The early twenties transition from college to real life is a very scary thing. My friend group spent the majority of our last year of college ignoring the inevitable end of what we thought was the best time of our lives. Though living in the land of $5 All-You-Can-Drink night was fun while it lasted, by the end I was ready for a new adventure. I was ready to feel like a little more of a grown up. When I drove away from Maryville for the last time, knowing that I would most likely never go back, I focused more on the adventure waiting in my future than the Mug Nights I would be missing. This outlook made my transition a little less painful. But I continually find that the second I complete some task that makes me feel like a real adult, there is always something that quickly reminds me that I am not quite there yet. I am adultish.
Last Saturday night I was at one of the few foreigner bars in Ulsan. It takes me about 30 minutes by bus to get downtown. Which, if you are familiar with how challenged I am directionally, you know it is a miracle I can get around at all. I was having a conversation with a fellow teacher about the United States’ education system, in which I used anecdotes I had heard my teacher parents say and all the facts and figures I could remember from the State and Local Politics class I took my senior year of college. I was feeling intelligent and witty, until I looked down and realized my dress was on backwards. Adultish.
Last week, I was very sick. It was no illness I hadn’t dealt with before, but my symptoms were the worst I’ve experienced in years. I was miserable, hoping that it would just magically go away on its own. But once my coteachers began to ask if I was okay, I realized I needed to do something about it. This was my first “oh, shit, I’m really alone” moment. I’m not in Nebraska where my dad will make me mashed potatoes and my mom will bribe me into making a doctor’s appointment. I’m not in Maryville where I could con a friend or roommate into bringing me home soup from Happy Garden. I am on my own, completely. After feeling sorry for myself for a short minute, I found a pharmacy close to my house and got the medicine I needed. Out of fear or laziness or whatever, it took me 5 days to figure out that there was an English speaking pharmacist one block from my house.
As of now, I am feeling pretty settled here. I have been in Korea for one month. And though the time has gone quickly, each day I feel more acclimated to life here. Every time I take the bus I’m a little less close to almost missing my bus stop. Life as an expat English teacher is still somewhat stuck in the vortex of early-twenties-almost-adulthood. But there are many things about it that make me feel pretty adulty. I now have my Alien Registration Card, which means I’m almost a real Korean. I have a Korean bank account, a Korean cell phone, and am about to receive my first pay check. This all feels very grown up to me. On top of this, after 3 weeks of living in my little yellow apartment in Onsan, I have finally figured out how to use my stove. I am adultish.