After being in orientation for over a week, it was finally time for us to be released into the wild. Daejeon, the city that I’m in does a really good job with their new teachers. A bus took us from the orientation site to Daejeon, where our co-teachers were waiting for us. Since I am at 2 different schools, I have 2 main co-teachers so both of them were there to meet me. We went to my main school so I could meet some of the people there as well as the girl that I am replacing. Next, we went to the apartment. I was probably more nervous about this than anything else. Everyone says that the apartment will be a studio so that is what I was prepared for. However, a Korean studio is different from a studio in the US. I’m quickly learning that Americans are the only people that like their space and have spacious homes. As I walked into the apartment, I had to do the best acting of my life to hide the terrified feeling that was quickly going through my mind. This “apartment” if you can even call it that, was TINY, like maybe the entire apartment including bathroom and kitchen is the same size as just my room back home. And no, my room back home isn’t huge; it’s normal size. I will take a picture of it once I finish getting everything set up and decorated. I kept thinking “how am I supposed to live in this for a year? I just don’t know how people do this.” Thank goodness the girl that I replaced was with me and quickly distracted me by showing me how to turn on the various appliances (because they are in Korean) and the heat which includes the heated floors! Having heated floors did help to make up for the size of the apartment and my super sweet co-teachers bought me new bedding so I couldn’t be too upset. All I knew was that I wanted to get out of the apartment ASAP before a breakdown came on.
Luckily, I moved in on a Friday, so I had all weekend to explore and get used to my new surroundings. After about 24 hours I came to the realization that the apartment is just a part of my Korea life and to enjoy it for what it is- I mean it does have heated floors and since it’s so small utilities can’t be much. I spent the weekend walking around different areas of the city. Daejeon has 1 subway line so it’s very easy to get around and I mastered this very quickly. Dunsan-dong, the new downtown, is very modern and honestly feels like you are in New York or some other city in the US. This is the part of town with the expat hangouts and it’s centrally located, so it’s the common meet up place for our group.
Standing on any street in this part of town is like holy senses overload. The amount of advertisements and signs on the buildings is overwhelming and you can only see about half of the building if that due to all of the signs. My friends and I walked around and then decided to meet another friend for a drink. We weren’t exactly sure where we were, so we decided to meet at the subway stop. The friend we were meeting didn’t know where the subway stop was, so she asked some people that were near her in the coffee shop. Their response was just straight laughter, they said oh no ha ha ha the subway to way toooooo far away. Turns out it was 7 blocks away. 7 BLOCKS!!! And people say Americans are lazy. If anything is longer than a 3 min walk, Koreans say “oh no, that’s way too far. Take a taxi or the bus.”
Having already toured new downtown, it was now time to see old downtown, which is much closer to where I live. Old downtown has the traditional market and no foreigners at all. We stood out like a snowman in the hot Georgia summer and even got a few “Welcome to Korea.” Seriously, these people are so nice and friendly. And the food at the market was some of the best market/street food that I have ever had. Good thing the fruit and veggies are cheap because the smell of fish made me want to run in the opposite direction.
Just past the market is the shopping part of old downtown. I really like this area, which is like an outdoor mall but more.
I’ve been told that one of the bridges plays movies on a screen under the bridge when the weather is nicer. That is something that I am very excited to experience. Cameras are located under the bridge, so you can see people walking on the big screens. Talk about a great location for people watching!
Monday was our first day of working but not much happened since the kids weren’t in school yet. And then Tuesday was a national holiday, which meant more exploring!! Expo park was created from the Daejeon Expo back in the 1990s to promote science and technology, but most importantly, it has a cool looking bridge.
My friend Beth and I decided to go see the bridge and see what else was in the area. There is a system of rivers that run throughout Daejeon and there are nice paths along the rivers for biking, running, or walking. I imagine these are lovely in the Spring and Summer after there has been some rainfall. However, we are still in Winter so this neat bridge that is in all the pictures of Daejeon on Google is looking a little rough. It is still pretty with the mountains in the background, but you can literally see dirt under the bridge haha. This is a place that we will need to visit again in a few months. However, there is a big arboretum on one side of the bridge that is a great place to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors.
After writing this post, I realized that I have explored all different parts of Daejeon except where I actually live-oops. Since I have only had a few days of teaching, I decided I would fill y’all in about the schools next week!