Posted by: Cacille | March 18, 2012

An email to my mom after arrival

I am thoroughly exhausted and cannot wait to sleep. I thought i’d send an email with a bit more detail about the plane and my day since then.
The drive to Chicago was uneventful and as we got into the terminal, I pulled out some money to exchange at a Exchange shop. I’m glad I did, cause I could only pull out $500 at a time. I should have taken money out when I went to the bank with you (mom), but I’m glad I didn’t there because traveling with all that money would have been very nerve wracking. I had planned to buy a desktop computer from a teacher leaving for home, and he wanted $680 for it. Given the computer’s components, it was a great price so I intended to get it from him later that day.

So anyway, I got on the plane and it was delayed half an hour almost due to a passenger luggage situation. We finally got started, I was scared that the birds would have trouble with the pressure difference since they can’t exactly pop their ears. I had nothing to worry about, they were fine. The passengers and even flight attendants were enthralled with the birds, I’d show em off to anyone who wanted a look inside their crate. The flight attendants even let me go into their prep room (which had curtains to separate the room from passengers), open the crate, and let the birds out for a while! They took pictures on their phones of them with a bird on their shoulder and mine. The birds started to get chirpy about the last 2.5 hours of the flight but not too bad. There were tons of other soon-t-be teachers on the flight, some I met, most not. I was very lucky, the plane was very full and there were only two seats left that I saw. One of the free seats was next to me so the bird crate got to sit there instead of on the floor 🙂 Going through customs took a bit of time but was very easy.
Once we landed, I had to get to Seoul Station, which meant taking the commuter train with all my luggage. I came up with a creative way of connecting the bags and managed to get through the airport and get a ticket. That’s where I called Mom and Dad. I got to Seoul Station and texted the guy who had the computer who was to meet me there at 8. He was running late. I needed to call my recruiter and I had her number. Problem was, my phone would NOT call Korean numbers at all, so I couldn’t get ahold of my recruiter! Finally when we met up, it was 9pm, I pulled out just enough money to pay him. I used his phone to call my recruiter so she could pick me up when I got on the KTX for Busan.

After getting all my stuff on thanks to a helpful guy with a cart, I handed him what i thought was a tip of about 6000 won. He said “10000”. What? Apparently he charges for the service and didn’t tell anyone – or assumed that english teacher guy knew (he spoke fluent Korean and was of Korean descent). I only had 6500 won ($6) on me and gave him all I had. I’m sure he called a few bad words at me as he turned away, but there was no way to go get more money, the train was to leave in 7 minutes and I was already in it! I don’t feel all that bad about it, he should have said he had a price. He had a KTX uniform on, I thought he was part of the train service.
After getting to Busan station, I needed the help of some kindly Korean folk to get my stuff up the elevator, and the recruiter met me immediately there. We got everything into their car from there, got to the hostel, and I crashed to sleep. I’m glad I had earplugs in – there is a train line right behind this place.
Six hours later the birds woke me and I tried to take a shower. Couldn’t figure out how to keep the water on, it went off at 3 minutes. I thought it was timed water – but the water had just gotten hot before it went off! Ended up taking a sponge bath from the sink which did have hot water. I then asked about bird cages and the lady at this hostel kindly called places till she found one. She gave me directions, I pulled out some more money from a local convenience store, and went off to learn the subway system. Another helpful Korean lady, another subway ride, and then a few more helpful Koreans later and I found the bird and fish place. The writing over the shop was written in a script that I couldn’t match up with the directions given. I got a large bird cage, it’s more long than tall but big for two cockatiels. I took a cab back to the hostel. No way was I going on a subway with it! Cost of taxi: 3500 won. $3 USD.
I got back to a phone message from me from my co-teacher. I called but no answer. Went out for lunch and ended up with something yummy though I couldn’t read the menu. Came back to the hostel and went out again to pick up a few more things from the HomePlus store (It’s kinda like a sears or target store). It was about a mile walk there and back, and upon getting back I was pretty much done and completely exhausted. After another short trip to the ATM, I got back to the hostel and then crashed. The next day, we were picked up by the recruiter and off to Changwon we went for a training session.

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