Thursday, March 18, 2010

Welcome to South Korea

Working abroad, teaching English and travelling. According to suggestions and requests I figured it’s time to start a blog to record my travels and to minimize the retelling of stories. The trip started off with rushing past US customs and barely making planes, followed by a layover in San Fran and a 13 hour flight to Korea. It flew by and I finally got an individual TV screen in my seat (yay!). The airport is spotless and easy to get around and thankfully I got my luggage and was picked up without problems, except the 2 hour traffic ride to the school. Since in Korea they start the work day later at 9-10, the traffic also happens to be later. On the way passed about 4 bakeries, a Starbucks, KFC and other North American food chains so looks like living here might just be not too different from home.

I am now lodged in a “love motel” until Saturday when I’ll be able to move to my new apartment. Fun fact: love motels are where Koreans go to “hang out” since they are not allowed to bring anyone home unless they plan on marrying that person, resulting in DVD bongs where they go to watch movies and cheap motels. Suddenly a lack of privacy at home doesn’t seem so bad. The floors are heated and the showers have no curtains and the water drains from the shower and sink through the drains in the floor (hello gym showers). I was picked up from the motel the next morning and taken to JM English School (stands for Jesus Miracle). I met the other Western teachers, half from Canada and half from the US. We are now evenly divided with a total of 8; however half are leaving as soon as next week or in the next 2 months. So looks like the few newer teachers like Hanna, Alex and Jeff will be doing the travelling and experiencing the culture with me. They took me out for my first 2 meals where I got to drink Soju; the cheap Korean drink with 18% alcohol level made from rice liquor and had the Korean BBQ experience. In Korean it’s rude to decline anything so there is no saying no to Soju (When in Rome). Since I arrived a day before St. Patty’s I was taken to Gold Bar III, a popular hangout for the westerns here where I was fed cheap beers and taught to play darts. Not a bad start to a new country; especially a country full of drinkers where passing out in a bar or the street is a daily occurrence and the business men’s main business is to not offend their partners by taking shot after shot with them.

By the way, everything you heard about tough Korean teaching practices: not true. The kids are bundles of energy and despite being adorable are super loud and restless. The early morning high pitched screaming is something to get used to but at least I get to wear slippers at work, since it is a common practice to not wear shoes around. But the kids are excited to see you and remember you right away and since they range in age and levels it pretty much comes down to luck as to what classes you get and how much screaming you`ll have to endure.

Survived my first day!! More to come...

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