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Jo's Korean and Other Crazy Adventures Jo is coming back to teach in China for a second year that is sure to be filled with new crazy adventures!

My Three Week Whirlwind

SOUTH KOREA | Sunday, 9 September 2012 | Views [1023]

I can't believe it! Three weeks have already flown by. So much has happened in the last three weeks since I arrived back in Korea. I decided to return to Korea for the fourth time. After realizing that I was going nowhere in Canada and with no full-time job - I decided to go back to a place where I had so many wonderful memories and friends. My first  three weeks here in Korea have been like a whirlwind. 

I arrived in Seoul for four days in order to visit my long time Korean friend and her husband. They had recently had a baby and I was excited to meet them after not seeing them for a few years. It felt like we had never parted as I spent time with them like we used to do. In my first few years in Korea we had spent a lot of time together and it was so good to see them again. I could not believe that I arrived in Seoul sicker than a dog. I had caught a cold on the long flight from Chicago to Seoul. With all the cold air blowing most of the flight, I must have developed a chill. I was coughing and feeling exhausted as I arrived. I ended up sleeping in a love motel for three nights.

I was hoping to stay with Sooyeon and Dan, but they didn't have much room in their apartment to host me. Sooyeon showed me a decent place to stay near her apartment. I was so exhausted that I was fearing that the cheap ($35/night) room may have cockroaches since it was so darn hot out. The weather hit me like a tonne of bricks when I walked out of Incheon airport. The air was so hot and humid you could cut a knife through it.

So back to the love motel story. Since I hate bugs, I was determined to check the room for any signs of bugs before I said yes to stay at this Love motel. A love motel is a name they call motels where young Korean couples go to before they are married to do the deed. Since most young people live with their parents until they marry, they have nowhere to go for privacy. Hence the term, 'Love Motel'.

I decided since I was so sick and wiped from the 15 hour flight I had just come from, that I'd chance staying at that love hotel even if there were bugs. I really just needed to sleep. I felt like I wanted to sleep forever at that point. I barely slept on the flight as I kept coughing most of the way as well as conversing with the cool American guy who sat next to me.

I sure did sleep. The room smelled of mold from the air conditioner, but at least I had an air conditioner was my thought process at the time. I ended up staying three nights there as it was clean, private and pretty quiet.

After three days in Seoul, I took a domestic flight from Gimpo to Ulsan airport where I had a job waiting. On one hand, part of me wanted to stay in Seoul because I knew it so well. Having spent three years total (from 05-08) teaching English in the concrete jungle, I felt comfortable there. I also was looking for a new change and challenge so I got a job teaching English in Ulsan.

When I arrived in Ulsan, I was picked up by a lady who worked for the MOE. She took me to the location where I would have a one week training/orientation. The orientation site was not in the main city center and I thought it was a bit out of the way. I was still feeling sick and couldn't shake the cold I had. It didn't help that I was still freaked out by the one hour frightful flight from Seoul to Ulsan. I really thought I was going to die as we were trying to land in Ulsan. The clouds were so black and low as we were descending that I couldn't see a thing. The plane was shaking and I thought we were going to crash. I was making sounds like 'Oh, my God' as we were going through the clouds, and I was starting to get looks from the Koreans across the aisle from me. Thankfully, we eventually landed in one piece, but I was visibly shaken from the experience. There was only one other foreigner on the plane and he was an older German man who seemed oblivious to the crazy weather conditions.

I digressed for a moment. For the one week orientation I was placed in a room that had three smaller room with two bunk beds in each room. There were two showers, and two bathrooms. I had a roommate and had to sleep on the top bunk. I wasn't really looking forward too much to the training, because I had done a similar training in Seoul two years in a row. I still felt sick and somewhat old. I believe I must have been the oldest person in the whole training with 40 other teachers from all over the globe. It didn't matter to me that I was older actually. I did notice it though in certain respects. I couldn't hop onto or jump off of a top bunk like I did in my twenties.

I ended up being sick for most of the training which really made the experience not so delightful. I tried my best, but I certainly wasn't as social as I usually am. The days were planned and long. I was counting down the days to be able to get to my location and start teaching.

I started feeling somewhat better by the end of the orientation. I met some really cool people and found out that a few of them would be placed near me. I only found out after orientation started that I would be placed in a school out of the city center. I asked a lot of people where my school was and they didn't seem so sure. I was getting a bit nervous as to where I was going to be considering no one seemed to know where it was.

Eventually I found out that I was about 30 minutes south of the main city. By what I was told, I was halfway between downtown Ulsan and downtown Busan. I was a bit worried about being out in the middle of nowhere and if I would like it. My worries were put to rest when I met my co-teacher. She seemed super nice and answered all of my questions. Her English was very good and she took me to the Bank and Immigration right after we met. My cough had turned into a very sore throat by the end of training and I was thinking that I may have strep throat. 

I tried to be myself, but it was hard. I could hardly talk and felt so tired from the long week and from fighting a cold. The last thing I felt like doing on the day I met my co-teacher was go to the bank and to immigration. I knew that she was doing it all to get it out of the way since we live so far from the city center. I tried to make the best of it and did tell her how I was feeling. She told me she would take me to the pharmacy to get stuff for my throat. I was so grateful that she had said that.

I ended up getting stuff for my throat and she brought me to my apartment by about 8pm that day. I had Saturday and Sunday to rest before I started at the school on Monday.

I started to feel a bit better by Monday and was so happy to have a really nice and clean apartment that was furnished. The area where I live seemed small, but there seemed to be stuff here and I was looking forward to exploring it.

So it was three weeks yesterday that I arrived in Ulsan. I finally feel back to myself and have been settling in quite well. I love my school and my students. My area is quiet and I am about a ten minute bus ride to Jinha beach. I have met some foreigners in this area and we go out at least once a week. I found a gym, sauna and a few good restaurants. I have also decided to study Korean and learn how to read and write it. I found a Korean girl at my school who wants to meet once a week to teach me Korean and practice her English. I met her for the first time yesterday and she has helped me already learn how to read Korean. I hope to study by myself everyday and also learn more vocabulary.

I travelled into Ulsan city center only one time since I've been here. I hope to take the train to Busan soon. There is a train station in my area that has a train that goes to Haeundae beach in about 40 minutes. I have so much more exploring to do and I can't wait. My goal is to save money this year, but I still want to do a bit of travelling. I was thinking that I might visit Bali, Indonesia in January on my two week break. First I have to get paid first. I only get my first paycheck in two weeks.

I forgot to mention that since I've been here, we've caught the tail end of two typhoons. School was cancelled one day because of the heavy wind and rain from the tail end of the typhoon. I have thought that these last three weeks have been like a typhoon. They have went by rapidly and the experience has went by as a bit of a blur. No, I haven't been hallucinating, because I have indeed arrived in this amazing country.


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