Asia/ Early Childhood Education/ Japan/ South Korea/ Student Teaching/ Travel
November 3, 2012

Okayama, Japan: Home Away From Home

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Korean Airlines Ticket LAX to ICN [mrs gaeul]

The day is finally here. After a year long preparation to student teach overseas, it is finally time to actually leave home and immerse myself into a totally new culture.

Korean Airlines/Philippine Airlines Gate at LAX [mrs gaeul]

Picking Japan was a no-brainer for me. Most of the countries offered were European countries, which didn’t really fit into my budget. I am interested in Asia, so I was down to India, Japan and China as my choices. My advisor found a great school who wanted to have a student teacher in Japan that was a perfect fit for me. Most of the people in my program are Elementary Education majors, so the placements are usually geared toward that demographic. I am Early Childhood, so I was a bit of a special case.

Korean Air Blanket [mrs gaeul]

Thankfully, the school I was placed in offered to supply the apartment for my stay free of charge. That was enough for me to say a definite yes to Japan! The school is a private nursery school in Okayama.

Korean Airlines In-Flight Meal [mrs gaeul]

I wasn’t nervous until it was the day to leave. I was scared to leave my husband behind to go live in a new place where I didn’t understand the language, food or people. Although I tried to prepare really well, I still managed to forget a few things anyways.

Korean Airlines In-Flight Breakfast [mrs gaeul]

Of course, I love traveling but I hate flying! Right when I arrived in LAX and got to my gate, I hit my first crappy airport experience. The gate that my flight was at was right next to a gate for a flight to the Philippines and all of the people on that flight took EVERY SINGLE SEAT on the Korea side. The Korean flight started boarding and it was ridiculous… no one sitting was on that flight, we were all standing or sitting on the floor. What the heck?!

Korean Airlines Flight Map [mrs gaeul]

I always seem to get the worst passengers seated next to me that ruin the whole flight for me. This time was no exception. 🙁 There were very few Americans on my flight from LAX to Incheon, but I managed to be seated next to a super obnoxious American guy. Maybe I’m the exception, but I feel like the space on a plane is very tight, so I try to stay in my own space and not disturb others at all. We are all uncomfortable anyways, might as well make it easy! This guy was all up in my space and I couldn’t sleep comfortably because he was constantly touching me with his leg if I wasn’t trying to crouch in my corner as much as I could. So annoying! I’m really timid so I didn’t say anything. It is really awkward, what are you supposed to do in that situation?

Korean Airlines Courtesy Stickers [mrs gaeul]

I have to say, Korean Air is amazing. The flight attendants wore super cute outfits and hair pieces, I would say the best I have ever seen on an airline! It was very classic and cute. This airline isn’t playing either, you get a pair of slippers, blanket, and toiletries bag right when you sit down and you are constantly given drinks, juice and food during the entire flight. I had a really great experience.

Korean Airlines Planes ICN Airport [mrs gaeul]

It was all worth it when I landed in Seoul, however. When I first started my student teaching program, I was really bummed that Korea wasn’t an option. I really want to work in Korea next year and I have been thinking about it for years, so when I finally touched down on Korean soil, I was elated! It was only for a short time, however. 😉

Incheon Airport (ICN) Departures Sign [mrs gaeul]

I heard that the Korean airport is amazing and it was. Unfortunately, my flight arrived at 5AM so almost everything was closed. I was planning on using the free shower facility (best idea ever!), but it didn’t open until 7AM and my flight started boarding at 7:15. I just washed my face quickly in the bathroom and put a little makeup on so I didn’t look totally messed up when I arrived in Japan.

Incheon Airport (ICN) Lotte Duty Free [mrs gaeul]

The Lotte Duty Free was open though! It figures. I roamed inside and drooled over all of the skincare products and then forced myself not to buy anything. I’m coming back to Korea in December so I’ll let myself free then. Oh yeah, and the guy in the black there is yelling at me to not take pictures. Haha!

Incheon Airport (ICN) Flowers [mrs gaeul]

One of the things that I really liked about the airport is that there were flowers everywhere. It was beautiful and was really relaxing. This airport really stepped it up with free Wi-Fi, shower facilities, awesome prayer room, a museum, movie theatre and even a skating rink! You could spend a whole day in the airport itself just enjoying. The design of the airport is really classy and family friendly. There were many areas for children to play in and I believe there was even a nursery in there somewhere.

Korean Airlines In-Flight Meal ICN to OKJ [mrs gaeul]

I had a really short flight to Japan. It lasted about an hour and a half, and I had a delicious meal on-board. I was spoiled in the Korean airport because everyone spoke English. Right when I landed in Japan, I realized that wasn’t going to fly anymore. I passed through immigration completely in Japanese and awkwardly checked my baggage with a paper that listed the questions in English. It is crazy how big of a difference there is between Korea and Japan!

And now here I am, in Japan. 10 weeks along a roller coaster of emotions! I usually blog about beauty, but I’m going to have a slight detour as I record my time here. Enjoy!

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  • Anisa

    Assalamu Alaykum,

    Good for you! I can’t even imagine going by myself to another country where I can’t speak the language. I wanted to study abroad (in an English speaking country) but wasn’t able to in the end. I think you will have a great experience and I think it is even cooler that you are doing your student teaching there! Is the nursery school taught in English? Good luck and I look forward to reading more about your experiences.

    • Mrs Gaeul

      Walaykum asalam!

      I knew there would be a huge language barrier, but I didn’t realize until I got here just how big it really was. I’m constantly struggling daily to communicate, and Japan is not an English friendly country. The school teaches in Japanese but they have English lessons. I believe it is compulsory to start teaching English in Kindergarten. I’m having a great time here, but I’m starting to get very tired! I’m definitely learning a lot. 🙂

      Thank you for the well wishes and I hope you enjoy my posts! <3

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