Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm Moving to Korea for a Year (And So is This Blog) !


a prelude:

Eight years ago, my sister almost poisoned me with cough syrup. She called it an accident.



My parents and I had come to visit her in Seville, where she was spending a semester abroad as a college junior. In the course of the trip I developed a nasty cough, and my middle-school-grade Spanish made reading a medicine label a struggle.

"I know what I'm doing," my sister told me, pouring three tablespoons of thick red liquid into a plastic cup. I mumbled that three tablespoons looked like too much, but Anna wouldn't have it. She knew Spanish better than I did. "I'm twenty-one, Alex," she explained.


She wouldn't turn turn twenty-one until the next month, but that wasn't the point. The point was that she wanted to take a nap, and that our conversation was over.

So I sipped and slurped the red stuff down. All three tablespoons of it. Hours later, my cough was gone.

Thank you, Anna? Not quite, for my body then fell into a deeper-than-sleep sleep. We're talking mornings blurring into afternoons blurring into evenings blurring into mornings again. We're talking hibernation. For only a few seconds did I manage to lift my eyelids. "You could have killed him," my dad said in the next room. Anna claimed she was sorry, but then she laughed. Not funny, my mom said, but my sister couldn't stop laughing.

Apparently there's a big difference between three teaspoons and three tablespoons.

I soon awoke from my near-overdose and forgave my sister. My parents and I had a few days left in Spain, and we spent them touring museums, walking cobblestone streets, and watching pick-up soccer games. But when I remember that trip today, I don't think about the Dali painting with the melted clocks; I think about teaspoons and tablespoons and cough syrup and almost dying.



What can I say? Even as I get older, I'm prone to my share of not-so-adventurous travel mishaps. Last winter I tried to "float" on the Dead Sea. It was January and it was cold, but I sucked it up. I lay my back against the flat water, only to see my sandal fly off my foot and my hand smack red against the rocky sand below me.

Ouch.

I haven't been the best traveler, but I'm willing to grow. I'm ready to grow.

And that's one of the reasons why I'm moving to Korea for a year.



This Tuesday I leave. The flight runs from Memphis-to-Chicago-to-San-Francisco-to-Seoul. I'll teach English to pre-teens and teenagers in a government school in Bundang, South Korea. This will be the first time I'm outside the United States for more than ten days. I'll be gone a year.

A year.

I'll be Buzz Aldrin to my friend David's Neil Armstrong. He's taught in Korea since June, and he's recruited me to join him. When I first learned of the opportunity, I didn't have a full-time job. I didn't have a grad school plan. I didn't have much.

The idea of Korea seemed so random, so out-of-nowhere. Korea? Me in Korea? The guy who doesn't know a single word of the language? The guy whose sister almost killed him with cough syrup?

Yes.

Me in Korea!



Why not? Those are the words that echo in my ears. Why not? I like teaching. I like kids. I want to see more of the world. I want to learn more and live more. I want to grow as a person, as teacher, and as a writer.

I want to be surprised.

Why not?

For those of you who've read "Writing the Ship" in the past, I thank you. When I graduated college, I was scared by the idea of writing new material with no deadlines and no audience. This blog gave me a forum in which to create something new during a time where, really, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I'm not saying that I know the next five years of my future, but I do at least know the next one. Well, I know that's in Korea, if not much else.

"Writing the Ship to Korea" will be a learn-as-I-go process. I don't yet know how frequently I'll update, though I will try to keep pace with the twice-a-week routine I maintained in the US. The blog will shift in tone; most likely, it'll become messier, less structured, and more stream-of-conscience. In other words, I expect to write more "travel diary" style entries than columns/essays/stories. Truth is, I don't know. Yet.

Please do keep checking the site. My ambition is to keep an honest travelogue here that'll take you along for adventures both thrilling and benign. So join me.

Thanks, or as the Koreans say ...


komapsumnida?

I have no idea how to pronounce that.


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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope you have many awesome "adventures" during your stay in Korea. Please keep us informed of your experiences on a regular basis (unlike your compadre, David). I visit his blog on a regular basis and enjoy reading his posts but I sometimes think he may have been overcome by that Korean underground music he has been grappling with. Or maybe it's the food or his students or some strange medicine forced upon him by the natives.... I dunno. ;~)

I'll be checking your blog often, so keep your nose to that keyboard, Alex. My best wishes to you always and be safe!

JS

Andrew said...

Korea. That's pretty damn cool. On my travels, I met many people who did the teach-english-abroad-thing and they all had the best stories. Good luck with it and keep sharing the stories!

Anonymous said...

What can I say? I am sorry for almost poisoning you...and, it was not funny..not funny at all...

Anonymous said...

thank you is
cum-som-ni-da

I'm hungry is:
pag o pie U

Anonymous said...

haha im full=baega pulluhyoh.
korea is a beautiful country= hangukun arumdaun naraimnida

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