Thursday, August 30, 2012

Made It Out Alive... Day 1 of Being A "Real" Teacher

Today was my first "real" teaching day. Up until now, I've been shadowing and trying to learn everything about all my classes while watching Maggie Teacher run around like a crazy person. I've been taking notes every day, but I still feel like I've missed so much information. Around 6pm every day, it took a lot of effort to keep my brain powered on. Sometimes information would do the in-one-ear-out-the-other trick. I frequently asked Maggie Teacher to repeat what she said. There is so much to learn!

But, today was day 1. I am officially "Chelsea Teacher" to about 100 Korean kids. Since today was Thursday, I was actually meeting my classes for the first time. Three of the classes had exams, and another had a "pop" exam from Jackie Teacher (will get to this later...) I guess I'll go in order.

First block, I have free. I don't know how I managed this, but I am not complaining! It's only T/Th that I have this luxury, but I'm pleased. I prepped before class, making sure I had everything for the exams, and was prepared for the other classes. Maggie came in for a couple hours to finish up her paperwork, and helped me get ready.

Second block (my first class) was New Hi Kids and they had an exam. Since the class was large, about 10 students. The exam has 3 parts: Listening, Reading, and Speaking. Listening is done as a class, everyone listening to the computer read out the questions, and the kids marking in their test booklet. Reading is straightforward, normal test procedure. And Speaking involves the students coming into the hallway one at a time with the teacher to orally answer questions. Being a large class, I had to get some help. I did Speaking exams while Michelle Teacher also did some, and Phoebe Teacher watched the class. It was a bit overwhelming! We finally finished, and moved on to the next class, which was also New Hi Kids, but there were only 2 students in that class. Same procedure.

Third class was my 2SAP kids, 4 little girls whom I see every day, and they had a test AND a quiz as well. The girls are so sweet and cute, but they are talkative and have so much energy! We got through listening, and I began speaking. I sat by the door window to keep an eye on them while doing speaking with the individual students in the hallway. These students have more work and higher standards. They have to verbally answer questions, sight-read a paragraph, and recite a memorized summary of the book we've been reading.

By the time we finished the exam and the speaking, they could only finish part of their Word Quiz. We will have to finish that up tomorrow. Like I said, the girls are precious and dead smart, but hyperactive and I think one may have a touch of ADD.

My fourth class was 3SAP (similar to 2SAP but much larger class of 10 students and I only see 2 days per week). We were already 2 days behind; one day was taken up from a speaking contest last week, and the typhoon day put the class even more behind. Today was supposed to be those 2 days combined, and next class have another 2 days crammed to be fully caught up. Well, the best laid plans... 3 minutes before class, Jackie Teacher tells me we will be having an unplanned placement exam. It should "only" take about 20-25 minutes. Awesome... But, gotta go with it! So, we give the exam which ends up taking 35 minutes, and barely get through 1 days worth of work, and still had to assign extra homework. :( Poor kids... Jackie Teacher and I went over the lesson plans and decided we should rewrite them tomorrow. It was a bit overwhelming. Not only am I new to teaching, I've never had this class before, and now I'm having to modify what was already planned. Stress!!

My last class was the only class of the day without an exam. *Phew!* We did "Reading Engine" which was basically reading an article and doing a ton of questions together. One students didn't have her book, and protocol is to make copies of another student's book for her to work on. Since it was my first day with these kids and I've already gotten so behind in my last class, AND I'm also behind in this class, I decide to skip taking 5 minutes to make the girl copies. I tell her to read along with her neighbor, write down her answers, and copy them into her book when she gets home. I hope I don't get in trouble for this, but I wouldn't have gotten through all the material if I had taken the time to leave the classroom.

That last class also had a problem child. In Korea, it is very rude to eat or drink in class. Extremely disrespectful. So, kids are not allowed to have snacks, water, or candies during class. Well, when I walked in they were still snacking from Break. I told them to put everything up, and 5 minutes later I see Alicia just munching away. I tell her again to put it up. We do some more work and then I see her get some candy out of her bag. I tell her "Alicia, put the candy away. If I see it out one more time, we will go in the hall and have a discussion." Side note: apparently being pulled out of class for bad behavior is super embarrassing. She finally put it up, but I can tell she's going to be a handful.

After classes, we had an hour to work on things before we could leave. I graded a lot of my tests, but still wasn't done by 9 o'clock. I will have a few hours of prep tomorrow to work on them, and I feel moderately prepared for tomorrow's classes. I really can't wait to get the hang of the classes, I feel so flustered!

On a slightly different note, okay, a totally different note: this morning I had a minor meltdown. Staying in the motel is really hard, not just because it is gross as hell, but there is NO way to cook or reheat anything. I have no stove, no oven, no microwave. Nothing! So, I must eat out. Well, no one has explained anything to me. I know of 2 restaurants and I don't really like either. Breakfast is hard, because there is only bakeries around me. So, I've been having rolls and pastries every morning. They are good, but when all you eat the rest of the day is the rice that the school makes and maybe some crackers, it is not too great. I never thought I'd say "I'm so sick of all carbs!"

So, this morning I set out on yet another attempt to find some semblance of a hot breakfast. Of course, nothing. Plus, it's raining cats and dogs. I get home and talk to mom. And I completely lose it. I am so frustrated by the situation! I don't know what the signs mean, so I'm too scared to go in places. They don't speak English, only half have pictures of the food, and even then I dont actually know what goes in it! I am scared to ask the other teachers where to go, for fear of looking like the princess of the group.

My mom, of course, wants to try to help me fix it so she's telling me to ask the teachers or go to this neighborhood or that place. Well, obviously I've thought of those things before and they don't work! So, I'm frustrated and so hungry it hurts. I hang up and call Michael; by this time it's certifiably sobbing.  He gets me to calm down eventually, and I decide to go to the Lotteria in my neighborhood (remember Lotteria, McDonald's ripoff from this weekend?). I mean, it's not very good and it's greasy, but I can get protein in the form of chicken strips. So that's something!

Well, then I get to work and see that in addition to the rice, the lunch lady made some kind of marinated pork. My Korean friend, Michelle, told me to try it. I got some, and with the hot rice on it, it heated up (for some reason, Koreans like a lot of weird things served cold... I'm confused but it seems to be the case...), and it was actually good! I had a whole bowl. I was so proud of myself for trying something new and actually liking it!

By the time school was over, I was hungry again (my stomach is being so greedy now that it's actually getting some nutrition!). I asked Michelle would she mind maybe showing me some places in the area to eat, or what common signs on restaurants mean. She was so sweet and agreed. But, we wouldn't be able to meet until next week, because of timing conflicts. I was just very happy I asked and she didn't think I was some crazy white girl.

On the way home from work, I mentioned to Erin that I'd like to know where restaurants in our area were, and what they served. I mentioned that I kind of liked the kimbap the school served on Friday (I mean, not really, but I forced it down.) She said, "Oh! Yea, there's a kimbap place right next to us! I'll show you!" I could hear the heavens singing Hallelujah!! She took me on the way home, and I got a kimbap roll. It was the equivalent of a little over $1! **The server is down or I would be adding photos of my kimbap :) will add soon!**

Kimbap looks similar to sushi rolls, but it does not have any fish! Usually they have tofu or ham (or both) plus some veggies and other bits and bobs. I honestly don't know what all was in mine, but I picked out the large yellowish blob because I didn't care for the texture. It was hard like a carrot.

I just think it's so amazing that when I get so down about something here, God really looks out for me. I knew this trip would be good for me, help to grow. But I didn't realize the lessons would be so quick. I know God doesn't always give us exactly what we want when we want it, but He provides! I was so hungry this morning, I cried out to Him, and He answered my prayers. It wasn't BBQ or mac and cheese, but it was food I could eat, and my stomach doesn't hate me anymore (or at least quite so much...)

One more amazing thing before I end this one... Michelle, my Korean friend, is awesome. Uploading a photo of her wall post to me today. I love her! I can't wait to be better friends with her. Hehehe!

Last Day of Training

As the title implies, today was my last day of "training." Since we had the typhoon yesterday, I wasn't able to meet my Tues/Thurs classes, so class tomorrow will be the first time I meet them and I get to teach alone! Talk about nerve wracking....

Today went by very fast. I woke up at 8am to make sure my day felt fulfilling. I don't like work being the only thing I accomplish in a day. I like to take my time in the morning. So, I woke up and got ready. So happy I was able to actually blow dry my hair! I'll have to get used to the new dryer; it's a bit different from mine. Once I get in my apartment I think I'll feel more comfortable getting ready; can set up a little vanity area with all my products.

With face and hair done, I got my yellow boots on (rain in the forecast!) and headed out for breakfast. I had spied a waffle/gelato place down the main street from me while on the bus the other day. I headed in that direction. It was closer than I thought, and I went inside. I ordered a waffle with strawberries and cream. I was practically drooling for something warm for breakfast. All I've had thus far was pastries from the bakery. While this didn't have any significant contribution to my daily protein intake, it was better than I've had in a while.

In fact, when my buzzer rang and I went to get my order, I was quite surprised. Instead of something like the sample in the window, I got a mountain of whipped cream and strawberries. I was hesitant about this, but after my first bite, I was in love. The waffle was hot and the cream must have been homemade. The strawberries weren't the freshest, but still quite good. All in all, it was heaven in my mouth.

After wiping up every bit of whipped cream, I walked back to the apartment. I wanted a nice side of bacon and a couple eggs, but that's not very Korean.... so no where does that. The portion of the waffle was a great example of why Koreans, and the rest of the world, are not nearly as fat as most Americans. An order of waffles at any American diner would have had about 3x as much food on the plate. But, I was satisfied with the portion. It's all in your mind...

Well, anyway. I spent the morning on FaceTime with Michael and watching Big Bang Theory. When it was time to go to work, I felt ready!

At work, I was put to work immediately. Maggie Teacher gave me a list of classes to prep for and what exactly to do. It was the first time I'd felt useful and like I was getting somewhere in my "training." I basically found and photocopied the materials I would need for my next few classes. We had tests in most classes for the day, and Maggie Teacher had already prepared those. I was getting ready for "my" classes! When the bell rang for our first period class, I was surprised almost 2 hours had already passed.

Classes went quickly; each test has multiple parts, one being a speaking part. The teacher has to give that part in the hall to students individually. In our first class, there were 8 students so we both gave speaking tests at the same time. It went very fast! Second class had a test administered by Jackie Teacher (head Korean teacher) because it was like the equivalent of a Final Exam. After they finished, we went over workbook pages for the rest of the class period.

Third period was also a test we gave, with speaking. While students did a listening portion (listened to a cd recording and answered questions about it), I started grading tests from previous classes. Maggie Teacher showed me how to score. Mostly, on subjective questions, we are fairly lenient. Maggie Teacher gives lots of half credit.

Fourth period is my 2SAP kids, the girls I see everyday instead of either MWF or T/Th. They are so precious. They gave Maggie Teacher cards for her last day. We had a review in class and their test will be tomorrow.

Fifth period is the hour long class, and we gave a test there too. It was extremely low key, as was sixth period (almost the same class). By the end, I had graded almost all the exams. It was good I had kept up with grading, because Maggie Teacher had to put in grades today since it was her last day. We ended up staying 30 minutes late to finish up report cards and for me to be done with prep for the next day. Hopefully prep gets easier and faster!

So, tomorrow is my first day alone as the kids' teacher. I am nervous, but weirdly excited! I know that I will be good at this, just as soon as I get the whole system figured out :) I suppose I should go to bed soon... I can't wait to move out of this place! Friday I should be in my new place. Thank goodness!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Typhoon Day

Today, school was cancelled. I was so thankful for that when I found out last night, and it's been so wonderful. Although I woke up early, it allowed me to talk to my mom and dad, and Michael, and get some necessary internet surfing done, all before noon. I took a shower and watched a movie ("Jeff Who Lives At Home" which I was skeptical about at first, but ended very good!) while Sean mooched off my internet for a while. All in all, it was a very lazy morning...

Around 2, Jamie came by and I let her use my internet as well. (What a nice person I am! Haha) We decided that if the typhoon was supposed to get bad tonight, we should get some food early. We gathered Sean and all went to a Japanese restaurant around the corner. I was very glad to go somewhere with a menu in English.

Jamie recommended the cold buckwheat noodles, so I tried them (couldn't be too crazy, right?), and got the "set" with sushi and rolls (2 pieces of some kind of sushi roll, and 2 pieces of sushi on rice). I can't seem to find my camera cord, but I will try to add a photo of my dinner later. It was pretty good! I wish I had gotten more meat, chicken maybe. But, I'm quite nervous to order something and end up hating it. Noodles seemed safe, and as it would be my only true meal of the day, I went with it.

We stopped at a convenience store after to get snacks for the night. We were thinking that the typhoon must be getting close, since thus far we hadn't experienced much of anything. I got a packet of some cookies and a packet of these hazelnut straw things.

When we got back, Jamie & Sean decided it was a movie afternoon. We went to Sean's room and watched Titanic on TV. There is something about that movie that really gets to me. I love it, but it just makes me nervous! The whole time, I'm just thinking "oh my gosh, in 30 minutes they'll be swimming down that hallway rather than running..." etc. So, when it was about time for the ship to hit the iceberg, I abandoned the proverbial ship in favor of Big Bang Theory on my computer.

When I got back, I realized that since the typhoon thus far had yet to make a true appearance, and stores seemed to be open, that I would try out BauHaus (department store on my block) for some clothes. I have been feeling frumpy as compared to my other teachers, and the majority of my clothes are fall weather clothes. Monday I just about died of heat stroke, and it doesnt' seem to be cooling down anytime soon. So, I'm going to invest in a few pieces of summer weather work clothes.

When I got to BauHaus, it still hadn't really started raining. I wore my new wellies since I could (hehe) and found a few things on sale. I tried one dress on, and it was so cute! Only problem was it barely covered my butt. Literally, it fit perfect everywhere else, but could have passed for a shirt. I couldn't see myself actually wearing pants with it because it was fairly tight, so I passed. I went up a level, but couldn't find anymore women's clothes. But, I found the hair dryers.

Now, I've looked at these blow dryers before, a few days ago. This time, however, I had an English-speaking salesperson. (This is an anomaly). He saw me looking at the dryers and recommended one, told me it was "the best brand in Korea, very famous". He even plugged it in and let me test drive it. I loved that! I needed to see it in action, and he provided that. It took me all of 30 seconds to decide "I'll take it!" It was 39,000 W (around $35) which is dirt cheap compared to my dryer at home which was about $100. I think I will really appreciate having a good dryer!

Even though I couldn't find any clothes, the hair dryer made me confident that even if my clothes weren't cute the next few days (I am going shopping on Saturday and will come home with something!), that if my hair looked good and I did my makeup, I would feel much better about my appearance.

On the way back to the motel, something funny happened. But first, I must explain my motel. I haven't gotten around to doing this because I've had so much else to talk about. But since today was such a slow, lazy day, I actually have time for it.

This is the motel every new teacher at my school must stay in for approximately a week until we can move into our apartments. Therefore, it is famous. When we had dinner with the teachers the first night, they asked how we liked the "love motel." Eh, it was okay. They had a laugh when we were asked the question, and explained that it is called a "love motel" because in Korea, many young adults still live with their families, so couples have to have somewhere to go for "alone time." They said it was even pay by the hour. *Woooowwww....*

The room is extremely basic, but once I found out it's true purpose, I saw the signs: condoms at the front desk checkin, a toothbrush provided, some toiletries to spruce up after, a water machine in the corner, and almost no bed linens (this last point is probably quite common in Korea). So, basically, I'm staying at the sleaze-inn. Great.

So, when I walked back to the motel, someone had just gone in before me. I paused to see if it was a teacher before I followed, but didn't recognize the person. When I walked up the steps, the girl turned left and sort of hid behind the stairs while a guy talked to the front desk guy and grabbed a handful of condoms and stuffed them in his pocket. I tactfully avoided eye contact with either person, and avoided looking at them in general. I just find it funny to actually see someone checking in! Obviously, Sean, Jamie & I are temporarily living here, so we're here often, but we don't usually see anyone else. I suppose they come & go at odd hours... Haha! Gross.

Well, not much of anything happened today... the typhoon hardly made an appearance. Some wind and a bit of rain in early afternoon, but nothing like I was expecting. I guess that's good! It meant I could go out and get something done on my day off. Now, the rest of the night will be dedicated to watching movies on the computer. :)

The Great Cell Phone Quandary

Since before I left for Korea, really before I even signed my contract, I've been attempting to find out about using an iPhone or iPad in Korea. In the states, I did not have a contract (rather, month-to-month) and used an iPhone and an iPad with data. In Korea, I've already been having a time not having access to the internet while on the go. Subway stations are fairly easy to navigate, but the many lines and different directions on each line can be a headache. There are apps that make getting around and life in Korea much more bearable and user-friendly, so to speak. However, getting an iPhone plan here is an even bigger headache.

I would be totally okay having a basic flip phone, if I could access the internet another way. Before I got here, I'd heard that Seoul had wifi almost anywhere. While this is pretty much true, it's misleading. Almost every business has wifi, but this is confined to buildings, not on-the-go. The wifi networks outside are available but either require a login or to purchase access to the wifi.

iPhone plans are 2 year contracts, and you rent the phone instead of buying it. These two factors are deterrents for me to want to go that route. After a week of life without instant internet access, I decided that I really do need it. Well, I really do want it. :)

Now, rather than sign a whole new contract, I could possibly take over someone else's contract (a lot of expats are here for a year at a time, and need to transfer their line to a someone else when they leave the country.). I would be up for this, but it's pretty expensive. While researching just how expensive, I came across a link to KT Global Store Blog. I'd seen this before, while in the states, but it's somewhat hard to figure out all the details. Today, I looked at it again, but this time I saw the section labeled "Data Lifetime Plan" - hmmm, "data" is the word for iPads getting online, and this infers that there is no "Talk/Text" on the plan (this is a good thing).

The brilliant thing about this website is that they have someone logged into Twitter and they respond in real time to questions you have. Granted, 160 characters or less, but it's great for quick things. I asked,

olleh_expats are these data plans for iPad by contract or month-to-month? this is for those who already own an iPad?

Here in Korea, like the cell phones, users do not purchase the iPad, but pay extra on their monthly fees to rent the device. Since I already own my iPad, I wanted to make sure the data plans were available to those who already own. I turned off the computer for a while and cleaned my room up. When I got back online just now, I had a response from the twitter account!

chelseakaitlin Yes, these are the iPad plans, and they can be used with both existing iPad users and those purchasing new ones. :)

WOOHOO!!!! I can't stop smiling!! This is so perfect! Now, I can pay the monthly fees for data on the iPad, not worry about renting a smartphone, and just get a prepaid talk/text cheapy flip phone! This ultimately saves me a lot of money and headaches and contracts and hassle at the end of my stay. YAY!!!!!!

This is a topic I never found a clear answer to during my preparations in the states. So, to those of you who stumbled upon this blog looking for the answer to the question "Can I use my 3G/4G iPad with a SIM card in Korea?" the answer seems to be "YES!" - I'm not sure it's a physical SIM card, such as the states use, but I will find out when I go to the Global Store this weekend.

I am so happy this worked out!!! Now, I just need to find a bag/purse that I can carry my iPad around in! :) I might even be able to get an app that can call/text with Korean numbers, and avoid the whole Korean cell phone entirely! Double yay!

Health Check & More

1:11am Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - Seoul

Today has been a really weird day. Ultimately, I guess, it was good.

Last night I decided to set my alarm for 10am and force myself to sleep until it went off. I wanted to have a lot of sleep to be prepared for my long day at work. Getting used to 1pm-9pm work days is difficult. I have to stay up later to get anything done, and therefore need to sleep a little later to have my full nights sleep.

Well, I woke up around 7:30am, and made myself go back to sleep. Suddenly, I open my eyes and click my iPad and it's already 10:20. Now, this would be okay any other day of the week. But Mondays, teachers have to be in the office at noon, rather than 1pm, to make up for the hour we take off on Friday evenings leaving at 8pm. So, I have 1 hr 20 min before the other teachers come to collect me for our mile trek to school.

I get a shower, but my blow dryer in my motel room is the worst thing known to man. I attempt to dry my hair, but for whatever reason, my hair isn't havin' it. It dries, with absolutely no style or body whatsoever. This can be fixed, with a pony tail... which, I cannot find. I even open my giant suitcase and sift through the tons of clothes and items in there, to no avail. I barely have time to slap on some foundation before I hear a knock on my door. On top of bad hair and no makeup, my attire felt wrong. I think the females reading this know what I mean when you just feel like you look bad. It affects your entire outlook on life.

We start the walk to school and I quickly realize this is going to be bad. It is in the mid-90s with about 90% humidity, and I'm in jeans, sperrys, and a shirt which requires an undershirt. What was I thinking? 20 minutes later I trudge into school looking like I just attempted to try out for the Olympics; sweat drenched and nasty. I find a rubber band (a la 3rd grade) and use it as a pony tail holder. At least it's off my neck...

After a quick meeting with Jackie Teacher (a Monday morning ritual), Maggie Teacher starts prep for the day. We look at the tests we have to give this week and start making copies. Around 1:15pm, Jackie Teacher calls Sean & I over, and explains that originally we were going to get our health checks tomorrow afternoon, but the impending typhoon might interfere. Therefore, we needed to go back to the motel to get our passports so we can go to the hospital today. Great, another mile back to get the bloody passport, and another mile back.

Sean, Jamie, & I all walk back, retrieve our passports (and I change into shorts and a single shirt) and head back. I also take my ginormous bottle of water from my fridge. I'm thankful for the refreshment, but quickly realize carrying the damn bottle back to the school will be a hassle. I need a bag. Something cross-body but large enough for my iPad, a bottle of water, and other things I want to take to work like maybe a lunch one day. (Mental note to add this to my growing list of things I need).

Now, before I go on, is it clear that today is just not going my way? I look gross, I feel gross; you reap what you sew and I was definitely watering the budding negative thoughts. I felt alone and miserable. Every little thing annoyed the hell out of me, and I'm sure I had a look about me that said "Don't even think about speaking to me if you value your life." Is the picture in your mind clear? Okay, great...

One of the Korean "desk teachers" aka admin assistants takes us in a taxi to the Dongdaemun Hospital. On the way, Sean & Jamie are talking about this and that, everything under the sun. I was at a loss; I wanted to jump out of the cab and into oncoming traffic. (Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration, but still).

I couldn't think of anything else to do so I started praying. I told God about my horrible start to my day, and I forced myself to say one positive thing for every negative one. My hair keeps coming out poorly - well, it can be fixed with better shampoo and a nice blow dryer. I'm hot and sweaty - at least I got the chance to change clothes. I was tired from too much sleep - at least I get out of the classroom for a few hours to get the health check. I have to get a flippin' health check - at least I get to sit in an air conditioned building for a few hours. Etc, etc.

This only lasted about 2 minutes, then my mind wandered off and we were at the hospital. We followed the desk teacher in, and sat waiting for them to process our paperwork for about 15 minutes. I noticed that the school actually paid for the health check. I had read online that we needed to fork over the cash for this, but they covered it. Sweet! Another bonus!

The health check went like this: blood pressure machine (76/86... is this bad?), then colorblind test (passed with flying colors, heh heh!), eyesight check (my contacts helped but I still didn't get 20/20...), height/weight measurements (I'm not listing my weight, but when I converted kg to lb, I knew I would be thankful for those mile walks to school when I drop some lbs or kgs or whatever). After this, a lady asked us some questions in moderately decent English. The usual - ever had any XYZ problems? (liver, brain, kidney, etc) No, no, no. Promise I'm healthy!

**T.M.I. WARNING!!!**
The next part of the exam, I wish I hadn't taken out my camera to make room in my purse for a brush! We had to give a urine sample, and I came into proximity (not contact) with my first real Korean toilet. This amounts to a hole in the ground. I could see how it was supposed to work, but getting my drawers down and aiming correctly seemed to be mutually exclusive. I am ashamed to say that, instead of figuring out the physics of peeing in a hole while squatting and keeping my pants on, I just took my pants off. Somehow I got them off while keeping my shoes on (thank goodness I got out of the jeans and into shorts at my room earlier), and proceeded to make efficient use of the toilet.

That was a somewhat traumatizing experience; I wish I'd had a camera to show you how odd this looked in a modern hospital! I'm posting another blogger's photo of a Korean toilet that is pretty much exactly what this one looked like...

Anyway! Moving on... next was the blood! I was nervous for this part; everyone had told me that they take a lot. Not as much as donating, but a fair amount. I've had blood drawn plenty in my life, but never an obscene amount, and never as a donation. Therefore, I had no idea what to expect from what I was told would be "a lot!" I gave up my arm (surprisingly my right arm, not my left like usual) and averted my eyes. Before I got my head turned around, I saw the viles he would be filling. There was only 3! And one was smaller than the other two. I felt much better about this. He was done in a minute, and I was totally fine. :)

Last part was a chest x-ray and dental exam that were less than 15 seconds each. That is not an exaggeration. All in all, the health exam was basic and quick. Nothing painful or terribly time consuming. Literally, I didn't even sit down for the dental exam; the lady just told me to open my mouth and looked in. She said they looked good and booted me out. Hey, I'm not complaining!

By the time the health exam was done, I realized that I was in a better mood! I could attribute it to the air conditioned building, but I think it was a God thing. ;)

When we got back to the school, I had a bowl of rice with egg drop soup on top. I think the soup had tofu in it, but I didn't even care. I was so hungry by that point. Hunger is a feeling I'm becoming much more accustomed to...

I went with Maggie Teacher to the last 3.5 classes and took rigorous notes. In the first full class I was in with her, she had to step into the hall at one point. We were 5 minutes behind, so she asked me to do the next exercise with the kids on the board. The sudden pressure was on! I got up and just "winged it" ("wung it?"). Maggie Teacher came back in halfway through, but I continued the exercise with the kids.

After I was done with the page, she resumed control of the class, but told me I did good. In fact, after introducing the next topic and doing the first exercise, she invited me to lead another exercise. I think I did okay! The kids giggled a little, but at least they understood and got the questions right. :) It was a bit scary, but I know I'll be okay once I get the hang of things.

Before our last class of the day, we had a 10 minute break and I got to meet the new Korean teacher, Michelle. She will sit right behind me in our offices. She learned her English in Australia where she lived and studied for 9 years. She was so incredibly sweet. It was really cool to meet another newbie, but one on the "other" side of things (Korean side). She shadowed the last class with me, I was so excited! I really want to try to become friends with her outside of work. I need a Korean! And she seems absolutely awesome! That definitely lifted my spirits! I was already feeling better, but that was a great pick-me-up. And the best part, our conversation all started when I complimented her Louis Vuitton handbag. Looks like my time in sorority recruitment practice paid off ;)

During the break when I met Michelle I also found out that our school decided to follow the lead of every single public school in Korea: closing on Tuesday for Typhoon Bolaven. The school is more of a business, and close very rarely. I think this storm is supposed to be pretty bad, if they made the decision to close! But, that gave me another thing to smile about - a day to recuperate from my terrible hair day!

I decided that if I was going to be stuck indoors all day tomorrow, and if I didn't want to end up with the same hair on Wednesday morning as this morning, I should head to a store and get some Dove Shampoo and check out the hair dryers. One of the other English teachers took Sean & I to HomePlus, which is basically Korean Target (win!!!). I got my favorite shampoo and conditioner, some crackers and other nibbles for the day tomorrow.

Taxi home and that's about it to my day. It was an extremely long and emotionally exhausting day. Typhoon day tomorrow!! I'm mixed excited and scared... Pray for everyone's safety, but I'm also thanking God for the day off! ;)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Adventure Part II

After my last blog, I met up with Tab. She is a girl that is from my hometown of Perryton, Texas. We didn't really know each other when I lived there, since I was so young and we were not in the same grade. But, a mutual friend put us in touch before we left for Korea. She has been here a few more weeks than me. Tonight we got to meet for the first time! Well, first time we can both remember.

We met at Hongik University subway station. She was familiar with the area, so I met her there. We wanted to get dinner, but since neither of us knew where to go, we just wandered around for like an hour. We went in one restaurant, sat down, but never got any service! So we left. We saw a Hello Kitty! cafe on one side street. Tab insisted we take photos.

Hello Kitty Cafe
Another store we saw was Frisbee. I had read about it on a blog, it's an Apple Authorized Reseller. It's the best place in Seoul to buy Apple Products. It tries to look like an Apple Store, and in my humble opinion, has better accessoies! Haha!

"Apple" store!
See how it looks so much like our store?
Finally, we went to a place that served "Spanish Spicy Chicken" - when we went in, the cute little girl working explained the process to us: order first, then sit and meal is delivered. She also took us through the entire menu. I suspect she wanted to practice her English descriptions of the meals. She was really good though! I ended up getting Spanish Chicken Dinner aka some chicken on the bone grilled with spicy sauce, potatoes and some other kind of side. It was quite nice! Tab got Chicken Paella. We sat and ate and talked for a while.

When we were finished, we decided to walk around the Hongdae area. It was so much more "happenin'" than my part of town! It's next to a university, so I think that contributes to the trendiness. I also liked that many more of the shops had English signs or at least translations. Not all! But more than in my area.

We stopped at a cupcake place and each got a cupcake. It was more like a muffin as far as consistency, and the frosting was extremely light, not thick/creamy. We decided that it was probably healthier.

Vanilla Cupcake had such cute decorations and we loved the world map!
Choco Marshmallow and Choco Chip.
After the cupcakes, we wandered the streets some more. There were music performances and people trying to give us pamphlets, etc. It was so busy! Tab told me at night, when the party scene cranks up, it's insane and there is trash covering the ground and drunk people passed out everywhere.

All the lights! Hongdae area.
We kept seeing stores that said DVD on them, and were curious what they were. We went in one and found out it was where you could rent movies and then watch them in private rooms. It was so sketchy at first, but turned out to be fairly innocent. I mean, I'm sure some dirty things happen behind closed doors, but the movies were normal movies! and the guy working asked us if we wanted to use one of the rooms. So, who knows! It felt like we were going to do a drug deal, though, the way we had to go up stairs and in dark hallways to get to the store. 

We also accidentally found a karaoke room! These are wildly popular in Korea. When you're out with your friends, the cool thing to do when drunk is go to a private karaoke room and get crazy. (Apparently, I had the cool Korean thing going on on my birthday this year! We did the same thing, but in Houston!) We decided to save that adventure for another night.

While we didn't do karaoke, we did do something equally, if not more, Korean! We went in a "digital sticker" shop. It's basically like photo booths but you dress up and can choose backgrounds etc. It was hilarious and the shop keeper helped us the whole way. We chose wigs and accessories then got in the booth. He showed us how to choose "backgrounds" which showed up in the preview when our photos were snapped. After our little photo shoot, we got to edit the pictures. A few things were green screened, so we fixed those and other minor details. Then, we got prints and the man cut them into individuals. It was hilariously fun and super Korean. As we were leaving, 2 Korean girls came in to do it. Apparently it is popular! 

After we finished wandering the streets of Hongdae and getting up to a bit of mischief, we called it a night and headed back to our respective sides of town. I really wish Tab and I lived closer to each other. She is so fun and I KNOW we are going to be great friends! I wish we lived closer and could hang out more especially because she has a small school and doesn't have a great network of teachers like I do. But, I definitely will be bringing her to dinners and over to the apartment, so she will meet everyone. I can't wait for next weekend when she comes over! She will help me move into my apartment on Saturday. :)

Tomorrow is work, so I am going to bed early! 

Sunday Adventure

3:11pm Seoul

Today has felt really long. I suppose that is because I woke up at 6:45am and couldn't get back to sleep. Up til now, I've been good about sleeping long enough and not dealing with jet lag. I don't know why I was so awake so early on a Sunday. But, I've gotten to do a lot so far today.

I got to talk to my mom for about 30 minutes, and Michael for about an hour. It was so great! I also watch a few episodes of Big Bang on the computer, took a shower, and got my breakfast at Paris Baguette again. Those pastries are addicting. While I was talking to my mom/dad, I was drinking a coke leftover from last night's pizza with Sean. (Side note: last night Sean & I tried out Korean pizza. Well, not really Korean pizza; we did ask for it with no corn!). It was about a 1.5 Liter bottle, but it was all I had. So I was drinking out of the bottle while talking to my mom and they thought I was insane. Which, I probably did look like.

While talking to mom, we decided that I really need to get rain boots. There is a typhoon warning for tomorrow, and rain in the forecast for the next 10 days. Since I have a 15 minute walk to school each way, plus need to teach after getting drenched, wellies are a necessity. All the markets are closed on Sundays; we decided that name brand wellies from a department store might have to happen. I've wanted Hunters for like 3 years, so I decided I would just get those. A bit steeper price than USA, but they will last me for the year, plus some. I won't need to get new wellies next rainy season (which is next June-August).

I looked up how to get to the department store Lotte. It is supposed to be huge and have just about anything you need. This seemed like a great place to look. I asked Sean if he wanted to come, just to get out of the motel. Not much going on today, so thought he might want to get out. He said yes, so we left the motel around noon.

The subway was much more efficient today, although there was one hiccup. The internet said to exit at Euljiro Station, but when we got to the subway, we realized there are 3 stops called that. We chose the first one, and got off. We figured if it wasn't right, we could probably walk. We got off the subway, and headed to a hotel nearby. Sean grabbed a map and asked the Concierge where we were. He circled the hotel and we found Lotte; it was not next door, but not too far either. 

We headed down the street and after about 10 minutes, checked the map again. We found where we were in relation to the huge buildings surrounding us. We had only gone 1/3 of the way to Lotte! Ugghh! But, we had already committed to walking, and I wasn't going to wimp out. It was not a hard walk, per say. Only it was quite hot and pretty humid. We kept going and finally found it. 

The place is like the Harrods of Seoul
We looked at the directory when we got in and decided to head for the food court first. We got to the basement level where it was supposed to be and found a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and a Lotteria Restaurant. We didn't see anything else, so headed for Lotteria. When we got close, we realized it was basically a rip off of McDonalds. Everything about the marketing and signage was exactly like McDonalds.
Lotteria aka McDonalds Wannabes!
I wish you could read the names of the menu items, but there is European Burger and Beef Extreme and Shrimp Burger and Veggie Burger that looks insane on the bottom right. Sean ended up getting the Shrimp Burger. And for a side...? Squid Rings. I kid you not.

No caption necessary.

Squid Rings
I didn't have anything worthy of photos; chicken fillet (aka: chicken fingers). The batter was surprisingly slightly spicy: proof that Koreans love things with spice. I got potatoes aka: french fries. I swear these guys buy from the same provider as McDonalds; these were Mickey D's fries if I've ever had some! It was a nice change from Korean food.

After lunch, we split up so I could find my boots and he could browse. I wouldn't make any boy but Michael sit through trying on and picking out shoes. That is a torture reserved for the man who loves me. ;) When I looked at a map to find Shoes, I saw that there was a HUGE food court on the opposite side of the floor we ate on. UGH. 

In shoes, I couldn't find the boots, so I asked. They told me go to Women's on Floor 3. I went up the escalators, and hunted around the countless name brands / couture clothes and finally found Hunters boots. The man helped me figure out my size, but when it came time to choose the color, I pointed to the pink ones (the only bright color they had). He shook his head no. Um, okay? Why the hell not? He explained in extremely broken English that they were out of that color. Double UGH. He showed me the colors they did have. Grey, Dark Grey, Black, Metallic Silver, Extremely Dark Green, Dark Violet, and Red. I was leaning toward Red, but really conflicted. I had decided on a bright color, but Red doesn't really count as bright. I wanted so desperately to call or text my mom, but had neither my iPad n or my iPod Touch, and had no wifi to boot. I decided to take a walk around the level and see if I could find any other brands.

Thank goodness I did, because I came across the RockFish display (another British brand of rubber boots). They had literally a rainbow of colors. Pink, Orange, Yellow, Apple Green, and many others. The lady was so nice, and I tried on Orange first, then she brought me my size in Green and Yellow as well. She insisted I try all the colors on before I decided. I came down to Yellow or Green. I used to have the same color green wellies with apples on them, back at home. I loved them so much, but maybe I should try a new color? I asked 2 other employees and one told me that Yellow was "cute" (she knew the word "cute"! Adorable...) I went with Yellow :)

I love the yellow!!
The best part of this: The Hunters were 198,000 KW, about $170. The RockFishs were 78,000 KW, but also had 20% off! Putting them at 60-something,000 KW. Woohoo! What a deal! I also got some socks that are made to go with the boots, they add some fur on the top for winter or cold rainy days. Those were an additional 40,00 KW, but in total I paid around 102,000 KW: so much less than the Hunters plus I got socks as well! I'm SO happy!

What they will look like with the socks!
The sales lady was beyond sweet, and taught me how to say Thank You in Korean properly. I already forgot how, but I said it right to her and she was so happy. Yay! 

When I was checking out with the interpreter, she told me to take the receipt to Tax Free Lounge. I wandered down to that on the first level, and they had me fill out a form and stapled my receipt. I was kinda confused with the whole thing. Later, I read the envelope they put the form and my receipt in; basically if you turn in the envelope, you get your tax back at the airport. Great! But, in the fine print, it must be turned in/claimed within 3 months of the purchase. Bummer. 

Oh well, I'm not sweatin' it. I got the boots I love, I got a great price, I got some bonus socks, and I didn't get lost!!! Great day!

Sean and I met back up and headed back to the motel. Yesterday on the train, I snapped this photo of an advertisement for SeaWorld. See if you can find what made me laugh out loud:

In case you missed it, the seal has Korean eyes. I didn't realize sea animals inherited human attribute from the area they are in. ;)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Adventure

Saturday, August 25 4:30pm Seoul

Well, my first free day in Seoul has been interesting... My body woke up at 8:45am, but I thought it was earlier since I forgot my window doesn’t let in any light, no matter the time of the day. I laid in bed and watched TV for a few minutes, watched the end of a Criminal Minds on the English channel. I got a quick shower and debated to use the crappy hair dryer in my room. I think it is damaging my hair, and I’ve only used it 2x. Is that possible? Maybe its a combination of the water quality, new shampoo, and a crappy dryer. I decided that today I should get a nice hair dryer. Being the princess that I am, I think that is one thing I could spend a little more on. I mean, I’m trying to grow my hair out, and if it’s all broken and damaged by the end of my year here and I have to cut it all off again, I’ll be quite unhappy. 

Before I did anything, my goal was to get online. Jamie stopped by my room as I was packing up my computer. We walked to the coffee shop around the corner, but she decided to leave. We discussed shopping and agreed to meet up in an hour to go. I got to post a few blogs and check my emails. Surprisingly, despite being around 8-9pm back home, I didn’t get to talk to many people. 

I sat in the same coffee shop as the other day, but got some breakfast from Paris Baguette across the street. I found a delicious pastry with blueberry and cream cheese. It also had a glaze on the top that reminded me of the Colombian pastries Michael and I had in Miami. Anyway, it was delicious! I will be back for more... I also got a sugar donut twist, which was pretty good. 

After my hour was up, I headed back to meet Jamie. She wasn’t back yet, and Sean was still out running, so I sat down to watch a Big Bang Theory episode (thanks, Moon!). Jamie came by and watched with me when she got in. We had a knock on the door and I opened it to find 2 white girls I hadn’t seen before. It ended up being Chantal, a coworker who is also in the Kindergarten area (Jamie had met her before) and her Canadian friend visiting for the week. She invited us to accompany them for some sightseeing. Jamie and Sean decided to go, but I declined. I’m not good in groups anyway, and with the addition of 2 more new people, I knew I would be uncomfortable. Besides, it had started raining last night and continued through the night which prompted me to go searching for rain boots and a light rain jacket. I had heard of a place called COEX Mall, so I decided to try there. 

So I set out on my quest. Maggie, the teacher I am replacing, gave me one of her T-Money cards (subway money cards). It is like a charm that can go on your cell phone, but had broken off. It still works, just doesn’t have the string to attach it to anything. Anyway, it saved me the $5 buying a new card. I left the motel and started heading in the general direction I thought the subway was in. As I rounded the first corner, I saw an American-looking guy. He fell in behind me, but I was too nervous to say anything to him. I passed the bus stop, and kept walking. It was pouring by this point and my shoes were soaked. I had an umbrella inherited from Maggie as well, so I wasn’t too wet, but I also didn’t know where I was going exactly. I decided to turn around and ask at the 7-Eleven. I suspected you could load money on the T-Money charm at the 7-Eleven, and I was right. I put 10,000 KW (~$10) on it, and asked where the station was. She kind of explained where to get the bus. I set off again, still unsure of where I was going. And suddenly, I see the American guy again! He was a few feet in front of me, so I ran and caught him. I tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around and said Hello! I was so happy he actually spoke English, my first question was “Are you an American?” HA! He said yes, and I could have cried of happiness. I was at the point where I was pretty frustrated with not knowing where I was going, and being quite wet. I found out he is also from Texas, Austin specifically. He works at a public school, but lives in the apartments right next to mine! I told him I didn’t have a phone number, but I wanted to get connected to him, so he found me on Facebook on his phone. Finally, he explained, IN ENGLISH, exactly how to get to the subway. I was so happy! I felt like God was really looking out for me at that point. He is the first American that I had met who did not work with me, and he came along at the exact moment I was in need. God is really watching out for me; I know I’ve got some amazing people praying for me back home, and I can promise you all that I feel the love and I know He is on my side! 

I walked across the street to the bus stop which would take me to the closest subway station. I could walk there, but with the rain I would just take the bus. Unfortunately, I had just missed a bus, and had to wait for about 20 minutes. When I finally caught one, it was about 4 stops til the subway; everyone on the bus got off there, and I just followed the masses of people to the entrance (thankfully I was in a crowd, otherwise I don’t know if I’d have found it as easily). 

One cool thing about Seoul’s public transportation system is that, besides being cheap, if you take a bus, then transfer to the subway (within a certain amount of time) you will not get charged for both. So, I scanned the T-Money card when I got on the bus (charged a flat fee, something around $1.50), again when I left (no charge), when I entered the subway (charged $0) and when I left the subway at my final destination (charged an extra $.10 because I went kind of far). So I just think that is pretty cool!

Well, my first experience on the Seoul subway was not the worst, but not the best either. My feet were squishy with water and if you know me, you know that wet feet/shoes/bottoms of pants/etc annoy me to no end. So I was walking all over creation in wet shoes, soaked feet. I had to change lines twice on my journey, and it was not the easiest trying to figure out which direction on the line you should go. At one station, I think I walked like half a mile in one direction before realizing that it was the wrong way. 

On one of the subway trains, I was sitting and I noticed that these 4 old Korean women were staring at me and talking to each other. I gave a small smile, and one of the women said something in direction. I smiled more, but had no idea what she said. They are all giggling at this point. She motions to her face and smiles so big; I think this meant that she thought I was beautiful (or, I look weird as hell. I’ll tell myself it was former) It was so darn cute. They were so giddy over me. I felt like the Joy Luck Club was across from me, Korean style. Haha!

Well, when I finally made it to the final station, I exited where I had read to go. I came out in this nearly empty plaza in the middle of huge skyscrapers. I walked around for a while, getting more and more frustrated, having no idea where to go. Usually, in America, if you’re looking for a huge mall, you look for the big building with lots of signs. Well, in Korea, that doesn’t work. Everywhere is a big building, everywhere has lots of signs, and I can’t read them to boot. I kept wandering, debating if I should ask someone (I am almost scared to try!), when I saw a security shack. I headed in that direction. It was empty, but the security officer was leaning on the edge of a short wall that looked like it was overlooking something below. He was looking down, so before talking to him, I looked down too. There it was! The mall was underground. I headed to the stairs at the far end, and made my way down. I saw Bennigans, Baskin Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery, and some other American brand food. I found an entrance to the actual mall behind all the food, and there were the stores! Finally! 

I found the shop I was looking for that I read online had “Wellies” aka rain boots. It is end of the rainy season here, so they were all on sale. However, they were not my size. Bummer. I went down a few stores and saw some more wellies in the window. I tried those on, and they fit great. They were too cute too! They were khaki color with dark brown trim and a ribbon bow in the back. The ONLY thing that stopped me from buying them was that they had a slight heel. When I tried them on, the slight incline put me off. I don’t mind heels, but rain boots just seem wrong with a heel. They were on sale for ~$45, so I decided to look some more and come back if I wanted them. 

I wandered down the hall and saw a sign for “Hyundai Departmental Store”  - that sounded interesting, so I went that way. When I walked through the doors to the store, the first thing I saw was about 50 food stalls. If you’ve ever been to Harrods, their food court is what this reminded me of. I walked along one of the asiles and looked at all the food and people eating. Everything was Asian, of course. Winding my way through everything, I spied a juicer. 

Now, at this point, I’ve been traveling for about two hours (from leaving my motel room) and I was getting “hangry” (my word for being angry as a result of hunger). I decided to get a juice, since that was healthy and safe. The sweet lady behind the counter was sooo nice. She helped me decide on which fruits. It ended up being more of a smoothie than juice, but oh well. It was something in my belly and tasted great. It was a little expensive, ~$8, but at that point I needed something. 

With juice/smoothie in hand, I headed to the escalators. I went up about 7-8 floors of high end cosmetics, handbags, shoes, designer clothes, and even a grocery store. There was a Mac store there, too! I noticed they do NOT have my specific type of foundation, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I knew I would not find my wellies there, so I headed back downstairs to the mall entrance. I thought I would try another hallway, but it lead back to the one I’d already gone down. Apparently this mall is quite small; the Hyundai Dep’t Store is the main attraction. I made a beeline for the subway and retraced my complicated route home. 

When I finally got to my neighborhood, I decided to look in BauHouse (the department store near my motel). I’d been in before, but only on the ground floor. They had a rain jacket on sale for ~$35, but I held off in favor of looking at a market for something cheaper. It is the end of rainy season anyway, so I won’t need it for too long. I explored the ~12 floors of wares. I found a blowdryer, but they were all similar to what I’ve already got. I need something a salon would use. Hmmm I might have to get creative in where I look for this. I discovered that the very top floor of BauHouse was a movie theater!!! Crazy! I’d never have known. 

By then, I was absolutely exhaused, so I headed back to the motel. That brings us to now; I’m eating dried veggie chips from Target (one of my plane snacks that didn’t get eaten). They are particularly good; I think I am just extremely hungry. One of the teachers mentioned going to a buffet tonight; Korean BBQ but you pick the meat from a display and you get as much as you could possibly want. It is a little more than I want to pay for a meal, ~$20, but I guess that’s a good price, since the only place similar in America is quite a bit more than $20 per person. We’ll see. Hopefully that happens because I’ve not eaten much today. 

Right now, I think I will watch a movie. In a little bit, I am going to talk to the front desk guy at the motel and see about switching rooms to the front room because it gets an internet connection. Woohoo! I feel like there is so much I haven’t talked about, but at the same time, I feel like I write extremely long blogs every time! Yikes! Well, for now, my hands hurt from typing....

Chelsea Teacher

11:53pm Seoul

I can’t wait until I can post these as I write them. But, I know my mom and others want to know everything, and I’m happy to oblige. Writing as things happen definitely lets me remember more. And since I want to turn this into a book for myself after the year, I am happy to record everything.

It’s the end of Day 1. Thankfully I started work on a Friday, which means that I got out an hour early (8pm), not to mention I get 2 days off immediately following my first day. Sean and I went out to “explore” the neighborhood a little in the morning. We found a coffee shop and got wifi for about 15 minutes. The other afternoon teachers met up with us to take us to work around 12:30pm. We stopped at Paris Baguette and I got a bagel. I was a bit nervous to go until 8pm with only a bagel, but oh well. We got to school right on time (1pm), but classes don’t start until 2:50. 

My school! We are on the 4th Floor
A few basic things about the school and the style of teaching. For me, I have 4 classes that are 40 min each, (with a 10 minute break between every other one) followed by 2 classes that are 1 hour each, also separated by a break. After my last class ends at 8pm, I have 1 hour of time to prepare for the following day or work on report cards. The curriculum is basically set, the teacher just administers class. I’m happy about this and not having to make up my own material. Another thing is that teachers change classrooms, while students stay in the same room (at least for a few classes at a time, if not all). I have the same classes M-W-F, and a different set T-Th. They are all different, no two the same level or students. Each group of students has many levels depending on ability. The groups are “New Hi, Kids” “Reach Out” “Step High” “Leap High” “SAP” and one other that I forgot the name. Those are basically the order they go as far as age/ability. Within those groups, there are levels 1-6. Each level has a certain amount of units. Each unit takes 1 month (more or less). I started on Day 10 (out of 12) of the unit with most of the classes, so by the time we start the next unit, I will be their real teacher. Don’t worry if you are completely confused by the organization of students with these groups - I am still confused. The foreign teachers (including myself) are pretty much hired to do a lot of speaking with the kids. There is a Korean teacher who comes in before/after me in a class to teach Grammar, Phonics, etc.

Today, I followed Maggie Teacher around her classes and she introduced me. I will be taking over her classes so I got to meet my students. The first class is pretty young, they are New Hi, Kids! They are level 2 I think. There were 7 in class today, but we were missing 1, so 8 total. They were such cuties! There was 1 that was a little snot; I will be having a few stern chats with the lad, to be sure. He inspires rebellion in the other boys, but generally the class is pretty good. They do a LOT of speaking with me! The point is for them to be constantly talking. If I am checking papers, they should be reading something out of the book. That kind of thing. 

Second class, I honestly don’t remember much of. They were slightly older than the first class and did the same sort of lessons. We had a 10 minute break, then 3rd class was a slightly higher age group, but they were doing Presentations, so instead of shadowing that, Sean, Jamie, and I all had a meeting with Kellie Teacher who gave us the lay of the land. We also talked to the Director, Mr. Choi, for about 2 minutes. He is very nice, but doesn’t speak much English (ironic, being the head of an English Language School). 

Kellie Teacher is the most senior foreign teacher, but leaving in a week. She is in charge of helping us settle in, but she does Kindergarten, so doesn’t help as much with Sean and I. She basically went over the rules which went something like this “Don’t wear tops that show your boobs or you’ll be looked at like a slut. Don’t show your shoulders or you’ll be looked at like a slut. Don’t talk about your drunken escapades or you’ll be looked at like a slut. Don’t mention if you smoke or you’ll be looked at like a slut.” I kid you not. She was actually very funny in presenting this information, even doing an impression of an old Korean woman tsk-ing at us on the street. Another cool thing she told us is that there is NOT a “no touch” policy with the kids like there would be in the states. We can hug them, muss their hair, pat their shoulders, even give a little kiss on the head. I think this is more important for the Kindergarten teachers, as they are with their kids for much longer periods of time, and become attached. 

She also let us know that we will be getting our health checks on Tuesday afternoon, and to eat beforehand since they do take quite a bit of blood. The health check take around a week to process, after which we can apply for the Alien Resident Card. Those take another month to get in, after which we can set up our bank accounts. This being said, our first pay is Sept 14, but it will only be for this week and in cash, since it’s a month in hand. Our first proper paychecks will be Oct 14th and should go to our new Korean bank accounts we will hopefully have set up by then.

The rest of the classes for the day were basically the same, with each class having slightly higher ability and age. There is one class that we see every day; 4 girls in an intensive immersion-based program. They are the most advanced and talkative: proof that immersion is the best way to learn a language. They are cute as buttons but I think they will be a trick to handle since they are so chatty. 

In each class, I felt like there were 38 different nuances to learn about that class (ie: SAP2, the immersion class, have Book Club every Friday where they go to the library to get a new book. Another class, I forget which, has vocab quizzes every day. Etc). By 5th block I was exhausted and my brain was slowly shutting down from too much information (much the same I’m sure yours is right now reading all this). 

By the end of the day, all I could remember is my name is now Chelsea Teacher, and Monday I have to get to work at noon rather than 1pm since we got an hour off Friday afternoon. 

Quickly, to wrap up, we got a taxi home since it was then pouring, and had dinner around the corner at another Korean restaurant. It was family-style cook-on-the-table chicken in a spicy sauce with rice noodles, sweet potato, cabbage, and sesame leaves. I actually enjoyed the sauce and noodles, and the bites of chicken without tons of fat. I ate more than last night, so we’re making progress... Tomorrow, my mission is to get some rain boots and a rain jacket. I feel like there is so much more to tell, but I’m sure I’ll fit it in next time. Now, I’m exhausted and ready for bed... 

Our dinner being cooked: chicken with spicy sauce and rice noodles. 

Pre-Work Day 1

Friday, August 24 9:47am Seoul

The view of my road. You can't see all the lights, but it's bright!
I fell asleep almost immediately last night after writing my last blog. I’m not sure how I did it, but I think I avoided jet lag. Like I said, I took several small naps throughout the 24 hours I was traveling, so I think that sustained me enough, and when I finally got to a bed, I was pooped. I set my alarm on my iPad for 8am; I could probably have slept much longer, but I want to start getting into a routine. 

The far building is my future apartment; the closer one with the overhang is my motel.

I won’t go into work until 12:30 today, but I wanted time to get ready, get some food, and relax before my first day. When my alarm went off, my room was pretty dark. I have 1 tiny window, which looks out into a parking garage aka: no light. I was very disoriented when I woke up. I was dreaming, although I don’t remember what exactly, but that made me even more confused waking up. When I finally remembered where I was, I hit snooze for 10 more minutes. I couldn’t really get back to dozing during my snooze, just watched the alarm. 

I got up at 8:10 and turned off the A/C which is very effective. It works by a remote, which is kinda cool. The one thing I wish I’d brought so far is a robe. I got in the shower, which was again amazing. Great hot water! The shower area is not open like what my apartment will have, but it still doesn’t have a shower curtain. There is a tub area though. Before the shower, I found my face wash, which was great since last night I had to wash my face with shampoo for lack of face wash. 

After the shower, I turned on the TV in my room and found 1 of 3 English channels. It was showing Night at the Museum II with Korean subtitles. I got ready watching that. The motel provided a hair dryer (thank goodness) so I was set. I took my gummy vitamins (remembering how poorly I ate yesterday, and will likely continue to eat) and headed out to find breakfast. There is a dunkin donuts around the block, so I went there. 

I am already wishing I spoke at least minimal Korean, but oh well. I got a “cheese bagel twist” for ~$1.50 (1,600 KW) then went over to the 7-Eleven for something to drink. I got chocolate milk, since I could tell what it was. I would have prefered skim milk, but I wouldn’t have any idea how to identify skim from full fat. I went through the park across from my motel/future apartment to get to the motel. That brings us to present. 

The park across from my apartment.

I’m now watching CSI:Miami and writing this. I’m not sure when I’ll get internet to post these. I’m really missing instant access to information and communication with home. I keep thinking how lucky I am that I brought the Airport Express to setup a wifi network in my apartment. Of course, I would be okay hard wiring into my computer, but I have the iPad and iPod Touch that I want to use for phone calls home. 

Speaking absolutely no Korean is quite hard. Most of the Koreans I’ve interacted with are nice when I say I only speak English, but I wish I could even say Hello and Thank you. Hopefully my coteachers will help me out with that today. At least I have some food in my belly and rest. I have some time to kill, so I might watch a movie from the hard drive. 

I’m not really nervous for work yet, but I think I will be once we are on the way over. Apparently it’s about a 15 minute walk to school. I think the teachers who are picking us up are taking Sean and I to get some lunch first. 

I am so thankful that my moment of freaking out is gone. I’m sure I’ll have more of those little episodes, especially when I’m overwhelmed. Especially with people. I get intimidated and close up when I’m around too many people I don’t know. I’m glad there are only 4 upper level teachers, and 2 of us are new. I’ll be in the same boat with someone, and there are only 2 others who know what they are doing. I’m not all alone! 

Sean has come by, and we are going to look for wifi before work...

A bakery Sean & I found while exploring, shortly after I wrote this blog.

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