Seoul Week 1

Location: My Apartment In Seoul!

OKay! First of all I've set up a slide show on the page that I'll continue to update with pictures. You should be able to just click on the photo if you want to see a larger version. If the slideshow doesn't work for you try this link: Photo Album

After arriving here at Inchon International Airport I spent some time looking around for whoever it was that was going to pick me up. Owen said either he would or someone from the school. So I didn't know who to expect. All I knew was that none of the people waiting with signs had my name on it! Instead of panicking I went to the currency exchange area and got some won! It was bout 930won to 1 dollar. Then I walked back to see if anyone new had shown up. Nope. Maybe a phone would be a good idea. There was a prepaid phone area, but that seemed like too much. After all, I just needed to make 1 phone call. Looking around I saw some public phones, but it looked like they only accepted coins, which I didn't have. Maybe a phone card would do the trick. Wouldn't you know it! The phone card machine was broken down. Hmm.... so I walked back again. Every time I walked back and forth there were cab drivers asking people if they needed a ride. I kept running into the same one. Finally he let me use his cell phone. Soon after that Lee, the co-founder at Starters (the school I'm teaching at) showed up. Lee is a very friendly man and we talked about the city as we drove into it. Seoul is about an 1hr and half drive from Inchon. As we approached Seoul traffic really began to pick up. Lee said it was too bad though, probably because it was only Wednesday. As we were bringing up my bags there was another Caucasian guy in the stair well. He was Paul! Another new teacher, he had arrived the day before. He was very tired from the jet lag so he retired for the evening. As Lee was showing me my apartment, which is like a penthouse/studio, his wife and daughter showed up with Owen. They had all gone shopping and brought some essentials like: Frosted Flakes, Milk, a cutting board and knife, toothpaste, soap, some shower slippers (I think...) air fresheners and a small metal pot.

After that we went out to eat. Downstairs from the apartment is a fried chicken restaurant. So we had fried chicken and beer and some fried potatoes too. A delicious first meal! As we were talking it came up that Mrs. Lee has an accordion. AH! All that time spent on "Patrick McElwee's Fun Time Happy Hour Half Hour Comedy Hour Super Crazy Accordion" Time is about to pay off, I thought! And sure enough, Mrs. Lee asked me to teach her to play the accordion for about the equivalent of my over time compensation. Owen also thought this was wonderful and asked me if I could incorporate it into my classes. SURE!

The next day Lee said that I should come to his apartment around 11am for breakfast and then I'd go to Starters for my first day. Our apartment buildings are set up like 3 identical towers built right next to each other. When I went out to go to Lee's apartment I couldn't quite remember which one was his. So I think I rang a couple of wrong door bells. Finally, I found it though and instead of breakfast we just walked straight to the school! On the way there were mother walking with there babies and I noticed how clean everything was. At school I read to a class and met some of the children, and ate lunch in one of the classes. The school is delightful! Also, Mrs. Lee took me and Paul to set up a bank account. Turns out Daniel was right, though. I do need a power adapter for my computer to work in the outlets here. After work Paul took me to a store right in one of the alleys near the apartments. I bought to adapters for about a dollar. We were hungry and went to a restaurant near by. Turns out it was a Chinese restaurant! Paul and I were pretty much hopeless trying to figure out what the menu said. A woman in the restaurant turned out to be the owner's sister and a travel agent and an English speaker. She helped us order some excellent dim sum.

After dinner I was ready to drop. 4 O'clock in the afternoon still felt like midnight to me at that point. Just as I was about to fall asleep Lee showed up and invited me and Paul to dinner. Well, I'm never one to refuse a meal. We had a great meal in Lee's apartment with his wife and daughter. All the traditional foods, bulgogi, kimchee and rice, with some fried fish too! And a soup made from kimchee. Delicious! I almost fell asleep at dinner though because I was so tired. Mrs. Lee noticed and laughingly said that she "released" me.

Next day at school I went to 4 classes ranging from children that were only 36 months old to about 7. I brought the accordion with me and sang and made up stories for them. Last night we went to the Hilton for an amazing buffet. There's now a TV and a refrigerator in the apartment and later today Owen and Paul and I are going to go grocery shopping I think on Sunday we're going to get a tour of some of the city too!


The Journey Continues

Location: San Francisco

I've made it to San Francisco. I think I slept the whole way here. Or maybe I woke up somewhere around Las Vegas. All I know for sure is that I almost unintentionally exited the airport trying to find the International Terminal. So I had to go through security for a second time! Thank goodness I have about 4 hours to kill. And the security check point was surprisingly fast. I was in and out of a gigantic line in about 15 minutes. Not bad. But still 3 hours and 45 minutes to go... In the check point one of the security guards mentioned that the international gate access point is located behind some discretely placed pillars. Naturally. So after refastening my belt and otherwise suiting up after the speedy safety exodus I stood in line for he International Terminal Shuttle. There's basically a secret door that you're led through to let you on the super secret shuttle that takes you to the even more super secure and secret elevator that you can take to the very special privileged (and secret) terminal area. And thankfully my gate exists and so does my flight! Some day I'll have internet access and I can post this until then...

Location: Somewhere over the Pacific... I think

Flying Internationally is awesome! I think I've already been fed twice and I just received another glass of water. Watched some of the Transformers, took a nap. Had some pot roast, whice was really quite delicious and one of the largest ice cream sandwiches I've ever had. Singapore Airlines is great. The check in guys at SFO switched my seat so I could have a row all to my self. They said it was a very light flight. And they're right! I think that maybe half of the coach rows are filled. That's three seats to a row and maybe 15 of the 45 rows or so have an occupant.

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And the Journey Begins

Location: ABQ International Airport

OKay! So far so good. My flight leaves for San Francisco in about half an hour. Daniel drove me to the Airport this morning after a whopping 3 hours of sleep. I think I have everything I need. *Gulp* I'm impressed with the free internet at the Airport right now. Still dark and cold. Had my last New Mexican meal for a while at Los Cuates last night. Thanks Mom and Brendan! Delicious. Talked with Owen last night and he said someone will definitely be in Seoul when I arrive tomorrow. Gee, I hope my bags are there. Guess, I'm still in groggy travel mode.

We'll, see how the internet is in San Fran...

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Prep Work

Location: A Suitcase

Okay, here's the low-down: I'm packing today for my year long journey to Seoul, South Korea. I'm not taking much, because I don't have much. Just a couple of suitcases full of clothes and teaching materials and my trusty carry-ons: laptop and backpack. I'll be keeping everyone posted on my travels and excursions in Korea via this blog. So check back often and feel free to leave your comments.

What I know so far: I'll be living in Seoul and teaching at a private school for Korean American Children called Starters Academy. I'll be living on the top of a 14 floor building, in a small studio apartment. There are some other teachers coming from the US and Canada to help develop the program and teach the students. I'll mainly be teaching kindergarten children. Sounds like fun! Hopefully they won't exhaust me too much. We'll see if I get any sleep before my flight tomorrow. My excitement level is at a Spinal Tappish ELEVEN! Early in the morning the first stop is San Francisco, where there's a 5 hr lay over. Next stop Inchon International. And from there.... who knows!

Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes and support. May your lives be positive and fruitful.

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