Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Top chefs from Korea...?!

So tonight I decided to actually try and cook something Korean - yes that's right, I've been living here for over a month and I have been surviving on meals out, omelettes and soy sauce. Terrible. Feeling brave though, I popped down to the local Lotte Mart (like Tesco’s but actually completely different) to fetch some supplies. The supermarkets here are a cross between your standard grocery store, and a bustling market stall you’d find somewhere in London on a busy Saturday morning. On the end of every aisle there is someone cooking up some delights, and giving out free tasters to passers by, whilst shouting something in Korean. Similar to Camden Market but with much less pressure. It’s amazing.

My weekly/monthly shop!

Amongst the numerous aisles of treats, things I couldn’t read, and ‘Hello Kitty’ cleaning products, I eventually found the items that I required. I am not much of a cook to be honest, but this is only because I absolutely despise it. I actually spent a year at Catering College and use to be a Chef, but I think I basically over cooked myself (see what I did there) and I just really began to loathe it. So long story short, I just gave up and never returned...until now, that is. I decided that I would attempt a dish that is very popular here. Who am I kidding, I basically just chucked loads of things in a pan to see what would happen. And what happened?! It was DELICIOUS! So here it is...


Onion. Garlic. Spinach. Bean Sprout. Carrots. Peppers. Tofu. Gochujang (hot pepper paste). Hot Salad Sauce (although this isn't actually hot...it just says that on the packet). Noodles. Spring onion and ofcourse Salt and Pepper.

 It's all in the preparation!

First of all I threw some oil into the pan, waited for it to bubble, and then added my chopped onion and garlic into the mix. Next, I popped in the spinach, bean sprout, grated carrot and peppers. I waited for approximately 5 minutes whilst constantly moving it around in the pan, and then added some Tofu. I’ve never actually cooked Tofu before and wasn’t really sure what to do, so I did what any sensible person would do and google’d it. I then gave up, and just threw it in the pan (after drying it off of course). 

...After 5 minutes!

 ...After 10 minutes!

After frying for another 5/10 minutes, I then popped in the Gochujang (hot pepper paste), Hot Salad Sauce, some salt and pepper, and stirred. I put it on a low heat and left it for another 5 minutes whilst cooking the noodles. The noodles I had bought still had remnants of flour on them so they felt incredibly homemade....but just not by me. I boiled these for a bit and then served the entire dish with a little garnish of Spring onion, and this was the result....
I  have no idea what this dish is called...and maybe I just created a new one. Or maybe its just a glorified stir-fry, but let me tell you something - it was divine (if I do say so myself), and there is also enough for another 3 or 4 meals so I’m basically done for the week. YAY! So as you can see, my first attempt at cooking in Korea went incredibly well, and it has actually left me thinking ...mmmm, maybe I should take up catering again?! ...No Sarah, stop it!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Mobile phones: improving peoples lives since 2015!

One month on and I have finally received my Alien Registration Card (ARC). Without this card I have been unable to obtain a bank account, and ‘’more importantly’’ a mobile phone for a full 30 days. Imagine living in a world where people bought things with money and not plastic. Where nothing really made sense and the only way to phone home was, from a home! So a bit like the 90’s but with less girl power and more florescent lights (if that’s possible). Imagine that, and now add a few thousand temples, some kimchi and a drink called Soju that just won’t quit...and then ladies and gentleman, you have an expats first month in Korea. WIN. Oh and maybe add this too...

Amazing 'fridge' bars. You basically help yourself to a drink from the fridge and then pay for the empty bottles at the end of the night! Its genius!

Approximately 18 hours after I received my ARC card, my school took me to the bank to open an account. I had absolutely no idea what was being said and I’m pretty sure I signed away my entire life (plus a couple of organs), but ALAS I now have an account. There were about 20 different forms that I had to sign and I genuinely don’t know what they were all for. I’m usually quite a cautious person when it comes to signing documents but you know what they say: when in Korea - just smile and sign everything...I’m not actually sure if they do say this, but if they don’t, then I’m pretty sure they will do very soon. 
Next it was off to the phone shop to buy me a telephonic communication device and some treats. Before entering the shop I was told by a friend that when you sign up for a new phone in Korea, you usually receive a free gift of...wait for it...toilet paper! Just what I needed with my new smart arse phone! Great news! I was however shocked and incredibly disappointed when they only gave me 2 free cases, a charger, some coffee, an extra battery and a battery charger (quite literally the best invention ever) and a free high five! Terrible! I want my money back immediately. I joke, but seriously you can never have enough toilet paper. Once again I couldn’t understand a word they were saying but what I did understand was that I got a 2 year contract with unlimited data, and the best smart phone I have ever had in my life. The Samsung Galaxy Win...appropriate name for an appropriately winning smart phone. Its huge, has an
(optional) Korean keyboard and barely fits in my hand but I love it.
 What the WHAT?!

In Korea it is basically impossible to buy a contract phone that lasts less than 2 years. The cost of the phone is split over 24 months and it gets taken out of my brand spanking new bank account every 4 weeks, so the same as the UK really, but with an incredibly fast connection. To be honest, not having a phone has actually been okay and has felt quite refreshing at times. Before coming to Korea I didn’t have the best phone in the world and I have never really owned a decent phone, so at the moment I’m like a kid in a candy shop! There are so many apps in the world. Why did no one tell me this sooner. Its incredible. Physical maps, books and talking to people face to face are a thing of the past. Brilliant. 

So if you're thinking of coming to Korea, be prepared - you may have to wait at least a month for a bank account AND a phone. But with the wonders of modern technology and in particular, wifi, you shouldn't have to much of a problem contacting people and finding your way around. Oh and one more thing, it has a TV aerial...

...for free Korean TV ofcourse! Score!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Homesickness...AKA All Day Breakfasts!

Sitting alone listening to Dina Carroll’s ‘Don’t Be A Stranger’ with a fridge full of things I can’t read, I suddenly realise how far away I am from home. It’s a funny thing, distance. Sometimes I feel so close, what with skype and the wonders of social media. But on this particular night, with a sore throat and no proper medicine to my name, I reminisce about the times when I could have just popped down to Tesco’s and picked up an All Day Breakfast in a sandwich and some strepsils. It’s hard, this homesick feeling. Harder than I thought it would be.

Please note: this sandwich is NOT from Tesco but it does look delicious!

It’s been 4 weeks since I left and this is the first time that I have felt like something is missing. The excitement of living in a different country is something that has not left me and I’m having a great time here. So this is in no way a pitiful post to try and draw attention to myself and gain some sympathy, but it is something that I think should be addressed. To anyone that is thinking of relocating and giving up on everything familiar; be prepared - you will experience a degree of homesickness at some point and it is difficult, that I now know to be true.

Maybe it is because I’m ill, or maybe (most likely) it’s because I saw my best friend at the weekend for the first time in over a year. This definitely reminded me of my family and friends back home and how important they all are to me. I think of them at work on a Monday lunch time after a long morning of delayed trains and stressful situations and I actually miss it. I miss the familiar sights and sounds, and also the convenience of knowing exactly what to do in every situation. I miss these people and the ease of being able to ring anyone of them up, and grab a cheeky pint down the pub after work. But most of all, I miss the recognition on peoples faces when you mention Britney, Jenny from the block, Mariah or I dunno, Gary fricking Barlow. How is it possible that South Korean's don't know who these people are. It makes playing the ‘post it’ note game next to impossible. Thank god for 'Frozen' that’s all I can say.

Seriously, she's a global pop phenomenon people!

Anyway, there are a couple of ways in which you can deal with this, that do not involve staying up late and listening to every Burt Bacharach song that has ever existed. Awkward. Firstly, stay in touch with everyone. Like I said, skype is a miracle and genuinely I am this close (insert small hand gesture here) to saying that it is better than the invention of the wheel and chair put together...I don’t mind standing. Secondly, try and find some comforts from home, like bread, cheese or just some normal sized towels (big towels here are literally borrower size). And thirdly, try and arrange a trip so you have something to look forward to. Trust me, these things will be your saviour. 

At the end of the day, always remember that this feeling will pass and yeah, it will probably come back again, but then guess what...it WILL pass. And before you know it, you’ll be having a fantastic time once again. So, my advice to myself and anyone else going through the same thing; just pop on some classic ballads and have a lovely large glass of red wine, and then (after an undisclosed period of time) get over it and continue saying yes to life. You’re only here once, so make the most of it and crack on. I hope that has helped...I certainly feel better. Now where’s the Soju...

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Hiking in Korea

Okay so I’m hardly an expert on this topic and I’ve technically only been on two hikes since I’ve been here, but, this is something that I’m trying to take up so I thought I’d write a little post about the hikes that I have been on so far. The first took place on the weekend before last. The evening before I had been on a somewhat crazy night out in Itaewon (pretty much the foreigner district in Seoul). I drunk a couple of bottles of Soju and managed to loose my wallet in a cab just before eating the Korean version of a Kebab (standard), however the next morning I was determined not to let the night before ruin my Sunday. So up I got with a skip in my step. Destination: Mount Namsan in Mungyeong, Seoul.

 The only way is up!

 N Seoul Tower

The hike took about 45 minutes to get to the top, and let me tell you something, hiking is a great hangover cure. FACT. The route is completely planned out for you and the whole mountain is covered in stairs, so its basically like walking up a massive staircase as oppose to an actual mountain really. It was pretty tough going though as it’s not something I usually do... you know, exercise. Awkward.

On the way up, there were several stop off points where you could grab a coffee or use the facilities. It was more of a tourist destination than you’re usual isolated mountain climb, but the scenery was lovely, and I even saw a cat! SCORE! There were some traditional Korean style buildings, and lots of different archways and waterfalls that were really pretty, especially at this time of the year. Icicles hung down from the rocks where water would usually flow, and the ground was covered in autumn leaves that were parted slightly by the odd green bud; a reminder that Spring is on its way. 

It wasn’t too busy, so it was nice to just stroll around and enjoy the landscape. Once at the top, it wasn’t just the view that was grabbing my attention. Among the tourists in a quiet spot next to the cable car, was a colourful display of ‘love padlocks’ ...the most colourful display i’ve seen yet. There was also a time capsule buried in the year I was born (1985) and due to be opened on 2485...so I’m hopeful to be there for the opening. Obvious joke. I also saw a  martial arts demonstration by some crazy guys in traditional costumes - they had knives and everything. It was pretty extreme, but incredibly enjoyable. 

 Love Padlocks

 Soo many padlocks

Time Capsule

Yep, that's a samurai sword!
The following weekend (this one just gone) I headed up to a mountain a bit closer to home in Anyang. I popped my shoes on and headed out the door, regardless of the fact that (at the moment) I have no hiking boots to my name. Bad idea. This proved to be my nemesis whilst trying to compete with a ''90 degree angle'' wearing only converse. I’m definitely planning on buying some boots soon, as I think this hiking business will be my new escapade! Destination: Mount Morak-san, Anyang.

On my first hike I took it reasonably easy, as I didn’t really want to jump in at the deep end. However, the second was slightly more treacherous and was actually pretty tough going. There I was a naive Brit, thinking that a mountain is just a big hill, when suddenly i’m faced with breaking rocks and slippery surfaces. 

On the way, there were a couple of signs and some barriers or just ropes really to pull yourself up with. It was slightly daunting and unfortunately I didn’t make it to the top as I didn’t want to put my LIFE in danger (what with the converse and all). It started getting pretty steep and being on my own I thought it best to just do 75% of the climb. Still, it was nearly the top and the area was covered in trees and plant life so it was absolutely stunning. All in all it was a lovely day that I will definitely be repeating once i’ve purchased my winning hiking shoes. 

Both trips were exciting climbs for totally different reasons, that I enjoyed immensely, and I look forward to the next one, whereever and whenever that may be..as always I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Immigration: RATED 18!

Immigration: the place where peoples dreams are either made, crushed or not properly understood. The place where you come if you want to stay in the country. You can do a lot in 7 hours...work nearly a full day, go on an expedition, watch Titanic twice and then some. Or, you can spend it sat on an uncomfortable chair in a white painted room filled with beeping noises and other foreigners. This is where I found myself last Friday. Immigration.


We arrived at around 8am in the morning, thinking that it may be a couple of hours waiting time, but not much longer than that. We had left with plenty of time to spare as the place opened at 8.30am, so we were quietly confident that we would be first in line...how wrong we were! The queue reminded me of the sale at ‘Next’ every Boxing Day at 5 in the morning. It was that bad, although the people were more civilised and there wasn’t quite as many screaming children. We lined up to get our ticket from the man by the stand. If it wasn’t for the strict immigration uniform, than he could have been selling cheese on a Deli counter, or handing out free coffee leaflets on the street for all I knew. He didn’t speak any English so I was thankful that the Director of my school had come with me. If it is your first time in Korea, then make sure that another teacher, or the Head of the School goes to Immigration with you. There is a lot of confusing information here and you can’t guarantee that absolutely everyone will speak English.

When we eventually received our ticket, I looked down and saw to my horror that we were number 2170! Wait...WHAT?! There were definitely not 2169 people in front of us, were there? I soon realised that the ‘2’ part of this didn’t mean anything at all (Phew) so we were in fact number 170...still pretty bad but not as horrific as initially thought. The first hour came and went, with 35 people being seen. I worked it out (quick math) and found that it would be at least 6 hours until our turn. And so the wait began...

There are a few things I don’t particularly enjoy in life, and waiting is definitely one of these things. I looked around at the pictures on the wall, the TV screen showing what ticket numbers would be next, and the other people in the room. I thought to myself, well that must have passed some time. 2 minutes had gone by....TWO MINUTES. It was challenging to say the least. I had no working phone or tablet with me! BIG MISTAKE! So a word of warning to anyone who will be heading down to immigration soon - bring a phone, tablet or a book with you for amusement, because you won’t find anything amusing there. Trust me, it ain’t no theme park.

At lunch time after waiting for approximately 4 hours, we decided to up sticks and leave. Well, leave the building for lunch anyways. We went in search of some deliciously scrumptious food and boy did we find it. This was genuinely the most delicious food that I have ever eaten in my life. It was AMAZING. 22 dishes of pure joy. We also had a drink called Omija tea, which basically means ‘five flavour berry’ because you can supposedly taste five different flavours. Genuinely, this is a FACT. I could taste sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy...it was like a giant ball of greatness had just exploded in my mouth. Amazing. With most things over here I can’t really tell you exactly what it tastes like, because I have never tasted anything similar. Its completely different to anything I have experienced before and I am absolutely loving it. 


  Omija tea!

Not sure what this is called but it was LUSH!

 Bulgogi...translated as Fire Meat!

We arrived back at immigration to find that all of 20 people had been seen in the last hour. Oh god. Another few hours went by and we were eventually moved to a different area and then finally seen. HALLELUJAH! It took all of 5 MINUTES to have my finger prints taken and my documents passed over. She opened the letter from the hospital, looked me up and down and said ‘’all good’’! She then stamped the form twice, so I presume this means that I can now stay in the country. Yipee...3 weeks until I receive my ARC card and I’m ready to go. By that I mean open a bank account and get a phone contract. It has felt slightly like i’ve been living in the 90’s these passed few weeks without a phone, but dare I say it...i’ve actually kind of enjoyed it. However it is after all 2015, so I should probably as they say ‘get with the times’.

We left immigration feeling drained but relieved that this ordeal was over. Once home I googled some random stuff, and stumbled across a page on the Suwon Immigration website. Wait, what does that say? ...we could have made an appointment!


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Medical Check FEAT fetching gowns!

When an ESL Teacher moves to South Korea they have to obtain an E2 Visa. Once you arrive in the country there is one thing that people with these types of visas HAVE to do no matter what. I mean this literally - its a legal requirement by the Korean Government. Scary stuff right?! Well, kind of. As well as having a degree (in any field) you also have to go for a medical once you arrive in order to be able to stay in the country. Its a pretty long process so if you’re just starting out then get ready for some EPIC forms. Once you have had this medical, you then have to supply the results to the Immigration office within 90 days of arrival. This is to protect the children you’ll be teaching, from contracting either Aids, Ebola or becoming addicted to heroin (how? I really don’t know). So as you can imagine, I was pretty worried. Joookes.

Pyeongchon Hospital

My school took me to the hospital on Friday morning at around 9am. After filling out a couple of forms and waiting for approximately 5 minutes (shortest waiting time EVER) they called me up to the front desk and asked me to go into room number 1. There were about 10 different rooms on this floor, and I was pretty much thrown around from one room to the next as quick as you can say, anti bacterial hand gel! They performed a series of test’s on me that felt similar to what I imagine a small hamster experiences when trying out the new range of Body Shop beauty products. Lovely. It wasn’t too bad to be honest, and it is actually something that I think every country especially the UK should do. To be in a hospital for around 45 minutes, and to have a FULL Medical Check, was truly brilliant.

First of all I was led into a room and asked (in Korean) to take the dreaded urine sample. I guessed this is what she meant anyway, but of course when someone hands you a pot and says ‘half full’, you can only really assume...luckily for me I was correct. In the next room the lady didn’t say one word to me, but instead grabbed my arm, wrapped a long thin tube around my bicep, and then suddenly stuck a mahoosive needle in to my vein. Within seconds my blood started to fill up the syringe as my arm turned a deeper shade of PURPLE...and this is what it looks like now...

Biggest bruise EVER! Is it suppose to still look like this? Is this too much information? I'm not sure.

After this I had a hearing test, a sight test, and my blood pressure, height and weight taken. I was then led into a room where I had to put on an extremely fetching green gown. It was probably at the height of fashion in 1993 but unfortunately it was now 2015 and Jessie from Saved by the Bell was nowhere to be seen. I then had to lean up against a machine, breathe in and hold my breath. This (I was told) was a Chest Xray. I mean seriously, this medical was thorough to say the least. Afterwards I finally saw the Doctor and got the ALL CLEAR. I was sooo pleased about this, which may sound silly, but if there had have been anything wrong with me AT ALL, then I would have been deported and sent home on the next plane back to England. So yeah, it’s pretty serious stuff.

It was a strange experience and not really that rewarding, but it is definitely something that is necessary for both the E2 Visa process, and also for you’re own well being. For any of you that are moving over here to teach then just a word of warning - you do have to pay for this yourself, and the cost is around 120,000 won (about £70). After I left the hospital, my school then sent me home to rest for about 3 hours, how nice of them I thought. They also packed me up some lunch in tupperware (which lasted for 2 MEALS - winner). It was delicious, as you can see...


The next stop is immigration to apply for my ARC card (Alien Registration Card - its genuinely called that). With this card I will be able to finally open a bank account, get a phone contract and do all of the other important stuff that you need to do once you’re here, so hopefully there will be no problems with this. However I’ll be touching wood until that ARC card is literally in the palm of my hand. So keep your fingers crossed for me folks, and your medical checks up to date!!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Teacher Sarah...we LOVE Cats!

So I’m a teacher now?! When did that happen and how do I, well, how do I teach? Awkward. It may seem like a strange question to ask, but genuinely on my first day it suddenly dawned upon me - what do I say? How do I start? What happens if one of my students starts to cry? What happens if I start to cry? Will I cry? Oh no, I’m going to cry and everyones going to think I’m a terrible teacher! WHAT HAVE I DONE?! That’s it, I’m leaving!! ARRGH! 

As I walked up to the gates of my school on the Monday morning (and when I say gates I mean... out of the elevator) this was exactly what was going through my mind. I felt a strange sense of bewilderment come across me. It was like I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and that i’d completely forgotten everything that I had learned on my TEFL course. Weird...but perfectly natural I think. Luckily I soon realised that as well as being a first time teacher, I am also a human being so if someone starts to cry I can probably deal with it. For the record, on my first day, someone did actually start to cry and guess what? I dealt with it! WINNER! 

Entrance to my school

I arrived at the school at about 9am. I start at 9.30am but I wanted to be prepared and get my head around this whole teaching malarkey. I stepped out of the elevator and took my shoes off ready for the day ahead. This is a traditional custom at my school and pretty much throughout Korea, and I am not complaining. Wearing slippers to work is a definite PLUS! I was greeted by Robyn, the director of the school who insisted on making me a lemon tea drink to give me energy. She has continued to do this every day since, which is just lovely. Its a delicious and incredibly healthy concoction of beautiful flavours in my mouth all at once. YUM! I also get a free lunch at my school and it is genuinely delightful. They prepare everything from fresh and I have to say that I am enjoying it immensely. The food definitely does give you a lot of energy, which I need for every single one of my classes. 

 One of the classrooms

Its funny what education does to the the brain. As I started my first lesson on my own with a bunch of 6 year olds, I was actually more prepared then I thought I would have been. Certain things had definitely stuck with me. Of course this is because regardless of what the school had told me over the weekend and beforehand, I had already prepared a few different activities in case I needed them. And let me tell you something, on my first day, I needed ALL of them.

First of all we had story time - this does what it says on the tin really. I read a story to the kids in kindergarten, and they all had a lovely time laughing, pointing at the pictures of cats and gazing in wonder at either my face or out the window. They are all so adorable, and they all seem to LOVE cats, which I think, is a winning combination. Next we had the first lesson... 3 children cried (there is only 5 in my class) 1 child walked out of the room, and another decided to speak ''Dinosaur'' the WHOLE time constantly roaring. All in all... I think it went pretty well. 

The 'Thinking Area' AKA where we send the kids if they speak ''Dinosaur'' the whole time!
I teach the kindergarten kids for around 3 hours everyday (including PE lesson - which is basically putting on the Frozen soundtrack and dancing around the room whilst doing stretches - brilliant). I then spend about another 3 hours playing with them, having lunch and assisting on various other classes such as Science and Art, which is great fun and gives me a massive variety within the school day. In the afternoon at around 2.30ish I start my elementary classes. These kids are slightly more advanced and with that, slightly more difficult. My largest class is about 8 students and my smallest is just 2. Most of the students are so good and very respectful. I haven’t taught in the UK but I have seen a hell of a lot of documentaries and in caparison, I think these kids are ANGELS.

...So this is The Drama Studio
Sorry about the light, as you can see there's a masive window at one end just ruining my photo quality.

There are a lot of breaks here too, and everyone as well as being super friendly have also been so chilled out. I haven’t really felt stressed as yet but I’m sure this will probably come. All in all my first day/week teaching was brilliant. I learnt a lot, played a lot, dealt with a lot of situations (good and bad) and remembered that even when everything is going terribly wrong, and the kids are screaming, crying and completely ignoring you - I always have....Frozen!! So thank you Disney and thank for Elsa, for getting me through my first week as an English Foreign Language Teacher.

.....‘Okaay Byyye’

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

First weekend in Korea FEAT...SOJU!

So my first weekend in Anyang has been an absolute joy. It went by reasonably quickly but this may have been due to the alcohol consumption. I woke up after 12 hours of sleep at around 1pm. The previous day I had arranged to go into the school to discuss the curriculum with the Director, and to find out what I would be doing come Monday. So I left my house about 5 minutes before I was due to be at the school...amazing. How did I ever travel for almost an hour in London? I just don’t know.

When I arrived the director had cooked me up some Kimchi and rice, which was delightful. I have eaten so much of this stuff over the past few days and I am already beginning to crave it. Why would you have a meal without it? Weird! She talked about the different age groups and which classes I would have at which times. Kindergarten and Elementary for anyone who doesn’t know. She also gave me some books on traditional Korean tales, which she would like me to edit into a script format. Once this is done she would like me to rehearse the script with the children and ultimately get the children to perform this to their mums and dads. This is great but also rather scary. After discussing this and many other topics, I retired back to my apartment for a few hours. 

 My street!

Just Outside my place!

Before I had arrived in Korea I had arranged to meet up with some other foreign teachers at a pizza joint in a little place called Beomgye (literally pronounced ‘bum gay’ - I'm such a child). I had no idea how to get there so I decided that a taxi would be the best option. After walking around aimlessly in a circle for about 20 minutes, I finally arrived back at my apartment block to find a taxi rank right outside. Hilarious. It was a freezing cold evening on Saturday as I arrived on the main strip of Beomgye, probably about -4, which I swear is not the same as the English -4...it is much much colder here. 


I finally arrived, threw some spicy pepperoni pizza and a couple of beers down my throat, and played some matching numbers game which I didn't really understand. I lost, obviously. The people were all lovely and after dinner we decided to move on to this 'cold beer bar' - I forget what these are actually called but they’re amazing. On one side of the bar you have a row of fridges filled to the brim with beers from all over the world, and on every table you have a bottle opener. So you literally just stroll up, take out your beers, and then pay for the empty bottles at the end of the night. Its genius! Also side note: my beer cost me around £1!! Brilliant! A beer in a really nice pub, that gave you free crisps for £1! Whaaat?! Bars in Korea (at least the ones I have been into so far) have a very different vibe to those back home. If you can't get a seat, then you can't drink. Its more of a restaurant environment where everyone sits down to drink, which I actually think is nicer.

Next we moved on to a expat bar called The Dugout, and I had my first Soju experience. Wow, it was just great! I’ve already decided to ship 10 bottles a week home so I can live on it for the rest of my days. Its basically a spirit that you can have either in shot form or with a mixer. Similar in taste to vodka I’d say, and sooooo cheap. I ordered a shot for 4000 won (which is about £2) and this is what they gave me...

That’s right the ENTIRE bottle was £2. Thats like a bottle of vodka for just £2! Amazing. Needless to say I bought another 2 bottles and had a lovely ole time. I spent most of Sunday asleep with a average to a pretty bad hangover (did I mention the Soju?), and then in the evening I went out for dinner with some people that I had met the night before, which was nice. The food over here is just a treat. I have already tasted so many different flavours and am starting to love a bit of heat in my food aswell. However don’t be fooled, when Korea says spicy...they mean spicy. 

Beomgye main strip (sorry about the quality)

All in all, I had a great first weekend here and am looking forward to many more adventures. This weekend...HIKING!!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Departures and Arrivals! Day One...

So departure day came and went within a flash. The goodbyes at the airport were emotional as expected, and it was of course extremely difficult saying goodbye to my family who had travelled up to see me off. Once I had gone through security though I quickly realised that I just had to get on with it and work out this whole flying business by myself. Honestly, I don’t know what I was worrying about. The plane ride over and changing in Istanbul went without fault. There were no real delays and no problems with security or immigration, however I did have some awful stomach problems for the duration of both flights - I reckon I must have single handedly powered the planes engines to be honest. Nice.

 Not Plain food but Plane food...it was gooood!

Standard out the window shot!

Soooo much leg room...yep I was pretty bored.

I arrived at Incheon Airport to see the director of the school frantically waving at me in delight. Her first words were...’oh Sarah I’m so glad you’re healthy’. ‘Me too’ I thought wondering exactly what she meant. Herself and her lovely husband then took me back to Anyang, which is about an hour away from the airport (just south of Seoul). We drove over the worlds 7th longest bridge(actual fact - Incheon bridge) and they told me lots about Korean culture, cuisine and ask me lots of questions about my life back home. They then took me for a drive around the local area and I saw probably one of the most beautiful lakes that I have ever seen. I have no photo of this as I was pretty much dead to the world but let me tell you...surrounded by mountains and small traditional Korean style restaurants, it was an expats dream.

After this they took me for my first Korean meal. I took off my shoes, sat down on the floor and began to eat just one of the 18 dishes placed in front of me. Wow, I was not hungry at all but this food was delicious. I tried a bit of everything to be polite...even fish which was awkward but strangely had no effect on me (I’m allergic for anyone that doesn’t know)! The main problem was the flat metal chopsticks. Korea is the only country I believe that uses these chopsticks and I have heard of other nationalities including the Japanese and Chinese having difficulties with them too, so I guess it was no real surprise that I found it tough going - I will of course endeavour to practice more, which isn’t hard as its the only cutlery you get at most places. It was lovely sitting in this traditional Korean restaurant watching the people pass by, and looking out over the scenery. At this point it suddenly hit me, oh wait...I’m in Korea. 

First meal!

After the 18 dishes, metal chopstick dilemma and numerous amounts of mis-communication between the 3 of us, we drove to my apartment which is approximately 2 minutes from the school. It’s genuinely that close. I am on the 7th floor of a high rise and my school is in the next building, which is great. My apartment is nice, it’s bigger than I thought it would be and it has been well kept. The previous person had cleaned it throughout which was a massive help and I even have a toaster! Score!

My living room!
After a quick change and brush of the ole teeth we then went across to the school. There is a big drama studio with a little stage, an attic (for story telling time), a music and activity room and about 5 smaller classrooms. I observed for the rest of the day and spoke to the current teacher as much as I could possibly managed...what with the jet lag and all. The children and staff were all lovely and to be honest I couldn’t wait to get started come Monday. That evening we went out for a meal to say farewell to the current teacher that I was taking over from. By this point I had been awake for 30 hours. HORRENDOUS...but doable it would seem.

I went home at around 10pm, exhausted after a long day of travelling, meeting new people and eating different cuisines on an already funny stomach. I then fell asleep in a heap on the floor for the next 12 hours. 

Despite feeling completely drained, my first day in Korea was I think...just the start of so many good things to come.

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