Thursday, October 09, 2008

South Korean Adventure: Day 2

Ladies and Gentlemen...I present to you: Jessica's experiences and impressions in Sangju thus far:
I am probably repeating some of what was in my first email but let me just note down some of my ideas thus far.

My first impression of SK is that it is a well-run and organised country. The people here seem friendly, and generally happy and content. They are keen to get to know people from different cultures and countries. They appreciate every tiny bit of Korean one tries to speak! The sewers are smelly!! Maybe the population grew too fast and the sewerage system couldn't keep up?

I have felt very welcome in my new school, especially by my co-teacher (the local Korean English teacher) Lucy (or Mrs Song). My main school is Sung-Shin Girls Middle School. I will be teaching here 14 hours a week, and for 8 hours a week I will be teaching next door at the Commercial Girls High School. There my co-teacher is Mr Kang, also very helpful and approachable.

I start teaching next week, and my first lesson is an Introduction: introducing myself and getting to know the ss a little (ss=students - this is TEFL jargon!)
There are 6 classes in every level/grade. I am teaching level 1 and 2 (=Grade 7 and 8 in SA) in the middle school and level 1 (=Grade 10 in SA) in the High School. This means I prepare 3 lessons a week, each of which I re-teach 6 times: a little boring an repetitive probably, but at least I don't have to prepare too much.

I am expected to prepare lesson plans based on the prescribed textbook. The Tb is divided into a number of sections, but I ma only teaching sounds and talking - yey, so this probably means I don;t have t teach Grammar. What a relief. And even if I did - wel, the standard of English here is relatively low: even the local English teachers (KT=Korean Teacher, NT=Native speaking teacher) do not speak English all that well. The key is to speak slowly and simply. I am sure I will master this art quite soon.

As for life in our new home: We spent our first night on a quilt on the floor with a sheet, Samburu blanket and coats over use - feeling very much like poor students on an adventure! Yesterday we got a (brand new!) bed which our school bought, and a book shelf. Our home is now starting to look a bit more homely. Even if we were given bright pink floral quilts, not quite our taste but still, warm and useable. We are eagerly awaiting a fridge and table and chairs!
Our flat is in a block (which is about 5 stories in total) and we are No. 307 on the third floor. View? Well, the apartment block across the road! :) This is built-up Korea after all! Our flat is a 'studio- apartment' i.e. all in one room with separate bathroom. Quite small. Very small actually! It's a good thing we could only pack 30kg of luggage, any more and we'd be out of space to store it all!

We are located quite centrally: 4 min walk to the bus station and to "Homever": a large department store where we can buy groceries, home-ware, clothes (?size?) and much more. Even a pet Hedgehog if you like!:) My school is about a 20-25min walk and Jules probably a bit longer. We will try and invest in bicycles as soon as possible, until then walk or our co-teachers pick us up. Sangju is well-know for being a bicycle city: lots of people ride them here, especially as it is quite flat country. Look forward to some pleasant rides out of town at the weekends!
So we went on a big 'home-shop' yesterday to buy kitchen things (it's empty!) and some basic foods. Not that adventurous yet so bought pasta, tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms for supper. Yey, found salt and pepper but pepper is pricey and not in a grinder ;) Of course couldn't find all of that as easily as I though so was running around paging madly in my phrasebook for words!
One can also buy luxuries such as coffee, wine and chocolates but at quite a price. Our co-teacher took us to a coffee shop yesterday: coffee, iced tea and milkshake cost about R25-R30 each so that's a bit pricey but at least we can spoil ourselves like that once in a while!

So I am sitting at my computer at school at the moment. I have a nice desk and computer in the 'teacher's room/office'. There are about 30 of us in this room - everyone is quite chilled out, mostly working on lessons etc. Even if they are at times chatty this won't bother me much when I start working in earnest since I don't understand a word so it is truly just 'background' noise!

Tomorrow I am going on a school picnic with the Level/Grade 2 (SA Gr8) class to Seoul. Should be interesting - I am sure I will be exposed to many Korean culinary delights! This morning the Grade 2 teacher brought me some Korean rice cake - this is a light brown VERY rubbery 'thing' with dark brown beans sin it. It's quite sweet with a beany/ricey flavour and did I say how very rubbery it is? very! I wonder how my digestive system will deal with this delight?

Yesterday I joined Lucy and some of the other teachers for lunch at the school canteen. This was of course interesting: we each had a tray on which we could dish for ourselves the following: rice, pickled cabbage and spinach with onions, carrots and brown jelly-like blocks, boiled quail eggs with firmer and denser jelly-like blocks (what is this??), white-ish soup with onions, leaks and fish bits (??), crumbed squid rings (=calamari but tough!) and a red veggie sauce with chilli. Being keen to try it all I dished everything and most of it tasted pretty good. All this was finished off with a swig of barley water - ugh! After this, the soft brown jelly blocks were my least favourite-the colour and texture were just not so appetizing! So I have bought myself a 'booklet' of 10 meal tickets and this will expose me to all sorts of lovely local food I am sure. Should I maybe start a blog just with my food experiences?? :) (Will post it in a different colour for now!)

Ok, that's it for now will keep this updated as much as possible. We don't yet have a local plug/adaptor for our laptop, so cannot yet upload photos but will do so as soon as possible.
Keep in touch! x

1 comment:

Wendy City said...

Hello! I am currently teaching South Korea! I did a search for "South Korea, Hedgehogs" and found your blog! :)

Where are you, exactly? I'm in Hanam-si