Sep 2, 2010

6 Months in...

The 18th of August marked our 6 month anniversary here in South Korea~!
Pretty unbelievable Farmboy would say…but for me, I feel like I’ve been here for years, and 6 months feels like a tiny speck in what has become an amazing adventure :)
Now I think it’s time to reflect on the past few months, both the good and the bad, and basically sum up what’s happened, what hasn’t happened and how we feel about life so far.
We arrived at Incheon International Airport on the 18th February this year, and were first bombarded with icy winds and slippery streets as we were navigated to our home for the first week~ Eulgi University in a small town none of us had ever heard of. From what I can remember we were quiet close to Seoul (only reason I know that is because I can vaguely remember some of the Teachers going to Seoul for the evening and getting hopelessly lost). Those first few days of caffeteria food and 12 hour days filled with lectures and Korean lessons were the hardest days here in Korea. To put in bluntly, the thought of having to eat that food made me feel sick…soup, rice and kimchi for breakfast, more soup (cold this time) and octapus pasta for lunch, and more soup, followed by sticky pieces of spam mixed with other funny looking (and tasting) pieces of tofu for dinner…We were living the dream :) All I can say is that food fell far short of the food that awaited us once we left that small town and hit our designated cities! Thank goodness!

Once Orientation was over, and we had recieved our certificates of completions, and our *health cards* (just to make sure no druggies had slipped in under the radar) we were packed up and bused out to our designated cities to meet our new Co-Teachers. This was the most nerve wracking part of our journey so far, as none of us had any idea what to expect. Once we arrived at the department of education, we were lined up, and called up one by one to meet our new mentors/friends. With this done, we were then sent off to see our schools, meet the staff and principles and finally, to see where we would live for the next 365 days left of our time in South Korea.
And the teaching I hear you ask??
Well there have been good days, and well, to put it bluntly, there have been *awful* days, but over all I can safetly say it’s been a great challenge. The first 2 weeks of school had me repeating the same Lesson “About Teacher Roxy” at least 3 times a day. The first few days were great because I got a glimpse into my new life, had students screaming when they saw me in the corrodors, and giggling when the bumbed into me in the toilet…but there was also the awkward standing around meeting all he new teachers, and of course the Principle, lots of bowing, lots of idle chit chat (most of it with me just smiling like a fool as I couldnt understand a word~ “South Africa…yes…World Cup!..yes..thank you…”). For those of us South Africans here, the only reason any one had ever heard of our home country is thanks to the World Cup :) And we certainly didnt dissapoint anyone on that front either!
I think we can all say that we have come to, at the very least, respect the differences in cultue between Korea and the West. Everyone is always extremely polite, to such a degree that you might end up waiting 15 minutes in a queue while the teller helps every single person who asks where the closest ATM is even though she was in the middle of helping you pay for your groceries. We have survived the countless hours sitting at our desk doing absoluetly nothing except develop square eyes during the Summer Holidays~we only get 8 days of here, so the rest of the time is spent either doing Summer camps or trying to look busy at your desk, when there is not a soul in the rest of the school.
And what about the food??
Well, it’s quiet a difficult topic to cover in a short paragraph, but I will try. At first  I was depressed. You see, I am not what you would call a fussy eater, but I am definately closer to the fussy that the adventureous side. I have the most sensitive of taste buds, and !cannot! handle spicy food. So I faced a few problems, as nearly every dish here is flavoured with chiles.
After the depression, came the “I am truely Korean, I love Korea, I love the food” stage. This lasted about 3 weeks, and then I was shoved straight back to reality when I bit into an octapus tentacle (which was disquised as a piece of sweet corn) during one of the school lunches. Then it was back to craving salty foods, and anything which did not taste like the smell of old sand. But the past 3 months or 2 so has been good, Farmboy and I have found exactly which restaurants serve us the best “sam gyup sal” and which places serve the best kimbab…lifes good.
We have survived the winter, the spring, and most importantly the 40 degree and 70% humidity that has been summer for the last 6 weeks, and can safetly say we are all looking forward to Autumn. We have managed to navigate our way around the ultra efficient public transport system with little or no Korean, and even managed to survive the monsoon season. But here are many more obstacles to overcome, and I say “bring it on!”.
This week marks the beinning of Semester 2. And as usual, most of us teachers are left desk warming, while we wait for someone to tell us exactly what we are supposed to do from 08:30 until 16:30 if there arent any students in the school. But you know what, if I look back on the last 6 months of my time here, and the wonderful lives that Ive had the honour of being a part of, the awesome teachers trips Ive been on, and the cute kids that I get hang out with all day…I love my job and can’t wait to start teaching again!

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