Spiritual Journey: Teaching English As A Second Language
Live from South Korea
© Cindy Murphy 2003
Hello, everyone!!! It has been a LLLLOOOONNNGGGGG time, I should apologize...neh. UUmmm, well, last you heard, most of you, I was in my I hate Korea stage. You see, legend has it, that you go through stints, at the three month stage, and the six month stage. Well, apparently, I went through a three TO six month stage. Around the beginning of June, I went to the internet, after packing my bags (which are still packed and in my closet!!!), to buy a ticket home. $2000. OK!!!! So, I was miserable, but when you realize you really don;t have a choice but to make the best of it, you make the best of it.
It is very difficult to explain the situation here if you haven't lived it. And not everyone here has the same experience, to be sure, but my particular school is completely nuts. In the six months I've been here, let's see, we've had 4 teachers fired, including my friend Jin, and I've had 4 bosses. In six months. There is alot of fighting and backstabbing, and jealousy, and undermining going on, and two certain teachers, basically run the show, we're not sure how, but whenever they make a complaint about something, it changes. I had to beg for a phone for three weeks straight, you know? Anyway, my biggest bone of contention has been that I chose this school because they didn't have split shifts.....what happened three weeks after I got here? Split shifts. I HATE split shifts. HATE them. I work from 9:20 until 7:25, with a two hour lunch break. HATE it!! So, the good news from MY perspective, from about three weeks ago, is that they would not replace our third teacher, Steph, when she leaves, and they would have Don and I teach all day, with a 40 minute lunch break, for overtime pay. I was so happy!! Finally!!! I would be making enough money that I could save some, instead of struggling. I was all for it, as I hated sitting around wasting time during the day.
Today, like three weeks later, after I agreed to do it, they say, oh, wer'e hiring a third teacher. I had my budget all done out, and I had decided to stay until July 9, so that not only would all the big bills be paid off, but I'd be coming home with a few thousand bucks in my pocket to show for it. I'll be back on the net tonight.....( to find a ticket home...ha ha) So, it's been up and down, up and down. You try not to let it get to you, but it's difficult. Besides that, though, I've had a really good summer. I went to Daegu to visit Wendy, Jenn, and Leigh, and the highlight of that trip, besides the Costco, and Wal Mart (I know, it's the simple things), was our night out on the town at a local restaurant/bar where a live band was playing. Well, when the band came out, (they were Eastern European), and started to play, my eyes literally welled up with tears, I was so happy to hear real, live music. Again, I can't explain how horrible the music is here....it's all very bad, very computerized pop crap, like the worst crap. It was a great night!!!
Another highlight was the second bus tour. This time, we went to a lotus field, a natural dye making studio, and rafting. The lotus field wasn't in bloom , but it was a nice day for the walk anyway, and at the end of the walk, we met some Buddhist monks who were meditating under a pagoda. They were sooo nice, and they spoke perfect English. I was so excited, as I'm learning more about Buddhism, and I'm fascinated by any aspect of it. We went to tye dye some shirts, which was fun, but mine basically went white again, after I washed it. The MOSt fun was the rafting, and a picture of our raft group was on the cover of the Gwangju newsletter (foreigner's bible, tells you what's going on in town, our only English publication). So, now I'm even more famous than before, when I won the best green tea pouring thingy.....
I have had two day trips of hiking in the mountains. Now, really, I could/should be doing this every weekend, but it's a challenge to find people to go with, and it's also so hot here, it's very hard to get motivated to do much in your free time besides drink cold drinks in front of the air conditioner....But!!! I spent a day with Pat, who I met on bus tour, who is 50, who lived right behind me in Kanata, go figure, and her roommate, Ryan, an Aussie, who makes me laugh....We went with another couple from the States, but they got voted out of the island for her incessant whining, wait, slow down, can't you just wait?!!! (Wasn't my decision to kick her off the island, because I'm a Buddhist now, with extreme patience for all living beings....). Anyway, it's a real mountain, like over 1700 metres--that's for Mom and Dad who don't quite believe their couch potato daughter can actually climb a mountain, and live to tell about it.
Then, on another weekend, just Pat, Ryan and myself went to a national park a couple of hours outside of Gwangju, Mount Nangjansun, or something, where we cheated a bit, and took a cable car partway up the mountain, so we could go to a pagoda/look out, then we spent the rest of the day climbing, and climbing, and climbing.....we had a really hard time of it, very rocky, craggy, treachorous, and life threatening, really....We finally made it to the top, to the waterfall, which at this time of year, was really just a trickle, but I dunked myself under it, as I was soo ooooo hot, only to discover it was freezing cold. Good pictures. Anyway, we followed some other folks down the hill, only to discover that we had been climbing the stream, uphill, and that there was a path right next to it the whole time!!!!
We then went to Iksan, a little town, where Pat wanted to find jewelry....We stayed at a love hotel, which I thought would be sleazy, but it was beautiful!! And cheap!!! It had a whirlpool bathtub, which I used twice, so no aching legs the next day. And Ryan got bragging rights of having stayed in a love hotel with two, count em, two Canadian girls!!! We had a blast, as it was quite the challenge to even use the bathroom...glass between the bathroom and bedroom, I suppose to enhance the loving going on in the bedroom. Anyway, we were going to head on to Bowan, another town, to go to a beach, but it poured, so we headed back to Gwangju....
I have attended two parties at the Air Force base here. It's a Korean base, but there are 30 - 40 US guys there, and they started a social club here, as they are even more isolated than we are. I go for the food....they have real hot dogs, and hamburgers, and Ruffles.....and very cheap booze!! Apparently, they call themselves the oh shit base (sorry Mom, I would never say shit in real life), because if anything happens with the North Koreans, they ship people out through Gwangju...Seoul being too close to the DMZ, I guess. I knew there was a reason for coming to Gwangju....A good time there for sure, and a hangover to pay for it!!! We now have TGIFriday's AND Outback here in Gwangju, they both just sprouted up here over the summer....Again, I cried when I bit into my steak the first time.....
Another trip to Seoul! Did I mention how much I love it there? It's so completely multicultural....I met some drunk boys from Scotland ( no kilts *&%@!!), from the States, from many obscure little African countries etc etc. Wendy met up with her man from Morocco, so she wimped out and went home, and Leigh and I went dancing, til the wee hours of the morning...I think we crawled home at 6 or 7!! It was soooo great, again, the music and dancing, I had forgotten how wonderful they are....and let's not forget.... I AM THE DANCING QUEEN!!! At least I like to think so. At some point, I was in such an ecstacy, some girl with stalettos stomped on my toe, and I thought it might be bleeding, but I was dancing to Latin music, so all I thought was, oh well, that'll hurt tomorrow, and kept on dancing....
And then, I met Wagdy..... And from now on, I will not be writing e-mail, I will be writing my memoirs, "Not without my Daughter, Part 2", the story of a young Canadian girl who gets charmed by a dazzlingly beautiful Egyptian man whose eyes got big every time she laughed one of her delicate and ladylike laughs...who enraptures her the 57 times a day he calls her, and says, I just want to hear you smile, and asks "don't you like to make the sex?" ( of course, Mom, I'm a virgin, so NO, I said, I don't like to make the sex!!!), who "must see me again"...who will marry me, and give me a good life, by....October?!!!! I met Wagdy in a bar, we spoke for about half an hour, my dearest friend gave him my number......and he's talking of marriage. I havent' seen him since then, but he is pretty sure he wants to marry me. I thought it was for the passport, but he wants us to go to Egypt, and live in his house that he's building, where he will have a farm.....Farm, I said, farm??? What kind of animals will you have?
HORSES??!!! So, decision made, I will marry Magdy in the fall. You are all invited to the wedding, I will be the one in the black veil with two little peep holes. You know, wearing a veil is not a terrible thing, I mean, with the humidity, let's be honest, I'm having more crazy hair days than good! And so, ok, my last name will be 20 letters long, and completely unpronounceable, but hey, he's hot, and horses, man, horses!! And during Ramadan I don't have to put out. And he doesn't speak English, and I ain't learning Arabic, so it could really work, maybe the best possibility for me making a marriage work so far in life!! He's very funny, really, and quite sweet, but....you know.
Anyway, I'll keep you up to date!! People have asked, and while I am still waiting to hear from the school board, I am due back in either November, if they don't extend my leave, or February March ish....unless I sign on for another six months here, which is possible, but I have to rethink that now that the extra money isn't going to be forthcoming.... Sorry it's been so long, I try to call people instead of e-mailing, but I'm out of my card this week, so.....I hope all is well in that neck of the woods, and I hear from you soon! I love you all, some of you more than others of course, see how that Buddhism thing is working out for me? Write soon!! AND SEND "US" MAGAZINE!!!