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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is my alleyway and my apartment building. That’s my window on the top right!
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.
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.
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.
What most of my meals at home look like: ramen with egg, and occasionally a vegetable. I’m gourmet, I know.
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.
Another market a few blocks from my house.
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!
A 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.
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.