Beautiful Korea

Beautiful Korea

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My first week (3/9-3/3)

My first week at the school went well, although there were a lot of interruptions, diversions, and things to take care of. First thing on Monday morning, I found that the glass on the huge touch-screen monitor was cracked! I was still able to use it, but fortunately they replaced the glass on Friday, so now I won't have to worry about it.

In the office, they'd set up my computer, which unfortunately is all in Korean, which makes using it interesting at times! Later on, they added another piece to my desk for the computer, and fixed the big tangle of loose cords behind my chair. They also brought in a space heater, because the office was cold, which later in the week they replaced with a big heater/AC unit that's right behind my chair. (We had to move my desk forward a bit.) So I'll be warm in the winter and cool in the summer, which is nice! The classroom also has an extra heater, so it is probably the warmest in the school, and I get to control the temperature. They also installed speakers in the room so I could hear the bell better (it was hard to hear it, before). Also, I now have a microphone, which will greatly spare my voice. All of these installations were disruptive and noisy, but since they are for my comfort and convenience, I'm not complaining! They still have to install clocks in the office and classroom, and then I think they are done.

Meanwhile, my teaching schedule was also interrupted by the need to go get more passport-type photos taken for the health check and the alien registration card. (Wouldn't it have been nice if I'd been told from the start that I would need nine pictures, instead of telling me four, and then, oh, one more, and then, oh, four more?) The next day's interruption was going for the health check, which was weird. They took blood and urine samples, did a chest x-ray, checked my blood pressure, measured my height and weight, and then checked my vision (including my color vision—I'd forgotten how to do those, and probably got some wrong), and my hearing. Wow, I haven't been checked out so thoroughly since I was a little kid! Then on Wednesday I had to be at the school, but had no classes because the students had testing. I used the time to look through the English textbooks for the two grades I'll be teaching (first and second years). Friday I left early so that Mr. Yu and I could meet the workman coming to install internet in my apartment.

Aside from the interruptions and disruptions, classes went well. I showed them pictures, and had them tell me their names and their hobbies, and encouraged them to ask me questions. Many were very shy of speaking English, which most have not had much practice with, but they seemed enthusiastic about my being there, and I think with time they'll relax more and be willing to talk. All of my co-teachers seem very nice.

Next week should be a normal schedule, except that once the results of the health check come back, Mr. Yu and I will need to go to the immigration office in Seoul to fill out the paperwork for my alien registration card. Once I have that (maybe another week after) I can open a bank account.

Miscellaneous details:

I had to buy some slip-on shoes to wear at school. They don't wear street shoes in the school.

The teacher's cafeteria is excellent, and cheap. It's under 3,000 won (so less than $2), and the food is really good. Some of it is fairly spicy, but a lot is not, and there are always many types of food each day. It's funny, everyone always takes kimchee, but I have noticed that many of the Koreans don't eat any of it. It's like they feel obligated to take it, it being the Korean national food and all, but they don't actually want to eat it. Many do eat it (including me, it's very healthy), but I have noticed several who don't touch it after putting it on their tray.

The employees at the school all seem to be relieved that I'm Korean-sized. I think they were fearing some species of American Giantess! Mr. Yu was afraid that the bed would be too short for me (it's over 6 ft long)! Everyone seems happy that I'm not intimidatingly large and they feel more comfortable around me than they expected.

Thanks to jet lag, I was severely sleep-deprived most of the week. I kept waking up at ridiculously early hours and not being able to get back to sleep. Finally, on Thursday, I woke up at 6am after going to bed at 10:30, and Thursday night I gave up and went to bed at 10, so when I woke up at 6, I'd actually had eight hours of sleep for the first time in I don't know how long. I'd really prefer to get up at 7, since I don't have to be at the school until 8:50, but at least 6 is better than 5. I've actually slept all the way until 6:30...but not later. Oh well. I get things done in the morning, so I guess I'll go with it.

Thing I love about Korea: excellent public transportation: incredibly clean, cheap, efficient subway system

Please send: Clothes dryer



  1. Well, good for you for breaking some stereotypes about American body types, haha. (Even though some of us *are* Giantess-model, I'm sure the bed would have fit even me if it's over 6 feet long! I don't remember having problems with any beds in Asia, other than with how hard they were.)

    From what I've seen alluded to online Korea's subway may be much cheaper than the ones in Taiwan or Japan. Nice!

    I hope your jet lag straightens out and you get more rest.

    And I wish I could send you a dryer, LOL. Maybe you can find some crazy gadget like this that you would never expect is related to drying clothes.

  2. Also, that's kind of funny about the kimchi, but too bad that people are wasting it. :p I wonder what the equivalent is here. Milk? Bread? But how awesome that you don't have to worry about packing your lunch and can just eat there for $2. Hope you don't get tired of it.

  3. I love kimchi! I need to eat it more often I even made some myself!