"Train-ing Week"

I’d just finished a whirlwind week of training, or as I remembered it; a scare tactic to weed the herd of awe struck foreigners.

The only tangible speck that I retained from the week is how incredibly easy people are shaken when presented with change. Not that there is much choice in the matter, but who could forget those fresh faces when our trainer would over enunciate certain phrases…

For instance, one that shook most trainees, “you don’t have the job yet...this is your test.” It felt a little strange, considering we’d all signed contracts pre-departure and rearranged our lives, rather drastically at that, to sit in that very room.

I was rather impressed though, he was able to keep his composure while doing a spot on impression of Leo D. I later came to find out that South African accents actually do exists outside of the movie ‘Blood Diamond’

Jokes aside, he would frequently explain to us that, “in your classroom, you...are...God. Teacher is God”; emphasis on God, or course.

For me, the irony of this situation wasn’t lost; considering we were all sitting in his class.

Unfortunately for my trainer’s Type A+++ sensibilities, this Yankee transplant don’t take too kindly to drinking bitter Kool-Aid laced with sociopathic undertones, or respecting people that have confidence stemming from their poorly hidden insecurities.

It isn’t that I didn’t like him inherently, he was doing his best, I just don’t trust South Africans that think they’re God…come to think of it, I’m pretty sure that’s the exact reason Apartheid happened.

Fast forward a week, drifting between daydream and the fluorescent purgatory I was existing in, I passed training. Stepping from the grips of Chungdahm’s version of Parris Island, a lady walked up to me and in broken English asked “you go to Busan.” Come to think of it though, I wasn’t quite sure if this was a command, or a question. Either way, I made the assumption that she worked for the academy. Holding out her hand, the tip of her finger pointed to a sea of carry on luggage that’d been clumped into the stairwell of the foyer.

Tucked deep into the absolute most inaccessible short nook under the staircase, the bane of any large humans existence, I spotted my luggage. My backpack and suitcase, which had been scarred from a trip around the globe, were stuffed deep into Mordor. It was the only thing between me and hitching a taxi, this was my middle earth, I was Frodo and she, my Gollum…

For the sake of the reader, I’ll spare my over-dramatization of this very manageable ordeal...

After picking up my bags, like the hundred pound boulders they were, I hopped into the back of an unmarked black taxi. I didn’t even try to make conversation with my driver, or ask if he was the correct car, because I literally couldn’t; it’d be lost in translation. Like Mr. Armstrong, I’d officially stepped out of space craft. That warm, cozy, incubator of Westerners was an anomaly at best; my Apollo 11. It’d nothing more than the most conversational English I’d have for the next three weeks to come…

With my backpack slung across my shoulder, my hard shell suitcase biting at my heels, and the driver long gone from the loading zone at the KT Bullet Train Station…I stood there, attempting to decipher the platform directions in vain, while a zombie like mass of Koreans whispered to each other “Meeguk”; the Korean word for American.

I was on my own in a bustling Korean train station with 10 minutes till departure...

I couldn’t help but let out a quiet “well fuck”, not that it’d make much difference if I screamed it…