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Korea: Year 4

no longer a hagwon peon

This is mostly a personal update. Because it's my blog and I'll whine if I want to!

Things have been going smoothly, for the most part. The weather has turned, and it's pretty cold here. My school is about a 20-minute walk from my school, and there IS a bus that goes there, but it only comes every 15-20 minutes. I spent 10 minutes waiting for a bus yesterday morning, but had to make a quick decision and take a taxi at the last minute. It was under $3, so that's not too bad. I mostly walk, just to get a bit of exercise. To and from, it's about 40 minutes a day, which is better than nothing!

There have certainly been some adjustments.

First, my school: I'm now the only foreign teacher to almost 400 students. I work full-time with 3rd-6th grade, and each grade has 3 classes each. I see each class twice a week. In addition, they asked me to teach "overtime" to Kindergarten-2nd grade. I teach K twice a week and 2 1st and 2 2nd grade classes once a week each. This makes me about an extra 400,000 won (~$400) a month. 3rd-6th I teach with a Korean co-teacher, and K-2 I'm on my own. This past month, she has been doing most of the regular classes while I get adjusted, but I'm actually not too sure what my role is. She teaches the book (with interactive CD) and I plan games / other activities. I've mostly been walking around and making sure kids are doing what they're supposed to and correcting behavior/work. I usually try to lead the games as well, but I don't know how effective my role is because she always has to translate. The levels are varied; I have about 3-4 kids in each class who go to academies (like I used to teach at), or lived abroad. Sometimes these kids are helpful, but mostly they seem bored. It's an experience. The job itself is really easy, but it's hard to see my role, as I said. I really like my co-teacher, whose English is pretty good.

Another good thing about my school is I get free lunch. It's Korean food, of course, but usually it's pretty good. I've noticed that I'm basically Korean now, in my tastes and in a lot of my mannerisms and habits. Today's lunch was really bad, though, so I could only eat kimchi and rice. However, my Korean co-teacher agreed and bought Papa John's for after class. :D It was her treat today, but it will be mine the next time we have to do this.

Second, my apartment: Now, I've lived in tiny apartments here. And really, none of the apartments I've lived in have been HUGE. I know some lucky foreigners get those ones. Over the summer, the budget for my housing was cut and they had to move me to another place. I thought it would be comparable. It's not....it's about half the size, with no storage space. It's tiny. I've been there for about a month now, and while I've gotten used to it, I haven't been able to get over the principle of the thing. Maybe I shouldn't complain, but I have, and it's expected that I'll get to move in February, to an apartment in the same building that is much bigger with an extra room (mostly used as a closet). This was a big source of stress in both mine and my co-teacher's life for a while. I felt bad complaining, but at the same time I have enough experience to know that this isn't right. My recruiter was a HUGE help in negotiating all of this. And I actually really don't mind the area...these appear to be pretty new apartments, and it's really quiet. Though on the weekends,when I want to sleep in, there are always people playing soccer outside (I live by a middle school). I don't have a bed yet, so I bought a mat and have been sleeping on the floor. At first I was a little indignant, but now I've grown accustomed to it. In lieu of a bed, I've requested they buy me a sofa bed, which is mostly like a futon. I'll also be getting a nice big bookshelf, and I've already gotten a microwave and toaster.

Also, Korea has been hosting some pretty sweet concerts as of late. Back in July, Usher! Then Stevie Wonder, which was sold out and I didn't get to go to....but last Saturday: MEW! And this coming Saturday:

FLAMING LIPS!!!!

It's really exciting.

More to come later, because I'm going to Laos for 2 weeks in December-January. OH YEAH!

Posted by lrbergen 01:33 Archived in South Korea

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