After an excellent half-day at school (more on this later), Lindsay and I decided we needed to explore our neighborhood on foot. We went for a run. I had already come to the conclusion that my running goal this year would be to work on my flat road running. This was not something I was too crazy about given that I enjoy being on trails and climbing up mountains. I had literally expressed my goals to Lindsay when we happened upon a lake. Around this lake there looked to be a trail. “Huh,” I thought, “looks like we may get to do a half-mile trail run everyday.” Well, I don’t know if someone called ahead on our behalf or we racked up merit with the running gods, but what we found was a plethora of trails around the lake behind the lake, up hills, around farmland, and as a bonus they even put pull-up bars and other assorted workout stations along the way. It was a urban-trail runners paradise. We couldn’t believe our dumb luck, coming across this oasis about 10 minutes into our run. So, I have to say we won’t be coming home too out of the running loop. I do not think running is to “en vogue” here yet, because when we told one of our co-workers our interest in running our bodies ragged, she gave us a confused look. Anyways, this definitely made things much better for us in this strange land.
Rewind to lunch today.
Two teachers from Songwon elementary showed up at our apartment at noon and took us to lunch immediately. When they asked if we had eaten, Lindsay and I lied telling them we had in order to avoid them having to order us a Korean lunch like they did yesterday. “Oh, we were suppose to go to lunch together.” “Well,” we said caught in our lie, “we could probably eat again.” They took us down the street from our apartment to a Korean restaurant. There you take your shoes off and put them in cubbies in the lobby and go sit on the floor on a mat. Then waiters bring out tons of food starting with kimchi (a cabbage concoction that actually tasted good to us), followed by a couple of soups served family style out of a very large bowl, and some dumplings which I enjoyed. Our nice co-workers coached us along with how to eat the dishes and what they were. To my surprise (we tried some Korean food in Seoul and we weren’t crazy about it) we liked everything that was put in front of us, and none of it came with cornbread.
After lunch, we moved on to school (where you also take off your shoes and leave them in a locker in the lobby after slipping on your work slippers–Lindsay had her Crocs approved for her slippers) and started ironing out our curriculum and work contract. It was here that we started bonding with our co-workers. “How old do you think we are?” they asked. Lindsay and I said this with all seriousness that they looked much younger than they were. Most on in their early 30s making Lindsay and I (more Lindsay) the babies. Then one teacher asked me, “Which one of us do you think is married?” Did I mention that all of the English teachers are women? I think they could see the sweat beading up on my forehead on this one, so they let me off the hook. Yesterday, they certainly did not know what to make of us, nor we of them, but today was much better.
We are going to be teaching immersion classes, meaning that we are going to be teaching the students subjects in English, not necessarily just English. For example, we will be teaching first graders geography. More interestingly we are going to be teaching 6th graders science. Straight out of finishing my MA in American history and I am teaching Science to Korean students. Does that make any sense?
So long story short, we are starting to feel part of the Songwon community already. Last night the local grocer, that speaks as much English as I do Korean, gave me two free ice cream bars, this morning she gave Lindsay a face cleansing mask. Almost everyone tries to say “hello” to us, and tonight we even had a conversation with an old man who laughed when we told him we had been in Korea for two days. So if you are worried about us, don’t be, things are looking good for us here in Gwangju.
P.S.—We are working on getting internet access next week so we will post our pictures as soon as possible. We are looking forward to showing you everything around here.