When you’re picked up by your CT, there are a variety of things that can happen. They can either take you to your apartment, to the shopping center, to the immigration office, or they can take you to your school to meet your principal and vice principal. In my case, almost all of the above!
First, we dropped off my luggage at my apartment, which is a tiny one-room apartment. There’s a small bathroom/shower near the entryway. Cross the door and you enter my living space! There’s a small kitchen area, a small dining area, and then my bed/desk area. I have no patio or anything. Just literally one room and a bathroom. It’s small and cramped but I think I’ll live 😉
I was then taken to meet my principal and vice principal. I met the vice principal and did a 90 degree bow while saying, “안녕하새요, 만나서 반갑습니다” which just literally translates to, “Hello, nice to meet you” in a very formal manner. He was shocked that I could speak Korean haha. All of the teachers were, actually. They said it was comfortable since they wouldn’t be at a loss for words with me. Then I met the principal. My heart skipped a beat (many beats probably) when she said in Korean, “Where is the foreigner? Why is the native English teacher a Korean person?” My CT then had to explain in depth how I was born in the US but my parents were Korean which is why I could understand Korean, and whatnot. But seriously, this was the worst case scenario I imagined and it was taking place right in front of my eyes. My principal was wary of me already because I looked too “Korean” to be a native English teacher (more about this in a separate post) even though I’m literally licensed (with a Master’s, even!) to teach Secondary English. I’ve mentioned this in another post before. So, for a minute I thought she’d send me away and ask for another teacher, but then she said a long speech about how I should enjoy life, and how life is about its ups and downs, and that teaching at this middle school will be extremely difficult but that I should remember it as a good experience. Good talk. >_>
After that we went shopping since apart from furniture, my apartment had nothing else in it. I bought blankets, pots, utensils, and a kettle. I parted ways with my CT before going shopping again on my own for some more things I needed. I basically have to buy EVERYTHING you could possibly need to live alone, and it’s whittling away at what little funds I have left. I thought we were supposed to get a 300,000 won settlement allowance but when I asked my CT about it she had no idea what it was. She said she’d look into it and get back to me next week.
My CT then told me that I had to go to school again the next morning to meet the Head English teacher, so I did. I met everyone for the second time, but my cold worsened and I was pretty visibly sick. The teachers said I should go to the hospital and I was like ?????? In America I never went to the hospital except to get vaccines and stuff. Not to mention US healthcare is pretty shitty and pricey. So, I kept saying to them, “It’s ok, I can just take medicine and sleep it off!” which is what I always do when I get sick (seriously though, I’ll never understand people who go to the hospital for just a simple cold). They kept fussing over me and although it was nice to see them care about me, it also felt awkward because I didn’t want to feel like a burden to them.
After that I still had to buy stuff for my apartment. Luckily, I live near a huge traditional market as well as a young life shopping district. I’ll detail my findings in another post!