Wow, so huge life update. I haven’t updated in awhile because life has been kind of stressful over the last few months. After we left Geoje in early June and moved to Ulsan, things took a turn. Our new school was disorganized, our director was rude, and there was barely any communication on how to run the classes based on their curriculum (yet there were plenty of criticisms about Molly and I as teachers without telling us anything constructive! >.>). Our director was pretty much an egotistical maniac on a power trip who could do no wrong and often blamed us for problems she caused. Within two weeks of being there, we handed her our letters of resignation, gave her 45 days notice, and then we moved to Gyeongju about 30 minutes north of where we were living.
We’ve only been here for two weeks and it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. My new director is kind, encouraging, and has a really positive view on education that fits very well with my teaching style. The kids are amazing! I’m feeling creative with my teaching again. I enjoy all of my classes. I’m finally feeling like my goofy, positive, encouraging teacher self again! It’s been so easy (and fun!) getting the kids to talk in English and working to create a positive, immersive language experience for them.
As for Gyeongju, I think it’s my favorite city in Korea so far! It’s a medium sized city about 30 minutes north of Ulsan and 30 minutes south of Pohang. The population is about 300,000 so it’s not too big and not too small. It’s a historical city with dozens and dozens of archaeological and historical sites spread out across the city. There are tons of museums, beautiful parks, and lots of really good restaurants. It’s also very dense and pedestrian friendly. We’ve been walking everywhere. It’s so easy to get around.
My history major and archaeology obsessed self is really digging this place. The city was the capital of the Silla Kingdom for nearly 1,000 years, so the place is absolutely booming with historical sites and there are archaeological excavations happening almost constantly. I’m very excited to see more (and possibly volunteer on some digs!).
I’ve also started grad school! I’m on the fourth week of my first semester. I’m studying Applied Anthropology at the University of North Texas. It’s an online program so we can continue to live in Korea and it’s been really interesting so far. Molly is also in the program, so we’re able to talk a lot about our coursework together (we’re in the same classes for our first two semesters). We read a lot and write tons of papers (duh, it’s grad school!), but it’s been pretty enjoyable. We read about a book a week, then have about 5 days worth of discussions in an old school internet forum type format, and then we have a weekly videoconference seminar on the weekends. We have to write a paper once a week. Right now we’re taking an “anthropological thought and praxis” class and an “ethnographic and qualitative methods in anthropology” class. Next semester will be the second “anthropological thought and praxis class” and then “ethnography and quantitative methods in anthropology.” It’s great! I have a lot of downtime at my school, so I just work on my coursework during my breaks. I’m focusing my studies on linguistic anthropology and digital storytelling, and Molly is doing environmental anthropology.
Anyway, today we decided to explore more of the city. We went downtown, which is an easy walk from our apartment, and found a strip of Vietnamese businesses. We ate some good food and got coffee, then we walked to the folk village in the middle of this really nice park close to downtown. I’ve only been here a short time, but I’m very pleased with where we live so far! Here are some pictures of our explorations.