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A Sneak Peek into my New Life

SOUTH KOREA | Monday, 5 April 2010 | Views [635] | Comments [1]

So I have moved to Korea successfully and I am liking it, so far.  Everything here is so different from anything I have ever known.  Everyone had been so very welcoming I couldn’t even begin to explain it.  It is just a part of their culture to be that way.  I am sure it has, and will continue to do wonders for how I adjust to my new home. 


It seems to me that sometimes the best way for someone to understand is to just tell them what my days are like.  I had my first official day of teaching yesterday, only four classes, usually it will be 5.  There are 7 periods in a day and the last period is used for cleaning the school and everyone does it together.  Students are required to be in their homerooms at 8:30 am and classes start at 8:55am.  But different from America, the teachers move from classroom to classroom and the students stay in one place.  Class period are 45 mins long but most teachers don’t show up for their class until 3 or 4 minutes after the bell rings and this is normal. I have been early to all of my classes and I think it is actually disrespectful to my co-teachers, since they themselves are embarrassed to have made me wait.  I need to walk to class much slower.


I am at an all boy’s middle school.  It is a testament to Korean traditional culture that the middle schools and  in my city are still split by gender.  It used to be the way of things but more westernized urban centers have changed  in the last 20 years.  However, Tong Yeong is a city, but it is small in Korean standards with a population of about 170,000 and growing rapidly.  Although it is attached to the mainland by a few different highways systems, it has remained one step removed since it is not on a route to anything… it is the end of a line since it is a port city.  One must go out of their way to get here and so it hasn’t been affected so much by more modern ideas.  I think this will be part of its charm and curse for me in the coming year but I did my research and for almost every reason it seems to be the right kind of place for me.


Back to my days at the school… I take a taxi from my apartment with Grant, a South African man who lives on the floor below me.  His school is just down the street from mine.  It is about a 15 minute ride.  Today we talked about the Korean policy of having their boys do two years of military service right out of High school, after that they are allowed to go to university.  He related it to the three years of detention he served in his youth since in apartheid South Africa he refused to carry a gun.  But again I digress… I get to school and take off my shoes at the door and go to my cubby where my slippers are.  This is something I already love but it does get a little slippery on these hardwood floors.  You have to drag your feet a lot!  And I bow all day long.  Lunch lasts 1 and 1/2 hours and all the teachers eat together at a table in the cafeteria with all the students.  The food is not bad here and is very healthy.  I am in a port city so I eat a lot of seafood.  It is nice to eat in the cafeteria because it is a great way for me to try Korean food.  Since I can’t read hangul symbols at all it is hard for me to order when I am out.  So I am scouting out the places that have pictures on their menus so I can point.  Since I haven’t made any westerner  friends yet, I have no one to go out with so I cook for myself a lot which is probably better for my budget anyways.


I am a block away from a Buskin market, a fresh fish market and on my way home from school, there are women under an umbrellas selling all sorts of fried items.  There are so many different kinds of fish here and they eat all of them.  I guess there are four fish markets in the city and the Buskin market is the smallest one, but you can still get anything there.  Too bad I am no good at cooking fish and I only have a gas range, and no oven, so I’ll have to learn how to fry it.  I can get almost everything here food wise, except for cheese and deli meats.  It seems they love ham but don’t have anything else.


Tags: esl teacher, middle school boys, new esl teacher, south korea, tong yeong, tongyeongn



dip ur fish in flour then egg then bread crumbs and fry it in a little oil! delish!

  dana Apr 26, 2010 2:12 PM



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