Beginning in a Bubble

25 08 2009

As we got off of the 13-hour flight from one of the best airlines (Korean Air), one of the first things we saw was a Dunkin’ Donuts! But, it definitely felt like we were in Korea because everything else was in Korean. We were starving after we got our luggage and after meeting some fellow English teachers, so we stopped by a convenience store to get a bite to eat. A small meal with stir-fry pork, rice and kimchi cost only 1,800 KRW, which is equal to about $1.50!!!

movienight

We then boarded the bus for another four hours to go to the place where we attended orientation

at Jeonju University. There, we met the most diverse and interesting people who we would embark with on this adventure for the next year. The teachers in the English Program  in Korea (EPIK) came from seven countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom including Wales and the United States of America.

For the next 10 days we will be at Jeonju University, “A Place for Superstars,” which is their slogan, and a place that we consider to be a bubble while we transition into the Korean culture.

The EPIK staff, who is mostly Korean, has introduced us to many customs of their culture and have treated us like kings and queens. They have provided a very nice dormitory for us to stay and they fed us every meal, which consists of at least five different servings, including their staple dish, Kimchi. EPIK StaffWe never go hungry here. We have learned that education is very important in South Korea and that is why teachers are highly regarded and why the government provides us with such luxury. Just FYI, about 98 percent of Korean high school students graduate, making South Korea the country with one of the lowest illiteracy rates in the world, according to the Korean government.

We are very lucky and privileged to be an EPIK teacher. They have done an exceptional job preparing us to be great English teachers and for the real Korea. But, they have sheltered us here because we are surrounded by 500 other EPIK teachers who speak English. We have only a handful of experiences interacting with native Koreans. But, because we have somewhat studied some basic survival phrases, we were able to order food at a restaurant. In Korea, servers at a restaurant don’t immediately come to your table to take your order. You have to call on them or push a button for them to come over to take your order. In addition, the entire menu is written in Korean. Thankfully, the first restaurant we went to had pictures. We were able to say “this, please” in Korean, which sounds like “ega, chusayo.”

The count down has begun. All 500 EPIK teachers will be dispersed into their corresponding locations in South Korea in T minus four days! We will be faced with the real Korea and being on our own, learning the language, understanding the culture and getting acclimated to our new home for the next year.

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We would walk 3,000 Miles…

16 08 2009

…but, we have the mini cooper! After leaving a place where we made great friends in Washington, D.C., we moved on to the next chapter in life and began the transition process of moving to South Korea.

3,000 milesIt was imperative that we see our families in Arkansas and Florida before we left. So, we drove 18 hours to Van Buren, Ark. and stopped in Memphis to pay our respects to the King of Rock (Elivs Presley). We spent precious time with the Vo family and friends in Van Buren and Fayetteville. Thanks everyone for the wonderful times in Arkansas until next year! Good luck Sean on your first year in junior high school! We are very proud of you. Go Razorbacks!

Next stop, Atlanta, Ga.!! We got to spend time with Helen and her boyfriend Daniel, who showed us a glimpse of Atlanta. Thank you!

Last stop before Korea, Orlando, Fla.!! We made more memories with the Pulayya family and made one last road trip to Miami. Thanks Gina and Joel for the long and overdue visit! And thanks to the Pulayya family for the wonderful times. Good luck Brian on being the last part of the Gator dynasty. We are very proud of you. Go Gators!

Next stop, Korea!  Anyung! (which in Korea means “see you later!”)





Why did we choose ‘OurKoreanTeapot?’

15 08 2009

We chose our blog name to be ‘OurKoreanTeapot’ because the journey that we are about to embark on is similar to the process of making tea. First, you have to let the water boil. Next, add the tea leaves. Then, you let the tea simmer. Lastly, you sit back and enjoy the cup of tea.

The process of making tea is similar to how our time in Korea will be over the next year. First, we took the time to research the Korean culture and learned as much as we can. Next, we will travel to Korea with not only a glimpse of knowledge, but also with a thirst for learning about the culture. Then, we will immerse ourselves into the Korean culture by learning their customs and language. Lastly, we will learn to appreciate the culture, people and enjoy every moment and experience.