Village Voice

Amy Salmon is now living and teaching in South Korea 

I'm alive and safely in Korea.  It's Saturday afternoon and I'm at school getting an introduction to everything.  The apartment is great!  I really like it.  The school seems like it'll be a nice place to work.  I'm the only foreigner.  So far it seems like everyone with the exception of one teacher is scared to speak English.  Should be interesting!  I'm still working on getting internet & English channels at my place, as well as a cell phone and adapters for my appliances. 

For now, you can at least reach me at school M-F, 1pm - 11pm (Korean time).  The address & phone number are:

Cheong Sol Foreign Language Institute
105-5 I-mai-dong Bun-dang-Gu
Sung-nam-si Gyeoung Gi Do
Phone 031-708-9001

The website may be all in Korean, but I thought you might enjoy checking it out. 

Speaking of all in Korean, that seems to rule the day.  There are very few signs with English letters.  Meaning I need to learn the Korean characters, called hangeul, as soon as possible, in order to make my life a little easier!  Fortunately, unlike Mandarin, there are only around 24.  And the signs that are in English tend to pop out, like "TGI Fridays", and signal welcome little pieces of home.  I really think I'm going to love Korea.  It's going to be a wild ride, I think, but so far where I live and the general area reminds me of living in Manhattan.  I'm going to be taking the subway to work, things are open 24 hours, and you can get all kinds of food delivered.

Gotta run.  If I can get an adapter today I'll write a letter on my computer and email it on Monday.  The last 36 hours are quite a story.  In a nutshell, instead of flying direct to Seoul as planned, I ended up having to take an entirely different flight at an entirely different time.  I've actually only been here about since about 8 o'clock last night.  However, that means I got to spend about an hour in Hong Kong, upping my number of countries visited in the last two months to eight, so at least that's something!

Another quick update [one week later].  Sadly, it looks like I won't be able to get internet at the apartment, a cell phone, or any English channels on my TV until after I get the Korean work visa, which will be at least a few weeks.  So I'm limited to quick emails at work for now, and no other way to communicate.  I'm going into English withdrawal!  I did manage to get an adapter for my computer (and hair dryer) on Tuesday, so I'll try to write that letter over the weekend and email it on Monday.  I know I said that before, but I'll give it another try now that I've at least got power to the computer at home, although no web access.  Which I have to admit surprises me...I was anticipating lots of "wireless networks in range" at least, but that's not the case.  I'll just have to be patient and wait on the visa, it seems.  But I really miss CNN and being able to get any kind of news.  I saw on one of my brief checks that there was another al-Qaida threat video, which made me realize that huge things could happen that I would be totally unaware of.  That made me feel nice and far away from home, I'll tell you! 

Overall, although there is certainly a double whammy I haven't experienced before of new language and new culture, I'm thrilled to be here.  Would you believe there's a French bakery on the corner next to where I catch the subway?  How cool is that?  And there are actually English labels on the items for sale (a rarity!) so I can see what the heck I'm buying.  Good times!  And I'm really enjoying things like having hot water come out of the tap in the bathroom to wash my face with again, which is virtually nonexistent in Thailand except in swank hotels.  Little things like that feel like home, oddly, in the middle of all of the differences. 

I love my job, although I certainly will be working hard.  But it's work I really enjoy, and that's the crucial point.  I'm teaching about seven different curricula right now, with a few more groups of kids than that.  So far they're all elementary-school aged, and their English level is pretty good.  I get to speak English with them, at's the three hours I have to be in the office before I start teaching that make me feel a little like a leper.  I've never been in a room full of people before that were all speaking a language I couldn't understand, for hours on end, before.  At least not that I can recall.  A new experience, to be sure.  I'm getting used to it. It helps that I've got a lot of work to do during that time.  I'm reconsidering my position on the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language course in Vietnam); I'm really glad I took it.  I think I'd be lost without it.  They gave me a brief outline of what to cover and told me to give tests every week and homework every week, but no idea of how to teach it or otherwise fill hours of time.  I'm having to come up with lots of activities, and I think without that training I'd be in bad shape.  As it is I'm pretty stressed about tonight, because I have one group of kids for three hours straight, and not a lot of material to cover during that time.  We'll see how it goes. 

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