To Sign or Not to Sign- Not Even A Question

Is there anything worse than being cold and just having to be cold? Just having to sit there, freezing, with no way to warm yourself, besides wearing the layers you already have on? Sure there is. Lots of things are worse BUT right now, I’m going with being cold. Technically, it’s Tuesday morning in Korea already and the anticipation of the election “tomorrow” is high! When it comes to the Emmys, the Golden Globes, the Oscars, and waiting for new episodes of your favorite podcasts and shows, the 14-hour time difference between home and Korea is SUCH a buzzkill!

Late last week, a bunch of teachers (including myself) were offered renewal contracts for next year. The time had come to decide if we were willing to do another year in this passive-aggressive bubble of superficiality… Everyone in my circle of friends, including myself (I’m my own best friend for obvious reasons) has turned down the offer. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider it. Almost 9 months in, things are definitely easier than when I first came here and if someone put a gun to my head, I could do another year. Everyone claims the second year of teaching is way easier- you can re-use your lesson plans since we start teaching from the beginning of the book, you know your co-teachers, you know where to get your comfort foods, and there are far less “Korean surprises.” Plus, I think I speak for almost everyone here when I say that as far as saving money goes, I could DEFINITELY use another year! The thought of signing on and then quitting after 6 months also occurred to me. But, as per usual, once you think things might look up here, one of your co-workers is there to smack the stupidity right out of your pretty little head. I kid you not, I had just finished eating my lunch (soup that I make in the office) and I was staring at my contract. My co-workers returned from lunch and went to make coffee. I ran to the bathroom and when I got back, one of them was SCRUBBING the sink as if the cops were about to bust her for murdering someone and cleaning the weapon inside of it. After she let out an exasperated sigh, she says, “Um Sobe? How about next time you do one more check after making soup and then you can be finished?” NOW what she’s referring to is a rogue DROP of soup IN the sink . “Come on, Sabrina! No one would make such a big deal about A drop of soup! Surely you were splashing broth all over the place like a madman!” is what you may be thinking. BUT I KNOW it was a drop of soup because I distinctly remember looking at it, hot bowl of soup in my hand, and thinking, “One drop? As soon as someone turns the faucet on to fill the coffee pot, it’ll be gone!” So I left it… ONE DROP!

If the soup incident wasn’t enough, as I mentioned in the beginning of my post, our schools are FREEZING! “But Sabrina! It’s only autumn AND you’re from Chicago!” Biiiiitch, let me tell you! The fact that it’s autumn means NOTHING because our schools are concrete buildings, so the cold is trapped with us. It’s colder in here than it is outside! AND being from Chicago means that when I’m faced with with negative temperatures and snow up to here (insert whatever you consider to be a lot of snow) I, like everyone else, just have to keep it moving! It’s not like my body takes on a protective layer of tough, bison skin EVERY winter and is now a fortress of warmth  -___-. COLD is COLD! I remember it being cold when I first came to Korea in March, but I figured that sense it was Spring and moving into Summer, I could understand why there was an absence of heat, but it’s not Spring-Summer anymore  -___-. The kids are wearing their winter coats, scarves, and using hand warmers in school! When I ask them how they’re doing, they say, “Teacher, cold!” I asked my co-workers about this at my “good school” and they said the woman who is in charge of the school’s finances has a very good reason for turning the heat off. Apparently, in her son’s school (he’s 4) they don’t use the heat…that’s her reason -__-. She says that if they don’t need it, then we certainly don’t need it! Reminder: this is also the school where we haven’t had ANY toilet paper since I’ve been here!

Also, as I have mentioned, Korea is very superficial and into looks and beauty. With that being said, so many procedures that would be way too expensive back home to even CONSIDER are ridiculously cheap here. Laser hair removal, botox for your armpits (where my fellow sweaty girls at!) lip injections, LASIK eye surgery, facials, acne scar removal, perms- the works! It’s cheap and UNLIKE back home, cheap here doesn’t mean sketchy AF. It just means that those kinds of things are SO basic they don’t even consider them these luxury procedures, so they’re not insanely overpriced. Now, I’m all about feeling good in your own skin,etc. but that Western mindset, in my opinion, has a lot to do with the fact that these kinds of procedures are frowned upon back home AND they’re way too expensive, so anyone’s normal reaction would be, “Don’t waste the money! You look fine!” But you’re not really “wasting the money” here. So staying an extra year or 6 months and doing so many of the things that just aren’t as readily available back home? DEFINITELY crossed my mind…

But then I remember all of the days when it feels really bad to be out here and I know that if I stayed, I would be kicking myself for not getting out when I had the chance. Korea is really great in some ways, but in the ways that it’s not, it’s REALLY NOT. I’m not 1000% sure what’s next, but I know it’s going to be exciting and a nice change from my routine here. Also, our program gave us a non-disclosure agreement to sign as the ultimate slap in the face! I’m signing mine, “Peter Pickles.” They can “get stuffed” as my South African friends say.

As always, if you read it this far, then kudos to you. Someone sent me a link to a YouTube video yesterday and it was more than 15 seconds and I cringed a bit, so props to you for your attention span. If you’re reading this and thinking, “I’m definitely going to sign! Korea is better than home!” then I know that you are definitely one of those weirdos from back home that I meet here and it immediately makes sense WHY you’re in Korea…


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