It’s been two and a half weeks since I boarded the KTX and moved my life up to Seoul from Busan. To say that the transition was a bumpy ride would be an understatement, but I’ve had a lot of support from my parents, my friends back home and in Busan, as well as new friends and colleagues (not to mention superiors) who have helped in many ways (most notably cracking the whip on my landlord to fix my water as well as getting me a sweet new armoire).
When I moved to Busan I never really felt like I had been displaced. I settled into a new routine, and compared to my crazy schedule in Canada I had an enormous amount of free time. Now that I’m in Seoul I have this very strange feeling of unrest. I think it has to do with the fact that my apartment had been left in such disarray by the previous tenant. The place was pretty filthy when I moved in, the water heater had a problem (I had limited water pressure even when it was set to freezing cold), and had nowhere to hang my clothes so I really just couldn’t find anything.
My apartment felt like a great representation of my new life. I was a mess, I couldn’t find anything, and I wasn’t sure where to even begin fixing it, so the best solution was to leave. I’ve adventured around the city every chance I’ve had, and if we’re letting coincidences make metaphors, living within a stone’s throw of Lotte World (the Korean Disney World – Cinderella castle included) I really do feel as though I’m living in Neverland. I’m constantly in a dreamlike state, but never quite feel rested.
Over the past two weeks I have worked a lot. I stayed late each day and completely overhauled the organization of my lesson plans and classes. While this was certainly not asked of me, nor was it expected, I hope that my students will feel less stressed if I can dictate our daily schedule with a clear timeline and daily objectives. I hope I’ll feel less stressed once my kids can all complete the majority of their work each day. I’m teaching or spending time with the kids from 9 AM – 3:45 PM or 4:30 PM without a break or prep time (ie. time alone to think properly without at least 3 kids constantly screaming “KATE TEACHER”). I really like this school. I really like the kids. I enjoy the autonomy and creative expression available to me. I really like my colleagues. I’m just…tired! When I was working 9-7:30 in Busan, I’d have a pretty significant chunk of time in which to get out and enjoy some fresh air, go to the gym, or enjoy a healthy lunch. In the afternoons I would have 10 minutes in between classes to mentally change gears from one class to another. Here, I teach all day (which was certainly not what my recruiter had described) and when I get to the gym after work it’s so busy and the machines are so old I have no motivation to crush a workout. I’m having an interesting time just figuring out not only how to settle back into my healthy routine, but simply how to feel settled.
I’m also having intense moments of “Fear of Missing Out (#FOMO). There are so many groups on Facebook geared towards expats in Seoul and Korea at large. There are meet-ups and language exchanges and running groups and pub crawls and trivia, and, and ,and, and, and…all the photos coming up in our group chat of friends from Busan. Girls – I miss you. Please come visit.
Seoul Fashion Week was on my radar. I’ve corresponded with several designers who have asked for my mailing address, however my mailbox has remained empty save for some unpaid bills from the previous tenant and fridge magnet ads for delivery chicken. I’m disappointed that I seem to have been forgotten about by people who were previously interested in my work and in me showcasing theirs. I’m not in Busan anymore – the Seoulcialite is back in Seoul. Let’s figure it out together, everyone!
This weekend I am meeting up with another local blogger/ vlogger named Star (of 87pages and YouTube fame). When I moved from Vancouver to Toronto my first World Mastercard Fashion Week came out of sheer, dumb luck. A friend of mine from high school works in fashion and was visiting her Vancouver suppliers during fashion week. I was lucky enough to be offered her place and ended up in the front row at Lucian Matis at the Royal York Hotel back in 2012. I had no idea that this would be the springboard to 5 more blurry fashion weeks in Toronto before even considering Korea. The PR game is a funny one, and I haven’t yet mastered it in my brief and busy time in the capital Hopefully tomorrow all will right itself and I’ll finally meet Star in person, I’ll be on the list, and we’ll street style the day away between shows. We’ve been corresponding for MONTHS on Facebook and have even booked a WinK trip to the Jindo Sea Parting together, so this meeting is well overdue!
I know that I can’t do it all, but I want to. I’m trying to do it all. I want to soak up every last bit of this wonderful, diverse city, but I also feel like I’m riding a constantly moving merry go ’round and step back every time I’m about to get off. In the spirit of never having a free moment, I applied as a volunteer for the Lotus Lantern Festival not fully understanding quite what a commitment it would be. With a Temple Stay next weekend and choreography next week (yes, you read that right) it will be a very, very busy time in the coming months. I can’t wait to tell you all about it…if only there were more minutes in a day!