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Angel Goes Korean: My First Two Weeks

It’s not the same, for these kiddies; ever since I came to Cheonan-si! (Sung to the tune of Gidget Goes Hawaiian) It’s been 2 weeks! I have been trained, I have done some teaching, I have had a minor meltdown, and I’ve been grocery shopping. It was all fairly uneventful but I’ll tell you all about it anyway! Sorry, no pics this week. Annie is yet to experience Korea.

Teaching

My first day wasn’t supposed to be my first day, actually. When Director first picked me up she said that I could take Monday off to rest and take care of myself. Then she asked if I wanted to come and see the students. Needless to say that day off never happened. Which was kind of alright. I sat in on a couple of my classes. I had one week with the teacher that I was replacing and training. The plan was to observe for three days and train for two and then I would be totally on my own the following week.

The training…was interesting. It was done by the assistant director. His teaching style is a little different. Actually, it’s very similar to my High School World History class. It’s a lot of information thrown at you. His philosophy is that “Everything is Based on Non-Human Respect”. Basically, you want the kids to respect you more than they like you. Fair enough. In order to earn that respect, you can’t be human. In this, it’s like working at Disney all over again. Cast Members and Teachers, don’t get tired, they don’t drink anything but water–from clear bottles, they don’t eat, and more directly to Korea, they don’t like BTS or watch K-Dramas. I think that this is a little archaic, but what do I know. I mean I definitely respected my 7th grade English teacher because he liked Star Wars as much as I did. But that is the work culture and I will attempt to follow it.

Luckily I’m not a huge BTS fan, but I do know enough about them to use them as examples to gain the older kid’s interest. My class is right next to the teacher’s room so I can run in every 40 minutes, during my five-minute breaks, and bite into something or guzzle coffee.

I’m still trying to find my way with teaching honestly. I feel bad, because I don’t typically have a deep learning curve. But there are a few obstacles. I’m doing what I’m told, I’m getting through the daily schedule, and I’m checking all the boxes. Are my kids actually learning? Not a clue!

Apartment

I have a working refrigerator! It is smaller than a regular fridge but bigger than dorm fridge. So basically there is no room to stock pile things, but there is room for meal prepping. I’ve been trying to “Meal Prep the Korean Way”. I have a couple of soups in there, and some side dishes. All of which can be reheated either on the stove or in the rice cooker.

I’m not in the full swing of things just yet. The apartment came “partially furnished”; with a bed, a TV and stand, a table, and a couple of chairs. I haven’t really been able to buy the things I need to make it a home, just “comfortable.” I have purchased a prep bowl, and some storage containers for the above mentioned side dishes. But I don’t have a pots set. I have a pot and skillet, which I was given, and appreciate. But I can’t wait until I get paid and can finally order these beauties!

A good idea for a house warming gift, just in case you were thinking it…

I need a couch! Not having a couch has been really bugging me. I don’t do the whole sitting on the floor thing. I’m old and stiff; floor sitting has not been part of my lifestyle since I hit 20. There are some other little things I would like but those are the most important. Anything besides the couch and pots I would wait to get if I know for FACT that I’m staying for another year or two.

Adventures

I have had a couple. One of the first things that you have to do when you come to Korea is get a checkup; I think it’s for insurance purposes. I was told to lose weight and if I wanted to get my teeth fixed, it is fairly cheap. The funny thing is that when I mentioned this to others, everyone ELSE was offended. I literally planned to lose weight and take advantage of cheaper dental procedures while here. And of course, learn a new culture and pay off my student loans.

I have also been asked if I was from Africa! Now this occurrence was actually two situations rolled into one. Both of which I was prepared for and yet still don’t know how to handle. I went to Paris Baguette for coffee and pastries, I’m not losing weight yet, when these two older ladies ( 아줌마 ) come in and start talking to me. This alone is kind of weird. No one, besides a parent, has seen me on the street and just started talking to me. Their first question was a little confusing. They either asked if I was from Kenya or if I knew Kenya. The answer to both was no so I just answered, ” 아니요” (No). I turned away, hoping that this was the international signal for “leave me alone”; it’s not. I clearly understood “IS she from Africa” before they asked where I was from and if I believe in God. Turns out she was an evangelist for the church down the street. I tried to leave and the woman first insisted that she pay for my coffee and bread, but I had already paid. She then wanted to buy me fruit, again I told her no. “I want to give you a gift.” “NO thank you. I have to go to work now.” This woman literally grabbed my arm and tried to pull me with her. This is the reason I eat carbs! I can’t be pulled easily. She ended up following me into the building where I all but RAN to Director and she all but told me to hide in the Teachers Room. We laughed about it later!

My most recent adventure was getting on the bus. I’ve been more afraid than I was expecting to explore. Considering that I can’t comprehend a lot of Korean, my greatest fear is getting lost and having no way of getting home. Yes, I’m aware that I have Papago with a live translator, but I have still been avoiding it. All that will change next week when I go to the Lotus Festival. I get to ride a train and everything. Please pray for me!

Advice

If you are planning to take a leap of faith like me…just do it. Be prepared to not be prepared. I always say, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans”. Join all the Facebook groups, download all the apps, study the language as much as you can and pray that some of it stick under pressure. Bring more than one adaptor! I forgot mine but I was able to purchase one at the airport. Thank goodness! Get at 30-day data plan! Accept that you will have very little control of a great many things for about a month. Practice your penmanship.

That’s about it. As always…please send Captain Crunch and grits!

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