Helo welcom 2 my websight
Sorry it has taken a while for me to finally sit down and let you know what’s going on in Korea.
We have been super busy the past week, and even right now it’s actually already 23:30, so I’m going to keep this post a little on the short side. Mianhae.
Anyway, I will give you a giant-ass rant about my flight from Schiphol, Amsterdam to Incheon, Seoul on my regular blog (if it EVER comes back, what the hell?) but for now this will suffice:
36 hours instead of 12.
I missed my flight because Frankfurt is retarded, so I had to SLEEP IN AN AIRPORT CHAIR to catch a flight 24 hours later ;_;
This on the left was my dinner. Seriously. Two awful buns and an overpriced beer. I have a picture of my ‘accommodation’ here somewhere, but it’s on my phone and I don’t have my transfer cable with me right now so you will get to see my agony later.
When I finally got to step in line for the Asiana flight to Seoul, I was so happy I didn’t even mind all the ajummas cutting in front of me.
Okay, so, when I arrived, I had a giant jetlag (Korea is +7 hours from Holland) plus I hadn’t slept much (I couldn’t really sleep well in the plane, and the night before I slept in the airport) plus I hadn’t showered in three days and was still wearing the same clothes I had on when I left home. And of course when I got to Incheon I didn’t have even a second to collect myself because I was already late for the IWO Orientation.
Incheon Airport is actually supposed to be one of the most beautiful and awesome airports in the world (it’s like in the top 5 of the official Best Airports list) but I could hardly see any of it since I had to catch the train to Seoul right away..
Also, LOOK AT THAT GREASY HAIR GODDAMN WHAT THE FUCK. This is why we shower, kids.
When I finally got to the IWO building in Seoul (it was not that hard to find, luckily) looking (and smelling) like a dirty bum, I met all the other volunteers. It was pretty weird to just drop in halfway through the ice breaking, so I was a bit worried, but it turned out everyone was super awesome and we had a great time even while listening to boring lectures about ‘what kind of things to expect from volunteer work’ and stuff like that.
We had a LOT of food together (Korean food is crazy; they eat a full meal 3 times a day and in between they eat lots of snacks), and obviously also a lot of alcohol since, you know, it’s Korea!
You can’t go to Korea and not have Soju and watery beer.
We kind of ended up having a bit too much of..well..all of it..but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The last night of Orientation, we decided we should go Noraebang (Karaoke) because it would be the last night with all of us together. Supposedly you’ve already seen some of the youtube videos, but in case you missed them, here’s some highlights and pictures:
So most of us went on to go to a bar and have some more Max and Cass beer and proceeded to get crazy-ass drunk.
Actually, the main reason I got crazy-ass drunk was because of Incheol’s ‘Daegu Stylu~’. Basically, you get a shot glass and fill half of it with soju and the rest with maekju, and then..well..you chug it. DAEGU STYLE, YEAH!
Incheol is my donsaeng (younger brother) so it was awesome when we were getting drunk together and he was like AHHH HYUNNGGG (older brother). It’s surprising how much Koreans loosen up when they drink a little. They get very physical too, and it’s pretty funny. Actually, with my students as well, it’s very normal for donsaengs to hug and hold their hyungs or unnis (older sister), you just won’t see a guy holding a girl very often.
This is a good example of what happens when you enjoy DAEGU STYLE a little too much:
By the time we left (which was WAY too late, because we had to get up early to leave for our projects the next morning) we were so drunk that we decided it would be good to just ask any random girls to take pictures with us on the street. And, surprisingly, there wasn’t even one who said no.
Also, when we were bothering some staff at ‘Paris Baguette’, a very famous chain of bread and pastry stores, for some reason they gave us a free cake! Being white kicks ass!
The night was rather uncomfortable since I drank too much and my stomach was already bothered by getting used to Korean food, and I sleeptalked like crazy as well, but in the end we all survived to get on our ways to our projects all over Korea.
The trip from Seoul (almost in the utter North of Korea) to Wando (almost the most Southern point) took more than 6 hours, but it was well spent catching some well earned sleep.
When we arrived at Wando though, there were some unpleasant surprises.
First of all, it turned out IWO hadn’t been completely honest when they said the Children Center was just funded by the church and not actually religious. Because it is. Like crazy fucking indoctrinating children religious.
That also meant I couldn’t stay in the same apartment as the other volunteers (they had told us we’d just live with 2 separate bedrooms) and I had to sleep in the Moksaengnim’s (pastor’s) apartment. Sounds pretty bad, right? Actually, it’s kind of okay, to be honest. The pastor is from the Philippines and is also an English teacher, so he speaks English fluently and living separately means I don’t have to worry about my snoring and going to the toilet :3
The Religiousness of the project does have some other consequences though. For instance, we’re not really supposed to drink (although it’s not like they will constantly check our fridges or anything) and we’re forced to go to service on Sunday. Yesterday, we went to friggin’ service from 9:00 to 15:00! Supposedly, we can dodge going to service every other weekend, but it’s still quite tiring because the services are very long and very much in Korean so it’s even more boring than a regular service.
Anyway, the apartments we’re staying in are quite fancy. We have our own bathroom, kitchen, and washroom, air conditioning (but not in my bedroom, FFFFFFF) and they are very spacious, especially compared to some of the other..hallways..volunteers of other projects will have to sleep in.
The center itself is very modern and nice as well, just like the church. It’s not some run-down backwater place like we expected; it’s actually really fancy and well equipped.
The children are also much better at English than we expected. That’s actually due to Johnny Moksaengnim, the Philippine English teacher, because he has already been teaching them for over a year. The kids are also so incredibly cute. Personally, I like the older ones that are good at English because teaching them is quite easy, but the young ones oh my God they are so incredibly cute I could die!
At the same time they are little devils though, don’t get me wrong.
Some of the children are extremely shy, while others are very outgoing and wanting to know everything about us.
Teaching here is a lot harder than I wished it was, but that’s mostly due to internal problems. Moksaengnim knows well how to teach the children, but the other Moksaengnim’s wife, who runs the English program, has a very Hanglish way of teaching, which means BALLI BALLI BALLI (hurry hurry hurry) and who cares if it’s done right. The Moksaengnim’s wife actually only started to interfere with the lessons like 2 weeks ago, so Johnny is kind of venting his frustrations and we’re caught in the middle. Especially GaHui, who can speak korean and english well, is kind of suffering from this because he hopes he can make her talk to the Moksaengnim’s wife. I’m worried…
Anyway, the teaching is pretty crazy due to all of this. Kids keep walking in and out, they have to learn how to do everything in like 20 minutes (reading, writing, comprehending, pronouncing) and we don’t even have time to think while we’re doing ‘conveyor belt teaching’.
Maybe it will get better the coming few weeks, but I have a distinct feeling we should just DEALWITHIT.jpg.
At least some of the children are already very good in English, so it’s fun to talk to them.
Our island, Wando, is extremely beautiful.
When I read and heard about it, I thought it would be a tiny-ass little town, but it’s actually quite big, and it has anything you could need but a stage for Kpop singers to perform on.
The nature is also absolutely stunning. Wando is an island with a lot of height differences, so wherever you go, there’s always a lush green mountain in the background to greet you.
The people have also been very friendly so far. The island is mostly inhabited by really old and really young people, so there’s no one to hit on, unfortunately, but everyone seems genuinely happy to have us here, and the children are very impressed when we talk some Korean to them.
The culture shock is quite minimal, I think, since I already knew so much about South Korea.
Sure, sometimes I forget to take off my shoes when I go inside, and maybe I can’t eat all the food without drinking half a gallon of water, but overall I think I’m doing fairly well.
Now it’s about 1:30 at night so I’m gonna wrap it up here.
Maybe I will elaborate on this post a bit and fix my grammar (in this one week my English has already gone from pretty awesome to explaining-stuff-to-Koreans level) tomorrow, but honestly I’m already glad I could even find the time to get this much on here.
Expect many more pictures and hopefully some good news regarding the teaching situation next week!
Groetjes uit Korea~