As we approach our halfway point -- I. KNOW! -- it is time to reflect on the first six months of Our Year in Andong, Korea.
I suppose there is an argument to be made that we haven't spent six months here at all, seeing as we spend a good chunk of our weekends galavanting about to other parts of the country. But I do so love to galavant about. At any rate, we are spending the current weekend at home. I'm talking never-left-the-house-or-even-put-in-my-contacts-today at home. That is serious, for me. I actually loathe not leaving the house on a given day and I am kind of creeped out by people who have more than one day every, let's say, year that they don't leave the house. But, I had a lot of things to get done today in the apartment and on the computer, plus the monsoon rainy season has arrived and there's basically a biblical flood outside our window the past three days, so you really don't want to go anywhere unless you have to, and you bring a change of dry clothes.
Speaking of that, I had this handy dandy emergency poncho - and it disintegrated! I bought it several years ago and I've had it with me on my various journeys, especially the Habitat trips to Honduras and Tajikistan, but I never actually ended up using it so it has just sat in the little plastic travel-size bag it came in when I bought it at Target or wherever. Yesterday I got it out of the closet because the aforementioned rain was doing its thing but we totally had to go on an errand and to work, and I couldn't take the poncho out of the plastic bag because it was in tatters! It was made of polyethylene. Wikipedia tells me that it shouldn't dissolve unless it is exposed to UV rays from sunlight (it was in our darkened entryway closet) or maybe if this one Canadian bacteria eats it. I am so confused. What happened to my polyethylene?! So much for having an emergency poncho.
Anyway, back to reflection. For the most part I am satisfied. Our job is very laid back and I love our boss, co-workers, and lack of people breathing down our necks as we carry out our job duties. I like my students and I like the books we use and I love living a three-minute walk from work. I mean, we really have nothing to complain about whatsoever. We are still making our way through trying all the restaurants in our neighborhood, and I seriously have become a frequent EMart customer -- it is so handy having an EMart so close I can see it from our apartment building. Eyeglasses, haircuts, wine, even the occasional Chee-zuh De-luk-suh Pi-ja can all be had a stone's throw away.
It has been fun hanging out in Daegu, taking the Korean class (which has now ended), and occasionally popping into the Commune, my favorite watering hole on the planet. I have enjoyed our weekend sojourns to Seoul and other cities. I was devastated to discover that Mi Casa Loca, the Mexican restaurant in Seoul to which I pilgrimaged once a month during my first Korea tour of duty, apparently closed both its locations, but we ate at On the Border in Seoul on our last trip there. We have enjoyed other weekend trips to Yeongdeok on the east coast, Mokpo on the southwest coast and Jeju Island. We have hiked, attended random festivals, seen a few Buddhist temples, been to at least various norae bangs, hit up an oncheon bath, and otherwise done the basically required awesome things to do in Korea.
As everyone knows, I think, by now, our trip to Japan in February over the Lunar New Year holiday was a mega highlight, and we are planning to go back there for our upcoming summer vacation to see a bunch of cities we didn't see the first time around.
I have been reading but can always read more. My most recent endeavors have been The Aquariums of Pyongyang and my latest prez bio, Franklin Pierce. He was BFFs with Nathaniel Hawthorne and I am really digging learning about U.S. history from 1820-1860. It's fascinating stuff. I think I am in the mood to start reading a bunch of fiction, now, for the summer months. I've been writing a bit but not enough. I recently started a kickboxing class at a gym a few minutes walk from our apartment. It's a great workout and I'm so glad that a friend who also teaches here in Andong told me about it!
I could definitely go without ever drinking Cass beer again, but our local foreigners' favorite bar that we gather in many weekends has some decent imported bottles. I get in feisty political discussions from time to time. We've started having a monthly book swap among the Andong English teachers so we don't have to spend all our money (and room in our suitcase) on books we buy here. There are barbecues and other adventures. It's an OK time in Andong, I must say. I just have had so many other things on my plate - I am never actually looking for things to do. I'm not even going to the movies every week - we've only seen a handful in the theater this year! Super 8, Paul, Source Code, True Grit, The Adjustment Bureau, Morning Glory, Harry Potter 7.1, and maybe another one I'm forgetting.
So Korea is going well! But now that the halfway mark is approaching, it's time to start thinking about what is next! Craziness. Last time I left to Korea, I moved to Long Island and went to Hofstra for law school. I definitely won't be making that mistake again. Actually, we do have several tentative post-Korea plans, which shall not be revealed at this time.
Oh, and my sister is about to have her baby. Like, in the next 48 hours. A fourth nephiece for me, and I won't even meet her (they think it's a her) until 2012.
Well, keep on keepin' on, 2011.