In the beginning… Or, my first day in Korea.

Wednesday, April 14th

5:17 am. Touchdown (and not the football type). Plane’s late. It’s 37 degrees outside. The driver isn’t scheduled to arrive until 8am. He’s picking me up in front of the McDonalds—irony at its finest.

5:30 am Head away from customs to find an empty bathroom. I change my clothes, brush my teeth, put on a carefully selected outfit that says “I –just- got- no- sleep- on- a- 13- hour- airplane- ride –but- am- really- excited- to- meet- you-even- though- I- will- continually- butcher- your -name.” No amount of make up can hide those bags under my eyes.

6:15 am Waltz through customs, play hide and seek with my luggage, begin the search for McDonalds, instead find a Korean man holding a sign for Hilary O’Neil. He grabs my cart and heads towards the car. I run after him… in heels (vintage red and white polka dots- necessary to complete the look.) What long legs he has…

7:30 am He takes me up to my room and leaves me a note with a name and number. In broken English, he tells me to call a Mr. Park Kyung Ai, then leaves.

7:32 am. Panic sets in. I am alone. I have no oven– not even a toaster oven! I can’t find a phone. It could be this intercom looking thing but all of the buttons are in Korean. I search Google for directions. No such luck. I finally start pushing buttons, hoping something will pop up on the screen. I push the only button with red writing. OH SHIT* WHAT IF I JUST CALLED KOREAN 911?!?! I Google Translate “I’m so sorry I pushed the button by accident. Can you teach me how to use the phone?” and wait for firemen to show up.

7:55 am They never do.

8:45 am My Korean co-teacher (Grace) knocks on my door and says she’ll be back to pick me up at 10:40 am to take me to school, meet people, eat a Korean lunch, etc. Finally, someone tells me what’s going on.

8:53 am Realize it’s probably a good idea to take a shower. Run the water for a good five minutes. It’s frigid. Re-evaluate the shower idea. After all, they all died on the Titanic.

11 am Enter school. Forced to wear the most ridiculous pair of house slippers known to man. No street shoes allowed in the building.

11:30 am Meet Principal and Vice-Principal, neither of which speak English. A lot of nodding and smiling take place, along with translations from Grace. Orientation begins.

12:15 pm First Korean meal… ever. Lunch: egg soup that tastes remarkably like fish, fried rice with beef bits, some type of pickled radish, really condensed rice patties, and an apple. At least that’s familiar. Fail miserably at attempts to use Korean chopsticks.

1:45 pm It’s becoming increasingly evident that Grace disapproves of my carefully thought out “look.” She’s asked that I wear my pea coat although the heat is on and attempts to fix my hair every five minutes, or so it seems. Everyone comments on how tired I look. Go easy on me-I got two hours of sleep on the plane.

3:30 pm Nearly fall asleep lesson planning for Monday. Grace finally realizes that I could be tired and sends me home to rest until she picks me up for dinner at 5:15.

3:45 pm Find my way home. Meet the maintenance man who’s hanging my newly cleaned curtains along with another Korean English teacher (Julia) who works at the school. Afterwards, we have tea.

4:35 pm Pass out for 30 minutes. I feel like a zombie. Dead.

5:30 pm Have a pleasant dinner with Grace and Lenn, a foreign English teacher like me from NJ who was somehow named “Mickey” by the Koreans. This is her second year teaching. Beef stirfry with about 15 small side dishes. Still struggling with the chopsticks. I blame it on my hatred towards sushi.

7:45 pm Stop off at the grocery store for breakfast supplies. Yogurt and grapes- safe and familiar. Too tired to look at strange food sights with anything but indifference but I’m sure it’s a pot of gold. Emotions require energy.

7:53 pm Lenn teaches me how to cook rice, that the intercom is not a phone, that my water was cold because I didn’t turn on the gas, and that a wash cycle takes an hour and a half. No dryers. Oh joy.

8:30 pm Bed time. Finally.

Korean phrase count: 4. ahn-nyung-ha-say-yo (hello), kap-she-da (let’s go), kahm-sah-hahm-ni-da (thank you), chal-mo-go-sim-knee-da (I have eaten well./Thank you for the food.)

*Note: Sorry. Normally, I try to keep my blogs family friendly but there really is no other way to adequately describe the sheer terror I felt at the thought of a bunch of non-English speaking Korean EMTs showing up at my door less than three hours after my arrival.

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April 16, 2010. Uncategorized.

One Comment

  1. Mary Elizabeth replied:

    This is hysterical. My Mom actually used that adjective first. It’s true. She says you should write a book. I’m just sorry that your blog domain had to be true. Start thinking care package goodies.

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