Well, here we are in 2012.
Christmas was great, I roasted a chicken in a mini-oven and we all watched the music video to Cliff Richard’s “Mistletoe and Wine.” New Year consisted of me drinking a lot and having to escort The Slob home, after she temporarily forgot how to use her legs.
January has been weird. I bought my ticket home (The Slob and I are on the same flight: Seoul, Tokyo, London) and I started selling stuff I didn’t think I’d take home.
Recently received a message from the University of Bath, my PGCE interview is on the 28th March. Obviously very exciting and unnerving, having had two years out here I wonder if I’ve learned anything practical at all in regards to teaching. Having said that, I am quite sure that, in the same way that you can be sun burnt and not notice until back inside, I will arrive back in England with a harder shell.
A friend of mine said recently “leaving is so tough, I’ve become entrenched and don’t want to de-trench.” I can’t think of a more pithy way to put it, the last month has felt like digging.
That being said, I am finding myself looking at my last few weeks here with an unshakable feeling of near-morbidity. I refer to any administrative task I have to complete as “getting my affairs in order” and keep thinking about “last times”. Last meal at restaurant “X”, last train trip to “Y” etc. It is a little strange and not always uplifting, but I’m trying to use it to be reflective.
I have never been so out of sync with my surroundings, so clueless, so unbelievably frustrated and confused as I have been out here. Certain things are madness: age hierarchy, social conformity, homogenous ethnicity and subsequent intolerance/ignorance etc.
It would be worth mentioning that these are cultural differences that I knew I would encounter, and have played only a minor part in my adventure. There are so many great things that I prefer to dwell on such as: helpfulness, eagerness to learn, jimjilbangs, race-meets, affordable and punctual public transportation, safe-streets and the list goes on.
It is going to be a big step, leaving this place. It provided me with a springboard into what I felt I ought to be, it pushed me out of my comfort zone so much that I felt compelled to do other things that I wouldn’t have ordinarily leaned towards. Dan’s enthusiasm for running got me hooked, my Ukulele-based friendship with Dale showed me that music isn’t a closed-club, and I have realised, through bona fide teachers like Euc, that teaching is a great profession with a lot of rewards. I’ve learned so much.
This time last year I was back in England on a visit, and I remember quoting Philip Larkin’s “The Importance of Elsewhere” as a literary reminder of the joys of expat-anonymity though accent, and of the difficulty of assimilating to the familiar surroundings of home. This time I’ll borrow from his poem “Days”, as it explains very succinctly, the mundane nature of passing time.
‘What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.’