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Another Seoulful Experience
By Jacquelyn M. Tisdale

 

"It's been a long, long, time.   A long time coming.   But I know a change gonna come."   Sam Cooke

 

So, I have survived 7 1/2 months in Korea and all I can say, "What a difference a day makes."   Life has shown its real face, to me, these past four months.   Since the last excerpt, I have seen a lot of people, come and go at my work place.   It has been a revolving door, literally.   Either administration has problems with employees or vice versa, usually the latter.   I take this experience in stride.   At this moment, I rather not relinquish any names, but upon my return, I will tell all.   I will say this; Korea is vicious when it comes to office gossip and backbiting.   I have not encountered any type of professionalism in the workplace since I have been here.  So, I just take the good over the bad and move on.  

 

I generally find outlets to relieve stress and the children always brighten my day.   I currently teach eight kindergarten classes (American Daycare/Childcare).   It has been such a wonderful experience thus far.   The youngest child is 3 yrs old (American) and the oldest being 6 yrs old.   My three-year-old student speaks English very well, in addition to Korean. She is so cute. Every morning, when I arrive to school, the children greet me with big hugs.   It is truly a blessing because my day can be stressful, but they have a way to make me feel good.   At first, I was scared to teach very young children.   I did not think I could handle the task, but over the past several months, I have grown to love this new responsibility. I look at it as a stepping-stone in my life as I begin to settle down and establish my life. It has reassured me that when I decide to have children, I am more than capable of handling the task.

"All eyes on me..."   Tupac

 

Lately, over the past few months, I have made an effort to visit the spa/sauna.   Now a Korean spa is not a traditional western spa, except for the sauna.   First, it is only $4.00 - $10.00 USD.   It consists of alkaline or herbal hot tubs, a sauna, a cold tub with high-pressure jet sprays and a cleansing area.   Now all spa's are gender based and completely nude (no exceptions), except for a few high priced facilities that cater more to the western world.   Those facilities have a coed spa area, but you have to wear bathing suits.   Also, there is not a time limit to the hot tubs or herbal baths.   Korea is also famous for its numerous hot springs.

 

The first experience I had was hilarious, but rejuvenating.   I went to a famous Hot Springs called Asan Spavis.   It has the traditional Korean spa and the Western style spa combined.   It cost a lot more to use the western style, so I settled for the Korean.   I was like a speck of chocolate in a sea of whole milk.   Now, I'm quite used to people in Korea giving me stares, but these women and small children probably never encountered a black person, let alone in the nude.   They were examining me, up and down.   At first, it was a bit uncomfortable, but once I got in the water, they all seemed to disappear.   I never forget the lavender fragrance permeating my nose.   It was so relaxing, and I overcame my biggest fear, security.   I felt so secure, that I stayed for three hours.   I would frequently have Korean women come talk to me and make numerous inquiries.   Mostly, since they never had spoken to an African-American, in addition to test their English speaking skills with me.   I always entertain their questions and they help me have a comfortable and rejuvenating experience.

Since my first visit to the hot springs and spa, I have made it my duty to go at least twice a month.   I have immersed myself in this popular Korean custom, and become relaxed with it.      

 

"The reasons.   The reasons that where here.   The reasons that this feeling really won't disappear.."Earth, Wind, and Fire

 

So, as I conclude this experience, I am presented again with my purpose.   I am also presented with the reasons of being here in Korea, and its preparation for my return back to the States.   This experience has been challenging, but necessary.   It made me redefine who I am, and what I stand for.   In addition to making me address things that I thought, I would never encounter in my entire life, and to re-evaluate the people I surround myself.   I have laughed and cried many of nights, but I realized that this moment, right know is my structured path.   Only the Creator knows where I will be in the next couple of years, let alone the next couple of months.   I will just stay focus, maintain professionalism and integrity, teach the children, and finally, continue to grow.

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