Life’s pretty funny sometimes.
As many of you know, I applied to teach English in Korea in May – I’ll be moving there in August. It was a messy process, but I got it all ironed out and submitted a month ago. My recruiter offered me a teaching position in Dongtan two weeks ago, but because the whole city feels like a spaceship, I opted against it. That was a scary decision, not knowing what would come next, but I didn’t want to spend my day immersed in a city-wide Internet of Things – I’ve lived with an Alexa; I don’t like it.
On Tuesday, my recruiter forwarded a request from CDL, my parent company-to-be:
Did you attend the brick-and mortar-university at West Point or the online university?
What is your MOS code?
I chuckled. What were they fishing for?
West Point is *only* a brick-and-mortar university – you couldn’t begin to recreate that experience online. How is your squad leader going to enforce arbitrary good order and discipline across a screen? Isn’t the screen the gateway to an increasingly undisciplined life?
And my MOS – that’s short for ‘military occupational specialty,’ and while it says a lot about a person’s military background, it also says precious little – it’s largely a vehicle for an outsider’s speculative assumptions. Mine’s 11A – infantry officer, the leader of America’s fighting men and women, self-selected sniper fodder. I also speak French, play the piano, and sing, but you’d never get that from my MOS. You do get some awesome stereotypes though – solid under pressure, decisive decision maker, capable of managing multiple projects… they got me the job I have now, and that’s borne out alright.
I responded briefly and decisively, then carried on about my day.
On Wednesday, I woke up at 6:00 AM to an email from my New York-based recruiter -so early! Its subject line? CDL Placement Issued and Contract Confirmed!
I try not to check my email before I journal in the morning, but I’ll admit, I cheated that day.
Anyway, this job comes with housing, which is totally unnecessary but kinda cool, and it’s in Cheonan-si, which, she assures me, is far cooler than Pyeongtaek-si. A Google query seems to prove this out – Cheonan-si looks gorgeous, is not an Army town, and has a population of ~10,000 expats! It’s also surrounded by mountains, and it’s a short 25-minute metro ride from where we plan to live! I’m about giddy with excitement – mountains and four seasons? Oh my!
I still wonder though… why were those questions the ones that CDL had? Why didn’t CDL ask those questions before the previous soft offer? Am I in for a bunch of Korean ruffian kids a la public middle school? Are there Korean ruffian kids? Do they think I’m particularly well fit to such a bunch? It all seems a preposterous proposition to me; South Koreans take their academic pursuits very seriously.
My brother’s an NYU grad and an Army officer who’s intimately familiar with Korea and its military, and he’s met more NYU grads out there than back here! If that’s not enough, search ‘Korea Cinderella Law’ and ‘PC bang’ – kids game to decompress from school. They game hard.
But I’ll let the mystery build – the anticipation is half the fun.
I start my CDL training in Seoul in mid-August. From what I read, it can be intense and emotional, but, uh, I’m a combat vet and a practiced public speaker, so I think I’ll be okay – that, and I fly into Korea weeks before I actually start training, so I’ll have a leg up on my jetlagged compatriots, who will have arrived just a day or two prior. Jet lagged sleep deprivation is for the birds.
This is all to say, I’m thrilled. Yay change!