Hello from Korea,
So, I said I was going to blog, and haven't gotten around to it yet, so here we go. The last three weeks have been interesting and a struggle. The language barrier drives me crazy. I am too paranoid to handle not knowing what people are saying. Any time people pass me and are talking and laugh, I assume they are laughing about me. I will summarize my three weeks and try to do a better job of posting regularly.
When I first arrived in Korea, I was tired and confused. The flight from Seattle to Incheon was hell. Fun fact: Asiana airlines is not equipped to handle people over six feet tall. I was in a middle seat, the guy to my left was Filipinio, the girl on my right was Korean, and opted to wear the ever-popular swine flu mask. That was weird enough, but right after takeoff, she fell asleep, and her head ended up on my shoulder. Then the person in front of me moved their seat back. Let it be known, in the normal position, the tray table did not lower all the way with my legs in the way. So when some jerk moves their chair back, you have no space. And a girl on the mask sleeping on your shoulder. It seemed inappropriate to wake her. So, I took it and watched the inflight movies.
There were several inflight movies: Big, Despicable Me, Toy Story 3, Salt, Prince of Persia, and Inception. I did not watch Prince of Persia, nor Salt, because I have no interest in female leads in action movies. The other movies gave me a good perspective of what to expect in Korea, and what my plane flight was like.
First, Big. Tom Hanks. One of my favorite movies of all time. The scene where he struggles to fit into his little clothes and got used to be a giant was very similar to my experience on the plane. Also, he then goes out to a life in adult hood where he isn't sure about the culture and expectations, which is totally me in Korea. And there was statutory rape, which I haven't encountered. Yet.
Second: Despicable Me. The story was pretty lame, but a guy with a cold heart learns to love children and teach them things. Since I am teaching young kids, it made sense. Going from law school, where everyone is crazy and worried about the bottom line, the idea of working with kids was terrifying. Steve Carrel's character has a similar situation. Only I'm not adopting any of these little pricks. Sorry, Josh.
Third: Toy Story 3. I love the Toy Story movies, but had yet to see TS3. Once again, a theme of little people in a giant world. The opposite of Big, but I could see myself in the world of Toys as a big person. Plus it is about uncertainy after they thought they had their life figured out in Andy's room. So at least I know if I meet a nice old bear, I'm going to slit his throat immediately. Also, great movie. Four stars. Fun Fact: I saw the original Toy Story with my brother Nolan. The director of the next movie is Christopher Nolan. Transition: check.
Fourth: Inception. I hated Inception the first time around. I love Christopher Nolan, but the first time I saw this movie, I really had to go to the bathroom. When the van went over the bridge, I figured I had to hold it, because the exciting part of the movie was coming up. For the next hour, I was nothing but upset about how slowly that van was falling into the river. So, I appreciated it much more later. However, like I said, there was a girl sleeping on my shoulder. I was terribly uncomfortable and could not fall asleep. The movie is about people that sleep for like 12 hours on a plane and wake up right when they land. I was friggin' jealous. I would rather be in limbo than deal with the agony of sitting in that little seat. You don't think about that at the time, but I resented Leo and all his little cohorts.
After the Plane
I arrived in Incheon. I waited for my bus with my terrible instructions. Luckily, the guy I sat next to on the bus spoke English. When we got into Seoul (about a 30 minute bus ride) he told me how the black "luxury" taxis are too expensive. He helped me get a cab and told them where I needed to go. Very good man, and a great first impression for Korea. Then I made it to my hotel. I had not showered in like 20 hours, so I decided to pay to use the sauana. I just wanted to relax before showering and going to bed. I paid for the sauna, then walked inside. I could not find towels anywhere. I searched the locker room, but towels were no where to be found. I figured I'd go into the sauna and ask them where the towles were. When I turned the corner, I was met with several korean penises and the naked bodies that accompanied them. Apparenlty, in Korea, they have a Roman bath house mentality. So, yeah, I did not use the sauna. Not as relaxing as I hoped.
The good times. Shout out to Oliver, Doris, and Nicole (Random order, Nicole! Figured you could take it). Talking to current CDI co-workers, we had a weird but awesome group. It's a blog, and it's weird, but these three are awesome and you should hope to be their friends. Training was like law school light. They say it is a lot of work, but it's not studying, it's methodology. You also have adults trying to act out as kids, but it isn't even close to the same thing. We were in Gangnam, which is a great place, but not some place you can live in if you make teacher money.
Oh, and because of my terribe plane flight, my knee and anke got all kinds of messed up. My ankle swelled up to the point where you couldn't see the bump. Walking, in general, hurt. I have never twisted my ankle. I am not Dan Skinner (Best friend that twists his ankle a lot. Hi, Dan.). But I was limping around like a gimp. It healed up, but for a few days, I was really worried about it. So, yeah. Long story short: Training was interesting. I got very lucky to have an awesome group of trainees with me who are unfortunately spread out all over Korea. It gives us lots of places to hang out, but sharing the new experience of Korea with them is above and beyond the most exciting experience of my trip. Everyone else is very "been there, done that" where we all were as excited as school girls.
My adventure to Eunpyeon. As one of my friends desribed it,"it's an old part of town." I live right by the subway, which is great, and I'm a short walk from school and from E-Mart, which is Walmart on steroids. I still do not have a bed, so I sleep on the floor. A mattress is a must buy. The girl here bfore me left a desk, a chair, and two clothing racks,so those are great, but I still can't sleep for more than five hours at a time without waking up on the hard wood floor.
Working with kids is very different from law school. We use the socratic method, which helps, but I use a comibination of Richard Freer and a gameshow host. It works most of the time, and it is fun when the kids care. The middle school class is rough. Work in progress. Like Dangerous Minds: Korea.
Korean Christmas. Not like our Christmas. It's more of our New Years. I went out to Hongdae which was kind of western and a lot of fun. I went with Alex Shin and a co-worker. Alex showed us a good time, and it was awesome to get out in Seoul for the first time.
Getting a hang of the teaching thing. Lots of trial and error. Co-workers are very nice. Still no bed. That's really the only complaint. Alex came by to help me shop. Donna has helped me order food since the language barrier prevents me from taking care of simple tasks like ordering food. I'm lucky to have awesome friends that are willing to go out of their way to help me. I'd be lost without them, because the school has been no help at all. My HI (head instructor) has been helpful, but has his hands full right now, so it's up to me. But like I said, I have friends, who have been helping so much.
Went to Itaewon. Just as sketchy as people told me. A bunch of US military scum and other westerners. Felt like a frat party. My co-worker and I stayed out way too late, but it was fun and amusing.
January 1st, I woke up late and went out to Apgujeong with Alex Shin and his friend. Very fun. Very interesting. I'll probably update this later, but I'm exhausted. Blogs are tough.