Long post – beware!

A lot has happened in the past few days.  Unfortunately we still don’t have internet at our apartment (other than sporadic internet we are “borrowing” from a neighbor – not too reliable), but that makes it easy to catch up on blog posts J
On Tuesday we went out to lunch with Beth and Jess.  They took us to a nearby kimbap place (kind of like sushi rolls – but not with raw fish).  The four of us got kimbap (filled with Spam… they love that in Korea!), and gogi mandu and kimchi mandu (dumplings stuffed with meat and kimchi) to share.  We also all got individual meals (I got omerisu – a ketchup-covered omelet filled with rice)… and the total was about $20! I definitely love how cheap Korean food is so far!
After lunch we went to E-mart, which is basically like a Korean Target or Walmart x10.  We got some things for our apartment, like cleaning supplies… in Korea, when residents move out they don’t have to clean up, which means we moved into a pretty grody place.  It looks much better now thankfully.
Andy and I stopped at a place called Pizza Bingo for dinner, since we had Korean for lunch and didn’t have any food yet.  Korean pizza is… different.  Virtually none of the pizzas come without corn, for instance.  While we were waiting for our pizza to come out of the kitchen, another foreigner walked in and started talking to us.  He actually invited us out with some of his EPIK friends but we weren’t able to make it – still pretty cool that we met someone right off the bat.  He’s from Ireland, so it’s interesting to think about all of the different accents that students are exposed to.
Then on Wednesday (yesterday) we went grocery shopping at HomePlus with Beth.  It has been so great having someone to help us transition to life in Daegu.  We are really lucky in that respect, as most people are just plopped here and have to fend for themselves.  I went back over to Beth’s for dinner (burritos!) with a lot of her friends, and Andy went out with Jess and some other guys.  It was a lot of fun!
Today is a Korean holiday, so most people don’t have work.  The Hinshaws offered to show us around downtown so we’ll do that later today.  It’ll be nice to see the main area of Daegu.  Our neighborhood is called Seongseo, and to be honest, it’s got a ton of options.  Lots of high-rises, restaurants, shops, etc. all within walking distance.  I’ll write back with more later!
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In South Korea!

I am writing this post from my kitchen in Daegu! After nearly 24 hours of traveling, Andy and I finally made it.  Our director was super nice and bought us some bread and cream cheese so when we woke up this morning we had something to eat (as well as plates, OJ/water, silverware, etc… very helpful).  We definitely need to go buy some things for our place, but we have enough for now.

Our flight from JFK to Seoul/Incheon was pretty nice.  We flew Asiana Airlines and I was overall impressed with their operation.  One of the best parts was the slippers they gave each passenger – so much more comfortable! That flight was about 14 hours, and then we had a ~2 hour layover in Seoul, which was just about enough time to go through immigration and customs.  The Daegu flight took less than an hour – we were happy about that!

When we arrived in Daegu, we were greeted by Ms. Lee (our direct supervisor) and two Korean coworkers.  They helped us with our bags and drove us to the school to meet Mr. Kim.  Everyone was super friendly and nice (and spoke pretty good English).  The school was BEAUTIFUL.  It’s a brand new building, and even has a Starbucks downstairs! It looked kind of like a high-end office building to me.  Anyway, then Mr. Kim drove us to our apartment and explained how to work a few things, such as our ondol heating* and keypad (Korean apartments don’t have keys – you enter a pin on the code on the door instead).

After he left, we made the bed and went to sleep… it was a long day!

*Ondol heating is different than we’re used to back home.  Instead of vents, there are pipes under the wooden floor.  You just turn the water on to whatever temperature you want.  It works surprisingly well.

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Dave’s ESL Cafe

I kind of hate Dave’s ESL Cafe sometimes.  Sure, they have a huge Korea forum and tons of useful info.  But today I tried doing a search for unique packing tips and nothing came up… so I posted.  Everyone just tells me to search the forums or check the stickies.  I checked the stickies – they are SO OLD that people are asking if they should bring their VCR.

I don’t think my students will even know what a VCR is!


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My New Kindle!

In anticipation of the unavoidable struggle of finding English books in a non-English speaking country, I took the plunge and bought a Kindle.  Specifically, I got the Kindle Touch.  I was debating the new Kindle Fire (which is more a tablet), but since I am mainly using it for books it didn’t make as much sense.  Additionally, many of the perks of the Fire aren’t applicable outside the US market.

When I lived in Madrid, I had to buy books for my English class.  There were only a handful of bookstores in the entire city that even stocked them.  I had to go multiple times because the bookstore in question observed the Spanish tradition of siesta, or closing during the only free time I had all day.  Thanks Spain! When I finally tracked down the books I needed, they were quite expensive since they were imported from England.  The takeaway: if it was that challenging to find books in Spain, it will certainly be twice as hard to find them in Daegu, South Korea.  I know it’s certainly possible, and one can always order online… but with my Kindle I don’t need to.  One click and the book magically appears.  For anyone who torrents content, e-books are out there, although they are so cheap on Amazon’s website that it hardly matters.

I’ve already loaded it up with quite a bit – the Hunger Games trilogy, A Song of Ice and Fire (all 5 of them), a few classics (public domain = free), and some random others.  The Kindle Touch can hold up to 4,000 books so I really have no qualms about what I stick on there.  I anticipate having plenty of time to catch up on all of these books, especially at this rate.  I can’t put it down!

Currently reading: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.  I’m halfway through this monstrosity and I love it!

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Crunch Time!

As the title of this post indicates… it’s Korea crunch time!! Andy and I leave Feb. 26, so in a little over two weeks.  I’m not sure if it’s truly hit me yet… but I do have a to-list that’s about a mile long.  Lots of loose ends to tie up, last minute shopping, etc.

We already have plans in Korea for dinner and a tour of downtown with our friends who helped us get our positions.  I can’t wait to explore downtown Daegu!

Below this post is a map of South Korea.  Daegu (sometimes spelled Taegu) is in the southeast corner, not far from Busan, the second-largest city.  Seoul is up north, closer to the North Korean border.  There’s a high-speed train in Korea called KTX – it can get us up to Seoul in less than 2 hours! And yes, Daegu is in a very safe location – so no worries 🙂

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