Flight and First Week

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Have you ever felt almost anxiety-inducing excitement and extreme exhaustion at the same time? You’re wired, can’t sleep, but all you can think about is lying down, finding some quiet time, some private space. Maybe it’s the introvert in me, but by the time I got off my fourteen-hour flight and got on the 5400 bus heading to Bundang, I felt all of this and more. I couldn’t wait to see my new home, and I couldn’t wait to sleep.

My first full day in Korea was incredibly lonely. I’d been given the day to rest, which was nice before my first day of work, but I was alone in a strange new place, with nowhere to go except the grocery store, and nothing to do because I had yet to find adapters for my American electronic plugs. I was shy about walking into a coffee shop and ordering in Korean. It was even a challenge just to get myself to walk out the door! I thought, will people think I’m weird? Will I embarrass myself somehow? Will they wonder why I’m here?

Of course, I had nothing to worry about. I walked out the door and just kept on walking, exploring, peeking into shops and galleries and other businesses. Still, I felt isolated, walking in a world of strangers. I focused, instead, on the city itself.

Bundang is a beautiful city in Seongnam. It’s modern and clean, with well-maintained flower pots and large trees everywhere, convenience stores and coffee shops on every block, and reliable transportation options. I like to go for long walks before work, and I find myself enchanted by all the green I see. It’s unlike any other city I’ve seen before.

My work and my apartment are located in the Jeongja Station area. I’m currently in a temporary apartment, but my permanent place is in the same complex, which is very nice and located no more than a five minute walk away from anything I might need, including my job.

Speaking of my job, today will be my first day of actual teaching! I’ve spent most of the week shadowing the teacher I’ll be replacing. The classes are all small, and the children are funny, energetic and mostly sweet. When they see their new teacher, they look with wide eyes and immediately ask, “Who are YOU?” The girls like to give me cookies and candies, which I always accept, while handing off the gluten-filled cookies to my coworkers.

I’m very nervous to start teaching on my own. As an introvert, I’m not entirely sure I’ll be a great teacher. But I want to try, and I want to work hard, and I want to do some good.

All in all, I’m settling in, and this weekend I’ll be exploring with some new friends! We’re going to a meerkat cafe in Seoul. Should be fun!

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