Day 1. 일 번호 하나

First, I wanted to start this post by talking about what I’m doing in Korea. Majority of the Americans here are teachers or in the military but I’m a bit different. Yes, technically I will be teaching but not in the conventional setting. I will be teaching English and becoming a part of the Happy Youth Center community here in Busan. The Happy Youth Center was built in 1950 by the United Methodist church as a refuge for teenage girls who have been or are at risk of being exploited sexually. Most of them are run-aways who have no contact with their families but a few still communicate with them from afar. I arrived here one week ago and I’ve tried to blog on my phone in real time, because of this, the tenses I write in change from past, present, and future. I’ll try to clean them up for clarity but no guarantees. Enjoy:

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Thursday at noon I said goodbye to my dad and I boarded the plane. I got an aisle seat and the middle seat was open. Score. The lady in the window seat told me she was Filipino but lives in DFW. She was traveling home to see family for the next three months. The food on the flight was good and plentiful. Lunch was tasty but I wasn’t really hungry. After lunch, I watched the movie Her but I was not impressed. I was actually a bit bored, and not sure how it got an Oscar nomination. After Her I turned on a different movie called That Awkward Moment with Zac Efron. It was okay, not great, but not bad. After the movie I thought I’d try to sleep but, considering it was only 4pm in America, my sleep success rate was zero percent. After a couple epic rounds of Tetris and listening to The Beatles, my nose started bleeding hard core. Luckily, I was able to clean and stop it without anyone noticing. I believed the nose spray I’d taken that morning initiated the bleeding.

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After the nose bleed, I played Tetris for a while longer and watched The Book Thief. It was really good and I decided I’ll read the book as soon as I could. After that movie, we ate dinner of pasta with shrimp and veggies. It was very very tasty. The lady next to me got fish and rice and said it was very good as well. I apologize for my lack of descriptive adjectives. “Good” is all that my brain was able to come up with such severe fatigue. After dinner, I closed my eyes and began a tossing and turning drowsy fest. I finally awoke from my night’s “nap” around 2am Dallas time so I was really tired and out of it. But we were to land soon so I figured I should make myself more alert. Image

Boarding my second flight was quite a workout. An airport man met those of us transferring at the gate and proceeded to RUN us, what felt like, the entire airport to the security transfer point. Then we went upstairs and were in the domestic boarding area. At this point my shoulders were screaming and sweat was dripping off my body. But I made it to the gate, connected to the airport wifi to let everyone  know I made it and boarded the plane. This is when the reality of the fact that I’m going to be treated different, because I’m white, really sank in. I was always spoken to in English and handed an English immigration card. Even if I could speak Korean, I really wouldn’t have been given a chance to use it. A lot of gestures were used to help me to my seat. Although I know my Korean numbers and could have figured it out. I guess that’s just what happens when you “look” American. Regardless, I’m safe, exhausted, and ready to get to Busan. It was then 3:32am Dallas time and 5:32pm Korea time and my stomach thought it was time to eat…
All in all, the flight wasn’t too eventful but once I arrived the craziness began. First, they lost one of my bags. I had no idea what address to give, so Pastor Han (my co-worker/supervisor) gave it to him. We then got into the van and met the foundation director. She doesn’t speak any English so Pastor Han tried to translate as much as possible. I felt horrible and embarrassed because my bag was big and heavy that it barley fit into the van. oops. After the wrestle with my bag, we drove through traffic for what seemed like forever. Eventually they told me we were going to go look at my apartment and decide if we wanted to get it. My second moment of embarrassment was when I walked into the room with my shoes on. oops. Anyway, it was lovely and cute so we went to the office to look at paperwork. This was nerve racking for me because I had zero Korean Won, moneys, on my person. The haggling took forever and time ticked by. We left around 9:30pm Korean time. Luckily the leasing agent understood my situation and said I could pay the deposit and rent on Monday. After this I was beyond tired but we stopped for dinner. Pastor Han ordered a ton of bibibop for me to eat. I loved it but I was embarrassed I couldn’t eat it all and that she had to pay. Even though I promised to repay her. I enjoyed this food experience because we sat in the floor and enjoyed each other’s company. After leaving dinner we stopped for breakfast food, juice and bread, and proceeded to the motel. It looked fine and we rented it for the night. After haggling the price they said goodbye and left me for bed. Of course, I had basically nothing without my suitcase so I cleaned myself in the shower the best I could and put on my extra pair of clean clothes. I then investigated the bed…. my thoughts were as follows “first, the mattress was hard as a rock, second, hairs in the sheets😝, third I hope I don’t get bed bugs.” I then put a towel over the pillow and slept on top of the blanket with my jacket. All in all, it was a crazy long exhausting overwhelming day. I had a million questions and concerns but I tried to get my body to focus on sleep and push the rest away. My motel room and bathroom:

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My 2am phone call changed things up. Apparently my apartment deposit was closer to $9,000 not the $1,000 I thought. At first I was told that this kind of funding was not going to happen and I started panicking. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing and I was being taken advantage of. But after another 1.5 hours, and 4 to 5 expensive phone calls to NYC. Things seems to be under control and I hopefully I won’t have to pay a crazy wiring fee. I had a lot to discuss with Hong Kim, my GBGM rep from Seoul, the next day when we were scheduled meet. All I could do was praise God, someone else is going to help me figure all this out.

From about 2am to 4am my stomach was turning so hard it sounded like a water park. At that point, I was beyond exhausted but I was so worked up that sleep wasn’t coming easy. Plus, I had to be up in 4 hours. So I turned Frozen on my Mac and I’m hoped it’d distract me from things. The money situation was so overwhelming but I was trying to keep calm and let it come together. On the plus side, there weren’t any bed bugs…

 

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