Settling into the Palatial Palace

After a week of living together, it was weird packing up our bags to move out of residence and go our separate ways…though separate ways in Ulsan means at most a 30 min. bus ride from your furthest native teacher pal. While most folks went straight to the immigration office to get their Alien Residency Cards (ARC) applied for, I headed straight to Eonyang to meet the soon-to-be retired Principal and commence the glorious past time of desk warming that seems to be so common for ESL teachers. Luckily for me, I have a pretty solid school schedule so desk warming doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does I can catch up on things I’ve neglected…like writing blog posts.

Back to the past! After a brief stay at Sineon Middle School (where I’ll be teaching 3 out of 5 days a week), my co-teacher Ga Bong (Big Bong as he likes to be called, I’ve settled with BB) and the lovely Lanny (another English teacher) took me back to my apartment. Prior to moving in, I had heard horror stories about teensy rooms where the only privacy you have is going pee; that is, IF you have that privacy. Thankfully, those stories are just stories and my new digs are ample for me J And courtesy of the native teacher before me, in pretty good shape too; with a futon that will take up most of my apartment floor when open to seal the deal! The first night in my new place was spent unpacking, running errands at MegaMart with Lanny (where she put all my worries to rest by insisting I get the 2 for 1 ice cream deal with no prompting on my part), and visiting Lanny’s place so she could load me down with more food because, like any mama, she thought I didn’t buy enough.

With no internet or phone for the first week and a half, I relied on the nearby PC Room (aka internet café to chat with home). The outside of the place says “Sante PC”, while seeing French in Korea should have thrown me off the most, the strange name of the building was nothing compared to the frosted decals of coffee mugs accompanied by organic health food store sayings etched onto the walls of the smoky room that did not, surprise surprise, actually sell coffee. There was, however, a kettle, and ramen noodles in abundance! After all, a 24 hr. joint that is the reason for why a lot of my students sleep in class should have all the requirements to keep middle schoolers up gaming to the wee hours of the morning.

Though it was a pain not having internet or phone at home, it was a great excuse to get out and walk around my neighbourhodd; after all, the worst thing to do when you’ve moved to a place where your up is down is to stay inside and hermit. I discovered a wonderful little market only a 15 min. walk away from my house, a scenic riverside trail graced by the mountains that I can also see from my window (a trail that will be perfect for jogging, if only I can convince myself to put on my runners!), a perfect writing spot atop my roof, and a plethora of CUs (convenience stores) and coffee shops, which are, apparently the latest chi chi fad in these parts. No camera could ever do the sheer eccentricity of this place justice, and snapping shots of people working out on the free, outdoor exercise equipment just seems rude, so I have another reason to be excited for the visits from family and friends that will happen later on! You just can’t describe a place like this, it truly does have to be seen with one’s own eyes.

 I’m into my third week of teaching now, and while I still don’t have a phone, access to internet has been a god send…now I don’t have to be greeted by my middle schoolers saying “Teacher! You at PC Room last night. Who handsome man?” Word to the wise, when you live 15 min from your school, be careful who you talk to at the PC Room unless you want to be bombarded with a thousand questions. Needless to say, some of my students have now seen plenty of pictures of mine and Mike’s trip to North Carolina, and my co-teacher thinks he looks like a prince. Even in a country where the language is foreign and I do a lot of hand gestures to make myself understood, home keeps creeping up on me. It’s amazing how small the world really is. 

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