[This is a copy of an email I sent to family and friends back home...]

Korea – Day 7

I finally got my apartment. I won't lie. It's ghetto. Fortunately, I've had worse accommodations so I'll be over it soon. It's basically a dorm room with a tiled area functioning as a bathroom.

The cool thing is my neighborhood. Downstairs there's a Dunkin Donuts, 7-11, KyoChon chicken shack. Up the street there's a park with a walking trail, badminton nets and exercise area. Last night there was an open air concert but I missed it because I went shopping at Nonghyup Hanaro Mart for groceries instead. The subway is one minute from our apartment door and the bus stop is maybe two minutes. There are some things I don't like but overall, my impression is favorable.

After I landed in Korea, I was whisked off to the Hyundai Learning Center where I and 200 other foreigner teachers were held for training captive for the week. The area is beautiful and had a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains. Being with English speakers all week was a bit more like being on a guided tour than actually experiencing Korea.

We had all sorts of training exercises and workshops about our future lives as public school conversation teachers. Most of it was useful. Some of it was actually interesting and engaging. The highlight was getting to meet other folks in the same position as newcomers to Korea soon to be immersed in the culture as full-time teachers.

With that in mind, I have to give testimony to a little miracle God performed. As some of you know, I missed my initial flight. I was scheduled to fly out of the states on August 23 and to arrive in Korea on August 24. Try as I might, I woke up later than intended the morning of my departure and was further slowed down by my precious mother who insisted that we stop along the way so she could give me some travel money. At 6 a.m. the line to check in was atrociously long. I was stuck behind a 20-person group booked on an international flight in addition to a few stray folks behind them.

I had only slept 2.5 hours the night before and was definitely cranky. I had been waiting nearly an hour and was next in line when a lady cut me. She parlayed right up to the front and was like, "Oh, I didn't know you were next." I didn't even get a chance to say anything because my mom and the lady behind me took her on. lol! Mind you, this was just minutes after another woman had attempted to storm the front of the line and got fussed out by some people that had been waiting since 5 a.m.

That said, miracle #1: vindication.
The lady that cut got checked in and was on her way a good 10-15 minutes before me. I tried to stay calm. I let her pass and figured everything would work itself out. When I finally got to the boarding area (after nearly losing my passport), who's standing there but Cut-in-Line Lady? The plane is parked but the walkway was pulled away. She and her daughter were trying to convince airline staff to let them on the plane. While they pretended not to see me, I couldn't help but chuckle. I was quite amused until I remembered that my luggage, like theirs, was on the plane…without me.

After calling my family back to the airport to pick me up and starting over the next day in the same outfit (eww!), I began my travels again, this time with the international portion booked on Korean Air rather than Delta. That was a mini-blessing in disguise. Korean Air stewardesses actually work for their money. They're so attentive it's mildly frightening.

Then comes miracle #2a: Having missed my flight the day before, my two pieces of luggage and 52-lb cardboard box made it Seoul at the same time I did. No delays. No problems.

Miracle #2b is the kicker: After getting off the plane, making my way through customs and loading my luggage on a free—rental cost $3 in the US—rolling cart, a girl turns to me and asks, "Are you a teacher?" I guess my style doesn't really say 'military.' lol. She then asks, "Did you come with Footprints?" which is my recruiting company! With both questions answered, we agreed to stick together, since we were in the same boat.

The two of us clicked pretty well and we're only 2 years apart in age. During orientation week, we were just down the hall from one another and were worried that after becoming friends, our chances of being 'stationed' together out of 200 other teachers was quite slim. Fast forward to the end of the week, not only are we stationed in the same district, we were placed in the same building and our schools are across the street from each other!

Naturally, I had been preparing myself to go it alone and to face the mental and emotional exhaustion of trying to communicate far beyond my Korean language ability. As it so happens, my fellow teacher is Korean American and was SUCH a big help when we went shopping for home items yesterday. I'm really blessed to have a friend and language helper.

Miracle #3: I'm teaching at an all girls Christian school! I didn't know that there were single-sex public schools in Korea and I had certainly had no idea that public schools in Korea (heck anywhere) could be Christian! Having grown up with 2 sisters, if there's one thing I know, it's girls. I'm excited. All of the coworkers I've met so far are really nice. We have chapel on Wednesday mornings. And my classroom is AMAZING.

Next week I'll write about my first week at school. I've been told I won't have to do any teaching this week but I certainly want to be prepared for next week!

Love and hugs!


avonmarissa said...

I have been reading your musings on bollywood on your other blog and was beyond tickled when I found out you like K-dramas too. I am African-in the process of becoming American- and hopefully will be teaching in Korea in the next two years. I wish you all the best in Korea. Look forward to reading more of your posts.