What’s happening everyone?
Is it possible I’ve only been in Korea for 10 days? Is my math wrong? It is now the 27th of February. I landed on February 17th. Wow it seems so much longer. Orientation is over and on friday I was picked up by my co-teacher, Lisa. She showed me my school, Daecheon Elementary(Thats right – I am an elementary school teacher now), My classroom (Thats right, I have a classroom) and my desk (Damn right I have a desk!). I also met another of my co-teachers, Jin (Whom I secretly call ‘Gin’ – like the alcohol, cause it makes me smile inside). Jin seems like a good guy, he looks to be about my age (although its very difficult to tell as many Koreans look much younger than they are) and he tells me he can’t wait to take me drinking and show me around Busan. Right on, this is shaping up pretty good right? It gets better. Next we go for lunch (Lisa, Jin and I) and have some Bibimbap, a Korean specialty. Then we mosied on over to my apartment. It is awesome. A little on the small side (but plenty big for lil ol me), and the last occupant left all sorts of great stuff! Clothes hangers, Iron, Ironing board, pots and pans, some books, sheets, towels, some food….Basically I haven’t wanted for anything yet.
Oh and the best part? Apartment is a 5-10 minute walk from school. Apartment is a 10 minute walk to literally more bars than I can count. Apartment is a 5 minute walk from grocery store (which blasts K-Pop so hard you’d think you were in a nightclub if you closed your eyes). Apartment is also a 2 minute walk from awesome outdoor market where all kinds of fresh fruit and seafood are on display (and very cheap, I bought some apples on friday, my first purchase for my new apartment).
Even though everything has worked in my favor so far, I’m still feeling pretty homesick. Its finally hit me that I’m here, in Korea, for a whole year. Which bring me to the subject of yesterday. Yesterday, my first full day on my own in Korea, started out in a really dark place. I woke up in my quiet apartment (not having internet makes me feel really isolated, combined with homesickness it makes my apartment seem like a very lonely place right now) and didn’t know what to do. So I made the bed. Then I sat there. Then I vaccumed. Then I sat there. It went on like this for a while, then I said scew it and came to this PC Ban (basically an internet cafe/gaming zone) and fired off a quick e-mail to my family. I couldn’t bring myself to head back to my lonely apartment, so I went for a walk. I walked around my neighborhood, past the University where I had orientation and all the way out to the ocean. I found a bike/running path that goes along the shore line and has various exercise machines all along it – very cool. Then I just sat for a bit (it was sunny and warm) and took in the ocean. On the walk home I stopped in at a corner store near my house and talked to the Korean woman that works there. She can’t speak English, but that doesn’t stop her from chattering on in korean at me. I managed to get across that I was a teacher at Daecheon elementary and she seemed to like that. I’ve decided i’m going to try and stop in there on my way home from work to practice my Korean.
Finally to cap off this now awesome day, I went to a western bar called HQ where I had heard people from orientation were going. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was hungry so I figured I’d stop in and have dinner then maybe a beer or two, and I might run into a few people from orientation. Yah, it didn’t go quite like that.
By the time I arrived the place was packed with other Epik teachers. Most of my friends from orientation where there, except one or two who went to other cities. The bar also had a special on. I really don’t want this blog to turn into a chronicle of my drinking exploits, so I’ll just say I paid 20 dollars, got a plate of food (half nachos, half pork) and all I could drink Cass (Korean beer) until 1 am. It was 9pm. Guess what happened.
So that has been my life for the past few days. I guess the only other thing I should mention is how I got locked out of my building twice. When my co-teacher brought me to my apartment the buildings door was open, so we just went on in, she showed me my pass code for my apartment door and then left. I went for a walk that afternoon and found the apartment door locked when I got back. Since I didn’t know the code, I had to call my co-teacher. I went to my corner store (where the old Korean woman I talked to the next day works) and asked to use her cell phone. Actually I pantomimed that I needed to use her cellphone (remember, since I can neither speak nor understand the language everything is twice as difficult). I called my co-teacher – no answer. Great. Now its getting dark. As I walk back toward my apartment I find myself taking stock: “Okay Tom,” I said to myself, “You have 82 dollars in Korean and 30 american on you. You are a little hungry, but you have a bag of apples you just bought from the market. You are in a strange coutry with no language or cultural skills. It is getting dark. You have no cellphone.” The outlook was bleak, but I calculated that given my age and good health, and that I was wearing fairly warm clothes I could survive for several days on the streets. Actually thats a little overdramatic. Plus when I got home I found someone had just left and the automatic door lock hadn’t activated yet. I got back into my apartment and went to bed. Crisis averted, for now. The next day I managed to get some change and found a payphone, called my co-teacher and got the doorcode.
I’ll leave you with that for now BNBers, my time in this PC ban is about to expire.
Stay tuned for more soon!