Alright, so I’m kind of playing catch up, but I found out where I’m going to be teaching this next year! I’ll be in Cheongju around the Chungdae area! If you’re wondering where that is, here’s a map!
That’s right guys! I’m smack dab in the middle of the country. That means that I’ll never be more than 2 hours away from anywhere in South Korea. In my preferences I noted that I’d like to be near the coast or in the mountains, so I was a little surprised that I ended up in Cheongju! But I’m actually incredibly happy about it! Gabby will be teaching in Cheongju next year as well, and by some extremely weird twist of fate we will actually just be a 7 minute taxi ride from each other. That’s even closer to each other than where we live back at home, which is wild. Plus, there’s a pretty solid and fun group of ETAs that are also going to be teaching in Cheongju. I was actually so happy that after the placement ceremony, I called up my friend Gabby and had to hold back tears of joy. I can’t wait to start and meet my host family!
Afterwards, Director Shim went to the front of the room to make a speech. She gave us very salient and important advice to remember during our grant year: “Don’t compare”. Easier said than done for a group of competitive individuals that applied for Fulbrights (and then earned them)! But it is very important. All of our experiences are going to come with their own unique challenges and rewards. One ETA may have brilliant lesson plans but struggle in classroom management, while another ETA has the exact opposite problem. We have to remember that this isn’t a sort of “contest” of who can grasp the reigns the quickest. We all have our own strengths that we were chosen for, but we also have our own unique weaknesses that we need to be content with grappling. For me personally, I’m worried that my weakness may fall in my adjustment to a homestay. What if they don’t like me? What if I commit a cultural faux pas and am unaware of it? What if I find myself having these struggles while the other ETAs have no problem adjusting to a new family? I need to remember that good things usually take patience and time, and that even if I’m not adjusting to my homestay at the same pace as others, I have other pillars of my Fulbright experience that I can turn to.
Speaking of which…
When I’m in Cheongju, I’d really like to continue practicing Taekwondo. I’m going to classes twice a week right now in Songdo and I absolutely love it, even if I’m not totally the best at it! The only thing is that the Taekwondo class would most likely be every weekday, and I’m not sure that I can put aside that much time as a new teacher still getting the hang of things! If I can’t do Taekwondo, I’d want to sign up for a yoga or Zumba class. As long as I can sign up for one of those, I’ll be happy! Hiking in the area is an absolute must as well. I also hear that there may be an opportunity to tutor North Korean Defector students. Above anything else, I would really like to be apart of that. I actually think that in the future, I’d really appreciate being able to have some kind of involvement with refugees back in the States, if possible.
I’m just really happy for what’s to come 🙂