I have been trying to figure out the reason behind why I so easily and publicly been displaying my emotions lately. First thing that anyone would tell me – its a lot of life changes. I’m currently underemployed, single and back in Canada. None of these things were the case just about 6 months ago.
In October I finished a 2 year teaching contract at a private English language academy in Seoul, South Korea. I was happy to leave at the time. I was also sad. Even though I felt I was somehow ‘under-utilized’ – just there to please the parents that a foreigner was interacting with their children, I did love some of those children. Some days I actually felt like I was making a difference and that they were learning. A friend that teaches Tae Kwon Do once changed the way I saw my role when he said,”Think of it as a cultural exchange. Don’t worry so much about them actually remembering the material. Realize that you are one of the first non-Korean people they have ever seen, let alone spoke to.” That did change my attitude a lot. Other days I felt like I was a glorified babysitter, just there so that the parents had somewhere to send their bratty kids for the afternoon as to not have to bother with them themselves. I guess I truly never realized the value towards my sanity to being employed. Even when you don’t feel fulfilled, there is at least something getting you out of bed everyday. People notice when you don’t show up. Kids can make you feel special and loved with the smallest of gestures.
The job hunt back in Halifax, Nova Scotia has been a slow-moving process at best. Even with a Bachelors degree and 2 years of job experience, there is little here in Eastern Canada that is exactly what I want to be doing, or even a job that will allow me to gain skills in different areas. Volunteering is there, but that certainly does not allow me to save for future adventures. Even with a few years of serving under my belt, most people who are applying for the same jobs have a lot more, and more recently.
After I had finished my contract on Halloween 2011, I spent the next 3 weeks or so at my boyfriends parents apartment. I really did not want to rush out of the country and seeing as how my boyfriend had been studying for the Korean police exam the whole time we were together, I felt it would be a good chance for us to spend some time together without him having to feel stressed out about not being at the library. I can write more about that whole situation another day.
After spending a week together in Bali, he went back to Seoul and I continued on my travels. It was during this time that I realized some of the things that I was missing. I was missing a partner who wanted to talk about the same things that I did. This was my first real relationship and I was starting to get the feeling that I was missing out on something in the whole relationship world that wasn’t possible with a non-native English speaker. I felt like I wanted someone who was interested in learning about how the world works and never wanted to stop learning. I felt like I might become held back by being with someone who wanted a sedentary, average, stable Korean life. I still don’t know if this is true, but a few days after Christmas, with 4 of my best friends surrounding me on Koh Samui, I broke up with him after over a year together.
It was hard. I never really stopped analyzing it and regretting what I didn’t do to make the relationship better (study Korean harder). I kept thinking about how things could have been different had I done this or that. I travelled around for a few more months and finally got Dengue Fever in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I had also cracked the screen in my new Macbook Air and my saved cash was dwindling. Now after becoming parted from a few of my friends on not the greatest of terms, I was afraid not to stay in the hospital after the doctor recommended it, but I had no travel insurance. Even with my poor math skills I knew my days of carefree spending and eating in South East Asia were numbered.
I went back to Korea for a week with the greatest intentions of fixing the break up that I had started, but nothing I said could undo the damage and loss of trust that that first break had caused. He was worried. Worried about me ending it again, what life would be like for me in Korea if I lived their full-time, worried that I would just find things too hard and give up on it all again. I stayed once again at his families home and cried myself to sleep every night that he was gone to training during the week and again when he was there to hold me during his free weekends. I tried my best to interact with his family and they being so concerned for me were always around trying to get me to eat. I felt guiltier and guiltier that I couldn’t join them at every meal because of my suppressed appetite and fatigue. I felt even more guilty that I wasn’t able to speak to them in their native tongue when I was once again a guest in their homes.
So home I came. Devastated, tired from the remnants of Dengue fever still lingering in my body, nearly broke, and Winter weather instead of the tropical rays of Thailand and Cambodia. I don’t remember doing much else than sleeping for the best part of a month.