MY  NEW  HOME  AWAY  FROM  HOME

So, back in the Spring I decided that I would up-root myself for the third time in less than 4 years and (not quite ready to go home) make my way towards the Mecca of English teaching: Seoul. Two of my colleagues in Shanghai raved about their experience with the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (S.M.O.E) so after a little "help" from Footprints Recruiting, I soon found myself securing a position for the Fall semester.

Fast forward through a summer of chaotic travel, encompassing 5 countries, 14 flights, a number of truly messed up body systems, and a handful of horror stories about mold ridden apartments, I find myself blessed with a little piece of domestic paradise where counters are actual counter height and my kitchen sink doesn't empty into the cupboard space below it. This is my home for the next year, come on in...


My Kitchen

This is my little corner of domestic heaven. Perfectly organized to optimize every bit of space, this little kitchen has it all and it a delight to cook in. It took me awhile to get used to all the new gadgets (including a UV light dish sterilizer, side-dish refrigerator and toaster that is built into my microwave) but it has quickly become my favorite room in my apartment. I even willingly wash the dishes after every meal...


My Bathroom

My second favorite room in my apartment! It was initially the bane of my existence until I figured out how the hot water worked. This may sound like a completely blond thing to say, but really, you'd have to have lived in Korea to understand. Korean households rely on an ondol system of heating, which is basically like in-floor tubed water heating. BUT, this means that you need to have a system to either divert water from the floor to the shower, or have it available to both systems. This would seem easy other than my control panel is, as expected, in Korean. So, in 35 degree weather, I found myself running back and forth between my shower and control panel flicking switches until the right combination got my hot water. Finally successful, I got in the shower. Drying off, I went back into the main room and immediately found myself perspiring and burning my feet. Apparently I had figured out a hot shower/ in-floor heating  combination. A couple more flicking-and-running sessions, and I now have my ondol system mastered...


My Loft Bedroom

It's cozy, it has pink bed linens, and it's a bedroom. Not a bedroom/office, not a bedroom/storage room, but a real bedroom. I feel like I actually SLEEP here. I won't mention how many times I've hit my head on the ceiling getting up in the morning, but you can only imagine how high the number would be if I was actually tall...


My Living Room

It's been spruced up a bit since this picture with some new pillows, throws and the addition of a futon chair, but this is essentially the room where I read, knit, and entertain. It's a wonderful space with huge windows that let in the morning sun, give my plants an extra dose of love, and give me a bird's eye view of all the action happening in my neighborhood.


My Neighborhood

I live in the most north-easterly suburb of Seoul called Nowon-gu. I affectionately call it Nowhere-gu as it seems as though I may be a subway stop or two away from the DMZ, and a map doesn't even exist of my area! Nowon-gu is a recently developed suburb (the last 5 years-ish) and is home to some fantastic mountains, including the one that my apartment backs onto, Surkasan. Every day as I leave for school around 7:30am, there are hoards of Koreans exiting the subway making their way to climb the mountain. There is no day of the week that is an exception, and Sunday the crowds become so abundant that if I am trying to go INTO the subway, it's near impossible. I imagine it must be similar to what a salmon must feel like making their migration up-stream...


My School - Sangwon Middle School

Much to my surprise, I find myself teaching middle school this year! Although terrified at first, I am trying to see this year as a great chance to diversify my skills, and try out a new age group. I teach grade 8 and 9 (or 2 and 3 respectively in the Korean system) English. I am the equivalent of the core French teacher in Canada. Do you remember how much respect you gave the core French teacher? Yes, well, that's me :) I teach 4 to 5 classes a day and spend that time trying to extract comprehensible English statements (or even ones that have any semblance to the English language) from my 792 students. Oh, and breaking up fist fights. And taking away cell phones. And trying to get them to not swear at me. It's going to be a year of growth...

Visit my school at: www.sang-won.ms.kr  Most of the site is in Korea, but in the left hand menu, there is a tab for English where some of the details are translated.

The above picture is of me and two of my co-teachers during our first Teacher's Outing to the Mongolian Cultural Village and Land of Morning Calm Garden. Mrs. Seo is in the middle and Mrs. Jeong is on the right (I'm the white girl on the left...)