Week 1 Thoughts
I arrived in South Korea on Monday evening, after a long (but restful) 15 hour flight. For the past 8 months, I've pretty much been dreading that flight, of all things. It was surprisingly smooth. Of course we hit a little turbulence, classically while I was in the bathroom. All of a sudden that little "Return to Your Seat" sign came on. Luckily for me, I have great aim! LOL. Anyway, everything went fine. I got in and was taken to my new school. I was thinking I'd be expected to start working but it was just to meet one of my other co-workers, Steve, and the owner. Then they brought me to my apartment down the street. It's next to the "Mr & Gentle" hair salon. Yes, I'll touch on Korean English (Konglish) a little later. My apartment is a studio but it's big enough for me. My head doesn't touch the ceiling or anything! The owner (pictured above with her 9-month old son, Chung-Mat) had bought a bed set for me, which was really nice of her. So I pretty much dumped all my crap (yes, I had about 4 big suitcases) and went back to the school. I met the other 2 Korean teachers, the owner's husband, and the secretary. Everyone was very nice and welcoming. Then the owner proceeded to give a whole bunch of random stuff for my apartment. I mean bags full of pots, pans, cups, bowls, plates, apples. I couldn't believe it. Steve, one of my coworkers, also speaks fluent English so he's been a lifesaver. He took me to buy an alarm clock and the rest of my night was spent unpacking my bags. I was doing just fine until I opened my polka dot one and a lot of my (very expensive) conditioner had spilled... :( Awful...just awful. It didn't ruin anything but it was just messy and slimy. Fun night!!
My first day of classes went surprisingly well. My kids are all really well behaved...except for a couple but that's normal I guess. I had 5 classes starting at 3:35pm until 9:35pm. My first class were little ones, about 6 or 7 years old. They were SO adorable. Louis, Emily, Gina, Vincent, and Carrie. This is one of my favorite classes so far because they're very vocal and energetic. Most of my classes are middle school. Most of my students are painfully shy and quiet. They are not used to speaking English so my job is basically to get them talking and comfortable with the language. It's much harder than I'd thought! I suppose the key is to get them comfortable with ME first. Their reaction to me is usually "ooooooh" and "ahhhhh" if I flash them a smile. They run into the office and peak around the door, looking at me, smiling...and then they run off when I look at them. It's really kinda cute and funny. Steve told me though they said I'm speaking too fast so I have to work on that. I just have to remember how I felt taking French...completely clueless! But I brought home a bunch of the books so I can work on my lesson plans this weekend.
I've gone out to dinner two nights in a row! Geez, I can't make a habit of that. They have these Korean BBQ places where large groups of people can go and eat amazing food for cheap. I ate something called galbi which is basically meat cooked over a grill in the center of the table. It's served with a lot of side dishes like rice, spicy kimchi (Korea's national dish), spicy bean sprouts, almost scrambled eggs, salad, and other things. It's really quite delicious. But you see, they just keep bringing stuff out!! Which means you just keep eating it. I also drank Sansachun, a bamboo flavored wine. I'm a fan of that. It tastes more like apples but we'll let them think it's bamboo :) It costs about 10,000 won (or $10) per person. I know for sure I'm gonna be a fat ass with prices like that. Considering I just paid 4,000 won (about $4) for a handful of almonds, I've gotta be a little more frugal! I forgot things like that are imported so they'll be more expensive.
Luckily, I live within walking distance of pretty much everything. It couldn't have worked out better. There's a SaveZone (my idea of a cheaper Macy's) and across from that, a 24-hour HomePlus (like Walmart but nicer clothing selection), up the street from that is The Mall (yes, it's called The Mall) with big department stores and a nice movie theater. I actually went to the movies last night and saw The Invasion with Nicole Kidman. Good movie! And every 5 feet, there's a fresh fruit stand, hair salons, pizza places, etc. It's really a perfect sized town for me. It's a mix of all the things I want. There are some nightclubs around here and I'm looking into joining a gym next week. I can't take not working out. It's driving me a little crazy actually. I think I will be able to shop here...the clothes may actually fit me since I'm built more like a 15 year old boy than a full grown woman! Korean women are pretty slim for the most part. Must be all that kimchi. Anyway, I've made some new friends which makes me happy. Being the only foreign teacher at my school can make things somewhat lonely, but I like it. I have plenty to keep me busy and Steve and I are becoming good friends. He gives me all the dirt on people!! Haha. Today I'm headed into Seoul with said new friends. They are black by the way, which is cool. One girl, Nicki, went to any Ivy league school and has traveled a lot of places! I was pretty impressed. Aeri is biracial and went to Howard!! How ironic...HBCU love all day! And Janice is Canadian and newly married. We're all around the same age, too. Turns out Nicki lives around the corner from me. I'll take pictures today when we head into Seoul. Should be madness!! So that's all for now...I'll start updating more regularly. For whatever reason, my computer switched the Korean and I couldn't read a damn thing! So now it's back and so am I! :) Until next time...<3 Joia