Holy wow it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this thing! So this is gonna be a long one. First off, I guess I should mention that I am no longer in the Middle Kingdom, but in the Land of the Morning Calm. Nick and I will be working in South Korea as contract English teachers for the next year. This is not through Peace Corps, but through a job agency. So it’s a regular, paid job, not a volunteer job. It just happens to be in South Korea.
I wanted to update this thing after my first month here, but it looks like the second will have to do. That’s how fast things are flying!
So far, so good. We like our job. We like our co-workers. Our apartment is nice. My experience these first few months has definitely been a culture shock rollercoaster, but not exactly how I thought it would be. When we first got here, it was culture shock as an ex-Chinese resident. I was comparing everything to China because so many things are similar (from language to beliefs to the way people behave), and yet small things are different. I’m sure I drove my new friends crazy, but I couldn’t help myself! Fortunately, China really prepared me for being here. Being illiterate, having no insulation, dealing with “face culture,” not speaking the language… these are all things I’ve been through, so China has made these a breeze.
Things I miss about China:
1) Food streets within walking distance
2) Grocery stores within walking distance
3) My produce lady and sandwich guy
4) Having tons of restaurants to choose from in my neighborhood
Living in the countryside has its benefits (it’s beautiful), but not having too much within walking distance without a vehicle makes things a bit tough.
Things I don’t miss:
1) Lanzhou pollution and how it made me sick (two months in here, and not even a cold!)
2) Severe stares
3) Night soil, hormones, and antibiotics in my food (eco city, what what!)
4) Cooking on a hot plate
Plus, I get to see this every night
Now that we’ve been here for a few months, I am having culture shock as an American living in a foreign country. Why on earth isn’t there insulation? It’s colder inside than outside! Floor heating will never beat central heating. Why are avocadoes so expensive? I also am really appreciating the Peace Corps language training, and wish I had it for Korean, too!
But you know what?
-I can buy almost anything I need online (and it arrives in 3 days or less)
-I can buy things like milk (that’s safe!) and butter at the nearest grocery store
-I can get Hershey bars, Pringles, and Pepperidge Farm cookies at the corner store (in a town of less than 3,000 people, that’s quite a feat!)
-Almost the entire country is wired
-I am 1.5 hours from a beach, and less than an hour away from almost any western restaurant I’d want to go to
So there’s been a lot of up and down, but altogether I’m enjoying myself. Definitely dealing with homesickness more this time around, but super fast internet helps with keeping in touch. So why aren’t you Skyping with me right now?!
While you chide yourself, check out some photos below! And tune in next time as I attempt to explain my confusing work schedule.
Clubbing in Daegu
Duck; Served with a side of the most awkward (but in the end, nice) lunch with a 100% language barrier
Seen on a walk around the village. This year we got two Falls!
Kitty sleeping in my coat at the cat cafe!
Halloween with my first group of students
Nam-ji girls are the coolest
Our first group shot!
I leave you with one last shot of our gorgeous neighborhood (the building on the back right is our apartment building)