Life in Seoul has been an adjustment. Moving to any big Asian city requires flexibility, but each city has a character of its own. On one of our first outings, I was surprised that cars didn’t stop when we set foot on the crosswalk. I guess I thought I was still in Singapore where cars come to a grinding halt as soon as you step onto the road.
Our biggest adjustment is getting used to the Korean language. Our appliances are labeled in Korean, food court restaurants in malls list their items in Korean, and for the most part taxi drivers only speak Korean. Even the cashier at Burger King spoke to me in Korean. (Don’t worry, we only ate at BK once. At the time, it was the only place we could find with menu items listed in English.)
The language barrier can create unique feelings especially when you don’t know where you’re going and you know that asking for directions is not going to help.
In order to get by we’ve learned a few Korean phrases: kamsahamnida, chick chin, wangchok, orunchok, yogi, juseo, and anyong haseyo. (I don’t know if I’ve spelled those words correctly, but that’s how I think they sound.) Respectively they mean, thank you, straight ahead, left turn, right turn, here, please, and hello. Our girls like to say “anyong haseyo” to the guard who sits outside our apartment complex.
I’m also adjusting to life back in the classroom. Between my five classes I teach about 100 students. This semester I’m teaching Life Skills to 9th graders, Survey of World Religions to 10th graders, and History of Thought to 12th graders. The courses are a lot of work since it’s my first year teaching them, but I’m enjoying the content. My students are currently working on the following topics: character and values, Buddhism, and Plato. I’m least familiar with philosophy and perhaps for that reason I’m enjoying the content of History of Thought the most. I’m now trying to get a grasp on Aristotle’s thinking. It’s a challenge and I think challenges keep me motivated. Of course, communicating anything to teenagers is a challenge so that should be motivation enough!
Well, that’s all for now. Kamsahamnida for reading.