Friday, January 29, 2010

i had my first really intense shopping experience in korea. here, they have big stores that are like walmarts on steroids. they have like 5 floors full of groceries, electronics, clothes, shoes...anything you might ever need. and on every aisle they have a salesperson who will stand there and push you to buy something or give suggestions on other things you might want to buy. i was holding a coat that i was thinking of buying when i accidentally made eye contact with the saleslady. i instantly knew i had made a mistake and in my head, i was thinking "no, no, please God, don't let her come over!" but sure enough, she ran to me and started speaking korean so fast. about 5 of the other new teachers were standing there with me and nobody could help me try to talk to her. i had no idea how to say "i don't want it" or "i am still deciding" and i kind of panicked! so i pulled out the "joesonghamnida, hangukmal mot haeyo" or "i'm sorry, i can't speak korean." but i still didn't know how to tell her about the coat. i probably would have bought it if she hadn't come over but i was so stressed by that point, that i just wanted to get out! i couldn't say "no i don't think i will buy it" so instead i settled on "anieyo" or "no." i gave her the coat and all but ran the other direction. hahaha. i hope i didn't offend her but i was about to have an anxiety attack!

yesterday i got to meet my pastor of the church i will attend while i am here. he was so nice and we got to have lunch together. he speaks very minimal broken english, but he was the nicest man. he told me that my korean pronunciation was very good & i was thrilled! he brought with him 2 parishioners, a korean lady who spoke excellent english, and her husband, who was a canadian. so i had 2 translators who were more than willing to help. they were all so sweet and arranged to come pick me up this sunday morning. here in korea, churches spend all sunday together. every week they stay to eat the meal together, and some churches hold meetings or choir practices after the meal. then its time for evening service! but my church is only about a year old and has few attenders - maybe 20 or 30. so we will just have morning service and lunch afterwards. this week: bibimbap. i'm so excited! hahaha. i love it. i told the pastor i will work on my korean so i can understand his sermons and he thought that was hilarious. i'm looking forward to spending the day with them on sunday.

we had a meeting time where all of the new english teachers were supposed to meet our head teachers. but my teacher is out of town so she couldn't come. instead they sent another teacher from the school to meet me. he was so nice and his english was excellent. i kept telling him how good it was and he got so embarrassed. most koreans are very shy to try to use the english that they do know...just like you would be if you tried to come here and speak korean. he kept saying "i so nervous!" and sweating alot. hahahaha. but he helped teach me some basic korean & offered to come next week to walk me through the path i will take every morning to get to school, what bus to take, etc. i am very grateful because he isn't even my teacher so this isn't required of him at all. everyone here is so generous and willing to help.

we start our training for teaching ESL on monday. it will be a looooong 4 weeks. we got our schedule yesterday and they are gonna be working us into the ground to get our certifications completed in time to start school in march. i hope we all make it!

yesterday, i had a meeting with the director of the program here at KNU. everyone has been very concerned about how i will fit into the korean culture. i look like i should speak korean and understand social norms and taboos, but i don't. in terms of knowledge of korea, i am just like all of the other new teachers. everyone has told me that i will have a very difficult time here. so i expected many discussions like the one i had yesterday, telling me how i should react in certain situations, and what to expect emotionally from my time here. the director gave me some constructive criticisms that were pretty difficult to swallow and i cried my first tears here in korea. this is something i will get very used to. fortunately, i have friends here like john and ben who fully understand my situation and are so good to me. they were waiting for me to get out of my meeting so they could give me a hug and reassure me while i cried it out. hahaha. i don't deserve such good friends.

so korea has lots of ups but will also have its downs. i consider everyone who reads this blog to be family, and therefore, i will share both with you. i feel like that is only healthy and it will give you an idea of specific ways you can pray for me if you're so willing. thank you guys for taking this crazy and sometimes difficult journey with me.


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