As discussed by my colleagues (a.k.a. the doofuses that show up around the same time I do at work), once you hit the six month mark in this gig, that's about the kind of teacher you're going to be for the rest of your time (partly because no one stays seriously long term, in excess of five years). Today concluded the January session of classes, marking the halfway point in my contract with ECC, and I found myself looking over my shoulder at where I've been, then staring into the future wondering what's yet to come.
First off, I am no longer living with my parents, eating their food, and spending every free minute online. I walk for fun, now, pay for the necessities in life (food, utilities, soju), and do my dishes after every meal. I feel confident speaking in front of a classroom, a drastic change from when speaking in front of one person caused tears to stream down my cheeks. I do my hair, wear some makeup, and in general care about my appearance.
I discovered what it's like to receive support from thousands of miles away; right now my closest friend Tracy is going through a lot, and I desperately wish I could be there for her--but the thought occurs to me that she and my mother probably felt similarly when I broke my leg, and even though that was hard to bear, just having someone to talk to meant the world. I think somehow I discovered how to be a better friend and listener.
I have learned more than I ever hoped to know about New Zealand and Australia, and I've developed a practiced serene smile for listening to others' differing opinions. While it can use more practice, I believe that life will be long and ironic enough for me to do so.
Remarkable for me is how my relationship with myself has changed. I no longer have the option of blending into the background, and thus have been faced with what a beautiful, smart, and caring young woman I've become. I can handle a crisis, 14 screaming 6-year-olds at once, making my own dinners that include vegetables, now, and taking responsibility for my own happiness. (Who knew I'd have to leave the one country guaranteeing the pursuit of happiness to actually go out and do it?)
So today was tinged with sadness: parting with students in whom I've invested a lot of time, money, energy, and passion; reading Tracy's tribute to her father; acknowledging that as people leave certain friendships will never be the same; a mildly sprained ankle.
Tomorrow is the start of the next six months, and I can't wait to see what it brings. I'm pretty sure, though, that a meal at the new Mexican place will be a great way to start the next six months; it worked for the last! There are a lot more schools in Korea, with good reputations, let alone the whole of Asia to explore. (And, to be honest, I've only learned one verb in Korean, and I'd like to expand that a bit. "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up," might come in handy, for example.)