Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In the beginning...

Well, today must be the first day of the adventure. I FINALLY received my E-2 teaching visa in-passport from the Korean consulate in Chicago. This is the very last document I needed to get off the ground (literally) and over to South Korea. I leave Monday the 16th at 9:40pm and have a 12 hour or so layover in Detroit where I'll be meeting up with a a Peace Corps friend and pulling an all-nighter of sorts. I fly out of Detroit at about 12:30pm on Tuesday and will be arriving around 3pm Korean time on Wednesday, anticipating a long flight. I'm actually going to be on the same flight as another English Program in Korea (EPIK) participant, also named Shaun. It'll be nice to have some company on such a long flight, a rarity in my past travels.
This being Wednesday, however, I still have a lot to get done. I'm a groomsman in a wedding for my dear friends Brian and Kari, two of my best friends in college, on Saturday the 14th. Fortunately, my dad will be flying in from Tampa to go to the wedding in Fargo and I'll get to see him, as well as my mom, the weekend before I leave, which is to say I'm lucky at best.
Today is my last day working at Casey's General Store and gas station making pizzas in the back kitchen. Tomorrow will most likely be set aside for packing, making phone calls, collecting some last minute things (like deodorant), etc.

Google Image Search for Gyeongbuk Do
I still don't know where I'll be teaching other than in the Gyeongbuk-do (also known as the Gyeongbuksangdo) province. I know it is one of the most rural and underdeveloped provinces, but I am thrilled with this. When I was in the Peace Corps, Philippines, I lived in a very underdevelped and small rural village on the island of Leyte. Having grown up in urban centers, I have come to love the country and the quality of life that comes part-and-parcel of that experience. I may wind up teaching at more than one school, which is sometimes a condition of rural teachers, but that's fine as long as it's not going to bust my chops.
Anyway, I'm up for anything they throw at me. I am going abroad to teach for a number of reason, but one is to place myself in unfamiliar settings: adapt or falter. And I intend to adapt. It's going to be a lot easier for me to say goodbye this time around, compared to when I left for the Peace Corps in 2008 as I am not leaving college, friends and community. I am living in my mom's basement, for the time being, working at a gas station. While it will be difficult to leave my family, there is far less to feel sentimental about considering I'll be gone for at least 12 months. But we'll see. I guess it's hard to know for sure until you're away and homesick.