Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lady of Incheon

I passed training!

I'm so relieved. It was such an exhausting week. It didn't really have anything to do with the material we were being trained in itself but the busy schedule and the amount of material being covered. Basically every day we were up at 6am to leave the hotel by 7am to catch the subway to the training center and even though the days ended fairly early in the afternoon we had to prepare for the following day's session and since there was a lot to cover that took several hours. Bah.

So I'm happy that's over. It was a good week though. I met some cool people during training, a couple I think I will actively stay in touch with and get together with while we're here, and I feel better about starting to teach now that I know what I'm getting myself into.

After we finished up on Friday a bunch of call vans showed up to whisk everyone off to their respective locations. There are four of us teaching in Incheon, a city west of Seoul which is divided into eight wards. Two of the new teachers are in Bupyeong and I'm in Yeonsu with one other newbie. We had roughly a two hour ride from Seoul, mostly due to traffic which is some of the worst I've seen. People drive crazy here! And I'm from Massachusetts! Our van driver was constantly riding right on the tail of the car in front of him but always managed to brake in just enough time that he stopped about 5 centimeters from the other car's bumper. I swear all the cars were doing this. I don't know how we didn't crash, it's an impressive skill.

Around 7pm we were dropped off at our school which is located on an upper floor in a mixed business building. We met the manager and head instructor and all the other English teachers working there. They invited us to join them for dinner when the second class of the night ended at 10:30 and in the meantime our manager brought us over to the hotel we'd be staying at for the night until our apartments were ready.

I wasn't expecting anything ritzy, just a place to rest my bones for the night, but when my manager opened the door and I walked inside I got a bit of a surprise:

Seriously? Am I Austin Powers?

Wait a second, couples robes? And a round bed? Surely this can't be a-

Oh my god a love motel!

According to Galbijim Wiki, love motels are, "hotels that are frequented by lovers or cheating spouses". I figured sooner or later I would run into one of these places on weekend travels if I was looking for somewhere relatively cheap to stay for the night (they're pretty decently priced) but I have to say that being checked into one by my very polite and very reserved new boss was all sorts of amusing.

After resting up we went out with the other teachers who treated us to Galbi which was delicious. It's really typical here for meals to be communal and with Galbi the meat is grilled right on the table in front of you and everyone shares. There are also loads of side dishes like kimchi, seaweed, carmelized onions, etc. You can order an individual order of rice or something but otherwise everything is up for grabs for anyone who wants it. And I'm kind of liking that actually.

Today after checking out of Casa de Couple I finally got to move into my apartment! All the CDI teachers live in the same building so I got to see what the apartments look like when we visited yesterday but I still didn't know what my particular pad would have for furnishings and such.

Turns out I had nothing to worry about though. My apartment is amazing. I could not be happier and I really don't know how I lucked into such a great place. I had pretty low expectations considering what I've read and seen of western teachers' apartments in Korea so I was prepared for much less. Shall we take a look?

Walking through the front door.

Don't forget to take off your shoes!

Look mom and dad, lots of locks!

Wet room bathroom.

Lots of shelf space a.k.a. a painful remainder of all the books I had to leave behind...

Wardrobe that was most helpfully already filled with coat hangers.

The kitchen/laundry room!

Two burner stove plus washing machine.

Full size fridge, microwave, and armchair. I am in love with this armchair. I plopped onto it and it is the perfect reading chair. Plus something about it looks like a squashy old man.

Do you see it? I'm telling you, it's there.

Full length mirror, TV, and coffee table. I really am a lucky duck.

Oh hey I have an upstairs-ish.

My bed! And it isn't (as) hard as a rock as the hotel beds. Also are you seeing this wallpaper? This place was made for me.

I don't know who this dude is but I like him already.

View from above. I'm in love with my floor.

Monster windows.

Street view.

So this was a bit of a picture overload but as you can tell I'm ridiculously excited about my apartment. And the location too for that matter. When we were first driving into Incheon it was crazy busy and there was so much traffic and I started thinking to myself, "Why the hell did I ever request a city? I hate the frenzy of cities". When we crossed into Yeonsu though things quieted down and the streets opened up and I heaved a massive sigh of relief. I mean there are still lots of stores and bars and things are open late but it's more on the edge of the craziness rather than in the heart of it and that makes all the difference to me. I like being able to get to the hustle and bustle quickly and easily when I want to but at the end of the day I want to walk home on mostly deserted streets past schools and parks and get to sleep without needing ear plugs.

I think I'm going to like Yeonsu.

Korean Drama Trivia of the Day: My Lovely Sam Soon also referred to as My Name is Kim Sam Soon: a South Korean drama series which was aired on MBC from June 1, 2005 to July 21, 2005. The series was a major hit in South Korea since its premiere and 50.5 percent of Korean households tuned in to the finale. Some critics believe its huge success was due to the show's focus on the life of a single and chubby woman in her late twenties. Particularly, the physical appearance and stereotype that the female character portrayed in the drama greatly increased its popularity due to its resonance with many Koreans. Actress Kim Sun Ah is noted to have gained 15 pounds for the role. For such reasons, the drama is said to be the Korean version of Bridget Jones in Seoul.


  1. I love your apartment! It's absolutely adorable!

    Also, love motel/hotel? I love that's where you had to stay. It's beautiful. :D

  2. I am super jealous of your apartment. It's way nicer than what me and Meagan get. Come visit us in Gwangju some time!


  3. Thanks Alicia, I love it too! You should come visit so you can check it out first hand :P And oh my god I love that I had to stay there too, it was hilarious. I walked in and was like, "Is this my life right now?" haha.

    Spencer I wish all the apartments in Korea were like this, I know that we're really really lucky to have gotten these. Even if it hadn't come with so many furnishings I'd have been happy. I hope you guys are getting settled in okay and like your area! I'll let you know if I'm ever in your neighborhood and hit me up if you come to Incheon (though I think mostly people only head this way if they're going to the airport lol).

  4. Holy cow your apartment is amazing.

    And btw the guy in the picture is Bodhidharma [달마], the Buddhist monk responsible for introducing Buddha's teachings to the Far East. You can buy his face on just about anything at any Buddhist temple in Korea.

  5. Thanks, I really didn't have a clue how to go about figuring out who he is! I'm good with knowing I have a Buddhist on my side... or at least one who's watching out for burglars while I sleep :)

    I'll be on the look out for him once I finally get a chance to start exploring!

  6. Carly your apartment is gorgeous!!! It is perfect for you! I can't wait to show the kids the pictures. :) I love the austin powers bed too. Congrats on the training! I am so proud of you!

  7. Thanks Sherene! It was certainly intense but not nearly as brutal as I'd been expecting and I got to have some fun too :)

    Once I start sightseeing I should have some much more interesting pics for you and the kids to see! Give them my best!

  8. Carly!!! I love your apartment too! your blog is funny and i keep pausing reading it to try to read it in your voice. also, i noticed that you are using centimeters! -Chung

  9. and gotta love your banner

  10. Chung I love it here already! Seoul is amazing, I can't wait to check it out some more! Haha you should have warned me though how stylish everyone is here, I am forever going to be under-dressed ;)