Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cake and Indian Bracelets

Today I had my best morning yet at EOS. First off, apparently on the last day of every month (which was today, August 30th), the school celebrates all of the birthdays that occurred during the month. So, to my delightful surprise, I walk into my homeroom (Salmon Class) to find all of the children sitting around a beautiful cake wearing party hats (precious!).
Only Olivia had her birthday this month, so her Mom provided everything for the party. In addition to the cake, there was a princess-themed tablecloth, miniature wrapped fruit-baskets for everyone, and an elaborately decorated poster featuring pictures of Olivia. Sharon Teacher, the Korean teacher in charge of Salmon Class (she has been one of the main people training me; I adore her; she is also very pregnant), explained to me what was going on.
Sharon told me that we were celebrating Olivia’s birthday, so I was to read aloud the card that her parents had written about her (which Sharon had translated to English) and help Olivia read something about her and her family. Then I was to ask Olivia some questions about the pictures. Easy enough. I performed my duties, while Angel Teacher (the Korean helper-teacher) took pictures.
“Olivia’s Mommy stayed up all night doing this,” said Sharon, gesturing to the elaborately decorated poster, “no sleep,” she explained. “I will not do all of this, as a Mommy” (eluding to her unborn child). But seriously, all night? No kidding!
The cake was delicious, and the fruit was also good. Worth noting: there were a couple cherry tomatoes in the fruit basket, which was different. After everyone was done eating, and a sufficient amount of pictures had been taking, we moved on to the next activity: making necklaces for Indian Day.
Indian Day is this Saturday, and by “Indian Day” they mean Native American Day. There are actually Indian children at the school, and I am a little curious as to why their parents haven’t objected to the un-PC title of this day. Basically, the kids (optional) and teachers (required) dress up in Native American outfits, come to school (at 11am on SATURDAY, and we don’t get paid for this), and participate in a variety of activities. I’m not sure what these activities will be exactly, all I know so far is that I need to pull together a costume and come up about twenty-five “Indian Names” to assign to the children in Salmon Class and Tuna Class. I also keep seeing these random cutouts of Native-Americans popping up around school.
So, today we made our Indian necklaces, which was actually quite fun. We gave the kids little bits of clay, which they rolled into balls, and then we poked holes in them to make beads. We also gave then pieces of felt that had been cut into leaf-shapes, which they decorated with colored pencils. Then the beads and leaves were strung onto necklaces. I made one too. They actually looked pretty cool, very earthy. Also, between the birthday party, necklace making, and lunch, I only had time for about an hour of actual teaching (for Kindergarten). Maybe Indian Day won’t be so bad after all…

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Sunny Sunday in Suwon

It was a very pretty day in Suwon, so I headed out for a hike. Took these pictures with my camera phone. The first few are from the hike and the last few were taken on my walk back from the trail:

View from one of the trails


Cute graffiti art ^ ^

To get to the other side of the street you often times go underground.

On one of the public exercise machines

A taste of home, very near my apartment

No More Miss Nice Austin Teacher

          I have officially begun working at EOS Wingsly School. The first few days were a bit hectic, to say the least. However, I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it, day by day. A lot of the job is definitely different from what I expected. Here are some of the challenges and highlights of the past couple weeks:
            So, after three days of training, or, “observation,” it was time for me to start teaching. Observation basically consisted of me sitting in on classes, taking notes, and trying to figure out what the heck was going on. I was trying to understand the system, and many things weren’t clear to me initially: How do we know what we are supposed to teach in each class? How do we prep for classes? Can we leave children alone in the classrooms? I was also trying to remember the children’s names, the personality of each class, and what level they were at in terms of English comprehension. It was a lot to try to take in, especially in three days.
This was made more difficult by the fact the Koreans don’t seem to want to give you explicit instructions, perhaps because it is considered rude. There definitely seems to be a significant difference in Korean and American communication styles, and communication is made even more difficult with the language barrier. So, having realized this, the Korean teachers will usually explain something and then have one of the “native teachers” re-explain it.
The translation by the native teachers was definitely helpful, I would have been completely lost without it, but added an additional challenge in that every teacher has their own interpretation of how things should be done, and their own teaching style. In addition, as I have been told by some of the other teachers, “if something makes sense, assume that’s not how they do it here.” I’m not sure if this is particularly true to EOS, or just due to the difference values between South Korean and American culture.
            At the end of my final observation day, on the eve of my first day of teaching, Mr. Kim sat me down is his office for a pep-chat of sorts. Mr. Kim is EOS’s CEO, more commonly known as “King Teacher” (his wife, who I have yet to meet, is “Queen Teacher”). Mr. Kim, like most of the Koreans I have encountered, in mild-mannered, slight, and soft-spoken.
Whenever he talks it seems very deliberate, like he is feeling his way through the words. “I think [pause] you will be good teacher,” he told me, contemplatively, “but [pause] you need have more energy with children. [Pause] they have much energy, [pause] and you must also. [Pause] you also must find right voice tone. [Pause] raise tone, [pause] but with right timing. [Pause] only sometimes.” With those words of wisdom to guide me, I was hurdled into the classroom (at least that’s what it felt like).
The teaching-day is a steady stream of bells, students, and a few breaks. The first day went fine. In general, I usually just felt like I didn’t know what was going on. There is a Korean teacher in charge of each class, and the native teachers usually have a few classes that they teach primarily. I’m teaching several different classes, all at different levels. There is a schedule for what is to be taught in each class, planned by the Korean teacher.
Finding the right class at the right time was a challenge for me in itself. In addition I needed to make sure to have the correct folder for each class, with which to take attendance and look-up what was supposed to be taught. As far as the teaching went I basically just improvised, at least at first. Sometimes it seemed to work and sometimes it didn’t. The hardest part was when the class was at a particularly low level; getting them to speak any English felt like pulling teeth. Sometimes I just felt like I was talking to myself for forty minutes.
On most of the days I spend the majority of the morning with Salmon, my homeroom. I have also taught Tuna, Angelfish, and Blowfish, who are all younger. Kindergarten classes begin at 9:30 am and are done at 12:40 pm. Elementary classes begin at 3:30 pm and end at 6:30 pm. As of now, each day I teach 3-4 kindergarten classes and up to 4 elementary classes. The whole day goes from about 9:10am to 7:00 pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are shorter. This includes about an hour and a half break in the middle and sometimes an additional 45-minute break.
After my first day of teaching, I realized that my pre-conception about what it would be like to teach English in South Korea was, to say the least, off. Back in the US, when I pictured what it would be like to teach English to South Korean children, I imagined instructing these little bundles of cuteness who hung on to my every English word. I thought they would be shy, obedient, studious, and would astound me with their intellectual abilities. Which, in hindsight, is very stereotypical and I feel a little guilty admitting this misconception. A misconception indeed. Don’t get me wrong, there are some children that are like my pre-conceived fantasy children, but they are the minority, to say the least.
Salmon is one of the relatively mellow classes, thank goodness. It’s not too big, with only ten children. They are all 7 in Korean-age, which is 5 or 6 according to how we do ages in America (I’m still figuring this one out). The girls (Lucy, Olivia, Chris, Julia, and Sophia) are well behaved. The boys, on the other hand, are much more boisterous (irritating), especially the “three musketeers”: Eddie, Sonic, and Daniel. The other boys are named Ricky and Christopher. Don’t get me wrong, they are super cute, and I’m sure I would enjoy them all immensely if I were just playing around with them. Instead, our time together mainly consists of me trying to get them learn long and short vowels, do their phonics worksheets, and just sit still for a second and listen (!).
I would also like to mention that my first teaching day at EOS was “opposite day.” This meant that the teachers, and the students if they wanted, dressed up in opposite-outfits (one sock on, one sock off; half of hair up, half of hair down; clothes inside out/backwards). One of the teachers clarified this for me, “they basically want us to look ridiculous so that the kids will think it’s funny.” One of the boy students cross-dressed, which I thought was cute. We were also supposed to play games in class where the kids were to do the exact opposite of what we told them. Um, how is this different from other days? (Haha…).
Anyway, I have decided that the best way to keep one’s sanity in some of the situations I find myself in is to keep a sense of humor about it all. Trust me, there are plenty of things that I find to laugh about, even if sometimes I am just laughing on the inside because I don’t want to offend anyone. For example, the first thing I do when I come to work every day is to change into a pair of slippers. We all do, it’s required; students, staff, everybody. Well, they’re technically our “indoor shoes,” but, to my American eyes, they are bedroom slippers. There are certain places in Korea where this is necessary (ex: people’s homes, locker rooms, schools, some restaurants). At first I thought this was a religious thing, but I was told that they do it for sanitary reasons.
Another thing that I find amusing about my job is that for some reason they are always giving us little bits of food. We are already fed lunch (usually rice, soup, kimchee, a meat dish, and some sort of vegetable dish), but for some reason every day I’ve been at school I always end up being given at least a couple random snacks. They are either handed to me by one of the other teachers or staff while I’m teaching or in the teacher’s room, or I get back to my desk and some food is just sitting there.
I’m usually not sure where this food actually originates from (I’m guessing it’s usually from the Korean staff, some could come from the directors, or perhaps the parents), but I just take it and eat it so as not to be rude. It’s also usually pretty good, albeit random. Sometimes it’s a piece of chocolate, a date, a couple Pringles, or bit of chicken. Often times it’s something that’s “good for your health,” like this drink I was handed that supposedly contained my daily-dose of fiber and tasted like liquid jell-o. I’m guessing this food thing is part of the gift-giving culture. Or maybe it has to do with the collectivist, sharing thing. Or maybe the school just wants to keep us energized so we do our job well, I don’t really know.
            Also slightly amusing are some of the Korean fake names. All of the Korean students at hagwans are given English names, as are the Korean teachers, most of which are pretty normal (they like the names Alex and Allison), but some of which are very unusual. For example, some of my favorite names at EOS are Promise, Sunny, Archer, a particularly unhappy-looking girl named Shiny, and the boy in my homeroom named Sonic, Sony for short. I also find it funny that they literally refer to these names as their “fake names.” It gets a little confusing sometimes when you spend time with the Korean teachers outside of school, because you have to remember to call them by their real name, and then switch back to their fake name while inside the EOS building.
To summarize, this job seems to put much more emphasis on discipline and pleasing the parents, and less of an emphasis on actual teaching, than I initially imagined. Doing a good job, according to the school’s standards, requires a lot of energy, yelling, and a fair amount of theatrics. Although, the well-behaved, upper-level classes are much more similar to the teaching I initially imagined. I’ve been told that it takes about 2 months to get the hang of teaching here, and then it gets easier and more enjoyable. Also, once you bond with the kids I’m sure spending time with them becomes a lot more pleasurable. I’m already starting to get attached to some of them, and it’s only been two weeks.
Overall, in comparison to other hagwans, the main complaint about EOS (based on what I’ve heard) is that they make you work more than the other schools, but don’t pay you more. However, on the positive side, since it is one of the more high-end schools, the building is nicer (it has it’s own 4-story building, which is unusual for Korea). They also seem to provide us with more services than the other schools (we have Patrick, drivers that take us to the hospital if we are sick, etc.).
So, I hope this offers a glimpse of my work-life. I also hope that is doesn’t come across as too negative, as there have been both highs and lows and is a big adjustment. The beginning was a little rough, but it is steadily improving. I will write about some of the other aspects of living in Yeongtong soon, like the food, shopping, what people do for exercise, etc. I will also describe the other areas of Korea that I will soon be visiting, namely Seoul.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 3-Orientation

Yesterday, Saturday, was my orientation day, in more ways than one. First, I had my orientation at school, in which I went into a room with Sharon Teacher (all of the teachers are referred to like that, I'm Austin Teacher), signed my contract (I signed it before coming here but this copy had my actual start and end dates, August 19th, 2011- August 18th, 2012, since the first couple of days will be observation days and don’t count as actual working. Fine.), and went over the “Teachers Orientation Booklet.” This booklet described the kindergarten and elementary school schedules, EOS teaching methods, discipline methods, rules for teachers, etc.
Apparently each teacher has a kindergarten homeroom, mine is Salmon (they all have fish names; like Whale, Tuna, Blowfish, etc.). Native teachers are paired with a Korean teacher, who helps them with their classes. I will be paired with Sharon, who I like, but only for the next couple of months since she is pregnant, then I will be paired with another teacher who used to work at the school and is returning.
One of the highlights of the orientation was when Sharon was explaining the dress code. She said that it is important not to wear provocative clothing, as some of the elementary school children will not be able to concentrate. They also might come up and touch you, “they are young and can’t control themselves,” she explained.
Sharon also told me (in an indirect, casual, Korean manner) that if any of the kids ask my age, which they will, that I am to say I am “my age plus a few years,” since their parent won’t think that a 21-year-old is fit to teach their children. When I asked how old I should say, she contemplated a bit and then told me 27 would be good. She explained that this isn’t lying; it’s just to make the parents feel more comfortable. Stretching the truth in order to maintain appearances and satisfy expectations seems to be a theme in Korean culture, which I will elaborate on later.
After the orientation at school, Patrick asked me what my plans were for the weekend. I explained that I would like to get-together with some of the other teachers but didn’t have a phone or internet at my apartment yet so it was a bit challenging to do so. I had exchanged a couple of emails with Jess, but had only been able to send them from school. She said that she and a couple others had come by my apartment once or twice the day before but had missed me. Patrick offered to call Anna from his phone. He put me on with her and she said she would come meet me at school and show me around.
Anna is the athletic one whose 25th birthday was the night I arrived. She went to a private university in St Lois where she played basketball, and worked as a personal trainer before coming to Korea. She is full enthusiasm and positivity, and has an appetite for adventure. Sharon Teacher told me that Anna showed up her first morning at school, already having explored all of Suwon on her own, “so big energy.” I was very tired/jet-lagged, so I quickly drank a coffee, and we were off. Anna took me around Suwon (Literally. The main locations are located on the perimeter, shaped in a sort-of circle-square, which we walked around). She showed me the gym, McDonalds, Home Plus, a cute little park, and the 4-D movie theater (whatever that means).
Along the way she gave me all sorts of info and bought me a pastry filled with red-bean paste (tasty). She told me about the bus routes, Korean eating habits, and pointed out the “sexy bars” (the ones with tinted windows, which we avoid). At the end she drew me a map of the places we had been. She was meeting someone in Seoul so had to go but wished me well on my continued exploration of Suwon (“just get lost, girl!”), gave me her email address, a map she had drawn of the places she had shown me, and directions to a café with free Wi-Fi.
Later that evening, around 10, I was reading back at my apartment after spending some time at the café Anna had directed me to (Roastery Coffee House), eating dinner, and wandering around some, when there was a knock at the door. It was Jess, Hillary, and her sister, who were heading out and wondering if I’d like to join. Yes. I put on shoes and grabbed a sweater and an umbrella (we’re at the end of monsoon season, so it still rains quite frequently) and we walked a few blocks to Now Bar, the main ex-par in Suwon.
Now Bar would be difficult to find on your own; it’s on a side-street up some stairs and the sign is in Korean. Inside, there is a pool table, comfortable booths, a dartboard, and anyone can play music over the speakers from the laptop.  The crowd was mixed; Koreans as well as foreigners from Europe, South Africa, and the US. It was a slow night, but I was introduced to most of the people there. Apparently after you’ve been here a few times you either know or at least recognize pretty much everyone (there is a “crowd”).
Now Bar is owned by a Korean woman who everyone calls Mrs. C. According to Hilary, she acts as a mother to all of the regulars. She will let you nap there if you get too drunk (not planning on doing this) and will make you soup if you’re sick (Why would you be at a bar if you’re sick? Good question). She also serves popcorn with the drinks, which is nice. I read somewhere that it’s common practice in Korea to serve snacks with alcoholic beverages.
While getting an in-depth low-down from Jess about the students and staff at EOS, I drank my first soju cocktail of my stay in Korea. They come in different flavors (grape, peach, lemon, etc.) and are basically a bottle of soju, juice, and sprite in a huge glass with ice. Jess recommended the lemon, which I ordered, and it tasted like a lemon-drop. Drank straight, soju pretty much tastes like vodka, but is about half as strong, and comes in little bottles like the sake bottles at Japanese restaurants. I read that it used to be distilled from rice but is now made out of sweet potatoes. It tastes fine when mixed with something but hurt my stomach.
Jess and Hilary came to Suwon using the same recruiter as I did, DJ Choi, They are friends from their hometown in Indiana. They came here together but had to pretend that they didn’t know each other when they first got to the school, as instructed by DJ. The school now knows that Hilary and Jess were friends before and doesn’t care, but this deception was necessary at first in order for them to get jobs at the same school (see the theme I was referring too?).
Apparently the reason that the schools don’t want to hire teachers that know each other is that they are afraid if one of the teachers didn’t like it and left the other would follow, and then they would be stuck having to quickly fill two positions at once. The worst-case scenario for a hagwon (what they call the Korean English schools) is if there is a domino effect of teachers who “run.”
Running is a phenomenon here in Korea when, without telling anyone their intentions, a foreign teacher will pack up their stuff, withdraw all of the money from their Korean bank account, and fly home, breaking their contract (sounds so 007, I know). If this happens, there is nothing that the school can do except replace the teacher as quickly as possible. Contracts aren’t binding in Korea like they are in the Western-world, and are more like guidelines. Also, even if they were, a school isn’t going to through the trouble of pressing trans-national legal charges (don’t think this is the right terminology, but you get what I mean). Don’t worry, Dad, I’m not planning on doing this, I just thought it was interesting.
Of course, if you run, you will most likely never be able to get a work-visa to teach English in Korea again, and the staff, students, and other teachers at the school will be unhappy. If you decide you don’t want to stay out the full year and give two-months notice, you are allowed to leave while still respecting your contract, and this way the school has time to replace you. But if someone really wants to leave immediately, for whatever reason, sometimes they just do, and the school is left scrambling for a replacement teacher.
The hagwons are businesses, and the parents pay a lot to get the quality, in-depth English instruction that they feel that they are not getting enough of from the public school system. Many of the students come to EOS after regular school in the morning, and then have some other instruction afterwards, such as an instrument. Many of these kids are in school alllll day. Apparently some of the mothers have very high expectations and the school works very hard to meet their standards, or in some cases an appearance of these standards (by adding a few years to one’s age, etc.). Appearance is very important in Korean, part of the “saving face” aspect.
Anyways, back to the bars…after Now Bar, we went to the next most popular expat bar, Pamex. Pamex has low lighting, a dance-floor, and a DJ booth. This is usually where people come after having a couple of Soju cocktails at Now Bar. They have relatively normal (i.e. Western) cocktails at Pamex (you can get a gin and juice, coke and rum, take “jegger booms,” etc.). I got a vodka-tonic with lemon (they don’t have limes here, unfortunately). We also watched three Koreans take shots that contained vodka, 151, and Tabasco. I was impressed. This bar was pretty slow also; apparently it’s summer break for a lot of the schools so many of the teachers are traveling. We left around 2am and walked only a few blocks back to our various apartments, which are located within a couple bocks of one-another.
          This was my introduction to Yeongtong provice’s (of Suwon City) expat bar scene. It seems quaint; Jess equated the bars, Now Bar especially, to what you might find in a college town. The people seem friendly, the streets pretty safe at night. Although it is better to avoid the areas where prostitution is legal. Apparently it is also common to end up in a karaoke booth at the end of the evening, some of which contain drum sets (in case you feel the need to impersonate Justin Beiber). Something to look forward to.

Day 2-Health check, EOS

Today is my third day in Suwon and I am still yet to spend any of the won I exchanged for at the airport. Don’t worry Mom, I have been eating, I just mean to say that people have been very hospitable and buying me things. My first night, upon arrival at the apartment, Patrick presented me with a bag containing a liter of water, Mott’s grape-juice, and a sandwich. I’m guessing that these foods were meant to remind me of home and ease the transition. I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten a ham and egg sandwich or drank Mott’s grape-juice, but they weren’t bad. Jess bought my beer the first night, a Cass, the cheap beer of Korea.
I was taken to the hospital by what some of the other teachers referred to as a “monkey butler.” Patrick came to my door a little before ten in the morning, brought me downstairs and drove me the three blocks to school where I got in the monkey butler’s (I know it’s totally wrong to call him that but I was never told his real name…I’ll just refer to him as MB) car.
Patrick explained to me on the way to EOS that this man did not speak any English but not to worry, there would be someone at the hospital that did. After we parked at the hospital, MB guided me to the elevator and then to the appropriate part of the hospital. He seemed very gentle and attentive, beckoning for me to go first through doorways even though I was following him. He glanced at me every few steps to make sure I was still there.
The hospital was very clean and I didn’t see any other foreigners. I felt very tall. The Koreans didn’t stare though, which I was grateful for. Sometimes when I would look around, in the elevator or the waiting room, I would catch one of them looking at me, but they would quickly avert their gaze. Etiquette is a very strong part of the Korean culture, from what I’ve read. The do indeed seem to be incredibly polite.
When we reached the area of the hospital where I was to receive my health check, a medium-sized room with various chairs and tables, a front-desk, and several adjacent rooms, I was taken to a nurse at the front desk who spoke English. She exchanged some words with MB, which I understood none of except for a few mentions of “E2 visa.” She then addressed me; “breakfast?” which I didn’t understand the first couple of times. I handed her my passport in confusion, then realized she was asking me if I’d eaten breakfast, and told her no (I had been instructed by Patrick not to consume anything except water from 10 pm the night before until my health check had been complete).
I filled out a form, then was given an article of pink hospital clothing and a numbered locker-key and told to go into room 5 and “take off…*something jumbled* your bra.” I would have been very confused and a bit perturbed, but had been told by some of the other teachers the night before the basic steps of the health-check, which included changing into a hospital shirt for the chest x-ray.
I took off the necessary clothing, put on the heavy cloth shirt, and went back out into the waiting room. MB beckoned me to a seat and we sat with the other people in the room watching the television, which showed a Korea girl crying dramatically and ripping off her sweater while a panel of displeased-looking people (who I imagined to be judges in some sort of Korean-idol) talked to her via microphones (critiquing her prior performance?).
After a couple of minutes I recognized my name being called: “Austin Lucy Clark,” and I was led through a series of health-check stations. The rooms were located around the perimeter of the waiting room, each numbered. In the different stations they checked my vision, hearing “press the button when it makes the beeeepppp sound”, urine (awkward), blood (ouch), teeth, chest/lungs (the man nicely asked, “may I touch your hair?” before moving my hair out of the way of the x-ray machine), and a woman asked me if I had any diseases (no). It was all very quick and efficient.
When we got back to the car, which was parked in the parking garage, I noticed that we were blocked in by a line of cars parked perpendicularly in front of the EOS van. MB seemed unbothered however, and opened the door for me to get in. He then proceeded to calmly push the cars lined up in front of ours out of the way (apparently they had been left in neutral), in order to make space for us to get out. I’m assuming this is a common practice in Korea, which I suppose makes sense in terms of space efficiency. Very efficient indeed, the Koreans.
After the health check, I was driven back to EOS. EOS, which stands for “English Only System,” is a prestigious-looking private school, with large columns at the front and a rotating glass door. You are required to take off your shoes and put on slippers when entering. There is a front-reception area with a large desk and couches, similar to a hotel. An elevator takes you between floors. I haven’t seen inside the classrooms but there is a computer lab and pool.
I was taken to meet the EOS director, Mr. Kim, who runs the school with his wife. His office contained a large table and chairs, an official-looking desk, a well-stocked bookcase, and a flat-screen TV projecting the feed from security cameras located around school. Although his office was a bit intimidating, and the lurky cameras made me a bit nervous, Mr. Kim was nice and gentle seeming. We motioned for me to sit at the table and sat next to me, then asked me some polite questions about my hometown (“Santa Barbara is very expensive, yes?”), my schooling, etc. After about 10 minutes he dismissed me in an inoffensive, Korean manner, by saying “I am very sorry, I have another meeting.”
Patrick let me use his computer until lunchtime, and then led me to the kitchen, where I was fed a very typical Korean meal (rice, seaweed soup, meat/vegetable dish, kimchee). Patrick explained that often times the teachers cannot eat the food at first, and that it takes some getting used to. I really didn’t mind it (I like spice) but Patrick bought me coffee and a granola bar from 7-11 afterwards (so that my palette didn’t go into shock?). As a manager of the school, a large part of Patrick’s job appears to be to try to make the new teachers feel comfortable, which he does quite attentively, it’s nice.

first email sent (to parents)


Just wanted to let you guys know that I made it safely to Suwon. The flight wasn't too bad, I read a lot of my Korean etiquette book (fun fact: half of Koreans don't produce body odor, according to my book, probably why they don't have much of a deodorant selection), watched a couple movies, and was able to sleep a decent amount since I requested a window seat. My first impression of Korea was that it was like something out of a futuristic movie. Or maybe anime. Lots of black, white, and silver Hyundais. A guy at the gate was holding a sign with my name on it, he said "welcome to Korea" and that was pretty much the extent of his English. He drove me to Patrick, the school manager, who showed me my apartment and introduced me to the other teachers. I talked with them for an hour or so, got some info, they're all very nice. Jess, the girl I was emailing with, bought me a beer; it tasted like cheap beer.
Today I was taken to the hospital to get a health check. Now I am at EOS, just met the school director, Mr. Kim. I am using one of their computers because I don't have internet set up in my apartment yet. I requested it and should have it in a week or so, there are also cafes with free internet. I am about to eat lunch at the school, it's almost noon. Am very hungry because you can't eat before your health check. There is no school this Monday because it is a holiday. I will observe classes Tuesday-Thursday and my first teaching day is on Friday. At EOS/Winglsy School, all of the classes have fish names: salmon, blowfish, etc. The teachers told me that the classes I will be teaching are some of the nicer ones. There are only about 10 students in each class.
The weather here is comfortable and the people seem polite and gentle. The apartment is basic but includes cooking facilities, bathroom, and clothes washer. To shower, you stand in the bathroom and hold the shower head and it drains into the floor (no shower curtain or tub). One of the other teachers, Anna, is very into exercise and told me about some nice hilly areas where you can run/hike, she also has a gym membership at a gym right by my apartment. The school is only a 4 minute walk from the apartment, and the other teachers all live really close.

More soon! Love you all!