A Travellerspoint blog

Seoul Survivor... PLUS SOME!

... if NYC is the concrete jungle, this country is made of steel!

sunny 87 °F

Well, it is officially the end of day eight in SK and MY GOD, IT HAS BEEN A TRIP!!! There is so much to catch you all up on, I don't know where to start! ... I guess JFK Airport is a safe bet! After saying goodbye to all my family and friends, it was off to JFK! The flight was your typical, boring, fourteen hour flight... didn't sleep much, if at all. Looking back, I would have relished in those final hours of calm and nothingness a whole lot more had I known what the next week would have in store for me!

I landed in Incheon Airport at about 4:45 pm on Monday, August 23rd. Thankfully, the one and only Ryan Horan (also the man responsible for sparking my interest in moving to SK) was waiting for me upon my arrival! I got the opportunity to spend the night near his school in Songpa, about 45 minutes outside of Seoul, and meet his manager, one of his coworkers, and a newbie like me from England, Jemma (my English twin!) Hardly slept my first night but was up bright and early on Tuesday morning to make a 3 hour journey with Jemma to the farthest reaches of Eastern Seoul. Anyway, to spare you the details... 3 hours, 4 subway transfers, a taxi, rain, sweat, amazingly kind Koreans, and tons of laughs later, Jemma, my 70 lb suitcase, 30 lb backpack, 20 lb purse (NO EXAGGERATION!), and I made it to training... only 30 minutes late! We were in Seoul from Tuesday to Thursday, staying in a "Korean Love Motel". Everyday I would pack up my trecherous amounts of luggage and haul it out of my room so it could be rented BY THE HOUR while I was at training. Each night: pick up my luggage and re-check into my room! My mix of emotions on this went something like this: skeeved, revolted, frustrated, annoyed, angry, revolted, disgusted, etc! haha Although, my bigger concern rested in the fact that bug spray came courtesy with the room. For anyone who knows my transition into Australia, you know why!! Because of this I was overly diligent about making sure my bags were always closed up tight... I'd learned my lesson once before and there was no way I was letting those critters in! BUT... sure enough, one exhausted morning I got into the shower without closing one of the zippers on my backpack... you know where this is going! I came out of the shower, reached into my bag, and out scurries a d*mn cockroach! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! IS IT ME?!?! haha Anyway, training was helpful and most importantly I made a wonderful friend in Jemma... always good to have a twin that understands you when you are going through these experiences! Overall, Seoul was... interesting. It wasn't what I had expected but then again, I don't think I had a clear mind to enjoy it! I plan to go back and be a full blown tourist, ready to appreciate the city! I must say, I knew the language barrier would be difficult but I underestimated just how much harder it would make my transition. On the plus side: it immediately forced me to gain patience with myself and others... a virtue that I've lacked for far too long!

NEXT STOP: BUSAN! Early Friday morning, I packed up one last time and headed for Seoul Station for my 3 hour bullet train ride down to what would become my home... Busan. Now for a funny story! So... I get to Seoul Station early and wait for my train. Everything went really smoothly for the first time all week! I was ready to breath and relax for a few hours on the train. It comes time to board the train and I have one last escalator between me and my seat. It was a long escalator, about 100 yards and to get on the escaltor there was a metal pole, trying to keep you from taking oversized items on the escaltor. At this point, I was unstoppable. I decide I will put my smaller suitcase (only about 50 lbs) on the escalator first and let it ride down solo while I tried to get the huge 70 pounder onto the escalator with me. Well, about 5 seconds after putting my solo rider on the escalator it tipped over and started speeding down the steps, gaining speed quickly just like a sleigh in the winter. Unfortunately there was a Korean couple about 75 yards down the escalator. They had no clue and the luggage hit the man, took out his legs, and kept going forward while he fell right on his @$$. IT WAS LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF A MOVIE!!! To make matters worse, you have the stupid, blonde, American yelling down the escalator "ARE YOU OKAY?!?! OH MY GOD, I'M SO SORRY!!" Meanwhile, they can't understand anything I'm saying... oh lord, I would have loved to be a translator at their dinner table that night! LOL My only regret is not getting that on camera!!

The train ride was quick and easy and before I knew it, I was at my school in Haeundae, Busan. The school is great, my coworkers are great, and most importantly the kids are great! I'm teaching nine classes a day, ranging from ages 5 through 13 but God, I LOVE THE LITTLE ONES!! Friday, I got to observe my classes and talk to the kids a bit... I really enjoyed it! Then my school brought me to the most disgusting, unsanitary, disgraceful, dispicable "motel" I've ever seen in my life. I took one look at it and cried! I had finally reached my breaking point!! I went out to a wonderful dinner and had some drinks with my coworkers then found the closest hotel and checked myself in... it was time for a weekend spent giving myself a mental break rathering than having a breakdown!! I actually found the NICEST LOVE MOTEL EVER!! It was cheap, clean, and quite luxurious... I even had a heated toliet seat! I wish I took pictures of the room! I spent Saturday at school planning for my classes on Monday and learning about the books I'll be teaching then Sunday was spent being a genuine tourist!! :o) I went to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple which was only about a 20 minute cab ride from where I'm living and then explored the local beach and the parks near there (a dappling of pictures below... the rest are on facebook!) I found myself walking around on a beautiful, sunny day and truly unable to stop smiling. For the first time, I just knew I made the right decision!

School was great on Monday! I really love my kids and as long as it's not beginners luck they really seem to like me! I can't wait to really get close with them and get into teaching even more!! I got to finally move into my apartment on Monday night and quickly went to e-mart (the local Walmart) to get some essential. I stayed up until 3 am cleaning and organizing and finished just about everything after work today. Eight days later, I am finally unpacked and feel like I have a home... well, at least somewhere consistent to lay my head each night. I got a brand new cell phone today and the final missing link is internet but that should be happening soon! I'm sitting in a "PC Bong" finally writing this! Sorry its so long... can you imagine what living the past eight days was like if writing about it was this tiring?!?! haha Oh well... after the storm, comes the calm ... I'm ready for calm!!

love & miss you all!! xoxo


miss you already, family!


this is the most put together I would be for days!


See ya later, America!


Haedong Yonggungsa Temple


This is a unique temple because most are built on mountaintops, whereas, this was built into the cliffside next to the water.







Haeundae Beach (aka. "home")





my GREAT Love Motel in Haeundae Beach... it has all the "necessities" haha

Posted by nlpolyak 09:16 Archived in South Korea Tagged transition Comments (1)

Farewell America

... attempting to prepare for 15 months away from home!


Upon finding out my plans to live in a completely foreign country for the next year, followed by several months of backpacking across as many countries as I can before Thanksgiving of 2011 (I refuse to miss more than one Thanksgiving without my Grandma's stuffing!), many people's first response is "Why?" I suppose many see it as whimsical or irresponsible while many others see it as brave and adventurous. For me, it just felt right. I went to go see Eat, Pray, Love the other night. I read the book on my way to Australia and saw it as all too fitting that the movie came out the week before I leave for South Korea but there is one quote that struck me in both the book in 2008 and again in the movie as the perfect explanation to the "Why?" that I have been asked time and time again. The author and main character, Liz Gilbert, responds to her skeptic friends and family by saying, “You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.” I want to find the beauty this world has to offer in as many different ways, through as many different people, and in as many different places as I possibly can. I have been infinitely blessed and as I carry a little bit of each of you with me to Asia, I am beyond excited to learn new skills, challenge myself, personally develop, meet new people, and see some of the most amazing places this great world has to offer.

That being said, I am far less excited about the prospect of packing, goodbyes, and all the other preparations! The list seems to be forever growing and I have ohhh.... 4 days left in America to do it all! I have the essentials: new luggage, sweet professional backpacker backpack, working computer, visa, passport, flight, my Korean language book, new camera, vaccinations and precautionary prescriptions... I guess everything else is superfluous.

On that note, I should probably be productive rather than blog. I must admit that I've never blogged before and find the concept a little weird but for those of you interested in my adventures, I will try my best to keep this updated!

Annyonghi kasayo!! xoxo

Posted by nlpolyak 09:11 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (1)

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