Archive | January, 2012

Korea update…

12 Jan

I can’t think of a snappy title for this post, because I’m freaking out.

Basically, I haven’t been doing much in the way of preparing to go to Korea to teach for a year. After I sent in all my application stuff and my visa documents, I just relaxed. I had a new temping job keeping me busy during the days and wiping me out in the evenings, and without a definite start date or location, Korea just seemed like it would happen *waves hand vaguely* next year. 

Maybe it was because getting the documents sorted out seemed to take forever. Maybe 2012 just sounds too much like The Future. Whatever it was, my big moving to Korea plan didn’t feel real until today, when I received the email telling me when I was due to arrive.

19th February. That’s the day I’m supposed to arrive in Incheon for my induction training. That’s just about 5 weeks away.

Oh crap.

What else can I tell you? Well, after my induction I’m going to be moving to Busan, where I’ll be spending the year. Busan is on the South East coast of South Korea, and is the second biggest city (according to some sources). I’m really excited about that location. It was pretty much the best I could have hoped for.  Other than that, I have a packed itinerary for my induction week. Highlights seem to include a medical including a drugs test (I’m not allowed to take cold medicine or painkillers for a week beforehand, apparently) and something labelled “Korean Cultural Experiences”. Oh, and there’s a lecture on “edutainment”. I’m excited.

Map of South Korea

Other than freaking out, which is normal for me (I freak out before every big life change, because nothing ever seems real to me until it’s actually happening), I’m feeling fairly well prepared. In some ways, anyway. I’ve bought some nice trousers and comfy ladies work shoes because I’m worried my long legs (I’m 5’8”) and large feet will be a problem in Korea. I’ve also put some thought into how to hide my tattoos (long sleeves and plasters) and bought a guide book. I’ve started packing my things away neatly and I’m getting some friends over to help me thin down my wardrobe ready for storage.

Busan is a coastal city popular for its beaches

It might be easier to say what I haven’t done. I haven’t learnt any Korean. This was a big part of my plans for preparing to leave, and I’m annoyed with myself that I haven’t had the motivation to do it. Hopefully I still have time to pick up some of the basics before I go. I couldn’t afford lessons, really, but I might try and at least get one or two in with a Korean teacher before I leave, to help me feel more prepared. I also haven’t filled out my visa application (should take about five minutes!) or prepared all the documentation I’ll need to take with me, although it should all be in my files, since I had to gather it all together for my application.

Busan at night

Now I’ve got a start date, I can book my flight and work out my luggage allowance and how on earth to pack for a year abroad. Any tips from travellers and gappers out there?

Truth be told I’m mostly freaking out about teaching. I enjoyed it during my TEFL course, but that was just a taster with some very understanding students. I’m concerned about teaching again. Standing up in front of people like that is a nerve-wracking experience until you get to know your class. I wish I could teach one more class before I go, to reassure myself that I can actually do this!

For now, though, I’m just going to continue quietly freaking out.

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