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

Korea - Day 14

Week two was pretty light. I'm SO fortunate to have a school where I was encouraged to do planning rather than be thrown into teaching on day one.

The first couple of days were filled with greeting: greeting the principal of my school and our sister school, greeting the other teachers, greeting the students, meeting the church pastor.

I also had to get a health check (as per government requirements). It was nothing physically invasive but answering, "Do you have any communicable diseases?" etc. when the little man who was asking the questions looked like he was embarrassed for me, was quite an experience.

So far, I've only eaten cafeteria food once and that only for posterity's sake. (I get the feeling the principal had something to do with that since he asked what I thought of it!) Every other day so far, one or more of my coworkers has taken me out and treated me. I think I'm going to owe a lot of people lunch when I get paid!

I'm still adjusting to my small living space but I'm hoping it'll teach me how not to accumulate useless stuff. Liz (the other teacher in my building) and I met up with a couple of other English teachers in our neighborhood for dinner a couple of times last week. One of the other girls is having a tough time with her head teacher and it reminded me how truly blessed I am.

On last Wednesday, Liz and I were invited to an orchestra concert by one of my coworkers. His daughter was performing. Unfortunately, what we thought would be a 1-hour subway ride turned into nearly two hours of transport! We were extremely late to the concert (45 minutes) and after watching the performance on monitors for 15 minutes, we decided to make our way home since it was already after 9pm! That's when things got interesting.

I should point out that our neighborhood is pretty calm for a major metropolis. We actually have tree-lined streets and a little park with hiking trails around the corner. Downtown Seoul is a completely different story. We transferred trains to one of the most central lines at around 1015pm and experienced rush hour traffic!

Liz and I missed the first two trains that came by because we chickened out. Basically, the train was like that video of rush hour Tokyo without the professional pushers. After the second train, we bolstered up, got near the front of the line and got shoved all the way into the train! We rode shoulder to shoulder with random strangers for 15-20 minutes before the train emptied out enough where we had some room. Still, we were standing up until our next transfer.

All in all, my second week in Korea was interesting but mostly uneventful. Shopping has been quite a challenge because of the language barrier and made worse by limited selection. Trying to stock my apartment with basic necessities feels like a part-time job most days. (At this point it would be appropriate to mention that after being so excited about my local KyoChon chicken, they did duly disappoint. Seriously, their chicken wings were winglets! I think they killed the little guys before they hit maturity. *sigh*)

My school has asked me to spend 4 of my working hours doing an afterschool English club in addition to 3 hours of teachers' conversation class. They're definitely trying to squeeze out every penny's worth of work from me. I feel like a one woman English academy! Various teachers randomly stop me in the hall to ask for correct pronunciation and grammar, no joke!

Next week (the week I'm writing this) is my first week of teaching so there'll be a few more interesting details then. Sometime between now and October 1, I'll be settled in [and begin to finish tackling my screenplay!]

Hope everyone's doing well.

Love and hugs,

p.s. Just thought I'd include the photo of my bathroom for kicks. Yes, you too can wash clothes, take a shower and use the toilet all at the same time, courtesy of a connection from your sink---that is if the mildew and gaudy mirror decor don't attack you first! :p