Existing Member?

Vagabonding There is no shortcut to anywhere worth going.

Welcome to Tong Yeong: The America Story

SOUTH KOREA | Saturday, 3 April 2010 | Views [705] | Comments [2]

                So I arrive in Busan at 9:30pm, both my bags showed up, I met my recruiter and I was tired, but happy.   Twenty four straight hours of travelling does not do the body well at all.   The next day was mostly an adrenal rushed blur.  We were picked up at 8am from the hotel  and wisked off  to the Education Office to meet our co teachers and other EPIK (English Program in Korea) teachers that were coming in to the program at the same time.   I had Kimbop for the first time, as breakfast.  Yep sushi roll for breakfast is completely normal.  Sushi roll at any or all times is completely normal.   Then I had  the premixed hazelnut coffee that I am sure will be the end of my trying to only have one serving of caffeine a day.  The education office was cool because I got to meet a dozen other GETs (Guest English Teachers) that are now scattered all about the same province as me.  I also went to my first Emart in Busan.  Imagine a four story Super Walmart, that is Emart, oh but add a Baskin Robbins and a food court and a dozen coffee stands. 

                Eventually Helen (my co teacher) and I were connected.  We drove the two hours from Busan to Tong Yeong with some hard conversation, getting to know each other’s accents and pronunciations.   The man who had my job before was from the UK and so my pronunciation has been a bit difficult for the people at my school to understand, plus I talk really fast.  It is an east coast thing, even being in Yellowstone the Summer 2009, I learned I had to slow things down, but that is nothing compared to how I have to speak here.  Helen speaks English pretty well though since she studied in Australia for a year.  We went to the school to meet the Principal and other teachers, so pretty much I just sat there listening to people talking about me and not understanding anything at all.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to that.   Then Helen brought me to my apartment and I was relieved that it was as nice as it is!  Then we went out for a traditional Korean meal which was delicious.  Every meal here is served with rice and soup and then usually 6 to 10 small side dishes. 

                After dinner Helen dropped me off at a PC bong, so an internet café, so I could write my Mom to tell her I made it here alive.  When I left, I headed in the direction of my apartment but at night everything looked much different.  Flashing bill boards and nothing written in English anywhere at all.  It started raining and I was not prepared for that.  So I am walking around in circles around where my apartment should be.   Walking passed the same places over and over, I know my apartment must be somewhere close by!  I got more afraid and more afraid, all I had was Helen’s cell phone number and no phone to call her with. 

Walking by a bar, four Korean men drunkenly pour out onto the sidewalk and spot me.  One man throws his hands up into the air and goes “America”!  I started laughing and asked, “do you speak English?  Will  you help me, I’m lost.”  And to this he responds by throwing his hands up into the air and saying “Aaamerrriccccaaaaaaaaa” again.  Eventually I used my hands to coax him into letting me use his cell phone to call Helen.  She answers and I say… “Helen, I am close to my apartment but I am lost, could you tell this man where I live so he can tell me how to get home.”  She was worried about me but eventually spoke with the man and told him where I needed to be.  He began trying to explain but with the language barrier there was no understanding between us until he grabbed my hand and pulled me to the taxi where his friends were waiting for him.  He tossed me into the back seat with him and his two other friends.  One businessman was now sitting on the other ones lap so I’d have room.   He just kept saying “have a nice day” over and over and over while the man who tossed me in the cab kept saying “Amerrrriicccaaa”!  They pushed me out of the cab at a corner I had walked by a half a dozen times and went on their way.   All I could do was laugh and when I finally found my apartment building I could’ve cried I was so happy!     

Tags: first night in south korea, lost, south korea, teaching abroad, tongyeong



Christina - You seem to be making your beginning days in Tong Yeong go very well: your strong, adventuresome nature is serving you very well - it seems. We(Jeanne and I) look forward to reading about your ongoing adventures; hopefully, our messages get to you, so we can have some type of dialogue, as we go forward. We continue to pray for you having a safe and blessed time of it during your year in South Korea. Love, Uncle Lar and Aunt Jeanne

  Uncle Larry Petit Apr 13, 2010 10:20 AM


Ive already heard this story, but the ending made me die laughing all over again!

  Cristina Jun 9, 2010 3:07 PM



Travel Answers about South Korea

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.