A Travellerspoint blog

mr. pizza

i'm here!!! never thought i would finally be able to say that! i just got to work a little while ago and i'm doing some training (actually i'm playing around on the internet and waiting for din din)...but, i will let you all know more details later...i think i'll be getting the internet soon! if not, i can always come in to work early...but who wants to do that? haha jk jk but seriously, what would i do on the weekends? from what i hear, lots of americans live in my apartment building...which is also awesome...i have huge windows that look out to the street and i can see businesses and apartments and cars and busy, crazy things going on...i love it! the people i've met so far are very nice...i've even met a korean named elevator! yes, i wrote elevator. anyway, food time...i only had some cookies and juice in my apt (the school left them for me! how nice!) more later, love you, miss you all!


p.s. here's my address...i'm in yongin, not bundang..so that means i'm like an hour or so south of seoul..this also means send me mail so i feel special.

414 Charmont Officetel
Pungdeokcheon-dong, Suji-Gu, Yongin-Si
Gyeongi-Do, South Korea 448-170

  • *what i wrote after the plane ride**

Wow. What a trip. A trip that took a really really really really REALLY long time!! I got to the airport this morning about 0530, went through security, then had the most amazing breakfast! $5.50 for a plate half-filled with hasbrowns, and on the other half, an omelette with green peppers that they made right in front of me with fresh eggs! And two pieces of toast and jam! That’s gotta be the best deal in town! No less at the airport...

So, boarded plane, flew five hours to San Fran, went to the ATM, got pizza for the last time, went to exchange the money I got out of the ATM, and realized I lost my debit card. Now, in the 12 years I’ve had a bank account I’ve never lost a check book or debit card. Why did today have to be the day I lost it???? I wouldn’t expect anything less! I immediately started bawling and went to the information booth to ask the old fellas to call over to Terminal 1 to see if my card was still there in the machine. The one old fella said he’d run down there and check out, and I said it might have been in Terminal 3, but I wasn’t sure, and so he told me that he wasn’t going to go on a wild goose chase!! I replied with an edge to my sob that I wasn’t asking him to, I just wanted him to make a call! Anyway, he did...no card. Then I called my bank and told them what happened and to cancel the card in 24 hours, but restrict it until then and let me know if someone called about it. I never heard anything back, so I guess they cancelled it. Well, actually, I still don’t know how to check my voicemail on my phone from Korea, I don’t have a phone here and I have no calling card. This whole thing happened about an hour before my flight, so I was sweatin bullets!

When I went through security, they had me step into a machine that blew air on me instead of patting me down. I guess it was because I had a sweatshirt on and only a beater underneath. I wasn’t packin’ any heat, so I got to continue on my merry little way to G101.

The plane ride sucked, but the people I sat next to were God-sends. The girl in front of me was from Canada and going to teach in Daegu (by my friend See Woo Park) and the two guys next to us were in the Air Force and going to Kunsan. The one next to me was from freaking Grinnell, Iowa!!! What are the odds?? Anyway, they all kind of gave me a peace of mind that I needed- especially since my cage had just been rattled by the debit card thing. I sat for a total of 16 hours today. My hips are sore. As unbearable as not being able to sleep was, I’m kind of glad I couldn’t because that made the jet lag a whole lot easier to deal with. Actually, I hardly felt it at all!! United was definitely on top of the vegetarian meal thing. And the food wasn’t too bad either! Rice and veggies in red sauce; pita with chopped almond stuff and lettuce; potatoes, sweet potatoes, and veggies in something that was uber-good. I got all my food groups in!

Fast forward crappy plane ride that makes me not want to go home just to avoid having to sit on the plane for that long...the driver picked me up (he had my name on a sign that he threw away and I kinda wanted to pick back out of the garbage can because I’m creepy and sentimental like that) and we got outside (he wouldn’t let me push the cart or lift the luggage) and he lit up, then we ran across six lanes of honking cars...he did this all without ever taking that smoke out of his mouth and pushing almost 200 lbs of luggage on a cart with a funked up wheel. Impressive! He was 61 years old and 5’3!!

The ride to Yongin was about an hour, I didn’t stay awake though- I couldn’t. I tried to because I wanted to see everything, but I just passed out. But what I did see while I was awake made no sense to me and looked cool. The driver called my recruiter and she told me that the driver was taking me to my apartment and that I’d be picked up the next day some time and taken to my school for orientation. Then I talked to the director at Avalon and he told me that someone would be there to pick me up at 1430. Fast forward, the driver helps me get my room key and shows me how to work the stove and thermostat...I never would have figured out the stove...seriously...the gas is on the pole in the corner of the kitchen counter and you have to turn it vertically and pick the knob that goes with the correct burner, hold that down, then turn it...voila! flames! Avalon had left me a box of some new kitchen utensils, cutting board, pots, a bottle of juice and some cookies, a Beatrix Potter toothbrush holder, and a big ass butcher’s knife. Seriously, what am I going to do with that? I put some stuff away, unwrapped my amazingly soft comforter, and passed the hell out! Oh yeah, I’m in a town called Yongin, in a section of the city called Suji.

  • *Friday**

I was picked up at about 1440 to go to school for my orientation...it’s about seven minutes by car, 2100 Won ($2) and 5 minute taxi ride, 10 minute and 1000 ($1) Won bus ride, or a 20 minute walk. Everyone there was so incredibly nice!!! Heeju is the foreign teacher coordinator and she helped me settle in, explained more about my job, gave me a tour, showed me an informational video, introduced me around and then I had a one on one with a couple of the teachers. There are two other foreign teachers here with me: Kimberly and Michael...they both live in my apartment complex too! Kim is from NY and went to school in Pennsylvania, and Michael is from Canada, eh? I’m so glad that Kimberly is here because I would have been so lost outside of school without her! We went to lunch and I met her Korean friend Soo-Jin. There is a cute little traditional Korean food place down the street from work- I see us eating there a lot! But there’s also a place called Pizza School that I’ll be trying out too, and a Dunkin Doughnuts around the corner. At the restaurant I had dolsot bibimbap (kogi ppaego). I forgot to take a picture of it before I mixed it all together, but there’s a picture of it afterward. It’s a hot stone bowl with rice in the bottom (and it sticks to the bowl and makes it nice and crunchy yumm) and in its own little section on top of the rice, it had lettuce, cucumber sliced thinly, carrots, and some other stuff all topped off with the yellow part of the egg. Bibim means ‘to mix’ and ‘bap’ means rice. All the other words around ‘bibimbap’ mean hot and no meat. I’m told that eating out here is a whole lot cheaper than cooking...how perfect is that??? By my apartment there is a TGI Friday’s and a Lotte Mart (like Wal-Mart but better...WAY more stuff)

After lunch, back to work...I observed Kim and Michael’s classes and got more information. I teach at the Ivy campus and teach Nokjiwon (advanced students). The hagwons (private English teaching schools) in Korea are here to prepare the students for a foreign language high school by helping them get a better score on their TOEFL. The kids that I teach have a 75 or higher on their first run-through of the TOEFL (it’s out of 120). The highest they’ve ever had was a 117! Wow!

I was introduced to a couple of the classes and they all looked at me and I said, “Hi, I’m Kelsi, nice to meet you.” They all stared for literally two seconds, and then seemingly all at once said, “ahhhhhhh.” Their “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” (must hold out for three seconds) is equivalent to our “oh” (must be short and sweet). But the other class actually said, “Nice to meet you.” I was REALLY impressed with their English! One kid used the word ‘subsequently!’ It made me wonder how many Americans even know what that word means....I’d hope all of them...wishful thinking!

I also got a message from John (Tiara is in class with a girl named Eva, Michele is her mom, and John is her brother who is a director at a hagwon in Suwon, which is about 9km from Suji) saying that my parents could give a check to his parents and they could deposit it in his account and he could give me the money (because I lost my debit card). We’re still trying to figure out the details, but Kim said he could transfer it into her account and that would save him the trip down here...so hopefully at some point, I’ll have more than 70000 Won!!

I start teaching Monday! Cross your fingers for me!

After work, I waited for the bus for a while with Kimberly, and it was really cold, and the bus wasn’t coming (there aren’t any specific times, they just show up) so we decided to take a cab. It was cheap and fast, and every bad thing you’ve heard about Korean drivers is true...no joke..they’re awful. They are constantly turning left on red and cutting people off...even the buses do it! I’m still trying to figure out their lights and intersections...some of them are just the craziest things you could have ever imagined...The cab took us to the Lotte Mart, where we went grocery shopping! I got ramen...lots and lots of ramen...and delicious juice and marshmallow cookies (better than pinwheels, mom!!)

Posted by flaminko 23:20 Comments (1)

chi-town *w00t*

overcast 28 °F

my journey has started...we left the house at 430, and i was on the plane by 630...this is, of course, after going through security and my person and carry-on luggage being searched for explosives...apparently when i got my tickets printed downstairs, the computer randomly generates a letter and, depending on that letter, you may or may not get searched. they had what looked like a pre-packaged cloth that you would clean your glasses with clamped on some black stick and they rubbed it around inside your bag, then after each pocket (good thing my bag has so many effing pockets) they'd put it in this machine and the machine would do something for five seconds and tell you whether or not it detected any explosives...yes...i did ask the airport security people why i was being searched and how their whole operation worked because i'm curious like that.

flight to chicago (lots of flooding...) shuttle to hotel, shuttle back to airport, hour train ride to east side, 15 minute bus ride, lost for 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get in the nbc tower...i figured out my problem after someone pointed me in the right direction...i failed to notice that there are multiple levels to city streets...i was on the bottom level and very confused why there was no easy way to get into the building...but then some guy told me to take the elevator in the parking ramp, walk outside, go across the street and BAM, the nbc tower...once i got inside, i found out i had to take the elevator up to the 27th floor. ugh. i got out of the elevator and had to hold on to the wall to make sure i didnt fall down...me no likey elevators...especially ones that go up so fast your ears get plugged up four times each way...they had different hallways for the elevators and depending on which floor you needed, you'd go to that hallway and get in one...and the elevators only had buttons for those designated 20 floors and the main floor.

finally got my visa...it was unbelievable how much work i had to go thru just to get that stupid page in my passport...regardless, i'm happy as larry to have it! after i left the korean consulate, i walked back the same way to find the westbound bus...which of course, i assumed the stop would be across from where i got off the bus going eastbound. wrong. so i walked a block..and then another...until i'd been walking for an hour trying to find the stupid bus stop, or grand street, or the blue line, or westbound 65, or SOMETHING. you're probably thinking, kelsi why didn't you ask someone for help..i did, trust me...and every person had a different story about where this damn street was...i even planned ahead and brought my compass in case i lost my sense of cardinal direction...it's not much of a compass really...it's on a keychain from the navy...maybe it was cold, because it wouldn't work...worked just fine yesterday...it's entirely possible 20 degree weather and wind had something to do with it...i saw lots of big buildings, smelled lots of gross trash and sewers, ran after the fed ex guy walking 50 feet in front of me because he dropped a letter, listened to lots of music, and finally stumbled upon grand street going west. back on the bus to the train, and back to the airport, shuttle to hotel...fell asleep at 6. it was glorious sleep considering i've slept about six hours in the past four days...

now, about this train experience...when there are two trains, it seems only logical to me that you get on the train that has just let people off. but i think this is only appropriate to do when the line is not at an end...because i got on, sat down, and the doors closed. however, no one else was on the train...they were all on the other one and the doors weren't going to open anytime soon. so, there i sat, on the train, by myself...feeling pretty darn stupid...and thank goodness for the people who go thru the trains and sweep trash! i asked this guy when the train would be leaving again, he said it'd be a while, and then manually opened the door for me so i could get on the other train...i didn't get in the car right across from the one i'd just been in, because i'm pretty sure someone saw it and was laughing at that out-of-towner. duhhhh.

there was this tweaked out dude on the train going back to the airport...he had long hair on top, shaved on the sides, markered on chops that almost met in the middle, small and thick hooped earrings, big gold chain around his neck, ratty red sweatshirt, and jnco jeans that are huge at the bottom. the car kinda stunk like booze when he got on...but he sat in the seat, closed his eyes and shook his head back and forth and would randomly yell out 'HEY!!!!' and then continue his trip...very very strange...

this is an accurate guess as to how my time traveling in korea wil go...i will be lost, and i will be lost often...if i can't find my way around chicago where i can ask almost anybody for directions, how the hell am i supposed to do it in korea?! CRAP! maybe i could rent-a-korean every time i want to travel....

anyhoo...to everyone who called me or texted me today: sorry i didn't answer...i'll try and call you later on today before my flight leaves..i have to go to san fran, ca for a few hours...gross, hippietown USA. i'm leaving there at 140 (340 CST) and arrivin in korea in the evening sometime...i think 730...

love you and miss you all


Posted by flaminko 07:58 Archived in USA Comments (1)

and i thought commercials were bad


Posted by flaminko 22:37 Comments (0)

half the fun of travel is the esthetic of lostness

this is for me to write and you to read while i'm in korea...one year's worth of trials, tribulations and travels in a country i know nothing about and teaching a people whose language i do not speak. what have i gotten myself in to? who knows? i'm not an adventurer by choice, but by fate.


Posted by flaminko 23:48 Comments (2)

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