Settling In

If I’m writing a post it can only mean one thing, the weekend has arrived here in Korea! There’s a lot to recap so I’ll rewind back to last Saturday when we explored our neighbourhood, it seems like a great area with loads of little restaurants and coffee shops. We decided to eat out so took a shot of soju each at home to bolster our courage before ordering  (I still feel really stupid when I speak Korean as I know my accent is horrible). However, as it often does, one shot lead to many more and we ended up staying in making eachother laugh remembering all the funniest parts of our journey here.

Speaking of funny journeys, we had a really embarassing moment the other day when we got on the bus, scanned our transportation cards and there wasnt enough money on them for the journey. Jod scrambled around with coins trying to pay but he was obviously taking too long as the driver just mumbled something grumpily, shook his head and waved us to just hurry up and sit down without paying. I think he took pity on us as idiot foreigners and it was toe-curlingly embarassing with a big group of teenagers on the bus laughing at us… safe to say we will always make sure our cards are topped up before boarding from now on…

On Sunday we woke up in need of some serious brunch food due to the aformentioned soju so headed downtown to The First Alleyway. This is the Canadian-owned spot we visited for dinner when we came to Gwangju at Christmas so we were able to find it pretty easily in the maze of streets – always a bonus when hungover. The breakfast menu is insane and we ordered way too much food but it was exactly what we needed. Jod opted for the Breakfast Poutine (french fries topped with cheese, gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon) and I had the Southern Chicken (fried chicken on Texas toast topped with sausage gravy served with fried eggs and breakfast potatoes). We also got a side of pancakes and two Bloody Mary’s. We didn’t have a hope in hell of finishing it all and we were pretty much stuffed for the rest of the day. We loved that the servers constantly topped up our coffees over the course of the meal and that there was no rushing us to leave, it was all perfectly chilled and relaxing.

After Brunch we met up with some other expats to watch “The Shape of Water”. I absolutely loved it (probably because it reminded me of Amelie), but Jod fell asleep for the first hour! It was fab to connect with other people and hear about some of the exciting opportunities and places to visit around the city.

On Monday we headed back to school for more planning and spent the afternoon at the Immigration Office to get our Alien Registration Cards. This took about four and a half hours as the administrator who brought us was missing some paperwork and had to head back to the school to pick it up. Eventually though we paid our 30,000KRW each, had our fingerprints taken and were told our cards will be with us in around three weeks time. That means another three weeks until we can get bank accounts and phone contracts, but I’m sure the time will fly by.

When we got home I finished covering our kitchen cupboard doors and stuck some stuff up on the walls to make the place a little more colourful. It’s definitely starting to feel more like home, but I can’t wait to get some more framed prints up and some bedding for the second bedroom.

Food this week has been pretty great and we’ve tried lots of new things which is always fun. For breakfast I’ve been having fruit, yoghurt and granola while Jod has toast. Strawberries are in season in Korea at the moment and they’re so sweet! We’ve been eating a lot of vegetable stirfries with rice and eggs for dinner as it’s so quick and easy in our mini kitchen, but on Thursday Night we got a load of picky bits from the supermarket and had a kind of Korean tapas-style feast – yum!

We’ve been trying to make connections in the community and it seems to be working! We often see our landlord on our walks too and from school and he always smiles and waves, and the lady at the local convenience store gifted us some freshly cooked hardboiled eggs the other day when we topped up our transportation cards. We also went to our local family owned bakery for treats on Friday rather than Paris Baguette (the uniquitous chain here in Korea) and everything was completely scrumptious.

On Tuesday we were treated to a delectable lunch at Tokkijung by one of the very kind English teachers at our school (she also invited us to go hiking with her walking group next weekend which we’re really looking forward to!). The whole department went for lunch together and we got to taste lots of delicious items. For mains we had the curry cream udon – literally udon noodles in Japanese curry sauce topped with clouds of whipped cream. Sounds crazy, tastes great! Afterwards we all went for coffee (again another teacher paid, we are feeling very spoiled!) and it was lovely to get to chat to everyone outside work where everyone is so busy.

School lunches have been really tasty this week starting with this one; Apple wedge, chicken wings, sesame beansprouts, water kimchi, black bean noodle soup and fried rice.

 

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Next was; steamed egg, fried chicken in sweet and spicy sauce, green onions, spicy rice cakes, seaweed soup and rice with kimchi.

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Lastly on Friday we had strips of fish cake, pineapple, kimchi, seaweed and rice cake soup, rice and spicy minced pork. We’re definitely still appreciating the opportunity to try lots of different things, but Jod hasn’t come round to fish cake just yet.

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Thursday was a national holiday so we got to have a day off before the new semester started. It was lovely to be able to sleep in, pop out for a coffee, get some bits from the supermarket (slippers for school!) and just get ourselves into the right mind set for teaching. Overall we’ve had a lovely transition into teaching and I would definitely recommend to other people considering moving abroad to teach for the first time to try and give yourself as much time as possible to adjust to the new way of life before you’re dropped into the classroom. We read a lot of stories about newbies picked up from the airport after 24+ hours of travelling, driven to their city and then taken straight to school to start shadowing or teaching. We really appreciated having two weeks to get used to the time difference, sort out our apartment and get to know the other people in our department.

Friday morning soon rolled around and it was time to teach our first classes! We each have a “Morning Class” of 8-12 students that we see for 50 minutes four mornings a week. These are science lessons taught in English and  Jod has the older students (5th + 6th grade) while I have the little ones (3rd + 4th). Their ability is brilliant and we’re looking forward to getting to know them better over the coming weeks. I asked my class if they like the school and one replied “So-so… I like the school but not the uniform. It makes us look like sweet potatoes!” << heart exploded!

We got our timetable for the first month and it looks great, we have a good amount of free time to prep anything we need for the lessons and so far we’re really enjoying life being teachers at Songwon Elementary. Next week is our first full week of teaching so we’re going to pack a lot of fun stuff into this weekend. See you next Saturday!

 

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