From the BK to the SK
 
Since moving to Korea, I've learned some short cuts around my neighborhood that reduce my traveling time by about 5 minutes or so. I've figured out a shortcut to walk to the uni area, which is both good and bad, since now my favorite, 5 dollar coffee isn't as far of a walk as I first thought it was.
I have also figured out a shortcut to my fitness center, and though it is one huge hill, it's a nice release to take the backroads that snake through my neighborhood and help me to see things in a new way.
I noticed it for the first time late, late one night - maybe 10 p.m., and it snuck up on me like a thief on this barren street in the middle of the night. It stole my breath and my thoughts right from under my nose, bringing me to stop and leaving me in a trance-like state as I stood as the top of the hill and took it all in.
I've talked about the difference in the architecture between Europe and Asia; where Europe is beautiful and magical and enchanting, Asia is very straight foward. Its buildings are virtually identical in size, shape and color. Sometimes they remind of the desert, very dry, sandlike and in need of some water, something to shake them up and bring them to life.
Yet on this one particular night, I couldn't help but appreciate Korea and it had to offer.
It was like a bad smile, like a person who was just in some kind of fight and had some teeth missing. The buildings stood there, tall and dominating, the different apartments illuminating the night with their blaring white lights, scattered across the deep, black darkness. You know when you see someone with a terrible smile, and as much as you want to stop looking, you sometimes can't help but stare? It keeps you guessing, wondering who, what, where, when and why?
I couldn't help but stand at the top of this hill, staring at this ugly, half-toothed smile stretched so proudly across the darkness. I wondered how this moment, this feeling changed me from who I was just a second earlier to who I would be when I took my next step. I wondered what on earth made me so lucky, so fortunate to experience this moment and to relish in it. I wondered where had this scene been hiding in the past four months, or where had my eyes been looking that they couldn't see and appreciate the scene they were seeing right now. I wondered when my life became a compilation of these moments of appreciation, reflection and worldly power that fills your heart and keeps your blood pumping, craving for more. But most of all, I wondered why I was so lucky to experience all that I was experiencing and pondered th reasons of why I was incredibly indebted to moments like this - how I could ever re-pay them for all they taught me with their captivating silence, their strong and steady whisper?
It's an insane feeling, to have all these emotions rush through you like a river in the dead of the night, and in just a few minutes, walk away with a new perspective on the way you saw something just moments before.

And to end, I'd like to give a shout out to some of my newest fans - Quinton, Cameron and Samuel. I am definitely a more popular teacher from all they taught me about being a kid today, with the new games and movies and books and things I would have never known if I hadn't had the pleasure of babysitting them back spring. Thanks, guys!
 
 
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Right now it's Christmas night, and my three closest friends (Laura, Amanda and Sheila) and I are snuggled in my bed - made for one person - watching Love Actually and eating endless cookies sent in my carepackage from home from my Dad and Jeanne. Jeanne, your cookies and fudge were more than devoured - they were inhaled.
I have been away from home before for major holidays, like Thanksgiving, Easter and Fourth of July, and there is always a certain emptiness that kind of settles in the bottom of your stomach. It isn't necessarily the family and the friends, though I do miss my family dearly, but it's more the hype, the decorations, the excited chatter and the rush here, there and everywhere to get some last minute things done amidst millions of other people who are in your same position. It feels like something is missing without all the wild chaos that is an American holiday.
But, I am fortunate to have met the friends I've met here, and fortunate to have the experiences I've had and the appreciation its made me feel, the little things that go unnoticed when you're constantly swimming in the same race.
My friends and I rented a hotel room in a beach city about an hour south of us called Busan, a place that injects adrenline into your blood stream with one deep breath of the sea breeze that sweeps through the city. (Seriously, though. The air was so much cleaner and lighter in Busan than it is at home in Daegu.)
We decided to treat ourselves to a nice Christmas Eve dinner, at which I orderd 'young chicken' from the menu while secretly crossing my fingers underneath the table cloth. Young chicken? What on earth did that mean? And why was I the only one who was given a time frain for the preparations? I am almost positive the chicken was alive before I ordered my meal.
Our dinner was incredibly and left us licking our lips to savor each last bite. We had intended on ordering a Christmas movie off the television, only to find that there in fact no movie channels, and the only English channel was a National Geographic program about the food intake of a snake: how it eats it food by lunging at it, strangling it and swallowing it whole. Merry Christmas Eve, I guess?
But we awoke this golden globe of a sun, its reflection rippling through the water like a golden ribbon. The thing that I hate about mornings like this is you get so amped up, thinking you can walk outstide in a bathing suit and strut your stuff like its a hot August afternoon. Though we couldn't go in the ocean, we still made our way to the beach, winter jackets and hats and gloves and boots and took the in the scene that lay before us. We were in Busan, South Korea, for Christmas. I missed my family, but I am definitely very lucky.
We spent the day trying to snake through the traffic that congested Busan before deciding that we'd rather spend our Christmas night in my apartment watching a movie than going to the world's largest department store, which I can verfiy is without a doubt the world's largest department store.
So here we are, all bundled in my bed watching Love Actually and relaxing. I definitely feel more than lucky.
Merry Christmas to all of my family and friends back home. You're all in my heart today, and I'm sending much South Korean Love your way!
 
 
One of many side effects of living in Korea is my own English. I find that I speak much like my Arabic best friend, Alexis, who my other best friends and I still believe doesn't really actually speak any English.
I say things like, "I like!" or "I love!" or "I take train" or "I make", so I tend to use many half sentences. I speak much, much slower, and I find myself saying things like, "At what time will you arrive?" to my friends. I also find myself saying, "I did not receive," or "I think no", or "At that time", and I've fallen victim to usin the word "Maybe" when it doesn't really mean maybe.
Another side effect is making an "X" with my hands when saying "No" to something, even when talking with my friends. We've all fallen victim to this one.
I'll keep you updated on any other things. My computer is dying now.
 
 
Sadly, Daegu isn't decoratd all too well for the holiday season. I haven't felt too homesick as of yet about being gone for the holidays, probably because I am too busy most of the time to really even process it. But, yesterday I was watching Miracle on 34th Street, and I found myself longing for the lights and holiday cheer that sweep through the city this time of year.
It doesn't necessarily feel like Christmas here, and that's probably because of the lack of decorations, the lack of Christmas tree salesmen on every street corner and the lack of Christmas peeps my friend Molly and I would devour in the library when pulling endless all nighters to get our work done during finals week. Yes, peeps are a huge part of the holiday season for me.
There is also no snow in Daegu, not that it really snows all the time at home on Christmas. I do miss it. I hate when it's cold and there is no snow, but I also hate the dirty, city snow. It's pretty foul.
It's weird, though - I only like the snow under certain conditions. One of my favorite memories from Penn State, amidst the tailgates and the parties and the tailgates and Thon and the tailgates, is a moment that was all my own. It was late, late at night, maybe like 3 a.m., and I left the library to walk home and found freshly fallen, clean, beautiful white snow. I loved it. I would love how eerily quiet it would be, how incredibly still the entire night would feel, how incredibly black the night sky was, how incredibly cold it was and how incredibly sacred it all felt. I would walk home and be so happy. I'm not one for nature and for thinking like, "Oh, we're all one with the Earth, and we're all brothers and sisters with the trees and the sun and the flowers!" No, no - none of that, but it was a beautiful moment, a moment that felt like it was all mine and no one else's. I think that's why I liked it so much. I loved that feeling, that feeling of untouched and silent and cold beauty, of seeing something no one else could see and understanding things in a way that no one else could understand. It's sort of like traveling. It's all such a personal experience, and yet here I am, writing about it because I have a complete stream of consciousness right now from too much coffee.
That's the only time I ever really like the cold weather, is late at night like that. I'm telling you, I'm a weird person and have some rather strange obsessions and strange thought processes, but I am happy to share them with everyone.
I do kind of hope it snows here for Christmas. It would make it feel a little more complete.
On an upbeat note, I asked one of my co-workers, "Do you eat special food for Christmas?"
She answered with a little laugh. "Chicken...fried chicken."
I couldn't help but laugh. Fried chicken on Christmas - how pleasantly traditional.
Koreans are vultures when food is around, and they eat like it's their last meal, but they are no where near as entirely sloppy and messy as the people were in China. In China, when a family would get up from a table after having dinner, it was like someone just came through and tore apart an entire town, and nothing was left standing; it was just pure destruction.
Here they eat a bit better, though I have seen them attack a Costco chicken like cavemen with toothpicks. I passed when they offered me a toothpick to partake in further mutaliating the battered and shredded chicken.
Other than that, though, I must say it's a big step up from China.
 
 
So, today is my four month anniversary of living in Korea. Weird, isn't it? I've lived here for four months, and it seems like it's been so long, but I still have 8 more months to go. That's a scary number - 8. It seems like a lifetime for some reason.
Many people have been asking me whether I'd stay an extra year in Korea to teach, or if I'd go teach in a different country. It's still far too early to tell. I don't think I ever hit that 'honeymoon' phase of living in Korea as hard as I did when I moved to Italy or to China. Maybe because this is my third year living abroad, or third time I should say, so though it does feel surreal at times, I've never been head over heels hopelessly in love with Korea. I love the people, I love the students, and I love my life here, but it's a different kind of love that I've never felt before. It's sort of like unconditional love, a love that's so natural to me, if that makes any sense at all.
It is still too early to tell if I'd stay in Korea and work another year here. I try not to think that far ahead, and I am the type of person who gets very overwhelmed when I start thinking of the bigger picture that will be my life. Here's a list of reasons why:
1. I want to return to grad school and go on to get my PhD, either in: journalism, multimedia journalism or sociology. I want to become a professor in sociology.
2. I want to spend at least a month of my life in India
3. I want to ride and meet an elephant (my favorite animal)
4. I want to go skydiving
5. I want to move to and live in Paris for a year working with the International Herald Tribune
6. I want to move to and live in London for a year - maybe grad school?
7. I want to live in the city while I'm still young, work for the NYTimes at some point as well as a magazine like Vaniety Fair or Time
8. I want to live in Venezuela or Argentina and backpack through South America
9. I want to backpack through Africa
10. I want to backpack through Europe again, make sure I see Turkey and Croatia
11. I want to freelance as a foreign correspondent
12. I want to meet a doting European husband, preferably one who owns a beautiful apartment in Italy.
13. I want to write a memoir
14. I want to be a New York Times bestselling author
15. I want to work for MediaStorm (amazing multimedia stories)
16. I want to travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Jerusalem and North Korea (close to accomplishing one of the four)
17. Become a fashion designer (this one is just for fun)
18. Become a travel writer
19. Work for National Geographic and Lonely Planet (travel guide)
There is much too much I want to do with my life, and so when I start to think of all the things I want to do - well, let's just say I start to lose my breath and am in great need of a brown paper bag to help calm me down. It all seems like so much in such a short amount of time, and I start to lose perspective very easily and can find myself thinking it won't be done.
But, like my quote - don't wear your wishbone where your backbone should be - I know I will accomplish it someday. I guess it's a pretty intense list, and I have no idea as to what order things will happen. I just have to let them all happen naturally, and with time things will come together and get done. With time, I will find my place and figure out what it is I meant to do and where it is I am meant to be.
It's funny how little we understand and truly know ourselves. Maybe it's just traveling, but every day I grow more and more confused about life and its little intricacies, and I understand myself less and less. Everything is constantly changing, and it's like being caught in this constant state of enlightened confusion. Does that make any sense? Probably not, but it's true. It's so hard to keep both feet on the ground with the world constantly turning. I find I lose my balance a lot, but from time to time I regain my footing and there's a brief, clear picture of who I am, where I am and what I'm doing.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this rambling post. I just chugged a coffee and find my fingers are moving faster than my brain permits.
 
 
So, one of the things we learned during our training course is that Korea is a country that heavily emphasizes collectivism as a way of life as opposed to individuality.
After four months of living here, I've come to realize that everyone here looks the same, and by that I don't mean physical appearance. Koreans do look different from one another, despite the fact that everyone has dark hair and dark eyes. Everyone has the same exact style, and though at first I found myself so incredibly jealous of all the women and their sick sense of style, I now feel like I can close my eyes and dsecribe any given peron's outfit on the street to a Tee (right spelling of 'tee' in this phrase? I am not sure..).
About a month ago, one of the teachers who absolutely melts my heart day in and day out asked to take me to paint hand-made pottery with her. She showed me her various craftsmanship that she "hand made", and so I set a date to go with her and my life-saving co-teacher. It's like she and I are attached at the hip, and she's pretty lucky - she gets so many freebies because of me!
I was amazed at her beautiful painting and intricate designs on the various mugs and plates she showed me, assuming that she had, in fact, made them by hand because she told me she made them by hand.
I hadn't done any type of hand painting since I was so young, so I definitely mentioned more than a few times that the quality of my pottery would not surpass that of a pre-school child.
After picking up her son, who is in elementary school and one of the cutest kids I've ever met, we ate lunchey at Pizza Hut ('famous in America?' they ask always...) and then headed to make out pottery.
Upon arriving, I was given the choice to make whatever I wanted but then presented with the choices of a dish and a mug. I didn't want to over-do the invitation for hand painting, so I would have most likely picked something one of the two on my own, anyway.
Now, in the weeks leading up to this event, I mentioned a few times about my lack of artistic skills. I might be able to paint a picture with words, but if you give me a paintbrush, I wouldn't know where to start. I may have put a little too much emphasis on the fact that I really and truly cannot paint, because I was the only one to receive stencils to tape onto my mug for different decorations.
So my co-teacher, my co-worker whom I love to death and strangely reminds me of my grandmother with her coats and brooches and little bob of a haircut, my co-teacher's son and I all get our smocks on and get ready to paint.
The woman who owns the store is truly very talented, but I came to realize that my talents would be stumped even further with the selection of stencils  I was given. I went in with this great idea to make this awesome picture of the earth and the moon and the stars (I have a weird obsession with the solar system) and came to realize that not only had my pottery been basically picked out for me but so was my design.
"Christmas!" they said to me, and gave me stencils of a snowman, a tree, "Merry X-Mas (I hated this one)", and "X-mas with Coffee (I liked it because it was so dumb)". 
Examples were put in front of me to use as a guide, all of which looked the exact same. My co-teacher was making a cup that looked exactly like 15 other cups in the store, and my co-worker was making a replica of a dish the owner showed her. The only one who was given some room for creativity was the boy.
So, I chose a darker blue to paint the cup, which was ill-advised by the store owner but I used anyway. It reminded me of the night sky. I wanted to fool around with her by making my cup look as crazy as I could within the boundaries I was given, so I was putting random colors in different places and painting different things - not following the examples set before me. I was using far too much yellow for her taste, a dark, navy blue and not really following her wishes, but eventually she kind of let me do my thing, but she remained standing over me like a hawk the entire time. I felt more pressure in that store than I have in my entire life.
And, naturally, because I was given stencils where as everyone else was drawing by hand, I finished first and continued to randomly paint my mug. It was taken away from me. After the fourth time of being asked if I was finished, I decided I had tortured this poor woman enough. I think she hated seeing her handmade pottery destroyed by my unartistic, American hands.
My co-worker said I could paint a keychain if I wanted while I waited for them, and so I did. I was so excited about this one, because realistically, I rarely ever use mugs. I prefer to spend 5 dollars a day on coffee instead of making it in my own home. Oops.
Again, I was given examples of other keychains that all looked exactly like one another, and this time I stood up for myself.
"No, thank you," I said. "I will draw Earth."
You know when someone tells you something bad, like some kind of bad news, and you make that little sound of taking in air through your mouth through basically closed teeth? Ok, in Korea, this is a sound that is made every two seconds, like everything is life or death.
"Very, very, very difficult!" they all said, but I was determined to draw this earth on this keychain.
I practiced a bit, got some "Owaaa"'s (their 'wow!') at my impressive skills and decided to go for it.
So I made my keychain exactly how I wanted it. A very plain face aside from the globe, and on the back, I wrote one of my all-time favorite quotes. Have you ever read the book Eat, Pray, Love? I read it on my flight to Italy back in 2007 when I left to study abroad, and so much of that book was so incredibly powerful, especially since I was just beginning my journey around the world. Anyway, when the author, Elizabeth, is in an ashram in India, she meets a man from Texas who gives her some advice. He says to her:
Don't wear your wishbone where your backbone should be.
I read that quote a few times over, and from that day on I've never forgotten it. It is one of my absolute favorite quoes of all time. I've been lucky enough to travel all over the world, but that doesn't exempt me from sometimes falling victim to the things that aren't so important in the larger sense. I get worried about useless things, stress myself out over things that yeras from now will bear no significance on the person I will become, freak out about  
not having enough time to become what I want to become. But, realistcally, none of that stuff matters, and in the end that mentality only holds me back in life. It only keeps me from doing the things I want to do. We're given one life to live, and you can't go about it by watching it drift by you like clouds in the sky.
I still find myself saying, "I wish I could be a foreign correspondent", or "I wish I could one day write a memoir that would actually sell", but in the end I know that those things will only happen when I stop wishing and start doing. 
 
 
This will be a short post.
It is 10 a.m., and I am "desk warming" - literally sitting at my desk for the entire day with nothing to do. The teacher next to me is teaching himself English. I've blogged about him before. For the past 20 minutes he has been repeating:
"Can I leave a message for him? Can I leave a message for her?"
Just 6 more hours...
 
 
So I have changed my blog title a few times but have settled on a final title:
From BK to the SK
Whenever I am away from home, I come to appreciate home more than I thought possible. I scrutinize it a lot. I do tend to hate on Brooklyn and all the hooligans and goons and absolute Snookie wanna-bes you can find on any corner, but I would not have chosen a better place to grow up.
Brooklyn is, without a doubt, one of the best places on earth. Whenever I watch a movie or see a TV show that takes place at home, I can't help but feel proud. And, it's funny, New York is so entirely self-centered. Whenever people say they're "from New York" but don't mention somwhere in the city (mainly Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx), my immediate reaction is, "You're not from New York!" I tend to forget that it's a large state with more places than NYC, though realistically the city is really the only place people want to be. I was lucky enough to grow up there. Granted, I don't know it like the back of my hand. It's been a long time since I actually lived there, probably about 4 years. But, when I go home, I go to the most desired city in the world, and there's no greater feeling than that.
That, however, brings me to my next point.
I've been here almost four months, which is a crazy thought. It does feel like the weeks fly by, and maybe that's because I have so much fun and I enjoy (for the most part) every second of my job - the good, the bad and the ugly. Four months. It sounds like so much and like it has gone so fast, but realistically, there is SO much time left.
There is a lot coming up to look foward to, like Christmas and my winter vacation to Malaysia, but right now I wouldn't even be done with my semester abroad. It'd be just about coming to an end, and my friends and I would be recklessly drinking as much Spumante as our bodies could consume while still managing to eat more calories than possible in just one sitting at our favorite restaurants. Oh, Italy - my friends and I embodied the word 'meatball', because we were all jut little meatballs rolling through the tiny, narrow streets of Firenze.
I have never lived anywhere longer than when I lived in Italy, though there is no doubt in my mind that I can't handle it. I am just interested in seeing how those six months feel, what that transition will be like and how intense my traveler's itch will get at that point.
When I was watching that movie, "The Switch", an interesting point came up (just about the only interesting point in the movie): Everyone in life is always in a rush, hurrying from one place to another; maybe, then, that's why it's called the human race.
 
 
So in the middle of the hallway at my school, I've noticed a very strange new addition that takes up much of the space supposed used by students and teachers filtering int and out of classrooms. It's the large wooden structure fastened directly against the windows, as if its sucking in its stomach and holding on to dear life so that there is still room for other people to function.
"What's going on in the halls?" I asked my co-teacher.
"A bathroom...they build bathroom," she said like it was the most obvious answer in the world.
The pungent smell that overpowers the one bathroom on my floor is enough to induce someone into a coma if breathed in for too long; now, I have to multiply those odds by two. Not only will I suffer severe head trauma from the original, pre-existing bathroom, but I will now have to worry about the possibility of being knocked unconscious simply walking to go teach a class.
So imagine my confusion at watching the constcution of a wooden bathroom, followed by a series of sentences where your name, "Tourist" and "Switch" are uttered about 5 times per minute. I felt like I was watching a ping pong match - my eyes darting from one teacher to another as I tried to listen for other key words to figure out what was going on. If I dare ask, I usually receive a smile, followed by a laugh and a "Don't worry", which makes me worry.
I came to find out that the other co-teachers and I would be going to see a movie that afternoon, followed by some lunchey. Currently  there are no classes at my school, as the students are taking their finals. (FYI: There are two weeks left of school. Will the students have any motivation? You tell me.)
I had no problem with going to the movies, and so I went - all the first grade teachers with me in tow. It's like I am one of those little children wearing a leash; the teachers tend to forget I am 23 years old and will hold on to my arm, leading me up the stairs and down the halls and to where ever it is we are headed.
One interesting thing I learned from this experience is that just because you go to the movies with your co-teachers, that doesn't necessarily mean you're going to the movies with your co-teachers. Upon arriving at the theater, the teachers presented me with two movie promo fliers and said, "You pickey."
I mean, I feel intense amount of pressure when choosing a book in my iPad library, and that's a decision I am making for no one else but myself. I felt my face get red and my hands get sweaty as slowly but surely all of the first grade teachers (11 all together) encircled me, their eyes fixated on me and hanging heavy with anticipation at my choice. I felt ill. I tried saying, "I'll see whatever movie", but no - they wanted their answer.
So I just pointed to the poster for a movie called, "The Switch", which starred Jennifer Anniston and Jason Batemen. Once I made the decision, we were all off to the snack counter. I know I keep making these smilies and comparisons, but it's seriously like being in those Asian tour groups: we all move together in a herd, everyone talking to one another and moving at the same steady, determined pace.
At least I thought we were a herd. The next thing I know, all of the teachers are waving to me and saying, "Have you a nice time", and I look and watch as they hurry off to another theater. I'm standing there, slightly confused with only two other teachers: my life saving co-teacher and this darling little teacher whose entire smile overpowers the sun because it's so bright and cheerful. She's impossibly cute, so I have to say I was happy to go see a movie with her,  even though she spoke no English.
The three of us were the only ones in the entire theater, and so we made ourselves right at home. Little darling was carrying the snacks, and I was unfortunately sitting in the middle and served as the snack table. She placed the popcorn on my lap - ok, that was fine; the nachos and cheese - all right, I can deal; then, she opened the packet of PeanutButter Dried Squid. She delicately separated the pieces of dried squid, making sure to divide it up just right and put container with the nachos, as if it was so normal. I mean, I guess it was normal for her, but to then place the bag on my lap as if that is what I have been craving all day was something that was too much for me to handle. I just imagined my friend, Amanda, who whenever we goes to the movies practically plugs her nose closed to prevent breathing in the smell of dried squid, being in my situation and wanting to die. 
The Switch wasn't a terrible movie, though it was pretty awful. The little boy in it has the biggest brown eyes I've ever seen on a child, and I was completely in love. If he wasn't in the movie, then there'd be no movie.
The other teachers went to see "Tourist" with Angelina Jolie, and all the women could say about her was, "Big Lips!" and "So thin", and last, but not least, "many children!'
And so the herd re-grouped for lunchey at an American buffet-style restaurant called Ashley's, where there was a complete lack of American food and every employee (including the men) were named Ashley.
Or at least I thought this was the case, until I realized that the name tag probably just said their place of employment. That took the fun out of the situation, but still - all I could think at the end of this day was, "Oh, Korea."
 
 
A few students interviewed me back in October maybe for the school newspaper. One of the teachers asked me some follow-up questions recently that the students hadn't asked, like what I see for myself in the future and what I like best about my job, things like that.
I found myself giving a much more emotional answer than planned for her last question:
"If you could say one thing for all of the students to read, what would it be?"
I sat there for a second thinking.
In all the places I've been fortunate enough to travel, I've never had any experience comparable to this. Italy opened my eyes to see the rest of the world; China opened my mind to understand the rest of the world; and Korea opened my heart to explore this crazy thing we call life.
And in every city and every country I've been in, there are those memories that tattoo themselves onto your soul and forever changes the person you are, it forever reminds you of a feeling that is so real it's almost touchable and forever makes your curiousity run wild.
When I was in Italy, I'll never forget the man at the cafe in Amsterdam, and I'll never forget the moment I stepped out of the airport in Paris. \When I close my eyes, I can smell the summer air in Paris and feel the rain against my skin in Amsterdam, and I can feel my entire body pulled back in time to a moment, a second that changed my entire future.
In China, though I tried and experienced more than I can still comprehend. I'll never forget what it was like climbing through the Tiger Leaping Gorge and, after trekking for a day and a half, watching the clouds lazily swim by me at eye-level. I'll never forget that rush, that feeling of climbing - in a German man's velcro sandals mind you - to what felt like the top of the world.
And then there was that moment in Shanghai, when I spent my entire Friday night in one of the world's most electrifying cities playing with a 6-month-old little boy wearing squeaky shoes who will never know how important that moment was to me. I'm sure that right now he is about a year and a half, talking and walking and living his life, and he will never remember me. Isn't that weird? I think about that little boy all the time, about his innocent laughter and his one-tooth smile that lit up the entire world for me that night, but he'll never remember me.
It makes me think so much about my students. Realistically, let's be honest - these kids aren't truly learning English from me. You can't truly do that with a language unless you immerse yourself in that country and culture (my opinion). Maybe they'll forget their lessons on idioms or asking favors or ordering at a restaurant, but I'd like to think that they'll never forget me.
But what I really think about is, for the most part, they're the ones teaching me more than I could ever ask for.
So when the teacher asked me, "If you could say one thing to the students to read, what would it be?", it was like my heart grew a mouth and spoke for me.
I am so grateful to all of the students more than they'll ever understand, because they don't realize how positively they've changed my life and the person I will be in the future. There is nothing more I can say than thank you, and that I will be so forever changed by this experience in a way that is beyond measure.