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Published: September 18th 2007
Arrival in Busan
Typical Korea. 49 million people in area the size of Tasmania and mostly mountains means very condensed living and growing of crops in green houses.
Arrival in Korea
Well, I’ve been here about three weeks now and it’s been all go, go go. I met about 20 other new Foreign Teachers (FTs) for orientation in the nearest big city (Daegu) they were mostly Americans and I was the only Australian. Evidentially, we are ‘pioneers’ on a new project to bring FTs as co-teachers with an English speaking Korean teacher to schools in country areas. We will both be in the class at the same time (mostly)
After a couple of days being spoilt on Western buffet meals, we agreed to keep in touch and meet up in Daegu every now and then. Now was the time to move to our respective areas. The house was not quiet ready but now I’ve now moved from school-paid motel to the house and still settling in. As I eat my poached eggs with pointy knife, spoon and chopsticks with no salt, (after a very quick shopping trip) more brand new furniture keeps arriving.
We were told at the orientation to ‘expect the unexpected’, which I was expecting. A beautiful forty minute drive leads to the town I will be working in. It’s very hilly and
lots of rain in the late wet season.
green everywhere- a really dark green everywhere that seems like it’s going to consume the road even. They are having a late wet season here too, just like in Australia. The humid weather is almost over and getting into nice weather sometimes. It will be a nice area for walking and exploring. A minor problem is that everything is all spread out along the road along the river-valley and that I will need to be driven everywhere or catch many buses.
The area, in a small village, is really ‘pretty’ rather than beautiful (I’ve even got a mountain view; third time in a row!!); the school and teachers office are very pleasant; there is no pollution and so far no noise. The school and town are smaller than expected. The students are also well behaved and classes are around 20 students. I still have to get used to them bowing to me in the corridors.
My co-teacher is the only one who speaks English and she is very capable, sociable and friendly. She has spent a lot of time so far helping me settle in. I am beginning to feel guilty.
The other school where I work on Wednesday
and Thursday, is even smaller than the first school. Two of the classes have only 3 students!! The school used to have over 500!
So now I have access to two computers at school and one at home with Broadband. I‘m glad I didn’t bring my own computer; it would have been a real hassle. I really enjoy my 5 days at school.
It sounds almost perfect, doesn’t it? So what’s the “unexpected”? This job will be different in that privacy will be an issue. I thought I would have an apartment to myself (as is usually the case in these jobs); the house actually belongs to a church which is next door. The minister and his wife are the landlords living self-contained upstairs. All amenities in the brand new house and yard are very good and the lounge is very big with extra rooms and the whole place is too big for me. I am the only person who uses the kitchen, but it appears that even though I may have my own bedroom, other people may be using other parts of the house at other times and on Sunday the big lounge room becomes a children’s work-shop
situation most of the day. Of course I was not happy with this, as most Westerners would not be.
There is no other accommodation available in the area. I was seriously considering leaving, but that would have meant that my chances of getting another job in Korea (now or ever, without hassles) would be zero and I don’t like backing out even before I start, especially since most other conditions are really good.
The people here do not realize how much Westerners value privacy, so they did not think that sharing the lounge room with others would be a problem. But I will probably use that day for traveling around the area and shopping in the big city. The ‘worst case scenario’ is when I feel like having a quiet Sunday; then I will just have to lock myself in my room. Now I will have quiet Saturdays at home instead. They all want to consider me as part of their family and it seems they are willing to partly compromise to my concerns. The reason they also want a foreign teacher in the area is to attract students back to the rural area. They keep bringing me food; too
I would have backed out except for the fact that all other conditions are really good. The people are really friendly here; the work seems like it will be interesting and I have not had a single major problem so far. I realized that I would have to compromise coming to a new country ( that’s half the fun). However for someone who enjoys being alone in the countryside and may not see another person for four or five days of the week at my home in Australia, this is a big ‘compromise’. So, I rationalized that this should be “a living experiment in privacy and community living”. I mean, I REALLY rationalized.
So, I’m still here after three weeks. It is still early days yet and still settling in. There should be about 2 months of good (walking) weather before winter.
Please feel free to add any comments. I hope to send more photos next time when the weather is better.
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