Health Check and other things…

Oi. Not sure really where to start. First off, I think my jetlag is getting worse and not better. I feel like I’m tired all the time…probably partially due to how firm my bed is 😦 That is supposedly an Asian thing…because some are used to sleeping on the floor.

Let’s see, also yesterday was pretty jam-packed. Had my first actual teaching day! Another teacher kinda shadowed me (assisted as needed) and he said I had a pretty good first day. I don’t remember the actual term he used, but overall, pretty decent. He had a few critiques for me (walk around and use the board more etc), but nothing too bad.

Also, in the morning I went to the hospital for my health check-up. A requirement for all foreigners that will be living there (to make sure you’re not bringing anything crazy or contageous into the country). You also need this done to be able to get your Alien Registration Card, which..I dunno, I guess is somewhat equilvalent to a driver’s license in the US?…kinda? It just serves as an ID card (aside from carrying your passport around). You also can use that to get a cell phone (or “hand phone” here). The card takes a few weeks to receive…very anxious to get a phone…

Anyway, one of the Korean co-teachers from the school went to the hospital with me–we ended up waiting in a waiting area (kinda like what you’d see at the DMV…but massive). Waited around a half hour for our number to be called, but apparently the foreigner exam was up on the 3rd floor. (Her first time going with anyone to get it done). So, we went upstairs and found where it was. She helped me get checked in…and then had to leave to get back to the school. So, I did the rest of it on my own (I did mention that I’m in Korea, right? And they speak Korean here…? Ok good. Glad we’re on the same page.)  🙂

The exam was very thorough–(and costs 100,000W–a bit under $100). Chest X-Ray, hearing, dental (she just kind of poked around for 2 minutes), vision, blood pressure, blood and urine tests (all in Korean). Oh, and one nurse asked (in English!!! yay!!! about my family history–diseases and such) The whole thing took probably a half hour. And it was all on one wing of one floor. So, I was pretty much whisked around from station to station getting various things tested. I’m also a huge wuss when it comes to getting blood drawn or needles of any kind…so yeah…THAT was fun. ha. She took 4 vials of blood…

Then I went back to the school (via cab/taxi) and had that first day teaching. Also, tonight is our Kindergarten graduation ceremony!! 😀 They’ve been practicing various songs (and speeches) for awhile now and it should be fun. It’s held at one of the bigger halls in the city. Elementary classes still carry on like normal (no kindergarten for the rest of the month)–then we get a fresh batch of students on March 1st and the kids move up a level.

(Instead of the new year starting in August/Sept, it starts in March here. I thought it had another start date later in the year too, but I forgot what it was…) Anyway, I think that’s it…

Also, still no internet in my apartment yet. I tried to get it on my own today (no translator) and…um…fail. haha. So, I’ll need to have someone do it for me. One of the guys at work said he could probably have his wife translate for me though…so hopefully soon. I’m getting restless. I just want internet! ah! I feel so cut off from the world. Sure, I can go to an internet cafe (like now)…but why do that when you can have it in your own place. 😛

Catching Up…

So, sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been pretty busy these first few days.
So, let’s see.  I arrived Wednesday morning (two 2-hour domestic flights and one 13 hour international flight) and took the 2 ½-3 hour bus ride from Seoul to Daejeon (where I now live).  I was told by my recruiter (the same people who got me hired with my school and led me through the paperwork process) that I would be meeting up with the director of my school at the Daejeon Government Center once I arrived, and that once I bought by bus ticket, to call the recruiter so they could let her know when to expect me.
I also met another teacher when I was de-boarding the plane.  Her name was Zara (from Texas, went to Texas A&M) and we talked while going through immigration (yay!  No issues…which seems to always happen to me, lol) and while we picked up our bags.  Her school had someone picking her up from the airport, so we exchanged info and we went our separate ways.
I switched over my money at one of the currency exchange stands, bought a bus ticket, called my recruiter and then got found my way to the correct bus terminal.
Even though everything is labeled/marked in both Korean and English, it’s still a bit trickier than it sounds.  Add being jetlagged and the fact that you’re carrying luggage to the picture and it gets a bit more interesting.

Anyway, I got on the bus and told the driver where I needed to get off (well, pointed to the directions on my paper from my recruiter, lol) and that was that. *Enter giant exhale here*

They took me to my motel where I’d be staying for a day or two til the previous teacher left.  I checked in and we dropped off my stuff and they showed me the school.
We have around 100 kindergarten and elementary school students enrolled.  Class sizes are 2-10 students per class. I’ll see if I can get pics of it on Monday and get those posted.
They said they’d see me the next morning at 9:30 (classes start at 9:40) and said I was free for the day.
I got lunch at the Burger King across the street (I’m not usually a fast-food eater) but it was close and in English. 🙂  Then I explored around a bit…not straying much further than a few blocks in either direction (nerve wracking to get lost when jet lagged and when you don’t speak the language).  Went back to my room and took a 6-hour nap and explored a bit in the evening.  Made myself stay up til around 10 and talked online with some friends on this side of the globe.  Went to bed…woke up around 2am and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I read until it was time to get breakfast and get ready for work.

First full day:
Got a sandwich for breakfast because breakfast isn’t huge here…oh, and coffee shops don’t open til after 9am here, btw.
Kindergarten classes are in the morning, followed by an hour and a half lunch starting at 11:45/noon (normally I don’t usually ever get a lunch break at previous jobs at home).  Come back and have elementary classes.  Finished around 6:30pm.

I’ve spent both Thursday and Friday shadowing other teachers to get an idea of how classes run and to get an idea of the various teaching styles.  Then Monday, I’ll take over for the other teacher and teach with one of the other teachers shadowing me.
Tuesday, we have the kindergarten graduation in the morning and I’ll teach elementary by myself.
We also have art, math, science and social studies classes at our school.  Which, as I’ve never taught, I was initially a bit nervous for, but everything is pretty much laid out in front of you and…it is elementary school level, so it doesn’t seem too difficult really, just a matter of getting into a routine.

Oh..and also, I have to get my Alien Registration Card (basically acts as an ID card while I’m here..), and for that I have to get a health check up.  This is supposed to happen on Monday morning, and it basically is a checkup with chest x-ray and a blood sample.
Right.  Blood sample.  I’m pretty much ok with any sort of checkup they want to do, but I have a really bad fear of needles (ie: hyperventilating, etc etc), so the fact that I have to get this done is sort of eating at me.  I know it has to get done, but I wish I could just get knocked out or something instead.   Ugh.  😦 😦 😦

Let’s see, also had a visit to Home Plus (Korean Grocery Store…on crack.  Multiple levels…grocery on one, clothes on another..etc.) , CostCo today with my friend Tracy from home (picked up a lifetime supply of pancake mix, lol), had Korean BBQ (delicious.  will be a recurring thing if I can help it).

Having a pretty good time over here and it’s not as overwhelming as I thought it would be.
Granted, the first few days were a bit intimidating since I don’t know the language and can’t read or speak anything, but I’m getting used to it and it’s all good.
However, I can say ‘thank you’ and can read the symbol for the ‘n’ sound.  So..ya know..progress is progress, lol.

I met an Irish girl last night and she said she’ll be here for a few years and said she can show me a few places where I can take Korean lessons (which I want to least for the basics.  I want to be able to get around over here..and although you can make it with just English, it would make things a lot easier if I could speak at least a little) and there are various clubs and things to join.  I kinda want to join a gym too.

Anyway, lots of stuff to keep me occupied, and I’m doing well.

LAX Airport—2.20.12

Sitting here in LAX writing my next entry on MS Word because free internet access in airports is apparently still not a real thing.
Anyway, it’s 9:55pm here (almost midnight back home) and it’s just been a complete whirlwind of a day.  That’s the weird thing about travel.  Just this morning I ws driving around a rental car and visiting my grandparents one last time and now I’m here in Los Angeles for the first time.  (side note: The little bit I’ve seen already makes me want to come back here someday soon and visit).  I really should have gotten out my camera on the plane because it was really awesome to watch LA appear out of the darkness on the plane.  The city just seemed to stretch out forever…and as we neared closer to the groun, watching the little headlights on the cars zipping through traffic, going about their lives, completely unaware that someone is watching them from the sky.  It was just beautiful.

Aside from LA, I’m also one of the like 20-non Asians that I’ve seen while in the intermational section of this airport, ha.  I know I’ll be in for a shock when I hit Korea.  Also, first impression of Asiana Airlines:  very friendly staff.  And al the flight check-in people were all young, attractive and female.

OI.  Sorry that this post is jumping around a bit, but there’s lots to talk about and my brain is feeling sort of scattered anyway.  Probably also shouldn’t go without saying that I was fighting through a breakdown earlier.  I started off in pretty good spirits…nervous, but overall, pretty excited.  It really stated to hit me on the flight from Denver to LA.  When we started descend, I guess I just realized this was my last American stop, last time being…well…comfortable.  This is my country….I know the language, the customs…and just…yeah.  I don’t really know how to describe it.  Part of me is clinging on to what I know and all that’s familiar.
It’s honestly terrifying.  There’s no getting around it.

I know it’s nerve-wracking for several reasons:
*new language…COMPLETELY new language.  There’s nothing familiar to even grasp at.  I’ve taken Spanish and Italian in school before and with that, I can sort of get a general feeling for other words based on the root…but not with this.
*New job—Um.  I’ve never been a teacher before.  What if I’m terrible at it?  What if I get fired?  etc. etc.
*Length of time–Ths is easily the longest I’ve been away from home.  My backpacking trip was for 6 weeks and that was more for the fun of it, and if I didn’t like a location, I could just leave.

It just feels very binding…and I’m scared as hell.
I know I’ll adjust and I’m feeling better now tha I got myself a bottle of ($3.50!!!) water and a sandwich ($8…wtf).  I’m trying to remind myself just to take is slow  Big, deep breaths.  This is all normal.  And to definitely cut myself some slack.  Of course moving to the other side of the planet is terrifying.  I just had a bit of a breakdown after I got off the phone with my brother (who didn’t realize that he couldn’t just call me when he wanted after this last phone call) and I tried so hard to keep myself from bawling in the middle of the airport.
Anyway, I’m doing better now, as I mentioned.  I have less than two hours til my boarding time and about 2 hours 15 minutes til departure.

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now.  Seriously hoping I can get some sleep on this flight.  Also, I’m seeing more non-Asians walking about…wonder how many of them are going to be teaching, like myself.

Currently Reading:  My Sister’s Keeper (Started reading it on my flight from STL to Denver, currently on pg 141.)

A Good Read

My friend Bethany sent me that link this morning and I wanted to share it.  She’s also teaching English abroad, but in Japan, and is currently on her second year…and loving it.
Anyway, she sent it over and said she thought of me when she read it…and it really is perfect.  Especially since today is departure day, and my brain is practically racing.  It goes back and forth between the possibility of failure/being horrible/hating it, etc. to the prospect of this really being awesome.

This is kind of a crappy post, but I’m in the middle of some last minute stuff before heading to the airport later today.  I’ll post again when I get settled in at an airport…probably LAX (last US stop before Korea) when I have a 4 hour layover.
Anyway, just wanted to share the link 🙂


Final Days and Storing Away My Possessions…

Wow.  What a long day.  Actually, that’s an understatement.

At the end of my last entry, I went to bed around 3:30 or 4 am…woke up at 8 to finish a bit more packing.  Got the rental truck picked up at home around 10:45 and packed more.  My brother and his friend got to my apartment around 12:45 (and my mom around 11:30–she helped me clean a bit until they got there).  Started loading the truck around 1…finished just before 2.
Then drove to the storage unit and unloaded everything.  Finished around 4:30.
I filled the truck up and dropped it back off..thennnn went back to my apartment with my mom and grabbed the remaining things that I didn’t have in boxes and brought them to her place/storage unit.

Finished up around 6pm.

So close to being finished.  So so close.

I need to get back to the apartment tomorrow to clean and drop off my keys.  And that’ll be that.

Last things on the to-do list:
*Clean apartment
*Call AT&T on Monday morning to shut off internet at apartment
*Call Ameren on Monday to continue utilities through end of the month (per apartment contract)
*Double-check all bags–make sure I’ve got everything..cut anything that is un-needed.
*Return rental car

Cant believe this all is actually happening.  I’m going to be on my way to Korea in just over 48 hours.