Sunday, August 3, 2008
So, we finally arrived in Korea via Korean Airlines from Seattle. The flight was ten hours long, and I had the massive inconvenience of being not only on a window seat, but being in the only seat on the plane with which the LCD screen didn’t work, which meant that my iPod’s battery nearly died and I was tempted to bring out my computer, but being a larger gentleman, I found that the people around me where already put off by my size. I’m going to have to fix that.
Anyway, half-way through the flight, the attendants decided that it would be a good idea to move me to an empty seat, which happened to between an American girl in the Air Force stationed in Korea and a guy who obviously wanted to be left alone. He was clearly annoyed that they had moved someone into the open seat next to him, and that made it very hard to do things like go to the restroom, but the flight finally ended, despite feeling like it never would. At least I have 2 meals, one of which was Bibimbap, and I sorta pocketed the left over sauce from the toothpaste-like tube they gave me. They were going to through it away anyway, but now I have my one so I can turn any bowl of rice into bibimbap. Lucky me.
After we arrived and went through customs, we met up with the TaLK guy at the gate who sent us to the TaLK booth. Nice people but also the bearers of bad news. We had to get on a bus and drive for 3 more hours just to get to the place where we start our training. Apparently, the location is hidden deep in the heart of the mountains. From what I’ve figured out looking at the map and stuff, I think that we are in the city of Yong-in, which is a suburb of Seoul. All I know is, I’m in the Hyundai-Hynix HRD Center waiting for Orientation to begin.
However, after we arrived, good things and bad things started happening. Good thing: They have free wifi and a computer lab, so internet use should be really easy. Bad thing: The converter I bought only works with 2 prong devices. That meant that I had to take a taxi into the town just next to us and search through all the electronic stores until I found a Universal Travel Adapter that worked with three pronged grounded plugs. Along with a friend I made named Donovan, I managed to find one at the Lotte Mart for ₩ 12,500.
I’m really excited to be in Korea actually, and I’m finding that I’m making lots of friends here in the building. I’ve grown close to Jim over the past few days and become friends with a guy named Daniel, who is a Korean-American from Seattle, Donovan, a boy genius from California Polytech, and Simon, the smooth and really interesting Brit from London. All-in-all there’s 400 people signed up for this program from all over the world, which is fun.
Turns out, this TaLK program was started by the new president of South Korea just after he took office less than a year ago. He wanted to create the same success for his country that Japan did for theirs, and he thought the best way to do that was to bring in English teachers as fast as possible, so they offered incentives for those joining on. There are only 25% of us who are exchange students as well as teachers, which is kinda strange since I thought that was the whole point of the program, but of my roommates, friends, and acquaintances, I only know of Jim, Marie and I who are also students. Maybe the coordinators math is off. But at least we all are getting in on the ground floor of something really freakin’ cool, which should be awesome, and I hear that there’s a chance we might get to meet the President, which would be amazing if you think about the kind of impact that sort of thing would have on my resume. Finding out what kinds of stuff they have in store for us, makes me more and more glad I signed up for this, ‘cause most of us who are actually focused on this opportunity, are likely to end up in high ranking international relations positions in the future; would be nice to have connections.
Well, like all programs, there are some good eggs and some bad eggs. There have been several people who came why unprepared and there are people who continue to go out drinking and clubbing, and generally creating a ruckus, which hasn’t come to bite any of us in the butt yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come eventually. We didn’t have a curfew until tonight, which meant that something is starting to happen as far as the standards of behavior.
I will post about the Korean Folk Village tour we went on later. There is a big day tomorrow and I should get some rest. Happy Trails people.