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South Korea-- A New Adventure

31 July 2012
I finally arrived 4 weeks ago. Tired, a bit travel weary but happy I was embarking on a new adventure. Only a handful of people knew I was coming. I wanted it that way. Although, most times people mean well, their negative energy can sometimes screw up your journey, so only my family and close close friends knew I was coming to S. Korea to teach English.

Daejeon Train Station

 I was tired of Houston and although moving to S. Korea meant I had a snowballs chance in hell to meet someone, I had to move. My life was at a standstill and I was becoming a nutter. So in March, I started the paper trail to pave my way to this lovely country in the Pacific. Of course my friend Feather, was the catalyst behind it. She had been trying to get me here since last year. So finally, I decided why not give it go.

Daejeon Center

 First I had to get an FBI Background check which took 8 weeks. Then I had to send said background check back to DC to have it notarized. Oh I forgot I had to get fingerprinted before even sending for my FBI Background check. Then I had to get my diploma and transcripts notarized by my state. While I waited I went to http://www.eslcafe.com to begin looking for contracts.


I already knew that I may run into some problems because it is widely known that Asians have colorist issues but I have never let that stop me before so I didn't let it concern me now. I applied to at least 25 ads on the site. One recruiting agency actually blocked my email address after receiving my photo so they weren't brown people friendly. So, I just kept it moving.

I had over 10 interviews. I received a job but it was rescinded 4 days later. Back to square one. 4 days after that I received two more interviews. One was at a public school in a small town called Jinju and the other was at the school I am teaching at in Daejeon--the 5th largest city in S. Korea and the Science and Technology center of this small country.

My kids are fantastic, travel is cheap, I love my co-workers and I have found out a few things. 1) Samsung is Korean and 2) so is Hyundai and Kia--ok so I already knew this but these things are EVERYWHERE.   I have found myself surrounded by people who look like me but with straight hair and light skin and there are many "stereotypical" likenesses to black Americans, for which I will discuss a bit later.

The other thing that is very interesting is that Koreans are not particularly racist, they just don't like anyone non-Korean. And other then the occasional stare on the street and my kids wanting to touch my hair, no one really notices me. However, the Asian explosion or being surrounded by Asians has sometimes been overwhelming for me and one day I started screaming "Godzilla!" to quickly realize that I was in the wrong country.  :)

South Koreans also have this weird obsession with looking Caucasian. On the streets there are some really bad blonde dye jobs, they even dye their children's hair and put perms on them--curly perms. S. Korea is the #1 plastic surgery center in the world--blepharoplasty is #1. If they are not getting their eyes done to create a more open eye, they wear these freaky contacts to make their eyes seem bigger. Koreans are also #1 in education--children from the ages of 5-16 go to school on average daily and some Saturdays for 10 hours  and #1 in suicide.. I am sure the education expectations are quite stressful.

There is hardly any petty crime and Koreans know how to partay. Most cities are open 24 hours a day. The place is really amazing. I do not feel as if I am in an East Asian country. My neighborhood looks like a city in Europe with Korean signage. It's just cool. My city is surrounded by beautiful mountains, is 45 minutes from Seoul on KTX and 2 hours on KTX away from the beautiful beaches in Busan.



Rain, Korean Actor


My new bike Brooklyn

I am in love with Rain, the Korean actor, kimchi is delicious and I have been enjoying riding my brand new beach cruiser around town. In fact I have already lost 10lbs.

My first meal in Korea: Sambap at the Loving Hut
KFC brought by a student's parent along with a watermelon. Only thing missing was a 40 oz..

  Here's a few does and dont's of S. Korea that I have learned so far: Please note that the above is done with a snarky tone :-)

  And here are a few pics of my kids on a school field trip: 

 

My third graders


I would suggest if you have a Bachelor's degree or higher and you are from the USA, UK, Ireland, S. Africa or Australia/New Zealand, I would definitely give teaching a go for a year just for the experience. So far it has been priceless for me.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me :-). I'll have more pics to share next week since I am going to Seoul and possibly the beach.

Make sure to update your url for Lattes and Lipstick because this is going away. It will now be http://www.lattesandlipstick.com. I am getting a new site in less than ten days :-)



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