Today marks the start of my second week living in Seoul and one week since I arrived in the city to start working as an English teacher! I have had very limited internet access, with no WiFi in my apartment (except a weak open connection by my window) and no Korean SIM card to have internet data while I’m out and about, but I’ve discovered that my local Ediya Coffee café has open (and fast!) WiFi, so I’m stationed there right now writing this post. (I also stop to stand next to it every day on the way to work and also when I’m walking to the subway…)
Leaving the UK was genuinely terrifying. Not because I was scared of moving abroad – I’ve done that before – but the fact that this time I would be leaving (kind of) indefinitely is what was so scary. Saying goodbye to my family was sad, but not heartbreaking (no offence family!) but I cried the most at leaving my 14-year-old doggy and the thought that she might not be around next time I go home, whenever that may be. It took a lot of strength to move my feet and walk through security at Gatwick Airport, but somehow I managed it, and 17 hours later (with only 2 hours of sleep) I arrived in Incheon International Airport where I was met by a driver who took me directly to my school. I was explained a lot of things that I didn’t retain due to tiredness, and found out my apartment currently has no bed, which made me want to cry – all I wanted to do was curl up in a bed in my flat and sleep forever! Alas, I have been surviving with thick blankets and a floor heating system, and my bed will be here in a couple of days…hopefully.
Work has been crazy, and understandably so, as it was the first day of the school year on Thursday! Tuesday was spent preparing, reading lesson plans, creating classroom decorations and meeting my coworkers properly. I have a homeroom class of TEN first-year four-year-olds, meaning they speak ZERO English and have never been to school before. They pay me next to no attention unless I’m singing a song or getting them to yell and be noisy, so I’m quickly trying to think of songs to get them to learn words and phonics! I had a little boy try to tell me that his English name is T-Rex, and I’ve already had to tell a kid off for touching my boobs (and not in a little-kid-being-grabby way – he had a naughty grin on his face as he did it). They’re a lot to handle, but I keep reminding myself to have patience, as I’m only two days in and things will get better/easier with time. All my other classes are wonderful, particularly my five-year-olds during the morning. There are only five of them, they’ve been at pre-school for a year already and they’re SUPER cute and love speaking English and participating in class!
Outside work, life has been good to me so far! I’ve eaten some great good, seen old friends and had a little explore of the area I’m living in. I’ve already been out for karaoke, found out how to get to the University of Seoul (where I went to the summer school in 2013) and I’ve experienced the difficulty of getting a taxi as a foreigner. I’ve not finished setting my flat up yet, but I have crockery and a few little home comforts, and my mum is arriving on Friday with a suitcase of my things, including lots of little bits for decoration! It’ll feel like home in no time…well, as soon as I get that bed!
The hardest thing for me so far has been learning to live without immediate access to internet. I hate to admit it, but I use my phone and laptop ALL the time, and not being able to use them to speak to family, check my social networks and write for this blog has been a challenge. But it’s been interesting without them. It’s meant that I’ve put my phone away while I’m out and about, and I’ve paid a lot more attention to my surroundings. I’ve noticed just how much the people here are on their phones, heads down, lost in their own worlds, and it’s a little bit freaky, I’ll admit!
I’ve picked up some new words already, and am fast becoming a regular at this coffee shop! I’m slowly starting to feel at home in this crazy, busy city, and I’m enjoying the process. I still have a lot to figure out, but I can’t run before I can walk, and why would I want to, when there are so many things I would miss if I ran through the streets here?