I landed in Busan, South Korea on Thursday September 30th, 2010. Being severely jet lagged after travelling 40+ hours (due to flight delays and being stranded in the Pearson Toronto Airport for 24 hours) I was feeling a bit disoriented upon arrival.
After I collected my luggage I walked out through the sliding doors wheeling a cart in front of me in search of my new manager who found me rather quickly. We carted everything to the car, put it in and off we went. We drove to Jungang-dong (where I am currently residing now) and I noticed this huge building with an anchor on the front. I finally spoke up and asked “what is this?” Terry, my manager, answered me “this is where you will be working. It’s Lotte Town.”
It took a little bit to find the apartment building. Trying to find the right street around here is a little difficult due to all of the one way streets. Anyway, when we found it we dropped the bags off and went straight to the school. Here I met both of my bosses, the accountant, and 4 of my fellow co-workers: Kelly, Heilly, Isabel, and Annie. The first three are Korean co-workers but Annie is a co-worker from the United States – Texas to be more exact.
Friday came, I was so jet lagged and had no idea what to do in class. Being a first time English teacher and being thrown into the classroom without training is a sink or swim situation. Thankfully, I was able to stay afloat – barely. After sucking it up all day long i came home and immediately felt homesick. All of these thoughts started rushing through my head. I wondered why the heck I did this to myself and if I could make it as an English teacher here at this school. I didn’t see anything positive and I couldn’t see the sun rising ahead of me. I was in tears and terrified.
On Saturday, Annie wanted to go check out the beach in Haeundae. We decided to subway it there which took about 45 minutes (not too bad). We walked down one of the main roads and cut over to the beach. It was beautiful there. After walking around for a bit we felt hungry so we went to find a place to eat and have a few drinks. We ended up at a place called Fuzzy Navel. There we had chili fries and a few beers. And Annie, being the social person that she is, met a guy from the USA and he sat with us for a bit. He offered to show us around Haeundae that evening and of course we accepted.
The first stop was a club called U2. More of a lounge bar but still fun. Here we played pool and enjoyed some more drinks. Everything was dandy. The second – and final stop (for me at least) – was a bar called Sharkys. It’s an American owned bar so we met a lot of foreigners (like ourselves) there. By this time I was ready for bed. Being jet lagged really sucks and a person can’t help it if they’re tired right? My co-worker on the other hand was very rude. She demanded that I wake up and demanded that I basically did whatever she told me to do. She became very obnoxious and stupid. Obviously had too much to drink. She started arguing with some people for no reason and then got into a full out argument with a Korean guy sitting at the bar. This is when I took it upon myself to leave without giving her any notice. I was embarrassed and exhausted. I didn’t feel like staying there any longer.
This was the first time I had been out by myself in South Korea. It was dark. I walked along the beach which was so unfamiliar to me in search of a cheap place to rest for the night. Luckily I found a place and paid for a room. I checked the room key to see which number I had as I walked up the stairs. I opened the door and took my shoes off. Nothing worked in the room. No lights (except the motion light at the door), no TV, no fan, etc. I kept having to run back to the door to get the door light to turn back on. Finally I realized that I was supposed to put the key in the slot and then my power magically worked. Hey, I didn’t know – not only was this the first time out on my own in South Korea but it was my first time alone in a hotel room. I then sat on the bed and cried. I usually don’t cry but I was so overwhelmed by everything in my life at that particular moment.
Once I calmed down I tried to make myself comfortable. I laid down and turned on the television. As I was flipping through the channels – still a bit worked up – I saw a familiar face. I stopped clicking the remote. There was Yoochun on the screen. Finally, someone I’ve been familiar with for the last 4 years. I felt at ease. Sure, I don’t know the guy in person but there is that special bond between idol and fan. I took a deep breath and was fine. Yoochun was there to save the day. Thank you Yoochun.
When I woke up the next morning I checked my camera for the time. The sun was barely starting to rise, it was only 5:30am. I got up and got my things together. I dropped the key off at the desk quietly as I didn’t want to disturb the man sleeping in the room. I then started to back track where I had been the night before. I took some pictures along the walk. Finally, I found a couple of familiar faces from the night before sitting on the beach watching the sun rise and enjoying a beer. I asked if they had seen Annie and they didn’t really give me a straightforward answer so I took off. I needed to find my way back to Jungang-dong.
It started to rain lightly as I continued down the beach. I didn’t have an umbrella with me. I was only in shorts and a t-shirt. I had a 50,000 won bill in my pocket and my camera in hand. It started to rain harder and harder as I tried to find the subway station; had I known at that time that a taxi was cheap I would’ve hopped in one. By the time i got to the main street I was beyond drenched. I had my camera under my shirt trying to save it and my hair was dripping from the rain. I felt embarrassed to go on the subway like this. A taxi blew his horn at me and waved for me to get in. I thought for a moment and decided to take the chance with what cash I had on me. I jumped in the cab.
Expecting the man to be nice – since everyone I had previously met was very nice – I jumped into the front seat… This turned out to be the worst taxi ride ever. The man was in his 60’s or so, he began to hit on me. I kept shaking my head trying to play it cool with an embarrassed smile. He held my hand. I took it away. I became very uncomfortable. Finally, he got the hint and stopped bothering me but by this time I just wanted to be home, dry and safe. I was too worked up. I wanted out of this damn taxi. When he dropped me off it was about a 20 minute or so walk from my neighbourhood. I kept telling him to drop me off but he didn’t get the hint. He then took the money I had and gave me no change. Ripped me off 30,000 (I found this out later on).
Once again I was out in the rain. Nothing to shelter me and I had no clue as to where I was supposed to go. All that I remembered was the taxi driver driving by Lotte Town where I worked. I decided to walk in that general direction. I put my camera back under my shirt, I was so happy that it was fairly early in the morning and not many people were out and about. I became very depressed once again. Wondered what the hell I did to deserve this. Wondered if all of what I was feeling would ever go away. I decided to stop dwelling on my emotions and to start thinking about where I needed to go. I looked around at my surroundings. Across the street, displayed on a building was this:
This was the second time where I had felt hopeless and depressed. And there they were. Three bright shining stars. Yeah, it was just a picture but a picture of three fimilar faces that had helped me and inspired me a lot already over the last 4 years. It felt like a pat on the back, a little nudge in the right direction. An indirect “hwaiting” keep going Jeannie you’re going to be alright. I felt so thankful. It gave me the courage to continue on. I finally found my way back to the apartment a little before 10am hit. I grabbed a shower, changed and hung up my wet clothes to dry. I sat on my bed and turned on the computer. One of my best friends were online so I decided to skype her. I shared the story with her (her being Tara) and I became overwhelmed once again. I began to cry. I didn’t know what else to do.
I thank her for being there at that moment and I thank JYJ for being there indirectly to help me along. You all have been so encouraging throughout the last few years and i really appreciate you for it.❤