I’m writing this post from my new home in Pyeongtaek!
The man at my Airbnb helped me get my suitcases to a nearby taxi, who took me to the main Seoul station. I bought a ticket for the Mugunghwa 1209 train at the counter. Mugunghwa (hibiscus syriacus) is the national flower of Korea, also known as the rose of Sharon.
Thankfully nobody else sat in the seat beside me during the rather short journey, so I was able to get my luggage down off the rack and get ready to get off before the train arrived at Pyeongtaek. I got a taxi from the station to the language school where I’ll be teaching.
I met my supervisor, who I’d been in contact with, for the first time and she explained a lot of things to me, including showing me some of the teaching materials. I got to meet some of the kids too, who were quite excited about having a new teacher. Some were really surprised when I spoke Korean to them!
I was driven to my new apartment, which isn’t too far from the school. I was given a code to type in to a touch-pad to enter the building. My apartment has another touch-pad, and I was able to set my own code for that.
I unpacked my stuff, chatted to my mother and then headed out to look for some essentials such as soap. I visited a supermarket that I’d seen on the way to my apartment. It wasn’t as big as most New Zealand supermarkets, but what struck me was that a guy kept yelling in Korean over the loud-speaker system! I don’t know enough Korean to understand what he was saying, but after a while it became an assault on the senses. I have no idea what is going on – I’m guessing it’s some sort of advertising.
I looked up the nearest Daiso on Naver Map and headed there. I got some of the things I had on my list, but I didn’t have enough cash with me. The lady who served me spoke some English and directed me to an ATM at a local bank. I inserted my New Zealand card and tried to withdraw some money. It had an English option, but every time I inserted the card it came up with a message in Korean that I found out means that the card is not accepted. I then headed to a convenience store where I tried the ATM there. I got further on that one but it ran into an error. I kept walking and came to a kiosk featuring two Kookmin Bank ATMs right in the middle of the sidewalk. After trying one of those, it printed out a ticket and told me to take it to the counter (since it was a kiosk, there wasn’t one!). I finally succeeded at a different convenience store, and I realised that the Kookmin Bank ATM may have refused the transaction because after fees on both sides had been factored in, there may not have been quite enough money in my checking account to cover the withdrawal.
I took a bus back to close to where I’m staying and then looked for a restaurant. There didn’t seem to be any around, so I went back to the same supermarket where the guy was still yelling over the sound system, and I bought a bowl of instant noodles. They turned out to be quite spicy.
Tomorrow I’ll be observing one of the other teachers in their classroom. I hope it goes well. Here are a few photos from around Pyeongtaek.