I'm here! Yay!
Actually, I've been in Korea for a grand total of nine days now.
For the past week, I've been at Kyeonggi University in Suwon for the EPIK orientation.
There, amongst the more obvious stuff such as lectures and survival Korean classes, I enjoyed meeting other teachers, stockpiling on the amazing food, and visiting a Korean folk village, where I 'made' a Korean flute (danso).
A special shout out to the only other two Kiwis I met at orientation - for your committment to consistently top-rate Kiwi humour, and another shout out to my awesome South African roomie.
So a week later, and I'm trying to work out how I ended up in a slightly more obscure, almost zero-English-speaking town. This is the short story of my day: after a few hurried goodbyes ('see ya,' 'I guess I'll see you sometime... probably... maybe...'), those of us who were headed to Jeonbuk province boarded the bus to our new homes. After arriving in Jeonju, the main city in the province, the Korean English teachers (hereinafter co-teachers) from our new schools came to pick us up.
My new co-teacher, Mr. Lee (who, funnily enough, lived in Dunedin for a month a few years ago), took me to Sanseo Middle School (pronounced like 'sahn-sor'), where I met a few of the teachers and checked out my new classroom. The school year starts on Wednesday, and my lesson planning starts from tomorrow!
I'm pretty excited. Each week, I'll not only be teaching at the Middle School, but also at the High School and a nearby elementary school as well, meaning I get the experience (and challenge!) of teaching at all levels! But because Sanseo is such a small town, consisting of just one main street, my classes will consist of only around ten students. So it's worked out pretty well!
What perhaps hasn't worked out quite so well is my living location. I'm in the busy town (city?) of Namwon, which is about a 40 minute bus ride from Sanseo. After dropping me off at my apartment, my co-teacher was kind enough to help me obtain a SIM card, the whole process of which took about 2 hours. Living and working here is definitely going to be a challenge. As my co-teacher left me to my own devices, I suddenly realised that I'd ended up in a place where people speak very little, if any, English. Act one, ordering food, was an awkward improvisation of gesturing, broken survival Korean phrases, and pointing to the meal of another customer (which turned out to be a very spicy bulgogi-type dish). Act two, trip to the supermarket, required all of my mental powers of counting in the thousands (in Korean), and attempting to distinguish between the plethora of milk brands.
Overall, however, I'm pretty happy. I've got a nice apartment, and although it needs a good clean, it's got loads of the previous teacher's stuff, which gives me a great head start, and greatly reduces the amount to stuff I have to buy and/or find.
The only other thing that's worth saying now is that it is cold at the moment. Every morning and evening, the ground is frozen solid, and there's quiet a bit of snow around. Sorry, no pretty pics of snow-covered Korean countryside.
Anyway, I think that's all I have to say for now, and I'm not entirely sure where I'm getting this wifi from, so I should probably get off the 'net. Annyeong hi gyeseo and goodnight!
2. Walking back to the dorms after a long day of classes at Kyeonggi University
3. On a run from uni around Gwanggyo reservoir, Suwon
4. Traditional Korean dancing!