Saturday, April 25, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

anyeong haseyo!

so, we're finally starting to feel a little bit more settled around here. yesterday, mark and i got the keys to our long-awaited apartment! originally, we were supposed to be shacked up in the motel for 4 days, which somehow became 7 days, which eventually became 10 days ... all in all, too many days to be "living" in a room that's the equivalent size of a dorm room, and living out of rifled-through hockey bags and suitcases. our move was a little bittersweet, because while we were ECSTATIC to finally have a place to call our own, it also marked the departure of our new dear friends mark and bridget from new zealand. the kiwis had trained us at work, and also shown us the initial ropes of life in korea - taking us to seoul via subway, touring us around in their crazy set of wheels (an aggressively driven slim van with only one operating door), and how to pickpocket a bottle of soju out of a passing korean's back pocket (see the facebook photos for documentation of said events). bittersweet, indeed.

however, life goes on. mark and i have been keeping busy as teaching our own classes is well underway. somehow or other, i ended up with ten classes to teach (more than any other teacher!) but it's interesting and funny and tiring and challenging all wrapped up into one. i'm sure the challenging part will diminish, but the interesting part may not! i still have yet to figure out how to keep control of a class of 10 grade one and twos who barely speak english and are all yelling at me in korean. one was under the table, while another emptied his tin case of pencils all over the table and proceeded to bang them around incessantly. they seem somewhat oblivious to my repetitive: "ARE YOU LISTENING!?" (in which they're supposed to respond in unison: "we are listening!!"). give me a break, it's only week one!

in other news, we had to go to the hospital in uijeongbu today for further medical tests in the process of applying for our alien cards. these cards, which are so blatantly named for foreigners, will allow us to open bank accounts and get cell phones (yes!). the medical test included a blood test and urine test in which they screen for HIV and drugs; the additional tests today involved another blood test, another urine test, blood pressure check, height, weight, and chest measurements, hearing test, colour blindness test, eye test, xrays, and a dental check. all very interesting and thorough. maybe it's possible to be too short, too fat, or have too small of a chest girth to qualify for an alien card? hmmm. the hearing test was the probably my favourite; they made us sit in this little sound booth all alone with headphones on and you had to press a button every time you heard this tinny beep. all of these examinations were done in the "health promotion" area of the hospital - we didn't have to wait in any line ups (likely aided by the accompaniment of our korean-speaking boss) and the waiting room was equipped with a huge flat screen tv and a delicious free coffee machine. hands down, my favourite part of the experience was mark's attempt to get us cups of water and accidentally using the paper (yes, paper) urine cups for our beverages. oops.

i'll soon post long-awaited pics. one internet-connected step at a time. we're off to seoul tomorrow with our new friends shanna and dave, more specifically to check out the ice bar in hongdae - how fitting for canadians, har har.

love you, miss you.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

this internet is garbage ...

i'm going to be hopeful and see if i can upload some pics on the wireless signal we're stealing in our "love motel" (also known as too-small-room to stay in for 10 days with luggage full of a year's worth of stuff + can be rented by the hour if necessary, 2 free channels of 24-hour korean porn included!) ... only one pic is working for me, so here's one of yours truly doing some trekking around. sweet track pants!

we've been busy exploring, drinking soju (cheap rice vodka-ish beverage), and eating korean bbq with some of our new friends. oh yes, and teaching. we spent two days observing, and we've already started doing some of the classes on our own. i've got ten classes myself, 5 a day on a 2-day rotating schedule. mark's got eight. (they must've realized beforehand that i'm smarter and more capable - ha, just kidding, baby!) the little ones are cute, and some of the older ones are a bit of a handful - who would've thought? some funny student names i've already come across: jojo (of jojo's psychic alliance, i'm told), k-fed, ganja... amazing. the kids' english is limited to what they learn in class, so they're not much of conversationalists. mostly a lot of "teacher! teacher! where you from? how old are you? blue eyes!?!?"

we made it into seoul today with the teacher-couple we're replacing. we were in awe of the multi-floored department stores and overwhelmed by all the shopping options. seriously, they have so much inventory in their stores it's a wonder how they sell it all - every colour of the rainbow. i've told myself to wait until payday before any frivilous spending begins (ie, shopping!) i will keep you updated on how that goes. completely outside of that rule, i bought a new hair straightener at homeplus (massive department+grocery+electronics store) with a suitable asian plug as i can't get my chi to work with our plug adaptor and my hair hasn't been the same since. but, for instance, they had 20+ different straighteners to choose from! options galore.

mark's napping right now as we prepare for an exciting evening of drinks and karaoke. seriously, i was initially disappointed that there didn't seem to be any noraebangs in our area - we're making a trek for korean singalongs! i'm very excited.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

we've arrived!

and this will have to be short, as we're relying on the stolen wireless as our source of hotel internet connection. but yes, we've arrived! and it was a long journey, that took us 20 hours + and jumped us 14 hours into the future, but it was relatively painless and hassle-free. by the time we got here we were exhausted, disoriented, cranky, and smelled like airplanes. we ended up sleeping for nearly 12 hours to compensate for the jetlag, and even had to go into school today already to do some class observations. it's been a busy first 24 hours! however, it was nice to meet the other foreign teachers, as it turns out there are very few foreigners in our town. (we also discovered that we're not even actually IN the town we thought, but rather outside of it.) mark and i went out to dinner with two of our new teacher friends, which is helpful considering we have no idea where anything is, or how to order food. it was great to get a substantial meal in our bellies after a day of eating crappy plane food, followed by mystery meat+pea sandwiches provided for us last night by our director. actually, come to think of it, i didn't even brave a sandwich - but i smelled one!

things are very different here, as expected (!), and i know it will all take some getting used to. we're going for medical examinations tomorrow, and we'll be able to move into our apartment by this time next week, as the teachers we're replacing (who are training us) will be going home to new zealand. all in all, things are going well, and there are english channels on the tv (can i complain when i can blog and simultaneously watch project runway?). i'm looking forward to exploring more, and hopefully heading into seoul by the weekend. it'll be nice to meet up with friends, and see some faces from home! once we get our own internet set up, and arrange our cellphones we'll be much more connected. it still feels surreal that we're here! missing you all at home already xoxo

Monday, April 6, 2009

visas are in!

... as are fresh haircuts and dorky grins outside of the consulate.

less than a week to go - look out world!