I have officially been in my apartment for one week and this new city is starting to feel like home. I had my first day of teaching actual course material today and it felt so natural and exciting! I love seeing the enthusiasm in the kids faces. All of them light up at the sight of me, and I can barely walk through the halls without saying sounding like a broken record. I think the most rewarding part of this week was having the opportunity to work with some of the students in the special education program at my school. Their energy is contagious and I can’t help but want to surround myself with them. Luckily, for me, and according to their helper teacher, luckily for them, we get to spend a few minutes in the afternoon where they stop by my classroom and practice the sentence they learned that day. Today it was, “What is your favorite sport?” Yesterday it was “What is your favorite hobby?” and the first day it was “Did you enjoy your meal??”. It is enough to melt an icebox of a heart!
My schedule is finally coming together. I have two co-teachers that I am supporting, so we decided that I would make it so that I work with each of them on a bi-weekly basis – that way I get to work with grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 … which I prefer because it’s nice to be able to switch up the course work and the classes. Each grade has a different energy, so it will be a nice variety. The way it works in schools here is the teachers teach 3 or 4 classes back to back in the morning and then have the afternoons off. Each period is 40 minutes, with a 10 minute transition break in between classes. The grade 5 and 6 students have to take a couple afternoon courses, but they are done by about 2:30. The teachers work Monday-Saturday, 8:40-4:40 … sometimes longer hours. So they teach in the morning and then we all have lunch together (which I will discuss in detail below) … in a couple weeks they are going to let me have my own afternoon classes with mixed grades, as well as an English class for the mothers of the students, and an English class for the teachers of the school. I am really looking forward to those classes because they will be less structured and not so curriculum orientated, and it will allow me to be creative and come up with fun things to cover!
After lunch there is a small group of teachers that hang out and chit chat for like an hour, while snacking on some sort of after lunch snack. Today it was bean chips and cherry tomatoes – but the other day it was deepfried everything – squid, sweet potato, hot pepper – anything. Everything is SOOOO delicious. All of the teachers are really impressed with the fact that I eat and enjoy pretty much anything they serve me. Every day they ask “Do you like this?” … and my answer is always the same, “Yes! Everything is so delicious!” … even when I have the slightest doubt about something based on it’s appearance and I hesitate on taking on – I just say to myself – “You always think something looks gross but are always satisfied with the taste” so I take it, and 9 times out of 10 I am happy that I took some, and a little disappointed I didn’t take more! lol Korean food is so healthy and the meals are so balanced, so I always keep that in my back of mind also. I just don’t ask what anything is, or smell anything, until after i’ve tried it… because if they had told me I was eating deep fried squid, I probably wouldn’t have eaten it … but when they told me after I ate it, I didn’t hesitate taking a second piece because it was really good! They are so impressed that I love their food that they have sent me home with leftovers every day this week! They keep telling me to bring containers so that I can take the leftovers home. lol It’s pretty great that I get lunch and dinner taken care of for all of about 2000 won a day. lol The school staff even goes out of their way to make sure there is one fork in the chopstick and spoon dish for me … even though I am getting soooo much better at my chopstick skills – so much that the other teachers are impressed – I always take the fork with me so that I show that I appreciate their efforts – but I try not to use it. I only used it yesterday when we had like chicken with bones in it – they were tricky to eat with the sticks! hahaha I am really trying to show the teachers that I am here in their culture and I want to do as they do. “When in Rome” right? haha
The other teachers that were initially really timid with me are really opening up and trying to practice their English with me. They are so sweet. And on the plus side, they are starting to teach me some Korean words and I find myself sometimes, and I mean sometimes, being able to follow along with their conversations. But sometimes they just sound like they are angry and then I get nervous – but then they all giggle and smile and all is good in the world. lol A couple of my co-teachers want to go shopping and out for drinks with me. And maybe to the public spa – which is basically a big huge bath tub in the open where people strip down and bathe together … they told me today I could wear a bathing suit – thank the Lord! lol
The Korean word I learned today is “OPA” which means older brother – and I guess if you say it to a Korean man it just makes him melt and he will love you forever. So I said to the phys ed teacher and the “girls” (my Korean teacher gossip group) want me to say it to the Vice Principal on Monday. lol These ladies just crack me right up. It’s like I have a Korean family! I love it.
Another strange thing is that most bathrooms do not have toilet paper in them … nor do they have paper towels or hand driers to dry your hands … so I am getting into the habit of bringing tissue or TP with me wherever I go! DYNAMIC KOREA!!
This weekend I hope to find my way to the market to buy some bambooish blinds for my apartment … and perhaps make it hiking on the nearby mountain. I will certainly take lots of pictures and update my blog with anything exciting that may happen!
Until next time … keep fit and have fun!
Miss you all!