Monday, January 30, 2012

Waiting for a Train that Just Don't Come

I’d like to start with a little story to try and explain where some of this started so you can possibly see how my wheels turn. Yes it will sound menopausal and all over the place, but bear with me as I “go there.” 그래서 ~ I went to go find this hapkido school on wednesday, which had a great website and instructors with great English at a very reasonable price :D :D :D!. It is kinda far away, an hour by bus or subway, but I couldn’t find any schools in or around my district and my thought process went like this as I was sitting on the bus waiting to get there. If you want something bad enough, you may have to climb a few mountains to get to it. In some ways that makes it better because you were hard core enough to put up with those trials and tribulations. This could be like my ~ walking to school uphill both ways in the snow~ bragging rights. Before I ever got on the bus I recalled my first experience of getting into Seoul and not knowing how to get to my hotel and lugging around my bags for two hours... no thank you... i’d prefer not to repeat that again. SO ~ a week before I emailed the people at the dojang (Korean word for “dojo” ~ a word many of you will be more familiar with) and asked for directions. They replied as follows: Yes you can come to the gym on Wednesday. Take bus 6714. This bus is directly to come our gym. (about 50minute) Also you can take the subway from sin chon stn(line no.2) or take the bus 603, 602 near the sin chon stn.(about 45minute from sin chon stn) The bus stop is sin wol underpass. So I one upped that and checked it out on a google-map and wrote it down in my notebook etc. as I got myself ready to go. I had a cellphone which.. evidently had some issues with it and couldn’t make phone calls that day b/c the store registered it wrong (ㅠ..ㅠ) but thats a detail. I rode my hour-long bus thinking these thoughts and got off at Sinwol underpass just like I was supposed to and then.... looked up the street (like the directions on the website said) and realized that there was know way to know which way was “up the street.” The website also said the gym would be right after the Korean barbeque restaurant.... This is Seoul might I add... the capitol of Korea... talking in general terms about barbecue restaurants.... so I walked “up” one side of the street... until it stopped having things on it and became a “danger zone” and then I walked “up” the street in the other direction. I tried to call the cellphone number and found that my phone was not legit at the moment and then had a crushing realization that I probably wasn’t going to find the gym that night. So I started walking back the way I came from and where I knew (vaguely/hopefully) id finally find the 지하철역 or subway station, inspecting the multitudes of sign-printed windows as I walked towards the terminal (what a morbid word). Frustrated, but not destroyed b/c i’ve had much worse remember, I walked on. As I walked I began to think (dangerous) about how I would phrase the email to the dojang and ask for more sufficient directions. And then the thought started to creep up on me ~ if they’re not willing to think through some of these contingencies (what does 300meters “up” the road on the right past the “korean barbeque restaurant” mean?), do I really want to go to their school? is it a sign for me? Horse patooty ~ I shoved that to the back of my mind and kept walking. As I kept walking though ~ another thought crept in. Do I really need to walk up hill both ways in the snow to get to school or should I just scour the country side nearer me to try and find something? its a maybe.... And then the real Promethian eagle swooped out of nowhere to repeatedly tear out my liver for all of eternity (or at least that night and the next day and a half-ish). Why the hell am I always looking for signs and trying to find “the thing” that is going to happen if you are just flexible and obedient enough to follow it? And that is a bitter thought. A thought that I don’t have the capacity to push to the back of my head: because it deserves an answer - an answer that I don’t have (don’t/didn’t +/-). It’s bitter because, as one who believes in God, and that God loves and directs us, I have to refine my idea of what being directed means. Its bitter and creates bitterness because of how many times i’ve heard horse-shit Christians sitting in a sterile bubble say: God has a plan, you just need to be obedient. Just... I hate the word just. I use it a lot, but I think its a “sort of :D” lesser of two evils type word. It limits. That is what it does. It is there to say that the meaning of what I am saying “cannot” cross this line that I want to establish (even if it actually does cross the line you’re pretending to reign it in behind). Its not fair for me to take all of that context and marshall it as my army against God. I’m not Oprah. Once again, tears and anger are spilt out on account of Christian institution and culture though. Ironic as it may be, I just finished reading Job, so far be it for me to say that God doesn’t care. However this feels like the beginning of an avalanche of sorts. Why should I wade through rivers of my own blood to get to... to get to what? Why should I not seek my own happiness? I see no reason to spill my blood unless it is in service of something better ~ and that truth must be apparent at a foundational level. --- So my thoughts regarding school at the moment are as follows: If this program is not suited to my learning style (which it is not) and I need to spend monumental amounts of time out side of class restructuring my studying so that i am actually learning (which I do). Why am I paying so much? Why would I want to dig myself as big a hole as we are talking about when I can do essentially the same thing (or better) while teaching English and earning money somewhere else in Korea. From my six months (what i’ve paid in tuition so far) I will have established a fair foundation and will be able to grow with self-study from there. Working will provide me with another variety of advantages over my current situation. Access to real Korean people... right now all I have is international friends, and NO social circles that can connect me with the people of this country ~ not that I could speak with them if they dont speak one of my languages anyway... but its absolute murder to try and learn a target language if you have next to no stake in the lives of the people who speak it. Monetary benefits are obvious output becomes input... not to mention my housing would be provided for me as a normal part of a teaching ESL in asia contract (a very significant expense). A different, smaller city. Seoul is awesome in many ways, but I don’t get to access its heart because I don’t speak Korean. I’m not one of those international people that is content to feel like a big international important person just because I go romping around a city in a land far from my own. No. You only get those rights if you have a deeper understanding of what that place is, and can operate on ITS terms within its territories. I cannot claim to do that, and with the financial situation of a student, it would be unwise to. Money for a student is only going out, not coming in, so it is in my best interest to limit how FAST it goes out... and that means restricting certain things, which is fine. However, it does mean that that cuts off how you can go about digging for what a city really is ~ because very few things are actually cheap (cost, not quality) in any major city. So, you tell me ~ does it look like an optimistic prospect to stay where I am? The biggest point in all of this is that ~ I am frustrated with the prospect of holding out further in the program because it seems to me that what i’d really be waiting for is some kind of big maybe. The possibility of having some sort of job opportunity around that time is essentially slim to none ~ a level 4 vs a level 6 ~ regardless of Chinese and Spanish language skills... im not in any sort of social circles that would make my unique abilities and potential stand out. Could it happen ~ of course. Anything can happen. Will it happen? Thats a shrunken malnourished maybe. Once i’ve got some development and more money (CA$Hola) I could do the upper levels if I feel so inclined ~ but for now I think the cost to benefit ratio is just not satisfying enough. Thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. Hey there Peter! And welcome to my corner of Asia. So I'm pretty curious about Yonsei. I wanted to study there, but ended up taking one semester of Korean at 단국대. Teaching style is definitely different. Overall, I agree, Korean lifestyle and culture is very extreme, hard to explain. Well, anyways, I live pretty near Seoul, would be glad to grab a coffee with you.