There are few things as terrifying as standing in front of an auditorium full of strangers, waiting to hear your name called out so you can meet the person who will, for all intents and purposes, be your mother for the rest of the year. Especially when you have what appears to be the bronchitis that was doing the rounds at orientation.
Mine is quite nice, actually. Although we did struggle to fit all my luggage into her tiny car. But she's pretty organised - we went straight from the pick-up place to the Immigration office and applied for my Alien Registration Card. I got a certificate which is supposed to work in place of an ARC, so that's cool... Except it didn't work at the bank. So no bank account yet. After the immigration office, we joined another Epiker and his co-teacher for some tasty beef soup at a restaurant, and chatted a bit, getting to know each other.
After driving around a bit, we got to my school, which has beautiful grounds but is a little run-down inside. Still, it's not terrible. It's just, you know, a school. And the classrooms look a lot nicer than anything I've ever taught in, and the English Lab (where my office is) is lovely.
Met the other foreigner who's teaching with me, and although he seemed pretty busy with work, he did give me a few tips about the school, so that's good. Then my co-teacher took me to my apartment, picking up her adorable 10-year-old daughter along the way. I may or may not have offered to tutor her daughter in English for free, but we'll see what happens with that. She was a very sweet an helpful little girl, sitting on top of aaaall my bags in the back seat, and helping me carry them (just the small ones - I'm not a sadist) up the 6 flights of stairs to my apartment.
My apartment building is called "Shiny" something, and oh boy, is it shiny. Marble everything, and some sort of weird zodiac thing going on, on the floor. I forgot my camera in my co-teacher's car (I think) so I haven't taken many photos yet, and I'll do an apartment tour once I'm settled. For now you'll have to settle for a verbal description.
Most of the wallpaper is pink and flowery, but not obnoxiously so. There is, however, an entire wall of some sort of brickwork hanging garden of babylon wallpaper, which is glittery. Um... Yaaaaay. Anyway, I'm sure Abi can help me figure out some way to make that work. Or I can hang something over it.
The apartment itself was absolutely filthy, and smells strongly of poo. Hot, steaming, fly-smothered turd. We didn't spend much time in it; only about as long as it took for my co-teacher to explain how the washing machine and ondol (heating) work. I have forgotten already, but I shall persevere!
I was pretty disappointed to see that the previous NET had left me nothing but a hairband, a small vacuum cleaner (which may or may not work), a moldy toilet, a broken bed, some jam jars and long strands of her hair all over the place. I would have appreciated a roll of toilet paper, at least. My co-teacher commented on the need for cleaning supplies and whizzed me off to E-mart (kind of like Super U for the Mauritians, or a cross between Checkers and Macro for the Saffers) where we hunted for sponges, detergent, bog roll and other such things.
And then she abandoned me.
Ok, that was dramatic. She didn't want to, but she had to leave to take her daughter to swimming practice. She didn't ask for this job, and she says she didn't want it, and I respect her priorities. I was taking forever to find what I needed. But I bumped into another Epiker who I recognised, and her lovely co-teacher helped me out instead, after mine wrote down some directions to my apartment.
I started feeling seriously overwhelmed as I didn't even know what size my Korean bed is. The other epiker informed me that I have what is called a Super Single, so I bought a full set of bedding for it. Turns out it's a single, but she was just trying to help. I may have wiped a few sneaky tears away, in the bedding aisle.
Got home, thanked them for their help, and open the window to let in some air that wasn't poo-scented, and then I looked around, contemplating what to clean first. And I remembered promising to send my co-teacher an email when I got back to let her know I was ok. And then I saw that my internet is not wireless, and I have no lan cable. Screw cleaning. I marked home on my GPS and headed out to buy a LAN cable. I vaguely remember my co-NET saying something about maybe being in the apartment above or below me, so I hesitated on the floor below mine, and heard someone exclaim something... in English. Foreigner-accented English.
So I rang their doorbell and said I'd moved in upstairs and wanted to introduce myself. The door opened, and there stood a friendly Canadian and his shiny new Korean wife (they've been married for two weeks). And they were so nice that I asked if they knew where I could buy a LAN cable, and burst into tears.
They sat me down, gave me wine, fed me a pasta dinner, gave me chocolate, gave me tips on teaching middle school and dating Koreans, told me where the nearest gym was, offered to take me to Costco on their next run, showed me their wedding video, introduced me to their cat, and even took my temperature and gave me medicine and a delicious home remedy - Min is training as a nurse. They have even loaned me a phone, so I can get a pre-paid simcard and be contactable until my ARC arrives and I can get something smarter.
Best. Neighbours. Ever. It turns out that Nick is a nerd and a gamer, and I joined the gaming society he founded a few weeks ago, in the hopes of making friends. I guess it worked. He's an Epiker in his 4th year, and she's an English teacher and belly-dancing instructor. They had belly-dancers at their wedding, so that's cool.
Anyway, they cheered me up and have loaned me a LAN cable and donated some rubber gloves and a bottle of bleach. So I guess it's time I cleaned this poo-palace up and made my bed, so I can sleep. Right now I'm just waiting for the vacuum cleaner to finish charging. I have already poured bleach down all the drains, so the smell of poo has gone. Or my nose is blocked and I can't tell. Either way, I win.
So all in all, a difficult day but I think I've made some pretty good friends.