With exactly two weeks left until I hop on a plane to South Korea, every day I get a little more nervous, but also more excited. Here are some of the things I’m most looking forward to:
Orientation. Between the long, informative lectures and the desperate attempts to make as many friends as possible, part of orientation is going to feel like I’m a freshman in college again, sure. But it’s also during this time that my most authentic first impressions of Korea will be made. I plan to take an inappropriate number of pictures of anything and everything, just so I can look back after this year and chuckle at all the things I first thought were so different and strange.
The smallest task becoming the biggest adventure. While adjusting to life in Korea, the basic act of finding the bus stop will feel like a quest for the Holy Grail; the mundane errand of grocery shopping will become a scavenger hunt of epic proportions; and ordering food at restaurants will morph into a daring game of Korean roulette. I expect it to be exhaustingly exhilarating, or exhilaratingly exhausting, or both.
McDonald’s delivery. That’s right, boys and girls. Just about every restaurant in Korea will deliver right to my apartment. And when I’m done, I just leave the tray and dishes outside my door and they will come back to pick it up later! Thank god this hasn’t taken hold in America yet. Our obesity epidemic would be even worse than it already is.
Learning Korean customs. I assume this particular process will involve me making a lot of social faux pas at first, but I’m a smart cookie, so I think I’ll catch on quickly. Whether it’s learning to let my elders lead during a meal, remembering to drink from my glass with both hands, or just adjusting to taking my shoes off before I walk in a room, I’m going to have a lot to absorb but it’s going to be awesome!
My students. No matter how old they are, I’m going to tower over them (I’m 6’2”). I expect them to test me at first, but once we get to know each other, it’s going to be a lot of fun for everyone. I’m excited to blow their minds with facts about the US and to teach them popular English slang words and phrases.
Exploring Ulsan. This city of one million people rests on the southeast coast of the country, and it will be my hometown for the next year. From what I hear, I’ll have a lot of free time on my hands, so I can’t wait to use a good chunk of that to get to know the city, discover its best kept secrets, and then share them all with you, of course!
Making new friends. I love the idea of establishing a group of friends who come from all over the world. By forming relationships with Koreans and fellow expats alike, I am guaranteed to broaden my perspective on the world and hear a lot of fascinating stories.
Expanding my pallet. As you might’ve read in my previous post, I am a recovering picky eater. However, I have spent time abroad before, and it was during that period that I made my biggest strides at the dinner table (but only because my survival depended on it, frankly). Soon, I will find myself in that same position, so I predict record-breaking amounts of growth to be made in the eating department again.
Settling into my apartment. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s make myself at home. Crammed into my suitcase will be plenty of family pictures and mementos, as well as a hefty supply of arts-and-crafts materials. Once I’m there, it will be comforting to have a place to call home, and a safe haven to retreat into when I’m feeling homesick or overwhelmed by my strange new surroundings.
The unknown. Previous adventure experience tells me that I can’t even begin to fully know all the wonderful and amazing things I will see and encounter in the next year. Future friends, co-workers, acquaintances, loved ones (?!), I’m beyond excited to meet you all!
It’s going to be one wild ride, but my seatbelt is buckled and I know where all the exits are. I just have one question, “Are we there yet?”