Fours days into orientation!
Okay, I’ve been slack, but it’s only because HOLY SHIT THIS IS SO MUCH FUN. Okay sure, I haven’t even got close to the teaching part yet, but so far, I’m loving where this journey is going.
So I got into Incheon airport at 4 pm on Sunday. Over the course of two hours, about 3 busloads of teachers slowly congregated in Section F of the airport. Mostly Canadians. Happy Canadians. Good thing I love Canadians.
Okay, so if anyone reading this is planning to do this in the future, my advice at this point is to MAKE. FRIENDS. Right from the get-go. You may not have slept for 48 hours, your contact lenses may be dry as a bone, you may be a little overwhelmed and slightly cranky, but hey guess what? So is everybody else! So jump into a conversation as soon as possible, because you’ll quickly realise this, and no-one understands better they the other teachers. Plus you’ve come this far, so there’s no use in being timid now.
Okay so, the short version; we jump on our buses, and make the 4 hour journey to Gwangju. Dinner and an endless supply of water are provided – did I mention we’re in the middle of a freak Korean heatwave? We reach the SBC training center and the facilities are basic but pretty great. My roommate is really nice too. We’ll be teaching in the same rural town, so that’s a bonus.
The next day is the ‘opening ceremony’ which is basically just introducing everyone, getting name-tags, and a run-down on the week ahead and how to go about exploring the city in our free time. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are in the cafeteria and OH. MAH. GAWD. It’s a spread. There’s sushi dammit. There’s a fucking guy, in a chefs hat, at a table, making an endless supply of sushi for an hour. Here is also where I got my first taste of kimchi. It’s…well. Pickled cabbage. My Mother’s part Dutch, so sauerkraut is something I’m familiar with, but I think this is something I’ll have to slowly get used to. I’m having it with every meal though, because I WILL immerse myself in this culture goddammit!
The last few days have been a mixture of cross cultural communication, lesson planning, Korean history and a hospital visit. They take blood and urine to test for drugs and HIV. We get the results tomorrow and I’m weirdly nervous about it? Ugh. What was great though was the little rundown we got about staying healthy in Korea. Oh WOW are they invested in your health. Like, WOW. It’s an incredibly looks-based society, and if you walk around the streets, it’s SO apparent. I can’t get over how much everyone looks like they’re from a K-pop group here. Just everything about them is perfect. The clothes, the hair, the great gams. Just…wow.
So yeah, so far it’s been just BEYOND my expectations, I mean, really. There is so much incredible support here, and the coordinators of the JLP (Jeollanamdo Language Program) really are the best. One of the coordinators actually took us to a western bar and introduced us to watermelon beer. I thought I’d hate it – I’m obnoxiously anti-flavoured crap – but I actually really enjoyed it.
Anyway, this heatwave is killing me and I’m desperate for a nap. Talk to you soon.