Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Hite Time!

Well it is Hite time for me right now (Hite is one of the very common Korean beers, enjoying a few before to bed in an attempt to regulate my jet lag, but I am certain it will do nothing for my dehydration). So I made it to Daegu to begin my year-long venture of teaching Korean children English. Hopping across the Pacific with EPIK (English Program in Korea), I found myself really not having a clue what I was getting myself into (yes, mom, you were right).

The paperwork to apply for the E-2 visa was nothing short of a Sisyphean hell: diploma certified but not notarized by the right person, not enough shiny Hague convention stamps plastered across this background check, and so on and so on into what seemed an eternity. With that load finally sent off, I eagerly awaited my placement, which came back with an, "oh! you missed the deadline for final placement by ONE day, you'll have to be wait-listed." Oh frak. All for nought. Time rolled on, I hung out in Kentucky, and one day in mid-August I got the call: Erin! I have great news for you! You have been placed in Daegu and your contract is coming tomorrow! Hot damn, I'm going to Korea! As the reality sank in a bit further, I decided packing would nudge that reality a bit too much in the present. So of course, I procrastinated.

My contract came and the next day I sent off to have my actual visa placed in my passport. After a fiasco many of you have reluctantly listened to roughly 40 times (including the postal workers in Fort Dearborn Chicago, Bluegrass Station Branch Lexington, 1-800-ASK-USPS, and the highly irritated lady at the Chicago consulate), I got my visa. The elation I felt as I grasped that tiny brown "We missed you!" slip from the Express Mail carrier is comparable only to my college acceptance letters: this is real, I am going, this will change my life. With my passport handy, 150 lbs of luggage in tow (yeah I know, I overpacked, but it's for a year and size 10 shoes aren't readily available), I said farewell to Mom and Brie and headed into the Bluegrass Airport at 5:15am Saturday morning to begin my journey across the world.

Upon arrival in Seoul, I hopped a bus to the KTX (Korean bullet train) stop at Seoul station. 1 hour down. Then another 2.5 hours on the KTX til Daegu. Lugging all 150 lbs of luggage out of the Daegu station, I must have been the worst part of this unfortunate cabbie's day - he stared at my luggage and just looked up in dismay. Whatever, he charged me extra. It is so not 5000 won from Daegu station to the Grand Hotel. It just can't be. I was elated to finally have the opportunity to shower and sleep. After enjoying the air conditioning, shower you don't have to hold to use, and free bathrobes, I headed to the Ministry of Education, which apparently was the wrong place, so the head of the EPIK program in Daegu, Mr. Lee, drove me to the EPIK center where I met my co-teacher. Or so I thought. She looks at me and says, "I thought she was British." Well, that made me feel great but my real co-teacher finally showed and she is just brilliant. Her name is Jin and she has been my entire support system these few days, showing me a great amount of patience for my foreign ignorance. I love my school so far, I am teaching 5th and 6th grade. More on school, life, and my apartment later but felt like this blog needed a bit of a kick-off. Until next time!

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