Soooo, here we are again – my apologies for the total lateness of me updating all of you on how my move to Korea has been going – it’s been crazy busy!

So firstly, I’ve been taking pictures with my iphone, and my DSLR – obviously there is a huggge difference in quality, which you can see ~ but it’ll have to do, since most of the time I really don’t feel like lugging around the better (but extremely bulky and heavy) camera around.

My first official meal in Korea – Dokbukki!! YAY!

So I arrived late Thursday night, and was driven directly from the airport to my new apartment. According to Oppa, it’s not even an apartment, since most apartments are in huge, 20 story buildings. He called my building a “villa,” which sounds way classier than it actually is. But it’s quiet, and while it is definitely NOT what I’m used to (the entire bathroom is the shower, and yes, EVERYTHING gets wet) it’s going to be my home away from home for at least the next year, so I’ll make it work.

Oh yeah – check THAT out. Notice the awesome cable lines all over the place. My apartment window is the one on the far right, on the 2nd floor. What you DON’T see is the abandoned refrigerator right next to the front door, that the garbage men CLEARLY did not want to take – they finally caved after about two weeks.

The middle school I’m working at is a nice 5 minute walk from my apartment. Words cannot describe how happy this makes me, especially since the past four years have been a long +1 hour commute each way to and from work. Since I need to get to school by 8:30 every weekday, I leave my apartment at approximately 8:20 every day. I give myself an extra five minutes because showing up early makes me look better. Haha. The subway station is about a 10 minute walk in the opposite direction, and while it’s a bit farther into Seoul than I probably would have liked (between 45 – 75 minutes, depending on where you want to go in the city), it’s still pretty good. I’d also forgotten how much I love the Korean subway system, and how cheap it is.

Some kind of chicken stew – totally delicious, and it was stuffed with rice and other yumminess.

The kids are soooo cute, especially the 1st Grade level students. Middle school here is essentially 7th, 8th and 9th grade in the US. The 7th graders are known as 1st grade, the 9th graders are 3rd Grade. Each student wears a uniform (all public and private school students do in Korea) a name tag (conveniently color-coded so you know what grade they’re in) and adhere to a pretty strict dress/personal appearance code. For example, girls are not allowed to have hair longer than their shoulders, and MUST have bangs. I find this odd, I never knew showing your forehead was a bad thing. Boys can’t have hair past their collars, and sideburns ala anime/Asian style are a big no-no. Everyone also wears slippers at school, and every morning and afternoon, ALL students clean the school top-to bottom. Corporal punishment also exists here, which I kind of knew, but still wasn’t expecting. The first time I saw a student get whacked, my jaw dropped open. To be fair, students have to be reallllllllyyyy bad to get this type of punishment. Most of the time, they’ll get severely lectured, OR the ultimate punishment – have their Mom called. (I shudder just thinking of it.)

Anyways, the kids are cute, and say cute things too – walking through the halls each day, I’m bombarded with “hello!” and “teacher, you are so beautiful!” and “I love you!” I love it. I teach either 3 or 4 classes a day, the rest of the time I stay in my office and “deskwarm,” meaning I can lesson plan, cruise the internet, or even take a nap if I wanted to. Because I am the only native speaker at the school, the school set up a pretty interesting schedule for me. All 1st grade classes I see once a week (they receive English classes from Korean English teachers the rest of the time) and the 2nd and 3rd grade classes once every other week. I’m not sure how effective this method is for the students to actually learn English, but on the other hand, this means that I’m essentially responsible for ONE lesson plan, every week. I think I can probably handle that.

Meaaaatttttt……

Other than school, I’ve been running around trying to really get situated here – that means going out and buying stuff for my apartment, applying for an alien registration card, getting a bank account set up, getting a cell phone, paying my electricity bill, etc etc. I had no idea when I got here that there would be so many miniscule, minute details that all add up to a greater whole. Who knew that I’d miss salt and pepper so much, until I realized I didn’t have any? And can I just say, a girl can never have too many hangers. Even after a month, and I am still making lists of stuff that I need to buy. Butter and tupperware are the next big things I need to get.

My first attempt at making kimchi pancakes. Edible, yes, but my entire apartment was filled with smoke by the end of it, and I had to open ALL my windows to clear the air. I’ll improve, I’m sure. Then again, eating out is so inexpensive, I might just resort to that.

I try and get into the city as often as possible, especially on the weekends. I’ve been really lucky, and been able to hang out with Oppa quite a bit. I think he likes that I’m here, but on the other hand, I’m still pretty worthless when it comes to communicating to anyone what I need in Korean, so he’s got to play translator alot. He even came over one time, just to show me how to operate the washing machine I have in my apartment. (NO dryer though, they’re not that common in Korea. You hang everything up on a clothes rack. I hate it. I like my stuff soft, and drying stuff also shrinks things back to their normal size, after you’ve stretched it out by wearing it. As it is, all my tank tops and tops are saggy and loose as hell. Grrrr.)

First field trip with the school, to the Gyeonggi Modern Museum of Art.

The first few weeks were pretty hot and humid, although a few days it rained like crazy. I mean like, typhoon-worthy raining. (And actually, there WAS a typhoon, the week before I came.) Immediately after Chuseok though (the equivalent of Thanksgiving in the US – the entire country shuts down for a week to celebrate), the weather dropped, and it’s been really nice. It feels like Northern California actually – a bit chilly in the morning, which burns off by 10 or 11, and the rest of the afternoon is perfect. I’m not looking forward to the notoriously cold Korean winter, but as my Mom is going to visit me soon, and bring me all my winter clothes, I should be fine. I don’t even remember the last time I lived through a snowy winter, I might be pleasantly surprised.

The wall of the museum….one of these, is not like the other….

Purty fountain outside the museum.

I’ll try and update more often, I promise!

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