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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Quick Update...

I slept through both World Cup games (Korea played at 11 pm, America played at 3:30 am, I woke up at 5 am because of foreign noises coming from outside...)

BUT the real news is I took my first hot shower in Korea (the previous two have been cold...) With creative problem-solving and the desire for, in this case a hot shower, I know I will be able to figure out EVERYTHING. And when I can't, I'll ask Jenn...!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Not in Kansas Anymore...

I am officially in Pohang, South Korea! I'll start at the beginning...

The weekend before I left was really hard. My grandma had a little family going away party and I got to see family from out of town etc. Said goodbye to my other grandparents/family. And then saying goodbye to Chris and Mom was the hardest. Even harder than packing!

I thought both suitcases were under 50 lbs. Then Chris (who turned around from on his way back to Cape to spend the rest of my time in America with me!) pointed out that I only had part of the suitcase on the scale. Actual weight: 60 lbs... Long story short, I had to take 5 lbs total out of both suitcases to be at capacity. And I had the maximum carry on bags.

I went from St. Louis to Denver. Then Denver to San Fransisco. I was supposed to go to Seoul from San Fran but plans changed... Left Denver super late and missed my international flight sooooo I went to Tokyo instead and then to Seoul from there. Flights were...flights. Took multiple doses of dramamine to make sure I slept plenty. Then took a bus from Seoul to Pohang, finally arriving over 30 hours later at 3:00 am Korea time.

The next morning I got up and got ready for school. I'm staying with my supervisor for a few days until my apartment is ready for me to move in. She went to school early so she was gone by the time I woke up. The night before she told me how to turn on the heater "if I wanted to take a bath" but I didn't understand. It's summer, who would want the heat on to take a hot shower! After my cold shower, I realized what that meant... You turn it on for hot water! I'm gonna see if that works pretty soon...

I picked a perfect day to start. It was an open house for the Kindergarten classes. So all the parents were at school. I watched classes and plays and songs, introduced myself and then observed the rest of the classes I'll have. My youngest student will be 3 years old (American) and oldest probably 11 I think. In Korea, you're 1 year old when you're born. Then on Jan. 1 you turn two. So it's tricky to find out how old the kids really are...

Then in the evening I went to the going away party for the two teachers from my school who are leaving next week. I tried to have as much fun and stay up as late as I possibly could but jet lag got the best of me. I went home at 1 am. Haha. Early...

I'm quite proud of what I've learned during the whole 36 hours I've been her. I know how to get to school on my own. And GS mart to buy food and soju (Korean liquor kind of like vodka). I also learned how to say hello and goodbye, catch a cab and get the waitress. Maybe I'll post a "Korean lesson" when I learn more. I haven't tried it yet, but if I were someplace else in the city, I think I could catch a cab AND find my way back to my neighborhood and apartment. We'll see... I might wait 48 hours to try that.

I've spent all day (Saturday) trying to get over jet lag but I just can't seem to sleep until I can't keep my eyes open anymore. I'm tired but just can't nap... Now I'm going to get ready and go downtown Pohang with Jenn (American teacher at my school) and later watch the Korea v. Paraguay World Cup game! DAE HAN MIN GUK! (I think this means Go Korea or something... not entirely sure...)

More later...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

History

Funny story...

My mom comes home from work and tells me that she talked to a long time family friend and told them that I'm moving to Korea, etc. I thought her response was pretty hilarious and I should share it...

Their response: "Oh my gosh! Will she be working in a commune behind closed walls?"

It's quite possible that I should now give a 60 year history lesson to every person I tell. Make some pamphlets maybe. The front would say "North Korea is communist. South is the good country."

Almost There!


I've made some progress since my last post! My interview in Chicago went well, my visa was approved and my flight has been booked! I leave eight days from today and although I have a list of stuff to pack, I have yet to actually pack. This is how I spend my time I could use to pack...!

Chicago trip started out a little rocky. We missed our train - the one that had previously de-railed. Quite possibly a blessing in disguise. We took the bus instead. You see some interesting characters riding the bus...

My interview was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Actual interview time: 11:15 a.m.

Tip of the Day: Time is relative for Koreans. ASAP = month and a half, "Come when you get your visa" = June 23 and 10:30 = 11:15. This is actually perfect for me, as I am late more often than I'm on time or early.

Mr. Li was my interviewer (not sure what his title was). He asked me questions about myself, why I want to go to Korea, why I want to be a teacher, etc. He had already asked about my parents and what they do but towards what I thought was the end of my interview he asked if I came to Chicago alone. No. And if my parents were in the waiting room. My mom was. So he insisted I bring her back. This would have been easy if the waiting room was next door, but no, it was down a hallway, through another room and two locked doors. Mom thought it was time to go but I informed her that she will now be interviewed too. Haha not really... Mr. Li just asked her about me, told her that I'm spunky and that she should come teach in Korea too! THEN he told me that I passed and I will be a good fit for Korea!

Then mom, John and I toured Chicago via double decker buses and trolleys. There were like 15 stops all around the city. We ended up taking the full tour probably five times because we would stop here and there, get off, get on, take it back to our hotel, etc. Learned a lot about the city though! On Thursday we hung out at Navy Pier where we took an extreme boat ride. I enjoyed it but mom freaked out a little. We got to the train station super early so we wouldn't miss the train again and ventured home (after sitting on the track for an hour and a half late because there were "line issues").

Friday was Styx/Foreigner/Kansas. One word: AMAZING. Almost lost my camera... I thought I left it in the cup holder but luckily about four days later it was found in the car I didn't ride in. I'm pretty sure mom was taking pictures since it was in her purse and dropped it on the floor. That will teach my "alter-ego" to keep track of her belongings when she comes around.

A couple days later I spent a few days with my other grandparents and visited extended family before I leave. My Aunt Hilda asked me if I'm sure this is what I want to do. I thought, "Well, given I leave in about ten days, yes I'm sure." Aunt Mary on the other hand asked if I'm going to China. No, Korea. And mid-conversation she was still making references to China...? Friday we (me, Chris, mom, John, and my two younger cousins) went to Six Flags from open to close! At dinner afterward the Mexican waiter asked Chris if he wanted the big size margarita or "more bigger".

Tip #2: More bigger is always more better.

Now I'm making 60 cupcakes to take to my great Uncle's work for his birthday. (He's mentally challenged) Mom and I are taking them tomorrow and taking Uncle Pete to McDonalds for lunch - his favorite! Uncle Pete doesn't understand that I'm leaving. I tried to explain that I'm moving far away, on the other side of the ocean, for a year. The next day he asked how long it takes to drive there. So not sure if he understands or not, but he'll probably ask where I am at every family gathering for the next year.

Saturday is my going away party, Sunday am doing more visiting, Monday picking up pictures, Tuesday FOR SURE packing and leaving Wednesday, June 23 at 6:00 a.m.! I think I figured I'll be flying/in airports for 18-20 hours.

Here are some pictures from Chicago and the concert...