My address

Just thought I would post this really quick so I don't forget.  People have been asking me for my address, so here it is. :)

For letters, postcards, and other small items:

My apartment-
#37-303, Easy-View Bldg. Jukjeon2-dong, Suji-gu,
Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, 448-807, South Korea

For larger mail like packages:

My school-
POLY Returnee Education Institute
5F Sigmatower, 17-5 Jeongja 1 dong Bundanggu
Seongnamshi Kyunggido Korea
Tel: (031) 715-2367  Fax: (031) 714-2376

Please send me your addresses as well! I might be going on a postcard-sending spree soon :)

My new blog

Hello Everyone!

I am officially a teacher in Bundang, South Korea (near Seoul).  I'm beginning to become accustomed to being addressed by Miss Jones, Miss Olivia, Olivia Teacher, and Teacher, haha.  Work is SO busy right now, but I will post more about my kids soon.  I'm still exploring my town and other parts of Seoul about which I will continue to write to you.  I haven't had time to keep in touch with everyone lately, but hopefully this will be a good way for you to know what I'm up to.  I hope to stay in touch with everyone as much as possible!


~Miss Jones

1st week in Korea

My Arrival.

I felt very disconnected with the outside world my first night in Korea.  I arrived at the Incheon airport on Wednesday, October 27th @ 6:15pm (local time) which was about 3:15am PST.  I had slept only one hour on the plane because:

a. I have a little bit of an insomnia problem.
b. I was watching movies/listening to music while envisioning a Korean Olivia.
c. I was going to be separated from a lot of people I care about for what seems like a long time.

When I arrived in Korea, I realized that I had been so preoccupied with calling people at the Seattle airport before I turned off my phone, that I had forgotten to withdraw cash so that I could exchange some money at the Seoul/Incheon airport.  I wheeled over to the currency exchange center and asked if there was an ATM.  There was, but only outside of the baggage claim area from which I could not re-enter after exiting to exchange money.  Of course.  Alright, only a small hiccup in my journey, I could handle that.

Upon exiting the baggage claim area I found Eddy Yoon, a small, young-looking Korean boy wearing acid washed jeans and a black north face fleece who was to give me a ride to my apartment. After loading my bags in his van, he immediately put in his ear phones and listened to music on his iphone.  He only acknowledged my existence whenever I asked questions, to which he would nod or shake his head.  Was I really that repulsive?  I think the only thing he said to me during the hour long car ride was, "We are in Bundang now." ...maybe he was shy?  Nevertheless, it wasn't exactly the welcome I had imagined.

My Apartment.

We parked next to a 24 hour convenience store called GS 25, which apparently is "Friendly, Fresh, and Fun."  A middle aged Korean man opened my door and greeted me with a warm smile after introducing himself as "Clemens."  He works for POLY too, doing some sort of administrative/liason work.  We unloaded my bags and Eddy and Clemens helped me carry them up the three flights of stairs to my apartment.  Much to my surprise, it is a studio apartment, unlike the photos the school had originally sent me which looked like a one bedroom.  However, the bed is a double and I was expecting a twin.  Too bad I brought a set of twin sheets, lol (I found out later that they sold the larger apartments because they were too expensive, pfft).

Clemens quickly explained some of the amenitites included in my apartment and showed me how to turn on the heat and hot water.  When I asked what the two buttons at the botton of the control panel were, he replied "Umm...you don't need to know about these..."  He has some trouble translating and only speaks a little English.  I decided to just ask my Korean friend SaeRom when she came to see me that Friday.  She tried to explain it to me as well and I thought I understood, but she just told me it was best not to use them, I didn't need them anyway, haha.  Thank God for SaeRom because I had to dry myself off with t-shirts after my shower the first few mornings because I left my towel in Seattle when I was rearranging my bags. sheesh.  Could I BE more scatter-brained and spastic?  I think not.

My first day at school.

The morning started with me waking up, fresh as a daisy, at 5:00am.  I tried to go back to sleep and finally gave up around 6:30am.  Clemens wasn't coming to get me until 10:30am, I guess to let me get some rest, which would have been nice had I actually been able to sleep in a little bit.  No matter, I was awake and hungry.  Problem was, I didn't know any Korean and I had no money.  Thankfully they had left me with some water and OJ in the fridge, so I had a glass of orange juice in an attempt to quiet the ogre in my tummy.  What do you do when you are alone and you have no internet, no phone, no food, and 4 hours to kill?  I read a little bit, tried to memorize a few more Korean phrases, made to do lists, and unpacked a little.

Clemens finally came and we walked a few blocks to Ori Station.  We waited for the subway for nearly 20 minutes before he realized we were on the wrong side of the tracks and that no trains would be picking us up anytime soon.  He apologized continuously for about 5 minutes before coming to the conclusion of "I'm old, I'm sorry!"  Haha, he really is a sweet man. 

When we arrived at the school I had a brief meeting with the academic coordinator, Dean, during which he went over my schedule, school procedures, and details of my contract.  I observed several of the teachers, switching classrooms every 40 minute period.  Observing was nice, I was able to see how the teaching styles differed between my coworkers.  My coworkers, for the most part, are great teachers.  One even has her masters in education and most of the others have been teaching for a few years now.  However, there are a couple of other teachers who have various backgrounds and came to Korea for the same reasons I did: to explore, travel, and save money. 

Day 2 at school.

I walked to the subway by myself the second morning and thankfully didn't get lost.  When I made it to the school, Clemens was waiting to take me to the hospital in order to do the mandatory medical exam required for my ARC (Alien Registration Card).  Basically when I get this card, I can start having a life - get a phone, set up an internet account, etc.  The testing consisted of an eye exam, hearing test, vitals, blood sample, urine sample, and chest x-ray.  They really don't like having sick Aliens in Korea apparently.

After returning to school, I shadowed the teacher I was replacing.  Shane was a very vibrant, charismatic Canadian man whom the children adored.  I can see why they loved him.  He made teaching look so easy.  I watched him interact with the kids and saw the way he constantly implored them to ask questions and to be involved in their own learning.  It was amazing.  Granted, I started to like him a little less when I found out he didn't leave me lesson plans for my first week and neglected a few other duties which has made my life a little more difficult.  Even so, I had very large shoes to fill.

Friday night & my first weekend.

I got home from school that first Friday after observing classes around 8:00pm.  SaeRom arrived at my apartment around 9:30pm and it was so crazy/wonderful to see her behind that door when I opened it!  I had been a little lost/tired/scared the first couple of days, but spending time with SaeRom and Eunice that night took most of those feelings away.  SaeRom and I drove to Ilsan and picked Eunice up from work and went to have Kalbi at a Korean BBQ.  You cook the meat at your table on a grill and wrap it in lettuce and you eat it with other traditional side dishes, including kimchi.  It was fantastic.  I could eat that everyday. 

A few photos from our photobooth session the next day~

By the time we finished eating it was around midnight.  I was terribly jetlagged but was having so much fun.  We stayed up taking pictures and talking in Eunice's room until about 3:00am.  Slumber parties still rock.  The next morning Eunice already had plans to meet some other friends out of town so SaeRom and I went to a garage sale being held by Eunice's church.  Eunice's mom wanted us to go and try to buy stuff for my apartment.  I didn't really see anything I could use, but I did end up buying a plate when Eunice's mom asked if I was going to buy anything.  I didn't want to be rude, and hey, it was $1. 

We also ate traditional Buchingae there, (yes, there was food being served at the garage sale, haha) which is a Korean pancake with either vegetables or seafood, or sometimes both.  I really like buchingae, and it is one of the few Korean foods I was familiar with before I came.  Afterwards SaeRom took me to an E-Mart, which is basically a humongous Wal-Mart (It's 4 stories!), and I bought a lot of essentials for my place.

Then it was time for the fun shopping.  We went to a shopping district in Ilsan and walked around for hours.  We kept passing by street vendors with all sorts of different food.  Each time we passed one SaeRom would ask me, "Have you tried ___?"  to which I always replied "No," which she followed with, "You have to trying it!"  Haha, we eat SO much when we are together.  I've included a few photos from our recent shopping trip to Meyongdong, most of which are of me eating.

*note to self:  take less piggy pictures and more pretty pictures.

This is all I have time to write at the moment, but I have lots more to tell!

~Miss Jones