Saturday, March 7, 2009
Where I'm At
It's Sunday afternoon here and I decided to take the subway down to Hyehwa to grab some essentials. I must be turning Korean because I had to seek-out some skin-care products from the Body Shop ASAP. It's effing dry here right now - especially in my apartment. I will have no problem using a piece of my settlement allowance to purchase a humidifier right quick.
That, thank goodness, is the only complaint I have about my situation at the moment. I have to say that I feel pretty lucky with things as they've been presented so far.
I wrote a while back that I would be living in the Bukbu district of Seoul. Literally translated, that simply means that I'm living in "North Seoul". It is pretty north, though. If you are ever to look at a map of Seoul, 90% of the time, my area won't be included in the map. Logistically speaking, my school is located across the street from Sssangmun station on line #4. It's very north - 5 stops from the end in fact. What's at the end, you ask? Why Danggogae, of course! Oh, yes - Danggogae. The song of my heart. Only a handful of people will know what that really means.
My apartment is located VERY close to Banghak station on line #1 - about 7 stops from the last one in the north. So, how do I best describe Bukbu? Well, it's like many areas of Seoul, actually. It's not as trendy as say, Gangnam, Jungno, or Hyehwa (and by "trendy", I mean a destination for the younger crowd), but it's nice and doesn't really fee too much like it's out of the city.
Regarding my apartment, I couldn't be happier. I'm living in what's called an "office-tel" - basically a prefabricated apartment for one. It's almost an exact replica of the apartment that Steph was living in last January in Yatap when she went to work at Youngdo's head office. I'll post some photos below. I had no real issues with my apartment last year. Certainly, it was older, but I grew to like it. Being in the place I'm in this year just, well - I guess it makes me feel more immediately comfortable. It's secure, I will get a lot of light, and it will be easy to maintain. It's got a sweet little loft for anyone who wants to make the pilgrimage to Bukbu one night - Dee and Glen - are you listening? Muk muk sure seems to like it, anyway.
I also had a chance to visit the school today. Yesterday (Saturday), us Bukbu teachers were all dropped-off at a central school in our district where we were picked-up by our co-teachers. I am so damn lucky. Mrs. Lee greeted me excitedly and took me right away to the apartment, showed me around the area, made sure I met the security guard etc, and then went to buy me some new towels because there were no hand towels in the apartment. Right away, I have a strong feeling that we will get along very well. She has a great sense of humour and seems excited to be in the role of what I would best describe as "head co-teacher". She reassures me again and again that I can ask her anything and that she will be there to help me out.
This morning, she met me at my apartment to show me how to get to school on the bus. It's about 10 minutes away by bus - not far at all. The school is huge (pictures coming later this week) and it looks like I will certainly have my work cut out for me. This week though, they will be giving me time to meet the other teachers, to observe some classes, and apparently to introduce myself to the teaching staff in person, but also to the entire student populace via the television broadcasting system in the school. That's right! Teacher Dave will be on every homeroom screen. I don't know if they are ready. I'm pretty sure I am though. The first few weeks might be somewhat terrifying, but I feel like I'm ready for it - for the challenge anyway. Perhaps measured success will come in more time.
I do feel though that with Mrs. Lee I am in good hands. She took me out for lunch with her family today, and though she jokingly threatened to serve me dog soup and live octopus, (which I said I would eat if she wished very much to take me there), she wanted to understand my "real mind" and was gracious enough to take us to one of her family's favourite vegetarian restaurants. It was delicious. Her husband was shy, but very kind and her children (So Min, 6 years old, and Song Heyon, 11 years old) were great. Song Heyon told me that his sister was "dangerous" and very "violent" which I doubted, until she proved me wrong, wielding her plastic fork at her brother with a playful vengeance. Whenever Song Heyon referred to his sister, he used both hands to gesture in her direction, like he was describing the next item up for bid on The Price is Right. True hilarity. So Min was actually quite shy, but giggly after lunch on the ride home. I promised then that when I get settled in, I will have them over to my place for dinner. I intend on seeing that promise through.
Here are some photos of my apartment - they are pretty self-explanatory. I love the use of space...
Tomorrow is introduction day. I don't have reliable internet at my apartment and won't until a bunch of paperwork is taken care of - should be done in three weeks, I'm thinking. In the meantime, I will do my best to post as often as I can. Gotta go - Mukmuk might be starting to wonder where I am...