While our time in Korea up until now has been relatively busy with training and trying new food, the last two days have been crammed with activity. We have moved into our apartment, met our new co-workers, and been on our first shopping trip to Seoul, the capital city of Korea.
Our apartment is far larger than we were expecting. What we had prepared ourselves for was a sink, a bathroom, and maybe enough floor space to put a single bed that we would have to share. What we got was two relatively large rooms, a separate bathroom and laundry area, and a gorgeous dark wood wardrobe. This was promptly filled with most of our crumpled clothes, which were undoubtedly happy that they were finally being given some room to breathe after many days being spent in cramped, stuffy bags.
Once we had moved in, we discovered that one of our fellow teachers for the coming year was moving in next door to us. When they arrived, we greeted them by helping cart their possessions into their home. Once all of their stuff that had arrived was inside their exactly equally-sized apartment, we all decided to venture into the surrounding streets, where we bonded over fried chicken. Very good, Korean-style fried chicken, which I arguably prefer to brands like KFC. I will have to try it some more to investigate.
Most of our day today was spent in various shopping districts of Seoul with our two very good friends (who are soon to abandon us to return to the US). In between walking around several dozen stores and a covered, multi-storey market over the course of the day, we entered a realm into which I had never before imagined I’d enter – the realm of a cat café.
A cat café is a strange place, where humans pay money to swap their shoes for pink slippers, drink bad ice tea, all with the aim of being loved by the over 20 cats lying around the room. This is partially thwarted by the fact that they are cats, and loving is not in their nature, but Kris and I still drew much joy from being in the same room as an assortment of feline companions.
Throughout the weekend, and the past week in general, we have received a wealth of teaching advice. From icebreakers to lesson ideas to discipline strategies, the current teachers at our school were more than happy to share what worked for them. Nevertheless, I still feel profoundly unprepared for tomorrow, when four seven-year-old Koreans will be staring blankly at me while I speak a foreign language at them. Now, I sit on my couch, listening to my refrigerator make strange unearthly noises, worrying equally about tomorrow morning and whether, the next time I open the fridge door, I will see a small pyramid guarded by a gargoyle dog speaking the word ‘Zuul’. Hopefully at least one of these worries will be unfounded.