Thursday, October 25, 2012

introducing cultural & leisure time

Last month I was introduced to something called cultural & leisure time. Basically what that means is that once a month the staff at my school gets to leave at 2:00 P.M. rather than the usual 4:40 P.M. During this time we are free to do as we wish, although it's encouraged that we go to a park, movies, or you know... take part in something cultural. Last month I was exhausted and completely overwhelmed so I took advantage of the extra two hours and went home to nap. This month, however, the teachers at my school were going out for a hike and dinner and invited me to come along. We took a short bus ride and arrived at Mt. Bukhansan National Park. This was only my second time hiking in Korea, and maybe only my third or fourth time hiking ever, so I found it quite challenging but there were others just zooming past me. The way up was exhausting, but I found the way down to be the worst; it had just rained the day before so the ground and leaves were moist, and I was definitely wearing the wrong shoes so I slipped and fumbled the entire way. The hike took around two hours, and afterwards we headed to a nearby restaurant where I experienced my first ever staff dinner. Staff dinners are very common in the Korean workplace, and are an entirely different experience from staff dinners back home. It was really nice to mingle with the homeroom teachers outside of work and see them let loose and relax. Everybody is always so kind to me, but I definitely felt like they were not as self conscious about speaking English with me once they had a couple of soju shots in them (soju is the Korean equivalent of cheap vodka). Overall I'm really enjoying cultural & leisure days, and I'm looking forward to the next one.
Seoul as seen from a peak at Mt. Bukhansan

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

playing catch up

So I've pretty much put this blog on the back burner since arriving in Korea, and I definitely didn't plan on that. I just got...busy/forgetful/insertotherlameexcuseshere. After chatting with some friends, and reading through blogs of fellow teacher, I've been motivated to pick this up again. If not for the people who may or may not read this, but for myself. I'm not yet sure if I'll continue teaching after this year, but I definitely know that I'll want to remember these moments in the future. It's impossible to recall in detail everything that I've done since arriving in Seoul, but I'll attempt to catch you up via list form on the events that stand out most in my mind:
-During the last weekend of September Chuseok happened. I've been told that Chuseok is the Korean equivalent of American Thanksgiving, and thanks to that we were off school for three days. During this time my former roommate, and good friend from uni came over from japan for a short visit. Since neither one of us has family in Korea we couldn't celebrate the holiday as it's meant, so instead we spent the time playing tourists in Seoul. We went sightseeing, shopping, ate loads of delicious food, and finished off with a trip to South Korea's largest theme park, Everland.
-First visit to a Jjimjilbang. I was too chicken to try out the naked spa, and opted out for rotating in and out of the sauna and napping on the floor.
-First language cast meetup. I've gotten into the habit of only hanging out with my fellow teacher friends, and haven't really met any local Seoulites so I thought this would be a great way to meet new people and learn some Koreanl I only accomplished one of those things. I met new people, but they were only interested in bettering their English skills so no Korean was spoken.
-First weekend trip. I found a group through facebook that does weekend trips to various locations, and the one that caught my eye was going to Jinju (a small town about 4 hours South of Seoul) for the Floating Lantern Festival. I went with some friends, and we spent the first day exploring Jinju, and taking silly pictures with the awesome lanterns. On Sunday before heading back to Seoul we went on a Hike through some pretty amazing temples, but unfortunately I can't recall the name of the place.

I'm sure there is much else I could write about, but unfortunately I tend to have the memory of a goldfish and I can't remember much else without pulling up Facebook and looking through photos (and I'm at school with co-workers at the moment, so I can't really do that). The weather now is really cold, entirely too cold considering we are supposed to be in Fall right now.
As far as teaching goes... well, everyday is a challenge, but luckily not all challenges are bad. Fourth grade is loads of fun, but sixth grade is more intense. They are at that weird stage where everything is boring, and even if I manage to come up with something fun and interesting, they are still too cool to show that they are actually having fun learning. I was told I have my first open class coming up next month; open class is when the principal, vice principal and headteacher sit in and observe one of your classes, and then I guess they let you know what you're doing well and what you should change. My co-teacher said this is important because it determines whether they renew my contract or not.

So I think that's it for today's catch up session. Hopefully the next time I write it will be about more current things so I can give better details, and have pictures to go along!

walkway from my school to bus stop

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2 monthsss

I have been in Korea for two months and 2 days now. Great accomplishment considering some people (myself included) didn't think I would make it past two weeks. ahhh..