A Few Bumps and Bruises, No Worse for the Wear

As I set off for work this morning a light rain descended upon Seoul, making an already treacherous bike ride even more so. In the approximately 20 minutes it takes me to get to work by bike, I must dodge people, cars, and other bikes, all whilst navigating bumpy sidewalks and roads. I’ve had a few close calls, but today the fates had other plans.

Around the half-way point, I came thundering down a steep hill and needed to make a transition from the road back to the (relatively) safe confines of the sidewalk. There was a small, almost imperceptible difference in elevation between the road and the sidewalk. I hit that mini-curb and an angle, and my wet tires suddenly came out from under me.

As the events unfolded, everything seemed to slow down as my bike and I parted ways and the sidewalk rose to embrace me with open arms. Thankfully my 28 years of clumsiness has taught me, if nothing else, how to fall. I landed hard on my left side and rolled onto my back. As my back tire continued to spin a couple of yards away, I started surveying the damage. My immediate concern was my elbow, which bore the brunt of the impact; I had barely received a scrape. However, my leg was a different story, with some nasty looking scrapes on the knee and shin. And my ankle felt as if I had received a minor sprain; I failed to notice the gash on my ankle, which would soak my sock with blood by the time I had arrived. I continued to lie there for a couple of minutes before eventually dusting myself off and getting on my way.

As I gingerly climbed back on the bike, the sun peaked out from behind the clouds, and I realized my wreck was more than likely a result of being extremely preoccupied. It was inauspicious start to what would end up being a great day.

I told you that story, so I could tell you this one: Today, I quit my job.

Although I’ve been searching for a new job for months, very few searches have yielded any interesting results. Many of the jobs were frighteningly similar to my current job, or public school jobs in the middle of nowhere, or university jobs (which I am under-qualified for). However, last Wednesday I came across a listing for Gyeonggi English Village, an institution created by the provincial government that holds English immersion camps for its students. It seemed like a unique opportunity, so I sent in a resume. On Thursday I was asked to complete an application, and on Friday I was having a phone interview during my lunch break.

Of course, I had my reservations. My contract wasn’t up until the end of August, I didn’t even know if this place would accept my dog, and who is to say if I would be any happier at this new school than at my current one? Thankfully, by the end of the interview these concerns would be put to rest.

First of all, dogs are allowed at the school. Not only are they allowed, but apparently many other teachers have dogs, and they all get together to let them run around in a field on campus in the evenings. This fact sent my jaw through the floor, and the interview hadn’t even begun. I never thought the idea of my dog running off leash would make me so happy, but living in the concrete jungle of Seoul will change that.

While I was still concerned about breaking my contract, I was put in touch with a current teacher at Gyeonggi English Village shortly after the interview. I had just two questions for him:  “Is there anything I should know before coming?” And, “How would you rate the school on a 1-10 scale?” Everything he told me for the first question, I already knew, and he rated the school at a “good 8.5.” I’m not going to venture a guess as to the average score given by the teachers at my current school, but I bet it would be somewhere south of that figure.

I was told to expect a final decision by the school by Tuesday, and thankfully I didn’t have to wait that long. Early Monday evening, I received a job offer. It was as exhilarating as it was nerve-wracking. I was thrilled about the prospect of this new job, but terrified of having to confront my boss and quit my job. I did feel a twinge of guilt for not fulfilling my contract, but I knew I had to do this for myself. I have too many goals to accomplish while I’m here, and life is too short to go through it frustrated and unhappy. I went home and wrote my letter of resignation.

And this brings us back to Tuesday morning, and the bike ride. I think a can draw a pretty good analogy between that bike ride and my 9 months at Korea Poly School, if I may: it was at times thrilling, at times exhausting, and since I wasn’t careful enough, I ended up in a bad situation. And like the bike ride, it was memorable.

In the end, the scratches will heal, and so will any pain I’ve experienced during the better part of this first year. I had some great memories, and some great students. There are parts of this job I will miss, but I am looking forward to getting back on that bike, and moving on.

I have one more month at Poly. I’ll make it a good one.

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