For starters, here are a few quick facts about my journey and life so far:
The beginning of my adventure began in March 2013, when I started filling out the EPIK (English Program in Korea) application.....it was a slow (but worthwhile!) process..
I left St. Louis Lambert airport on Aug.17 at 7am, and after a connecting flight in Chicago, IL, I arrived in Incheon/Seoul airport at 4pm on Aug. 18. It was approximately a 21-hour journey (now who wants to come visit me?) .
I have officially been an "alien" of the Republic of South Korea for 45 days and counting..
I live in Jecheon-si City, which resides in Chungcheongbuk-do province, the only landlocked province in South Korea. Jecheon has a population of around 140,000 people. It is nicknamed the "Healing City".
Jecheon has a beautiful lake on the outskirts of the city, called Urimji Lake.
Many people have told me that Jecheon is the coldest city in South Korea. I do not have factual evidence of this, but it's a good thing that cold weather is my favorite nonetheless.
There are around 35 other foreign English teachers in Jecheon. They hail from all parts of the world, including Ireland, the UK, United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa!
I teach at Jungang Elementary School, which serves K-6th grades. I also teach all grades, K-6th.
My school is a 1/2 mile from my apartment and I walk there everyday. My working hours are 9am-6pm.
I never EVER thought that I would one-day be a teacher; after all, my degree is in International Business with an English minor. But, there is no denying that ecstatic feeling I get when my students say "Hello Kylee Teacher" and "See you later". Don't get me wrong though, I will NEVER teach in the U.S.
I have 2 co-teachers at my school: So-Seong, 26, and Rora, 44. Rora is my main co-teacher, which means we work together to plan lessons and we co-teach in the classroom. She speaks great English, which I am so very thankful for!
On the other hand, I do not speak Korean, but I am picking up some useful phrases here and there which are making life a little easier. I am taking Korean language lessons every Wednesday though. For everything else, there's Google translate on the iPhone.
My biggest complaint so far? Korean food. There are a few things I like, but most things I just don't like. You have to give me props for trying everything though! The main problem is that a lot of Korean food is spicy, and I just can't handle spicy.
I often try foods here that I have no idea what I'm putting into my mouth; which is why I recently found out I've been eating anchovies for lunch (surprisingly, they're not too bad..)
Koreans do know how to make some delicious fried chicken though.
On the other hand, I am finding that I like foods that I would never eat in the U.S. For example, I hate bananas. I can't even remember the last time I tried a banana in the U.S. In Korea, I LOVE bananas! My hypothesis for this sudden change in tastebuds is that I eat anything that is familiar, therefore it tastes good.
My city does have some familiar restaurants, including Dunkin' Donuts, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Quizno's and Baskin-Robbins.
Korean age is different than American age. In the U.S., I am 22 years old. In Korea, I am 24 years old. Koreans determine age like this: 1) the day you were born, you were 1 year old, 2) the following new year, you were 2 years old, 3) you turn one year older on every birthday after that. For example, I was born on Dec. 2, making me 1 year old the day I was born. One month later, on Jan. 2, I was 2 years old because of the new year. Crazy, huh???
North Korea is a threat to South Korea, but to tell you the truth, South Koreans don't give a shit about North Korea's menacing antics. They have been hearing about them for 50+ years and simply don't care anymore.
Despite what some people believe, Korea IS NOT a third-world country, and my city has everything I could possibly want or need (except maybe a dryer..)
Thus far, this country and its people have been nothing but welcoming to me and I love it.
Only 46 more weeks to go!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventure thus far...look out for the next installment (coming much sooner than this one did!)