Year Two Begins in Songdo!
Luke and I have had about three months to visit as many friends and family as we could before leaving again for Year Two. It may sound like a lot of time, but in reality, after the holidays, it was only a small number of weekends that were available. And between Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Louisville, Lexington, California and Michigan, it wasn't easy but I think we did an alright job. Sorry to those we weren't able to visit - we love you too!
Getting There and Settling In
We had an early morning flight on Thursday which turned into one long day of traveling. The weather everywhere was gross and rainy so there were multiple delays which made a 16 hour trip closer to 20 hours! Once we finally arrived, we met our driver who took us about 20 minutes away from the airport to our apartment! We drove over the 7th largest cable-stayed bridge in the world but unfortunately couldn't see anything very far since it was so foggy and gross here as well. But, we can actually see part of the bridge from our apartment which is pretty neat! Incheon is about an hour West from the heart of Seoul. Our area within Incheon, called Songdo, is a very new city with a lot of restaurants, shops, parks, etc. but is still up and coming. It's also a very modern city. It's definitely going to be a different experience being able to walk right outside and go to the grocery or have a plethora of dining options! We have already begun exploring the food scene within walking distance from our apartment and I have to say, we are now spoiled. The city however, is somewhat spread out, so we will likely purchase bikes to ride around and get to places a bit quicker. They have bike paths in a lot of areas which will be fun for spring and summertime. I can't wait!
We met the Director of the school, Mr. Kong, at our apartment who was with his daughter. They greeted us and showed us around the apartment. His English is very limited so his daughter, about 12 years old, translated everything as best as she could. It's a really nice apartment and fairly new, but we don't have much. When we walked in, we had a bed with some basic bedding, a fridge, freezer, washer, and 1.5 stove top burners. (They are so close to each other you can really only use one at a time.) But Mr. Kong has purchased a few more basic items for us. We'll definitely have to get to furnishing it, and once its all together, I'll post some pictures.
Friday night after settling in for an hour or so, we went to dinner with Mr. Kong, his daughter, and the Assistant Director, Chris. We had SO much food for the five of us, but it was so good! Luke and I had been craving Korean food for months and this place definitely hit the spot. Fortunately, we had the rest of the weekend to relax and explore the area, however I had to go and ruin it by having the worst head cold I've had in a long time. I had easily used 278 tissues from the time I boarded the plane to the time we arrived at our apartment so after our dinner, I took some NyQuil and was out for the night and most of Saturday as well. Sunday I still wasn't feeling great so unfortunately the Olympics were out of the question, but we were able to walk around and explore the area a bit! It will take us a while to figure out where our favorite spots are so there will be a LOT more exploring haha. Of course, right after I got better, Luke got sick. He's been coughing up a storm left and right and hopefully once he's feeling good again, we can ward off any evil sickness for the next while!
Our School: Avalon English Academy in Songdo
Last week was the first week that our Hagwon (private school) was open, so the entire staff has been extremely busy preparing for the start of the school year. There are three Korean teachers and four American teachers. We will be paired up with one of the Korean teachers who will be teaching the same students as us. We will be teaching Language Arts and a couple other classes, while they will teach Social Studies, Science and Grammar. While everyone was insanely busy last week, we were left pretty empty handed and did not have much to do. They gave us a portion of the materials to start familiarizing ourselves with the content but they didn't have a ton of answers to our questions as there is still much to sort out. This is pretty typical for the Korean culture as many things are last minute. It isn't uncommon to get an assignment 10 minutes before it's due!
The school is about a 5 minute walk from our apartment, is brand new and looks great - very modern and was built in December! We even have a cute little terrace since we're on the 5th floor. It has just a couple benches and plants, but a neat view of the buildings nearby and is a great space to hang out! The school is split into two divisions: Langcon, which is the school for young elementary students, and then Avalon which is for upper elementary to middle school students. We've been given some of our assignments for the Langcon classes but are still awaiting everything else. There has been lots. Of. Waiting. And sitting at our desks killing time. This week it should be MUCH busier as we will have students and things will likely be a little crazy as we figure things out, but I'm excited!
We're still settling in and getting our apartment together, but overall we're doing well. We got to see some friends from our old town last weekend and spend some time in Seoul. More on that in the next post so stay tuned!
Apologies for the lack of cool photos. I didn't have too many opportunities to take my camera out and just snap away so all of these lovely gems were with my good ole iPhone 6s. :-)