Last night was one of my favorite nights I've had in Jeomchon since I moved here almost four months ago. I invited everyone over to my place for Christmas movies and hot chocolate, and we had quite the gathering. I probably had around 11 or 12 people over at one point, and I couldn't have loved it any more. Finally, it truly felt like the Christmas season. I know I say it all the time, but I am thankful for everyone I have in this community.
The more I get to know everyone, the more comfortable I get in Korea. Last night was so warm and cozy that I felt like I would be happy if everything could just always stay the same--of course, I know that things WILL change, and people will come and go. None of us will be here in forever, and in fact, a number of people will be leaving in just a few short months. Change is the nature of living abroad, and I've been told repeatedly that it's one of the most challenging parts of being an expat--people are always coming and going. Your life has no stability because you know you're in a temporary job surrounded by people who will eventually no longer be a part of your everyday life.
I was reminded of how temporary my life here is after finding out that EPIK will be getting rid of all of the high school native teacher jobs this upcoming year. I obviously have my job until August, but after that I won't be able to renew my contract with my school. Positions are being cut due to budget issues, and although I think it's a terrible loss for the students, there's nothing I can do about it. So when it comes to next year, I will either have to move to an elementary school, find a university job, choose a new country to teach in, or go home. It's disappointing because I really like my school, and I hate to think of having to start all over again.
I know there are people who of course will want me to come home after I finish this year, but I feel like the longer I am here in Korea, I am realizing how much there is to do and learn here. Being here has been a gigantic learning experience, not only culturally, but also personally. Being abroad has opened a lot of opportunities for me in terms of thinking about my past, my future, my faith, my passions, and so much more. There's something about being removed from everything at home that has always defined you that allows you to see and think about things differently, and for me, this has been a really beneficial experience. I have no idea where I will be mentally or emotionally when it comes time to think about what comes after this year, but I have eight months left here, and I have a feeling it will take me more than that before I am ready to move back home to the US.
I'm glad to have a heads up on the fact that my job won't be around past this year because there are many teachers who just resigned their contracts, thinking that they were returning to their schools, only now finding out that they have to move to elementary schools. At least I have a warning so I can think about he future and enjoy my time in Jeomchon wholeheartedly, knowing that I probably won't be here next year.
Of course, I have no idea what the future holds. Every day is a gift, tomorrow is never guaranteed, and ultimately everything is in God's hands. For now, I will continue to treasure those people who enrich my life, and make the best of the time I have here. The holidays are meant to be shared with family, but in the absence of mine this year, I will especially value all the relationships I have with the people of Jeomchon.
As the warmth of the holiday season moves into Jeomchon, I hope all of you can feel my love from the other side of the world :)