Well, I’m in Korea! I’ll spare you the boring details, but the flight was long and filled with bad movies and Gravol-induced sleep. However, I can’t complain because I was lucky enough to avoid connecting in the US. (That was a big deal because I was flying two days after the “attempted terrorist attack” on Christmas day.) So my flights and connections all went well and my bags all made it through to Seoul. My recruiter had explained to me that outside the secured area I would see someone holding a sign with my name (just like in the movies!). I had met a few people on the flight who were also teaching and they found their names and we said goodbye and wished each other good luck. However, after a few minutes there was still nobody holding a sign with my name. As much as I was anxious, I was also unsurprised. Nothing leading up to my arrival in Seoul could be characterised as well organised so I had been expecting a glitch or two in the arrival. I tried to get a wireless connection to see if my recruiter had finally sent me the “emergency contacts” but my computer couldn’t understand the Korean Internet, apparently. So I walked to all of the other gates to see if perhaps my sign-bearer had gone to the wrong gate. No such luck. It had been about fifteen minutes (well, it might have been 3 minutes, but it felt like a long time) so I decided I would make some change so I could call the recruiter. Just as I was taking my wallet out a man with a rumpled sign approached me and I saw that he was holding my name! Excellent! Of course, because I’m a big weirdo, I worried for a moment that this man had just found my name on the floor and actually had no idea where I was going and might even be a Korea axe murderer. (Do people still use axes to murder? Perhaps my fears were passé.) Still, I had no better options so I gave him my best “Anyong haseo!” and followed him out to a taxi.
I’m not sure how long it took us to drive from the airport to the school but I think it was about half an hour. There was a bit of confusion about where we were supposed to be but the taxi stopped at the school where another man got into the cab and we proceeded to my apartment. (I don’t know who this man was and I have not seen him since.) He gave me my key and showed me around the apartment. In case you were wondering, the doors are a bit tricky, but he gave me a lesson. The apartment is pretty nice. I’ll get pictures up once I’m a bit more settled in. However, I don’t have Internet at home, nor do I have a phone yet. Also, I don’t know my address. I did get mail for the previous tenant but the address is written in Hangul. So I’ll send out an email once I’m able to translate the address. Then maybe I’ll figure out how to return the mail to its sender.
I have wandered around the neighbourhood a fair bit and it’s pretty nice. My apartment looks out onto a big field so it’s pretty quiet. However, if I walk around the corner there are tons of restaurants and bars and stores. I’m also about a five-minute walk from the subway station, which is very convenient. I got my T-Money card today. (It’s a card that works on the subways, buses and … wait for it… taxis!) That was a bit of a scene because apparently my great Korean skills failed me and I somehow indicated that I wanted to pay for my purchase with my T-Money card. The man behind the cash looked confused so I kept on saying “T-Money” and giving him my money. We figured it out eventually. He and I should go to the charades Olympics.
As for work itself, I am feeling optimistic about the year. I’ve only worked two days so far because I had last Thursday and Friday off for New Years. The first day I observed the other native teacher and Wednesday I actually taught. It went pretty well and I’m confident that I’ll get the swing of things pretty quickly. So, all in all, life is good!