A Bittersweet Night

A short conclusion on the drama from my last post:

After lunch I had a meeting with Diane and the principal. It was just me getting lectured about the progressive steps I had to take. Not let my emotions control how I punished students. Remain consistent in discipline. It was kind of bullshit. The principal seemed totally uninterested in the circumstances of the kid’s behavior, and they pretty much ignored everything I said. The didn’t even really care about the pinch as much as the fact that I wanted to send the student out in the hall. Apparently that was in appropriate. They neglected to listen when I tried saying it wasn’t even a punishment as much as it was me trying to remove a disruption from the classroom. I didn’t demand the kid leave, only that he choose to quiet down and work, or go into the hallway to cry. Oh well. Not much you can do about it but nod and smile. Long story short, they said it shouldn’t really be that big of a deal.

Anyway, last night I didn’t have much planned. Just go to the study group, then go home and watch some American TV on my computer. Right as I got to the study group, a Korean friend told me that there was a small get together for a girl who was leaving Korea. She had a big bar night on Friday, but I wasn’t feeling very well and left around 11 PM. Since I didn’t really have anything better to do, and I wanted to say goodbye, I tagged along.

It was a really fun night, but at the same time, a little depressing. Really, for a mix of reasons. One being kind of personal and totally unrelated to my friend leaving, but the bad news had kind of put me in a gloomy mood before I even went to the language exchange. Once we were at the bar, it was just a lot of reminiscing and story telling, and it was really fun. But at the same time, I felt a little on the outside. Everyone else there pretty much considered the other people at the table to be among their best friends in Korea, if not ever.

I, on the other hand, have known most of them for 4-6 months, but have only really been hanging out with them even semi-regularly for a month or so. I told the girl that it sucks she’s leaving because I wish I had gotten to know her better. Back in September, I got my first taste of people leaving, but a lot of them were people I barely knew, many of them I met for the first time with less than a month left in their stay in Korea, so I didn’t really feel like I was missing out on anything.

With her, however, I had gotten to spend time with her and her friends to a large enough extent that with her departure, I feel a genuine sense of loss. A lot of the stories people told last night were stories that almost everyone there was a part of. Maybe some people don’t understand why you’d tell a story that everyone already experienced, but I do. And it kind of sucks being at a table full of people who are best friends, having a great time telling stories everyone already knows, and you’re the only one who wasn’t there.

This is not at all in any way anyone’s fault. I don’t want it to sound like that. It’s just how the situation happened. Talking with people who’ve been here several years, though, it’s something you kind of have to get used to. I know a lot of people that have been here 2-3 years, and even a handful in the 5-10 year range. Honestly, I think it’s harder staying in Korea sometimes than it was leaving America. I kind of had a couple weeks to say goodbye to people, also with the intention of returning, but it was basically an extended one time goodbye. Here it seems like at least every six months, there’s a good portion of your friends that will be going home, so every six months there are these bittersweet goodbye nights, and you can be almost certain you’ll never see the person again, unless there are some pretty extrodinary circumstances.

Anyway, I’m not sure of my weekend plans. I had weekend plans, but based on some recent flaky cancellations, I have less and less confidence that they’ll actually happen. Since I finished my second textbook set, I want to go to Seoul and get a new textbook. The bookstore in my city has mostly just beginner stuff, and not a very wide selection. Someone recommended that I go to Seoul and check out a couple book stores there. I don’t spend enough time in Seoul during the day, so I may use Saturday to do this.

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