As I was driven into Gumi, my excitement to get settled into my new home increased. Even though Gumi is mostly known for being an industrial city, it is actually quite beautiful (though, I feel like pretty much every city in South Korea has its share of natural beauty). I remember looking out the car window at the river and mountains and just thinking “I get to live here.”
First, I was taken to my main school, which was still very much under construction. I was told on the way there that it was a brand new school, but only upon arrival did I understand just how new it was. There was no parking lot or front courtyard, just dirt and lumber being moved around by heavy machinery. I met my main co-teacher and my other co-teacher who would be at the same school. They were both a bit shy, but very sweet. We found out that all three of us are the same age, so that helped to create a bond. They took me into the school, crossing a massive construction zone. As we walked past men wearing hardhats, I thought about how we would definitely not be allowed to walk through this back home. When we entered the building, I could see that even the inside was not finished and they still had quite a bit of work to do before school could start. The office was chaotic, but every one was friendly to me. Many of the other teachers were a bit shy around me as they were not very confident about their English speaking abilities (a common situation in Korea). Since the school was so new and many things were still being decided, there were so many unknowns for me. Rather than being upset by this situation or feeling stressed, I actually found it all to be quite amusing. I had already grown accustomed to going with the flow and living a life that is full of uncertainty. Also, I was told to expect a lot of surprises in my new job, so I thought it fitting that it should start out like this.
After this, my two co-teachers took me to my studio apartment, which I had been eager to see and I couldn’t wait to start making it feel like home. They helped me carry my humungous suitcases up two flights of stairs and into my new place. It was bigger than I expected and I liked the layout of it. There was really only one big problem…well, two. There was no bed and no table. These were things that were supposed to be provided for me, as stated in my contract. My co-teachers told me that they needed to take me to buy a bed and table and chairs but had to wait for the school to receive its government funding. So, they took me to buy some bedding that I would eventually be using on a bed, but for now would be using to sleep on the floor. Sleeping on the floor or on a thin floor mat is common in Korea, so I tried not to complain too much. I knew they were doing what they could and I would eventually have a bed. We then went shopping for various things I would need in the apartment (mostly just dishes and cleaning supplies). It was fun to pick out a few things for my new home.
After running around and helping to get me settled as well as submit my documents to become a legal alien in Korea, my sweet co-teachers treated me to a meal. We had some Japanese food that was really delicious and we enjoyed talking and getting to know each other better. I felt so lucky to have two wonderful co-teachers who I could enjoy being around and who were so kind.
In the evening, they dropped me off at my apartment and it was time for me to be alone and unpack. It felt so strange to be alone and in such a quiet place after so much time of constantly being around other people. I started to feel a little bit lonely and homesick, but I didn’t want to let those feelings stew, so I started texting one of my Korean friends (because of the timezones, it was not a good time to contact someone from home). It was comforting to have someone in the same timezone who was familiar to me. I also listened to a podcast and filled my apartment with sound as I began going through my things and started to think about how I wanted to set things up.
It was strange because it still hadn’t fully sunk in. I still didn’t feel like I was on the other side of the world. Even though I knew I had done something to change my life in a drastic way, it felt so normal to me. I wondered a bit if there was something wrong with me. Perhaps there was something that I should have been feeling but wasn’t. But I wasn’t going to try to force emotions that just weren’t there. I think my comfortability with change is simply part of God’s plan. He built this up in me so that I could move around and adjust to new situations easily.
Anyway, I’m having trouble deciding what all to write about and what to leave out. There is so much that I could say, but i think it would take far too long and may not be so fun to read. So for now, I will leave this here and come back to tell you more soon. Thanks for reading ^_^