Saturday, February 27, 2010

My First Week Summation

I have been in Daejeon since Wednesday, and I have already learned so much about the city and about myself! I have already experienced so much! On Thursday, Director Kim came by my apartment to bring me to the school. I observed some of the classrooms, and I ate lunch there. I learned that the students are very loving and that I cannot use chopsticks! Hahaha. I get teased now about whether or not I will use chopsticks to eat. I try to use them everyday so that hopefully I will learn. I do not use them in restaurants though because I am afraid that people will think I am disrespectful.

On Friday, I decided to walk to school from my apartment. I did pretty well for not being in the city long. I got to the bus stop where I was dropped off the night of my arrival. Thankfully, Director Kim and the Assistant Director, Vicki, were waiting at the bus stop for one of the other new teachers. Vicki told me that if I wanted to wait with them, they would take me the rest of the way to the school. So I waited with them for a few minutes for the new teacher, Janet. While waiting, Vicki explained to me that two new teachers had arrived Thursday evening, but only one of them, Mariana, was able to catch the bus to Daejeon. So Janet had to sleep at the airport because the guest house was full, and there aren't any other hotels in the area. Janet's bus arrived, and she informed me that her luggage was in San Francisco due to a last minute change in her flight. We drove to the school, and Janet went to her hotel room for a bit to freshen up before coming to the school for lunch. Since it was the last day of classes for the semester, the classes were having parties; so there wasn't much to observe. The other two teachers and I decided to go to EMart (much like a Super Walmart) to get a few things. I bought cleaning supplies for my apartment; as well as a few mats and a pair of slippers to wear around the apartment. We all stopped by the school once more before they went to their hotel rooms and I walked back to my apartment. On my way home, I received the second lesson about myself this week, I have no sense of direction. I got seriously lost!!!! Hahaha. I figured that if I kept walking around I would eventually figure out where I was. But no. After over an hour of walking while carrying my purchases from EMart, I decided to call it quits and catch a taxi. Luckily, I was near a Taxi Stop. In Daejeon, they have places to go if you need a taxi much like the bus stops back home. Thankfully, I had asked Vicki to write down my address so I was able to show the taxi driver the address of where I wanted to go. When I finally got home, I was too tired to do anything so I went to bed.

Today, Saturday, we had orientation for the parents of all the new students. We had to dress nicely. I had decided to try to find my way once again so I wore tennis shoes with my dress and packed dress shoes in my bookbag. I looked at the time and realized that I didn't have the time to get lost again. At that time, a taxi drove by and honked asking if I needed a ride. I figured it was fate telling me to take the taxi. After asking Vicki for my apartment address, I had asked one of the Korean teachers to write down the address for the school in Korean. So once again, I showed the taxi driver the address of my destination. When I got to the school, I decided to ask Vicki for directions. However, she is bad with directions as well; so she told one of the foreign teachers to take me home using the best way for me to go when I walked to the school. She told him to make sure that he pointed out the turns.

Before going home, all of the teachers had to go to the orientation. We sat in a separate room while one of the foreign teachers presented the necessary information for the parents. At the end of her presentation, we were escorted into the room to wait for the Director's presentation. During the Director's presentation, he introduced each teacher and explained a bit about each teacher's professional background. Everything was spoken in Korean of course; so none of the foreign teachers new exactly what he was saying about us. We just bowed and tried to smile. After the presentations, a couple of the mothers came up to me and talked to me about their kids. It was so sweet!!! Of course they are concerned about their kids well-being, and they wanted to make sure that I would take care of their kids.

After the orientation, John, one of the foreign teachers, drove us to our apartments and pointed out the turns as he was instructed by Vicki. When I got back to my apartment, I decided to change clothes and try my hand at my newly found directions. I walked to EMart to purchase more cleaning supplies and some food. EMart is by the school so I figured if I could get to EMart then I can get to school. My trip to and from EMart was a success! I made it home with no problems! What a difference good directions can make! Hahaha.

I have two days off this weekend, tomorrow and Monday. I am going to try to explore the city, finish setting up my apartment, and take some pictures of my apartment and the city to show everyone! Tuesday and Wednesday, I only have afternoon after-school classes. Thursday is the first day of the new semester, so my morning classes will start then!

It has been a great first week, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the school year holds for me!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Arriving in Daejeon

So the plane ride was not as bad as I thought it would be. It was a fifteen hour flight. The service was amazing! I've never been offered a beverage of any kind every hour or so it seemed. I slept for a bit, watched a movie or two, and I mostly read a book. Note to future-self, don't read a book about leaving when you are actually leaving yourself. I totally was not thinking when I chose the book!

A woman sat next to me on the plane that was flying home to Korea; she has been studying at Penn State. She was very sweet and offered to show me around even though we live an hour or so apart!

We landed in Seoul, and I had absolutely no cell phone service. I was planning on calling home to let my parents know that I had landed safely, but I did not have the type of phone that would have allowed that. I went through customs without any problems whatsoever. Not that I have ever had any problems but it was a very short process. On the other side of customs a man was waiting for me with a sign that said my name. The pickup guy was with some sort of escort company I think. He took me across the airport to where the buses were and purchased my ticket. Unfortunately, there was no room on the bus that was leaving and the next bus was not leaving for a couple of hours. When the pickup guy discovered that my bus was going to be awhile he guided me to a seat and told me to wait, and he just left me there by myself! It wasn't a big deal because he left me with my ticket and I was sure I could find the bus myself. Especially since I had already seen where it would be. While I was waiting I tried to use the pay phones to call my parents. I tried three times and heard my mom say hello and it hung up on me. Each time I got my money back so it wasn't that big of a deal and my mom assumed it was me. But the pickup guy did come back an hour or so later and brought me a bottle of water. I think he left because he felt awkward because of the language differences. But he paid for my ticket and my water. He told me that I needed to get off at the second stop. Which was everything that I needed from him.

So when the bus arrived, I got on and fell asleep within minutes. I was not planning on sleeping because I was afraid that I would miss my stop, but I was so tired! I woke up when the bus driver merged off the interstate to go into the city of Daejeon. I got off at the second stop and waited ten minutes for the Director to come. In the meantime, an older guy asked me if I needed to use the phone. It was so sweet. The people are so friendly even if we don't understand each other.

It was pretty late when the Director dropped me off at my apartment, so I wasn't able to do much exploring.

First thing this morning though, I bought an international calling card and went on a hunt for a pay phone to use it hoping to be able to talk to my parents. However, the pay phone I found did not accept that card; so I tried cash again and still couldn't get it to work.

I do not have internet access yet. I looked for an internet cafe, but I could not find one near my apartment. My director is supposed to pick me up at 11am which is in a couple of hours so I was kind of timid about venturing too far from my apartment. I am currently piggybacking off of some one else.

It's raining here today, but luckily the guy who lived in the apartment before me left an umbrella so I used it. The apartment is very nice. It's not small, but its not massive either. The bathroom is interesting. The shower is connected to the sink, and there's no place to hang a shower curtain. So when I take a shower, I get water all over the toilet seat, and no matter the setting it goes from being warm to cold and back to warm for no reason. It's definitely interesting.

The city itself has so many lights!!! There are lights everywhere, like Vegas. My apartment is right across the street from a Quickie Mart type place which was nice to run over there and pick up a few things. There is also a French bakery on the corner. I don't think most of the stores open up until later. So I'll have to wait until after I get back from the school to get the things I need for my apartment.

I believe that I have had a very successful first day so far! I checked my e-mails to find that Korjob Recruiting has found another teacher to work at Daejeon Wonderland. I believe the e-mail said that she would be here next week! How exciting! I suppose that is enough for now!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Today is the day that I leave for Korea! I am super excited! My bags are mostly packed. I have only a few finishing touches. I probably won't have the internet for a few days, but I will definitely post when I do. I seriously cannot wait to get there! I know its going to be an incredible experience!