Thursday, July 21, 2005

This is how it all began...

Today I'll post my update email that I sent out to all my family and friends.. so for those of you who haven't recieved it---read on!


Dear friends and family,


First of all, I apologize for this general email. I prefer personal emails---but it sure saves alot of time in writing more than a hundred or so! Now, with that said, I wanted to take a minute and email you all with an update on my life here in Daegu, South Korea. To some of you, it will be a shock finally hearing of me! So, I'm sorry in advance---I know there are many of you of whom I have not spoken to you in quite sometime! This is why I'm sending you this email :)

Now to the interesting part, the pre-Korea part on how I ended up here in the first place, to take, essentially, the road not taken.
I found myself, just about a month ago, a little unhappy. Unhappy work-wise, that is.

This feeling goes back to when I first moved from Alexandria, Louisiana (where my folks live, and where I found a job working as Assistant Manager of a bookstore after graduating LSU in May of 2004). To paraphrase, I decided that in December of 2004, I would move back up to Washington because, simply, I hadn't been home in nearly 4 years. I couldn't believe it had been nearly 4 years since I came back from Switzerland in July of 2001, then turned around to leave once again in October 2001, for beautiful Baton Rouge, LA to finish up my university education. So, after all this traveling, it was about time that I went up to see my family and friends again.

Unfortunately, when I moved back up to Washington, I felt the job market didn't respond well to my search in finding a full-time job; or, perhaps I didn't respond well to the aimless sales jobs available, and nothing that fit my educational interest and desire. Perhaps I saw the world through 'rose colored glasses,' expecting that finding a full-time job after graduating college would be easy. Meanwhile, I found employment working at my childhood church (ELC off of Perry, in E. Bremerton), and as well, the Kitsap Family YMCA, where I used to go workout as a youngster (Go YMCA!!) I also found myself working occasionally as a part-time paraeducator for the Bremerton school district; but that was very infrequent.

While I worked as secretary for my church, and as welcome staff/cycling instructor at the YMCA, I was too busy scrambling between nearly 3 part-time jobs, and I felt I never had the time to sit down, relax, and really enjoy life with my family and friends. Not, of course, to the extent that I had hope for when I moved back up to Washington. So, as I began searching around for other employment opportunities, I came across a childhood buddy of mine who had just came back from teaching a year in Korea.

And with all due interest, I started looking around on the internet for programs, employment opportunities, and general information relating to teaching English in Asia. Then it happened. I contacted one particular agency (example, but written by my coordinator, Kate), and they found a company looking for an American to teach in their English academy. They liked my credentials, and a franchise school called JungChul English Institute (sorry, website is in Korean!) offered me a job. I left bright and early on June 28th. And from that day forward, I knew my life would indeed follow, hence, the road not taken; which I coined from the similarly titled Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken, (Mountain Interval, 1920) as a feeling of following one's own path, hence, their own road, and the road they are destined to walk upon. It's simply following our own road on the path of the road not taken.
~~~

So that's the pre-Korea story in a nutshell! Now here I am, teaching in this beautiful, muggy city of Daegu, and I've really enjoyed my stay here so far. I actually live on the outside of the city, in a little sub-region called Bukgu, and it's quite interesting, to say the least!

My apartment is but a 5 minute walk from the school. In just 3 short weeks, I've tasted many, many Korean dishes (some, like Kimchi, very hot and spicey!), others---like chicken hearts, and 'tiny squid on a stick'---where many foreigners are hesitant to try. Everyday, I learn new Korean words; and while French was my major in college, and I love languages, I've got to admit that learning Korean (the Korean characters particularly, called Hangul) brings me more than just a challenge, but often serves as a language barrier between the locals and I. I still have a hard time getting around as I am but a baby in reading Korean. Thank goodness people are so friendly when you show them that you're trying to learn their language!

Towards the people that I work with---I find that I love my job more and more each day. My boss, Susan, is really a hard worker; and similarly, the other ladies that I work with have helped through this entire process of acclimating myself to the Korean culture. As far as the children I teach--- I find these Korean kids utterly amazing, and they are so very bright and resiliant in learning English. I am no less than surprised everyday. Even on the days when I'm tired and work on endorphins to get through my class schedule---these kids make me smile, and they teach me, just a little each day, of what being a Korean is all about.
~~~

I hope you enjoyed this little update, just as much as I have had fun writing it! I certainly look forward to hearing from each one of you--please write me when you get the chance! And if there is anyone else you think might want to hear from me that I have accidentally missed, please pass this email on to them. In the meantime, check out --> my website <--, as I update nearly everyday---'blogging' my new experiences, and uploading pictures of my school, the kids, and the neighbourhood Korean life that often strikes my interest to go and take walks about. Enjoy!

~ 16 hours ahead, still on the road not taken---until next time!

Thanks for reading,

Chelsea

Residence: (censored)

WEBSITE: The Korean Experience (just click, as you'll be taken to the website)

* There's a link on the right column labeled My Korean Photo Experience where you can see my digital photos of Korea!

* And you can usually find me on MSN messenger, using seminormale@hotmail.com :) or using this reply-to email address, (censored) :)

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Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken (1915)
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