And so the journey begins! After years of hoping it would happen, and months of preparation, I finally made it to South Korea to begin my new life teaching English overseas! The last few weeks before I left were a frantic maelstrom of activity. I had so many people to see one last time, so much stuff to get rid of/move out of my place, and so many things I had to take care of at work! Really, I have no one to blame but myself for the frenzy of my departure. I agreed to leave a full two weeks before had planned, worked up until two days before departure, and put everything else off till the last minute. Nothing like a little excitement to make life more entertaining, right?
Getting over here was much easier than anticipated. My flight was all prearranged and paid for by the recruiting agency and academy that was offering me employment. I got on the plane with no hassle whatsoever, and began the long flight over to Korea. It was an 11.5 hour flight, followed almost immediately by a five and half hour bus ride. The person I sat next to on the plane was very nice; he told me some helpful tips about Pohang (his hometown and my new home), gave me his number and email if I needed any help, then helped me find my baggage and ticket office for the bus. Great first impression, Korea! I got on the bus and resumed the journey, fading in and out of consciousness as the night wore on. Needless to say, by the time my new boss picked me up at the bus station, I was a walking zombie.
These first couple days have been a whirlwind of activity. I’ve undergone a medical examination at the local hospital. Hey America, you should learn a few lessons from the Korean healthcare system. It’s lightning quick, cheap, efficient, and EVERYONE has coverage. Well played, Korea. The only part I really didn’t enjoy was getting my blood drawn. I’ve always hated needles. Also, when the doctor looked at my heart diagnostics, he asked me if I’d been having chest pains. I was a little alarmed, but simply told him how stressful the past few weeks had been. He seemed to understand.
I’ve also gotten set up with a cell phone on my boss’s cell phone plan. It’s a basic flip phone, which was a little disappointing at first, but then I discovered ‘basic flip phone’ doesn’t really mean the same thing in Korea as it does in America. My phone has video calling for cryin’ out loud! Sheesh. I’d love to transplant some of the old-timers who complain about how many buttons their phones have over to Korea… they’d probably have a heart attack.
The actual teaching started yesterday. I taught four classes ranging from beginner to intermediate, from 10 years old to 14. It was definitely an exercise in humility. Never have I felt so woefully under-prepared for a task. It’s only my talent for completely winging it that kept me from having a full-blown panic attack in front of a class of 10 year olds. By the end of the day, however, I felt slightly more comfortable than when I started, and I’m sure that it will only be a matter of a few weeks before I’m an English-teaching rock star.
The food here is fantastic. So flavorful, healthy, and FRESH. I’ve eaten some things that I had no hopes of identifying, but have enjoyed every meal so far. Maybe one of these days I’ll sink my teeth into a live octopus. Don’t worry, I’ll take a video.
I’ve got a couple pictures to upload as soon as I can. I’m going to try and give you a feel for the area I’m staying. New post hopefully coming soon! Thanks for reading.