Tuesday, August 09, 2005

hello from daejeon!

well, now that i'm a little bit adjusted and have some time to actually update (yes, 45 minutes left in the pc bang!) i thought i'd let you all know how korea is going so far. i don't have the energy to write about every little bit of my escapades, so i'll try to make it brief. got in to incheon airport at 9:30. a girl from the school was waiting for me with a sign with my name, but she didn't really speak english too well. she was nice though. we tried to take a bus to daejeon from the airport, but the last one was sold out, so we had to take a bus to the kangnam station and get a bus to daejeon from there. (about a half hour wait in between buses.) the bus from seoul to daejeon took about an hour and 15 minutes, got in to my apartment (finally!) at around 1:30 in the morning (american time 12:30 pm). of course it's a little after noon back home so i wasn't quite ready for bed even though i was really tired (not much sleep on the airplane- too uncomfortable).

i unpacked a little bit, and then took some allergy medicine to help knock me out because i was meeting dr. kim around 10 in the morning. got to sleep around 3:30 or 4, and in the morning i finished unpacking. at 10:30 another girl from the school (this one spoke no english) came with a note from dr. kim saying she was from the school and i was to go with her. good thing she wasn't a kidnapper. so we took a taxi to the school, where i met dr. kim, his wife (the school's president), a director of foreign languages, and johnny, a full-time english teacher. dr. kim gave me some coffee (thank you!) and we talked a little bit about the school. then he let me use his phone because by this time i was sure my mom was just about crazy with anticipation for me to call... i called her and she started crying. she said she and celeste were worried sick that i hadn't called yet (they wanted me to call as soon as humanly possible- but i couldn't use the one pay phone i saw at the train station and there is no phone in my apartment). she was sure that i had been sold into slavery, but i assured her i was ok and was in fact about to be taken out to lunch.

so, dr. kim, johnny, and i went out to lunch to some buffet place where i didn't really know what was going on. i'm familiar with the korean places with the big grill in the middle, but this one had a pot with water- apparently we were supposed to grab some veggies, meat, whatever we wanted and cook it in the soup. i wasn't quite brave enough to try really fancy stuff (honestly i didn't know what was supposed to be eaten as is from the buffet and what was supposed to be cooked in soup), but i did do some noodles and green leafy stuff (not sure if that was supposed to be cooked but the color was so dark and pretty that i thought it would make the soup look nice.)

after lunch, i got some pictures taken for my alien registration card, then dr. kim brought me back to my apartment. i was told that i could exchange some money at the train station, so i bravely took a taxi (announcing to the driver daejeon yeuk (yuk?)). turned out there wasn't a money exchange place there, but the lady gave me korean directions to the department store lotte world, which i gave to the next taxi driver. wandered around there for a while until i found the exchange (some lady who worked in one of the stores took pity on me and led me to it), and then the girl at the exchange had never even seen a traveler's check. she kept trying to call for help (the only english she knew was "one moment," and when the help finally arrived (obviously called for his superior english skills), he asked me "can i help you sir?" he did realize his mistake though and started laughing. anyways, i thought i was finally getting somewhere when he asked to see my passport to verify my signature until he said "i do believe these are real, but we do not accept traveler's checks." great! i fought back the tears, handed them $40 cash that i happened to have in my wallet, and had that exchanged. luckily, dr. kim had also given me a 200,000 won advance so i'm not totally broke. didn't have time to exchange the money on monday when the bank was open, and today i applied for my alien registration card, which takes 10 days to make and they need my passport while doing it! so i won't be able to get my cash for another 10 days. must be thrifty, must be thrifty...

anyways, did a little bit of shopping later on saturday (wandered around, found a grocery store that karla, the former occupant left me directions for) and got a few basic foods to hold me over (noodles, green tea, cherry ice cream- very good- and i even got some aloe juice which is really interesting because it tastes good and sweet but there are actually chunks of squishy aloe in it. i'm sure that squishy=healthy. also got some cookies and stuff that i thought may have been ravili, but tried making some today and it's definitely not. tastes good though, has veggies and stuff in it, lots of cabbage- kind of tastes like an egg roll.

and onto school stuff. today is tuesday, and the time is currently 8:30 pm. after two days of teaching i can safely say that it is definitely less stressful than teaching music. the kids are cute for the most part, pretty well behaved, but i love their accents most of all. i have a hard time correcting them if they really kill the word pronunciation-wise. i'm also teaching a science class, which is really weird, because it's really basic stuff but the book calls for a lot of projects, and we definitely don't have the materials for them. i guess the main concept of the class is to convert what they already know science-wise in korean into english. the kids are pretty good at english in that class. the kids are all around 9-13 (i think 4th-6th grade), and most of the classes are fairly small- i think the largest class had 12 or 13 kids, but most had about 6-8 (one only had 4). after school yesterday i went to dinner with johnny and we at at a traditional sit-down place where you had to take off your shoes (which was quite a relief because i had the world's biggest blisters on the backs of my heels from my ballet-style shoes and my feet looked like they had been in a war zone (luckily my pants hid the blood). today i stuck with flip flops and didn't even bother to change into the ballet shoes i brought with me just in case flip flops weren't ok (they are, even the director wears some sort of slides).

anyways, just an update of my schedule: mon, wed, and fri i have 7 classes- one from 10:15-11, then a break until 12:50 where i have 6 back to back 40 and 45 minute classes. tues/thurs i have only three classes back to back from 1:35-3:50. but this is the summer schedule, and when the kids start regular school again we'll all start teaching around 3 in the afternoon i think. yep, schedule is pretty good, apartment is nice (despite the little flood i had with my washing machine today- hope that doesn't happen again), and the city is pretty cool. only setback is i didn't thinkt he language barrier would be as much of a hinderance as it is. i kept reading that people would be eager to practice their english with me. in seoul maybe, but not in daejeon! taxi drivers are the best though, they're very nice and a few did try to talk to me in english, and they always make sure i know where to go when i get out (one even got out to show me where to cross the road and get to the building i was going to). plus they're cheap and you don't tip. ok, only 2 minutes left on the computer. time to post this sucker.

No comments: