So far the single hardest thing that I've faced is trying to explain to a couple of friends why I at least somewhat seriously considered whether quitting made sense. I realize that last sentence ends clunkily, but I intentionally thought about it like that, as a way of considering quitting without really considering it. Its hard for me to gauge how close I really came, though there is no denying that it was a possibility, even if not that likely. Now back in the US, it seems obvious that I would stay the entire year, yet at times it definitely was not a foregone conclusion.
At the time the thought of quitting seemed so tantalizing. I had gone to another country to do a job I had no experience in voluntarily and at the times when I was struggling the hardest, to just up and leave had an undeniable appeal. I never wrote about it at the time because I worried that even saying it out aloud would make it seem more realistic. Now it seems absurd. Life here in the US is clearly not perfect and I was doing what I wanted to do, something few people can say, given the economy and the vagaries of life.
I am extremely glad that I made it the entire year. Its hard to overstate how glad I am, though of course some of that is the inevitable justification for past actions. Still, things improved so much once August 1st came, that I would have missed out on so many of the best parts of the year. In May I had no reference point for how much of my struggles were culture shock and how much was being a new teacher. In August, I was more or less over my culture shock and while I was a better teacher, the teaching also seemed so much less intimidating because I had created a home for myself in the community.