As we write this blog post we are so happy to say that we are finally in our new home, our very first new home as newlyweds! Here’s how we got there….
Our last day of orientation came quickly! The night before we had a LOT to pack up, like way too much. I think we win for the teachers who have the most stuff. It took a long time, but we treated ourselves after by walking down the hill to get a fresh churro, so it was good. J
|Ready to meet our co-teachers!|
|Lined up in the Lobby.|
I (Val) found my new co-teacher Jin and sat with her. She is very nice, young (Maybe 26? 27?), and I am her 2nd co-teacher she has ever had. I had heard great things about her before from the previous NET so I was excited. Unfortunately, Tyler went on stage and after found out that his co-teacher was not there yet. So he waited.
After the ceremony, a slide show, and some speeches we all made our way into another ballroom to eat lunch together. Tyler joined us at the table and was told that his school messed up and that someone was on their way for him! After lunch we went up to our hotel room and dragged all our stuff (4 giant/heavy suitcases, our backpacking backpacks, our briefcases and 2 big reusable grocery bags filled with home goods) down to the lobby. Tyler’s co-teacher finally arrived so I went with Jin and he went with his co-teacher. This was a little stressful as we do not have working cell phones yet and rely on wifi to communicate. We knew wifi would be hard to come by where we were going so we prepared by having Tyler write down Jin’s cell phone number just in case! Off we went in a mad rush to get out of the hotel as everyone else was trying to leave to go to the same place as well. We had quite a fun time getting all my stuff into her car, but somehow it worked!
Our first stop was the Immigration Office to apply for the Ailen Registration Card (ARC)! This card is very important as we cannot set up our cell phone plan, internet plan, or get a bank account without it. We drove about 25 minutes through Gwangju to get there, trying to go fast to beat everyone else! Jin obviously knew how long the wait would be, so she was on a mission! When we got there (we were about the 4th people there!) we took a number, filled out a form and sat down to wait another 30 minutes because it was “Lunch time.” Haha! So we waited and talked as the office got more and more crowded. Finally our number was called and we got some the paperwork processing. Tyler and his co-teacher showed up and I was able to meet her! I’ll let Tyler tell you about his experience with his own post! J
|Waiting in the Immigration office!|
Once we left immigration we drove out of Gwangju to Hwasun, our new hometown! This area is BEAUTIFUL! Lush green hills are all over, it’s very nice! As we were driving to Hwasun there was a pretty good sized city with lots of tall aparment buildings and things, my teacher pointed and said, “that is where your apartment is”. I was shocked because I did not know Hwasun was that big of a city, I thought we were going somewhere rural. So to me, it’s big! Lol! We passed Hwasun though as she wanted to take me to Neungju, where my “home school” is and set up a bank account. When we arrived in Neungju I realized what the difference between a city and a town is. J We went into the bank to set up my new account. Remember when I said you have to have your ARC card to do that? Well, sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. Apparently it depends! They let me set one up because I had the receipt with my ARC # on it, so I was happy for that! The process was very long (about 1 hour) and I signed my name a million times. But in the end I have an account and a check card, yay!
After the bank we drove just 2 more minutes down the road to my home school Neungju Elementary! It is a decent sized school with a giant soccer field in the front. This school is called a “Soccer school” because there is a boys team here that competes. Most of these boys apparently live in dormitories near the school (I haven’t seen them yet) and only see their families on the weekend. I’ll have to learn more about that later.
When we walked in there was construction everywhere. They are apparently re-doing all the floors or something, but it was a mess! I’m excited to see what it will look like! Jin showed me where to take my shoes off and store them, where to get the room key, and where the English classroom is! I cannot wait to post about my classroom, because it is so cool, but I’ll wait until I have more photos first! J
After all of that, we went to meet the vice principal. She was very nice and welcoming! She and Jin talked and she asked a few questions. I so wish I spoke Korean because I would love to talk to her more! After some smiling and nodding we began walking out the door when Jin told me that the VP said I do not have to come to work tomorrow so I can prepare things at my new home. I was so surprised! I quickly turned around and said thank you, probably out of context, but I was so grateful! I found out that I do not have students until September 1st, so all next week I will be preparing/leanring the curriculum. It’s nice not to have to just jump in…however Jin, my co-teacher, will not be there at all…so I will be alone…and that will definitely be an adventure! ;)
Our next stop was one of my travel schools. It’s another rural school and takes about 15-20 extra minutes to get there. When we arrived, I noticed it was definitely a smaller school, but still bigger than I expected for a total of 40 students who attend there! It was very colorful on the outside and had a nice garden in the front. It too was surrounded by giant green hills, so pretty! I met the Principal there and he was SO kind! He liked to laugh and joke and he spoke a small amount of English. Instead of a quick greeting like we did at my other school, he invited us to sit down around the table in his office and his secretary brought us each a plate of small grapes! The grapes here are SO delicious, they literally smell and taste like the concord grape juice at home, the only problem is they have seeds inside. We sat, ate, and talked (I mostly listened, smiled, and nodded) and sometimes I would answer some questions like what my favorite Korean food is or where did I go on my honeymoon. I really liked that principal and am excited to work in that school with such few students.
After we left that school we traveled to my 3rd school. Instead of getting out and meeting the principal, Jin just pointed to the school and we drove away. I don’t think she was ready for another sit down conversation and it was getting late (about 4:30) so we headed back to Hwasun. Tyler called Jin’s phone from his co-teachers phone so we were able to tell him the address of where we were going (thank gosh!). When we arrived, Jin explained how I can tell my apartment from all the other apartments, which is really good because they all literally look the same. Then we pulled up the comeplex. As I said earlier, I have a lot of stuff, heavy stuff! Our apartment is on the 2nd floor and unfortunately the elevators do not go to the 2nd floor. So we decided to take the small stuff up first and leave the big luggage by the car.
We opened up the door to the apartment and I was pleasantly surprised with how big it is (Korea big). We have a small entry way, small closet, an office, kitchen, laundry porch, bathroom and living/bedroom area. It was clean and it was ours!
Jin started trying to show me how to work everything, like turning on the electricity, turning on the hot water, and using the washer and gas stove. As she was doing that, Tyler and his co-teacher came in with my 2 giant luggage bags (hallelujah!). Then we all went on a little adventure to find the bus terminal where we both will take buses on certain days. After that, they dropped us off, we said our goodbyes, and we were finally on our own!
These are pictures from the first day....we are working on decorating/organizing our apartment! After that, we will make a video of everything! :)
|Those are our sheets...not comforter. We did just buy a new comforter though!|
|Representing the Beavers with our OSU orange leather couch! haha!|
|The office/closet room.|
|Our entryway...being very American with our US flags...haha those are just gifts that we are displaying for now.|
Exhausted and starving we decided we needed to go to Tyler’s assigned apartment to get all of his stuff back to our apartment. Thankfully, it’s only a few blocks away! Tyler’s assigned apartment is much more new and modern than mine. It’s really nice! But it’s TINY! It’s probably only half the size of our apartment. It will be a great guest apartment for visitors though!
|Tyler's assigned apartment!|
|Almost everything is in one room, but it's all really nice stuff!|
|Tiny Kitchen! Can you imagine cooking in there?|
|You would have to use the little refrigerator as counter space!|
|We can't wait to have our guests stay here though! It's a great little place! Perfect for 1 person!|
After we tackled dragging our stuff down the streets of Hwasun, we left our apartment to find food! We found a great little pizza place (yep, American food) and had a nice dinner there! It might just become one of our favorite places…$6 pepperoni pizza for 2 people! Haha!
Tyler spent the rest of the night working on his introduction power point for his first day of class and I started unpacking. It was a long day and we were so excited to sleep…but we didn’t even get to bed till midnight...oops!
Stay tuned for Tyler’s post about his experiences! But for now, we have a full Saturday of fixing up our apartment, learning to cook in our apartment, and exploring the city! Hope everyone is doing well!
~Ty and Val