Confusion abounds as to how to say and spell the city I’m in. Wikipedia isn’t even sure. Facebook insists it’s Taegu. But my co-teacher assured me it was Daegu with a clear “d” sound as we drove from Goesan to the city I’ll be spending the next twelve months in. My co-teacher is a lifer – born and raised in Daegu, he had his own homestay experience in Vancouver, Canada, but came back to raise a family and contentedly informed me he plans to never leave again. My principal was also along for the ride, still as stone in the front passenger seat. All the descriptions of super-stoic Confucian men you read about in histories of China and Korea? Yeah, this guy. One of those. But after we’d arrived at my host-father’s Korean BBQ restaurant and downed some domestic beer, he was happy to joke and prod at me. Particularly hilarious was how sweaty I was when all the program people lined up in front of our assembled co-teachers and principals and bowed, one by one, as our names were called out. I thought of pointing out to him that we’d just ascended literally ten flights of stairs and I have a propensity to sweat anyway, but he’d probably just think I was a pansy and scowl at me. Or something. So I poured him a beer and smiled.

All in all, my situation in Daegu seems to have shaped up nicely. My host-family own a spacious, nice apartment in the center of the city. My two host-brothers are excited I’m here but still give me nervous, shy glances as they don’t know me yet. My host-mother both works at my host-father’s restaurant and works around the house. I haven’t spent much time with her yet, but I’ve never seen her not smiling. My host-father has a very kind face. I can tell he has a good heart just by his demeanor. The entire family is Catholic, and church has already been mentioned. I batted away the question by explaining my parents’ disparate religious upbringings. Confident that had confused them, I changed the subject.

We stopped at my middle school for around five minutes yesterday. It’s a thin three story structure located next to a high school of the same name. My co-teacher – the nicest man I’ve met yet in Korea, and eager to please (another person I’ve yet to see not smile) – handed me the textbooks I’ll be teaching from. He then introduced me to Mr. Jong, the vice-principal, whom I immediately confused with Mr. Jung, the head teacher. I was gently corrected.

Today my co-teacher and I tore around Daegu getting my cell phone, opening a bank account, taking me shopping for food and clothes, and buying me some McDonald’s (“Only one cheeseburger, Jah-cub? Not enough. Not enough.”) The man’s energy is unflagging. I get the weekend free, then it’s a meeting at school on Monday with the higher-ups to go over my teaching schedule and curriculum. Despite all my wary reservations about finally being here and teaching regularly, despite leaving the seven-week strong comfort of Jungwon and the people I’ve gotten to know pretty well, I’m actually pretty damn excited to start.

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