I have been here for one day and I have a week's worth of information for you. I'm stuffed, just like my luggage was yesterday.
My flight was ridiculously long. I thought I would be smart to choose a non-stop flight and yet I failed to imagine myself sitting in a window seat in a packed out jet for 14 hours. I won't say that it was dreadful, but I will say that I somehow contracted a bout of diarrhea, I woke up from a nap to find a man using my shoulder for a pillow, my dinner was filled with mushrooms and I spilled my coffee on my lap in reaction to an accidental elbow nudge from my napping neighbor. It was a great flight.
I was greeted in Seoul by Paul and Michelle. They are from my school in Seongdong. They were so kind, and welcoming. Paul carried my 52 lb. backpack and Michelle offered me some gum. They brought me to my apartment, explained how the building door codes work, showed me how to use my air conditioner, my floor heater, my water heater, my washing machine, they gave me a subway map and then they left. And then I took a deep breath, and I cried. I don't even know why, but perhaps they were tears of joy, or relief, or an overwhelming excitement, or nerves, or the fact that I feel like I stick out like a broken toe. The tears were quick, and probably necessary. But I am rambling, and have more to tell, so lets continue here...
Before plopping down in my bed I decided to take a walk around town. I took deep breaths as I walked. The air was refreshing, the walking was therapeutic, and I decided right away that I love it here. There is so much to process. There are illuminated signs at multiple levels all along the streets. There are so many people here, and the drivers are crazy, and most things are completely foreign to me. I just want to stop and stare at everything. I stopped at a Family Mart and bought some toilet paper and laundry detergent. It was my first Korean monetary transaction. I was proud of myself and bowed politely at the cashier on my way out.
This morning I met Jane, my neighbor and colleague. She is from Manitoba, and is Korean. She is a true gift, totally and completely a life saver and hopefully a new friend. Jane speaks Korean, showed me a delightful little bakery, gave me a lesson on managing the subway, and is teaching me basic Korean vocab so that I can make this place feel more like home. I already feel like I'm improving. I feel less shy, and honestly it's just plain comforting to have someone to talk to.
Oh, and this morning I enjoyed an iced coffee. I inhaled it. It was perfect. Then Jane and I trekked to the Chung Dahm Training Center (my school training headquarters) and we worked through session 1 of our week full of training. It was informative, interesting, and exhausting. Then we went to the hospital for our medical exams. I'm glad that's over. I learned that I have perfect vision in my right eye. Cool! I also learned how to urinate in a cup, while squatting over a flushable hole in the floor. I'm telling you, this place is going to change my life!
After that we navigated our way to the bank where we opened up my bank account. That was fun. Then I was treated to the most amazing lunch. Bamnaengmyeon. It's a cold noodle soup that has all sorts of weird things in it like radishes, pears, hard boiled egg, spicy red pepper stuff, sesame seeds, and a bunch of other things. It was so yummy, I think I'm going to order it again soon.
We stopped at the school to meet some more of the faculty. Everyone was kind and welcoming. The school is in a great residential area with hilly streets and nice markets and a park. It's only 3 subway stops from my apartment. The school seems nice. I think I'll do well there. There are 13 EFL teachers total. The kids seemed energetic and as I watched them my heart was happy to think about teaching them. My Head Instructor said "Some of them are not angels". I had to laugh a little.
Jet lagged, hot, tired and arms full of books and training manuals, Jane and I returned home. And that's where I am right now. My apartment still needs some love. I need to acquire a bath towel, a trash can, some bed sheets, and a pot to boil water for coffee. But for now, I have some tuna, some multi grain pita's, some cashews, and a new craving for bamnaengmyeon.
Tonight I have homework. I have a huge grammar test in the morning quizzing me on my knowledge of subject verb agreement, infinitives, gerunds, participles, clauses and all the tricky verb tenses like "future perfect progressive". It has been so long since I've had to think about this stuff. It's a lot of information but I secretly love it.
Until next time...