I will first introduce you to the city, Chungju.
The people here in Chungju are very kind. Almost everywhere I go I am greeted with an An-nyeong-ha-se-yo, which literally means, are you at peace? Most people though regard it as a hello/good morning/good afternoon and goodnight.
About every morning (5:00 to be exact)I am woken up by the foggy daylight. Very rarely do I see the sun, but when I do, nobody is hardly in sight. In fact, I realized that when I was walking to the school, the only thing I could hear was the rhythm and step of my own feet and the hum and buzz of insects in the fields. People try to avoid the sun at all costs because it is so hot here. At first it was difficult to sleep at night, but I'm able to sleep through it now and that's all that matters.
Chungju City is comprised of mostly apartment buildings, some restaurants, supermarkets, schools and churches. It's a fairly small city (not so much in terms of population however). At night you can pinpoint where the churches are because they are lit up by red crosses. It's pretty spectacular. There are all modes of transportation here; buses, cars, bikes...walking (you name it). What's really nice, is that they actually abide by the traffic laws (unlike China).
What I found to be very interesting, is that people are very conscientious to recycle. And when I say recycle- they recycle everything! It's quite the opposite from the U.S. Everyone is required to use special bags for garbage and recycling. Whenever anyone makes a trip to the supermarket, they are given a bag to recycle with. People actually have to buy a bag to use for garbage!
I live next door to a cute little old lady (about 4 ft. tall). She is so sweet. I wish I could understand her! She greets me with the warmest an-nyeong-ha-se-yo and proceeds to walk with me as I leave my apartment. My goal is to be able to converse with her. This little lady is so helpful too. She gave me tips on how to lock the door and even reminded me (as she showed me through the peep hole in mu door) that I left my lights on all day. Imagine that!:) I did it the next day too (unknowingly of course) and I think she gave me a lecture in Korean! I guess I need someone to keep me in line.:) Not sure why she was looking through the hole in my door...I think I'm going to cover it up from now on (just to be on the safe side).
What I really like about Koreans is that they have a high respect for their elders. In fact, people bow and offer their services to them whenever they can. The Koreans' nature all around is very hospitable from what I can tell. It's bizarre though that no one has showed me around or invited me to do anything. I'm guessing it's a cultural thing where they have to build a relationship with you first before they spend time with you. I've only just begun to see a small part of that.All in all, I'm thankful for this experience and I'm anxious to see how my impressions will change over time.
Next...experiences as a teacher in the Korean haegwon.