(Sorry about the crappily posted pictures. We're still trying to figure out how this new-fangled blogspot works. :) )
I know Caleen said we were going to talk about our school this time around, but I’ve decided to derail things for a bit. Instead, I feel compelled to let you all in on my traveling experience and first impressions of life in
Sitting at Gate C 103 in the efficiently organized and comfortable surroundings of LAX last Friday, it all started to come together for me. I had been a busier version of myself on steroids for the last week or so, and the adrenaline rush that comes with the mass amounts of preparation for international travel was finally starting to taper off. It was clear that I would have nothing to do for the next five hours.
Looking around the nearly empty terminal at 7:30 that morning, I didn’t know what to think. I had just seen my friends and family for the last time for a year, and I was presently puzzled and somewhat ashamed that I hadn’t cried yet. I have a knack for crying at inappropriate times, so I feared I was postponing my emotional devastation for the middle of a Korean grocery store or some other public place. It turns out I was saving it for my first day of work, but I’ll talk about that later.
Anyway, I was thinking about all this when I saw the man I had seen at the Korean Air ticket counter. I remember him because he was the only other American in line, and he had slung his backpack around his chest instead of his back, making him look like an extremely pregnant man. He was rocking back and forth as he stood in a line of stoic Korean faces, and I remember thinking to myself that I’d somehow be stuck next to him that day. Turns out, I was right. Having recognized me from the Korean Air ticket counter, he sat down 2 seats from me and struck up a conversation.
After discerning that this man wasn’t a psycho or trying to hit on me I found, to my relief, that he was a pretty normal guy. He had been home for the last few weeks after being stationed in
After our discussion, my new friend was off making small talk with a military comrade, so I took it as an opportunity to find something to eat other than spicy peanuts. Unlike the other airport I’ve been to, however, there wasn’t much to choose from. So after settling for an $8 below-par, bun-less hot dog and a small drink, I made my way back to the gate, where I stood stunned by the
Now, having worked at a place like World Relief, where I had grown more or less accustomed to being around people from all over the world, I expected to take on my new life in
It also occurred to me that I didn’t know who these people were at all. Even though I’d read a bit about Korean culture and society, the Korean people were still a complete mystery to me. I kept asking myself: Who are these people? What do they value? And more important to me at the time: What do they think about me? With so few answers, it scared me to think that in that moment I would have felt more comfortable moving to
Now to move on to the more recent information that you have waited so patiently for…
As some of you may have heard, our time here in
I think Caleen would agree that the first few days have been the hardest. In those few days you’re so busy trying to figure out what’s expected of you and how their crazy system works that it’s hard to get everything done. Fortunately for us, however, we’ve both adapted pretty well. I almost don’t resent how much extra time and effort it all takes anymore. The kids are also great. With the exception of a few less-than-well-behaved children, they all seem to really like Caleen and me, which makes our jobs a little easier. Although, I think the only reason they like Caleen so much is because she bribes them with prizes and games. :)
Outside of work, the most interesting aspects of our lives are probably exploring Chung-Ju without getting hopelessly lost and figuring out what to eat. I swear; I’ve never had such a hard time eating in my life. The food we’ve had so far isn’t our favorite and all the labels in the stores are in Korean, so we probably spend more time trying to figure out labels than we do actually shopping. It’s tiring. We seriously spent at least 15 minutes in front of a display of fabric softeners, trying to figure out if they were all indeed fabric softeners. I must say, however, I probably like shopping here more than just about anything else. The husband of one of our co-workers, Matt, is from the States, so he has kind of taken us under his wing in helping us get adjusted. He took us around town yesterday to give us a better idea of what the city is like and gave us a tour of the downtown area. It was pretty fun. We mostly just went into clothing shops and through the traditional market place, but it brought us an excitement about living here that was refreshing.
Well, that’s about all I can muster at this point. We will try to post a new blog every Sunday. Feel free to ask any questions in the meantime. Again, we love you, miss you, and are so thankful for your prayers and encouragement! Thanks for stopping by!