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Some Things Never Change

I was already two drinks in when I broke the news to my girlfriends.

“I’m moving to Korea!” I blurted out.

Looks of shock and confusion filled my friends’ faces. Then came the questions.

“When are you leaving?”

“Why Korea?”

“How long will you be gone?”

“What the hell are you going to do there?”

I took a deep breath. “Next month; Korea pays the most money of any foreign country; one year; I’ll be teaching children English.”

My friends bursted into laughter.

“Seriously, Jen?” said my friend Rita. “You’re going to teach children? Do you even like children?”

I ordered another martini. What the hell am I getting myself into?


Seven months later, I’m happy to report that I’m doing just fine. Turns out, I actually like children. (And they like me too!)

I take my camera to work so I can post class photos on facebook. Colorful construction paper cards hang on my walls. I’m constantly telling stories about the funny things my kids say and do.

“Jen, I feel like I don’t even know you anymore!” joked my friend April during a gchat conversation.

“Girl, I feel like I don’t even know myself!” I joked back.

Then she asked if my biological clock was ticking.

“Fuck no!” I typed in bold letters.

“Now there’s the Jen Stevens I know an love, LOL! So, any guys you wanna tell me about?”

A Painful Recovery

In a painkiller-induced fog, watching yet another movie, my phone rang. Unknown number.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Yoboseyo?” a husky voice responded.

“Eh, yoboseyo. Do you speak English?” I asked.

“Uh, a little,” he answered. “This is police. Is this Jen-nee-pa?”


“Autobike accident…report…ugh…yoboseyo?”

“Um, yoboseyo. It’s still me.”

“Yoboseyo, do you speak Korean?” It was still the same husky voice.

“No, not really,” I responded. “Give me your name and phone number and I’ll have my wan jang nim (school director) call you back.”

Two days later, still hopped up on medicine, I was in the backseat of Wan Jang Nim’s car, on my way to the police station. Holding on to my broken ribs, and cringing at the sight of each passing motorcycle, the 10-minute car ride felt like an eternity.

“It’s just up these steps,” said Wan Jang Nim, as she climbed to the third floor.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

I stood at the bottom of the staircase, arm in a cast, bandaged nose, cracked ribs and a leg bearing a bruise the size of Texas. There was no elevator.

I’ve been homesick only a handful of times since I’ve been here, but this easily ranks as number one.

I’ll spare you the hour-long conversation I had with the police officer–his questions translated in English, my answers translated to Korean, his follow-up questions translated to English. Basically, the officer didn’t understand why, after suffering a concussion, I would have no recollection of what the man on the motorcycle looked like.

I cried on the way home.

My roommates were waiting for me at the apartment when I arrived. They helped me to bed and asked if there was anything I wanted–anything they could do to make me feel better. I said just hearing them speak English was enough. Then I asked them to hand me my pills.