A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Norebong.

11:11 PM Jessica Montgomery 0 Comments

And thus begins another semester here in Korea...

It's been a while since I've typed away at these confessional keys -One month to be exact. I can't believe it's already been a month since Okinawa! Just another reminder of how fast things move and how it presses to make the most of the time given.

I'll start off with a few updates and short stories:

School life is going well. Great, actually! I love my coworkers and they continue to blossom into an extended family that I never dreamt I'd be so lucky to have here. I had dinner at Puppy's house again last week and I felt like I was sitting down with a ball of sunshine. She is, quite possibly, one of the sweetest things on the planet. She made me Cheonju bibimbap for dinner and she chose this because she remembered last time we met that I was trying to lose some weight. And of course upon seeing me she hugged me, pulled back, and grabbed at my sides to compliment how "slim" I look; though we both know that wasn't the case. We talked and laughed well into the night and at one point I even had to ask her to take a "Puppy Break" because my face hurt from smiling so much. -Which of course caused us to laugh even more!
Mind you, this all transpired with little to no language communication. I speak bare Korean and she knows how to say "I love you.", "Thank you.", "Cheeseburger" and "Salt". (The last two were acquired that night.) But! Hana, Puppy's daughter and my co-teacher, told me that Puppy is going to begin English Lessons so she can better communicate with me and my Mom. How amazing is that? It reminds me of the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Tula's parents are trying to convince her of the benefits of going to Greek School: "Tula, when you get married don't you want to be able to write to your future mother in law back in Greece?" Something like that, haha.
 After about my nineteenth yawn, she said that I looked tired and that I should go home and rest. I left with a bag full of gifts for my family and  a goofy smile on my face that undoubtedly warranted some looks on the subway ride home.

School life is a changin' though... Unfortunately. My principal, badminton partner, and I'd go as far to say advocate, has retired. He definitely made me feel welcome at Panam and I am sorely going to miss him. What's crazy is, we will not meet our new principal until the first day of the new semester. Not just me, the entire school. No one has met this man yet. How is that even possible? I will never get over the last-minuteness of Korea. It's enough to drive you nuts.
Actually! Hana found out two days ago that she not only gets to keep her job as English teacher, but that she will also be staying at Panam. Yep, she could've be notified two days ago that she needed to pack up and move schools. I would've been devastated!

Wait, I need to back up here for a wee bit... It's obvious that I'm pretty close to my co-teachers. So. When I was informed a couple weeks ago that not only was Hana's job up for grabs, but Hyo's as well, I was quite taken aback. (For those of you just joining in, Hyo has been my main co-teacher from the very beginning. We've been through a lot together. She's helped me through relationship problems and I even visited her in the hospital after she had her first child. Yes. A lot together.) I was even more so taken aback when I heard that I needed to judge a lesson plan presented by Hyo and one other applicant, as well as interview them both. Could this be any more awkward? What made it worse was that Hyo was nervous! Nervous to the point that I even did a pre-interview with her to practice some of the interview questions. (I can't even make this up...) So I told her, It's okay! It's just me!
On the day of the presentation I felt awkward to say the least. Hyo came in dressed up and the other woman's presentation went really well. Should I of felt bad giving her such a high score? Eeek. This was a complicated, conflict of interests that I wasn't exactly sure how to handle.
Then it came time for the interviews. The other applicant did well and left the building. Then...nothing. My other two co-teachers checked to see if the other applicant had left the area and then we went back to our office. We didn't even bother to interview Hyo! It was all a facade; going through the motions. Haha, after all that! Korea. Koreuuuuh...seriously, sometimes you drive me crazy.

Another school-life-tid-bit that is being shook up is my schedule. As of this semester, on Fridays, I will be teaching 6th grade solo. This will be an interesting departure from the norm, but I'm going to make the best of it. Originally I had planned and mapped out a course curriculum that would supplement what they will be learning from their book but, in true Panam fashion, they thought that would be too much work. So. My Fridays have been slotted to be 'Review & Game Time with Teacher Jessica'. Ehh, I tried!

Art life, I'm pleased to say, has been picking up lately. The direction of my work is still a little fuzzy, but the fact that I'm making it is enough for me. I've adapted to working with acrylic on wooden panels because it's safer and easier for me to transport and use here. And, people seem to like them! I have a small, little, art sale at a local bar this weekend and I already have a few paintings spoken for (Update: I sold three! Woohoo!)
Also, the Daejeon Art Collective is back in full swing and we are building up towards a show running from May 17th-21st, opening on the 17th. The collective has chosen to run with a theme this time, Made in Korea 메이드 인 코리아 , and that's definitely going to be a challenge for me. A challenge...but, I think I might have something up my sleeve. You'll just have to wait and see!

Another thing I'm working towards... Dive certification! Yes. I know. 'Jessica, all your artwork is about the ocean...and you don't dive? What a poser.' I know, I know, you don't think I've heard that before? I've just never been in the position to do so; financially or otherwise. But now I am and I have my first confined water dive scheduled for later on this month! I'll be swimmin' with the fishes faster than you can say "I'm gunna make him an offer he can't refuse."

Speaking of fish... a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of testing my will to live by biting into a bit of fugu. Fugu, if you are unfamiliar, is a poisonous blowfish dish that is popular in Japan. Fugu is only allowed to be prepared by certified chefs and restaurants because there is certain skill needed in order to make it safe to consume. The blowfish has a poison sac that, if punctured when removed, can deliver a poison 12 times stronger than cyanide. Yep. So, why did I eat this you ask? Why else do I try and eat ridiculous things? I was at a teacher's dinner. (Fugu, blood sausage, live octopus, raw crab, fermented stingray...my stomach is a tank.)
Taste: So, is it worth putting your life on the line? Is it really that good???  -No. Like most daring and exotic Asian cuisine (Bird's nest soup, shark fin soup, fugu, live octopus, shark...) it's more about status, proving your manliness, and showing your guests a good time. It tasted like a nice, fresh, white fish sure, but to risk your life for it? No. It was prepared in a soup with leeks, mushrooms, and bean sprouts. The skin and fins were kept on, though the fish itself was cut up into pieces. The skin was smooth and blubbery.
Try it if you're so inclined. But I wouldn't say it's worth going into cardiac arrest.

So yeah. That's where I'm at right now! Optimistically looking forward to what the next 6 months will bring. (I honestly can't believe I'm already 6 months in to this new contract. TIME IS FLYING.)
~I continue to surround myself with inspiring people and I encourage you to do the same. I'm continuing to slowly shed self-doubt and layer on bits of confidence with every relationship that grows stronger. These people are amazing and are my home away from home.



Things I've learned in the first 2 months of 2014:
-Keep taking chances.
-Don't worry, the future will always be there.
-Be confident and live honestly.
-Never hold your breath while diving.

Cheers!

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