I can’t believe I’ve only been in Korea for a little more than a week. So much has happened since I arrived. It feels like I’ve been here for a month!
Since I’ve been busy, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and update everyone on what’s been going on. So here’s the much-awaited update!
My trip to South Korea was a pain in the bum. It took me about 30 hours to get to Busan from Dallas (19 hours in flights and 11 hours in layovers). I left Thursday, August 4th, and arrived Saturday, August 6th. By the time I finally arrived in kimchi land, all I wanted was to shower and sleep.
- Holy sh*t, it’s humid.
- The grass IS greener on the other side. (EVERYTHING’S SO GREEN!)
- OMG, it’s not flat! There are so many slopes/hills/mountains/whatever they are.
- I’m from Oklahoma, so the landscape literally went from _____ to /\/\/\/\/\/\….
When I arrived at the airport, I quickly spotted the TaLK staff. After checking-in, I greeted the other TaLK scholars who had arrived earlier. We all mingled with each other for an hour or so before boarding the bus to our orientation venue at Daegu Haany University.
Upon arrival at the university, we received our name tags and dorm room keys. Coincidentally, my orientation roommate was the girl whom I sat beside on the bus ride there. The rest of my first day in Korea was spent unpacking and relaxing.
First meal in Korea:
- hot dogs…#whereisthekimchi?!
Sunday, my second day in Korea, was eventful because we had a mini field trip to a temple on campus. There were several activities lined up for the day. We were split into smaller groups and rotated through the various activities (trying on hanboks, painting fans, partaking in a tea ceremony, and opening a Korean bank account).
The field trip was fun, but the weather was dreadful. And by dreadful I mean the humidity felt like death. It was so humid that it didn’t take long at all before we were drenched in sweat. Did I mention the orientation venue is literally in the hottest part of Korea?
On Monday, we had our opening ceremony, our first lecture, and a welcoming dinner. The welcoming dinner was a very generous buffet. We all loaded our plates with food and ate to our heart’s content.
On Tuesday, everyone had to do a medical check. The medical check was somewhat intimidating…
- height & weight measurement
- eyesight test
- hearing test
- blood pressure test
- blood test (not as bad as I thought it would be!)
- urine test
For the rest of the week, we had lectures on various topics such as how to motivate students, lesson planning, classroom management, etc. The lectures started at 9 a.m. and ended at 5:30 p.m. Although most of the lectures were relatively interesting, it was still hard to sit through all of them. Not to mention, we also had mandatory Korean class from 7-8 p.m.
Thankfully, we got a break from all the lectures during the weekend. We had a field trip planned for Saturday and then had the remainder of the weekend free to go wherever we wanted.
Our field trip on Saturday was to the Hahoe Folk Village in Andong. We boarded a bus at around 8 a.m. and arrived there two hours later. We did a bit of hiking, watched a traditional mask dance, and wandered around the village.
After a few hours there, we boarded a bus to go back to our orientation venue.
Since we were allowed to spend Saturday night and Sunday wherever we wanted, a group of us decided to spend the rest of the weekend in Busan. Sixteen of us to be specific.
A big group of foreigners with no cell phone service and limited knowledge of Korean wandering around a big city…what could go wrong? Let’s just say I could write a whole blog post about it (and I probably will).