Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Swell Season

There's way too much beauty to be cynical, there are moments full of too much joy to be dismissive, you climb too many mountains to be a quitter, you see too many sunrises not to be dreamers...

I was just watching the trailer for the new Swell Season movie, Glen Hansard's opening line is 'I think inside of us all there's some kind of wish to escape to this whole other life'. It's got some truth in it right? A lot of my friends back home would always reflect upon how they wanted to get out of the UK and be 'free' for a while. How they were fed up with their jobs and just wanted to do something new. They never did anything about it. Of course, there are many reasons for this and I'm not going to be one of those condescending types who says 'ah, just get up and do it', it's more complicated than that. I just wish more people would. Get out of their shells you know. Get out of their comfort zones.

We went swimming in a waterfall on Saturday. It wasn't this giant waterfall, it was essentially a small trickle into a crisp blue pool, the water made a trickling sound like rain into a puddle as it echoed through the water. It was this beautiful tranquil place smack right in the middle of Korean tourist centralized Korea. As I dived underneath the surface I realised that it had been almost a month since I had swam. I go swimming all the time at home, me and my friend Dave would take regular trips to the beach at Lee-On-Solent or Hill Head and come rain or shine, come warm or cold, we would submerge ourselves in the waves and let the sea take us. Tell it to the ocean. Whatever was going on in your life, weather it be something huge or just nothing at all, it would all get washed away for fifteen minutes as you let the waves run over you. On Saturday I told it to the waterfall and afterwards I felt great.

Back home when I told people I was moving to Korea, it would seem like a lifetime away, it sometimes felt like I wasn't really going at all, but I was just telling people I was. Now I'm here, and its real and its all around me. A lot of the people I've met here haven't had the mindset I've been expecting however, it seems a lot of expat teachers who have worked here for a long time have this condescending way of talking to you, telling you what you should and shouldn't do here, telling you what goes and what doesn't. Why can't these people just let you find out for yourself? They know they're not giving you essential, helpful advice, really what they're doing is making themselves feel better. They have this bigoted attitude, that somehow just because they've lived here for a few years, they have a moral high ground over someone who has just arrived. In his book 'Vagabonding' Rolf Pott's discusses these kind of expats and travellers, and explains that travel shouldn't be about a moral high ground, by all means share your experiences but don't force them upon people and cheapen their experience. This does not by any means cover all expats who have been living here for a long time, I have met just as many kind, humble and friendly teachers as I have met, snobby, condescending, ego maniacs.

That's just the way some people are though, and it's important to not let it get to you. I'm back to school tomorrow and have a week of lesson planning and classes ahead of me, a week of my students making me smile, a week of trying to make a difference at school, not just being another expat English teacher. You gotta be the guy that swims in the waterfall. More than anything you gotta be the guy that doesn't let other people cheapen your experiences, you gotta make your own way, find your own bliss, swim in your own pool. That's my take on it.

Fair play to anyone who dares to dream. Good night Korea. Good night world.

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