I don't know how I expected my last day in Suji to be, but I know that it wasn't how it did happen. After just over 4 months in the place, I ended up leaving just as I came in - straight from work to the bus and off alone into the night. I'd already packed up my things and shipped them ahead, said tearful good-byes to my students (I was fine until the 5th graders started crying). After my full day at the school (marked as the rest of my stay was, by annoyances from the incompetent management), there was nothing left but supper and a taxi to Suwon for the midnight express south. Perhaps the best thing I can say about Suji outside of the kids (who I really did enjoy) was atleast there was terrific symmetry to my experience there.
I slept hard for the first half of the bus ride, waking up at the midway rest stop looking like a disgruntled porcupine, hair sticking straight up in a series of short spikes. Small wonder all the people in the mosquito infested bathroom enjoyed staring at me so much. I didn't care though - I was on my way to a new life!! I arrived in Changwon at 4:30 am in the pouring rain - identical conditions to my first arrival 3 months ago. It felt like a shower washing away all the hurt and frustration of my job in the north - a feeling cemented later in the morning when I threw open my big windows to a city scrubbed clean and shining under a brilliant blue sky. The incredible realization that "now this is home!" hit me so hard it took my breath away, and I know I probably wouldn't have felt it so strongly if I hadn't gone through what I just went through to get it.
My first day living in Changwon (Â÷¤·¿ø for future reference) was one of those rare perfect days. I only found 1 cockroach in my previously (mildly) infested apartment, and had no problem dispatching it before finding homes for the rest of my stuff which arrived by courier early in the day. On my walk to my office I met another new professor (from the English dept.) and the two of us hit it off immediately. Erik is an american who has been living in Asia for the last 9 years and enjoys a lot of the same hobbies I do, so we had plenty to talk about in our many hours together (he lives on the same block, and has an office in the same buidling as me on campus). He's also a VERY experienced prof (at 38 he's had a bit more time than me to perfect the art) who has been full of helpful advice and resources, halleluia. We both spent the day alternately getting to know each other and working, which was very, very satisfying.
I spent the early evening visiting the Beans - a wonderful family nearby who adopted my predecessor and have shown every inclination to do the same for me. The father was away fishing for the day, but the mother and kids and I had an impromptu Korean cooking class together in their big kitchen. She's a really fun lady, and took it to heart when I said I love to cook, deciding that Saturdays will be our "special food" days. We will take turns - one Sat. she'll teach me to make a traditional Korean dish and the next I'll teach her to make something western. Yesterday was ¼öÀçºñ (soo-jay-be), a savory fish stock and vegetable soup full of paper thin handmade noodles flakes. I was surprised by how easy it was to make and by what a great teacher she is. We all had a great time (even the boys, whose job it was to knead the noodle dough forever and coat the kitchen in a fine dusting of flour in the process), and I am looking forward to our next visit together.
Erik and I met up again after supper and spent the rest of the evening at the public sauna, laying on the heated floors, eating ice-desserts, talking, sweating and relaxing. You can spend a whole day there if you want to - all for the low, low price of $8 - making it about the cheapest entertainment going (not to mention a great hotel alternative, if you don't mind a bit of noise and activity around you while you sleep). It was absolutely perfect for easing the stress and soreness of moving, which Erik had very kindly helped me do when the shippers came earlier in the day. We finally emmerged from the "amethyst rooom" (my favorite!) around 10:30, with that pleasant floaty feeling you get when you are very tired and very relaxed, ready for imminent sleep. He walked me home, which is unnecessary here strictly speaking, but which I had missed a lot from N. America, and I was out cold about the same time my head hit the pillow. Perfect.
This morning when I got up, well rested, I took my tea by the tiny lake at the entrance to campus. The mists were still rising off the very green mountains around me, and the lotus flowers were all opening up on the water. In the midst of them was a slender, gray heron catching its breakfast and looking for all the world like an oriental painting. Stunning. I was the only person up and around anywhere I could see (except Erik, as it turned out, who met me with breakfast at my office a few minutes later), and it was wonderfully peaceful. About the most worshipful Sunday morning I could ask for, especially with the ringing of all my church friends voices still in my ear from the previous morning (they are at a camp together and had called together to welcome me to my new home).
After breakfast I tried out the climbing wall behind my building. It's a bit dilapidated and questionable looking, but it seemed solid enough and with the sounds of the waterfall behind it in the background, it was a great bit of exercise first off in the day. A bit surprising to find holds full of water or bugs, but I imagine I'll get used to it quickly enough. Now I've spent the rest of the morning at work, and am on my way for lunch (or groceries...). Looking to be another perfect day so far.
And on that note, I will go tend my growling stomach and then get back to work. I hope this finds you all as wonderfully content as I am at this moment. My love to you all (big, big, happy sigh). Roberta