Wednesday, March 4, 2009

tired tired

I moved into my apartment on Monday. I have no computer at work and did not have an ethernet cable in the apartment, so I was not able to go online for a few days. I didn't really notice it though because I've been pretty busy.

At school they still dont know what to do with me, but I think I'll get my class schedule tomorrow. It sounds like they want me to do two conversational English classes with the 1st year students (10th grade) every week, which is pretty weird because that means they are neglecting their 2nd and 3rd year students (11th and 12th grades). Someone told me it was because they have to focus on their listening and reading skills (as those are the two that get tested on the national SATs). This means that I will have to prepare twice as many lessons as all of the EPIK teachers because I'm seeing these students twice a week. Also, I am going to be doing an English Club after school once per week and I might be doing some classes to teach English to the other teachers.

Most of the other teachers work from 7:40 until 5:20, but those that teach 3rd year students (12th grade) stay an extra hour because the students study really hard for the national exam. But they are more flexible with me, and I have been doing 8:50 until 5:20. I start teaching on Monday. They told me not to use any textbooks. They want me to make classes that will focus on conversation, because the Korean style of teaching mainly neglects this aspect. Right now the students only feel comfortable with very basic sentences, such as "Hello" and "How are you?" So my goal is to build their confidence so that they can try to create their own sentences. In their classes with the Korean teachers, when they speak the dialog is mainly scripted so they don't really have to think about what they are saying.

Tomorrow I am meeting with the Principal and Vice Principal to discuss my lesson plans for the students. I don't really have much planned as I didn't have a computer at school and I had no internet access at home. The first class will be talking about me mainly and I will let them ask questions, and the second class will be on talking about yourself and asking questions to their classmates. It should be simple enough to pair them up and do an "interview" with the other person. I'm going to try to do as much pair- and groupwork as possible so that they get lots of time to speak.

I moved into my apartment on Monday. I was so tired after shopping for and moving everything that I still dont have it completely set up. Its small, but I like it and it feels cozy. Some of it is confusing though because nothing works the same as it does in the States. For example, the heating unit control is very complicated, because it controls all of the heat in the floor and the water. But to get water hot enough for a shower I need to divert it from all other parts of the apartment. I am trying to wash clothes right now, but the washing machine is much different and all of the buttons are in Korean. I called on of the teachers from school and she tried to walk me through it, but my machine is different from the one she has. So hopefully it will turn out alright.... cross your fingers for me.

I haven't bought any clothes here, but I went shopping for sandals. My feet are not particularly large (size 11) but they didn't have anything that fit me. Last night I treated my co-worker Sujin to dinner for all of her help when I was shopping for furniture and buying everything I need for my apartment (which was alot). She took 5 or 6 hours out of her day to help me. We went to this Korean restaurant where you cook the food in your table. We had Beef, onions, and mushrooms... it was quite tasty. And no matter where you eat, whether it is the school cafeteria (i ate there today) or the fanciest restaurant, they always serve the same side dishes. So I am getting a little sick of kimchi, rice, and pickled radishes.

Today I went out to eat/drink with a few other EPIK teachers from the United States. We also got some shopping done for the basic necessities.

I took some pictures of my apartment after I got all the furniture set up on Monday. If nothing else, maybe it can help Bob get some ideas for asian influences that he can incorporate into his condo.

There are no sheets for beds here. Rather, you get a small pad/sheet(the pink one) and lay it on top of the mattress. Then you get a comforter or two to sleep under. All of the mattresses are really stiff (because its better for your back supposedly) and some Koreans still sleep on the floor. The boxes next to my bed are for clothes (as i dont have a closet or dresser). Some Koreans use a heated blanket under them when they sleep (maybe because they are used to sleeping in the heated floors??)

The view from my bed towards my front door. On the left if my desk and on the right is the heating controls for the floor/water. Off camera to the right is my bathroom. There are no walls on the shower, so everything in the bathroom gets thoroughly drenched when I shower.

A small area to take your shoes off when you enter. There is a closet opposite the door to put your shoes in, as there isnt much space to leave them lying around. It seems like anything with shoelaces is a bad idea, because of how often you have to take your shoes off. The bottled water is Jeju Spring Water. Jeju is a tropical island province... basically their equivelant of Hawai'i.

You can see the "closet" that I have. I'm very proud of it because I assembled it myself without using the instructions. Unlike in the States, the instructions were only in one language, not eight. They pretty much assume that everyone in Korea speaks Korean. The desk is actually quite large, so it also serves as my dining room table and an all purpose storage space. I put a mirror on it too. They really like mirrors here, because they are somewhat obsessed with appearance (and because everything in the bathroom gets demolished when you shower, so its good to have a mirror elsewhere).

Ok, that was a long post... gotta go.

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