Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Honeymoon's Over

A year and a half ago, another foreign teacher I had met told me she was leaving Korea 'while the going was good'. She didn't want to wait until after the glow had worn off, for the rust to show. I was confounded by her opinion - What did she mean, that life in Korea would someday sour? Despite my previous challenges, I still loved being in Korea, and couldn't imagine living elsewhere. Now, I know.

Korea certainly has lost its glossy finish for me - one too many ahjummas (pushy middle-aged women), one too many times being battered by an unforgiving language barrier (after a certain amount of Korean, my brain can and will shut off its 'foreign language function'), one too many differences of opinion with those I need to cooperate with (acting like a grown-up takes a ridiculous amount of effort), one too many plates of food that just doesn't quite appeal to me, one too many bouts of aphasia or Konglish. Yes, the gloss is gone. The honeymoon is over.

Now for the waking up with Korea, and continuing with Korea, and the loving it despite its myriad flaws. Now for the choosing to love Korea for affectionate little children who marvel that other countries have books and can read (no lie, that happened today), for caring bigger children who will devour massive amounts of ice cream while playing card games with me, for providential grandfathers who tell me, whether the weather is growing too hot or too cold, to "take care of your health", for new friends who think I'm fascinating, for fresh chances to bridge chasms between me and old friends, for foreign friends who know exactly what I'm going through, for a dad who proudly tells strangers that I live in Korea, though it seems an unremarkable feat, for little ones who beg for a big, tight hug, then wiggle and cry out, then ask for another.

Yes, the honeymoon is over, but my time here is not. And so, for every time a student compares me to an elephant (today, and, yes, she was old enough to know better), I have the opportunity to slough it off, remember I am ultimately here to serve God, and keep going.

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