We were put on this earth to fart around.

Well, today was a series of small adventures.

Last night I got into Chicago around 10 PM CST and checked into my hotel which is just a couple miles from O’hare. I went to bed pretty early for me since I was tired from the trip, but it took forever to fall asleep. Mostly just my mind racing. I didn’t have to be up until 8:30 AM, but I woke up around 7 AM and just kind of laid in bed and pretended to be asleep for awhile. At first I thought that I might be taking the metro downtown, which would’ve been an adventure of its own, but my mom ended up driving to downtown Chicago with me.

Now, I looked up on MapQuest the directions to the consulate, which was really just a suite in the NBC tower here in Chicago, and it seemed pretty simple. But at one point the road we were on turned one-way the wrong way and the last road we had to turn on wasn’t the one we wanted, so we ended up getting lost. Now, there’s two things I’ve learned about Chicagoans today. One, they are ruthless drivers, particularly the taxi drivers. Secondly, they’re not particularly friendly. My mom tried asking several people on the street for directions and they just walked on by pretending like they didn’t hear her.

I finally got some directions from a 7-11 and after a little trial and error we found our way to the tower. Once I was there it was a little less exciting. I wasn’t particularly worried when we got lost, but my mom is a hardcore worrier, which was feeding into the small anxiety I was having from it all, which worked pretty well to get my heart rate elevated. There were actually about five or six other college-aged kids there that were also traveling to South Korea to teach English. At first I wanted to talk with them, but there weren’t seats, and one of the girls ended up being really annoying.

She just kept going on and on about herself. It sounded really pretentious. A couple minutes into the conversation I learned she was a UM grad, which only made it make more sense. I actually had to plug my ears for awhile so I couldn’t hear her, otherwise I would’ve driven myself crazy. I hate when I overhear a conversation I don’t want to be listening to but can’t ignore it for some reason.

After like an hour of waiting, I had my interview, which was super short. It was only like ten minutes. I was finally called in, and the first thing he asked was where I was from, how the drive was, etc… Then he asked why I wanted to go to South Korea, and I just gave the canned response about travel, opportunity, a great job offer, etc… He asked what I knew about Korea and I mentioned their food, music, movies, etc… Then he asked me what kind of movies I liked and what I thought the effect of violence in movies might have on kids. I could only really say that I thought it was up to the parents to decide if a child should see a particular movie.

When I got out, my mom said she’d overheard other people talking about their interviews and they were kind of strange. One guy said he had been asked about orcas. Another said the guy asked him about global warming. It hardly even seemed like an interview. It was more like a friendly conversation to get to know someone. At the end, he said “Have fun in Korea” and I said goodbye in Korean, which he seemed to appreciate.

In other news, still no ticket. I don’t know if I should be worried or not. From what other people in the consulate were saying they were at least a week or two late for the job they had accepted, so it’s not like delays haven’t been happening for other people as well. Maybe South Koreans just procrastinate a lot and I’ll end up getting my ticket Friday night. As long as I get it.

I guess now might be a good time to talk a little bit more about what I do now, so I can you guys a little information on the city I’ll be going to. As the name of my blog suggest, I’ll be living in Cheonan, South Korea. You can see the wiki page for the city here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheonan

It doesn’t have a ton of information, but it is helpful. It’s not quite as big as Columbus, but I feel like that might be really misleading. The picture in the header of my blog was taken during the 2006 World Cup,when Koreans packed the streets of Cheonan wall-to-wall to support their national team. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen anywhere near that many people gathered in one place like that in the States. Geographically, the city is west central South Korea (got it?) and just an hour south of Seoul, so I could easily make trips up there pretty often once I get everything in order. It’s also pretty close to the west coast, so I’ll probably travel out there. Actually, I hear the southern coast of South Korea is a huge tourist attraction, even for South Koreans, so I might just travel there.

From what I can tell, the climate is pretty similar to Ohio’s. It’s got all four seasons, though I’m told it should already be getting warmer there, which is good. The area seems like it’s got a good amount of mountain to it, which will be a huge change for this Ohioan. The only mountains I’ve ever really deal with were the Appalachians. They were mountain-ier than I expected, but still no great shakes in the scheme of things I think.

As for my job, I’ll be employed by the Baekseok ESL Language School. I know there’s a Baekseok University in Cheonan, but I still don’t know if they’re related, or if it’s just a neighborhood thing. Anyway, it’s not a normal school that the kids go to from 8 AM to 3 PM like the school we think of. Instead I’ll be teaching in a hagwon. These are essentially schools that offer classes in a specific department, such as English, taekwondo, music, etc… The kids in South Korea typically go straight from their normal school to a hagwon, and it’s normal for them to be at these schools until 9 PM. That’s right. South Korean kids go to school in excess of 12 hours a day, sometimes six days a week if they have a weekend hagwon to go to. The class size will be around 20 kids, and I’m told I’ll be teaching six classes.

I feel like dealing with that many kids every day will be more of a challenge than being in a county whose language I don’t speak. I’ve never been a huge kid person, but maybe this will give me some perspective. I don’t think many people know what it’s like to deal with that many kids all the time. Seems like pretty much all of the parts of this trip are going to be new to me. Some of the other young adults at the consulate had done teaching before or had gotten their masters, which made me feel a little inferior, but I got the job just the same as they did. From what I’ve read everyone loves their kids, even if sometimes they can be a little rowdy, so I don’t think it’ll be a deal breaker or anything.

I don’t have much planned for the rest of my time here. I just have to go back to the consulate on Friday to pick up my passport at 3 PM. On the way into downtown today I saw a sign on the highway for Korea Town. Perhaps I’ll make my way down there and take my camera so I can spruce up the blog a little.

Anyonghi gyeseyo! (Goodbye!)


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