Placement/Apartment Day!

This has been a crazy day! I’ll try to remember it all.

Last night was the last night of orientation so pretty much everyone went out. I went with a group to downtown Daejeon, and had a blast! We walked around for awhile in awe of all the lights and happenings on a Monday night. We found a pretty busy area, and spent most of the night a a western bar called SPONGE BAR. It was pretty funny. They modeled it after a U.S. dive bar. They had all kinds of strange antique type things from the U.S. and graffiti on the walls. Nearby there was a place with batting cages and tons of photo booths, so of course I tried those out. It was an adventure. We couldn’t figure out how to get the pictures that we took in the machine, so it took about 10 minutes of charades for the Korean guys to figure out what I needed. Then he very simply showed me the machine that you edit the pictures on, and then print them out.

Rough start to the morning because I stayed out pretty late, but I trucked through it. We loaded buses and headed to Gumi for lunch, and to meet our co-teacher. It was pretty much an airport seen of tons of Korean people holding signs for the teacher they were picking up. I quickly found my “handler”, and we brought my 100lbs of bags to her car. Everything was good at first. She introduced to me to her sister who was riding in the car with her. Then her sister handed me a cold cooked sweet potato to eat. The sweet potatoes here are really different from the ones back home. They look like those red potatoes, but they taste REALLY sweet. Actually, too sweet. I don’t really like them (and I LOVE potatoes), but I ate it anyway because I wanted to make a good impression. I quickly found out my co-teacher speaks very little English (more on that later). We asked each other a few questions during the hour long ride, but not too much. She asked me what I did before I came to Korea, and I told her I was a teacher back home. She didn’t seem very impressed that I had teaching experience. She told me she had been teaching for 30 years, so she’s kind of older (more on that later).

We drove through Daegu, and I saw the famous stadium. It was really impressive! Then she dropped off her sister, and drove me to my apartment. It’s literally across the city line of Daegu, so I’m really close so I love that. I’m also in a very cool area near Yeungnam University. I’m not sure how far it is from the school. I think about 20 minutes. I have to take a bus, but my co-teacher is going to show me tomorrow. So I learned all about how the building works. No keys, just keypads with various codes to enter. There’s tons of restaurants, coffee shops, bars in the area. I’m on the 4th floor (they call it the 5th floor though, because in Korea 4 is an unlucky number so many buildings don’t have 4th floors). The apartment is super nice. My co-teacher told me she secured it very early so nobody else could get it, and she made sure to pick an apartment with a lot of natural light, which I loved. I hate dark apartments with no windows! It’s pretty big. I have a big living room with very nice furniture, and good sized bedroom that is a loft. The ladder to get to that part is REALLY scary (especially going down), so that won’t be fun at first.

After I dropped up my stuff my co-teacher took me to E-Mart which is an insane department store/grocery store/everything store. It was massive. I actually ran into another EPIK teacher there too! So we shopped around and got the basics I needed to set up the apartment. I’m sure I’ll need a lot more. Then, we ate dinner at the food court in the store. This is when things started to get bad. I was asking her questions about the school so I would know what to expect for the year. So, first of all, my co-teacher’s English is not very good. But here is what I got out of our conversation:
– I will have 4 classes every day. Each class is 40 minutes. Monday and Tuesday I will teach with her. Wednesday with another teacher, and then Thursday and Friday with another teacher. So I guess that makes 3 co-teachers.
-I’ll be teaching 5th and 6th graders
-Each class has about 30 students
-One class will be me teaching a group of the staff who want to learn English
-I will get 5 minutes at the beginning of every class to do the introduction. “How are you? What is the weather? What day is it? Etc.
-My co-teacher will prepare and teach the main part of the lesson, and I will just be her “helper” to say phrases and have the student’s repeat.

So, needless to say I was pretty upset about this, but I kept on my happy face as I had been told to do during orientation. We had been warned that this was a possibility, but I never really thought it would happen to me to be honest. I’m trying to stay positive about it though. Everything else is really awesome, but I came hear to teach and become a better teacher so this is really frustrating.

Tomorrow my co-teacher is picking me up from my apartment to take me to the school. I will meet the principal and vice principal, and become familiar with the school. Hopefully it gets better.

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