Moving Time!

I will be moving out of the hotel tomorrow, Saturday, so it might be a while before I post again.

I spent the better part of the afternoon moving my bags and things into my new place. My H.I. Anna ordered my sofa-bed for me last night, so it should be delivered to my place sometime this weekend (!!) As well as officially moving into my place tomorrow, I will also be meeting someone around noon to buy dishes, cups, and silverware. I have been scouring Korean classifieds for cheap and used stuff and this woman is willing to sell me a lot of her dishes and kitchenware for a pretty good price. So with that, here are some pics of my place in Samsong-dong:


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Tired, Yet Resilient

Yesterday was my first day off in the school week.  I slept in until 10 – I missed the complimentary breakfast at the hotel, but I was more than okay with that.  Moving at my own pace, I jumped on the subway to pick up my passport and ARC (Alien Resident Card) from Mokdong, which is a good ways away from where I am.  The trip took more than a couple of hours, but I had a late lunch with Victor and Greg when I got back.  I spent the rest of the afternoon with the guys trying to figure out how to transfer money to my landlord for the remainder of the rent – I paid the deposit when I agreed to take the apartment.  (In Korea, there are no checks for making payments, only transfer transactions.  So this means that on the 10th of every month, I will have to go to an ATM and transfer my rent from my account to my landlord’s… could possibly be very convenient) We also went to my place to change the code on my door (keyless entry…. sweet) and envisioning where everything would go.  In hindsight, I could have been smarter with looking to see if my place could possibly already have stuff instead of buying it, but I am humble enough (or low maintenance, I can’t decide) to work with what I have and make it my own.

I am technically “moved in” to my place, but I have nothing to move in except clothes.  So I am taking the next two or three days to track down the essential furnishings that I might need for my first month or so: a bed or futon, a desk, kitchenware, washer, and maybe a fridge. I met with my Head Instructor (H.I.) Anna last night to talk about the feedback that she had to give me for two of my classes.  I already pretty much knew what she was going to tell me to work on, but I was very surprised to hear her praise and complements on my first day.  She also showed me a website where I could find a bed for cheap; since I don’t have a credit card, she offered to purchase it for me and have it delivered to my place this weekend, and I would just pay her cash.  Anna’s help thus far has been invaluable, so her and James combined are saints to me.

So, the breakdown is as follows:

Today (Thursday): teach same classes as Tuesday

Friday: day off, find dishes (possibly), move bulk of clothing to hotel

Saturday: aspire to have bed ordered and delivered, rest of clothes in place

Sunday: new class

I will also have to have internet installed in my place sometime soon, so I’m not sure when I will be able to post again.

I will update as soon as possible.

Day 2 in the Gravel Pit

I have been officially teaching for two days.  I would have written earlier, but then there would have been one or two posts about me frantically freaking out nonsensical. So here I am, calm as a cucumber.

Yesterday I taught my first class, which is called Listening and Speaking.  It’s what is called the “Par” level, which is the second to lowest level.  The first three hours – 4:00 until 7:00 – I teach writing, reading, and listening through audio CDs.  My first class is elementary students; they are the cutest.  I have to say, most of my anxiety melted away when they walked into the classroom.  I went through the icebreakers, attendance, and I was ready to go.  By the time 7:00 rolled around, I felt like a pro and was ready for the middle-school students.

So I guess when I say that I’ve been in the gravel pit, I should emphasize that middle-school kids are much like boulders – hard to move and very stone-faced.  As my first class skipped out of the room, saying their “Goodbye, Teacher!”s, the next class slouched their way to their desks, most choosing to sit in the very back.  Aside from a few sympathetic young girls in the front row, not many of them volunteered to answer questions or jump up to act out dialogue for an acting activity.

I am nevertheless optimistic.

Today went about the same way.  Once again, it was a brand new class with brand new students, but I will see these students again on Thursday.  The class is called Memory English and it involves a lot of guided reading through short novels and learning how to memorize words and phrases to improve fluency. Elementary students from 3-7, and middle school from 7-10.  Same set-up really, only my middle school kids today were really rough.  Boys talking when I was talking, even after I went through my very few rules:

  1. No Korean.  We write, speak, and read English.
  2. No food or cell phones.
  3. Respect others around you by raising your hand to speak; let others speak.
  4. Homework must be completed.

Guess which ones were followed?  Number 4, only because there hasn’t been any homework… yet.

I guess I should provide a little background:

I got my class schedule in my e-mail early last week.  A day later, I received a revision, changing my days and one class.

While I was startled by the change, I was still happy about the days that I had off: Wednesday, Friday, and

Saturday  (whoo hoo, long weekends and vacations!)

So I dealt with it, spent the week prepping for my classes and grappling with my confidence issues

and then Sunday night, the night before the first day of classes.

I wake to read my e-mail, drink some tea, and I find that my CDI inbox has quite a few

e-mails, one with a subject “Fall schedule revision.”

What?

I open it and realize that my life is in shambles, instantly.  One of the classes that I had prepped

for was dropped and actually (actually!) replaced with the class, THE class, that was dropped

off of my very first schedule in the first revision.

I dealt with it, but only after sending a subtle e-mail to Faculty Resources.

So, long story short, I am happy with my schedule.

I was also able to hunt for apartments last Saturday and I ended up finding one in a great location.  The unfortunate aspect of living in Seoul is that the cost of rent is pretty up there; I will be paying much more than I did in Oxford, OH, but I really like the set-up, it’s close to my school, and close to friends. I am able to move in tomorrow, but alas, I am only moving in clothes and such.  So, since it is my day off, I will probably be making calls and checking out beds and futons, at least. (The place is great, but not great enough that I should be happy sleeping on the floor).

 Well, that’s me.

I will hopefully find a routine when I can update frequently.

Promised Photos

Traditional Karaoke and Soju-conditioning…

Elaine, Kevin, and Me… I think it was “Like a Virgin” by Madonna

Victor and Greg, from California

Victor, with the biggest pitcher of beer ever

This one restaurant recommended that their patrons wore aprons… ha, I rhymed.

Soju… that’s how it’s done.

Jen and I – kind of a big deal in South Korea.

Official Instructor

Yay, done with training! Now the real fun begins.

The entire previous week exhausted me to the core.  From Monday until Saturday, two days ago, I was in training from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.; some days, I had other things to do immediately after training, like my medical exam and what not. It’s funny, after getting up in front of a classroom being judged by your peers and a trainer for days in a row, getting a needle stuck in your arm is not that horrible. 

Saturday we found out the results of our training… I made it guys! It’s not as if CDI sent people home if they didn’t do well in their mock teaching or their written tests, but having to retake any part of it would have been a major setback.  But now that I am here, the fun only continues with scheduling some apartment housing quests with the HR department. 

Saturday night was the best time to let out some steam.  Immediately after signing my contract and getting my branch information – I will be at Chungdahm, the main branch in Seoul – Greg, Victor, and Andre were waiting for me to get back to the hotel so we could go to Jimmy’s for a barbeque.  There was only a hair between feeling exhausted and wanting to go out and have a good time, but nothing was going to stop me from relaxing.  When I called Jimmy to see what the agenda was, the words “Cincinnati-style chili” sent chills up my spine…

I’m all in.

So with that, the three of us traversed Seoul to get to Jimmy and Sky’s place.  The night was real chill and since I hadn’t had anything to eat that day since 7 a.m. and only received 5 hours of sleep Friday night, one beer had me feeling buzzed… oh, did I mention it was Corona, my favorite?! Awesome. More instructors from Chungdahm showed up, so  I got to meet more of my colleagues and a faculty manager named Jason.  After Jimmy’s, the four of us met up with Elaine and Christine, two other instructors at a bar.  I finally got to try Soju, but it wasn’t as magical as I thought it would be. Soju doesn’t have a very high alcohol concentration, but it tastes like what I would imagine lighter fluid to taste like… awful.  So after two shots of that, I switched to beer and a lighter fruit-flavored Soju.

Then, the karoake. Oh god, the karoake. When I woke up yesterday morning and wondered why I had no voice at all, it only took but a few moments for me to realize that I could not have been as great as I thought I was when I was singing Journey and Madonna. Are there pictures? Yes, of course there are.  In South Korea, really anywhere in Asia, karoake is a verry popular recreation.  Groups can rent karoake rooms by the hour, just as we did the other night, and you can sing as many songs as you want for that hour.  We ended up leaving around 3 a.m. and I got back to the hotel around 4. 

It was so great to sleep in on Sunday! I slept until about 12 or 1 in the afternoon and for some reason, the group that I was with the previous night decided that it was a good day to go hiking (?). Though I was tired, I knew that I would regret it if I didn’t go on the trip. So a bunch of us hiked up the side of a mountain (don’t remember which one it was), became tired, and then had to go back down.  At the end of the trip, several hours later, we were craving popsicles and then found a place on the Han River to eat dinner. I had bibambap (sic), which is a concoction of rice, veggies, and fried egg; pretty good and replenished all of the fat in my body that I might have lost on the hike.

Well, there are pictures and I promise to upload them on here soon. Hang in there… more later.

Halfway Through Training

It’s been hectic, long story short.  Today was Day 3 of training and I’ve experienced a lot of ups and a lot of downs. 

Monday was the basic orientation to CDI and Seoul, but we also reviewed grammar and reading skills, which was surprisingly enlightening.  One would think that with a college degree, in English for god’s sake, someone would be knowledgeable about everything English, but alas, I found myself tripping on gerunds and past progressives. Yesterday, Tuesday, was a lot more overwhelming because all  of the instructors were seperated into two or three groups to review class structure and teaching methods.  From 9-11:30, I am in a group that is training for Memory English, which is the third highest level of English instruction.  From 12:30-3, I am in a group that teaches children how to analyze and write essays.  Guess what guys, I don’t know the first thing about teaching children.  If I didn’t know it then, I certainly know this fact now.  Yesterday and today was encompassed by mock teaching, where each instructor had to demonstrate his or her grasp of the material by using the trainer’s methods for instruction.  There was no amount of preparation that could have made me ready for today: after I watched several instructors go before me, I began to question and doubt myself.  When I finally was called upon to walk up to the front of the room to demonstrate my lesson, I began pretty strong, but something short-circuited in my brain.  I literally stopped in mid-sentence and looked to the trainer for help.  There was time for feedback from the other instructors, as well, as from the trainer, but they were generous… I will not let today happen again.  I know that teaching a group of non-discriminating children is an easier concept to grasp than getting into front of your critical peers, so I will not become freaked out again.

The highlight of my day so far is that I found the score of the grammar and reading test that I had to take yesterday – I passed.  There were only 20 questions so missing 3 or more was failing.  I knew of a couple of people who did not pass and I was glad not to be one of them; no worries, they get to retake it, but I just didn’t need one more thing to worry about at this point.

Tomorrow will be easier I guess.  Since today is Independence Day for South Korea (no examinations conducted), I could not go to the hospital for my medical exam.  So I will have a better day, punctuated by a moment where I will have a needle in my arm… I can deal with that.

Living here in this hotel is comparable to what I consider dorm life to be in college.  I feel as if I am like a freshman again because there are different groups of people that I socialize with at breakfast, lunch, and in training.  It’s easy to spot who the serious instructors are and the ones who are only trying to scrape by, adamant about partying in the Seoul nightlife and simply just making money.  (If you are curious, I am currently preparing for tomorrow’s mock teaching while a couple guys I know are probably taking shots of Soju and chugging Korean beer.)

It’s been pretty cool to hang out with Victor and Greg (the initial two who Jimmy enlisted to check up on me) because they have been here for longer and are available for advice and encouragement.  They are actually teaching, so I can get a feel for what my schedule might be like when I start.  Jimmy and his wife Sky have been really great, but there is so much more that I can learn from the people around me, who are closer to my age and have similar aspirations.

Well, I better get back to “studying”…. shouldn’t this have ended when I graduated?  I guess one never does stop learning.