Well where to begin I've been here less than 24hrs and I have so much to tell already. The plane ride was fantastic. I never want to fly an American Airline again. Korean Air's service was by far the best flying experience I've ever had. Not to mention I was seated next to the coolest old Japanese man ever who would not stop talking about traveling. He gave me a lesson on Japanese and Korean Tea traditions as well as a fun filled geography lesson using the LCD screens on our seats. I asked him " What American food do you like best?" he responded " Yes, yes I have been to Florida and Disney!" Obviously something was lost in translation. Upon our descent I peeked out the window to see a beautiful array of islands and bluest water ever. "Welcome to Korea my surrogate Japanses grandpa said.
Amazed an a bit in shock I took it all in. Once we landed it was a breeze through baggage claim and customs. My recruiter picked me and we headed the hour from Seoul Airport to Anyang by car. Oh PS. the navigation system looks like a video game and sounds like a digital Korean sex doll. It even giggles! Gotta love it.
Once arriving in Anyang the neon lights and cars darting in and out of traffic reminded me a a mini Korean version of New York City. Coffee shops and cell phone stores on every corner and fashionably dressed Korean girls waving as we pass by. We arrived at my apartment., which is much nicer than I had anticipated, and you cant beat the heated floors. My co-worker Chris another expat teacher took me out for my first Korean dinner at Mandoo. It cost a whopping $4.00! Good times! We finished our evening with a cone from Cold Stone... Ok not the most Korean dessert ever but it sure was good. In the streets young Koreans jump at the chance to say "hello" and practice other English phrases like "what's up" or "how's it hangin, dude!" I smile and say hi.
Too tired to unpack I Skyped friends and family, showered in my wet room and was careful not to wet my toilet paper and called it a night. This morning I got up, and prepared myself for my first official day in Anyang. It's a beautiful city. Even though it's quite urban its set against a backdrop of beautiful mountains. When leaving the apartment this morning I stopped in the middle of my block, looked around and thought, "Wow I actually live here now". I walk about 5 minutes to the bus stop and take the route for about 10 minutes , it lets me off at the mouth of an intersection about a mile from my school. Here comes the hard part, as I look up I see these beautiful mountains and at the base of the mountain is my school. It's about a mile hike up this steep incline to my middle school then a journey up 2 loooong flights of stairs. Omg...next time I'm packing a water bottle and maybe a tent to camp out if I get too tired. As I walk up the hill students are waving say " hi miss" and bowing. I greet them in Korean, and they giggle saying " you speak good Korean!"
Reaching the top of what seems the never ending hill, I find the middle school situated right next to the highschool. I say gooodbye to Chris and head towards the door. Inside I find wide eyed smiling Koreans saying " Welcome". I am shown my desk, given ESL books, a laptop and a cup of coffee. "is this good?" she asks... the best first day I've ever had. My assistant teacher Ms. Kim shows me my classroom and tells me it will be renovated in 2 weeks , so Im excited... and then come the mobs. Swarms of smiling, and bowing Korean teenagers flock to me in the hallway, staring , asking questions and giggling.
I wasn't even supposed to teach today but I couldnt help myself! They wanted to know everything about me and wanted to tell me everything. Most didnt have the English vocabulary for conversation, but they tried their best. The class was hillarious and somehow I ended up rapping Salt-N-Peppas "Shoop" ...lol OMG I need to learn the words to more American songs...it was the only one I could think of off hand. They clapped and cheered... I couldnt stop laughing. Needless to say I'm like the Beyonce of Sungmoon Middle School. haha. Groups of girls come into my office saying "hi" all afternoon. I am told I am "very pretty teacher who smells nice". I bow and thank them. Afterwards I head to lunch with the English faculty. Pickled raddish, spicy lentil soup, some sort of omlette, rice, sweetened seaweed ( my new fav) I could get used to eating like this everyday. Throughout lunch my colleagues and I butchered the semblence of an English conversation. Other faculty came over saying how comfortable I look eating with chopsticks and I sound like a real Korean I smile and say "gamsu hamnida" ( thank you).
So now I'm planning my lessons for next week, in between the frequent visits from my students. So far I've had a blast. I cant wait to see what tomorrow holds...
P.s : for those of you who are wondering... I can't sign into Facebook,so if you need to get in contact with me drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Skype me at Beautifulrapture.
Confucuis say: Life in Korea is like biting in Korean rice cake unusual, and unexpectedly sweet.