The movie Inception is all the rage. It is a movie that blurs the lines of dream and reality and explores dreams within dreams. I've seen it twice now. Perhaps that movie, along with a novel which explores a similar theme, After Dark by H. Murakami, has influenced my perceptions. Perhaps the simple fact of living in a different culture for one month is all it takes. At any rate, every now and then I wonder if it is all a dream.
New routines have replaced old routines. Rather than getting ready for school and driving alone 5 minutes to work in a car, now the family walks 5 minutes to be picked up by a school bus filled with 35 chattering staff and their kids for a 10 minute ride to school. Rather than walk the halls of NDA listening to Carolyn's joyful laugh in the hall or popping in on Jean or Bob or Steven for a quick chat in the morning or between classes, I say goodbye to my husband at the teacher's lounge, ride an elevator to the fourth floor of the high school, and pop in to say hello to Helen or Brian, or Dow, or Karen. Rather than eat my instant lunch in the teacher's lounge, laughing and chatting for 40 minutes, I go through the Western or Korean lunch line and sit in the cafeteria in the STAFF section next to my husband and others. Instead of facing a room of 30 happy, energetic freshmen to discuss a lit survey curriculum for 45 minutes, I face a room of 21 focused juniors to discuss American Literature for 75 minutes. Instead of a sea of blond hair, a sea of black hair. Instead of prep time consumed with IB work :), my prep time (sometimes 150 minutes in a day) is filled with correcting papers or planning curriculum.
It has become routine to explore a new area of Seoul on Saturdays. What did we used to do on Saturdays? Often we'd find family events in the Green Bay area. Green Bay was good about having different events at Shopko Hall or other venues to keep us entertained for a few hours. Now our Saturdays are filled with all-day excursions. This usually consists of 1 - 1.5 hours on public transportation to get to a new area to explore. Over the weeks we've explored Lotte World (Disneyland-ish theme park), Itaewon (the World Village), the Grand Palace, and yesterday - Insa-dong. (Note: See previous posts for further details.)
And Sundays? Sundays have been the most difficult for me - to be drift-less without a church home and church community. Sundays used to mean 2-3 hours at church for service and Sunday School and social time. Then home to spend time with family and correct papers. Until today, Sundays have been family time or group time at the playground on the apartment complex, maybe a trip to the store for more goods and correcting papers. Today we finally made it to church! The Director's family told us about the place they found and invited us along this week. It is only about 10 minutes away by bus and an English speaking inter-denominational church with praise band and Baptist/Assemblies of God roots. Several of the students from our new school attend there and the people are quite welcoming. Our daughter sang with gusto and said "this isn't so bad," which is a good thing, considering her usual reluctance. Afterward, the Director's family invited us to their home for lunch.
So these new routines are replacing old ones, but I still have this nagging feeling that, like Bob Newhart, I'm going to "wake up" one day only to find it was all a dream.