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Mar 14

My New Life in “Dynamic Korea”: A Photo Essay

Koreans love to use the word “dynamic” when describing their country. In fact, I think it may even be their official national tagline. While the word may be another case of poor translation (the Konglish around here is prevalent, puzzling, and hilarious), I’m pretty sure that what they’re going for is the idea that Korea is fast-paced, hectic, ever-changing, and unpredictable. And that it certainly is.

I’ve been in Korea about a month now, yet it seems like so much longer when I think of all I’ve done and the ground I’ve covered. Now I’m finally getting settled into my apartment and getting into the routine of my new job, establishing friends and local bars, and slowly wrapping my mind around the fact that I live here now.

I had wanted to go around and take fancy pictures of everything, but because this place is so “dynamic”, I haven’t had the time. So here’s some average photos that I’ve snapped here and there of my new life in Korea so far…

My School:

My Middle School in Korea

I work in low income urban middle school in Daegu. The students have a low level of English and can be pretty troublesome at times. I know I’ll find a way to get them to behave AND love English. Somehow, some way… probably including much bribery and candy.

Teaching Middle School in Korea

My classroom! I get my very own classroom! It’s a luxury apparently many Native English Teachers don’t have. That’s my fancy touch screen television up front. I feel like Vanna White pretty often.

Teaching Middle School in Korea

School Lunch in Korea

My school lunch always comes in a tray like this. Every day there is kimchi, rice, and some kind of soup. The other two dishes vary, usually one being a vegetable and the other a meat. We’ve had some chicken, fish, and pork, but also lots of octopus and pig intestines one day. I took a rain check on the intestines.

Break room in Korean school

This is the secret and magical place that I recently found out about–the female teacher’s lounge!! Beds to take a nap on “when your body condition isn’t good”, a comfy couch, and oh, why yes, that IS a FRIGGIN MASSAGE CHAIR. I guess they figure we’ll need it after being beaten up by the kids all day.

My Apartment:

My street and building in Korea

This is my alleyway and my apartment building. That’s my window on the top right!

My apartment in Korea

My cozy little studio apartment. I still need some more furniture and to decorate it obviously, but at least my bags are finally all unpacked.

My apartment in Korea

In the bathroom, you’ll note there is no shower… Above the sink is the shower nozzle. Just turn it on and go to town! In Asia they use “wet bathrooms”, which means the floor has a drain and you just shower in the room. It’s very inconvenient in case you forget to put away your toilet paper or makeup, and then your bathroom is soaking wet for hours afterward. Also, I have a washer–which is nice–but no dryer–which is not so nice. Hang drying all your clothes in the cold winter is an art I’ve yet to master.

My apartment in Korea

There’s my TV that only has two buttons on it; sometimes they change the channel, and sometimes they change the volume. But 90% of the time they only turn the volume up… So I can’t watch my TV presently because the volume is set to full blast and it’s stuck on a Korean infomercial channel. How ideal.

Dinner in my apartment in Korea

What most of my meals at home look like: ramen with egg, and occasionally a vegetable. I’m gourmet, I know.

 

My Neighborhood:

Market next to my house in Korea

My alleyway opens up into an outdoor market with a wealth of amazing street food, fruit and vegetable vendors, and shops that sell everything I could possibly need–including the new staple of my diet, hotteuks: a fried pancake filled with melted sugar and cinnamon. And I wonder why Korea is making me fat.

Market next to my house in Korea

Another market a few blocks from my house.

Street near my house in Korea

The main street that I cross every day to get to school. I leave my apartment, pass through the market, cross this street, and voila! I arrive at school!

Market near my house in KoreaMarket near my house in KoreaMy favorite dumpling place near my houseMandu dumplings in KoreaA few days ago I went exploring and came across these amazing dumplings near my house… $2 for 3 giant mandu dumplings, freshly hand rolled and steamed and served from a smiling old Korean man and his friendly wife. Amazing. Eating hotteuk in my neighborhood market

Tonight a few friends came for a visit and we explored the market, eating dumplings and hotteuks. Aside from my pants starting to feel a little tight, Korea has treated me well so far. I think I’ll do a little food porn post soon to show you all the incredible food I’ve been stuffing my face with… Though I might be on a diet by then.

 

  • Glad things are looking good over there!
    PS: I can’t wait for that food porn post… those dumplings are a good preview 🙂

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      Thanks, Katherina! Yes, food porn coming soon… haha. I’ve turned into one of those annoying people that takes a picture of every meal before they eat it, lol.

  • Awesome post, and your school looks fantastic! We have an english room like yours but I only get to teach in it sometimes, with the top level an bottom level students. Huge apartment!

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      Thanks Katherine! Yeah having my own English room is pretty nice. I think the panorama shot of my room may make it look bigger than it really is, haha… but it’s spacious enough for my needs. 🙂

  • Tiela Black-Law

    Hahaha I literally laughed out loud about your TV stuck on the Korean infomercial channel…which was awkward considering I’m sitting at my desk, and my coworkers know nothing of your international hijinx. Love the posts, and MISS YOU!! =)

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      Haha well it IS pretty ridiculous!! Trust me, there are plenty more hijinx to come. MISS YOU TOO!!!!!!

  • This post made me miss Korea something severely! But it looks like you are settling in nicely…enjoy your time, it goes by so fast 🙂

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      Aww I can imagine you must miss Korea! But now you’re off on some grand adventures, right? Have fun! I’m having a blast so far, but it’s SO true that time flies, I can feel that already.

  • Hi there
    My daughter was on her way to Japan after graduating college to teach English, but discovered that she was pregnant before graduation. The pediatrician tells her to wait a year before going abroad. How hard do you think it would be for a single mom teaching abroad in your area?

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      Hi Tonya, that’s a tough question! I admire the fact that your daughter still wants to pursue her dream of teaching English abroad even with a little one in tow! To be honest, I think it would be quite a challenge, but not impossible. Probably the toughest thing for her would be arranging child care that she can communicate with and trusts. In Korea, English teachers generally work 40 hours per week, though if you work in an after school program or at a private academy you can find jobs with a few less hours. There is a large contingent of American families here as a part of the military, so she would be able to connect with other English speaking mothers and children that way. I think the most difficult thing would be not having a support network (like her mother, for example) to help out in situations like emergencies, but the expat community is very tight knit around here and she could easily make friends, I think. Overall, if it’s something she wants to do, then I say she should do it! Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it, and growing up in a different culture could be a great opportunity for her child. If you have any more questions, please feel free to message me. Cheers!