It has been three weeks since I’ve been back and I’m totally readjusted back to my American life. Busy busy busy but not as much as last semester. I now try to take time for myself by exercising, learning Korean, spending time with only the best people, reading things I want to read, learning things I want to learn about, and researching my next travel plans (Europe!). I also am going to start volunteering at the Children’s Homes Society of Florida to learn more about the adoption and foster care systems here. I have orientation soon so we’ll see how it goes. I’m also going to be a conversation partner for international students to practice English. I did it before for Spanish-speaking students but this time it’ll be for Korean students. Can’t wait!
I started training for my new job. Everyone asks me what I will be doing and it’s hard to give a brief explanation. I worked it down to this: I’ll be a psychometrician administering standardized psychological tests and batteries to assess cognitive strengths and weaknesses in patients – most of them will have brain injuries. The neuropsychologist will use the results to suggest programs for them such as physical therapy, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, etc. I met with some of my future co-workers and had some great psych-nerd conversations. They all work very nicely together inputting their own expertise to help patients recover and adjust back to their daily lives mentally, physically, behaviorally, and cognitively. I look forward to watching patients progress even though I won’t be involved with any therapy.
I am back at my brain training job as a substitute for right now and will be training to administer the intelligence test/assessment. I subbed yesterday for two students and it reminded me how much I enjoy that job. I do not have the time to take on a new student at the moment but I look forward to being able to getting my own student. It is such a positive, intense, and high energy student-focused center. I love it but for now I’ll be a substitute.
Last but not least, for job #3 I’m back at the public opinion lab at the university. It is just an easy night time job where I call people and do telephone surveys. I mostly get hung up on all night but I get the occasional fun participant who tells me how nice my voice haha. Although sometimes boring and monotonous, I like the job because I can talk to whomever is in the booth next to me and I get to meet students I would not otherwise meet on campus. Although UNF is like 80% white or something ridiculous, the polling lab consists of I would say 70% international students so I enjoy that. It is the only time of the day where I can sit and just think. It is quite relaxing. The hours are flexible so I can work for 30 minutes to 4 hours if I want. It is also an excuse to be on campus, go to the library, work out at the gym, catch up on reading, practicing for the GRE, visit professors, go to fitness classes, organizational meetings, etc. Although I graduated, I love being on campus and feel so comfortable in academia.
Speaking of which, I am taking a night class called Social Work with Children. Thus far it has been very informative, interesting, eye-opening, and disturbing. The two instructors are social work professionals. One specializes in adoption (whom I met months back at an adoption event) and the other is a supervisor and specializes in child abuse. I cannot believe some of the horrible statistics of children living in poverty and abused children in America. There are systems that are just very very wrong. This class is very discussion based and quite informal. The class just had a 3 hour discussion and Q&A session re: the daily lives of social work professionals in child welfare. I won’t get into details but let’s just say that their jobs are tough. I do not think I’d be able to handle seeing children with broken bones, children dying, nor counseling parents who abuse their children. I do not think I’d be able to handle making the decision to pull children out of their households nor allowing children to return to the home in which they were beaten. Social workers have to have empathy but at the same time must remain tough and almost cold. It will be very problematic to get emotionally involved in these severe cases and one would not be able to help the families in need.
I truly want to help fix the system and societal problems but perhaps there are other ways I can help. I see myself doing research, creating and delivering prevention and educational programs, and educating the general public about the issues that go behind closed doors. I can see myself mentoring undergraduate and graduate students through the research process. I love teaching (more of a one-on-one thing) with a passion. I love proposing my own questions and systematically finding those answers. Sure I have a problem with ‘publish or parish’ paradigm and some other politics of academia but I suppose crap comes along with every profession. It’ll be a dream of mine to do grant-funded long-term research projects in different countries (particularly Korea. Duh). I still have that itching to pursue research on Korean adoption issues. I have a binder full of articles on the issue and am slowly reading the ones in the program from the research symposium from the IKAA Gathering. I have a small idea of what I want to do but I really need to read all of these articles in extreme detail. There is so much I want to know.
I still am having these dreams of going back to Korea for a few years. I just feel like it is something I need to do while I am young right now. I do not want to be a tourist there. Although I’ll always be a foreigner, I want to not feel like a total outsider like I did this summer. All right – perhaps that’s an exaggeration. I did feel like I blended in a bit physically but I still had that tan, the American haircut, fashion, etc. I didn’t know anything but a few simple phrases. Now some adoptees I met who have made the move to Korea can get by no problem. They adapted to the culture and lifestyle and knew the language very well. I want to be at that point. I start the language class on Saturday so we’ll see how it goes!
Speaking of Koreans I met a Korean adoptee in Jacksonville. What are the chances! It was a total coincidence how we met. She is basically awesome and I’m so happy we met. What is even more of a coincidence is that she is roommates with my boss at work AND the owner of that place is also helping her and her boyfriend with their business. Why is the world so small?
As always, this post is scattered and disorganized. I am OK with being back but I do not want to let myself become a robot workaholic like I was last year. I am slowly learning how to say no (I did it twice this month!). I want to reach out to the community more and discover things in Jacksonville that I often overlooked. For example, Shaun and I walked through the UNF nature trails – only my second time since freshman year. How did I pass them thousands of times and never stopped to enjoy them? They’re great and is just one of many things that makes UNF very unique to Florida universities. I have almost too much Osprey pride. SWOOP!