The (Alternative) Expat Lifestyle
I don't know if it was turning 26 and acknowledging that my early-20s are actually over, or the realisation that this really, actually, will be my last contract in Korea, but I am making the most of my time like I never have before. Working hagwon hours - the 2-10 shift - makes it very easy to live a vampiric existence of late-night Facebooking and unnecessary weekday drinking. This is how I spent my first year in Korea - although 6 hour Skype-sessions with a certain Canadian I was in the process of wooing also cut into my sleeping time somewhat. Back then, I would rise at midday (at best), work through to the evening and then stay up till dawn. It's no way to live.
This year, I am making the most of the fantastic opportunity that this shift pattern opens up to you. I wake up at 9:30am, check the weather (which is increasingly blue-skied and temperate) and hop aboard The Beast (my bicycle) and pedal over to either the local subway station for Taekwondo training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or down the road to Gorilla Gym (yes, that's really the name) on the other 2 days of the week. Saturday's usually begin with a joint trip to the gym with my Canadian girlfriend before spoiling it all with bacon & eggs, and Sunday is basketball day at the local park where I try valiantly and fail miserably. Basically, I'm a keep-fit machine with guns of polished steel. I'm disgustingly attractive nowadays.
But isn't just my exercise regime that has taken such a giant leap in recent months - nowadays, I just get shit done. I'm organising nights out and exertions with my friends, hosting parties (got a nice little Cinco de Mayo shindig coming up this weekend, did somebody say fish tacos?), completing paperwork for my Canadian visa application (this is a bitch, believe me), writing articles for expat magazines, orgainising my finances. I know this is all normal stuff that normal adults do - but I now feel that I am one of those normal adults. And far from bored by that realisation, I feel invigorated. I'm confident, fearless, ambitious. I'm all the things I wasn't for quite a while.
And it was with this confidence, and my beautiful girlfriend and laughing friends, that I strolled down the Cheonggyecheon River (more of a renovated stream, to be honest) in central Seoul on Saturday past, towards the bustling, noisy, neon-lit Gwangjang Night Market. Here, I sat beside The Postman (who now works with me in a nonsensical twist of fate) and gorged on sundae (Korean blood sausage), pig's feet (basically inedible, it would turn out) ddeokbokki (a deliciously spicy street food) and noodles, washed down with shitty - but cold - (s)Hite lager. And as I looked around, I couldn't help but smile to myself and feel proud at where we are and what we've done. My Canadian and I have got through so much together that we feel invincible. No matter what gets thrown at us, we turn around and batter it back.
It is a glorious feeling that comes from knowing that everything is going to be okay. I just wish I could say that about the match tonight.
Come on, United!
Love, Smithy x
Posted by Smithy at 30.4.12