Weeks 2 and 3, 2017

I had a cold last week and didn’t open my computer at all. I didn’t feel as miserable as the last time I was sick but I just didn’t feel like updating. Nothing of substance really happened anyway.

It’s snowed a couple times in the past two weeks though none of it sticks much.


I had to bring home a stack of book reports to grade last Thursday and I had a pretty good assembly line set up while I was watching documentaries on Netflix.

I had some issues with the delivery person not wanting to leave my packages at my door; I wanted them left there because they were big and bulky and I didn’t want to carry junk over the pedestrian bridge. My school’s director, Chloe, was very kind and talked to the delivery people for me to have the items left even though I wasn’t home.

I walked to HomePlus last Saturday; the weather was windy and cold. I went up to another level I had never been to before. It was like finding the entrance to a secret club or something. There was a bookstore, pet store, music/guitar store, cafe, and random clothes shops up there. I, of course was drawn to the pet store. I looked at all the fish and small pets. Then I saw it. The cat room. There was a mama cat and three babies in a small plexi-glass room. One of the babies had a cone on his head. I wanted to take them all home. I did not. See, I do have some self control!

After HomePlus, I visited Etude House for some skin care products and got a pretty good haul. Then I walked back home because all my purchases from the day could fit in my backpack. When I got home I rested on the floor to warm my body. That in floor heating is good for something!  I then put together one of the big, bulking things I had ordered. A five drawer metal cabinet. It was pretty easy to figure out how to put together and I only hurt myself once to draw blood.

Sunday I didn’t feel right but thought I was just hungry. I took the bus to Suwon Station and then walked to Lotte Mall. This mall is laid out like a western style mall with a central path to get to stores and the stores actually being separated and sectioned off into actual stores. I went to eat at the Mexican restaurant. Though it doesn’t compare to the delicious Mexican food back home, it was pretty delicious. I decided to humor myself and go into one of the clothing shops, Uniqlo, to see if I could find any tops. I went to try on four tops and three of them fit! I was so shocked. So that made me happy. My last stop at the mall was the big grocery store. There are some products that I can’t find closer to my house so I scoped it out and everything I was looking for was there. I took a cab home because I feeling kind of shitty and I didn’t want to be on a crammed bus.

Monday, I woke up with a cold. How nice.

On Tuesday I felt the worst but I had time to rest so it wasn’t so bad. When I got home I realized I needed to wash some socks because I was out. I put a load of laundry in the washer and fell asleep. I woke up about an hour later and was confused. I went to check the wash and it was stopped but the water hadn’t drained out. I was panicking. I went upstairs to the landlord’s apartment and typed in my issue to Google translate. He came down and looked around my apartment before scoping out the washing machine. Then he called his wife to go get the neighbor that speaks English to be our translator. So there’s three extra people in my apartment trying to figure out what’s wrong with my washing machine. They determined the drain hose was frozen and that I needed to wait for it to thaw. That’s not so serious of a problem… I can deal with that. Around 11 pm I finally heard the water draining and made sure to spin the remaining water out of my clothes.

I could fully breath out my nose on Friday so I was happy about that.

Yesterday most everyone in the company I work for had to attend a conference at Dankook University in Seoul from 1 pm to 5 pm. I left my apartment at 10:20 am to grab some McDonald’s before the other foreign teachers and I met to catch the bus for our journey. It was lightly snowing as I sat and ate my breakfast. We got on the bus and transferred to the subway. We we got off the train we ran into one of the Korean teachers from our campus, Kathy. When we got towards the exit for the station, we saw the Korean head teacher, Jessica. We took two taxis to the University then we had to split up as there were separate lectures for Koreans and foreigners. We had to walk up a pretty steep hill, I was so tired after that. It wasn’t as boring as it could have been, so that’s good. Though for the last speaker, talking about games that we were told about at the last seminar, it was really hard to focus. While all this was going on, the snow continued to fall and had accumulated. Big, fluffy flakes were falling and it made me happy.

After the conference was over, we met back up with Jessica and Kathy. We tried to get a taxi but because of the snow there were none to be found. So, we took a packed bus back to the train station. We decided we would eat some Indian food after we got back to Suwon. We met a nice lady, Jen, on the platform for the train from the campus in Busan. We chatted the whole way back to Suwon. After a very delicious meal of Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Samosas Jessica, Olivia, and I went shopping. We went to the cellphone place and got Olivia a prepaid SIM for her phone. Then we went to a clothing store Jessica suggested. I found more shirts! Then we just kind of walked around. We ate ice cream and then came home.

Advertisements

It doesn’t feel like it’s 13 days until Christmas…

It doesn’t seem like Christmas is as close as it is. There is no snow, I killed a mosquito on Friday, and no one is really talking about it.

The week started off as any week would, there was a Monday… it was tiresome. Tuesday was a test on my patience. I have a class this term with three boys who have very high English comprehension and vocabularies. Two of them thought it would be hilarious to comment about how I have such a big butt, big stomach, and am equative to that of an Elephant. While I don’t deny that I am larger than the majority of Koreans (and even Americans), these boys did not stop commenting about this after I asked them to stop. After class I went to vent to my coworker and the director, as we all share a room. The director said she will talk to them on Thursday about it. And boy did she ever!

Wednesday made up for Tuesday because my cute class of all girls wanted to play “teacher draw…” where they shout out things from the story we read and they laugh at my horrible whiteboard drawings. Well, my bat wasn’t up to par with their expectations so they decided they wanted to try to draw it better. This turned into them drawing me on the board. Super cute.


Thursday came around and the director took the two boys into a private room and scolded them. I have no idea what she said because I had to look after the other student but when the two came back to class they looked so depressed and offered me a very insincere apology. Later that day, I had a class of learners who are lower level English learners and two boys from that class were not very behaved either. I had to write a list on the board of things they were not permitted to do in class (photo below). After warnings, I sent one kid to the desk team twice for disrupting the class. He clearly doesn’t care that it’s somewhat shameful to be sent to the desk to be scolded. Another kid from the same class was sent to the desk once and was on the verge of another trip.


All the native English speakers and a few of the Korean teachers went to trivia on Thursday. It was pretty fun but after round 3/5 for trivia and adding more and more alcohol to the mix, people lose their attention spans or it becomes boring. The bar has this really good ginger beer, Crabby’s, so I imbibed. On the way home, I stopped at McDonald’s and either said the wrong thing ordering or was misunderstood. I got a double quarter pounder – one quarter pound of beef on a burger is perfectly enough for me. When I paid I thought, “dang that seems really expensive…” but clearly didn’t care that much. I didn’t eat it until I walked home five minutes later and my fries were cold to discover why it was so spendy.

Friday night after work I got some jjajangmyeon, a Korean Chinese noodle dish topped with a thick sauce made of chunjang (a salty black soybean paste when unheated), diced pork and vegetables, and had a Netflix party with my bad self. I also decided at 3:45 am, that it was a good as time as any to start cleaning my apartment; I swept, Swiffered, washed the dishes, and took out my recycling.

Yesterday I went to HomePlus with my coworker Nick. I bought a lot of random things, but I found fajita mix in the foreigner food aisle! I bought a toaster oven, toaster, and groceries. I also found some raspberry sparkletini and bought two because it’s delicious and it reminds me of good times had with friends back home. After taking a taxi home with Nick I realized he took one of my bags of loot home with him. Thankfully he did because I started to look for my phone to message him as the taxi drove away. WHERES MY PHONE?! In the taxi! I swear to you, I have never ran that fast in my life!!! I got him to stop, retrieved my phone off the floor, and thanked him for stopping. That’s enough excitement for one day. 😑


Today I went to Myeongdong, Seoul to buy some gifts for Christmas. After some shopping I saw a hair place that was recommended to me. I went in, said I wanted a hair cut and was on my way to what would work out to be a two hour adventure. This place was far fancier than any other I’d ever been to. They take your bags and coat and put them in a locked locker. After that they give you a robe to put on and escort you to the shampooing room where it’s dim and relaxing. They put a thin tissue over your eyes so you don’t get splashed and cover you with a blanket. Then after the wash, they take you to the stylist’s chair and you get a cape and proceed with the cutting of hair. My intention was to just get a trim but while cutting my hair the stylist said, “why not get a straight perm?” Since I had been thinking about it, I went for it. After the initial cut, I was moved to what looked like a dining room table. There I got my perm chemicals applied by not one but two people and was put under a heater twice for five minutes to bake the chemicals into my hair. Then I was back in the shampoo room, taken back to the chair for blow drying and flat ironing, got some more chemicals put on my head, and had my hair washed for a third time and blown dry a second.

After all that, I did some more shopping and decided to go home. I got lost…again. I successfully got off at the correct subway station to catch my bus but I got on the wrong bus at the bus stop. I got on and things were going okay until I realized this bus was super old and didn’t have the tv that tells you which stop is next and I started to panic. I got off at some random stop when I looked at google maps and realized I was not where I should have been. My friend Sunny was able to help me figure out how to at least get to some place familiar and get home from there.

Now I’m home with my soft straightened hair and get to start it all over again tomorrow.

The week my cat died.

This past week has been spent preparing for the new term at school. This also brought the departure of a coworker and the arrival of a new one. I’m no longer the “new” one, so that feels a bit unreal.

Tuesday we were told to come in early for a meeting which was implied that we would go over schedules for the new term. We all get there and there is a new director for our school! I had heard rumors about getting a new director but I didn’t really give it much credence. As with any management change, there are already changes in procedures and it’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out. And if any of these changes would influence me to stay here by extending my contract or not. Now that Sean and I have to have our desks in the directors room as of last Friday it makes me a bit more nervous than it did initially.

Wednesday I felt off and sad for no particular reason. After work I went home and just sat in my bed in the dark. I had a weird feeling that I should call my parents house knowing full well that they were at work. So I messaged my mom to ask about adding something to the box of clothes I ordered and had sent to their house. She responded that I should call their house because my dad was home sick. I called at around 1 am my time and I was informed that my cat, Emily, had passed away. After we talked about some other news, I hung up and cried until 3 am. I woke up again at 7:30 crying.  I don’t know which would have been worse, feeling guilty that I’ve been away from her in last three months of life or knowing that if she were living with me when she died I’d be even more of a wreck. Rest In Peace Emily 1995 – 2016. The last 21 years wouldn’t have been as good without your cuddles and company 💔😞

Thursday was the start of the new term and I had a bit of an anxiety attack when I got to work because my computer background is a picture of Emily’s cute dumb face. I was trying to quickly to change it to something else and was just getting more irritated. I was telling Sean about my cat dying and was crying – all while the new director is looking at me probably like, “what is wrong with this mess?” Sean was kind enough to tell her for me while I sobbed. Then I went to get something from the copy room and I ran into the foreign head teacher, Andrea, and she asked me if I was okay and I lost it and made the ugliest crying faces I’ve ever made. I am the world’s ugliest crier so that was probably a joy to see. Other than a couple tears leaking out, I think those are the only two times I cried at work, thank God.

My classes this term seem like they’ll be good. My classes are significantly smaller on Tuesday/Thursdays which I don’t mind at all. I feel it makes it easier to get things done and focus on extra things if needed. The classes on Monday/Wednesday/Friday are bigger but are older students for the most part. I had a new student on Friday who wanted to make an English name and I was caught so off  guard by that. I was not prepared to name this child! I asked the class for suggestions, added some of my own, and had her pick because she didn’t have a name in mind.

I had to work yesterday for “Open Class.” When prospective students come to our school and check it out – we give them an overview of what classes would be like and gauge their abilities. My experience was unique as there were only two students scheduled and only one showed up. The past two weekends, they’ve had open class as well and they had over ten kids both times.

After open class I walked around and then came back for a nap. Later in the evening, I met up with Sean, Brittany, and Nick and we went to Jamsil-dong in Seoul. Sean has a friend, Tim, who lives there from his previous teaching job; he and his girlfriend were kind enough to host us all for a movie night. We were supposed to meet up with Elizabeth at the subway station but it seems that some miscommunication happened and Elizabeth was at the incorrect station and decided to go home as she had been in Seoul all day. We watched Popstar, which I didn’t really have any desire to see but it was really funny and I enjoyed it a lot. Then we moved on to the The Good Guys, I was having a great time until my stomach started to get crampy and angry and that movie seemed like it was going to go on foreverrrrrr. Everyone else wanted to go a bar and I was going to catch a cab and go back home because I was not feeling well. Our gracious hosts gave me some tummy meds, got me a blanket, and let me stay at their apartment until they came back from the bar so I could split the cost of the cab fare with the others.

There seems to be some miscommunication happening here…

So I applied for my Visa Identification Number (VIN) over four weeks ago and should have had it three-ish weeks ago – that being said, I only received it on Wednesday the 17th. I was told that I was not at fault for this taking place and that for whatever reason my application for VIN was taking ~way~ longer than expected. I was also told that the school that I will be teaching at was aware of this and that I was not to be blamed. So, I ship my actual visa application to the Consulate in Chicago expecting to get it back later than the date that I was originally supposed to leave, today the 19th, and arrive later than planned.

Today I receive an email from my recruiter telling me to call the Consulate and ask them when I’m supposed to be getting my visa back. I, having read the website, know that it states this process takes 5 business days – but I call anyway because that’s what I was told to do. I have a pleasant conversation with a man at the Consulate telling me essentially what I already know and that the person who issues the visas is currently on a business trip and if I need to speak with her to call back on Monday. No big deal.

I get off the phone and  anticipate replying to the recruiter via email. There is a new email from the foreign head teacher at my school stating she is expecting me to arrive at the school on the 22nd, this coming Monday, and issuing instructions on which train to take from my hotel and which stop to get off at. *insert panic mode* I write my email to recruiter relaying the info from the Consulate and telling him of this new email from the teacher at the school saying I don’t know if/how to respond to this as I was already told that the school was aware of my VIN application taking nearly a month to process. So now, just like every other point in this process I sit and wait, mostly annoyed because I feel like I can’t do a whole lot about what is happening, that I’m not getting all the necessary information, and that this whole process kind of actually sucks.