Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Quick Update and Anticipating Ruminations on My Time Abroad

This was a week in which time mercifully slowed down.

Despite the fact that I was able to sleep in on Monday morning with the start of regular hours at work (which means I don't go in until early afternoon), I had basically succumbed to a cold by the time I woke up. It wasn't too serious, just enough to be a bit of an annoyance and to make me sound even more nasally than usual while teaching Monday evening.

School was cancelled for Tuesday in anticipation of dangerous conditions caused by Typhoon Bolaven, so I took the opportunity to try to get some extra rest to battle the bug. At 8:30 I awoke to a voice over the intercom system saying something, I don't know what. A few times over the next few hours this happened again, with different messages that I could not decipher. I really need to learn more Korean. Although at one point around noon I did pick up one word, which I was pretty sure was sixteen (shib-yook). Interestingly enough, the next message came over the intercom around 4:30 (or 16:30 on the 24-hour clock). I counted this as a small victory, but waking up during potentially dangerous conditions to words I can't understand has always been one of my fears about being in a non-English environment.

The storm did turn out to be dangerous, and sadly, there were fatalities in the area due to strong winds. Fortunately everyone at work came through it fine, although there were some leaky roofs and windows and some potential close calls with flying/falling objects that I heard about. I also noticed several downed trees in the ensuing days, including a small tree that was toppled right in front of our school. I took the photo below of a tree in a park-like area while walking around on Saturday.

Fallen tree
The extra rest helped tremendously. By Thursday afternoon my sore throat and congestion were gone, with only a minimal headache remaining. Thursday morning also brought some winds and heavy rain as  Typhoon Tembin moved through the area. This time the winds were blowing in such a direction that the rain was hitting my windows and I ended up with a tiny leak, which I soaked up with a towel. The rain had passed by the time I walked to work, and in its wake was a gorgeous, cool end-of-August day.

Feeling cool weather outside here for the first time immediately conjured memories of autumn back home, both relaxing and stressful. As I traipsed along the few blocks to the school many of these dropped by my consciousness, uninvited but not unwelcome. I could write an entire blog about cherished autumn-time memories, and I may have a need for space-filling material before the year is out so I won't squander them here. Suffice it to say that by the time I walked into work and switched gears I was again acutely aware of just how short a year really is and how much I really hope (and expect) to enjoy this fall.

The preceding days had primed me for such feelings. Three of our teachers left this week: two finished their contracts and a third moved to a different school.  Last Saturday I attended a going-away dinner for a teacher who finished his one-year contract this week. He really seemed like a wonderful teacher and a very interesting person, and I enjoyed the few snatches of conversation I got to have with him during the month we worked together. When I walked into the office on Thursday (which marked my fifth full week here) he was finalizing the last of his business here in preparation for his departure on Friday. He said goodbye, bid farewell to the bosses, and I watched him walk out of the office and head for the stairs. I couldn't help but contemplate how I may feel when I walk out of those doors for the last time. I know it will arrive quickly because I've imagined moments like that in the past, and they always happen so much sooner than I imagine.

My dorm room during my freshman year in college looked directly out onto the church steps that serve as the stage during commencement ceremonies. I would often look up from my desk and out that window, trying to imagine how I might feel four years from then. It's cliche, but four years later I remembered those moments vividly, despite all the extraordinarily wonderful and challenging experiences that had filled the interim. This blog, then, will be my attempt at examining all those wonderful and challenging adventures and thoughts/feelings I encounter and pursue. When I walk out the office doors for the final time I hope to have this to remind me of just how full my time here will have been.

Now I promise to stop being sappy. I touched the ocean today! I spent hours walking around the city yesterday! I went out with coworkers on several more occasions this week! I actually took pictures! Give me some time to digest and contextualize it and we'll see if I can wait until next Sunday to update you. In the meantime, here's a photo of the view from my apartment, and here's to me spending much more time out there than in here.

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