Settling In

3 Nov

I have been back in South Korea for over a week now.  While my sleep, for the most part, is back on Korean time, it seems my mind, body and being are still assimilating to life back in South Korea.  Admittedly, my six-week stay in the States has me remembering now the things that are familiar and good in my home culture.  The ease of movement in a land where, mostly, I know the rules… and the language. Quality built and well insulated homes.  Easy access to healthy food.

That said, I still feel a certain element of independence and spark of excitement at just being in South Korea. Today was my first trip into Seoul since returning.  I appreciated the foreign familiarity of staring into the many Korean faces on the subway, all of us united in the study of our smart phones.  The recognizable but still indiscernible to me sound of the Korean language.  The simple pleasure of walking in Seoul on a perfectly moderate fall day, catching a glimpse of the Seoul Tower in the background.  Despite missing things about home, I can’t deny that I am also grateful to be here.

My first week returning to English Village has been a bit bumpy for me.  Thankfully my week-long sleep adjustment finally resulted in success – sleeping all the way until 5am… Hurray!  While not quite cold yet, there is a new damp bite in the air… a chilly reminder of the winter months that lie ahead.  A daunting prospect for me at best.  And then there is the mold. My newish work assignment at English Village has me working in a building that has some mold problems.  Since returning, one day I turned on the heater to warm up the place and doing so must have launched a variety of unwanted things in to the air.  What resulted for me was a very painful allergic reaction.  This experience has me hesitant in my new work environment.

But bumpy as its been, I can’t help but stop to smell the roses.  I continue with my pre-US departure work assignment now teaching small classes of young children learning to read.  This is quite a change from the busloads of adolescent youth I was teaching in my previous assignment.  Days now include a quieter tone and the innocence and genuine enthusiasm of the children I work with.  Additionally, we get to see the same kids each week, so I have some time to get to know them.

Most of my students are really sweet and enthusiastic.  They range from a very young age of about four years old to 9-year-old.  Their English level spans from still learning their ABCs to quite conversational.  As I get to know them, its fun to consider what they like to do and choose activities and games that best suit them.  At times they are wild with their unbridled childlike energy… which can be fun and contageous… and other times a bit of a challenge in the classroom.

This week’s adventures in the classroom included a bit of a scavenger hunt – roaming the campus looking for words we read in our book “Under the Sky”.  Along the way, we stumbled upon the two resident turtles at English Village.  They were a big hit with my little student who found them while looking for rocks.

Also, while the leaves are changing color here in Paju, some of my students created some colorful trees of their own.  I was impressed with their bold selection of colors!

Today I made my way to Seoul for the chapter meeting of my Buddhist SGI group, known as Morning Sun.  I can always count on this group to provide a friendly face, a good hug, as well as some wisdom and inspiration.  Three years into this practice, I continue to appreciate its consistent message of never give up and of making the impossible possible.  I also am fed by the reminder that part of the happiness of life is the joy and growth in overcoming life’s challenges. It helps me to keep an attitude of never give up when surrounded by the spirit and energy of this Buddhist group.  I particularly appreciate the spark and enthusiasm of this Seoul SGI group that to me feels so vibrant and alive.

After my day in Seoul, I am now settled in a bit for a little relaxation.  On my way home, I stopped at the local Home Plus store and treated myself to a few familiar goodies.  Sometimes the little things make a difference.

And with that I will leave you for now… settling in for the night on a quiet cool evening in Paju City, South Korea.

Top photo is a snapshot of some bright bold Fall leaves on the English Village campus.

One Response to “Settling In”

  1. Cletus Billesbach 11/04/2013 at 03:47 #

    Hi Nancie: Thanks for the info and sharing getting settled in Korea. It sounds like a nice group of kids you are working with. It should be fun. Everything is going well here and we finally got some good rain last week and are suppose to get more this week. Take care. Millie


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