Monday was a looooooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggg day. I officially said goodbye to the people of the past week and was shuffled onto a bus. Three hours and one rest stop later I finally arrived……To the half way point. The way we reached our final destination was everyone in the same province was loaded onto a bus and deposited at the office of education for that province. This is where we finally arrived. From here I was loaded into the car of my new co-teacher. All throughout orientation we had been told about these fabled co-teachers. How they’ll take care of us, take us shopping, make sure we’re registered aliens, help us set up our bank accounts, add us to phone plans, answer any and all questions……Completely free of charge. These individuals do not see a single extra penny for the amount of effort they put out for us. In my opinion they have achieved saint status. It takes a rare personality to be able to sit in a government office with a complete stranger and have to cycle through the ticket line twice because the first official wouldn’t take a piece of paper that hadn’t been signed in the right spot. (Jerk) and not lose their temper. Then proceed to follow a clueless American as she made five laps around the grocery store and bought a grand total of five items. (This was after hauling my luggage around without complaint.) Monday was long but it would have been much worse without my Co-teacher. So special thanks to Choi Min Jae. I finally made it to my apartment. All my errands for the day are finished. All that’s left is to unpack and anticipate the next day. Or so I thought. When we were children our parents taught us not to talk to strangers or climb into the vehicles of people offering candy or rides. Stranger danger and all that jazz. Those basic safety rules dove screaming out of the window. Not even twenty minutes after I arrived in my new home I get a knock at the door. One of the local teachers was inviting me to join a group of fellow foreign teachers out to dinner in an hour and a half. My first thought: Go away and leave me the flying French toast alone. Second thought: You should go, it’ll be a valuable opportunity to connect with others in your community. Sadly it was the third thought that decided me: If they invited me out that means someone else is buying. My Baptist upbringing has taught me to never turn down free food. So I unpacked and settled into my new home and braced myself for social impact. I was not disappointed. My first encounter with this dinner group is actually in the hallway of my building. Turns out there is a guy living directly across from me. Who knew? The rest of the crew meets us at the bottom and we walk to the restaurant. A group of six total. We arrive…………and find three more people waiting for us. Wow. Within five minutes of arriving it became glaringly apparent that I inadvertently became a part of an extremely tight knit community. Not only was dinner paid for (Yeeeeessssssssss) They also made it a point to physically show us the bus terminal, make sure that somebody was around to assist us on our first morning, exchange contact information, and barrage us newbies with a wealth of information. Apartments were visited, gifts were exchanged; we all went home and that was the end of it. Not. The next day as I stepped off the bus and bought myself a celebratory coke for surviving my first day… I hear my name. ARIELLE!!! Lord?!?!?! (it was not the physical manifestation of God) The person who bought my dinner the night before was outside of the terminal in his van. I still don’t know if it was coincidence or if he was watching for the newbies but long story short he took myself and another girl shopping around town for all the basics we didn’t realize we needed. Another touching display of camaraderie. (it wasn’t nearly as creepy as it sounds. This guy and wife has lived here for seven years ish and are expecting their first child any week now. A genuinely nice couple.) Just last night an impromptu cleaning party happened at the grottier apartment of one of my fellow newbies. BYOCS style. (bring your own cleaning supplies.) I didn’t realize how comforting it would be to have a community available like that. We are literally a group of strangers from across the group that have banded together for the sole purpose of not being alone. It’s kinda weird but we make it work.