So this concept initially blew my mind. I have been in Daejeon for two weeks now and since it is currently the rainy season, the river is starting to flood. While on my morning run, I came across this same dam, but you can no longer see the stepping stones and the river is flowing so quickly that there are rapids engulfing the whole dam. What makes it worse, is that there was a grown man still attempting to cross the dam! The rapids were crashing into his thighs and he was still pushing through! What the heck, Korean Citizen?!
As I approached the windows my eyes became fixated on the endless, illuminating lights of the city. These lights paved the roads, enhanced the beauty of the city’s architecture, and illuminated the life below. It was at that moment, standing on the 96th floor of the Hancock Tower, 1,000 feet above the city of Chicago, when I realized that there was more to see in life. Through traveling I come to understand life by exposing myself to new cultures. The most efficient way to experience new cultures is to develop relationships with individuals around the world, and I may do so by utilizing my passion for teaching.
Prior to my departure and following my arrival to South Korea, people would ask why. Friends and family members continue to ask me where my desire to teach and live overseas derive from. My answer is quite clear and after living in South Korea for two weeks, my surroundings and experiences support my claim and desire to leave the United States.
According to Dr. James P. Comer, founder and chairman of the School Development Program at Yale University, “no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.” A great aspect about building these relationships is that it can be done while learning. Students and new friends are able to disclose information about their lives, beliefs, and interests. Individuals are able to build relationships when they disclose mutual or different experiences about their lives. Through deliberation, learning is not a linear process; instead everyone learns from one another, which is the foundation for my passion for teaching.
I was raised in rural Nebraska with a low population of Caucasian farmers. As a result, I experienced little diversity and only knew one way of life. As a teenager, I wanted to leave Nebraska and see the world. I desired to experience a new way of life, customs, and scripts of a new group of people. It is not until one fully immerses him or herself into another individual’s “raw” culture that he or she can truly understand, empathize, and appreciate another person’s way of life. The most intriguing part of a culture is to understand how it was developed and understand the mannerisms of its people. By doing so, one needs to understand the culture’s history. Korea has a much richer and broader culture because it has a much longer history compared to the fledging United States.
Korea offers ample opportunities for me to learn and experience a new culture. It is my aspiration to experience the South Korean culture through my passion for teaching. My philosophy of teaching through deliberation will assist with my desire to learn more about the culture. As stated, through deliberation individuals, including the teacher, share interests, values, and experiences about their way of life with one another. If I am immersed in the South Korean culture, not only will I have the opportunity to make a difference in South Korea, but South Korea can make a difference in my life by helping me grow and become more culturally competent.
Since my new life in South Korea began, I have had the opportunity to complete my first mountain hike. My day at Gyeryongsan National Park was spent hiking 9.8 kilometers (6.1 miles) up two peaks. The first peak, Gwaneumbong Peak, was 816 meters (2,677 feet) above sea level. After my first summit, I made it to the second peak, Sambulbong, at 775 meters (2,543 feet). While descending the mountain I came across a Buddhist temple that filled the mountain side with soothing music. This hike reassured me that my decision to leave the United States is what I need for this new chapter in my life. After reaching the first summit, I sat on the precipice of the mountain, 2,677 feet above Daejeon City…my new home. As the valleys and mountains intersected one another, I experienced the same emotion that the view from the Hancock Tower elicited. I am exactly where I am meant to be. Observing how the mountains fade off in the distance, I admired this enticing sight. This is only the outer layer of South Korea. Its “cover” has captured attention. I am now ready to turn the pages and penetrate deeper into what makes this culture beautiful.
To truly understand life, one cannot simply expose him or herself to the outer beauty of a culture. Instead, it is necessary for one to delve deeper into the culture’s history and mannerisms. As I stood on the 96th floor of the Hancock Tower, I had never been exposed to so much beauty. I found this entrancing and life changing not because of the view, but because everything around me was new. My new view in Korea has drastically changed from illuminating lights to a city surrounded by rolling mountains. I am now being exposed to a new way of life…a new culture.
I sound extremely winded because I just got done running. I would have wrote this aspiration down but I did not have my journal, so I vlogged it instead! 😉
I arrived in South Korea Tuesday night and since then my days have been pretty eventful. To begin, when I checked in to the Asiana Airlines from the Chicago international airport, I was required to weigh my carry on. This has never been a necessity for me. Of course the maximum weight for a carry on was 10 kilograms…my bag was 14 kilograms! I was told that I needed to lose eight pounds if I wanted to carry it on. If not, the carry on fee would be $400! Thankfully, my other option was to check in my bag…FOR FREE! 🙂
After a long layover at Chicago, it was finally time to board Asiana Airlines! I have never been on a plane so big before! This flight was also classy!
Free slippers, pillows, and blankets!
Talk about a comfortable flight! Additionally, two meals were provided. The first meal was a beef and rice stir (I do not remember the name of it 🙁 …). With this meal came a cup of small dried fish. Surprisingly, it was delicious!
My second meal was a rice (밥) mixed with octopus! This only increased my anticipated excitement for the food I will be consuming this year!
Although the Asiana flight was a long 14 hours, it did seem to go by faster than I anticipated. Before I knew it, I was going through immigration, finding my luggage, and trying to find the bus station! Then I was off for Daejeon! 🙂
The minions also enjoyed their first flight. 😉
Once I arrived in 대챈 I was able to meet co-workers and finally see my new apartment! Below is a video tour of my new living space!
To my surprise, my apartment was bigger than I had anticipated AND…I have a western toilet! YOOOOHOOOO! I can’t wait to settle in and call this new place my home!
(I wrote the following post in Chicago, but I was disconnected from the internet and have not had internet until now. Read on and enjoy!) Hello from Chicago! In about an hour I will be boarding my 14 hour flight to Seoul, South Korea! For me, this week was consumed with final preparation and packing. I started the week by heading to Omaha to receive all of my immunizations and a new computer (woot woot) before departing. After going through the daunting process of shots, pills, and trying to find a decent computer, I finally had the chance get some quality family time. Family time is an essential preparation for to a trip without an arranged return date! Throughout my last week I had the opportunity to spend time with my parents! When they were not working we spent some time by the pool, made some amazing cauliflower crust pizza, and topped every supper off with some frozen yogurt! I decided I will definitely be overeating all of this American food because I do not know when I will be able to have it next! Later on in the week I got to spend a day with my younger sister, Emily. Although our day was filled with driving all through Nebraska to take care of a few things, we did manage to go out to eat, get some pedicures, and do some shopping! I was thankful I had this “Em and Ta Day” because I was not sure if I would be able to see her the morning of my flight.
After having an Em and Ta day, I was then able to spend some time with my older sister, Nicole. We were able to spend the day at our parents house, looked at her new wedding photos, and hung out in the pool! 🙂 Towards the end of the night I began the “last” of my packing. I soon discovered that this would spiral into a stressful event that would roll over to the next day! After packing and weighing each luggage 12 different times, we were finally done! This was also after we came to the realization that I had to use a third suitcase to fit all of my stuff! As of then, it seemed as if I was ready to leave for the Kansas City airport! The rest of my time with my family consisted of taking multiple “last family” photos before my departure. Additionally, we all went out to a soft serve frozen yogurt shop because Dad has never been to one before! It was a great time for family bonding.
Later that night, when mostly everyone went to sleep in their hotel rooms, my sisters and I spent our last night painting nails, watching a movie, and doing a practice run on how my luggage pick up will occur once I arrive in Seoul! We practiced this luggage pick up about three time! haha The following video is a recording of the FINAL practice run! After that run through, we decided I would be ready for the real thing! 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrbZKzFJsFI&feature=youtu.be After all of the family time, packing, and practice runs of the big day I was ready to go! I am so thankful for the support system I have. If I did not have this support system, I would not have the courage to make this move on my own. After hugging my immediate family members goodbye at the airport, I began to board the plan. Although a few tears were streaming down my face, I continued to confidently walk down that terminal and onto the airplane. This is the start of my new adventure. (Last family photos before I left! ↓)
It’s official! My flight to South Korea has finally been booked! On August 4 I will be saying goodbye to loved ones and moving out of the United States. I have been out of the country before, but I was traveling with a group of people. This will be my first time flying out of the country on my own! Additionally, last night I was informed that no one will be meeting me at the airport, so I will have to find my way to Daejeon City on my own. I was given instructions on what I need to do once I arrive to the airport in Seoul, but it shall be interesting because I do not know much Korean!
Although there are minor things that are beginning to stress me out, I am extremely excited! Last week I began learning the Korean alphabet, Hangul! So far I know all the ten vowels and a few consonants. Not only have I learned half of the alphabet, but I also know a few words: 야 (Hey!), 우유 (Milk), 아야 (Ouch!), 우유요 (It is milk.), and 효가가요 (I’m going on a vacation.). These are essential words and phrases I need to know, right?! Hopefully I learn to say the word “bathroom” before I leave because I know that will be a word I need! After I learn that world I think I will be set!
I am sure it will take me some time to learn the language, but I am excited to immerse myself in this new country and learn everything as I go along. Hopefully by my post next week I will be settled into my new apartment, learning a few more words, and loving my new home!