“The Fountain Runneth Over”

Believe it or not, I could write a new blog post every 5 minutes. That is how frequently something irksome happens at work. The latest event took place just three hours ago. Settle in, kids…

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As some of you may know from reading my blog or because you’ve been granted a special permit to contact me in person, teachers in Korea have to run camps during the summer and winter. Both of my schools are low-income, so they don’t have pizza parties or a buffet of snacks for the kids like other schools do. In one of my other posts, I broke down each of my co-teachers. This event takes place at my second school, with Chicken Little.

So, about a week ago, C.L. sits me down so we can go over camp stuff. She tells me how many students I’ll have, what the schedule is, etc. THEN she says, “Since we have no budget, students and teachers will go home after we finish the day.”

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I almost said, “Come again?” In Korea, there is NO such thing as “going home early.” You stay at your desk until you die, and then you hold your funeral there. We aren’t even really allowed to use sick days, so going home early? Forget about it! So when she said that, I just nodded my head. The following is the EXACT conversation that took place…

“Sobe, do you understand?”

“I think…we can leave for home after we’re done teaching?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, so when WE finish teaching, we can leave? At 12:20?”

“Yes, we can all go home. There is no budget for lunch or snacks, so we are done after our last class!”

“I’m so happy. I can’t believe it.”

“Yes this is rare BUT because we have no budget, it is okay!”

Fast-forward to today: August 1, 2016. The first day of camp goes by without a hitch. It’s Harry Potter themed so f*** yeah, the kids are excited. I’m excited. Everyone’s just LIVING their best life! The last class ends and a teacher (rando from school) comes up to me and says, “Sobe, you will go home now?” “Yes.” She smiled. I smiled.

I walk to my office. All of the lights are off in the school. There is no sound, all fans are off, and it’s so quiet and serene…That’s when I should have known…

I pack my bags and send my co-teacher a message saying that I’m leaving for the day, MAKING SURE it’s okay. No response. I wait around for 15 minutes and then decide to go. Now, I live 15 minutes away from this school and this is Korea SO it’s humid af! Basically walking through molasses. I get home. Take off all of the unnecessary clothing (really, isn’t it all unnecessary?) and just as I settle in to binge “The Hills”, I hear it. The alert tone from my Korean messaging app…

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And before even opening it I just…

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Remember, I messaged her BEFORE I left the school, asking if it was okay. So now, a good 40 minutes has passed!

“I don’t think so. I had lunch with other teachers at school. I hope you come to school as soon as possible.”

I’M ALREADY HOME. THE AIR IS ON. IT’S 205.5 DEGREES OUTSIDE. KIMCHI AIN’T ALL THAT!

I wanted to respond with ALL of that! Come back?! COME BACK?!

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Instead, I just said, “Okay, see ya in a bit!” and I made the trek back. The worst part is that when I got here, she said she THINKS I have to stay because some other teachers are here working and SHE didn’t want to go home. I mentioned (I think) that Chicken Little has intense anxiety, combined with nosiness. She’s actually eyeballing my screen right now as I’m typing this -___- . Luckily, I have two more days of camp with her and then I am free from this anxiety-ridden place for two weeks!

CAN’T WAIT.

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F*CK the Police…And Korean Banks”

The cops are fine for now, but Korean banks and banking?

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I mentioned before that banking in Korea is the dumbest part about living in a country that is so technologically advanced. Personally, I don’t believe in hell BUT combined with the humidity that’s currently going on, banking here just might make me a believer. Here are some things to remember:

  1. Banks operate the exact same hours that you are working
  2. The only way to get to a bank is to take time off of work
  3. Any official bank business (getting actual, useful help, etc) must be done during the week
  4. The bank is open on Sundays for foreigners
  5. You HAVE to be very specific about what you expect from your debit/credit cards
  6. You need your passport
  7. No one remembers their passport because only idiots carry it around

What I mean about being specific is that here, you will get a basic card when you open a new account. But as I mentioned before, it is so basic that you can only use it at the ATM located at the SAME bank you got your card from. If you want to actually use your card at other ATM’s, to actually purchase items in stores, to online shop, etc, you have to tell them! This is why I have spent basically every other Sunday waiting for 1 1/2 to 4 hours to “get my affairs in order.”

I also mentioned that Sundays the bank is open for all foreigners. This means the bank is PACKED with Indonesians, Sri Lankans, Indians, etc. And they’re all those creepy types that you usually get random friend requests from. You know? The kind of guys that have NO business wearing open-toed sandals, yet they insist? The kind of guys that signed a pact and vowed to never use deodorant? Those guys. I also mentioned that at Korean banks, you have to take a number and these mofos roll in DEEP packs and take ONE number. Then they stampede the teller when the number is called and make it so everyone else at the bank has to wait hours to be helped. As soon as I see them I just…

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WELL this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down…because of my new debit card. Now, about two weeks ago, I’d had it with the banks. I woke up early, tied my hair back a la Steven Seagal, strapped on my machete, and headed for the door. I was determined to get a card that worked for EVERYTHING. The subway, online shopping, ATM’s, traveling outside of Korea, telling me when my eyebrow hairs were getting out of line, and EVERYTHING/ANYTHING else. I translated into Korean all of my hopes and dreams for the new card. I knew what colleges I wanted it to apply to and what type of man I wanted it to marry. I got to the bank and FINALLY got this card. I even made sure to TRIPLE check with the teller that it would work for everything. Everything was fine for the first week and a half- that is until I tried to book my summer vacation.

The travel expert that I am, I spent weeks watching the prices of flights go up and down and decided to wait until closer to the date I want to leave to book my ticket. This has worked so well in the past and when the time was right, I set out to book my travel. But just as I entered in my card details and hit “confirm purchase,” I got sent over to the bank’s website. This just brought up an immediate feeling of

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NOTHING IS EVER AS WONDERFUL AS IT SEEMS IN KOREA! Seriously, the chapter of my memoir that talks about Korea will be titled, “Too Good to be True: I’m F***ed.” Getting sent to the bank’s page usually means you’re going to have to install programs and certificates and blah blah blah. So much garbage just to use your own money because Koreans take being hacked VERY seriously because they are VERY gullible and get hacked constantly. So basically, I type in all of my information and then you have to wait for a service to call you so you can punch in a secret code and THEN you can finish your purchase. It is a pain in the dick each and every time. Anyways, I kept getting a message telling me I couldn’t use my card, but of course it was all in Korean. I called the English helpline and they told me it was a problem with my card and that I would have to call the card company BUT they always say that SO I just lied and said the card company sent me to them (again, they’re gullible af) so they told me to go to the bank and see what’s what. Still a sendoff but whatever. The bank in Korea and I have been brought together by fate and I have just accepted that we will have a standing date every two weeks. It’s destiny.

But that’s not where this story ends. My wonderful co-teacher was also pissed about this situation. This is Winnie and I love her because there are times when she clearly has such strong disdain for Korea that it makes my heart flutter! I like it here, but when someone hates something with you, it’s one of the most bonding experiences you can…experience. Shut up. Since she speaks Korean, she took over and worked her way through all of the passwords and codes. She took my phone to my phone carrier to make sure it wasn’t a communication error. Nothing. Winnie couldn’t figure it out and I knew I would have to go to the bank. I got to the bank, grabbed a number, and took a seat next to a guy that was experimenting with how long he could let his toenails AND toe hair grow. When my number was finally called, I went to the teller and told her everything. I navigated to the error screen that kept popping up and she told me to have a seat. After a few minutes, she hands me my phone to tell me that she locked me out. She typed in my card information wrong too many times and locked my card. SHE locked ME out and said I should call the English helpline tomorrow so they can issue me a new code and I can COME back and fix the issue…

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Then she sent me on my way because there were “many people waiting for help.” I tell you, I completely understand that the US has its problems. Honestly, before I came to Korea, I was never all, “I’m an American!” But now…

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Come back tomorrow? Americans aren’t a “come back tomorrow” type of  people. We’re a “Listen bitch, I’M HERE NOW!” type of people. Come back tomorrow? Fugg outta here!!! I will NEVER again complain about Chase or any other bank back home. They may rob us in service fees and you may not feel comfortable putting your money in them because SOMEHOW they always find a way to get to it BUT still. At least you FEEL like you have power. At LEAST they attempt to kiss your ass when you’re there! Korean banks don’t even have free lollipops! WHAT KIND OF A SHAM IS THIS!? But, there was nothing I could do. I just had to swallow that idiot’s mistake and do what I have to do.

If anyone who works in banking here is reading this:

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Thank you guys for reading and I hope you fall to the feet of your bank teller the next time you see them. It could be worse. IT COULD BE WAY WORSE~

“Lord Voldemort Is Still ALIVE”

It is seriously too hot for anyone to be at work right now! I should be finishing up my summer camp plans, but honestly, let them eat cake.

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One of my responsibilities as a teacher is to plan Summer/Winter camps for the students while they’re on break. I’m not sure about other cities in Korea, but in Daegu, we are constantly hearing about how the schools have “no budget.”  But then they ask you for a materials list for your camp. It basically goes:

“Sobe, do you know what materials you need for camp?”

“Oh, I didn’t know we could ask for materials.”

“We have a SMALL budget for camp, so if you tell me I can try to get them.”

“Okay, well that can really change my lesson plans, so what’s the budget?”

“It is small. We might have no budget…so can you tell me what materials you need?”

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KOREA.

Anyways, today’s tale involves Lord Voldemort and yet another one of her, “You want to kill me, but the joke is on you because I CAN’T DIE!” moments. In this case, she asked me for a list for my summer camp. I kept it short and sweet:

-Construction paper
-Clay
-Chopsticks

Logically, she freaked out:

“OH! It’s cause we have a small budget.”

“Okay, well…how many kids are coming to camp?”

“80.”

“And it’s for 5 days, right?”

“Yes.”

“So…”

“Can you come shopping with me?”

“Sure, just let me know when you want to go.”

“Right now. I’m already outside.”

Two things- her telling me/ asking me things last minute is CONSTANT. At that point, it was 4:25. We finish work at 4:30 and since we had NO class that day, we could have EASILY went earlier! Now I would have to go after work with zero notice. The second thing is that going anywhere with her involves picking up her baby. ALWAYS. We could be going to an orgy and we would still have to pick her baby up first. And it is never convenient. It always involves going to her house first to check in with her parents and then waiting for the bus to drop her daughter off. Also, shopping with a toddler? Unless its my own niece/nephew, NO THANKS. So to say the least, before we even got to the store I was IRRITATED. I just sat in the car, listening to her baby talk with her daughter, thinking:

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She takes me to this large department store called “Home-Plus” that sells everything you could ever want- groceries, clothes, hedgehogs. After struggling to put her daughter into the cart and convincing her daughter that it was going to be “so much fun!” we started our adventure. LV immediately pulled out a piece of paper and a pen so she could tally everything up. We get to the art section of the store and start looking at clay. I asked what our budget was and she said it was 50,000 WON…that’s basically $49. For 80 kids. For 5 days. This has to cover all materials, snacks, prizes, etc. The smart thing to do would have been to just turn around and go home, but I just smiled and told her that maybe clay wasn’t the best idea. It cost way too much and when I suggested ordering online so we could buy in bulk for cheaper, she basically gave me a look that said, “Listen here, bitch. We’re finishing this shit TODAY.” We ended up getting a pack of chopsticks and a bunch of packs for construction paper, which brought our grand total to *DRUMROLL* $20. So we still had roughly $30 to spend. I suggested getting snacks and prizes and that’s when she started to panic yet again…

“Let’s get snacks and prizes since they’re cheap and we can really use them.”

“Um, it’s just cause I do the budget for the teacher’s dinners and events and we can use this money and we don’t have a big budget and it could be for more things…”

That’s exactly what she said -_____-. She frustrates me like no other. I wanted to be like, “Biiiiiiiiiitch! We only have $50 to plan a WHOLE ASS summer camp AND you want to take the rest of the little money we DO have to use it for some other shit?!” I was beyooooond done with her at this point! Like I could not care LESS about teacher’s events and the budget because I am not even included in said events and I honestly felt and feel like she’s setting camp up for failure. In the end, I just gave her an “I’m DONE” look and she said, “Let’s go look at the snacks.” As soon as we hit the beginning of the candy/snack aisle, she saw there was a sale on these nasty, generic Snickers and grabbed two packs of them. “This is perfect and it’s only 10,000 WON ($10) for 2!” Then she threw them in the cart and started heading toward the check-out aisle. Now, if you can do basic math, our grand total was $30 so far. I suggested we get some prizes for the students and she walked me over to the $1 toy section and the moment I picked anything up, she started freaking out and scribbling and scratching out numbers on her little piece of paper. She cut me off and said that we hit the limit and started rushing to checkout. Our total ended up being $40 SO she threw in two packs of tape (for her personal use!) that brought the total up to $50…

After we boxed everything up, she looked at me and said, “Sobe, I have a lot of shopping to do so maybe…”

DONE. She meant that she still wanted to grocery shop, so if I could just fuck off, that would be so perfect. She started looking at her watch and trying to decide how to best go about getting rid of me because she drove us to the store. She suggested that I wait and she would send a message when she was finished. I told her that I also had to shop and would just grab the subway home. “OH really?! Okay! See you Monday! It’s so far away!” NOT FAR ENOUGH DOEEEEEEE!

The worst part is that other teachers who I’ve spoken to have budgets in the HUNDREDS range for their camps, but I’m told that an application process is involved in securing a budget and I know that LV would neeeever take the time to do all that! Anytime I ask her to do anything, she just…

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Lord help us all these last few weeks….
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“Teaching On My Last Damn Nerve”

AGH LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL!!! I can’t wait to bust outta here likeeeeee

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Today I wanted to talk about co-teaching, specifically my co-teachers. One of the perks of teaching in Korea as opposed to other countries is that you get a co-teacher. You’re not alone in the classroom. You have someone to translate. You have someone to observe and feed off of. Basically, you’re not just thrown into the lion’s den with a bunch of kids who have no idea what you’re saying…BUT. This. Is. Not. Usually. The. Case. I wanted people to read that slowly, especially if they’re a new teacher or looking into teaching abroad. I PROMISE that no one tells you about co-teachers UNTIL you get here. THEN and only then do you start to hear the stories… There are no two people that have the same relationship with their co-teachers. Everyone has a different story. Some people are best friends with their co-teachers and really form a lasting bond. Some people end up reporting their co-teachers to the Office of Education -_-.  Now, your co is supposed to be your go-to person. They are the first person you have in your new life. They are supposed to help set you up for success at work and for the rest of your time in Korea. Setting you up includes:

  • Showing you your new apartment
  • Showing you where you’ll be working
  • Getting you your Alien Registration Card
  • Setting up your bank account
  • Setting you up with a phone if you choose
  • Taking you shopping
  • ETC

Now, in my case and sooooooooo SO many others, not all of this happens according to plan. I recently spent my Sunday morning at the bank for the FOURTH time since I’ve been to Korea and this ALL could have been avoided if my co-teacher hadn’t been such a careless person. I actually have four co-teachers, as I’ve mentioned before, but everyone has one main co-teacher. In those first few months, she/he is your link to all of the administrative business, apartment issues, life in Korea, etc. Now, even though these people are “English” teachers, they can’t always speak English. Yes, not all English teachers in Korea can actually speak English. This can cause lots of problems when you start working with them. There is a whole spectrum that your co-teachers can land on. Sometimes, they’re so grateful to have an English teacher, they give you full reign of the classroom. Sounds nice, until you need someone to translate or you’ve never taught before. Sometimes, your co-teacher can’t speak English very well and this results in a real power struggle between the two of you. They don’t know what you’re saying and they don’t like that, so they carefully monitor you and breathe down your neck and try to hijack lessons as much as they can. Your co-teacher might speak great English, which can result in them constantly interrupting you in class to correct you, ask random questions, etc. On the rare occasion, you’ll have a great relationship where you are both in sync with class and your co-teacher translates, let’s you actually speak to students, etc. SO RARE, yet so wonderful. I have a mix of EVERYTHING. This is a breakdown of my co-workers and my experiences with them…

Lord Voldemort– Nough’ said. This is my main co. She is, how the French would say, “Le Poo.” “Lord Voldemort” is honestly too good of a name for her… Anyways, she is the one with the baby who, together, manage to be the bane of my existence. My first few weeks in her class, she told the students I was the “Human Computer” and asked me to stand in the back of the room. The students had to ask me for help with spelling…and that was it. SO my first few months, I just stood in the back and said and did nothing UNLESS one of the kids needed help. This caused major problems when it was time for my open class…more on that later! She is someone who can NEVER be bothered, but has no problem bothering everyone. Seriously, the teacher who I replaced actually had dinner with me to tell me about how awful a time she had because of the same teacher. There are SO SO SO many examples of why she is the worst, and they include:

  • Leaving me all alone my first night/weekend here in Korea
  • Being an idiot at the bank which has resulted in me returning there on my days off FOUR TIMES to correct what could have been avoided if she wasn’t always rushing
  • Making sure her baby comes with us EVERYWHERE ALWAYS
  • Confusing “useless” information with useful information
  • THIS LIST COULD GO ON FOR CENTURIES

How I feel before/during/after ANY interaction with her:

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Chicken Little- Aside from having a baby voice and wearing very large glasses, this co-worker also has a habit of bobbing around my desk/face when she needs to speak with me OR she is just being nosy as hell, which is OFTEN. This particular co-teacher works at my second school, which if you’ll remember, is already hell. Now, she’s a kind person, but, as I suspect is the case with MANY of our co-teachers, her English is not good, so sometimes, she is too direct because she doesn’t know how else to say/ask something. At first, I would get so annoyed that she was really obsessed with time and constantly cutting my lessons or telling me to wrap things up, only to find out I still had a good 5-7 minutes left! She also insists on talking on the phone directly next to me in her baby voice ALL DAY. Besides that, she started trying to take my lessons over my first few weeks here, so I started using language and bigger words that I KNEW she didn’t understand. That way, I HAD to do the lesson. She also LOVES to start discussions with me, ask me to change lessons, etc at 4:20, when we get off work at 4:30. She is one of the first people I started saying, “NO” to, but that hasn’t stopped her from TRYING IT. She RARELY translates anything in class so I’m basically all, “Bueller? Bueller?” for 40 minutes straight. She also questions my every move and is CONSTANTLY staring at my computer screen. No shame.  I could also go on and on about her and the other ways that she PUSHES my buttons, but I truly believe she has high-functioning autism. She has many of the traits I would associate with it, and this has helped me to remain so patient with her.

As soon as I hear, “Um, Sobe?” at 4:20…

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Ming Lee- This isn’t actually her name BUT I actually have no idea what my co-teachers’ names are at my second school and this is what I call her in my head. They’ve called me by the old teacher’s name TWICE now, so I don’t really care  -_- .  Anyways, Ming is actually a substitute teacher. My real co-teacher got really sick a few months back and she’s replacing her until next semester. She’s young and cool and I have no real issues with her. The only time she was ever IRKY was during my open class with the Vice Principal and Principal. Again, it was one of my first times teaching this particular group of students and she was super anxious about the open class all day. We had agreed beforehand that I would teach and she would help the lower-level students if I was busy helping the student who was at the board (this activity required students to use the white board at the front of the room). Anyways, the Principal and VP forgot to come to the class and Ming didn’t remind them, so she calls them IN THE MIDDLE of class and they come up during all of the chaos. They then had a meeting about me and said I should have been walking around more. I asked Ming if she mentioned that it was her suggestion that I NOT do this and she said, “I did not say this.” It was just an awful experience. Besides that, she’s cool and this is really my last week with her.

When it comes to her:

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Winnie the Pooh– My co-teacher who is ridiculously cool and probably the only reason I haven’t left Korea yet. Literally, an angel here and so, so cool. Winnie is always MORE than willing to help. So far, she has helped me order things online, installed the McDelivery app on my phone (praise him!), called around to get prices for me on various occasions, taken me shopping, invited me to go out, ETC. She is always willing to help ALWAYS and often asks me if I need anything. I can talk to her about so much (except Lord Voldemort because oddly enough, they’re good friends) and she has a real sense of humor and such a good soul. I could go on and on.  I really  wish for the sake of any other teacher coming to this school that Winnie could be their main contact here, but she’s leaving next year, which is also a big reason I won’t be staying at this school, if I stay at all! She should be in charge of training co-teachers (not that they receive ANY training at all!) I really wish everyone had this type of relationship with their co-teachers because it would really change their lives here!

Anytime we have class together:

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Wow, so much more can be said about co-teachers and our relationships with them. So many stories that will never be told. So much heartache, laughter, sorrow, joy! Every emotion in the world is felt with these people! When they’re good, they’re good and when they’re bad you just wanna be like:

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If you can’t tell, I really miss “The Office.” Thanks for reading this week’s post and if you feel that I am complaining about these people too much when I am a GUEST in THEIR country then:

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How the FAWK am I a Teacher?

If any of my relatives are reading this, I didn’t actually swear…so f*** off. I wanted to write about how the hell I went from improv and sketches at Second City to teaching English in Korea. First thing’s first, like 98% of the people who are in this program, I studied abroad and loved it and knew that I wanted to travel again, but have some sort of home base to come back to. Studying abroad is really the first time you experience traveling on your own (I had done some traveling to Palestine and a teensy bit around the States). You’re with your friends and you have to book hotels (hostels…), flights, activities, etc. After that, you know how easy it is to travel and how much you can get by on. PSA: Traveling is NOT expensive and once you save up enough money to actually get out of the States, you’d be surprised at how inexpensive it can be! Obviously you’re not gonna be staying in hotels every night or flying on planes with leg/arm/breathing room BUT it’s so doable! Anyways, I knew I wasn’t done traveling and after two years of taking classes in improv, writing, acting and learning more and more about television and all the work and effort it takes to have a career, I knew I wanted to do so much more before I really settled down and started to put in the work. Once you start putting in the work for a career in that sort of industry, it can be really difficult to stop because you don’t want to waste time AND watching everyone around you making films, sketches, writing, performing, auditioning etc. can kind of scare you into staying around them and putting everything else on hold. SO for a few years, I had teaching English on the back burner and I decided to do it. As I mentioned in my first post, I applied to every single job in the world with every single company and was getting NOWHERE. I finished up my internship at a casting agency and then finished up at Second City and decided to just travel for a year. What could I lose? I was working at the Cheesecake Factory and after a year, I decided that I could spend another year NOT working or getting experience in what I’m passionate about OR I could knock something else off of my bucket list.

So why KOREA? I’m not sure there are any little girls that dream of going to Korea for their first “real” job out of college, and you never see Korea on anyone’s vacation destination. BUT teaching jobs in Asia are plentiful and they are really your best bet. South America and Europe can be very sketchy when it comes to jobs, getting paid, safety, etc. It’s really hard to get a visa to teach in Europe and if you work there, you’re not really going to be making bank or saving. You’ll be working to live, unless you are some psycho who can actually live in Europe and not spend money. I already did live in Europe and I could not NOT spend money! Too tempting. Cheap, delicious food and cheap, delicious travel! But still, with the cost of living and the instability of jobs there, I knew I couldn’t do it. Also, if you want a good job there, it’s better to have some experience teaching to get yourself  in a more ideal situation. Which brings me to Korea. Why KOREA?

  • It’s not China
  • No experience necessary
  • Rent is paid
  • Flights to & from Korea paid
  • Bills are ridiculously cheap
  • Salary is decent for the cost of living
  • Saving money is possible (I haven’t yet, but I know it’s out there…somewhere)
  • I didn’t want to teach alone, so I wanted co-teachers (be CAREFUL what you wish for, kids)
  • Traveling Asia is on my bucket list
  • My program is pretty reputable and I trusted it (*cough* *cough*)
  • I had a friend who was already here who RAVED about Korea (he’s in Seoul  -_-)
  • Everyone blogged/vlogged about how AMAZING and EASY the job is
  • Huge bonus when you finish your contract
  • I thought I would be eating noodles 3x a day and I would go anywhere for that setup

Now, there is also the option of teaching English in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and plenty of other places in the Middle East and that option is so appealing because they REALLY set you up! The money is FANTASTIC, they pay for everything, and IT’S THE MIDDLE EAST! There’s money there and sometimes it’s just nice to be around people and places that are rich! BUT I didn’t go there because for those jobs, you do need experience first. You have to have at least a year of experience, sometimes two, and then you can apply. But also, I really wanted to come to Asia and travel here. While I may complain about WORKING in Korea, I DO NOT regret traveling here. It is really beautiful and my friends and I say that if we weren’t working here, it would be so amazing! When you’re just a tourist, you don’t get so heavily involved with the inner workings of a country and their rules of society, etc. You’re oblivious to that, which makes travel amazing. I’m sure if we actually worked in the places we dream of traveling to, we would think of them way differently.

So, despite countless attempts from my dad to get me to go to Dubai and be near my family (who I love too much and would love to be near!) I chose Korea. I should also mention that my mom is actually Korean. While many of you may know her as the half Spanish, half Palestinian woman who is white with green eyes and blond-ish hair (I think my dad brought me here from Palestine and THEN married her) she is very much Korean. Korean in that she is obsessed with Korean dramas and Korea. She is slowly teaching herself Korean and has a list of places she wants to go there/things she finds interesting. My mom knew more about Korea than I did! I thought it was kind of weird that my mom was so into Korea and that it was a weird sign, so I kind of went with it. I will say that I thought of Korea before she even began her little hobby, so back off MOM. Anyways, I took a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) class in October, applied in November/ December and I was off in March! SO fast and so exciting!

What a long, kind of boring post, right? Totally, but that is the story of how I came to be this international traveling blogger and if my story can help just one person turn their whole life around and be mildly irritated on a day to day basis, then that’s all I can ask for  :,) Thanks for reading and if you have some sort of commentary about your friend’s kid who found a great job teaching in Italy, while they had no experience and they took an Italian lover and enjoy pizza and their little fat Italian kids, then keep it to yourself because THAT’S MY DREAM AND I WILL FIND A WAY TO TAKE AWAY THEIR HAPPINESS. 

 

“Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous..They’re Always Complaining…”

Happy Eid, kids! Ramadan is over and I plan on celebrating by eating overpriced kebabs and going to the movies! Can’t believe I’m desk-warming while my family  celebrates the 4th of July and inhales pounds of carne asada, tortillas, guacamole, chicken, and every other delicious thing I CAN’T get in Korea! But that is life. Speaking of life, why is it that when you’re not home, it seems that everyone is having the best time that ever existed? Chicago is poppiiinnnnn right now, meanwhile I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new toaster oven so I can melt cheese onto my nachos  -_-  At least 47 of my friends have gotten engaged, and 36 have had a baby or are pregnant, meanwhile…nachos.

Moving along, I am going to break down what my daily life looks like since people keep saying to tell them what life in Korea is like. AND I keep telling them to go stand on a train naked, surrounded by people who speak in a different language and you’ll know exactly what it’s like! I think every teacher here knows exactly what I mean because when you live in Korea, you have to get used to people staring at you. Not just staring, but staring and NOT looking away. Ever. Sometimes I’m tempted to stare right back at them seductively and rub my nips to see if that does anything. SN: if you’re black in Korea, that is a whole different experience. Korean people are fascinated by black people and touch their hair without asking and the actual person without asking!  I think that’s insane, so I probably shouldn’t complain about the staring, but it is something that becomes a constant in your life! It definitely makes me feel bad for celebrities..but not too bad… Anywhoo, here’s a short overview of my days here:

Monday, Tuesday (School 1)

8:30     Get to work

9:40-12:10  Teaching (6th Grade)

12:10-1:10  Lunch

1:10-4:30   Desk-warming

Wednesday (School 2)

8:30  Get to work

9:20- 11:50  Teaching (5th Grade)

12:10-1:00   Lunch

1:00-1:40  English Writing Club

1:40-3:00  Lesson Planning for Friday

3:00-3:40  Conversation Club for Teachers

3:40-4:30  Lesson Planning/Desk-Warming

Thursday (School 1)

8:30  Get to work

9:00-12:10  Teaching (4th Grade)

12:10-1:10  Lunch

1:10-2:40  Teaching (cont’d)

2:40-4:30 Desk- Warming

Friday (School 2)

8:30  Get to work

9:00-11:20 Teaching (6th Grade)

12:10  Lunch

1:10-2:40  Lesson planning for Wednesday

2:40-3:20  Game World Club

3:20-4:30  Lesson Planning/Desk-Warming

After 4:30? Well that consists of at least 6 hours of me watching TV and forcing myself to NOT order McDelivery. McDelivery is the worst/best thing in the world. Last week I ate a DOUBLE Big Mac. And I enjoyed every second of it! I think people have visions of me meditating naked in rice fields every morning (on my to-do list, btw…) and then walking out into the village, while children rush up to me and attach themselves to my legs as I laugh and we head to our one-room school and I write letters on the board in chalk, while they trace the letters in the dirt with their fingers. At least, that’s kind of what I imagined I would be doing here! But alas, being in Korea is like being in any other city. I live in a bigger city and aside from an extraordinary amount of Asian people and motorbikes, I might as well be in Cincinnati. Granted, there are mountains in the distance and sometimes just walking around here, there will be a random stream or park filled with bamboo and then it hits me that I’m in Korea. It is ridiculously beautiful here, I will say-that’s coming from someone who does NOT enjoy nature! Like seriously, my dream is to live in a high-rise in the city with artificial grass on my roof. I would pave my backyard at home if I could because  I cannot stand rats and bugs! SN: I haven’t seen a single rat in Korea YET so I know it’s coming. I believe that if you are really worried about something, it will happen to you. It happens, but then it’s over, ya know? Like the bad thing just had to happen because you were so worried about it, but now you can relax! When I was in college, I moved into a house with 3 other girls my senior year and we had a huge shared backyard. Those usually mean field mice are included with the house. I was terrified that I was gonna see a mouse for my first week! I never saw one BUT while I was sleeping one night, I felt claws digging into the back of my bare thigh (it was hot and you already know the pants were off) and my body forced me to shoot out of bed. I woke up, turned the lights on, and immediately started stripping my bed. I flipped over a pillow and BOOM! the mouse ran across my bed. After frantically searching for some way to end my own life, I ended up waking my roommates up (no idea why I did this!) and my roommate Nora was not having it and basically said, “Not in my house,” and tore my room up! Long story short, a maintenance worker came and caught the mouse and then said, “I should write you guys up for having a pet, haha.”  -_______-  The longest silence in recorded history followed his comment and he saw himself out. Back to Korea…

My schedule can change and sometimes I have more or less added to it. Each teacher in my program teaches 22 hours a week. I teach something like 20 and manage to avoid the other 2 hours by constantly changing the subject when my co-teacher suggests “English Conversation Club” or anything extra at my first school. I honestly feel that not making me work those 2 hours is the least they could to for all of the annoying little things I have to put up with while here. One example of this is Teacher’s Dinners. When you research teaching in Korea, one thing that everyone raves about is going on school dinners with your co-workers. They all say it happens all the time, it’s great for bonding, blah, blah, blah. I’ve been here for three months and never once has there been anything of the sort…until last week. I arrived at my 2nd school (my LEAST favorite) and at around 11:30. one of my co-workers brought it up:

“Sobe, will you come to the dinner today?”

“What dinner?”

“The school dinner. All the teachers are going.”

“Oh….did you guys just find out about it 5 minutes ago?”

“No.”

“….Okay…well…no I’m not going.”

“OH, but it is a school dinner.”

“……OH, but you JUST told me about it…”

-______-.

This went on for the rest of the day. Not only was I fasting, but they were leaving RIGHT after school and I looked like s***. ALSO I had someone coming to install my WiFi and simply could not (would not!) cancel. Besides all of those valid reasons, I wouldn’t go simply on principle. One of the most annoying things about Korea is how last minute they are when it comes to telling you things. Now, this is something you read about when doing your research, but that doesn’t mean you have to just do what they say. I have refused several other things they mention to me three seconds before they expect it done and I’ve realized that it’s such an important key to survival here. Just say NO! There is so much power in it. It’s not like they’re going to start actually telling me things now, but it’s just something you have to do for yourself. If anything, it shows them that you will say “No” sometimes and that is SO shocking for Koreans because they are ridiculously passive aggressive here and they really get wide-eyed when you are direct with them.

Such a long post BUT please remember that YOU came HERE…so you have only yourself to blame…Thanks for reading though! Toodles!

 

 

“The Korean Bank Heist of 2016”

Ah, as I sit here and contemplate what to blog about next, I am pleased to report that Mr. Kay and the VP are having a titillating conversation in Korean and I am banging loudly on my keyboard in hopes they will both stop talking and disappear forever…Nothing’s happening yet, but they are at an awkward silence in their conversation and both staring at my hands typing, so I feel like I can’t stop typing. Oh my god, I can’t stop typing. SO AWKWARD!!! and the VP just got up and scooted along. Anyways, after what has been a hectic day of trying to finalize my summer vacation plans (poor me, I know) and figuring out how to keep myself occupied since my classes are cancelled, I decided to tell the story of the great Korean Bank Heist of 2016. It involves me and my aforementioned co-teacher- the one who is divorced and has the baby. Keep up people.

One thing I should mention about Korea is that no one tells you anything. EVER. You have to know what questions to ask. You have to know the questions that you don’t even know yet. Basically, living here is living in a constant state of, “Why didn’t you tell me?” “You didn’t ask.” “How was I supposed to know to ask?! I’m just supposed to know to ask you every single possible scenario and outcome?” Yes, you have to know to ask the questions that you didn’t even know were questions. Back to the bank heist. In Korea, you can’t get a bank account until you get your Alien Registration Card or ARC. You have to apply for it when you get here and then wait about a week or so before it arrives and then you are good to go. Now, as I mentioned in a different post, my co-teacher is very hands off (except when she needs something or is at risk of getting into trouble) So after my ARC arrived, I had to ask her to take me to the bank. In Korea, the banks operate the very same hours you are at work. They are closed when you get out of work, so basically your only option is to take a half day off of work and handle your business then. Makes no sense, but that’s just Korea for you. I had to wait around until it was convenient for her to take a half day off of work. So we finally get to the bank and set up an account. Now in Korea, you can’t receive a debit card or send money home until you can link your account to a Korean phone number. This is odd because you can’t get a Korean phone number/plan UNTIL you have a bank account, so basically it’s a 3-step process:

  1. Get your bank account opened up
  2. Get a Korean cell phone number/plan
  3. Go back to the bank and get your debit card

Now there are some ways around this, but this was back in my first month here and I had no idea what those ways were. Also, I have T-Mobile and had no need to get a Korean phone or phone number because my plan works out here. I can still text everyone back home normally and here in Korea, I use Kakao , which is a messaging system everyone in Korea uses. You can make phone calls, video chat, and anything else you wanna do using this system. So I had no need for a phone. The bank basically gives you a bank book that looks like a passport and you can only use it to take money out of the ATM. AT THE SAME BANK YOU GOT THE BOOK FROM. You can’t just got to a different branch and use it to get money. Now, my co-teacher never mentioned this. All she told me is, “You need to get a phone number.” That’s it. We left the bank. she never mentioned how to get a phone or that we would come back once I did. Long story short, I got a phone on my own and sent her a message the very same day asking if we could take a half day and go back to the bank. Now, I was pretty frustrated because I still pay bills back home and can’t just wait for weeks on end. As that one commercial says, “It’s my money and I need it now!” I seriously did. I had to have my older sister cover my expenses back home and send money to me in Korea because I had no way to access my account. Luckily, my sister is kind enough and has the means to help me. but what if I had no one? Or as my sister put it, “What if some other person doesn’t have someone to help them out and they need their money?” And that’s why what happens next really upset me. So the day comes when we are supposed to go the bank. I want to mention that in Korea, taking a “half day” from work means leaving at 3:00 instead of 4:30 AND since we are done teaching by 1 or 2 at the latest, we are all just desk warming until it’s time to go home. Seriously, I considered just walking to the bank at 3 and then going home. No one would notice! My co-workers are usually taking naps or watching TV on their computers. I go to her office and she says, “Sobe, I just want you to know that the Vice Principal says this is a personal matter and you should not take time off of work for this.” I just stared at her because I wasn’t sure how to react. I was already upset and then she went and said that. Now in Korea, the VP has power. They are really respected and as my friends here say, “Everyone scuttles around like crabs when they see the Principal and VP.” The thing is , no one cares about the VP back home! I just looked at her like…AND? Like the Vice Principal’s disappointment means NOTHING to me! My thoughts are ONLY tell me if we’re NOT going, ya know? Like I couldn’t give less of a f*** what the VP thinks UNLESS it somehow hinders me from doing what I need to do! So I was already annoyed when we left and by now, it’s 3:30. The bank is about 15 minutes from our school. My co-teacher gets on the phone and calls her daycare to tell them she’ll be picking her daughter up early today…at 4:00  -__-. At that point I was done. The other thing is that Korean banks are like delis. you have to take a number and wait till you’re called. We were going at the end of the day, so there was a bit of a line. While we were waiting, my co-teacher just kept checking her watch and the wall clock and finally looked at me and said, “It’s because I said I would pick my daughter up at 4.” At which point, I just looked at her and thought…AND? I said nothing and just waited. We finally get to see a teller and I get my debit card. My co-teacher was not translating anything and was RUSHING the teller and myself. At one point, the teller was visibly flustered and we both just looked at each other and communicated how annoyed we were at my CT. She wasn’t translating anything the teller was saying. I also asked her to tell the teller how I could go about linking my Korean account with my American account and she just hustled me out and said, “You can do everything online.” Once we get in the car, she books it to the daycare center, but not before nearly getting us killed TWICE. I was fuming and was even annoyed at her daughter once we finally picked up the precious cargo. After that, my  CT knew I was pissed and started driving me home. I was so pissed, I just got out of the car at the light before she turned on my street and told her I would walk.

The worst part about everything is that we didn’t even get a debit card! IT WAS AN ATM CARD! So i still couldn’t do anything online, still couldn’t transfer money. All I could do now was use ATM’s everywhere, instead of at only one branch. Luckily, after doing research, I found out that my bank opens on Sundays for foreigners and was able to go in and fix everything on my own, using Google translate. I owe so much of my success (ha!) here in Korea to Google Translate. I told my co-teacher this after and her response was, “Oh, so is everything okay now?” That was a breaking point for me and I didn’t talk to her for a few weeks. I would just go to her class, do what she told me, and then  I would leave. The whole banking situation, mixed in with the fact that she tried to get me baptized and basically always left me hanging and having to fend for myself, made me really grow disdain for her. But now that I am way more independent out here and have better relationships with my other co-teachers, I know to just ask them. We are okay now, but she was a big reason that I considered leaving Korea in the middle of the night my first two months!

Anyways, I call it the Bank Heist because I was robbed of so much that day. Patience. The respect I had for my co-worker. And so much more that thinking about it irritates me to this day! This story isn’t the most entertaining, I realize BUT I NEVER read anything even close to this when I was researching Korea and this is a very real thing that happened to me, so if it brings someone else some peace from going through the same situation, then I’m happy. This blog is supposed to be an honest account of what I’m experiencing here, so if you’re not entertained, then go watch the new “Game of Thrones.” DON’T SPOIL IT THOUGH! And if you don’t watch “Game of Thrones,” I’m not really sure why you thought it was okay to read my blog…

“That’s Enough Outta You”

Aaaaanddd the countdown to vacation has officially begun! Two months until F-R-E-E-D-O-M!  I seriously understand why teachers get 3 months off for vacation, and although I only get about 8 days off, I am already constantly checking and re-checking my calendar so I know EXACTLY when I can bust out the, “It’s summer and I don’t know you,” to my kids when I see them on the street.

Today’s post is a little more about what my actual work life is like…specifically, my office mate. At my main school, I have an office away from my co-teachers (praise him) and I share it with the gym teacher and another man known as a “career teacher.” Basically what Korean people call a substitute teacher. I will call him Mr. Kay for the purpose of this blog, especially because he will be mentioned a bunch more times. To start off with, Mr. Kay is socially awkward. None of the other teachers speak to him UNLESS they have a question that requires a “yes” or “no” answer because he RAMBLES on like no other. He doesn’t take social (or facial) cues. All the teachers tell me to avoid him and to never ask him anything. Even if you are on fire and Mr. Kay is is the Keeper of all of the water on Earth, you are supposed to just let yourself burn alive.  I had no problem with him…for the first hour of my first day, that is until he asked me to translate a lecture on opera. Yes, opera. Mr. Kay dreams of being an opera singer (even though he will become Vice Principal of an elementary school next semester…Korea) Besides that, he is so curious about the States and until I came along, he had no one to ask his MILLION AND ONE questions to. These questions include, “Do you have a gun?” “Do you feel ‘free’ here in Korea?” (If you don’t know what he means by “free” then you’re too young to be reading this…he means sex  -___-) and to top it all off, he is a huge homophobe. One of those people that ACTUALLY pretended to gag when I told him I had gay friends… If that wasn’t enough, he speaks theeeee sloooooooowest Engliiiiiiiiiiiiiish possssiibleee <<< if that was painful to read, then just imagine listening to it. He’s also an UM-UH guy, meaning every other word he says is “UM” or “UH.” Here’s what a typical conversation between us is like:

*Mr. Kay walks in and sits down at his desk. He then proceeds to bob his head back and forth, peering in and out of my cubicle and trying to get my attention*

*Me without taking my eyes off of my computer* “Hey how’s it going, Mr. Kay?”

“Uuuuuum….I am…uh….fine.”

“That’s great.”

*nods head for about a minute* “Uhhhhhhhh…..today, ummmm…I will….um…play golf. I like ummmmmmm…….golf.”

“I have never heard of golf and have no interest in hearing anymore about it.”

“Oh really?! Umm…me too! I uhhhh love golf…it is ummm…uhhh….”

UGH.

Now, I am not making fun of someone for speaking English slowly. His English is actually really good, but his personality, I believe, affects his speech. He speaks Korean the exact same way  -____-.  Also, he is one of those guys that once he gets comfortable with you, he’s COMFORTABLE. For example, asking me if I felt “free” in Korea. He said he was surprised by what he saw in the English teachers he’s met because he always thought American women were “free.” I told him that we are, just not with gross, Korean guys with tiny wieners. Boy was he shocked to hear that! I didn’t actually say that, but I could feel some resentment from him and I believe it is because in college, he tried to get with foreign women and they just were NOT having it! From my depiction alone, I’m guessing many of you are already bored by him AND don’t want to sleep with him. OH, he is also very into mansplaining. If you don’t know what that is, it’s when a man condescendingly explains something to you. He does this nonstop, even when I am talking about AMERICA- THE COUNTRY I ACTUALLY LIVE IN! I can’t even count the number of times he starts off a conversation with, “In America, you all do blah blah blah..” and then continues to try and explain things to me, even if I’ve corrected him about what he thought.

I do blame myself for ever engaging him in the first place. You try to be nice and not alienate your co-workers on the first day in a new country…but I should have known better when he asked me to play tennis…

giphy

Mr. Kay asked me about playing sports and I BRIEFLY mentioned that I played tennis in high school… 6 years ago! Later that day, he asked me to play tennis. I laughed and said, “Sure, I’d love to play in the summer.” He just laughed, got up and handed me a tennis racket. Then he walked out of the room, holding his own racket and I guess I just had to follow. We headed to the gym and that’s when the longest hour of my life started. He wanted us to have a singles match in the gym. Do you understand how small a tennis ball is and how BIG a gym is? This thing was flying ALL OVER THE PLACE. Mr. Kay conveniently positioned himself against the front of the gym, giving me the side that had the stage, the bleachers, various nooks and crannies, and some type of wormhole that would suck up the tennis ball and only return it once I had jogged all the way over to Mr. Kay’s side to get a new ball and back. MIND YOU when I came to Korea, the schools were still freezing, so my attire consisted of a long peacoat, dressy pants, socks and slippers and NO SPORTS BRA. My forearm was my sports bra that day. I was playing tennis with one hand, drowning in layers of clothes and sweat, meanwhile Mr. Kay was dressed and ready for Wimbledon, and from the way he was playing, he really thought he was there! He was going at the ball like he found it trying to break into his car! AND he stopped our game several times to give me pointers. He had become somewhat of a pro since he started taking lessons a WEEK ago. After an hour of me basically being his tennis ball caddy, I faked a heart attack and played dead. Well, I highly considered it. Instead, he got called to a meeting and it was over.

I really could start a blog just based off of my experiences with this man, but for now, this will have to do. Thanks for reading and if you think I am not giving Mr. Kay enough of a chance and maybe he is just nervous and trying too hard, then I invite you to keep these feelings deep inside of yourself and if you ever meet him, I wish you both the best.

“Someone Here HAS to Speak English”

The second week of Ramadan is chugging right along and is probably the easiest it has ever been for me. It COULD be because I’m at work for most of it and by the time I get home, take my 3 hour nap, and watch TV, it’s over BUT I’d like to think it’s because I am growing older and wiser and more patient and more comfortable with the idea of men wearing flip-flops out in public….actually, scratch that last one.

Anyways, anyone who knows me knows that like an elephant, I am a beautiful, majestic creature and should be admired and feared…also, I have a wonderful memory. When I stepped off of the plane and arrived in Korea, I had to go down a bunch of floors to get my luggage and then carry all 200 pounds of it on a cart that was not equipped…side note, but what is the deal with luggage carts? It’s 2016! Shouldn’t my luggage just BE wherever I need it to be at this point? I will never understand… Anyways, I called my free shuttle to my hotel…and no one spoke English. My first thought was, “How dare you?” A hotel that doesn’t have a soul who speaks English? Anyways, after about 20 minutes we somehow figured it out and my ride came. They picked up my bags and gave me a look of disgust as they heaved them into the back of the van. In my mind, I just thought, “…and so we begin.”

Anyways (I thoroughly enjoy starting paragraphs with “anyways”) I got to my hotel, checked in and slept for awhile. I met up a friend in Seoul and was definitely in the honeymoon phase of living in Korea. Now, some people are still in that phase. Some people are in that phase for their entire year. I was in the honeymoon phase for MAYBE a few hours. Then I headed back to the airport to take a bus for what felt like 9 years to Daegu. It was here that I would be picked up by my co-teachers and meet the South Africans. Oh boy, you will hear about them later because I truly love them so! NOW! This is where everyone’s journey truly begins! This is the point where we all went our own ways and really started to figure out what our lives would be like here in Korea. We could see our co-teachers in the parking lot, lined up, with papers that said our names on them. I remember getting off the bus, seeing three women standing behind a sign with my name, and them looking at me and then saying, “You?” Little did they know they had just received a blessing, but they didn’t think so and later I would find out why… you will also find out why later because I’m NOT wasting all of my good stories on one blog post! FOH!

My co-teachers helped carry my luggage to the car. Two of them left and the third asked if I would be interested in getting dinner. The woman that remained is my main co-teacher. Now remember, I get vibes RIGHT away and I was already weary. She seemed to be somewhere else in her mind and not really there in the car with me. She asked if I would be interested in grabbing dinner and I was so ready. FINALLY I was going to partake in a real Asian meal! Images of steaming bowls of noodles, seafood, vegetables, rice, desserts, pizza dance around in my head..well, pizza is always just kind of lurking around up there, to be honest, but I was READY. We start driving around and I’m just taking everything in. Where are we gonna eat?! So many new possibilities!  But then… it starts pouring rain, at which point my CT looks at me and says, “Um, you like McDonald’s, right?” I just smiled and said “yeah” and that was that. My first meal in my new hometown was a Big Mac, fries, and a Coke. This also happens to be one of my favorite meals and I was excited to try McDonald’s in Korea, so I wasn’t too sad about it! She showed me how to get to one of my schools, which was only a 5-minute walk from my house, and told me to be there on Monday. Meaning I had the whole weekend to explore and freak out.

This takes us to the main event- my apartment! When my CT pulled up to a parking spot next to a building, there was a woman waiting there. I got out of the car, holding the McDonald’s drinks and my backpack and was lead into this room. Again, it was raining, getting pretty dark, and the lights were off in the room. Thinking we were just waiting out the storm in an abandoned building whose main source of income was allowing people to murder each other there for a small fee, my co-teacher instructs me to grab my bags and put them in my apartment. I was like “cool” and went to grab my bags and then I just stood there in the rain. A simple, little fool.  The following conversation is based on real events:

“Go inside.”

“Inside of where?”

“Of your apartment.”

“Okay, can you show me where it is?”

“You were just in it.”

“No, I was just inside a porta potty.”

“Sobe, this is your apartment.”

“Take me back to the airport.”

Like I said, it’s BASED on real-life events, but the author of the story might have taken some liberties with the wording. My apartment was NOT what I expected at all. I had been doing months of research. I’d watched ALL of the apartment tours other EPIK teachers put up on YouTube. There was no way in hell this was my apartment! Where was the hallway that lead to the rest of the apartment? Where was the shoe cabinet that held your shoes and doubled as extra storage? How about the laundry room that could double up as storage for luggage and other garbage that we can’t ever bear to throw away? I could have one foot in my kitchen and one foot in the street at the same time! My toilet was located in a CORNER of the bathroom! The actual toilet sticks out of a corner in the bathroom like an arrowhead. It was dusty, crusty, and to top it all off, there was a HUGE American flag hanging on the wall. The landlord quickly showed me around and gave me the access code to my door (Korea doesn’t do keys, only electronic locks). She pulled a few blankets out of a drawer and a skeleton rolled out of one of them. She kicked it under the bed and proceeded to tell me that everything had been washed by the previous tenant and was good to go. She also had my co-teacher translate to me at LEAST 8 times that the apartment HAD to be kept clean because occasionally the President of Korea likes to visit here when she’s in town…or at least that’s how she made it seem. At this point, dinner takes place. We sit on my floor and she begins to tell me about her life (divorced with a baby) and I start to think that we just might get along. Then she gets up to leave. “Hey you can walk around tomorrow and buy everything you need.” Parting words. Now, again, I had been doing my research and THOUGHT we would at least be going to the grocery store to get food. How did she know if I had sheets and pillows? How did she know I would even know how to get to the grocery store, let alone speak to the people and pay them? She didn’t and this ends up becoming a big strain on our relationship, until it’s not anymore… Again, can’t waste all the good stories on one post.

Jeez, how long was that post? Barf. Anyways, my sister says I haven’t really been “saying anything” on here, so I wanted to give some back story about the first few days here. BELIEVE ME, my first few weeks here were more eventful than the rest of my year will be! Thanks again for reading. I am sure someone is going to say something like, “You’re in a new country, what did you expect?” Please die. Not really, but beat it. Nobody is forcing you to read this and your opinion won’t change what happened so just let the thought float away….There. That’s better.

 

Housekeeping

Ramadan Kareem, everyone! As the holiest month of the year for Muslims starts up and everyone tries to figure out how to go about their day trying to hide bad breath and not accidentally drinking water or chewing gum (I still chew breath mints while fasting!), I thought about how complaining and gossiping are kind of forbidden, but they bring me such joy and delight that I think God will just let this one slide… and the breath mints. I think God’ll let that one slide too…

I wanted to start this post by telling one of SEVERAL stories I have about people TRYING IT here in Korea, but thought I should FIRST give a little more information about what the f*** (I think my dad might be reading…)  I’m doing here/the situation here is:

  1. I moved here because after graduating college, finishing up my classes at Second City, and working as a server for a year, I could not for the life of me, find any job in television, which is the field I want to work in
  2. I still really wanted to travel the world and teach and I knew that if I really started to put in work towards my career, I wouldn’t want to stop for fear of being set back
  3. I’m only 24 and still want to do so many things and this was on the list, which brings me to…

MY LIFE IN KOREA

  1. I live in Daegu, which is one of Korea’s larger cities (although you would never know it living here…)
  2. I teach English to 4th-6th graders at two different elementary schools
  3. I have four co-teachers
  4. I wear slippers and socks to work, use chopsticks, and bow at people to say “Hi”
  5. I live in an apartment that I believe was built around a tiny Asian man and THEN made even smaller, but I don’t pay rent, so I guess that makes up for it?
  6. My washing machine is located in my bathroom, behind a shower curtain, which means…
  7. My shower is actually one of those detachable shower head deals that hangs up above my sink, which is basically how all showers are in Korea. When you shower, the water just goes everywhere
  8. I have no oven, no dryer, and heated floors- also very common in Korea
  9. I found a mysterious WiFi connection when I got here and never bothered getting internet, but it doesn’t always work, but it’s free, but it’s super terrible, but I’m stealing it so I’ll just be quiet now
  10. I work 8:30-4:30, half of the day is teaching and the other half is desk-warming. Desk warming is sitting at your desk, lesson-planning, checking Facebook, catching up on what’s going on back home, trying to avoid “Game of Thrones” spoilers, and trying not to pass out
  11. I know like 5 words in Korean and I think I’ve given up trying. I’ll have to check back in with myself later on to confirm whether or not this is really true
  12. Some days, I can see myself living here for years and just living off of face masks (which are so, so cheap and work so, so well) and street food, and other days, I’m looking up flights to Italy and considering becoming a prostitute with a heart of gold who takes pizza as payment for a hard day’s work….

Since I have so much more to tell and so many little stories about my first few weeks here,  I am just going to post the stories throughout the week! Thanks for reading and seriously, as I said before, if you are having the time of your life here in Korea and don’t understand what I’m talking about, then continue to do so, but hit that “X” symbol you see in the top, right-hand corner and keep it moving. Peace and blessings (not sure how to enter a peace sign here, so just imagine one)