December 17, 6am
So, I made it!! The flight finally ended and I made my way back to my city of Yongin. When I arrived at the airport I wasn’t able to find Eddie right away, the guy that was supposed to me picking me up. I stood around awkwardly for awhile, occasionally walking back in front of the large group of people holding signs with others’ names on them. But I couldn’t see my name so I decided that I would go to information and have them help me call him. On my way over there I got stopped by a man who asked if I needed help, where I was going etc. I explained to him that I was waiting for someone to pick me up but that I didn’t know where he was. He told me he would call him for me, so I gave him Eddie’s number and sure enough about five minutes later Eddie came to meet me with two of his friends that he had run into at the airport.
We arrived in Dongbaek a little over an hour later. We stopped first at my apartment, with which I was very pleasantly surprised!! I’ve been told that the apartments are nothing more than a studio with a tiny tiny kitchen and bathroom, so I wasn’t expecting much. And although it is not huge by any means, it will definitely work for me!! After you walk in, there is a bathroom (actually, basically just a shower with a toilet and sink inside, no shower curtain which makes for interesting showers). After a step up there is my kitchen, a small gas range and sink and cupboards to the right, and then a fridge to the left. Then, there is a sliding door that leads to my bedroom, where there is a small table, a wardrobe, a TV stand with a few drawers and a TV, and then my bed, which is actually bigger than I expected! I brought a set of full size sheets with me, but the fitted sheet was too small so I am using the flat sheet and then the blankets that the school provided. Not the most comfortable bed, but it will do! Then, there is another sliding door where there is a tiny laundry room, nothing more than just a washing machine and little storage space, but it is nice that I have this room to dry clothes.
After dropping my things off, Eddie brought me to a small restaurant just down the street, where there were seven or so foreign teachers waiting to meet me. In my school there are 10 foreign teachers in total I believe, one Australian, a couple Canadians and the rest are from the US. They are all women and super nice and helpful. We ate an awesome dinner of beef (that we cooked on the table in front of us) kimchi (for those that don’t know it is like fermented cabbage, kinda spicy but I like it, which is good because it is served at every meal!), rice and a few salad type dishes. Over all very tasty!!!
I crashed soon after the dinner, which was good because I was expected to be at school right away on Wednesday. Brittany, who is a kindergarten teacher also, lives right down the hall from me, and she picked me up for work. We took the bus just a couple minutes to the school, and I met my co-teacher Lydia, who is also a new teacher to the school. She is Korean, and we will work together creating lesson plans, decorating and getting ready for our new students. Every morning we will be teaching a class of 6 six year olds, and 10 seven year olds, (the banana and apple classes as they are called here). I will teach the apple class for 80 min while she is with the banana class, and then we will switch. We eat lunch with the students and then I believe have one more afternoon class with them, and then they go home while some of the older students arrive for afternoon classes. So I will also be teaching the SR students, which are kindergarten graduates. Once a week I will teach a science, arts and crafts class, and one more special class, which I’m still not quite sure exactly what it is. I was a bit overwhelmed yesterday afternoon while my bosses were explaining everything to me, but luckily the other teachers tell me it is normal and I will eventually figure it out!!
I am absolutely amazed at these students. I observed five classes yesterday, and their level of English is way beyond what I ever expected. Krista is the girl that I had been talking to via email before I came, and I observed several of her classes yesterday. The students she started with did not speak a word of English when they started last January, and now they are talking away. I didn’t believe it when she told me that, but sitting in class and watching them read books, answer questions and take spelling tests was so amazing! I think Krista is a great teacher and has really good control over her class, so I have a really good example to learn from.
The students were really eager to ask me questions about my age, where I was from, if I was from and etc. They refer to me as “Betsy Teacher”. As you can all imagine, 6 and 7 year old Korean children are absolutely the most adorable things you’ve ever seen, mostly very well behaved and soooo eager to learn. Haha I may be taking all of this back after another few weeks of school or so, but at least I got a good impression on my first day!
After school yesterday I went back to the restaurant from the first night with Brittany, and we ran into a couple teachers from another school. One of them, Molly, came and sat with us after her friends left, and she asked me if I was going to be traveling during winter break. All of the teacher from my school are traveling, some back to the US or Canada, others to Australia, and possibly some other places too. I of course don’t have any sort of trip planned, and I was a little concerned about coming here and being alone for a week and a half, especially over Christmas. But Molly told me that she is going to be staying here because her sister is coming to visit, so she invited me to hang out with them during break. Of course I agreed that that would be great and I was extremely grateful. I’m soo happy to have met someone that I can hang out with, especially on Christmas and I know my mom is happy that I won’t be alone too! After we finished eating Molly took me around to a few stores in our village so I could buy some food, and it was nice to walk around and see where I am living! I don’t know if I would be able to find my way around again right now alone, but at least I’ve seen a little bit more of the area!
So, after that loooong day at work I was in bed at 9:30 last night, but unfortunately I was also awake just a little after five this morning! We don’t leave for school until after 8:30, so I still have a couple hours.
Hope you are all well, and as soon as I get the internet I will be posting these!!!!