So Korea has been really great so far, but the biggest challenges in my life right now are adjusting to a new job and adjusting to living with my fiancé. It’s doubly hard because I come home from work exhausted and in need of a break from the newness of it all, to find that I need to learn something new about my future husband, our new house, our neighborhood, etc.
We’ve taken walks around where we live, and the other night we ventured out pretty far, past the river and the big university, and we ate dinner in the university district, which was bustling and full of restaurants I want to try. I feel more comfortable going out on my own now, but I’m still a fawn, wobbling on thin, shaky legs.
I had to plan Junkyu’s birthday surprise alone and since I don’t have a car or a Korean license, I didn’t have a way to go out and buy ingredients to make him a fancy dinner. I just used what we had in the kitchen and got a cake from the bakery right around the corner. He loved it when I surprised him with cake, presents, and a letter I wrote him in Korean, so I feel like it went off without a hitch.
This past weekend, we took yet another trip to IKEA for things like rugs, pillows, decorations, etc. and now our place is a lot more cozy. We love the feeling of coming home and relaxing, rather than coming home to boxes of things we have to build and set up. My reading room upstairs still needs a few art pieces before I’ll be satisfied with it, but our favorite room is the living room. We got a reclining leather sofa, perfect for watching Harry Potter, reading, or playing PS4 on.
However, our personalities and habits are so different, and usually the stress of work leaves us too tired to want to discuss compromising, though discuss we have. I think it’s definitely important for couples to hash out details like housework, inviting guests over, and budgeting the paycheck(s), but that doesn’t mean I think it’s easy. It takes a lot of work and sometimes cultural differences, exhaustion, and hunger just don’t allow for sweet conversation, but I always feel better after we talk it out. Both of us value reasonable discussion, so each day gets easier as we both work on our living habits.
Work has been perhaps the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with, but I don’t even like qualifying it as hard, since my job in Japan was much more unbearable. My job now is at a place that is very structured, yet teachers are still encouraged to be creative and are allowed to come up with most of the actual teaching materials and projects on their own. The structure of it all might be what’s been contributing to my headaches, though.
I’m a newbie in a class that’s been going since March, and I’ve often been told what to do but not known how to do it. Also, every day, I have to learn how to do something or relearn it. The copy machine, the computer (which is in Korean), the laminator, the sanitizer, etc. Small things like that pile up and lead to me scrambling to get things done, while I perceive that my coworkers think I’m an idiot for not knowing how to turn on the laminator correctly.
My grad school textbook I’m reading recently has actually been helping me a lot. I’m learning about educational leadership, about how there is a thing called the implementation dip, where employees will become unproductive and will feel lost and overwhelmed (not to mention unable to do the task at hand) and about how it’s usually up to the leaders who determine how well new employees develop. I’ve been getting a lot of advice from my coworkers, but I’ve shed just as many tears, thinking I’m not good enough for my job or that some of the people I work with don’t like me.
I picked myself back up, though, rolled up my sleeves, and every day has been getting easier. Sure, I still forget to give out the chopsticks before lunch, and sometimes I stand around awkwardly, not knowing where to go once the kids have left (although we stay after for a few hours catching up on work), but I’m getting the hang of it.
I finally have time to blog again, and I’m getting back to reading for fun as well. My fiancé is next to me on the couch playing video games as I write. I think everything’s working out, and I’m hoping for the best. If anything goes wrong, at least now I have a visa in my passport, an alien registration card in my wallet, and national health insurance!