22 May 2014

Pre-Departure Syndrome

Pardon my stream of consciousness, I was going to write this on Monday before I left but I feel compelled to now. Mostly due to the fact that I can't stop crying in public places and people keep giving me strange sideways glances.

I am so overwhelmed right now. My days have been so scheduled for the past few weeks it's been nearly impossible to consider the emotional ramifications of leaving this place I've called home for nearly the past two years. Now that the moving anxiety has settled down and most of my belongings have been accounted for, I feel that "shit is getting real" as they say.

A book could be filled with the horrible things I've said about Korea, I bitch about living and working here quite a bit.  Some is warranted, certainly not all. But I won't dwell on that now. I bring it up just to show myself how not terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad my time here has been.  I have met really nice people and seen cool things and done stuff that I probably would not have been able to had I not come to Korea, but that isn't hard to leave. You can find incredible people and have exciting new experiences anywhere you go. What you can't find everywhere is my students.

I remember my first class I taught here, they were rambunctious and obnoxious and I didn't know how to control them. One day they made me cry.

I have literally watched students grow up, from being little shrimps with messy hair to growing nearly as tall (if not taller) than me and donning braces and attempting to style, or god forbid perm, their hair to attract members of the opposite sex.  It freaks me out when I hear a student's voice change for the first time, and every time I think back to when I heard Jack's voice after it had changed at Jen's wedding rehearsal dinner in Los Angeles and about cried. I feel that same way when I notice changes in my students. I love them, how could I not?

Tonight was especially hard. Thursday night Debate class. These kids are... just so special. It's difficult to put into words exactly how wonderful they are. Sure, they're kids, so they drive me nuts sometimes. But they make me crazy in the way that burning a grilled cheese upsets me. I still love it, I'm definitely still going to eat it (not that I'm a cannibal, but whatever), and I'll just try harder to make it better next time.  I could barely say goodbye to these kids when we were getting ready to leave the classroom.  Saying goodbye indefinitely to kids that you've fallen in love with is an absolutely awful feeling.

I don't know where I'm going with this post. But for all the shitty emotions I'm experiencing right now, it makes me think that some part of this was all worth it. For the times I wanted to burn my academy down (every other day), for the failing system and dictator-like way we are expected to treat these kids, for every other stupid stupid part of this work I've been doing for the past two years. These kids are so worth it. They are so phenomenal and I am so a better person for being around them.  Some of them were sort of my teachers, as corny and terrible as that line is.

Going to go look at class pictures and cry into my bowl of popcorn because it's the only thing I have left to cook in my empty apartment.

Yes, as they say, shit has gotten real. T-3 more days left in Korea.


  1. I loved reading this the first time, and I loved it even more just now. You grew up in Korea and I enjoyed being a part of it from the sidelines. Thanks for putting it all into words for us.