Category: Namsan

So this is what they call culture shock

Well, another week is almost over.  I can’t wait until school settles down and I have some semblance of a schedule.  With the renovation of the new English building, I never know what’s going to happen or what’s going on.  Yesterday the computer in 2 of my classes just decided to stop working (I had checked it the day before and verified that it was working properly!), so I had to improve – again.  Can anyone say tongue twisters?? 🙂  Five of my regular classes were canceled, but I gained 3 different classes that I’m having to sub for.  I was told that I can do “anything” with them….which is almost worse.  What do you teach to a class when you have no idea of their levels, and you will never teach them again??  So ya, I’m looking forward to settling down a little bit, both at school and outside of it.

I think I’m finally experiencing this thing that everyone warned me about called “culture shock.”  I didn’t have any problems adjusting in Spain and, although I did in Costa Rica, that only lasted a few weeks.  It was nothing like this.  The constant, never ending struggle to adapt and understand is merciless.  All of the little things you have to remember – wear slippers to school, brush your teeth after classes, put your chopsticks over your bowl when you’re finished, bow to teachers, don’t bow to students, take your shoes off when you’re inside, 90 degree bows to principles, 45 degree bows to fellow teachers, turn off the hot water when you’re done showering, give and accept things with 2 hands….the list goes on and on and on.  And always working so hard to understand what people are saying leaves my brain a mushy, sticky, unhappy mess by the end of the day.  I’m told that the 3-month mark is usually the worst, and then it gets better.  I surely do hope so, because the thought of it getting worse than this – or being this bad the entire time I’m here – makes me want to curl up in a corner and never come out.  Alright, I’m done, sorry for the pity party. 

But ya, this week has been more or less adventure-less.  Except on Tuesday.  A new friend of mine, Harry, asked if I wanted to go hiking with him, so I left after school and we took a taxi to the base of the mountain.  Except we misjudged how far away the mountain was, and I had to make it home for dinner, so by the time we got there it was already so late that we had to turn around and start walking back :(.  But it was ok….instead of an intense hike, we had more of a leisurely stroll, and also got to visit some great historic sites that we walked past on our way back into town.

Our little Buddhist temple getaway.  We danced.  It was great 🙂

A bird’s eye view of Gyeongju

I’ve done a lot of scouting this week, and I think I’ve found Korean classes and a salsa place on Thursdays, and Ultimate frisbee games on Saturdays.  I’m going to try to check them out this week.  There’s a teacher’s soccer club at my school, but I’m not allowed to play since I’m a girl….lame :(.  Also, a deacon at my little church invited me to have dinner with him on Friday, so that should be fun.  Apparently he does this for every new foreigner in town – has them over for dinner, gives them rides, takes them hiking, etc.  Seems like a wonderful man.  Still no swing dancing, but I found someone who apparently used to dance in the Atlanta circuit (small world!!), and she said there’s some swing in nearby towns, so I’m hoping I can convince her to come with me sometime.  That’s next week’s project, though….it’s too overwhelming to do this week.

I know some of you are dying to see my school and the people I work with, so I’ve included a few pictures in this blog.  All of my classes were canceled today, so I had time to walk around and take some pictures :).  Also, in case any of you are ever feeling bored or just in the mood to send something to a homesick American living on the other side of the world, my mailing address is below.  Love you all!!

Lauren Fenner
경북 경주시 성건동

현수막나라 620-157
South Korea

If that’s too hard to copy, here’s the Romanization of that:
Lauren Fenner

Gyeongbuk Gyeongju si Seonggeondong
Hyeonsumaknara 620-157
South Korea

My daily transportation.  The seat’s too big…it bruises my butt :(.  But I’ll have legs of steel by the end of the year!! 🙂


Seondeok girl’s high school in all its glory

That’s the new English building there on the left
These are the normal classroom halls….

…and this is the English one.  I’m so blessed 🙂

One of my classrooms
The garden at the front of school.  It’s a lovely getaway 🙂


There’s also a pond at the end of the path.  It’s my favorite place on campus :).
Andddd….this is my least favorite place on campus.  Outside squat toilets, for the win 🙁

Some of the teachers I work with: Borim, Sang-a, Mrs. Jang, and Ye-ji (seated)
Some of my best students…this is why I love teaching <3