Friday, August 31, 2012

First two weeks in the ROk

First two weeks in the ROk

I have now been in Korea for two weeks and it has been intense! I may have mentioned previously that I spent the first week at EPIK orientation on Daejeon (a city about 2.5 hours south of Seoul). We kept a pretty exhausting schedule but it was definitely educational and a great way to network and make friends in a new place.

While in Daejeon I was able to sneak away from the orientation site for a couple of hours and I met up with a good friend from my University. I hadn't seen her in almost a year, so it was definitely nice to catch up and see a familiar face on the other side of the world.

After orientation Tuesday morning those placed in Seoul were driven to their corresponding districts where I was greeted by my co-teacher and taken to my apartment, which is in the northeastern part of Seoul.
My apartment is pretty basic for Korean standards, but definitely different from western style. It can be described as a studio apartment but the entire space is the same size as my living room in Florida. Even though it's small it's still comfortable, and in a busy neighborhood so there is loads to do and see.
The day after I moved into my apartment I went to see my school and met my principal for the first time. He was friendly, but because of the language difference we weren't able to do much else than have small talk about Bill Clinton (came up after I said I was from Arkansas).
Today I went off on my own to the immigration office to register for the mandatory alien registration card, and opened up a bank account. Managing the subway system was pretty easy, but I spent more than two hours opening a bank account because the lady didn't speak much English. I'm really thankful she was so patient though, and I have one less thing to worry about.

Basically my first week in Seoul was spent settling in to my new place, preparing lessons, and meeting up with friends. This coming Monday I will teach my first class, so I've got to prepare and go over my lesson plan so that I can do a good job and win the trust and respect of my students. I will be teaching fourth and sixth grade so it will definitely be fun and exhausting.

I currently don't have Internet at my apartment so my posts will be few and maybe not as detailed as I'd like, but once I get Internet and phone taken care of it will be okay.

After months of waiting, I finally made it to Korea!

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Welcome to my first post from the East! After twenty-something odd hours in transit my flight arrived safely in South Korea yesterday evening. I'm currently fighting jet-lag, but I'll give it my best attempt at compiling coherent sentences :)

Today was my first full day in Korea and I've probably eaten more rice today alone than I have during the past year! The food selection during mealtime is actually pretty extensive, I am just too exhausted to spend time looking over it and just grab whatever seems familiar. The weather is a little bit warm but not unbearable since it hasn't really been that sunny, what complicates things though is this humidity! Having lived in Florida before I thought I would handle it just fine, but man, South Korean humidity puts Florida's humidity to shame; I step out of my building and immediately my hair frizzes up and my clothes stick to my body.

After arriving at the airport I was picked up by EPIK and brought via coach to a town about two and a half hours south of Seoul for a week long orientation. It's been really nice recognizing the faces of people I've been chatting with on Facebook for a while, and of course just meeting all of the other teachers and hearing their stories has been very interesting. Everyone has been incredibly nice, the EPIK staff, the other teachers, and even the lady and old man (whom I believe take turns working in the mini-convenience shop downstairs) have been very patient and helpful.

This orientation is packed with activities and lectures I must attend in order to get better prepared for teaching and living in Korea so luckily I haven't had much of a chance to think about missing home and my family. I'm staying in a dorm with a cafeteria, lecture halls and a roommate so it feels very much like being back in college. I'm afraid that the overwhelming realization of everything that has changed will hit me all at once whenever I'm dropped off at my apartment and left on my own for the first time, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when it gets here.

I can't really keep my eyes open much longer so I'm gonna call it a night, hopefully by tomorrow my body will be better adjusted to the fourteen hour time difference.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

and we're off

I'm off to South Korea! My flight leaves Chicago O'hare tomorrow at 12 noon, and arrives in Seoul at 4:00 p.m. Monday Korean standard time (2:00 a.m. central time).
It's now starting to hit me that I, someone who came to America in fourth grade and could only say please & thank you, am now off to Asia to teach kids English! I still remember when my classmates made fun of me because I didn't speak English, and then made fun of my accent.. HAH! Take that Mary my evil fourth grade bully! 
I'm very excited, but at the same time I feel a bit of guilt at having to say goodbye to my family again. It seems like I'm always coming back, getting them used to me (and I to them) and each time I leave it's to a further place, and for a longer time. My mum though, no matter how upset she is about my leaving, she has been very supportive, and specially loving these last few weeks; she cooked all of my favorite meals! I love my family so much, and I'm so thankful for them! 

This is all for now, the next time you hear from me I will be in Korea! I hope we are all ready for this journey :-)

Monday, August 6, 2012

and then there were two

I now have two weeks before leaving the country for an indefinite lenght of time,  two days left at my current job, and two intimidating empty suitcases sitting in the corner of my all too familiar childhood room.
My beloved car of eight years called it quits on me a couple of weeks back, and I'm taking it as a sign that moving to Korea is the right thing. I mean, at my current pay rate, there is no way I could afford to fix it, so if I were staying any longer it would really be a burden, but being without a car for a short period is really not that bad. Once I finish working I will dedicate my time to last minute shopping, and finally start the dreaded task of packing. I'm good at throwing things into boxes and calling it done, but having to sort through things and think ahead of what I may need, and what will not be available to me in South Korea is giving me anxiety. Isn't it ironic? I'm pumped about the idea of moving to a foreign land where I don't speak the language, but having to sort things into two suitcases is what's freaking me out? My brain must be wired wrong.