Thursday, January 31, 2013

Closing time? Not yet.

My school is apparently going ahead with the decision of mandating a retirement age. As I mentioned in my last post, in Korean public schools the age is 62; Saint Paul will make it 63 (in Western years, not Korean), and allow teachers to complete the school year they begin at age 63. For me, that means I could be here another four years. And that would mean I'm halfway through my stay right about now.

In practical terms, that seems olay; four years is a long time, and if I complete that, I will have been in Korea for nine. (When I came over, I had a nebulous idea that I might stay here ten.)

Then again, it's possible I could catch on elsewhere, if only at a hagwon (evening academy) like the one I started at in Daegu.

But emotionally, it's another matter. It makes me think about endings, as if there's an inaudible countdown going on to the day I'm out the door, and it saddens me.

I'm not in love with Korea; it's sometimes fascinating, sometimes maddening, and mostly just where I am. I actually live a pretty damn American life; not being able to eat most Korean food because of its animal ingredients, and not being able to read the contents of most packaged food, makes sure of that. And I'll never master the language or get very far into Korean movies and TV. But I like my life here and I am in love with my hash group. There are hash kennels all over the world, but many of my friends who've left Korea say there's nothing quite like the hashing here.
Whenever I do leave Korea, I know what I want: a place with low living costs, a hash, decent weather, and no need to own a car. But I'm nowhere near ready yet.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

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