This was my experience on my “supposed” first day of work; ever since I got accepted by the Chungnam province of education, I have been wondering about my school, apartment and location. Despite reading and hearing about others’ experiences, mine was unique in its own way.
On Tuesday the 1st of May I was picked up by a taxi to be taken to my school. After a two and a half hour taxi ride, which included speeding along the highways, HARD braking to avoid speed cameras and getting lost (just typical Korean driving), I arrived at my place of employment for the next year- Anmyeon Middle School, which is on Anmyeon Island…yes; I live on an island now 🙂 This makes for a big change from the fast paced, up market Joburg lifestyle I was used to. Finally at my destination, I was warmly welcomed into the school by my Korean co-teacher and the vice principal. The vice principal is a pleasant old lady who has taken it upon herself to guide me around the school, introduce me to the other teachers and even offered to teach me some Korean as long as she gets to practice her English with me in an ‘exchange of languages’ if you will. After seeing the school and having lunch in the cafeteria, where I ate some um… interesting Korean food, I met the only other foreigner close by on the island. Her name is Geri and she is a petite, talkative and opinionated woman (Yes I seem to surround myself with them). Geri and my co-teacher showed me to my place which is across the road from the school, literally a 3 minute walk.
It is a little one bedroom apartment, with a separate kitchen and bathroom; small by South African standards, but perfectly comfortable just for me. The apartment is full of little quirks (Eish I’d rather not elaborate) that I will have to get used to, but I see these as all part of the experience. The place had been empty for two months prior to my arrival so there was a lot of dust, and a lot of cleaning still has to be done. It is as fully furnished as Korean apartments get- I have all the basic amenities, which is all that’s really necessary.
After I was shown my place, Geri showed me where the shops are. It seems like everything is within walking distance in this place, provided you are willing to walk a fair amount. Geri had to go back to school, while I had to get gas for my stove and heating, which seemed very expensive. Today however I found that I don’t pay for any other utilities so I guess it’s a good deal. After that, I did some shopping to buy some cleaning stuff, toiletries and noodles. I came home and started cleaning until Geri arrived to take me to dinner. We went for a long walk to a famous resort on the island which has a spa and massages and a fancy hotel with a few restaurants. We both ate a Korean dish called bibimbap. Bibimbap is a traditional Korean rice dish that is accompanied by cooked and fresh vegetables as well as a sunny side up egg.
After dinner, Geri took me downtown, which is a five minute cab ride away. She showed me around town, and then we stopped at a bakery because she wanted desert. There we chatted for a long time while she leant me wi-fi to chat to Aneesa and keep her up to date on the goings on at my little island. Eventually we walked back home (which took 20mins) and after more chatting, I went home to make my bed, and collapse on it.
The next day I got to school only to find out that the students are currently writing their mid term exams so there are no classes and I haven’t started teaching since. What a relaxed way to start a new job 🙂 Another plus is that I will be observing the Korean teachers for a week before I start my own classes. The work does not seem too difficult, but it appears as if there are many problem students in this school. I guess it’s expected with hormonal middle school students. So far I have been for my medical examination, paid a trip to the immigration office to apply for my ID card and most days are just spent sitting in the teacher’s lounge browsing the internet at school. So far, so good. The first week and day weren’t half as daunting as I expected it to be; Korean people are welcoming and the other foreigners I have met are helpful and accommodating.
Aneesa just spent her long weekend with me on the island, helping me get my apartment in order (well, supervising) and exploring the place as she likes to do, so I am curious to read her next post about it all.