After 12 really happy and eventful months, I have left Osan. It seems like only yesterday I arrived in Korea and felt overwhelmed, a little anxious and nervous. I remember the first weekend of awful jet lag and knowing no one and being afraid to wander too far from my apartment. I remember the first time I had to stand up in front of my kids at school and the fear that accompanied it. So much has changed in 12 months.
I finished my contract with Osan Elementary School on November 1st and have signed on a new short contract with a new school in Anyang. Although technically Osan was on the Seoul subway line, it was the far, far outskirts. It suited me so well and I had little to no complaints for 12 months in my new home. But now I feel like I am living the high life.
Anyang is Seoul proper. As cliche as it is, as soon as I arrived here I felt electric. The area of Seoul is a buzz with people. I am not in the central area of Seoul and when I look out my 16th storey window I see a perfect mixture of high rise buildings and mountains in the back ground. It is amazing.
My new school is very different from my first school. The students here are known for their english proficiency and the levels are way beyond what I was teaching before. On my first day of class, I had students in full blown conversations with me and some even (successfully!) cracked a few jokes. Without Mrs.Kim translating, this never would've happened with my Osan kids.
I used to teach grades 3 through 6, where as here, I only have to worry about grade 5 and 6, a welcome change. Less lesson plans, and a higher level of english. It is actually much easier to teach high level english because the students here actually understand what I am teaching them, instead of the need for a coteacher to be continually translating into Korean. A-sa! Everything is such a welcome change! As I said, my year in Osan was amazing, I just feel like this is a great change of pace for me.
Being in Seoul now offers so many benefits as well. We are so much closer to anywhere and everywhere we go. If we need to grab a taxi home, it's so much cheaper... and the food! On our first day of exploring I had lunch with Garry and we stopped into a cafe and had a sandwich. Nothing too special you may be thinking? In Osan, we would NEVER find a sandwich. And this wasn't just a boring sandwich, it was a toasted double decker club sandwich, possibly my first in Korea. Osan was a tiny little place and now we have just stepped into the cosmopolitan world of Seoul! Happiness.
My contract at Pyeongchon Elementary School is just 4 months long. There are major budget cutbacks going on in Korea right now and a lot of "restructuring". March 1st will most likely be the start of the new 12 month contract and who knows where I will be then. The plan is to come home after this gig is up, but I am so happy in Korea and feel so pleased with the new change, who knows what will happen. Only time can tell. But for now, I plan on sucking out every last bit of enjoyment and experience Korea to its fullest in the next few months.