Today is the last day of the first week of school, and I haven’t done anything. Sure I planned a couple of lessons for next week, but I am tremendously bored at work. I am not allowed to teach till Monday because they fear all of us Native English Teachers have H1N1. The worst part is the school went on vacation on Wednesday, so there have only been two people in my office. One of them is the math teacher who has her PhD in Statistics. She is brilliant, she gave her dissertation in English in Finland, but her English language skills have fallen in the past years. I’ve also been chatting with So Yong, one of the English teachers from Korea, but she is in her own office. The result is a good 20 hours spent on Facebook and the rest starting my self study of Korean. This has gone on decently, I can now read the numbers, which hasn’t been that helpful, but I need to expand on my own methodology for learning the language. There are free Korean lessons offered by various institutions here, and the one that looks the most intensive doesn’t start until October. I am going to study hard so I can hopefully skip the first four weeks of learning the hangul alphabet, and then I can hopefully take all the courses that are offered. They have three hour lessons three times a week . . . that is a lot of language learning. What a wonderful place to be!
The students in my school love me. Well, it isn’t as deep as that. This is very superficial love, as they have never had a boy Native English teacher before. They run around and scream, and then they will come into the office and ask if I have a girlfriend. When I tell them I’m single, they scream, run off and shout ‘you are handsome’. Quite the ego boost, but I hope they stop screaming once I have the opportunity to give them lessons. I will be teaching all the first and second graders, a total of 700 students, so unfortunately I get to see each class only once a week. I’m still trying to see if I can get some after school work, because I have to stay in the office till four anyways. As for now, however, I just have my 8 – 4 job.
This leaves a lot of room for leisure. I had a little stir-fry party at my place on Tuesday and a good number of people showed up. All of us English teachers have bonded fairly well, and we all brought vegetables, fried them up and enjoyed. I screwed up the noodles, but I think my friends forgave me. My place can hold about 20 people if they sit on the floor, which is excellent for dinner parties. With my first paycheck I want to buy some flatware and stemware so I can host better events. Of course, first I have to buy a phone, maybe a computer, and pay off some of my credit card debt. Hopefully my paycheck can last the month!
The one thing I have to quit is coffee. I love an iced Americano in the morning, but unfortunately they are around 3,500 won, which is only three bucks, but that is the same price for a meal. The problem is you can’t really buy good coffee at convenience stores or at the grocery store. I’ve ended up drinking those pre-mixed packets that include cream and sugar. Not my cup of tea (well, coffee).
Wednesday I went to the immigration office and applied for my Alien Registration Card. This will let me get a cell phone and a driver’s liscence. The process, however, took all day and I never made it to school. Some of these little things in Korea can be annoying, but, I guess, understandable. By the time I got home it was night, so I went grocery shopping and I found a bigger grocery store. At first I was afraid that I would not have any nice groceries in the neighborhood because nobody seemed to know where a big 슈퍼 (shu-p’o) could be. However, I finally found a place with a large sized produce section and a decent dried goods section. It feels great to fill up my cupboards! I’m going to try to eat in Monday thru Thursday, and only go out to eat on the weekend. So far, this has worked out. Then again, this is only the first week, so I cannot be sure this pattern will stick.
Thursday was another boring day in the office without work, but I decided to walk back to my home instead of using the metro. I went south first, which was right, but then went west instead of east. I ended up walking an hour in the wrong direction before I realized my mistake. Instead of walking two hours to get back home I jumped on the train and headed back. I will try to walk home again today. After a quick potato salad meal, and the shock of finding out ‘prepared mustard’ was practically 100% horseradish, I headed over to Itaewon, the foreign district, to meet my friends. Once again, I decided to walk because I want to get to know this city. It only took about an hour, which is nice, because Itaewon is going to be a common destination. We went to trivia last night and Laura (a Canadian) and I did really well because of our geekiness in terms of Marvel Comics, but then poorly because our inability to remember the Bond films’ names. After trivia, Sam and I decided to walk home to Gangnam, which was the third hour of walking. However, I think it is better to over-walk now and get used to it then just poop out early on in the game. The best part of the walk is crossing the bridge over the river Han. It is BEAUTIFUL! I need to take my camera out so I can share the wonderful sights of Seoul.