Monthly Archives: June 2012

photo update 1

I haven’t been taking as many photos as I should be, but here’s some I did take with my iphone.


One of my first classes. These kids work so hard.

 


The view from my balcony in Suwon.


T
he typical night scene at the main strip of bars and restaurants in Ingyedong, Suwon. Right around the corner from where I live and work.

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First night out

Annyeonghaseo from Suwon city!

I’m sitting in my beautiful RENT FREE apartment in downtown Suwon using somebody’s free wifi signal. I am still jet lagged and processing everything so just I’ll start from the beginning. I arrived in Incheon airport yesterday at 3:30pm, everything went as smooth as possible. As soon as I got my bags I exchanged my currency and walked through the doors to find a crowd of people holding up signs for various people. I saw my name, went up to the guy and said “that’s me!” and he took my suitcase and walked me out to his car. Everything went so fast and smooth, I can’t stress that enough.

The ride to my apartment was around an hour I think? Time was not really a concept to me at the moment. I was so happy to be in Korea that I didn’t pay attention to the time. Plus after the long day of travelling, 1 hour was nothing. On the drive from Incheon to Suwon, we crossed a massive 20km long bridge (about 7 miles long) called Incheon Bridge, the driver told me it only took them 2 years to make and they just finished it a couple years ago. Here’s a photo I snapped of the bridge from my cab ride. I was amazed.

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I took some video footage of the trip which will be posted later, I’m working with minimal battery on my laptop and don’t have a power converter yet!

So after I arrived at my apartment in Suwon, my head teacher Stephan was sitting right outside at a picnic table waiting for me. He introduced himself and showed me to my apartment which is directly next door to the school. It would actually take longer for me to wait for the elevator and walk outside my apartment building than it would to walk to the school…it’s literally right next door. The school building is huge and must be one of the larger hagwons in Suwon.

So after the quick little tour, Stephan told me he would take me out later for some Korean food and beverages with the other teachers. So we met up, he introduced me to some other foreign teachers (+1 Korean friend) and we walked right down the block from me where there is an endless amount of bars and restaurants. So we went to my first Korean restaurant which has grills inside the tables. This is the moment I fell in love with Korea and realized I made a great decision. The food came out faster than McDonalds, almost immediately after ordering. Before I could even turn around the whole table was full of all kinds of dishes, appetizers, 2 big slabs of pork on the grill, kimchi, beers and soju. Oh – by the way – soju is way better than I expected. I took my first shot of it and didn’t even need to chase it. It’s not delicious or anything but it tastes way better than vodka to me. The dining experience was incredible and this is when I really felt like “woah this is it.” It was a great introduction to Korea, my co-teachers are amazingly friendly people and we got along great almost immediately.

After we finished up, we went to another bar down the street which none of them had been to yet. We walked up the stairs and to a rather empty but nice looking bar. To my surprise, there was a decent selection of foreign beers, which is something I was worried about. But I was relieved to find that I actually don’t mind Cass (the Bud type beer of Korea). The group expanded here. I met about 3 or 4 more foreign teachers from the states and we all got to know each other a little more. After a few beers here, we all went to the next spot – a downstairs bar with pool tables and darts, again pretty empty (it was Sunday night though). We played pool here and drank more, also I was surprised that they were blasting current American hip-hop which was awesome to hear cause Korean rap is terrible.

Anyway, that was my first night out in Korea. I am kicking myself for not taking photos but there will be plenty more of this as its a pretty typical night out here. In short, I am already loving it here. I got free wifi in my apartment and a really nice setup in a beautiful part of the city. I start teaching today so that is happening in a couple hours. Although I feel pretty confident going into it since I spent a night out with some of my co-workers already and they even assured me they would help introduce me to the kids today.  So I will be teaching a class within less than 24 hours of arriving in Korea. Pretty crazy but this is what I came here for.

Love you all. More pics and videos to come later.

Bye for now.

Saying goodbye to friends and family is without a doubt the hardest part about leaving home for a year. I suck at goodbyes and I am not a very sentimental person, but the memories I’ve had with my friends and family back home will stick with me stronger than ever while I am half way across the globe from them. I have only known what it is like to be within an hour to most of my friends and family, so being in a foreign country without any of them there will be strange. Yet their support for this adventure I am about to embark upon has been way stronger than I expected, which strengthens me throughout this transition. I will miss all of them individually and will often recall certain memories that for the most part will make me laugh and smile. Thank you all for being so supportive of me and for the great times. I love you all.

(Insert your favorite “goodbye” song here, or don’t. You don’t have to.)

The year will go by fast and we will reunite soon enough.

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destination: 수원시

Here’s a little about where I’ll be moving to in 2 weeks for the next year.

Suwon is a city 30 km (19 miles) south of Seoul. It is the provincial capital of Gyeonggi-do with a population of over 1 million and is the only walled city in South Korea. Being the main tourist attraction of Suwon, the wall surrounding the center of the city was constructed in the late 18th century and has kind of an extensive and crazy history behind it. In short, the fortress was built by King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty to honour and house the remains of his father, who had been murdered by being locked alive inside a rice chest by his own father having failed to obey his command to commit suicide.

MORE:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suwon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hwaseong_Fortress

 

360 view of my neighborhood in Ingyedong, Suwon

http://www.360cities.net/image/suwon-ingye-dong-cgv-movie-korea#539.75,-1.81,70.0