And we’re off to Jeju! For all you Americans, I think you will find traveling in Korea a bit shocking. We were flying from the mainland to Jeju… I think we showed up at the airport 45 minutes before our flight left, which is crazy you know because we have 12 people to get tickets, check baggage, and get through security. Wrong! Security in the US=hell… Security in Korea=we just passed through security? There is no wait in line… Not even 1 minute! You keep your shoes AND jacket on! They put everything through the xray machine for you. Piece of cake! Our flight was 45 minutes and we landed in the rain on Jeju Island… We are home!
The first week of being in Jeju was a little… Foreign (for lack of a better word). We first met our co-teachers, mine of which was the very last one to show up… And very late at that. Then in walks this little petite Korean girl in stillettos, skinny jeans, a long furry vest, and a Prada purse. The first thought that went through my head was “Awesome.. I got the biggest diva on the island for my co-teacher.” Turns out Eun-mi is my savior! She is the most amazing, helpful, fun, smart co-teacher EVER! She told me right then and there that we are going to be friends.
After that it was another bus ride to our new homes for the next year. It basically felt like we were pushed out of the van by Mr. Han and left to fend for ourselves. Besides furniture, there was NOTHING in my apartment! And I had to go to the bathroom soooo bad! I live out in the country where there is nothing but two restaurants and two tiny convenient stores. I ran to the c-store to find some toilet paper… After looking around for 5 minutes, I finally just asked where it was. Low and behold, it’s on the top shelf on the complete opposite side of the tiny store of where all the rest of the toiletries are… Which makes perfect sense of course.
The next day I met all my co-teachers. All of which speak English… Except two that struggle with it, but still enough for me to understand (for the most part anyways). I met the Principal (King of the school) and Vice Principal and gave them their gifts. I was told it was customary… They seemed really surprised that I was giving them gifts. It was a little awkward as I stood there bowing holding out their gifts and they just sat there asking Eun-mi what was going on.
I also had my first experience at E-Mart (basically the equivalent to Wal-Mart), which was interesting. I’m used to carts where only the front two wheels swivel and the back two are stationary… Not here. All four wheels swivel. Made for an interesting time trying to control the cart. Haha. Fruits and vegetables are NOT weighed at the register. There is an employee that weighs them right there in the produce section. As a former cashier, this is a brilliant idea!
My first time on a public bus in Korea. We were heading out to meet some friends for dinner and a night out. At the bus stop, there was this little old woman holding a plastic bag. Every now and then you’d hear a “meow.” We couldn’t figure out where it was coming from until a little kitten poked its head out from the bag. The lady kept pushing it back in. By the time the lady got off, I didn’t hear much more meowing… Hope the little guy was okay.
First time on the bus by myself… Well I’m still here to tell about it so it’s not so horrible, but it wasn’t fun. I apparently got on the wrong bus because the bus driver all of a sudden told everyone to get off. We were at the edge of town on the complete opposite side of the city that I needed to be. Great! There wasn’t a bus stop in sight. So I backtracked for 10-15 minutes until I found one. Not a single person there could/would speak enough English to help me out. Went to the next one and there was hope! The lady didn’t speak English, but with the help of the translator on her phone she was able to help me get on the right bus. My angel!