Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Busy work

God, I hate seeing such an empty journal. Just sitting here, waiting to be filled up with luscious or potentially tragic travel stories yet to come. In this moment, I wonder how things are going to turn out for me. Will I read this 6 months from now and laugh at my optimism, or pat myself on the back for making a great decision?

Maybe I can fill some space by telling a little bit here about my upcoming adventure...

Currently, I'm sitting in Seoul. Just finishing out my last week at Seoul English Village. I'm leaving before my contract is up, but it is simply time to go. I am done with the open-mouthed staring from people in the street, "Teacher you so fat!!" remarks from the students, and a cuisine that makes me ache for the Mediterranen and American flavors of my youth. I don't regret my time here; I learned a lot about myself and a new culture, made some great friends, and saw a part of the world I never thought I'd get around to. Not bad. Just not for me, in the end.

As a lot of you know, my family qualifies for dual citizenship with Italy. The last two years have been a nightmare of red tape, trying to collect all the necessary documents to reinstate our ties with the homeland. And to think, our great-grandfather simply had to jump on a ship. Welcome to America--here's your new name. After following the path of misspelled names, different vital stats for the same person, and other paperwork errors that might prevent our family from being accepted back into the fold, I must say that I've developed an appreciation for the simplicity of old-time Ellis Island.

What this all amounts to is a burning desire to park myself in the Mediterranean, but the inability to do so legally. (Americans find it well-nigh impossible to get legal work in the EU.) After two years of wrestling with that ever-elusive EU passport, I started looking for alternatives. Turkey sprang immediately to mind. I've heard so many great things about it, from people who visited and think constantly about going back, to an actual Turkish person who happens to be dating one of my best friends. It just seemed the natural choice.

So, I did my research. EFL teachers there don't have half the opportunity to save money like I do in South Korea, but the style of living (if not the cost) seems more suited to my temperment. Housing isn't entirely paid for, but I won't have to live on a campus filled with small, braying children. The food isn't free, but the fact that I consider it many moons beyond "edible" is a bonus. There are definite trade-offs, but I don't mind.

I started responding to online ads for EFL teachers, and nothing happened. Two ads, four ads, eight ads...nothing. Great, I suck. Then, in one weekend, I got three responses. In a matter of days, I had prospects and hope anew. I set up an interview with the best school I had applied to, and it went well. Sweated it for a week, and found out I actually got the fucking job. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Now I find myself in the position of having to pack up my life yet again, getting ready for the next big thing. I'm eager to get out of Seoul for many reasons, and sad to leave for many others. Mostly, it's because I've gotten closer with my friends here, and it will hurt to leave them behind. Nights spent bitching into the wee hours, shared confidences, a mutual love of taxis over the subway, feasting on greasy fried chicken like it was the last thing to eat on earth, late night binge drinking sessions in one room or another, and more than one beautiful man with a guitar. I hope I get to see them all again, but I'm old enough to know better than that. I'm no high school senior, secure in the belief that I'll never lose touch with my friends.

I hate knowing that.

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