Howdy! I arrived safe and sound yesterday after 14 long hours on the plane. The plane wasn't very big compared to the last plane I flew on with Korean Air. But I was able to get 6 good hours of sleep, which for me is unheard of. Thanks to my chiropractor for hooking me up with some good relaxing pills!
So let me tell you about the airport drama before I tell you anything else. I flew with Korean Air. In the past, they were absolutely wonderful. This time, well.... I had planned on paying $100 extra for a heavy bag. I was totally fine with that. So I loaded up my big suitcase and my carry-on suitcase. My carry-on suitcase had my camera and lenses, my laptop, and 8 days worth of clothes for the orientation. And I also carried on a small duffle (the normal carry-on size). I've never had a problem in the past. I have traveled a lot. Seriously, a lot. I have never ever once had to weigh my carry-on bags. This time I did. My carry-on suitcase weighed too much. So luckily Sarah had stayed with me until I officially checked in at the airport and helped me rearrange things. Yes, I was "that" person at the airport. And I ended up having to pay $200 extra. Oh well. I'm moving here for a year. What are you gonna do? And all my stuff arrived safe and sound. So I'm grateful for that. And....it made my carry-on bags super light, so that was good.
Moving on....I arrived in Seoul around 4:00 and went straight to immigration. I ended up meeting several other EPIK teachers in line which was awesome. We ended up sticking together to exchange money and then head to the EPIK spot in the airport. There were a lot of us. I had no idea there would be so many EPIK teachers. At our orientation alone, there are about 350 of us, with 30 of us placed in my city, Daejeon. I've been able to meet several of them, and they all seem very cool. We drove 3 hours to get to Jeonju University in Jeonju, where we have our orientation for 7 days. We stay in a dorm room. My roommate, ironically, is one of the people I met in line at immigration, and she is from San Antonio. Small world, right? Here is Angelica, my roommate, and our room. The bed is as hard as a rock, but I don't think we cared after the long plane ride. The beds here in Korea are not the beds we have at home. Breakfast was really good - eggs, toast, and sausage. After breakfast Angelica, Rebecca, and I went on a little walk outside to go exploring. There is a 7-11 right near our dorm along with little shops where you can buy bubble tea (I have to try that), socks (cute and funky socks are super big here in Korea), and snacks. I met a few more people who are also placed in Daejeon.
Then we were split up into groups and went on a little tour of the university campus to see where we will have classes and such. They gave us paper fan to use in case we get hot. Oh, let me tell you. The heat here makes me feel right at home like I am back in Texas. However, they do not have air conditioning inside the buildings much. I think I heard that they are trying to conserve energy or something like that. We have air conditioning in our dorm room (thank goodness), but that's about it. We are all hot and sweaty.
After lunch today, we had our big EPIK (by the way it stands for English Program in Korea) orientation welcome meeting. We heard from a guest speaker and saw an incredible tae kwon do performance by the elite tae kwon do team here at Jeonju University. They were so awesome to watch.
There are people here from all over the states and even other countries like Canada, the UK, and South Africa. Most of the EPIK teachers are fresh out of college or a couple years out of college. Nobody can believe that I'm 40 years old (however it's not something that I just blurt out), which is awesome for me. People think I'm in my late 20's, so we'll go with that. Sounds like a good plan, right?
I found out my placement yesterday. I got an email from the Program Coordinator in my city, who forwarded an email from the teacher I am replacing. They normally don't do this, but I am a special case. I have been placed at Daejeon School for the Blind. The school is made up of students who have low-vision or are blind. A few students have mental disabilities as well. The class sizes will be small. I will be working with elementary, middle, and high school students. The teacher who I am replacing taught there for 2 years, and the teacher before that stayed 2 years as well. So it must be a good school. They said with my previous experience that I will be a great match for the school. As I read this, I got choked with up with tears. I feel honored that God would place me at that school.
I also found out that I am lucky...I will be getting a 2 bedroom apartment. Score! However, there is no air conditioning...at least it's not hot here year round like it is in Texas! But she is leaving me 2 fans, furniture, and a big guidebook of sorts that she wrote to help me navigate through everything. I am so grateful!
I had more pictures to include in this post, but the wifi here is wonky. So I'm having to borrow my roommate's laptop and use it in our room, which is hooked up with a cable to get internet. My Mac doesn't have a spot for an internet cable. And I saved all my pictures on my Mac. Oh well. I'll include those pictures later. I definitely wanted to at least give you an update about how things are going.
Love you all!