Published: March 20th 2010February 28th 2010
My front door
It's close to 10pm on my second night in Korea when we finally arrive at mine and Tim's apartments on Geoje Island. It's felt like a long time coming. Leon first takes us into Tim's apartment, which is in an old building that may have once been a house or maybe a duplex, but is now divided into a four unit apartment building. There is a tall apartment building next door that Leon points to and says, "Kailie apartment." We climb the stairs to Tim's second floor apartment, kick our shoes off at the door and walk into the kitchen. It's got a pretty rank smell, but overall looks nice enough. From the kitchen we're through to the bedroom, which has an awesome bay window, then on to the bathroom, which is also the shower and laundry room. Despite the stench and some mold on the ceiling above the bay window, I liked his apartment a lot! He is in such a cool looking building and as I looked next door to my straight, tall, boring looking apartment building, I started to worry about what mine would look like. Leon must've seen how anxious I was, because just as he was
starting to pull Tim's bags out of the van, he stopped, handed me my key, said, "302," and I was off!
I ran up the stairs with the motion censored lights snapping on with each turn onto the next flight. Finally, 302. I turned the key and opened my door. It didn't smell bad...so that was a good start. I have a little nook as soon as you open the door, where I kick off my shoes before entering...this is a must in Korea! Then, I step up into my kitchen. My fridge is bigger than a mini-fridge, but smaller than a normal-sized fridge, which is perfect! I have a nice, big sink and a drying rack, lots of cupboard space and a small range with some wicked Looney Toons stickers as a backdrop. Straight off my kitchen is my bathroom, the whole of which is also my shower, with a drain in the middle. Easier to clean! Then, I have those really cool Asian sliding doors between my kitchen and bedroom. My bedroom is big with a bed, desk with book shelf and wardrobe closet in it. Then, I have another set of even more beautiful Asian sliding
doors, which open up to the laundry room. I actually have a laundry room! And in my laundry room I have a stand alone storage cabinet with drawers and a washing machine. Sweet.
Tim headed back to his apartment and Leon, thank goodness, carried my big bags up to my apartment while I brought up the little ones. He'd been taking Tim's things up while we were checking out my place, so by the time he got my bags upstairs, he was off. I headed back over to Tim's and we began to discuss the stench and where it could be coming from, when Tim pulled his fridge away from the wall. There was a bamboo wall hanging behind the fridge, so he lifted that up, only to find a door behind it! The fridge would just barely come away from the wall, so we couldn't open the door very far, but we did and the smell got ten time worse!! I covered my face and squeezed halfway into the door to try to see what was in this mystery room and it looked like a storage area with tons of boxes stacked up, among other things. We shut
the door, pushed the fridge back, dubbed it the 'creep room,' and decided to explore it later. Tim locked up his place and came over to watch a movie on my computer. We were tired, still jet-lagged and wanted a relaxing first night on the island.
I woke the next morning to my new apartment and as I stepped out of bed, I was greeted with a heated floor on my bare feet. The heating in Korea is all done through water pipes that run under the floor, so to heat your apartment, means you heat your floor. It is wonderful! I checked the time and it was 5:30am! I definitely could've gotten up, but decided it made much more sense to go back to sleep and try to get adjusted to my new time zone. Two hours later, my doorbell rang. Tim, having no conception of time, had been up for awhile. He arrived bright eyed from a good nights sleep and said he figured it was sometime around noon, not 7:30am! Nonetheless, I was ready to get up, so I made us coffee and we chilled out until around 9am when we figured things would be open
I was cooking! Mmm!!
and we could go get some food. On a side note, my doorbell is awesome! I have a video screen and what looks like a phone on the wall and when someone rings my doorbell, they show up on the camera and I can pick up the phone to talk to them if I want. It's super unnecessary, because my apartment is nowhere near large enough to need to talk over the phone instead of just opening the door, but I think it's pretty great anyway.
So we spent our Saturday discovering our neighborhood and did a test walk to work, to make sure we knew where we were going. Laney and Cathy (the two Korean teachers at our school) told us they'd be picking us up at 4pm to go to school and meet the new Kindergartners parents. So by the time 4pm rolled around we'd had a good day of exploring. We'd met a guy whose English name is Brian and he works at the local super market and has very good English. He makes gimbap and told us he'd give us a teachers discount, so he was a good person to meet! We'd gotten ready and
Shower, sink, dangerously hanging light fixture and stolen kimono from Japan
were waiting downstairs when Laney and Cathy showed up for us. We drove to the school and on the way they informed us that we'd need to prepare a speech introducing ourselves to the parents. What?!! When they told us about this 4pm parent meeting, they said it would take about 20 minutes and it was nothing to worry about. Now a speech!
We arrived at Beyond Advanced for the first time. We headed up to the 3rd floor of the building and walked into a nice foyer with a large reception desk. There is a computer lab, a small library, the teachers lounge and classrooms. They led us to the teachers lounge, which is a room with four desks and two computers. Laney's desk it backed up to mine and we share a computer, then Cathy and Tim share the other computer and each have a desk. It's a small, but cozy teacher's lounge. We dropped our stuff here and headed up to the 4th floor which has a lot of books and a play room. We see children and parents wandering around, but they send us right back down to the 3rd floor and tell us to
Rest of the bathroom
wait in the teachers lounge. We are to prepare our speeches and they will come for us in about 30 minutes to do our speech. Tim and I were freaking out! I hate public speaking and I had no idea how many parents were there.
So, 3 turmoil-filled hours later, they finally come for us. We head back up to the 4th floor and there is a room full of about 25-30 parents. Laney walked in, followed by me, then Tim, and then Cathy. Everyone clapped for us and we stood at the front of the room. The school's president (owner) introduced us (I'm assuming..it was in Korean of course) and then Laney went into her speech. Tim and I had been contenting ourselves with the fact that no one would really be able to understand us, but we were both super nervous anyway. As soon as Laney finished I did my bit. It was not as terrible as I'd anticipated and I made it through without passing out...although I did say the whole speech in one breath and may have felt slightly light-headed by the end of it. We did our speeches, they clapped again, and we were
Bed, wardrobe and shoe closet
sent right back down to the teachers lounge. Whew!
So our 20 minute meet the parents turned into a 3 1/2 hour waiting/speech giving meet the parents. We had not eaten before leaving, because we figured we'd try a restaurant around the school after meeting the parents, so by this time we were starving! As we were standing downstairs, a man came over, who had twins, a boy he'd named John and a girl he'd named Julie. His English was pretty good, so we talked to him for a bit. It was interesting, because he fully talked to Tim the entire time, even after Laney told him that I would be teaching his children, he continued to talk directly to Tim. Noticing those types of cultural things are always so interesting to me. He was very nice though and gave us each his business card and said to let him know if we ever needed help with anything. As he was talking to us (to Tim) I kind of drifted off and starting playing with the kids, cause they were really cute. I was playing peek-a-boo with Julie. So, when they were leaving, she could not stop staring at
me and waving to me. I was waving and saying goodbye and then just as they were getting on the elevator to go, she broke free from her dad's grasp and ran straight to me. I knelt down and she jumped into my arms! It was the cutest thing ever!! So I gave her a big hug and then she was off, waving furiously as she went. I knew I already had a favorite.
Finally, we got to go eat. We had a good dinner and another relaxing night, as we were both still too worn out to do anything interesting. So, other than the surprise speech, there was another surprise in store for me. I was told that there was a problem with my work visa. The visa I had said that I was working in Tongyeong, not on Geoje-do, so they said they'd be sending me to Fukuoka, Japan on Monday to expire my work visa and get a new work visa with the proper address on it. I was slightly daunted by the fact that I hadn't even gotten over jet-lag and I'd already be traveling again, but I remembered that my Japanese friend Yuki had
Shoe closet close-up! Yes, I came prepared, because you can't buy a shoe over size 7!
moved from Kyoto to Fukuoka for a job, so I figured I'd be able to get together with her and make the best out of the unexpected trip.
On Sunday, we were eating lunch when I brought up the 'creep room' and asked Tim if he was ready to explore it. I was so anxious to find out what was in there; Tim on the other hand, was less enthusiastic. He reluctantly agreed to go check it out after lunch. So, we headed back to his place, wrapped our faces in handkerchiefs, forced the fridge away from the wall and opened the door to the 'creep room.' The stench was horrendous! We were both standing in the doorway, looking over all the piled up stuff and making loud sounds of disgust while talking about how repulsive it smelled when I leaned into the room and saw that there were stairs going down to the right. I said, "Dude! It's not just a room, there's stairs!" And then it clicked...we realized that we were standing at the top of his downstairs neighbors stairway/storage area, being loudly disgusted by their stench! We closed up the door, replaced the bamboo on the
My desk and bookshelf
wall and pushed the fridge back. Tim was relieved that it wasn't just a creepy room off his apartment, but we now figure that his downstairs neighbors aren't our biggest fans! It was pretty funny nonetheless.
The remainder of the weekend involved a lot of laziness and movie watching. We wanted to explore the island, but knew we'd appreciate it more when we were actually feeling up to it and also considered the fact that we've got a whole year to check it out! I'd sent a message to Yuki, who was excited to meet up with me, so I knew that would make my trip. I unpacked enough to pack my small backpack for Japan and tried to rest up for the next journey..
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