Welcome to monsoon season! The rain finally started coming more regularly now and most days it does kill most of the humidity where I live.
I haven’t been updating about what I have been doing and I will give proper posts to the places I visited later during summer vacation. I spend most of my time going to Incheon on the weekend to visit my best friend. It is really nice to have a close friend that I can rely on and to hang out with, eat a nice meal and talk with over coffee. I have met a lot of people through her as well. Those weekends when I see other people, brings some sanity to my life.
Please note: I am not insane.
Now that I have been in my small town for almost 5 months, I realize I cherish the time spent with others. I’m a very independent person by nature and I’m used to hanging out by myself most of the time. Granted it gets a bit tedious some days living alone and not having any friends that live close by. However, I figure it is enough time for me to use on myself in more productive ways.
This is a year of transition for me and being on my own most of the time has been a positive experience. I’m learning more about myself and what I want in life. I am making myself into a better person and trying to take care of me. These lessons are hard to do if you are always surrounded by others as they make you ignore yourself. Recently, my co-teacher and I joined the gym at the apartments next to my main school. We go there every week together as she is getting ready for her wedding in November and I am working on myself. This helps to fill the ’empty time’ that I have after school.
So how do I cope with being by myself?
I do what I like. If I want to be lazy, I can be. If I want to be active, I can do that. If I want to try a new recipe I can do that as well. I like coffee so I make it at home when I feel like it. I cook all my meals at home except for lunch. I never eat out unless it is a company dinner or I am with friends. I just don’ t like to eat alone at restaurants and I feel meals are always more delicious when shared with others. I exercise with my co-teacher, I watch my favorite shows online, I call or text my friends to see how they are doing. I even take naps when I am super lazy.
But the secret of doing it really well is …going with the flow.
I live in a small town and it takes quite a bit of time to travel anywhere else. It even costs me extra money as well, but that money is always well spent. But, I truly believe that living in a small town has given me an advantage to seeing how the locals live and a whole community knows exactly who I am.
Case in point:
Last Thursday, it started to rain as I was headed back from the elementary school to the middle school. A woman called out of her car, “Do you need a ride?” I didn’t register that she asked me in English until she repeated herself a second time. So I got in her car and she introduced herself. She said, “Don’t worry I know where you are going, I know where you live, and your name is Kristina.” I wasn’t too surprised she knew, it is a small town. She smiled and said her students had told her all about me. She used to live in Seattle and she teaches at a private academy. I never got her contact information but the kindness that radiates from her is the same from all the parents that drive by and offer to take me to my destination in town as well.
The man I bought the watermelon from at the farmer’s market always smiles and waves at me. I like him a lot and he works really hard even though he is missing one arm. His smile makes me frequent his farm stand and last time he even lectured about 6 of my elementary kids jokingly for asking me to buy them ice cream. Of course, they received ice cream in the end.
I could say that the local 24 hr convenience store man recognizes me and smiles and says, “good morning” or “good evening” when I go there. He even recognizes my friend even though she has only visited me 3 times.
It can be lonely living in another country, in a small town, where no one else really speaks English, and the younger population is MIA. I rarely see someone near my age, it is either my kids, or the middle-aged to elderly. But I feel I get the chance to really improve my listening in Korean and I get to see the pretty countryside. The fact I run into my kids everywhere I go brings a smile to my face. They are always bowing or saying, “Hello!” really loud.
I think for at what point in my life I came here, this was a good fit to start. From here I can focus on myself for one year and when I’m ready for my next move, I will feel like I have achieved a lot all thanks to a bit of solitude and a rural experience.