We arrived safely in South Korea on September 18th (still the 17th in the U.S.). We were immediately taken to meet the teachers at Hyundai Chungun Middle School where I will be teaching for the next 12 months. We had a meeting with the principal which consisted of everyone speaking in Korean for about 5 minutes, then asking us a question in English, then continuing to talk about us in Korean. From there, we were taken to a hotel since our apartment was not yet ready. We were able to meet with the teachers we are replacing, which was very helpful. Jason and Kristen are from Oregon and had been the first native English speakers in their respective schools since several years ago, so they had already pioneered everything for us and were a great help. Griffin teaches at Hyundai Middle school, which is about a 15 minute walk from my school.
You will notice a familiar name associated with both schools, Hyundai. Hyundai’s main headquarters is right here in Ulsan. With the ship-building company, as well as offshore engineering and Hyundai Motor Company, roughly 30,000 employees pour into the city for work each day. This company truly stretches for miles and you can easily see its influence here. Most people realize that without the company, Ulsan’s economy would be drastically different.
We were finally able to move into our apartment on Wednesday, the 23rd, and we have slowly been settling in, trying to find a space for everything. We feel blessed that our apartment is much bigger than Kristen and Jason’s, however, it is still very small. As our very first home together, though, we are so excited! We have both begun teaching and are very happy with our students. The students here go to school from 8:30am until 4:30pm and then go to a private school, or Hagwan, from 5:00pm until about 10:00pm. They also go to school on Saturdays, although we are excused from teaching on the weekends.
We haven’t had a real opportunity to do much exploring, but hope to change that soon. We will definitely keep you updated!
Until then, An-yang-hik-ye-se-yo… (I think that’s it!)
Valerie and Griffin