I didn’t feel like words this week so here’s a bunch of  pics taken within the last fortnight or so. Kids, dogs, trees, mainly. Sorry about that. Click them and, by the power of Greyskull, they get bigger.

My English Only Zone classroom and second grade. I was playing "Friday" by Rebecca Black. They were not impressed.

Campaigning for school president. I missed out on some pics of the kids dressed up in huge mascot costumes. This continued for a week.

Some random third graders who were fascinated and impressed by my iphone. They instantly wanted to take their pictures with the front facing camera.

"I love Rebecca teacher"

puppiespuppiespuppies

This is a school! Oh, Korea. The fence was giant pencils.

Jingu (Korean word for "Friend") is one of the shyest dogs at the shelter. From the way she scurries into her house when you toss her a treat, Im guessing she was tied up somewhere and people used to throw rocks etc at her. Makes me pretty angry to think of.

When she gets used to you, she is the most loving and affectionate dog ever, though. I took these pictures when I came in and this is her greeting me and wanting to play and be hugged.

I missed the cherry blossom festival in Jinhae but stumbled on some in the park anyway.

And some more. Super pretty.

And some more. Super pretty.

One of the new shelter dogs. I called him Skinny Puppy and informed him he was very famous, but he didnt seem to care. It was hard to get a pic of him properly as he was very active. Not remotely unusual to see a dog this starved and thin looking, by the way.

Jazzy, the douchebag dog who stole my heart. I try to hang out with this little monster as often as I can in the hopes of getting her trained and socialised to the point where shes adoptable. If I could, Id have her myself.

Sun beginning to set.

Jazzys fat head as she tried jumping into my lap to cuddle. Huge huge HUGE improvement in socialisation for her.

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Did I say I’d update more? And you believed me? April Fools! Been sick today and busy this week/had children that crushed my spirit. Sorry.

This weekend was for firsts, including first time in Seoul and first bike ride! Seoul was cool, I was expecting it to be a lot more obnoxious like London or New York but it seemed more mellow. Maybe because I was mainly wandering around there early Saturday morning and late afternoon Sunday? Either way, it was pretty chilled and definitely a lot more Western than Daegu. We got there on Friday night to leave early on Saturday, so we had to navigate the far more complicated subway system, but it worked out ok.

The actual DMZ parts of the trip were kinda low key. We went into one of the secret tunnels that the North had built to try and invade the South, one of the battlefields, and a museum about the relationship between the two. It was all pretty matter of fact, they presented it like “Oh here’s where the battle took place”, there wasn’t a lot of drama around it. That seemed different to me, I feel like if you had that sort of thing elsewhere, it would be presented as a big deal. You’d probably have attractions themed around it, people dressed up in costumes, or at least t-shirts saying I Went Into The Infiltration Tunnel & Survived The Shitty Mannequinns In The Middle.

Group shot. Thanks to Danai for this!

We got to see the demilitarised zone, 4kms of space between North and South. It was kinda creepy for when you stare into the abyss, the abyss definitely stares back, the North were out watching us watch them.

But the big attraction was obviously the bungee. I nearly didn’t jump. Standing on a ledge 150 meters over a river with a line of people behind me urging me to step off was surreal to say the least. Looking down was a huge mistake and the second I did it, I wanted to chicken out. Actually jumping was completely contrary to everything my instincts wanted, my insides were screaming “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Why are you on a ledge? Get down, you fool!” But I was up there, on the precipe with a rope around my ankles, I’d come to far to back out – and I’d paid a non-refundable fee up front – so I jumped.

Massive thanks to Amy for this picture

If you can see me in that picture, you may perhaps be wondering why I am completely straight and my hands appear to be on my hips.

The answer is, I was fucking terrified.

We’d also all had a conversation just before jumping about clothing choices and the rational fear of the cord snapping mixed with the horror of potential embarrassment of my shirt coming up over my head and me flashing the crowd of people watching.

So I can proudly say I bungee jumped stiff as a board, holding my shirt in place, wishing I was somewhere else and hoping my shoes didn’t fall off (I believed them to be the only things keeping my ankle thingies on at the time of the jump. I’m not sure why) so I wouldn’t fall to my death. The adrenalin was insane. After being pulled into the boat, I could only lie there shaking while the guy rowed me off to the side. Super intense rush, I think I was shaking for a good five minutes, and I’d say it granted me like 15 minutes worth of reprieve from the banging hangover I had. Sadly, after 15 minutes, the hangover came back, angrier than ever. Pretty sure my body was just hating me so much, first for marinating my insides in soju and then for throwing it off a ledge when it had been throwing up all night anyway.

Watching other people jump is massively entertaining, though. And watching people who annoyed the man in charge of the jump getting dunked into the water for it was even better, especially as that was Dave. That guy’s such a dick.

Other highlights include: The fact that now I can say that my first bike ride was at the age of 23, on a tandem bike, right next to the DMZ. It’s true and it was magical.

Discovering Korean shops that were basically where people had taken a big front room in their house and just put a bunch of stuff in to sell. Super random, they had some weird combinations.

I wrote this over like four disjointed efforts so apologies if it doesn’t make sense, clearly the DMZ just wasn’t too inspiring.

Coming up on the agenda is the Starlight Festival with horse riding and some other shit I’ve never done and might break my neck doing, and hopefully shark diving in Busan at some point next month.

Even though I walk to school (neatly saving me from the eternal dilemma of those picked up in cars, “which seat do I taaake?”*) being late because of traffic is a valid excuse. This is because in Daegu at least, there is no pavement. It’s a world gone mad, where people and cars roam equally, sharing space with one another. One way system? Hah! The backstreets of Korea laugh at the very notion of a one way system! Giving way? Never! A Korean stands his ground! One time I came out of my house to see no less than six cars in a traffic jam around one central car, blocking all his exits and still trying to nudge past each other.

Thusly, friends, the path to school is beset on all sides by dangers. The road is steep and narrow, and very small children dart around underfoot, for a Korean child gives no fuck about a car. The number of times I’ve been asked about my feelings toward Bumblebee the Transformer, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve already suffered a few concussions and just have no idea whats what anymore. They’re probably chatting to their iPods right now, thinking its Soundwave.

For the extra danger factor, I like to listen to music on my way. This is a double edged sword. On one hand, it saves me from awkward conversation with the children which always goes the same way. We greet one another, enquire as to each other’s health, I am informed the child is “so-so”, then another greets me, and we repeat it again. This continues the entire 15minute walk to school with various kids. To be honest, I’m mean at the best of times and first thing in the morning is certainly not my best time. I’m also crushingly awkward, I do not like making strained conversation with these kids. Therefore I will smile and wave with my headphones very obviously over my ears, and risk death under the wheels of a truck before I have another “so-so” conversation at 7:50am. Also, I won’t lie, it’s a bit steep. I feel like Ness in that episode of Gavin & Stacey, “Gotta go, Stace, there’s an incline coming up”, I’m all grim determination, no room for idle chit-chat. Plus now I bring a mug of tea with me, it’s become a slightly more grown up egg and spoon race and God help the child who makes me spill my tea.

The other side of this is that it encourages me to be more vigilant. While a tragically young death at the ripe old age of 23 would be terrible to begin with (especially as my mum just booked tickets to come see me. I don’t know if those are refundable) the worst thing ever would be for the paramedics to come, rip off my earphones and the surrounding crowd to hear “…Marry me, Juliet, you never have to be alone, I love you and that’s all I really know…” blast out as I’d been boppin’ along to the Swift’s croonings. I think I’d probably just give up and die of shame anyway. And then that would be the last thing I ever heard. What a way to go.

In other news, it’s Friday, I’m going to Seoul, and it’s mine and Matt’s anniversary. Ultimate April Fool’s prank.

*

If only they could all be modern classics like this.

Ok, so before I continue writing up the camp experience, I want to make it clear that while some of the programmes were not for me, I have nothing but love for the organisers of the trip and the instructors. They’ve made me feel very welcome and been very patient with me – and I have almost no co-ordination so that is no small feat. But yeah, just want to stress that point. The people are phenomenal, the camp was great, the way I portray an experience is how I percieved it due to my own internal factors.

Also I realised it had been a while since I threw in pictures so here, have a million random ones! You’re very welcome, esteemed ladies and gentlemen.

I reported the programmes without any sort of sense of order, just the ones that stuck out in my mind the most, so this is all kinda messy and confusing, but the camp started with a programme called Who Is In? wherein you would ask each other, “who is in?” and respond with the first thing that came to mind. So, it could be a title you hold such as teacher or friend, or it could be a random word (the best series of responses I heard was “chicken! chicken! salamander?”) If nothing else, this was a really good way to get to know people. I can think of no more fun person than the one who thinks of salamanders when they consider themselves, thats awesome.
My words were pretty surprising to myself. As the exercise continued and I relaxed, I started to feel very grounded in my lower back, like there was a weight in the bottom of my stomach keeping me tethered to the floor, while it felt like a balloon expanding in my insides. I was super aware of my heart, weirdly. I dunno if this was supposed to happen, but the effect it had was to make me think of words surrounding growth and expansion as well as security and peacefulness. I think that sums up my life here pretty well, to be honest. Can’t even be cynical about it, from the description it sounds kinda silly but keeping an open mind and commiting to trying, it worked pretty well for me. Kinda flooded me with all my good vibes and also raised some questions about the way I relate to my environment and loved ones.

The last thing we did, I could not keep an open mind for. This was the moment we went out to the forest, picked a tree, and were supposed to kinda share its energy. The second this started my mind kicked in:

“A tree? Hah, wouldn’t it be funny if – oh wait…no, no way. No way. No way! We’re going to, yeah, alright, we’re going to hug a tree. This is it, this is about to be tree hugging. I am crossing a border into “tree hugger” territory. Wow…!”

In actuality, I chose to stroke my tree. I didn’t feel we had established enough of a connection to embrace yet. Maybe next time, if it gets me a drink or something. It did make me realise that since I grew up and stopped being a little kid, I stopped interacting with my surroundings. Like, now if you walk through a park, even if the point of the outing is to enjoy your time in a park, you tend to stick to the paths and just look around. Remember when you were a little kid and would just trundle about all over the place, eager to get your sticky little paws on everything? Reminded me a little of that, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

The weekend was a very interesting experience, and I’m glad I went. I came out here to do something different and try new things, this definitely counts as part of that! This is why I decided to try the all night meditation too, I knew what would happen if I went to sleep, but had no idea what would happen if I stayed up. Part way through that, the instructor mentioned “right now you’re wondering why you chose to stay up, wishing you were in the other room asleep. But hopefully in the future, you will remember that you can do this. You can withstand” that sort of motivation is something I think I benefit from because I’m terrible for intellectual – and general – laziness. It’s just sort of cool to see what you can be capable of if you try, but also to know that the only person you let down when you don’t is yourself and that you end up poorer for it. Something I forget in my efforts to focus on other people and their perceptions of me.

New and improved reciepe all my own

Last note, the food was awesome. It was all organic, they had Indian food including naan bread, it was amaze. We also had one meal of entirely raw veg which was different. This was a pretty succesful part of the cleanse though, I woke up on Monday craving more fruit and veg, rather than the chocolatey cereal I usually have. Sadly, I didn’t actually have any food so I just went hungry (and was grouchy as hell, this is why Naomi Campbell throws phones; I coulda launched a whole phonebox at my screaming second graders, the rats) but have been experimenting with smoothies so maybe that’s an option. I dunno, willpower’s kinda not one of my things that I do.

Other news!
I now have a phone, an iPhone no less, so if you have a smart phone and you like me enough to read this then surely you should like me enough to download Kakao Talk and add me “rebeccamarie” so we can chat all day. I am also available for skype pretty much whenever, so you can call me and voice chat for free any time anywhere. Except I’d rather you didn’t at like 5am. That’s in my 6 hours of sleepy time, those hours are precious.

One or two people have asked me why I don’t update more, so I’ll try to get better at that, partially it’s because I didn’t think anyone was actually reading but mainly its because I tend to concentrate on school during the week. Most of what I have to talk about is which classes piss me off and how I’m trying to change and improve my lessons to better get through to them. I think it’s kinda dull if you’re not into that, but I’ll give it a bash. Tomorrow is my “open lesson” or Day When The Children’s Parents Come In And Stare At Your Lesson so that might be slightly interesting. I hate speaking to grown ups though, I crashed and burned at my practise lesson in orientation so I’m nervous.

Stay tuned; next week I’m off to Seoul to check out the DMZ and also to give bungee jumping a go. My health insurance hasn’t come through yet so, uh, let’s just see how that goes.

This weekend I’ve been in the moutains of a district called Jeollabuk-do on a yoga camp. For those of you I’ve not spoken to directly, I’ve started doing yoga to chill me out a little and because as most of you know, I suffer from Ugly Face-itis or rosacea and yoga keeps the stress levels down and thus the face normal – in theory. The theme of the camp was purification and cleansing of the pancha kosha (not to be confused with kosher pancetta. Very different) through food, meditation, yoga and other activities. There was a mix of Koreans and foreigners, which was interesting. I don’t often see foreigners and locals mixing for whatever (likely language related) reason. I had to get up at 4:30am and stress about when the friggin subway was going to start though, so that was a good 40mins sitting alone in the station at 5:20am, awesome times.

The rest of this is going to sound really unlike me. Apologies in advance.

Probably the part that stands out the most is what I like to call experiencing Dante’s Inferno. As part of the cleansing, we were encouraged to get in touch with our emotions and let out all of our feelings in the form of crying. It was at this point that I realised I am cold and dead inside. This became an issue. While all around me, the vast majority of the other 40 participants were screaming, sobbing, and pounding on the floors and walls with their feet and fists, I was feeling mildly sorrowful. Slight tear welling on the Scale of Sorrow*. To just be surrounded by people who were quickly ramping up and getting more and more hysterical was surreal.
Then it kept going.
And going.
And then they turned the lights off.

Suddenly you can’t really see anything, all you hear is screaming, wailing and just heartbreaking, wrenching sobs. And then it kept going.
And going.
For an hour.
Just stop and imagine that. It’s dark, you’re not allowed out, and all you can hear is people in various states of utter misery. It felt like being an island alone in the middle of the spectral sea of lost souls.

It was incredibly distressing and stressful. I started to feel bad for not feeling bad. I’m generally on a pretty even keel, there’s a bit in The Simpsons that sorta sums it up:

Lisa: Dad! Things have changed, we’re the MTV generation. We feel neither highs nor lows.
Homer: Oh, what’s that like?
Lisa: [shrugs] Meh.

I identify with that to an extent, although since being in Korea I would say that it’s just that I’m happy here (I need another blog for that one, I have it very good here). Really, no complaints here. I worked very hard to deal with all my bad feelings and “baggage” and leave it in England. Would take a long time for the post office to deliver all the way here. There’s just nothing there right now. I left the experience feeling pretty shell shocked and since thinking about it have vacillated between damning it as The Worst Thing Ever and wondering why my reactions were as they were. I’ve settled on trying to pull the best out of it, which in my eyes is to consider my own reactions and use it as a test of patience and fortitude. I know I’m probably just dead inside or not in touch with all the gooey bits inside that make feelings happen, but if I can deal with all that in the Inferno then those third graders aren’t gonna harsh my buzz in the slightest, bratty though they may be.

More than that, I witnessed a huge amount of generosity and kindness. One of the things I was contemplating in the Inferno is how blessed my time here has been so far. I’ve generally been lucky enough to have found good, helpful people who have made this transition so much easier for me, so I’m no stranger now to ridiculously nice people…but this was a higher concentration of such folk. Partially generosity and sharing is a Korean thing, their culture is very much about “bring enough for everyone” – as kids happily tell me when they’re eating in class and then share out their sweets between all of us when caught, damn them, I can’t get too angry when I’m scoring free food! – but this was probably the most I’ve witnessed so far. On saturday morning, someone had prepared and brought with them a TON of gimbap (korean sushi) so we all got something like 10 pieces each wrapped up in tinfoil. Then after that, someone else had prepared little plastic bags filled with small chocolates and toffees for everyone on the bus. Where in the UK are you going to go on a trip and find a stranger has made you breakfast and another brought you a snack? Just doesn’t happen. This is one of many examples of the caring and sharing I got to witness this weekend. Very glad I got to experience that level of niceness.

It was also awesome to be out in the woods. We did some fun stuff like trust walking where we were all blindfolded and led out into the mountains having to depend on holding the shoulders of the person in front of us. I loved this, this one was relevent to my interests. I have a real issue with trying to control my environment and fight the tide instead of flowing with it and letting go. This took a lot for me to give up and trust that I was being led safely by near strangers. We did another version of this afterwards where we had to partner up and one would remove their blindfold and lead the other. A moment of silence and blindness where my partner and I just gripped each others arms passed before I realised either she had no idea what was going on, or she was hearing impaired. Either way, I was takin’ the reins. Turns out people who’ve been blindfolded and are relying on a stranger not to push them over the edge of a cliff are pretty nervous, who knew? That was great for building empathy and patience and trying to understand someone else’s experience well enough to guide them. I feel like that was super relevent to my life as a teacher, and I definitely do need more patience with those little shits, but also just in general. It’s easy to pay lip service to the idea of trying to understand other people’s points of view but a lot harder to do in physical practise.

I also now get to say that I stayed up meditating all night and it’s only very slightly a lie! Slightly because in actuality, we all slept in the 10 min break between programmes and also tended to knock out in the middle. Meditation is pretty relaxing, and when you’ve been up since 4:30am to get there on time, deep breathing at midnight is a sure fire reciepe for sleepiness. “Om” meditation was pretty great, and stupidly relaxing. As you can imagine, it’s meditating by saying “Ommmmmm” on the out breath. I loved it. I concentrated on deepening my breathing and on the vibration in my chest from saying the mantra and honestly, it was hypnotic. I passed out in the middle of it as I was just relaxed to that point. Really good cure for insomnia!

The night time programme was super mellow and fun. Before all the meditation stuff, we started with a walk in the mountains in the dark and in silence. It was pretty much a walking meditation, which is where you have to consider all the movements of your body and their relation to the earth as you walk. This is another one I find really useful, as it gives a different perspective on how to feel about your body. It kind of highlights that we are built for a purpose, to move from A to B, to be active, to whatever, which I’m guilty of forgetting in favour of angsting out about how it looks or how much it weighs instead. It also requires a lot of patience, which again, I’m low on. Plus, we were wandering the mountainside in the dark, the stars were so bright and the sky was so clear, it was beautiful. You could just about make out the other mountain ranges on the horizon and a few scattered lights of the town below. A great moment to appreciate life.

I’m gonna leave it on that, ’cause I’m aware that this is dragging on a bit and also that anyone who reads this is aware of me as really, really not the meditating/yoga-ing/soul cleansing kind. Please come to grips with this, for in the next entry I will touch upon my experiences literally tree hugging. Oh yes.

*Best part of the weekend, we were just told to walk around and start getting the sad vibes following. I walk out into the melee and the sweetest, nicest Korean woman approaches me and chirps “Sorrow?” with the biggest smile in the world and a “who, me?” shrug posture. …Uh, guess you had to be there.

Firstly, just a quick note to say that I’m ok. Thankfully, the tragic events in Japan haven’t affected Korea. It’s still horribly sad though and I am glad that none of the people my friends know in Japan have been hurt.

The main effect that I witnessed here was that on Monday afternoon, the kids finished school way earlier than usual to practise a “natural disasters” drill. I asked one of my co-teachers what that meant and she made it sound kind of like a fire drill, they’d line up in the yard, whatever. The next day was a nationwide “North Korea” drill, with sirens and a crackling radio broadcast everywhere. It had a very surreal vibe, like an old WW2 air raid drill or something. In this case, what the kids do is, um, move somewhere. As far as I could tell, they would just leave the classroom and go to a corridor or something. It was a mix of weird and depressing in both cases, sort of an attempt to be prepared for something that you can never really prepare for. I mean, if there is an earthquake, ok, get outside. Then what? What are we meant to do with 1500 scared kids when everything on the mountain is falling down? I think it was definitely good to have the awareness of what could happen, though. I just don’t think that it was necessarily that helpful.
It is absolutely possible that all the instructions were in Korean and the kids and other teachers are super prepared, but I’m screwed. Knew I should have learnt Korean sooner!

On that note, I’ve been using youtube of k-pop videos to try to learn a few bits and pieces. I’m at the stage of being here that I can finally understand where words start and end instead of everything sounding like a bizarre stream of noises and madness!

I’m using G.Na -Black & White:

So I can now say “really makes no sense”, “please” and “you and I”. Working on getting “I see you” and “stop doing this” down. All in all, not entirely useless! I started with a different song called “I’ll Back Off So You Can Live Well” and picked up one or two words there but this is waaaay easier and not too bad for teaching. Especially as my kids don’t habitually say please and thank you and it kills me. I’m pretty sure this is a cultural difference rather than them being little pukes (for once) but I’m definitely getting annoyed at having things demanded of me. I also picked up “my-dah-ku” which means “back chat” or “cheeky”, etc.

On an entirely different note; I am sick of RICE! I have grown to hate rice with the firey passion of a thousand suns! If I never have rice again, I will be happy! This sort of extends to most Korean foods. I am so over it. I live my life wishing I had an oven so I could chuck in a pizza or some chicken dippers (Forget you, Jamie Oliver, these foods are delicious and I am a grown up! I will eat all the rehydronated, MSG-laden, sugar and salt filled foods I like! You’re lucky I don’t just make cake mix and eat it raw every damn morning because thats actually all I want in life!) I’m not used to food that is made in their way with their flavours and consistencies or anything. My system also finds it pretty hard to handle. I don’t know if I’m just an extreme westerner or what, but I honestly am not taking to it too well. I’m at the point where my co-teachers have given up and now just express concern for my not eating enough, so they’ve recommended I bring my own lunch. Which is fine by me! Now I can do it and not be rude but following the instructions of my elders, hooray!

In some ways, I see it as symbollic of my status as an outsider. I am different, I am not used to this culture or anything surrounding it. As much as I try to fit in, I will never quite be able to handle or enjoy having rice for three meals a day. I don’t fully understand the Korean mindset when it comes to preparing for disasters or for clashes with the North. I don’t understand why the social hierarchy of age is so very strict. I can’t relate to my kids’ workload and the hours they put in. I can’t quite get used to the fact that I am different. I have gone from being a majority and feeling fairly anonymous, to having people nudge their friends and point me out. To being stared at and having my actions commented on. I don’t think there’s any animosity in any of this, but it really brings it home that I am different here. I’m not the same. I’m an adult with worse reading skills than a child. My facial features are different, my skin is different, my physical build is different*. I don’t have rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am different, and sometimes its very hard to relax. The other night I met up with a bunch of EPIKers for St Patrick’s day and I loved it partially because it was full of people who look, dress, act and feel familiar. To me, this has been a bit of an eye opener and sometimes I relish being different (it feels a little like I can do what I like, people are going to stare at me whether I’m wearing bright red sweatpants on the subway or not), and sometimes I just wish I was a bigger fan of sticky rice and spicy soup.

*On that note, some of my less well behaved kids have started to occassionally shimmy at me in the hallways. How do you even react to that?!

At the end of my first official week teaching, I still don’t really feel like I can accurately call myself a teacher. I’m definitely learning that theres more to it than just straight up teaching though. With class sizes of about 45, classroom management is super important, and so is having a co-teacher. One of mine doesn’t like to show up (I’m pretty sure he regards my class as the “mess around” class) and his dismissive attitude definitely trickles down to the kids. Unfortunately for them, whether they think I’m worth their time or not, I’m not going to be taking attitude or backchat from 13 year olds. Most of my classes are great, and my other co’s are giving me a lot of good hints, though, so that helps.

The mixed ability thing is also an issue. I have a range from nearly fluent to, well, not very good at all. I think that a lot of the trouble comes from kids who are too advanced getting bored and on that account, I need to step up my game and provide extra material to keep them going. That and maybe I should stop refering to them as “you little assholes”.

Other than that, things are just generally going well. I’m settled into my apartment, although I do have a sneaking suspicion that it might be haunted, and I’m getting used to the job and the area. This weekend I tried just getting off at random subway stops and checking out different parts of the city, which was cool. I ended up finding a big market that sold everything from furniture to fruit to fashion. Oh and puppies, but hopefully not for the eating…

I’ve also juuust finished up turning my masters dissertation into an article, which feels pretty amaze. My tutor reckons it could easy take a year to get it published though so I’m not expecting to hear anything soon. Also I’ve been helping out at a local dog shelter a bit, taking the dogs for walks etc, which has been cool. One of my dogs died in November and I miss her massively so it’s nice to spend some time with other pups. I’m seriously considering fostering a dog for a while but thinking that it’s best if I get my routine settled and figure out how a dog would figure into my lifestyle as I am at work 8hours a day, 5days a week, and do have other activities going on.

Sorry, I’m massively dull! I feel pretty disppointed in myself but I don’t really have any dramatic or exciting news, it’s all just…going well!

“Isn’t it weird eating fast food sober? Like, I’ll eat it and I’ll be like, “Oh that’s good.” But when you’re blacked out at like 5 in the morning, it’s like “What is this?! What five star resturaunt are we at? What chef works here?! ARE WE IN NARNIA? What magic treat has entered my hand? Where is our wardrobe?!”

…I wish we’d hit McD’s before we went home last night and my entire life fell apart and my bathroom mysteriously generated a layer of puke 😦

While I stand by the hysteria of my last blog – leaving home was stupidly hard to do – I can barely remember it. This is my third week away and I don’t mean to sound callous, but I’m kinda fine with it. I think that it’s been easier for me because I had no preconceptions of what Korea is like (well, actually, I had very high hopes for the food and that, uh, isn’t working so well for me) or how marvellous life would be here so I’m just taking it as it comes and it’s all manageable. The pace of life seems so much slower here; people rarely seem to be in a rush, it’s like a “hey, if it’s happening, it’ll happen with or without me” feel to the place. That bit is a lot more laidback than I had been led to believe, but I guess part of it is living in Daegu.

Orientation was interesting, it was a lot more hard work than I think actually working will be. We had a constant stream of lectures and things to attend but I think that for me one of the hardest things was living 24/7 with 400 of my best friends. There was no way to be alone, we even had roommates (luckily mine was cool), and I found that really claustrophobic.

Having left there on friday, I was delivered to my new apartment. It’s pretty nice but I’m still waiting for my fridge to be delivered! I also need to remember to ask if they’ll buy me a microwave. Korea, I thought you loved your gadgets! What’s the issue? I’m also decorating it slowly in Hello Kitty, which started as hilarious irony but I’m fairly sure that the deeper I get into it the more I begin to sincerely appreciate the bubblegum pink asthetic. In my defense, this is Asia, Hello Kitty is everywhere and it is kinda cute in my bare apartment!

Now I’m in school and it’s a pretty sweet deal. I was worried that because I froze up and utterly choked in our orientation practise lesson, I would be awful as a teacher also. Thankfully, children are much less scary than the judgemental glare of 50 adults. However, I had a bit of a disaster today as my powerpoint wouldn’t load and, unbeknownst to me, the only lesson plan of today was for me to chat to the kids about myself and for them to ask me questions. I’ve never heard such silence. Pure blank stares and tumbleweeds. Turns out that lots of the kids are quite shy in lessons…not that it stops them from occassionally cornering me as I’m trying to get to a lesson and screaming questions in my face with all the urgency of an ER nurse on crack. My favourite reaction so far is the kids who gasp and say “wow!” upon seeing me. Some of them take a while to get over it, covering their mouths with their hands and just whispering “wow wow wow!” for as long as they’re standing near me.

I choose to believe that’s a reaction to my breathtaking beauty.

All my co teachers are nice enough, not too bothered about letting me know anything but I was sort of prepared for that and it also works out because there’s another native speaker who’s been here for nearly three years and he keeps me informed. So far it’s just been about getting orientated and seeing how the land lies. Oh and deskwarming. A good chunk of time desk warming. That’s alright, though, hopefully it just means I have no work to do at home.

The nightlife is fun here, especially when you travel in convoy with 200 other foreigners who are all giddy on the cheap booze! Korea doesn’t really do single/double/triple measures, Korea does “stronger?” So they’ll pour you a drink and then ask if you need more booze in it. The correct answer is “yes”. They also have bag drinks, which is like cocktails in an IV bag, or a big see through capri-sun bag if you prefer, that you can just cart around the place with you. This place also has a loyalty card, buy 4 and your 5th is free! What a world.

So yeah, that’s how I’m settling in so far. I’m just now trying to think of some better activities for the kids for tomorrow to avoid todays shyness…think I’ll need some luck though!

its 4am, i cant sleep, too busy realising the enormity of the situation. i almost dont want to sleep, i dont want the morning to come, i dont want to say goodbye.

is it too late to back out? oooh shit.

this is kinda like the time i chose a masters based on a reality show except a million times worse because this time the flaming carwreck that tends to result from my idiotic choices can happen on another continent and in a different language. super!

😥