Friday, March 2, 2012

And the Rest of Week One

So our internet is still not connected, and to make a long story short it sounds like we won't get hooked up until Monday. Very frustrating, apparently this is the exception as everyone has told us that they were hooked up within 2 days after arriving with no problems. I guess we just have had bad luck.

On Tuesday afternoon, we went to see Beth and Jess teach. They were teaching 5th and 6th graders, which are elementary school students here. Some of their classes are being turned over to us on Monday, so it was a great opportunity to see how things were done. They're both pretty awesome teachers, and we learned a lot about what ability the students are at and how best to engage them. Really, the classes are geared towards engaging students in conversations, and getting them comfortable using English. After that was over, we were pretty exhausted (as usual here, we've been doing a ton of walking), and I was starving- so we went to one of the pizza places Jess and Beth recommended: Pizza Bingo! The pizza wasn't very good, was covered with some sort of sauce, and for some reason every single pizza here has corn on it- which nobody can really explain.

This was the exact "pizza" we ordered at Pizza Bingo. Sounds much better than it looks

The next day we had plans to go grocery shopping with Beth at Home Plus, which is like a target or wal-mart but much much larger. It was great going with someone who already knew the lay of the land, as she was able to tell us what most things were and what sort of things she had tried. The best part was getting there and back- we could have taken the metro but it's about a 15 minute walk from our place and costs 1100 won apiece (about $1), but instead we shared a taxi that only cost 2400! That's like a little over 2 dollars, which split between the three of us was definitely affordable, and it was a much easier way of getting all our groceries back to our apartment.

Wednesday night we went to Jess and Beth's apartment which was very nice. Nearly everyone here lives in high-rises very similar to ours, and they've had a lot of time to make their's really comfortable. I left Ashley there for a girls night of burritos and wine, while Jess and I went out for Korean barbecue near Kimyueng University on the West side of the city with a couple of his friends. I've never had Korean barbecue, but it was INCREDIBLE. Like bacon on steroids, and you wrap the charred and cooked meat in a lettuce leaf, slather it with this spicy bean paste and cover it with garlic and onions (cooked in pork fat of course) shove it into your mouth and wash it down with some crappy light beer. Best of all, the price for a TON of food and a lot of beer was only 40,000 won for four people, so less than 10 bucks apiece. Gotta love it. After that we went to an arcade down the street and hit up some batting cages, then finished the night at a foreigner bar called Sydney Street owned by Australians before heading home.

The next day Jess and Beth took us to downtown Daegu, and holy moly was it overwhelming. Lights and music everywhere, with more smells and sights and stimulation than I could handle. We had some awesome street food, including something called ddoekboggi which is now my new obsession- it's processed fish cake and some sort of rice cake cooked in this spicy/sweet red sauce that honest'y doesn't look or sound very good but ohmygoodness it tasted amazing.

Ddoek-boggi (pronounced dahk-bok-ee) in all its glory

Getting around here is a bit difficult since there are no street names, but thankfully Daegu isn't super gigantic so you can learn by experience. I think it'll take us a few more weeks to get comfortable downtown, but that's not a problem since there's so much to do we'll definitely be heading back there soon. We wrapped up the day with dinner at a place whose name I can't remember that served this chicken stew type thing that was also amazing. I can't get over how good the food is here, there's a ton of variety and I have yet to eat something I didn't like. Almost all the food is served family style too, which means you get to try a little of everything and it comes with unlimited banchan (sides) which are always really good- usually some pickled radish, always kimchi, super sweet pickles which Ashley hates (and I love), bean sprouts and lots of other delicious varieties of pickled vegetables.

Another thing that's wild here is how safe things are, especially in our part of town. We regularly see tiny adorable children walking around the city, even after dark (think like 5 and 6 year olds) with no supervision! It's definitely a shock, there are even steps in all the elevators so they can reach the buttons. Very refreshing compared to other parts of the world.

Today, we went to school to do... we weren't sure. Plans seem to change last minute here all the time, and Koreans seem to only feel the need to tell foreigners about half of what is going on. We thought we were going to go get medical checks in order to get our Alien registration card, followed by lunch out with our director and his family, but instead we were training for our new job (which we had thought we were doing later on in the day). It all worked out though, we were trained by Beth and Jess (they're the only other foreign teachers at our school). They explained our schedule for us, helped us learn how to plan lessons, taught us a lot of tricks to make our students feel more comfortable and to pronounce their names correctly, and gave us good advice on how to deal with our co-workers and bosses. Our direct supervisor is the Principal of the new school for younger students that will open on Monday, Ms. Lee, and she's really sweet. However, most of our coteachers get very... giggly around us, as if they're not very comfortable speaking English with native speakers.

Our work hours are from 1:30-7:40, but since the school for youngsters is just about to open there aren't many students enrolled. I only have one class of 1-4 graders, and that class only has one student in it, and Ashley has 3 classes each with a very small amount of students. However, we both have two later classes each day with 5-10 higher level students from grades 5 and 6. Apparently this will change very rapidly, as students will continue to be enrolled as the semester goes on, so we may find that when we come to work on Monday we have many more students than we thought, and that number can increase during the semester. Nevertheless, I have loaded up my kindle in preparation for several class periods in which I won't have any students to teach.

Anyways, there's a lot we still don't know, but Ashley and I are super excited to begin teaching! The school is incredibly nice, all the facilities are brand new and very modern. We got to pick out our own classrooms (well Ashley got to pick, and I got the other one :)). It seems pretty simple, and the students all seem very fun and bubbly.

This weekend we're planning to head downtown to try and do some used furniture shopping for our apartment- my Korean is improving a lot each day (I can read about half of what I see now) and so hopefully we'll be able to say gga-gga-chusayo (discount please) and get some good deals!

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