Welcome to Korea!
Hello world! We are alive. Things have been pretty hectic this week, so I wasn’t able to get around to updating this thing. We arrived in Korea Tuesday evening, and thankfully Andrew was at the airport waiting for us. It took us about an hour to get from the airport to our apartment, and once we got there, my co-teacher Stephanie (also American) was there waiting for us. So thankfully between the two of them, they got us situated. I pretty much passed out as soon as I got some clothes unpacked, but Matt and Andrew went out to eat. Unfortunately, we both had to report to our schools the next morning. I’m not really sure why they made us do that, since we really could have used the time getting settled and neither of us really did anything the first day, but supposedly it’s not uncommon of them to ask you to show up as soon as you get here. I spent my morning meeting administrators and teachers, and Matt did the same at his school, and then someone brought him over to my school and we observed one of Stephanie’s classes together, and then we ate lunch with the teachers at my school. After lunch, my supervisor Meyoung took us into Seoul to the hospital for the mandatory health check, which we had to get in order to receive our Alien Registration Cards, which will then allow us to get a bank account, cell phones, and be able to be paid. The hospital was amazingly efficient. In the span of about 20 minutes we ran from one wing of the hospital to the other and got an eye exam, dental check up, chest x-ray, blood test and urine test. I don’t think I’ve ever been in and out of ANY medical office in 20 minutes before!
The next two days of school are kind of a blur…for me, it was super busy, and I spent most of my days giving an introductory powerpoint about myself to all of my classes, and spent the rest of the time observing and assisting with what will be my classes. While I was running around like a crazy person, Matt was stuck at his desk, doing nothing. We’re not really sure why, but they decided not to let him observe any classes at his school beforehand…and he just has to start teaching on Monday. Weird.
My classes turned out to be mostly 6th graders (surprise! I was told kindergarten and first grade). I teach ten classes of 6th graders (seeing them all once a week), for about 40 minutes per class, and there are about 40 kids per class. Matt’s are about the same size…these schools are huge. In addition to 6th grade I’ll be teaching a kindergarten, first grade and a teachers class, each once a week. All in all, I’ll see about 500 students a week, including my teachers class. I’m going to make a guess here and say I will never know my students names! Matt is teaching a mix of 7th, 8th and 9th graders (but here it’s called 1st, 2nd and 3rd, it starts over in each school), and he’ll be seeing about 750 kids a week. It is going to be pretty insane…but at least the kids are ADORABLE, especially the littlest ones. Matt and I were both told how “beautiful” and “handsome” we were more this week than we ever have in our life! The kids are supposed to call us “Andrea Teacher” and “Matthew Teacher,” but I’ve had several kids in the hallway that don’t know me just call me “Beautiful Teacher.” I’ll accept that 🙂 They also think I’m the tallest person they’ve ever met, and they think it’s so funny that I am taller than their Korean teachers.
Our apartment is great–it’s three bedrooms, one full bathroom, a kitchen with a full size fridge and gas stove, and we have three balconies. This is practically unheard of in Korea–most other teachers get a tiny studio with a half fridge and a bathroom that is just a toilet, sink and a shower head above the whole thing. So overall, we lucked out quite a bit. However, this has been a teacher apartment for a long time, and all the previous tenants had left a TON of random stuff. So Matt, Andrew and I spent most of the weekend doing a deep clean and throwing away random crap, and now, it finally feels homey. Andrew stayed with us in Gwangju all weekend and introduced us to a ton of different foods, and taught us how to order. We really need to get started on learning to read and understand at least numbers, we’re completely illiterate now and far less people than we expected speak English. So basically, it’s sink or swim time now!
Anyway, that’s enough for now! Here’s some pictures of our apartment and our view. We both start officially teaching tomorrow, and neither of us is entirely sure what that means yet, so wish us luck!