Saturday, April 2, 2011

First week in Seoul

I apologize for not blogging this week, but training was INSANE! We were incredibly busy at training every day from 9:30 to 4 then hours of work preparing each night. But I PASSED! I am officially moved into my apartment in Seodaemun (as you can see by the pictures that I'll be posting below) with sketchy internet that will be fixed Tuesday. Apparently Korea has the fastest internet in the world, so I'm excited to see how it works!

So before I begin my blog, I must discuss "Yellow Sand" season, which is going on right now. I had no idea what it was or that it was happening. All I knew was that I couldn't stop coughing today during my training, my eyes were watering and I sounded like I was dying. Then, when I said to my faculty manager, "I feel like I've been inhaling dust" he said "You have. It's yellow dust season." Apparently, sand from the deserts in Mongolia and China blow their way across the continent into Seoul and we wander around being covered in dust for a few months. I read a blog today that said the face masks people wear don't really work and "The only solution is to buy a gas mask...but that might be overdoing it." Once I discovered the presence of yellow dust season, I did notice that everything is covered in a light yellow substance. Hopefully I don't spend the next several months coughing...I've lost my voice, but I think that's unrelated to the yellow dust. I think that's jet lag exhaustion and crazy training week related. But for now, I will be coughing up a storm...a sand storm.

Anyway, training week went well. It was pretty intense...lots of lesson planning and mock teaching, but in the end I passed, so obviously I did well! For some reason, one of my trainers made me really nervous, so I was a little concerned, but I guess I did well! So that's exciting. Unfortunately, a couple people in my training group didn't pass...I'm not entirely sure who didn't, but I'll be investigating that...

So to sum up the week, training training training, eating dumplings, learning how to say "meat dumplings" in Korean, training training, going out a bit with my training group, then training more.

Here are the pictures from the Korea BBQ we went to after our first day of training, as well as the walk back to the hotel.

This is the view from the second hotel room we were put in. They moved us when Karen came into a 3 room hotel room...2 bedrooms and a living room with a pretty good sized kitchen.

Hacky sack!

Korea is really beautiful at night! Here are some pictures from the nighttime.



I have figured out the subway system for the most part, which is really good. You cannot imagine the crowds during rush hour. When it's not 8AM to about 930AM, the sub

way is very pleasant and easy to use. But during rush hour it's absolutely insane. You're smashing yourselves into the subway and there are thousands of people and people are pushing you into the train and you stand really close together, but you know, it all works out. haha. I've luckily managed to avoid rush hour for the most part. I attempted to take some pictures of it, which are below, but I'll try and get some again next time I experience it.

Lets see, here are Karen and Elaine, two of my roommates.

And here I am with Lisa, the other roommate, who joined us after Monday night...

This was the door to the bathroom in our suite that had the shower. We referred to it as the "super-inappropriate door"
Notice how you can see completely through the door

The toilet slash bidet that had heated seats...

So, yesterday, we had our final mock teaching's to decide if we were going to pass training or not. I thought mine went pretty well and everyone else's as well. After our last class, they left us in the room where we sat in suspense. Then a guy I didn't know came in and took three of us and we found out we passed and signed our contracts. Then, they told us to get our stuff and go downstairs to meet the vans. Quite literally I was just thrust into a van without being able to say goodbye to any of my fellow trainees and off I went to Seodaemun! I felt a little bit left to my own devices, but that's ok. The drive from Cheongdahm to Seodaemun, where I'm place (pronounced So-day-moon in case you were wondering) took about an hour or more. I went to the branch I'll be teaching at and was introduced to everyone. The owner told me she was really excited to have me there and she has been looking forward to my coming since I applied and that it's one of the best of the Chungdahm branches, which is pretty great I think!

Here are the pictures from the drive...definitely some places I want to go back and visit!

After I met everyone, they drove me to our new apartment, which is on the 5th floor of my apartment building. It's pretty spacious and I think I'll like it. Minus the slight lack of a shower...There is a shower, but it is the bathroom so I have to make sure that I keep everything that can't get wet in a cupboard when I'm showering. Here is my apartment...I don't have furniture yet, so I'm soooo glad I brought that air mattress with me. So glad. I have my little makeshift bed until the time comes that I finally can get a bed!

This will be interesting...although I showered last night and it wasn't horrible.

I went back to the branch and signed some papers, then went back to my apartment, then back to the branch. I stopped in a cafe in between to see if I could get wireless (I could but I would have had to pay, so I didn't want that) and got something and sat down for a bit. There was an adorable little boy, who said he was 8, who spoke pretty good English. He asked me "Are you getting dinner. We a full service cafe" and apologized for eating dinner while I was there, but he said he was really hungry. Anyway, the branch I'm working at is really close to my apartment, about a 10 minutes walk. The branch manager took all the teacher's out to dinner last night at this bar place that I would never be able to find again on my own, but seemed to be a hot spot for foreigners. I believe it was because I arrived. There are 19 other teachers at my branch, plus lots of other staff members. Everyone seems incredibly nice, so I'm definitely looking forward to working here. We ate dinner and chatted til about 2 AM last night, when I walked back with one of the girls living in my building (Queena). One of the teacher's husband's is from Bremerton, which I think is pretty funny...I've met so many people from the Seattle area here. and California. Apparently we're a well traveled group.

Today, I met with my faculty manager to go over curriculum and the computers, then Queena was nice enough to show me how to get to the grocery store. It takes a couple buses to get to the cheapest one, but only about 20 minutes, so it's not too bad. I bought some necessities, like laundry detergent and dish soap, a pot, some forks, knives and spoons, cups, hangers, garbage cans, food etc. I have to go back and get a laundry hanging rack (?) but that would have been way too much to carry today. Since then, I chatted with mom and Adrienne on skype (sort of...the internet was going in and out a lot, but that will all change on Tuesday!) which resulted in these pictures:

Now, I must start my lesson planning. But I do have most of the day tomorrow, so I will be fine. I'm definitely enjoying myself so far!

Random pictures:

Mr. Pizza. Love for Women. I wonder if there's a Mrs. Pizza.
Let's get Crunky!
Fresh coffee and romantic space
,Let's feel the clean cosmos!


  1. Congrats on passing - it's a long way back if you flunked out. Great pics and details - glad you are finding your way around, sorry about yellow dust - you need 123 inches of rain like we've been having to wash it away.

    Great pics of your mom and sis - suitable for framing - do you get Sunday's off? Hope so!

  2. Wow! Great entry since it answered my questions AND it's great to see the pictures of everything - including the toilets from (apparently)NASA. Keep up the great blogging work.
    And - I just want to announce - it was 2:30 a.m. when those pictures of Adrienne and I were taken and we were laughing hysterically -- the kittens were running like buffalo. I cannot be held responsible for looking so terrible. I am only responsible for looking terrible in daytime hours. Not that this blog is about me. Of course. Lauren: Order furniture and make your apt. nice and cozy.

  3. Thanks for all the great info. I like staying informed of your adventure. It is like I am there with you. Congrats on finishing all your training. I knew you would do fantastic. Adrienne and Cindy.. while those pics are a little scary I did enjoy them.

  4. Question about a picture: It looks like you walk through a sliding glass door to a narrow room, then a window to outside. What's that narrow room?

  5. Mom, that's my balcony. Duh. ;-)

    Kris, they are a bit scary, but it was early in the morning. hehehe.

    Wendy, has it been downpouring since I left?? I'm sure that that would help me! and yes, I get Sundays off =) I work Monday-saturday, though wednesday and saturday just for 3 hours

  6. So glad your ok...was a bit worried about you and your mom told me you had been very busy. I knew you would pass of course!! Love all the photos...makes it feel that you are right down the road. The shower, what can I least you have a real can clean and take a shower at the same time! I agree with your mom, get some furniture and make it comfy for you. Will you be able to watch movies on the internet..they must have something like Netflcks there. Anna had her ice skating 16th birthday party last night and one of the girls fell and hit her head. We called the paramedics and Allison said.."its not a party unless the Paramedics show up!" I guess it was a success! The girl is fine but we were worried about her. We miss you lots but am glad you having a great time. Allison is taking the girls to Mall. Nice to have her home for the weekend.

  7. Wow, what an incredibly busy week! I had no doubt you would pass training! :) Your apartment looks very nice and I am sure you will have it looking and feeling comfortable very soon! Love all the pictures!

  8. Elice, what is this about the girl? was she unconscious? concussion? I am definitely ok! just getting to know some of the teachers in the school. I went to dinner with a couple of them last night. The shower's not too bad. I've been using it and as long as I have the shower head face the wall, water doesn't get all over the place. I can definitely clean at the same time if I want to. hahaha. I brought a bunch of movies, but i can find a lot online here. NBC and CBS and stuff like that don't work, but I can find things mostly. I miss you guys too! Tell everyone hello for me!

    Tralynda, thanks! I will feel much more comfortable once i have a bed and a chair or desk or something. Currently working on that. I have to have my bank account set up first, but once I have that (soon I think) i can order things online from this website that also has free shipping. my friend passed it along to me and I'm very grateful. beds are about 50 dollars, which isn't too bad!!

  9. Wow....50.00 for a bed seems very reasonable! It was good to see you on skype tonight. It's sounds like you have a cold, or maybe it is just the losing your voice concern you mention in one of your
    post? I hope you're feeling well?

  10. Yeah I do have a cold. It's slightly never ending, but it should be ok soon. I hope! I definitely would like to get a bed soon!!

  11. It was really good to see you tonight too!