What a whirlWIND of days we have spent in South Korea!
Lets start at the beginning.
We arrived at Incheon International Airport Monday night. Our flight was a whopping HOUR early, so we waited a bit for the director of the school to arrive. Director Ricky arrived with a warm smile and drove us first to our school, and then to our new home. It was around 9:30 at night and there were still students (math students) at Michigan English School, located close to Ilsan province in Wondang/ Goyang. Our school is in a four-story building containing everything from retail clothing stores on the first level, our school on the second, and on the third floor, a church and a bath house. Development space is quite limited and maybe they try to have one-stop-shop kind of buildings to make things more efficient. It's certainly is nice not having to walk as far for different things all the time. By the way South korea is about the same size as Indiana, and about 70 percent mountainous! There's a good reason for being efficient with space, eh? Makes sense to grow up rather than out when you compare all that is packed in here compared with the state of Indiana!
After our short intro to the school we hopped back in the car and were at our aparment within a couple minutes. The two female Canadian teachers who we are taking over for are not done yet, but moved into the director's apartment for the week so we could move into the apartment. We thought that was pretty nice as opposed to us having to live with someone else for the first week. Our apartment is on the third floor and has a nice size kitchen..which the previous teachers decorated in red and white and Christmas lights :) Then there are two bedrooms and a little bathroom. One bedroom has a nice size full/queen size bed and a small couch, tv, dvd, and window in it, while the other smaller bedroom fits a smaller bed and now our clothes. The only downside of our cute little place is the slight mold problem. It seems to be hiding (not really hiding though) in all the corners. We are right now researching toxic mold just in case! eeek! How do you get rid of it???
Other than that though, we are making it our own, as we slowly unpack and get situated.
Yes....this brings me to my next bit of information.....getting situated has taken more time than I originally thought as we are in school for REALLY long hours. We found out our first day at the school that our kindergarteners start at 10am and we will teach them until 1:30 and then elementary students until about 730pm everyday! A little different from what we thought...these kids are so devoted to SCHOOL! We observed classes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then on Friday, HALLOWEEN, Nolan and I were in charge of a day long HAUNTED HOUSE where we proceded to scare little kids, making quite a few cry. I have never done that before...and felt sort of mean! :( We also participated in a Halloween parade, for which me, a black cat, and Nolan, a MUMMY, walked around town with adorable mini witches, princesses, power rangers, and spidermen while their mom's met us with candy galore! It was fun....though we were surprised at how many near child-deaths there almost were. Drivers here are insane and some adults would be telling traffic to stop while others waved it to move along, same deal with the kids. Nolan did a good job of using his height and strange mummy costume to stop traffic as he stood in the middle of the road after a few close-calls. Drivers go thru red lights at will, and motorcyclists do whatever they want.
Some interesting and fun things we have done include trying real Korean food....mmmmmm and spicy. We had a "goodbye" Korean BBQ dinner with the teachers for the departing English teachers, which was quite delicious. The meat KEPT coming for about 45 minutes and we didnt stop eating. Very intense. Then we went out to this place called a 'noraybong' (noray means sing, bong means room), so a personal karaoke kinda thing. We requested songs and sang to eachother until midnight. ha. It was really funny seeing some of the teachers get so into it! I sang some Queen, Nolan sang some Beetles....it was great.
Right now, as Nolan and I sit typing away, we are in an internet cafe aka PC PONG, and we just finished a 5 hour hiking trip to Pekan Mountain with one of the English Korean teachers, Nicki, and her husband Jin. We are soooo exhausted right now!
We hiked up to 4 different peaks, the highest was 724 km I believe. The weather and scenery were beautiful, a bit brisk, which helped as we were sweating due to the intensity. It was a really great hike, until we started back down and our feet and knees started wobbling. Once at the bottom they treated us to a feast of chicken stew with gimchi and then a sea food korean pancake. Lots of interesting and yummy tastes.
Now as I recount all of this I can feel myself drifting off...time to go for a nap and then prepare our classes. FIRST REAL DAY OF TEACHING IS TOMORROW! OH MY!
Over and out!
Nolan and Elizabeth