Thursday, March 25, 2010

you mean we have to speak english in english class...

What a crazy week it has been, my first day of classes felt like they were going fine, until the last class with the girl puking and getting flipped off. The kid totally knew what it meant when he flipped me off, he started laughing each time he did it, and then I saw him doing it later on the playground. He was like 10 years old, so I’m sure it’s just a novelty, I guess. Either way, I don’t think my co-teacher saw, and I didn’t want to yell at him because, ironically enough, he was doing in right in the middle of her yelling at them about being polite. Kids… haha.

Tuesday was different than it will usually be, the kids all had country wide aptitude tests, so there were no classes, but, I had my first conversation class. It was terrifying because I was told they wouldn’t be starting until next week, and then, as I was leaving on Monday to go home, my co-teacher told me that Tuesday would be my first conversation class. Surprise! So, I had to work my ass off overnight to plan an entire course that I thought I had a week to plan. Not only that, but I had the task of also preparing my first lesson. Oi. Needless to say, not much sleep was had.

Of course, the lesson was a COMPLETE disaster. Only four kids of the eleven showed up, and when I told them that we would be speaking in English only in the class they all gasped loudly and started muttering things in Korean. I don’t have a co-teacher, and the school wants the class to be in English only… the kids knew what they were signing up for. Luckily, the class I had today (Thursday) went a little more smoothly. Nine of the kids showed up… which is a hell of a lot better than four. It was also better because we were doing a real class instead of just introducing the program.

It just bothers me that they don’t take the class seriously. They don’t listen, they mock me, they don’t pay attention, and it seems like only three of them actually care. If I ring the bell enough times I can get them to snap back to class though. Maybe they’ll start paying attention after I give them the first quiz. I hope. They’re pretty good for like a few minutes at a time.

I think it’s because a lot of their English education is actually taught in Korean, so even though they've been learning English for 1-3 years already, most of that English has been in Korean. It’s hard to explain, but there are no real set English teachers here, it’s mostly a position that female teachers who are pregnant get put into. It’s a temporary gig, really.

All of the students are really cute though, and sweet for the most part. In my conversation class, we made name cards and a bunch of them put “I love you!” and “I love Tara” on the backs of their cards, and after one of my grade 5 classes, a couple of the girls came up to me and were like “Tara, you are the most beautiful” and told me that they loved me, it was so cute.

The classes I teach with my co-teachers are going really well. The kids are adorable and sweet, they call me Tara teacher, and run up to me in the hallway to say hello, and approach me on the street, even on weekends, to say hello and ask “how are you today” and tell me that “it’s nice to see you again.” Their English is really formulaic, which is understandable. Anytime you learn a new language, you learn certain things at a time.

Yesterday (Wednesday), one of the girls from my grade 5 class came up to me in the cafeteria and gave me a watermelon sucker, it was so cute. I said thank you in Korean (Kam-saham-ni-da) and she giggled and ran away. The students are always giving the teachers here sweets. And the students are responsible for keeping the school clean. There’s janitors as well, but the students do most of the cleaning and mopping and sweeping and taking out garbage. I think that’s really the biggest difference between Canadian and Korean students, Korean students are so much more respectful not only of the teachers, but of the school as well. And, oh my goodness, the kindergarten and grade one students! They are the cutest kids ever! They’re so tiny and adorable! The run around the school at recess just SCREAMING at the top of their lungs and laughing like crazy, and then they just stare wide eyed at all of the teachers, it’s so cute. They’re so cute.

The girls in my classes are usually the bravest and the most willing to ask me questions in English. I think as time goes on, the students will become more comfortable with me and be less nervous about speaking English. Although, there’s a little boy named Eonsu (Pronounce Oonsoo) from my conversation class that has taken a real shine to me. The first time I had my grade 4 class with him in it after the conversation class he ran up to me yelling my name and he was so excited to see me.

I found out why the kids always look so amazed when they find out I have a degree and that I’m only 22 years old… I’m actually 24 in Korea. I don’t know exactly how it works, but age starts at ovulation or something. I have no idea. Either way, I’m 24, not 22, and the kids don’t think I’m some sort of freak prodigy anymore.

On Wednesday, all of the teachers in the school went out for the most amazing dinner ever! I completely forget what it was called, I think it was Kalbi, but it was basically Korean pork barbeque, and it was so good. It wasn’t spicy, but it was savoury and kind of sweet, it was so yummy. And, of course, we had a million side dishes.

I was supposed to go to the beach this weekend with some of the other foreign teachers in the city, so that I could get to meet them, but I started feeling kind of sick on Friday when I woke up, and by the time I got home on Friday after work I could barely move, and I spent all night Friday and all day Saturday throwing up. It was magical. Except not. You never really realize how alone you feel somewhere until the first time you get really really sick. It was terrible. And I was so pissed off that I missed the beach hunt, I wanted to go and meet everyone so badly. Oh well, there will be other times, I’m sure of it.

It got cold enough here that on Tuesday it actually snowed a little! The snow didn’t make it to the ground, but still… snow! Ew!

I figured out how to make toast in a frying pan on Saturday, and it turned out half decent. I don’t have butter or margarine or anything so I brushed a tiny bit on canola oil on each side of the bread. I was surprised that it wasn’t positively awful and that I didn’t burn it. I asked my co-teacher what a typical breakfast is in Korea, and she told me that for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desert, Koreans typically eat rice… I’ll stick to my jam and bread… Not even joking about eating rice for desert either, when the teachers and I went out for dinner on Wednesday, we ate a whole bunch of food, and then after dinner they brought out even more Kimchi and rice for desert. I think Koreans and Canadians have a very different view of what desert is or should be. I miss cheese already though, there has to be somewhere here that I can buy it. And after trying three different types of milk I have come to the conclusion that Koreans only drink whole milk. It’s going to be hard to get used to using whole milk for my cereal. It’s fine in my tea, but it’s weird in cereal.

Going to the PC bang on Sunday was interesting. The guy that worked there was probably about my age, and actually quite accommodating to my lack of Korean. I think they get a lot of English people who only know a few phrases in Korean in places like that. He showed me how to set up my card and then showed me how to use the internet on the computer, it was quite nice. And then he gave me a glass of juice! I’m just glad I know how to say thank you in Korean. It was actually surprisingly cheap to use the internet in the PC Pang, I was there for an hour and a half, and it only cost me 1500 Won, so it’s 1000 Won an hour, or, about a dollar Canadian. I was worried I was going to be paying a tonne of money. I was the only person there not playing computer games, it was kind of funny.

My mission after talking on the internet for a bit was to figure out how to do my laundry. Joy of joys. I found some laundry detergent, which, I am 95% sure is actually Tide… the logo looks very similar. The worst part was figuring out the washing machine. It’s not just one or two knobs like the other washing machines I’ve used, no, you get to choose like 6 different settings. I must have figured it out because my clothes came out clean and the washing machine didn’t explode… thankfully! I miss having a dryer though. Air drying my clothes sucks, especially because I don’t have a clothes rack, so I just sort of have them all hanging around my house right now. Note to self: when you get paid, buy a clothes rack and an umbrella!

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