Annyeong haseyo, friends! My life here teems with possibilities- delicious new foods to sample, mountains to climb (literal and figurative), friendships to form, and streetscapes to soak up. Right now I’m in a hotel a few train stops away from my school. It’s a ‘love motel’, but it’s a lot less sleazy than it sounds- in a country where young people tend to live with their parents until they marry, these motels cater mostly to couples searching for a bit of privacy. My coworker Grace and I (the other new foreign teacher at my school) need to wait til the school apartments are vacant again, we’re hanging out here for the time being.
The public transport system here is complex for a newcomer, and Grace and I have made what feels like every mistake that can possibly be made trying to make sense of it- entering through the wrong gate, backtracking, and going through on the opposite side, only to have alarms beep at us. Waiting for a train on one side of the station, hearing it approach, and moving to the other side, only to realize every other commuter is already way ahead of us and waiting on the proper side. And of course, the day I’ll never forget- jokingly putting my foot across the yellow line, only to have alarms sound and an angry recording yell at me in Korean- I’m just glad no one else was waiting on the platform as we died laughing! 😀 I’m sure we’ll get the hang of it, eventually. Maybe??
This is Grace, fellow teacher from Colorado/Manila. All around certified Cool Person. Fellow rider of infinity escalators.
Really though, the trains are fantastic, and it’s quite a departure after a city with pothole-ridden streets, no trains, trams or subways to speak of, and even main bus routes only running every 20 minutes or so on a Sunday. Winnipeg, I will not miss your transit system!
So far much of our time and mental energy has been occupied by orientation sessions and training for my new job as an elementary school teacher! I’ve picked up some valuable information, but sometimes it’s a whole lotta frustration, as many things I’m learning vary hugely between campuses, and I know much of the advice is not going to be applicable to my specific school. On the plus side, I’ve met some great people working around the province, and on Friday we’re setting up a contact directory, so we can meet up with one another as we inevitably plan shenanigans and adventures on days and weekends off! One of the presenters expressed interest in introducing new teachers to hiking spots around Seoul and hunting down delicious meals after, and I am all over that idea.
Speaking of food…
Grace and I picked up some rice cake treats from a local bakery in Dongbaek.
I haven’t explored the area around my hotel as thoroughly I’d like, so I’m hoping to remedy that- but I’m not too concerned, as anytime I head out on adventures I’ll need to take a train to the station and transfer to another line. This is the station, by the way- kinda cool!
Cicadas buzz in the humid air, rains drizzle or drench, storefronts and restaurants beckon, and the people of Korea hustle about in their everyday lives. Stay tuned for more adventures sure to unfold!