so we went to bed around midnight on thursday so we would get a solid 4 hours sleep before waking uo at 4 to get to the airport for our 7am flight. They say to be there 2 hours before which is crap. Our flight on lovely United was a shining example of why that airline is rated lowest in customer satisfaction amongst all US airlines but its cool because we weren’t expecting much from them anyway 😉 I slept most of the flight while Nicole read and schmoozed with some other passengers and watched peanut blart and jelly.
We arrived in San Fran about 10:15 had some Mexican since we weren’t sure when we’d get to eat it next. The Flight on Singapore Air (aka Amazingness) wasn’t until 2:15 so we had time to chill and I caught some more zzz’s at the gate. We gave our final phone calls home as this would be the last time that our T-Mobile service would work.
We boarded on Singapore AIr at 1:45pm on the 777-300e which was a frikin huge piece of machinery that had some crazy awesome first class and business class seats by the way. Literally beds that you could sleep on the entire time. Although we were economy class, the amenities were sweet. We had individual TVs with remote that gave us access to like 40000 movies(not really, like 200) and games that kept us busy most of the time. We also got socks, a toothbrush and lemony fresh cloths! (twice). The stewardesses were adorned in fairly lovely gowns that made it feel like we had stepped back in time but it was really something to see on top of the customer service was so spectacular that it almost felt weird, like they were going to do something awful to us eventually…but they didn’t. I think the best part of the entire flight though was the mass quantities of food we were fed throughout. We had peanuts first, then lunch which was your choice if chicken, beef or veggie. All the meals came with sides and a dessert and if you were in the mood, a free alcoholic beverage. We declined the booze. Then a snack which was a sandwich or fruit which was followed by dinner which was again a choice of chicken, fish or veggie. The food was really good too.
We arrived in Seoul around 6:30pm on friday night and made it through customs without a problem. They even had these really techy thermometers to check everyones temp as we walked through. They just put this wand up to your neck for a second and it read out the temp right away! We had no SWINE!!
Once through to baggage we were greeted by a man with a sign that read Olives Mom…..i walked the other way. Eventually Nicole noticed and we met up with Olive who at that point had already learned how to speak fluent Korean.
After we gave that man all our money we bought our bus tickets and met Rupsha who is another arriving teacher from Boston. The bus ride was about 4 hours and I guess the one highlight was our rest stop food which was not exactly gourmet. In fact, it was nasty. Some kind of pretend sushi and ultra spicy kimchi which sucked because i didn’t have much to drink other that some tea that was i think meant for animal consumption.
We were picked up by two people at the bus station from the school who spoke great english!….no, no they didn’t. They helped us to our place and carried our immense luggage to our temprary studio unit which is small but workable until we move into our two bedroom upstairs in a few weeks. The neighbor teachers were awesome enough to greet us right away when we got in which was really nice. Kaitlyn was even cool enough to give us some toilet paper, bread and bananas! Olive greeted everyone by taking a piss right at their feet which was sweet.
Once our new friends had left we went for a quick stroll to find a pay phone which didn’t happen and to pickup some milk and cereal at the store for the morning. The city is extremely safe feeling at all times and its not uncommon to see younger kids strolling along without their parents which is odd but comforting at the same time. We came home and crashed on our plush air mattress for the night.
Ok, my back hurts from typing on the floor so Nicole is going to start off our day 2 details.
Day 2, we set the alarm for 7:30 hoping if we got up early and stayed awake all day we would beat jetlag. Great idea, but all day we had to consciously pry our eyes open.
We are cereal out of our coffee mugs we brought with us and got dressed. The shower took a bit getting used to, you can only clean one body part at a time and have to turn on the hot water from a digital read out completely in Korean.
After getting ready for the day, we went for a walk down the street. We found a dunkin donuts and grabbed coffee! (woohoo), saw where the school was located and headed further down to emart. Emart is their form of Walmart I would imagine, a one stop shop with 4 floors of goodness. The bottom floor is a grocery store, the second is more of a department store with clothes and luggage, and makeup, the third floor had housewares, the fourth a dry cleaner and a bank.
Before we went in, we checked out a gym across the street which was $300,000.00 won for the year. They give you work out clothes, women wear grey shirts with a hot orange stripe down the side, men have a black stripe. They have yoga and body pump as well as a much bigger bathroom than at our apartment and machines and weights. We did not sign up yet, there are a few other places we want to check out before making a decision.
Back at EMart, we spent $110,000 won on housing goods, a bathmat, toothbrush holder, plates, cups, silverware, a squeegie, dish soap, blow dryer etc. (they have those material bags like publix but they are 4 times as big and way sturdy. We bought three and they are FANTASTIC since we have to lug everything back to our place.
We had a 1:00 meeting at the school, so Rupsha, Brenda (from Toronto), Adam and I walked back to the school and met with Joey and Sue. Joey gave us a tour of the schools and we met the other staff. Already, I am so excited at the difference between American education and here. The schools are so modern and colorful, who wouldn’t want to learn here. After the tour, Joey showed us a restaurant where a lot of the American’s like to eat. I have no idea of the name of it, but we all ordered something different and sat on the ground to eat. The cups for water were so tiny we had to get up every 2 minutes to refill. Poor Adam can’t sit indian style so he had a hard time sitting on the ground. The food is interesting. It is good, but after a few bites, I can’t seem to finish it, the flavors are just so different here. I had some type of soup with fat noodles and mussels, Adam and Brenda had a pork and rice dish and Rupsha had some fried pork thing that is very popular, each meal cost about $4,000.00 won.
We headed back to EMart to do some grocery shopping. This place is incredible. The shopping carts go on the escalators with you but freeze up once they are placed on the moving ramp to go up and down to different floors. (PS. I am lying here typing and Adam is on the floor behind me doing push ups and sit ups, he is so dedicated) anyway, we tried to stumble through our Korean language books to find where certain things were located. We picked up toilet paper, paper towels, the most expensive coffee grounds every (thank god we brought our french press with us), bread (which is very hard to find here) oil, tuna, honey mustard, water, apple juice (which is so sweet and yummy) eggs, wine, body wash and a few other things we needed. They say there is a veggie stand down the road that has affordable fresh produce, but we ran out of won, only exchanged a little bit at the airport because the exchange rate sucked there and no one here will take travelers checks or american dollars. So, until the banks open Monday, we are SOL when it comes to buying anything else.
On our way back to our apartment, these American’s we didn’t know called us over. They work at a school a block from our house, ACI (there are like 15 schools within 5 miles) They were throwing a party and asked us to come. We went home to drop off our groceries and pick up Olive and headed down the street. They gave us a slice of pizza!!! (woohoo, thank god for pizza) and let us try Korean beer and Sojo. The beer is called OB, all I could think of was tampons, which by the way ladies, don’t exist here.
We only stayed for an hour or so before truly having to come home to sleep.
So, here we are, day 3. We woke up, showered, made eggs and coffee (just like in the states) and are going to head to the left of our apartment today to discover what lies on those roads (we went only to the right today)
Who knows what we will discover. But, below we have prepared a short slide show of pictures we have taken so far so you can see what it is like. Remember, only 2 days worth, we havent ventured too far out.
If you would like to send us anything, letters, care packages of great american things or whatever, you can send it to the address below.
Adam Damiano or Nicole Appel
c/o Reading Town/ Avalon Gwangju
538 J Building 4th floor
Jeollanam – do, Gwangju
(dong means city)- we learned that much yesterday as well as Hello, goodbye and many thanks. We are going to look into Korean lessons at the Gwangju international center.
Oh and here, in Korea, we are rock stars. All of the kids giggle and say “hello, how are you” it must be the first thing they learn in school. It’s great!
Im sure we have forgotten so much to say, but this novel is very long. Be sure, if you are just reading this in your email that you go to our blog so you can see the pictures and videos. They don’t show up in the email you may be receiving.
We miss you all but are so happy we made the decision to come here. Start saving your dollars, it is totally worth every penny to come and visit!! (in the winter, our floors heat up to keep your toes toasty!)
We have also included pictures of some of the things we have bought in the last few days. Ask questions!
So far, we have not been able to find oatmeal, protein shakes or any type of meal replacement bars. (we are working on a nice size shipment list for friends and family :)) Also, they don’t sell flip flops here. Very odd.