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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Oh ya, I'm here to teach!

After leaving orientation and heading for my new home in Mokpo, my co-teacher and I ran several errands before we were able to call it a night. Immigration office, school visit to meet the Principal and Vice Principal, HomePlus for some essentials, and bussing to and from school from my apartment (so I knew how to get to school the next day). We also stopped at a beautiful spot for some coffee to meet two other people who work at the school in administration.


View from lunch 

My first day at school (Wednesday) I didn't have any real classes to teach, which was a nice break. I spent the day lesson planning, and you know, Internet stuff. This was all in between saying "Hello!" countless times to all the students curious about the new foreign teacher. Wednesdays are also the volleyball day at school. Not just my school, but I think almost every school (almost) in Korea. It is HUGE here. So, since I was given the warning beforehand, I left my apartment that morning with my small gym bag in hand, hoping the gym outfit I had chosen was appropriate enough. Even though a long sleeve shirt and yoga capri pants are about as conservative as you get (this is my anxiety speaking). But what if they didn't change for volleyball?? What if they think yoga pants are very risqué?? These were all thoughts that crossed my mind. So, once 6th period came along, I was relieved to see other female teachers changing into gym clothes, although some did stay in their work clothes. It was also a relief to know I had gone the right path with the long sleeves and pants, since the other Korean teachers were also wearing long sleeves and pants. Except, not yoga style. But that was minor. 


Side Note: For those who aren't aware, Korean style is very different than Western style. Women rarely show any of their chest. And I don't mean, cleavage, just that regular skin beneath your neck, for lack of a better description. Most ladies' tops have very high necks, if they aren't turtle necks already. Showing this area is seen as a bit taboo in Korea, however showing a lot of leg is not. I've noticed many females wearing dresses or skirts that in Canada we would definitely deem as way too short. This makes for confusing fashion choices for us foreigners, especially in the workplace. But, I've learned to observe what they wear, take mental notes, and do as they do.


Ok: back to volleyball. Even though this was only my first day at school, first time meeting everyone, and can only speak 4 essential sentences in Korean, volleyball was so fun. The majority of the time I literally had no idea what they were saying, but I didn't need to know. I could still laugh, clap, say "nice!" at a good shot. Honestly, I don't have the right words to say how I felt. At one point I felt quite emotional. I had just met these people and despite the language barrier, we were having so much fun and they were so welcoming. Needless to say, I left my first day of school feeling pretty good.



My Middle School

Thursdays I'm usually at a high school, so this day was also spent lesson planning for the next week. Friday, was my first day at my elementary school, and they have my heart already. They are so sweet, energetic and welcoming. My biggest class is 8 kids. Yes, EIGHT kids. This is so wonderful. My co-teacher for elementary is also so great. She is very curious about the English language, so a lot of our conversations are spent discussing English and all the different colloquialisms. This is interesting to me, as a lot of the expressions we use literally do not make sense, since they are very figurative in nature. Sometimes it's challenging trying to explain these things, but it puts a new perspective on things, since they are things I have either a) never noticed or b) taken for granted in this complicated English language.

Next week I still do not have a full teaching schedule, since High Schoolers are still writing exams, and the Grade 3 Middle School students (Grade 9 Canadian equivalent) are writing their high school entrance exams. So yes, I am teaching all levels. Grade 3 Elementary all the way up the Grade 12 (we call it High School 3 here in Korea). It definitely wont be easy, but I am up for the challenge!

I will post about school again soon once I have had a full week of REAL teaching (November 17th-21st).


Until then,


- Laura in Korea

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