbs over weight. Oh to only be 14 lbs overweight! So I get in line at the right immigration line & I don’t have the form that I should have completed in flight that my neighbors were completing. But I was catching another flight, I thought only those that were landing at their destination only needed to complete this form. Nope. So the immigration man who spoke about as much English as I do Korean was trying to tell me to complete this form & get back in line. I was about in tears (frustration & tiredness..). Luckily thank goodness for the international language of near tears, I slid my way to almost the front of the line. Some young man who probably had seen me in the Korean immigration line let me get in front of him & 2 seconds later I see the man that sent me back to the line motioning to another immigration official that I am the one in near tears that has already waited in line once & has another flight to catch that needs to be processed now! So he pulls me aside & sends me to a counter that has no wait-maybe back to the Korean one I don’t know, but at least he processed me! Man!! So then I am off & rolling for a minute before running across my next hurdle of the Declarations line. Not that the line was long at all. But this guy of course wanted to see my passport & flight info & the declarations form. Hmmm. Again, he spoke about as much English as I do Korean. My eyes welling up again, more easily frustrated from being tired of lugging my stuff around & fearful of missing my flight..oh yeah, my cel phone only having single digit battery life left…and needing to keep in touch with my new Korean employer if anything goes wrong…such a broad term now given the day…So I step back to the counter to complete the declarations form & thankful that I did bring my binder of Footprints info because I needed the address of my employer/where I am staying..something like that…the only time this big binder came in handy… So Mr. Customs let me pass GO, leaving my $200 with him by way of those ol’ blood, sweat & tears again…Now…where do I go??? I am on my way to the final check-in, right? Wherever that is…I just know it seemed like I walked around forever in search of the elevator. Of course the info desk, a man who I had no clue who he was stopped me…did he want my $$$, my life, my soul, is he my employer meeting me here rather than Daegu?? Not sure. I just asked him where the elevator was & he pointed me along in the same direction I was already heading. I think I sopped at the next info desk too because seemed to be alluding me! And time was ticking…my bags were getting heavier by the minute…So I found the check in desk & was thankful there was no line. I cruise on up to a couple of airline employees talking. I told them I needed to check in they looked at me & said: can you see that we are closed here, no one is in line. No, I thought I was just lucky & that there was no line!!! Using every bit of diplomacy I had left in me I asked them where I go to check in for a flight to Taegu (Daegu-the same) at 7:20 pm…Around the corner, behind the current check in counter I was at. I wheeled my life over to this new check in line. A few people in line, not bad. It was about 7 pm. Plenty of time! I got to the counter & the man that helped me was very nice. Pulling out my passport, flight info & ID once again…I had made my flight! And no extra charge for the overweight bag!! (not me…my luggage!) :-)) A 55 min flight, being served a 4 ounce cup of water we had landed. I turned my cel phone back on & used the last remaining juice to contact the Korean school director to let him know I had landed & was here. He wanted me to contact him in 10 mins after he checked to see if the owner was at the airport ready to pick me up. I got off the flight & some man by the name of Eddy (I thought initially anyway) was there to pick me up & wisk me off to my new life in S Korea. That is all I knew. My planner had ended. Yes, I had unfinished tasks still on my calendar for the day. But once I was picked up…a new chapter begins…
I have to get on with my day. But yes, I am OK. Grateful for Saturday today. Much more info to come too. Everyone has been wonderful too.

Love,

Chris

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Closure


Yes, closure may seem like an odd title for my first blog that so many are waiting to read regarding my international travel to S Korea. And I will get to that. But first I wanted to write about something that has been weighing heavily on my mind for the last several months.
May 31, 2008 I moved from Nevada City, CA to San Rafael (Marin), CA. This was a huge move for me. I sold & gave away so much of my ‘stuff’, moving from a quaint little Miner’s Cabin in Nevada City to an even smaller ‘cottage’ in Marin. I moved to Marin for several reasons: to be close to the ocean, to live in a more city-like environment & to be in the heart of the 5 Rhythms dance community where I would focus on getting into the 5 Rhythms dance Teacher Training. Feeling like my life was turning a huge corner & excited about these changes, I dove right into the first 5R workshop that came my way while in Marin: Mirrors. I knew some of the other dancers that were going to be in Mirrors too, so I was really looking forward to it.

So once settled in Marin I set out on finding work. While waiting for the job thing to come through, I danced my heart out. Then August hit & it was time to take on Mirrors. Eighty dancers from around the world, all together for 10 days, 8 or more hours per day in Tiburon. After a couple of days it felt like only this world of Mirrors was my life. There was much dancing, connecting with others & deep reflection, inside & out.

Mirrors wrapped up. Honestly, I was glad. A workshop I was so excited to begin, left me shattered. Purely shattered into a million pieces. I began driving to work the next day into San Rafael, but found myself heading towards Tiburon, the direction of Mirrors. I was in a daze. Once at work, I found it very difficult to integrate back into life after Mirrors. Trying to work out all that happened in those 10 days in Mirrors on my own, proved fruitless. I sought help.

Mirrors ended…I worked 5 days…the very next weekend I had many moons ago already signed up for another dance workshop called Libido. This was only a 2.5 day workshop. I can handle this! I walked in late Friday night to a roomful of people already into their dance. It was hot. I did a quick glance around the floor to see if any of those people that triggered me in Mirrors were here in Libido. No…good. I can dance without the baggage of Mirrors hanging over me. I also saw some dear friends from the Nevada City dance, which warmed me from the inside out. It was going to be a good weekend. And it was a good weekend. Until Sunday. We were practicing Chaos. I was paired with two other women. The exercise was intense. As the music played, it was my turn to ‘be in the middle’. The women were touching me were I could ‘loosen up’ in my dance. It was too much. I yelled ‘STOP’! & ran to the farthest corner I could, crying from a depth I have never cried from before. Eventually the class facilitator came over to see what happened. I tried taking deep breaths, but the tears kept coming. Shattered…just shattered once again…

I slowly began to stop dancing. It was too much for me. To be in a room filled with so much energy was just too much for my fragile self to handle. I tried going back a few times, but it only brought up more ugly ‘truths’. Yes, the dance is a very safe place to be yourself, feel your true feelings, laugh, cry yell…but is still was just too much for me…I gradually stopped dancing all together. No dancing, no socializing…Is this what I moved to Marin for?? No, but I was deep in the throws of my own fears. I felt frozen, fearful of going out into the world for anything.

One of the realizations I came to while in counseling was that I thought I needed to move in with roommates, so that I would force myself to be social. Another realization was that I wanted to migrate to Australia. I felt like the Marin ocean was a tease. Pretty to look at, but untouchable. This Southern CA Girl needs to be able to dip her body & soul into the water! And this was not happening in Marin.

So I worked diligently at pursuing Australia. But I reached a roadblock when the paperwork process for permanent migration seemed to get a bit cumbersome. So I focussed on finding a new place to live with roommates. Initially I was going to move into a friend’s condo. But finding a roommate to share the condo with me was challenging. Finally letting go of this option, I quickly advertised myself online looking for a roommate. Then I checked Craigslist. The first place I called, I looked at I was in! Too easy!

This was mid December 2009. My move out date was December 31,2009. But this is New Year’s Eve! I was determined to be all moved before the 31st because I had New Year’s Eve plans: The NYE dance in Grass Valley (Nevada City), that I never miss! But the month of December slipped away from me. It was New Year’s Eve & had a lot of work to do to move myself out of my old place & into my new one. Dancing with my Nevada City tribe looked less & less likely. As my Nevada City tribe knows, I did not make it to the dance.

So promises broken, to myself & my dear friends & family began to weigh more & more on my mind. Since mid-December 2009, I dropped even further out of contact (by way of Facebook) as well as in person even more than when first moving to Marin. Thinking that moving in with roommates would ‘get me back out in the world’, was the wrong way to go about this task for sure. And I suppose I wasn’t done isolating, because, where there is a will, there is a way, right? Roommates or not, I can find a way to isolate, now I just have an audience! Man!!

Not happy in my living situation & even less enthusiastic about my job, I was frustrated to say the least. I had to lite the fire from within to make a serious change in my life from the ground floor up. This began with finding new employment…Going about it the usual way did not entice me at all. I was looking for a BIG CHANGE…to finally, for the first time in a long time…follow my bliss…my heart…my passion. What is that?? For many years now my passion has been to teach children the 5 Rhythms dance internationally. Big dream? YES! Big passion?? YES! HUGE FEAR? YES! So I sat with this unfulfilled dream for several years now. This dream actually manifested during one of my year-long dance committed workshops called Connections that I did 6 or 7 years ago in Nevada City. At the time I was living in Fair Oaks, California & this revelation came to me as I was driving back home after one of the Connections weekends in Nevada City. But good ol’ fear has held me back all this time from pursing this dream. Me moving to Marin to pursue the 5 Rhythms teacher training was one of my first steps in making this dream come true.

So in the current job search I was in the midst of, I was on a path of pursuing my dream with the key ingredients being music, dance, children.

Then in February I received an email from a company called Footprints Recruiting. I had signed up to receive their email updates about 9 months prior, when I was really looking for a change. I wanted to travel & work on the road. I know it can be done. I have seen so many of my dancing friends work while living in another country. I wanted to do that! So not knowing anything much really about Footprints who wanted to recruit me right away for teaching English overseas, I declined, still fearful of pursuing my dream. But this time, when they emailed in February informing me they were hiring all over South Korea & wanted to know if I was interested, I emailed right back & said: “Sign Me Up!”. It was the right place, time & kind of job for me right now. I had only been in my new place for a month when this opportunity arose. But now I was preparing to take a teaching job in South Korea asap. They had positions that begin from a few days to a few months out. I could go whenever I was ready. I emailed them my resume. A phone interview was scheduled with one of the company’s owners who lives in Australia…hmmm…

I sat outside my counseling appointment on this phone interview. The employer told me he would pass my info over to their recruiting dept & I should be receiving an email soon from a recruiter. I hung up the phone from the interview & rushed into my counseling appointment that I was already late for now because of the interview. I told my counselor of the great news. She was floored because she didn’t even know this opportunity had presented itself to me.

Less than 3 months later I arrived in South Korea to teach English as a Second Language. More on this in another blog.

So I want to get back to the topic of closure.

I want to apologize to my dance community in Nevada City, Sacramento & Marin: for not being there for you as a friend or otherwise in the past 2 years. Not dancing with your beautiful bodies & souls, on & off the dance floor.

I apologize to my family who I have not had as much contact with in the last couple of years either.

I apologize for the unreturned emails to family & friends.

Bailing on my Facebook friends & family since December 2009

Missing out on the 2009 New Year’s Eve Dance in Nevada City

Birthdays that have gone unacknowledged

Leaving for S Korea so quickly that I was not able to say ‘Goodbye’ in person to so many of my friends & family

Saying ‘Thank You’ to everyone at MHA who gave me such a wonderful send off party (& Birthday wishes)

Thank you to all those I have met through Meet-up & wishing we could have had one final ‘gathering’

And to Jamie, a roommate who has become a friend (along with his girlfriend too) who has, and still is, wrapping things up for me in Marin since I so badly underestimated how long it takes to get my life packaged up & out of town.

I hope this blog reaches everyone intended.

I love you all. Here’s to a new chapter in life in my 40th year here.

Chris

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