This is going to be fairly long but obviously pretty condensed, if I wrote down everything in long-form I’d be here until the end of the world.
So, Korea! I said my goodbyes (which nearly killed me) hopped on a plane and before I knew it, I was in a Noraebang (karaoke bar) with a bunch of other sad prats who’d decided to teach EFL and singing ‘Jailhouse Rock’.
We went to a folk village, I was singled out by the guides to be the subject of some traditional Korean punishment: being strapped down to a cross and having my arse paddled by some huge oar-like devices. I wasnt as tightly-tied as I thought, but I still stayed for a bit longer than was necessary…everyone has to get their kicks in some form dont they?
After a long and arduous week of partying until curfew, attending lectures all day and being told how much of an adventure we were about to embark on. I poo-pooed it, mainly because I had a stinking soju-hangover, and because I arrogantly thought that culture shock was something that happened to someone else.
I arrived in Daejeon for my first day in a new city, and what followed felt like a domino-effect of bad things.
I met my co-teacher, MJ. She wasnt wearing white socks and dancing the moonwalk (but then, neither is Jacko anymore.)
She was leaving for Cheongju later that week, and so would not actually be my co-teacher at all until August. She took me to the apartment I was to call my own, and I honestly was looking around for the candid TV cameras.
She explained to me that there was no fridge, and that it would be delivered in a few days. The bathroom was very korean (a wet room, no shower curtain etc.) and the previous occupant appeared to have left a gratuitous amount of pubic hair on and in every nook and cranny. I also realised within about an hour of being there that the walls were paper-thin and there happened to be a family with at least two screaming kids right next door.
So, with nowhere to put my beer and with a feeling that I was the only one undergoing these feelings of helplessness, lonliness and a sense of ‘what the fuck is going on?!’ I went to the new downtown on the subway.
Jijok subway station is 5 minutes walk from my flat, it takes about 15 minutes to get to the new downtown and it also happens to be extremely cheap. I later found out that some people have been handed an extremely raw deal (one lady was shown a room with a bed, and asked to buy all her own furniture!) Also, some people were placed a long way out of town and not on the one subway line that thankfully runs west to east.
It also is worth mentioning that after some tearful moments, and some extremely doubtful hours where I looked at the hand I’d been dealt, I realised that it wouldnt be a real adventure if it was all put on a silver platter…stay tuned, here comes the sun.