When I left for Korea, this was my attitude:
If you’re not familiar with this clip, it is from the classic (at least, I think so) film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey set in the Deep South shortly after the Civil War.
Like the young man, able to reach the pedals with the help of the ancient Sears catalog, I was going to “r-u-n-n-o-f-t.”And for all you city folk, that’s Southern for “I’m going to run off (or away).” And runnoft I did. 8,000 miles across the globe on an island half the size of Rhode Island, teaching at middle school with the student population of the high school I graduated from over four years ago. My, how times and scenery have changed.
So, dear friends and readers, what are the benefits of having “runnoft” after getting a college degree?
1. The mundane becomes the exception to the rule. For example, eating the skin off of a potato. In the States, we eat the skin off our potatoes, but in Korea, this is apparently not the rule. Same goes for grapes, apples, or essentially anything with a skin.
2. Getting around has become a journey. I walk and take the bus a lot here in Seogwipo. You’ll never know who you’ll see or what you’ll end up doing on the walk home from school or work in a foreign country.
3. You actually start thinking clearly. In the routine of my comfortable, Stateside life, I often became clouded with my own thoughts and dreams. Living outside of the States has allowed me metaphorically clear my mind and to think about what I want out of life without the presence of familiar pressures. Take away from that what you will.
4. You learn mercy. I’ve blogged about this during Fulbright Orientation, but living in Korea has taught me mercy. Mercy as a teacher on those who might struggle with English, or Korean speakers who have mercy on me when I’m trying to buy hydrogen peroxide at the drugstore. Enough mercy to give me the correct change or to deal with my horrible, broken Korean.
5. You learn what is important back home. There are a lot of things I took for granted before moving to Korea in regards to life, family, and school. Now that I’m removed from a familiar atmosphere, I now know what really matters in life: meaningful relationships, faithfully practicing my Christian faith, and various other aspects of living.
Sure, the list is vague, but it’s what I’ve (thankfully) learned after having runnoft from Kentucky for the past four months. If you’re ever given the chance, I would highly suggest that you runnoft, too. You’ll learn something about a different culture, but most importantly (and maybe the most frightening), you’ll learn something about yourself.
PS- 11 years ago today I had surgery to insert a pacemaker into my chest. I never thought that over 10 years later, I’d be teaching in Korea. Thanks, modern medicine!