Saturday, February 4, 2012

Moving Day (3 September)

Moving day is finally here!  As of today, I no longer have to worry about mould in my apartment and although I’m still dreading the schlep of moving, at least the end is in sight.  Catfish arrives at 8:30am to help me pack the last of my things.  Again, I can’t believe how many things I now have. 

I’m anticipating having to carry boxes myself but two ajeoshis arrive with big baskets into which we pack several small boxes, bags and loose items to move more conveniently.  Catfish, M and I don’t have to do anything apart from clarify what has to be moved and where.  When they move my desk and bookshelf, I’m dismayed to see that the backboards of both of these are completely covered in mould.  I have already cleaned the mould off of the front surfaces of these but I didn’t think to check the back of these.

It takes about 90 minutes to load everything onto the two trucks and I decide to simply close my eyes and trust that everything will be fine as the three of us head to my new apartment.

New Home

At the new apartment, it takes a little less time to move everything despite the apartment being on the 10th floor.  My bed is disassembled and re-assembled for me, my couch is set up and boxes are placed in the correct rooms.  I’ve been dreading the move but it’s been a total breeze thus far and is well worth the 200,000 won that I pay.  Unpacking everything, on the other hand, is a completely different story.

My new landlady is a Korean English teacher who is currently living in Singapore.  Since she intends returning to Korea at some point, the apartment is partially furnished, which is a major advantage.  I now have a queen sized bed in the main room and my original bed is in my new guestroom.  I also have great wall-to-wall wardrobes in the main room.  It’s a three bedroom apartment with a separate lounge area, which is a bit big for a single person but it’s great to have so much space around me again.  The kitchen cupboards, however, are almost completely full as all of my landlady’s crockery is stashed in the cupboards. 

M has to leave as soon as the movers are done with everything but Catfish is my slave for the afternoon.  I hate organising kitchens and am relieved that Catfish doesn’t mind doing this while I get to work unpacking other boxes in my bedroom and study.  Of course, moving wouldn’t be quite the same if at least one box weren’t dropped: Murphy’s Law dictates that the only box to be dropped today is the one containing all of my plates and bowls.  At least my landlady has copious amounts of these that I can use in the interim.


  1. Hi Sarah! I just found your blog and have read a couple dozen posts already tonight! I found it very interesting. I was the 2nd foreign English teacher ever at JFLHS and spent a year there in 2006/07. I had taught for 2 years at hagwons in Gunsan and Jeonju before working at JFLHS. I remember being so excited to actually work at a real school! ...but then reality set in when we found there was no place for us to live (even though the city of Gunsan provided apts as incentives for the school to be located in Gunsan...but those all went to Korean teachers, even though most already had apts in Gunsan), so we had to find our own accommodations (including 2,000,000 Won in key money...which we had to borrow from my Korean in-laws)...Ah, I remember it fondly, in a bittersweet sort of way. We also had to badger the school three times to give us money for the apartment furnishings, and pay for the 1 week hotel we had to stay in while looking for a place.

    Are you still at JFLHS? I see you technically posted recently, but the posts are dated September.

    Anyway, I'm surprised to see that you've lasted as long as you have! After one year, I'd had enough and moved back to Canada.

    I'll be following your future posts! Take care!

    1. Hi Chris,

      It's so cool to hear from someone who actually taught at my school! Yes, I am still teaching at JFLHS - I'm just very behind on my blog posts.

      I think that a lot has changed since you were here. I have only been here for about 18 months but I'll more than likely stay for a third year. The other two foreign English teachers here have also renewed their contracts; one is in his third year at the school and the other has been here the same amount of time as me. It's a really great school! The new principal is fantastic and very quick to respond to concerns; he's also very approachable although he doesn't speak much English. I get on with the VP too who was a French teacher, which was one of my majors at university, so I'm very happy here. The students are great and the Korean English teachers are a great mix of people and very supportive. We have a lot of carte blanche with our lessons too.

      Gunsan City withdrew the apartsments for Korean teachers in last year. Three of the foreign teachers were living in apartments provided by the city so they had to move at the beginning of last year. However, the school really went out of their way to find them apartments that were an equal walking distance, size and cost to what they were paying at the time, gave them a working day on which to move and paid for the moving company too. As for furnishings, none of us had any problems with getting furniture. My apartment was completely and newly furnished when I arrived - almost everything was new - and they've provided a few things beyond our contracts too.

      It's always good to hear that schools have improved in their handling of foreign teachers! I'm sorry to hear that you had such a difficult and frustrating experience here. I am a firm believer that the principals make or break schools to quite an extent. We got lucky and our current principal is a genuinely great guy!

      Take care!

  2. Hi again Sarah! If you're interested, I blogged about some of my experiences teaching in both Jeonju and Gunsan at the following blog:

    My wife is from Gunsan and her sister is getting married in May so we'll be visiting Korea then. I'm thinking of visiting the school then, although I'm not sure I know anyone anymore as people seem to move around from school to school so quickly there.

    I'm glad to hear you're being treated well. I was talking to my wife after reading your blog and realized that if I didn't have her to help me out those first few weeks(petitioning to get an apartment, furniture, etc.), I probably would not have stayed very long.

    Take care!

  3. Hey! I'm interviewing for a job in Gunsan tonight, I was curious to get your opinion on it! It's between Gunsan and another little coastal city in the south, Gwangyang. I'd love to hear some basic thoughts on the community, things to do, foreigners, etc. Most importantly, would you recommend this town? I've been reading a bit of your blog, but it's a lot to read for a couple general questions, lol. Please get back to me as soon as you can, here, or at my email (my35mmpistol@gmail) I'm an artist-type from Michigan, USA.

  4. Hello Sarah, I'm hoping that you're still in Gunsan, because I'm new to town and I'm the only non-Korean teacher at my school. If you could get back to me it'd be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi!

      I am still in Gunsan - just very behind on my blog posts! Welcome to Gunsan! Whereabouts are you in the city? Which school/hagwon are you at? You can email me directly at: or, if you have a phone, give me a call on 010 2255 1982. If there's anything that I can help you with, feel free to give me a shout anytime!

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  6. We're waiting for your next post Sarah...what's going on with you? I'll be off to Korea in 10 days and will try to visit JFLHS when I'm there, so may drop in unexpectedly...that is if my wife doesn't have me already booked for extensive family visits...which means I drink soju with her uncles, while smiling and nodding....and my wife spends all her time in the kitchen, preparing food with the's all great fun...for about 20 minutes...