When it’s warmer out, I like to ride my bike out to the beach on Fridays. With my class schedule, I’m usually able to head out there while it’s still sunny out.
In Boryeong, you have the largest beach on the west coast of Korea. It’s not uncommon for me to see large groups of university students from Seoul queueing up at the bus stop outside the train station on these fridays.
Even with winter here, I still see these large groups. While it’s too cold to go swimming, there’s something relaxing about walking along the beach.
If you enjoy seafood, it’s not hard to find a restaurant nearby; aunties and grandmas will sit outside the restaurants beckoning visitors to come inside and eat.
It’s become sort of a tradition for me to head out there on Fridays when the weather is nice. I like to stop at a bakery there where they sell bags of these twisted Korean donuts.
I’ll just walk on the beach. Sometimes I’ll bring my notebook with me and do some writing. Other times I’ll take photos or videos.
After almost a year here in Boryeong, the city has become a home away from home for me. Its population of 100,000 people reminds me of Bloomington-Normal back home with similar populations and feel.
My main motivation for staying in Boryeong has been my students. When I originally entered the TaLK program, I originally signed up for six months with the thought of moving on to a different city and program.
As usual, life doesn’t always go as planned. I fell in love with the city and school. The teachers here have been welcoming, and each of my students have their own personalities that help challenge me to do better as a teacher each day.
Back at the beach, a year ago I wouldn’t have thought that I would be trying out ice skating for the first time. Let alone with a beautiful view overlooking the ocean.
Some of my students spot me queueing for tickets and I can hear a loud “Harold teacher” over the crowd followed by my kids coming to say hi. Luckily they didn’t get to see me struggling out on the ice.
I’m envious of the elementary school kids who race their way around the ice skating rink. Some literally make circles around me while I rely on the railing to keep myself upright.
It doesn’t stop me from landing on my back three times this day. A GoPro doesn’t feel good to land on, but luckily I only damage its case. I make a mental note to order a metal cage for it when I get home.
There are times where the railing is blocked off by other skaters. I pause to take a break, hoping that they start moving so I still have my crutch to hold onto. No luck.
I slowly make my way away from the railing; I imagine that the kids around me are amused by my arms flailing out at random while I try my hardest just to stay standing.
Little by little I make my way around the rink; relying less on the railing. By the end I can feel my calf muscles burning and it’s time to head back home.
I know that I won’t become an expert ice skater. But being able to try something new was a great experience for me.
Moving to Korea has forced me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things. After a year here, I’m looking forward to seeing what this next year will bring.