This is my last week in Wonju.
Sounds pretty final, eh?
In one week from now, I’ll be flying across the pacific and the North American continent to return home to Montreal, Canada. I’ve been back in Korea since March (with 3 weeks in Japan thrown in the middle of that), and as this visit comes to a close, I find myself looking for ways to come right back to Wonju.
I want to come back to Montreal. Really, I do. Thoughts of spending time with my family, reuniting with the Brain Twin, and hanging out with friends are dancing around my head (visions of steak, corn on the cob, and steamies make frequent appearances as well). And who can say no to Montreal in summer? But the more time I spent here getting reacquainted with the pleasantries of Korean life, and reconciling with the unpleasantries, the more I began to realize that I desperately craved Montreal in summer, and nothing else.
That is to say, I’m not quite sure I want to live there for the next 9 months.
Like Marta, I’m making the rounds in the interminable online job fair. Anything from receptionist, editor, content writer, sales associate and ESL teacher (and everything in between), and not even a hint of interest. It’s hard to feel motivated to return when I don’t seem to have much going on for me in Montreal. Careers are meant to snowball – gaining experience here means moving up over there, which leads to finding higher positions here and even fuller ones further there – but so far my snowball is melting on the hot summer pavement, draining away into the gutter. Is this a consequence of taking a gap year? Am I not looking in the right places? Is it because my French isn’t good enough? Or is the job market really that bad? (It is.)
In Wonju, however, teaching opportunities abound. I’ve been approached twice already by parents looking for English tutors. With hagwons left and right, and an apartment provided in the contract, who would say no? Financially, it just makes sense to stay here. I’m finding myself missing my days in the classroom. I still talk about “my students” even though I’m no longer their teacher (bumping into them on the street and hearing cries of “Andrea Teacher!” make my heart bound). The annoying things about Korea are finally – finally! – rolling off my back with no notice at all. And when I see my friends pleading with me to stay, I feel deep in heart that I am part of a community here.
The community here is a temporary one. We all know that. When I talk about flying home, there’s the sadness in their eyes that says, “This is it. We’re starting to part ways now.” A couple we’re close to is returning to South Africa come February. Scott is leaving then too. So why stay?
Well, if I come back to Montreal full-time, it’ll be until February. Then Scott will finish his contract, fly out to meet me, and after visiting family, it’ll be next stop: Costa Rica! So really, I’m just trying to save money and get the most out of the next 9 months to myself. But if I can’t find a job in Montreal, how will I save money?
Most importantly, these next 9 months are the last of our group in Wonju. Half of us are leaving in February. So this will be my last chance to enjoy the only thing I truly loved about my time in Wonju, in the short time it has left. I mean, who knows, maybe they’ll miss it, and we’ll miss it, and after Costa Rica we’ll all find each other again. But in the meantime? This is the last window. A really profitable, jobs-look-good-over-here window. The only question now is landing a job.
So off to Montreal I go, CVs flying left and right, East and West, hoping to catch somewhere – anywhere – and come into bloom. It’ll take a while, which means some free weeks back home. I’m bouncing with excitement for hang out times in Chambly. I miss one-on-one time with Marta an inordinate amount. I can’t wait to make tasty picnics to enjoy in the summer sun, browse discount books at the thrift store, and engage in all other kinds of Brain Twin silliness (ukulele duet album??). We’ll get to do some art projects together, too (That 30 lb stockpile of rubber isn’t going to carve itself!).
So there it is. Where I am, and where I’m going. And finally, here’s that linocut preview I promised you. This will be a monoprint (black and white). Here’s to Montreal, and having time to explore the arts again.