Posted by: Cacille | April 13, 2012

Birthday far and away.

My first birthday away from home. A year ago, I had no clue I’d end up in Korea for my 30th birthday. Last year, I was just getting out of a job that I’ve worked at for over seven years. I was going into a different line of work entirely, in a new company at a higher rate of pay. While the pay was decent, and despite me getting along with about everyone in the world, the boss was horrible. I ended up leaving the job only two months after starting it. I still had a secondary line of work, a paint business that I had built myself, but paint jobs were coming in slowly, only enough to keep paying the rent and basic utilities. I had a roommate, which was good, but still – some months it was very hard…and the credit card took on the burden of extras I needed. I knew I needed to find a new dream.

A simple search on craigslist changed that. I use craigslist often, to look for people needing paint jobs done, to put up adverts, to buy things for cheap. I looked for jobs sometimes there, but generally craigslist has bad jobs, scams and the like. So tentatively, I searched there, and found a ad that said “Teach in China!”. First thought? “Hm, interesting. I haven’t seen this scam yet. I’ll check it out to see what scam this is so I don’t fall prey to it in future generations of scams or something.” What I saw surprised me. Degree needed. Check. Clean record. Check. Teaching kids. Cool, sounds like fun. Pay rate….something like 6000 or 8000 chinese currency number. I went to a currency calculator site…WHOA! $1300 a month?! …I wonder what other countries pay.

That’s why I’m in Korea now.

And I just spent my 30th birthday in practically the farthest place from home that I could get. Does that bug me? Nah. Not so much. Am I homesick? Only for some American food places and my tools. Truth is, my birthday pretty much rocked. For one, the cherry blossoms are in bloom now! There aren’t that many in this town, but still, it’s nice.

On my birthday, I had to teach class. So I wrote on the board “Today is Shelley’s 30th birthday”. All the kids, upon reading the message, would say something nice, or try to sing Happy Birthday (some classes sung it all together, of their own volition). There is nothing like having an entire class of kids say happy birthday to you, or sing it to you. After class, what did I do? I helped with a little play written by one of the other English teachers, acted in the little play as she took video, then went home with her phone to load the video onto my computer (cause I had just downloaded software to do video editing). Sadly the videos didn’t come out well, so I returned the phone and we made plans to do the play again the following day. I then went into town to the one burger place here, and got myself an ice cream. I then went home to start trying to learn the video program I had downloaded only days before. Oh, and I installed my present to myself. Aluminum blinds for the window! I’d been waking up earlier than my alarm clock, panicking almost every single morning, because I keep thinking that I haven’t set the clock, or overslept. Also, there is a light shining into my room at night which annoyed me and made it a touch harder to fall asleep. So, blinds. Which are two toned blue. Yeah. I had a drill in this apartment and it made me miss my tools all the more.

The next day, some of the other classes who heard it was my birthday yesterday, ended up singing to me again. Awesome. I had a bad class at the end (Who would not stop talking cause the teacher was not there to keep them on track. The talking is a growing problem that needs to be solved soon, but delicately), but after it ended, I went to record the play again with the student and teacher, and after that the fun began. Some of the teachers and the vice principal wanted to take me out to dinner to celebrate. So, two of the english teachers and the gym teacher and the vp and I went to a Italian place in town, and they surprised me with a gift and a cake! The cake was a sweet…potato…cake. Seriously. Sweet potato, whipped cream icing, and a little decoration of hard chocolate. It was good! They make a lot of things with sweet potato here and cake is one that ends up being quite surprisingly good. They got me some body wash and lotion in different scents.

I won’t name names cause I didn’t get permission to put these in my blog, lol. The teacher next to me is one of the English teachers (who is very helpful, nice, and fun to be around). The people in the other pic are, my co-teacher (She’s just amazing, in every way), the gym teacher (shy and nice guy), and the vice principal (eager and willing to help and really wants to get better at English). When I came to Korea, I thought I’d be great friends with the other foreign english teachers in town, but not so close with the other native school teachers. I’m quickly discovering it’s the other way around. The school teachers are awesome to hang out with, while the other foreign teachers like me, are…well…mostly boys interested in sports, sports…and more sports. A little harder for me to get along with. Anyway, so that was my birthday. Hanging out with some of the most awesome teachers, installing blinds, making a video for school, and eating sweet potato cake. My birthday was awesome.




  1. Glad to here that you enjoyed your brithday far away from home. What tools do you miss the most? Do you feel you are larning Korean slowly but surely? I hope that you are able to sleep better with your new blinds.


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