Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pohangic Tales: Take Two

I'm back! Back in Pohang, South Korea, and back to blogging!  Sorry for the wait - if you were waiting.  My life has been very full recently and unfortunately that fullness hasn't included blogging.  But now I've started and you already know something about how things are going for me over here: things are busy.  To be honest, the real reason why I'm blogging now is because I've come down with a nasty cold which has made me take a break from my usual weekly schedule.  It's been a valuable break though, because it has helped me see how things that I enjoy doing, like soccer and hockey practice, can loose their excitement and seem like a chore after a while if I don't take a break from them and think about why I like them.  And this break gives me a chance to blog, so that's good.
So, what's it like to be back in Pohang you ask? Well, I know that, through my past blogs, I've made my previous time in Pohang sound pretty sweet. But, if you can believe it, for the most part, things have only improved since then.  First, and most importantly, my spaghetti has improved.  I've been making some really good spaghetti these days.  In fact, as I'm writing this, I'm chowing down on some scrumptious leftover spaghetti made with sausage, onions, green pepper, parsley, lots of black pepper, and this really good tomato cream sauce that I found.  Also in the food category, I've discovered yellow kiwis from Jeju Island, and they are the best fruit EVER!  Every time I eat one I can't believe how good they are.  But they're also super expensive and I could only afford them before I looked at the price and realized how much they were.
Another area of improvement has been my church.  I'm a part of this really great community that has become like a family for me.  It was a really great church before I left too, but since then our meeting place has been made into this cool coffee shop, the church has grown a lot, and I've become more involved in its leadership and activities.  It was a major reason that I came back to Pohang, and it has been such a blessing for me.
My job is also a lot better than before.  I loved being at Poly despite its flaws, but it was a stressful place to work.  I'm working at another English academy, but my hours are a lot better.  Now I'm at school from 1:30 to 8:30, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I'm only teaching for half that time.  That's a huge difference from the 10 hours I was teaching before.  My director is also a lot more easy going and friendly, and I have three super cool Korean co-teachers.  I'm not teaching kindergarten any more, which I miss, but, surprisingly, the classes that I enjoy teaching the most these days are my middle schoolers.
My living situation has improved as well.  Now I'm living in a spacious, two-bedroom apartment which is only a four minute walk to my school and a fifteen minute walk to the beach!  My apartment complex even has an organized recycling system! That's a huge step up from the dump-all-your-garbage-on-the-street-corner system that I had when I first came to Pohang.
Probably the most practical improvement over my previous time in Korea has been my Korean.  I'm taking a free Korean class at City Hall that meets two times a week.  It's great!  It's good to be a student again, and  I have cool people in my class, who make it fun.  I feel really good about not living in Korea and simply getting by with a limited Korean vocabulary while I teach 1st graders their second language.  And, while I've always been a brilliant individual, these classes are definitely making me even smarter!
Korea itself has seemed to improve over the time that I was gone - it seems more beautiful at least.  I was sure blown away by the beauty of the spring blossoms and flowers here.  Korea does springtime well.
But, while some things have upgraded since being here last, sadly, my soccer team has not.  In the two-plus years that I've played for the Pohang Ironmen, we haven't won a league game yet.  Yup, it's a bummer.  But I think we've mostly gotten used to it.  I still have a lot of fun.

Here are some other things about my life back in Pohang:
1.  Alisa.  I'm happy to be close to her again.  She was the biggest reason I came back, and it's been good.  But we're both pretty busy so we've found it hard to find hangout time.  Maybe I'll have to make some adjustments to set my priorities straight.
2.  A motorcycle.  I don't have one.  I've missed not having one.  But I've also enjoyed taking the city bus all over.  It's a great way to people watch.
3.  Hockey.  It's still crazy to me that I'm playing more hockey living in Korea than I ever played living in Canada.
4.  I've joined a group called Salja, which is the Korean verb 'to live'.  It was started by some friends of mine who wanted to address the issue of suicide among Korea's youth.  I'm glad I'm a part of this group because I see this as a major wrong in Korean culture that isn't being addressed.  This past weekend it was Children's Day and we had a celebration on the beach where kids came and we played games, painted faces, and enjoyed awesome weather.
5.  I ran a 10 kilometer race!  It was my first actual race and it was awesome.  The race was in Gyeoungju, so close by; it was perfect weather, and I feel like I did really well.  I ran it in 47 minutes and I'm pretty sure I could have done it in under 45.  Now I'm thinking about doing the half-marathon at the race in Pohang in June. 
6.  Haejangguk.  It's still the best food in the world, and I'm glad to be able to eat it whenever I want.

So, do I have any regrets about coming back to Pohang?  None whatsoever.  Being home and going on a good long road trip was great for me.  But having made the decision to come back here, and now being close to three months into it, I feel very blessed to be here.  I feel that God does have me here for a purpose.

PS.  Feel free to read the ending to my epic road trip which I just finished now. (See below)


  1. YAY! I love both your blogs! It feels like you are at home telling me about your experiences! And since I miss you, that's wonderful!! I'm glad you are so happy to be back in S. Korea!
    Love you,

  2. Sorry about your nasty cold, Mike, but I'm sure glad it prompted you to finish your epic road trip blog and begin "Pohangic Tales: Take Two." It's great to read about the interesting activities that you are involved in. May God's Spirit continue to guide you.
    Luv yah. Dad

  3. Sounds like you've been incredibly busy but are doing some amazing things! -Eryn