Wow! What can I say? My first few days of Korean life have been so surreal! I don’t know how else to describe it. Everything is so new, different, and exciting, yet I still can’t really believe it’s real. How is it possible that on Tuesday, I was living my normal Canadian life, and now, just a couple of days later, I’m on the other side of the world, eating kimchi for breakfast and teaching Korean children English!?!?! How crazy!
And yet, it doesn’t really seem all that weird to me. How can it be that I feel completely foreign and confused about where I am and what I’m doing in this strange land, while also feeling like I’ve been living here for years, and that eating rice for breakfast isn’t anything out of the ordinary? I have absolutely no idea, but I think I’m just going to roll with it! Maybe it hasn’t hit me yet. Maybe the culture shock I am bound to feel at some point is just lurking around the corner, waiting for me to let my guard down so it can pounce! Haha. I don’t know, but I guess I’ll have to wait and find out!
I think the hardest part of my journey here was actually saying my goodbyes at the airport. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a big family person! Having never been away for a year before, I was a bit of an emotional wreck, (as I expected I would be!) especially after my sister presented me with a scrapbook of special messages and pictures from some of my closest friends and family for me to read when I am feeling homesick or lonely. Had I not already felt like crying, that book would have put me over the edge for sure! The flight, however, wasn’t as bad as I had imagined! Though I don’t think I slept much, the almost 14 hours on the plane to Seoul somehow still seemed to go by pretty quickly. I never once wanted to run screaming down the aisles, begging them to let me off the plane because I couldn’t take it anymore! This, of course, would have been a worst-case scenario, but I half-expected I would go a bit crazy, since I usually start to feel antsy and irritated on flights that are 5 hours or less!
After a quick layover in Seoul, I was boarding my second flight and final leg of the journey: to Busan and beyond!! Haha. The 40 minutes in the air from Seoul to Busan seemed like a breeze after spending over 13 hours in the air during the first leg! Coming into Busan, there was just enough light left to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen – the sky was a bright orange colour across the entire horizon as the sun quickly dipped below. What a sight! Exhausted and feeling a bit numb, I made my way through the airport in Busan, praying that Jane, the director of the school I’ll be working for, wouldn’t forget about me. I had no idea how I would find her or how I would contact her if she never showed up (let alone how I would ever make my way to the school knowing basically zero Korean!) But I remember feeling eerily calm about this. I guess the exhaustion was doing a good job of numbing me! Haha.
However, there was no need to fear!! Shortly after I made my way through the Arrivals gate, a woman appeared in front of me, asking if I was Allison. I’m saved!!! Haha. Jane took very good care of me! She helped me load all my bags, drove me back to her house, where I stayed until Sunday, fed me some dinner, and showed me to my room to get some much needed sleep! Unfortunately, sleep was not on my side that night (or the next night…haha), but my adrenaline kept me running until the weekend.
Details about my first day of orientation/training at my new school will follow!