Have I really been in Korea for almost 2 weeks? WHAT IN THE WORLD.
Life is starting to run quite smoothly here. Things that terrified me a week ago have become familiar. For instance, I no longer tense up when I need to go to the supermarket or order kimbap from my local kimbap place. Also, kimbap is the best. It only costs 2,000 won (about $1.66 in the States) and is perfectly filling. Kimbap for the win.
I started teaching last week, though I didn’t actually teach my first day because classes were cancelled. That seems to happen a lot actually. Classes are always being moved around or cancelled. For instance, tomorrow I only have 1 class and won’t have classes on Tuesday until October! So basically, I have my Tuesdays free this month. I still have to be at school, but that’ll give me a lot of time to make lesson plans (and catch up on Bachelor in Paradise).
I’m still getting used to teaching in a formal classroom with strangers. I honestly feel incredibly bad for the students because they have to learn so much English in only a short amount of time. I can barely remember 3 new Korean words a day! But, I’m going to try and do my best. I genuinely want my students to improve their English skills. I now see how beneficial learning another language can be. I’m sure a lot of teachers only come here to travel and meet people (that’s partly why I did too), but now that I’m here, I think my priorities have shifted — I want to help my students and of course, also experience as many new things as possible.
I already feel as though I’ve learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of.
This past weekend, I joined a hiking group I found on meetup.com. Thank the Lord for that website. I was super nervous to go alone to an online meetup, but everyone was incredibly friendly and open. I met one girl right away which helped ease the tension. We went to Bukhansan National Park, which is a little north of Seoul/north in Seoul.
The hiking part was crazy. I’ve hiked quite a bit in the US, but never for 6 hours! And most of it was uphill. My thighs are still screaming in pain. But the view at the tippity top was absolutely worth the pain. I was concerned about how flimsy the rocks seemed up there. After all, those boulders are not going to be there forever. Thankfully, they stood for us on Saturday.
Afterwards, our group ate at a Korean restaurant, where I shared duck with someone I met on the hike. I really enjoy how common it is to share meals here. Family style is the best style. Especially since it means food can be cheaper.
I slept in on Sunday and pretty much spent all morning in bed. Finally, I decided to get up and go to a church I found online in Seoul. The church was nice, but I didn’t really feel connected there so I think I’m going to try another church next week. Then, I took the hour and a half commute home. Basically, I was in subways and buses longer than I was in church.
Living in rural Korea is beautiful, but it can be a real pain when traveling. First of all, that $2 it costs to get to the subway station might not seem like a lot, but it can really add up! It also takes about 45 minutes to get the subway station and then another hour to get to Seoul. What sucks about this isn’t the time it takes to travel, but the fact that the last bus for home leaves at 10 pm. This means I may have to leave future gatherings early if I want to make it on the last bus home. Otherwise, I’ll have to stay in a Jjimjilbang, at a friend’s house or spend $30 for a taxi.
All of those choices are just plain inconvenient when it’s past 10 o’clock at night.
For now, I’m just trying to make friends, find better ways to make my lessons more engaging for the students and do lots of adventurous things. I’ve already signed up for 2 tours, one next weekend and the other during Chuseok (a holiday here in Korea where I get 2 days off from work!). It’s surprising that the majority of people I’ve met here haven’t traveled much outside of the Seoul area at all. Some people haven’t even been to the palaces! Everyone tells me that daily life gets in the way of traveling, but I hope that doesn’t happen to me. I didn’t come all the way to Korea to hang out at bars or cafes every weekend. There is so much to do and see!