Friday, 26 July 2013

I've got a feelin' that Korea's gonna be a good, good place to work.

Living in Korea has given me a new appreciation on how to "live it up" and while I am able to paint the town" and have "shut it down" on many occasions, at the end of the day, the main reason that I am here is to teach and learn about a new culture. To that end, you will find below some information that is really to handy to know before you leave for Korea and decide if teaching is really for you!

Three useful tips for arriving teachers.
  • Don't pack food - there are plenty of foreign brands in places like Homeplus, Lottemart, Emart as well as some local mom and pop stores. There is also Costco and, even in my little town, plenty of foreign marts that cater to expats.  If you are Irish, you may want to bring some Barrys or Lyons for your first month but after that get someone to send it to you. Black tea here is mank. You can get most spices at any of these places plus there are plenty of websites you can order from. 
  • Unless your feet are extremely small/large you can get shoes here. In school, you wear these slipper shoes so you don't need shoes for work. They sell clothes here too - no one walks around naked! And they have places like H+M, Aland and Forever 21.
  • Even though you are told it already, you will be living in a SMALL one-room + bathroom apartment, more than likely. Don't OVERPACK or you will feel cramped. 
Three things you'll never get used to. 
  • People spitting loudly, disgustingly and constantly - everyone does it but especially teenage boys. One boy at my bus stop does it from the minute he arrives until the minute he leaves. Aaaaack! YUCK!
  • For a country that prides itself on respect for elders, I thoroughly dislike being on the bus and seeing all the teenagers sitting down and an ancient adjumma or adjosshi standing. Typically, it is myself or the other Waygookins who get up to give her/him our seat. 
  • Not always having toilet paper and/or soap in the bathrooms! Always carry some with you ....that reminds me I need to buy some tissues and wet wipes! 
Three things you'll want to take with you when you leave.
  • The Korail app for your cellphone/mobile phone. This is a lifesaver! You can buy tickets on it in advance up to about 15 minutes before your train leaves. It's in Korean but the ticket itself is in English. It's so handy and you can book for multiple people as well. It means you don't need to line up in a long queue only to be told there are no tickets left! Also, it's a great way to practice your Korean.
  • WIFI! It's everywhere and so easily accessible. It's the most amazing thing ever!
  • The abundance of coffee shops - not to say that there aren't coffee shops in other places, because there are but in Korea....WOW! They are magnificent. No lie, there are 5 coffee shops all within a stones throw of each other and my house: Ediya (delicious Chai latte), Paris Baguette, Twosome place, Rosetta and Plan B (my favourite). That doesn't even count the numerous ones on the other side of the track as well as other sundry ones that are near the universities. 
Must-see favourite locales. 
Ok - I don't live in what is the most exciting place in South Korea  - but it will be in the next 5 -10 years! 

The Sejong lake park is beautiful. It has an amphitheatre in the middle of the lake, a little beach area and lots of nice water features and cycle/walking paths. Walking along the river to Homeplus is an adventure for the brave as, at a few points, it's kind of hard to tell where you are and if you have still to reach HP. It's about an hour walk. I've only done it once but on several occasions, I have walked along the river which has cherry blossom trees lining it. Stunning in spring. There is a little memorial park near where the foreign quarter live. It's really cute and has lots of lights which is nice for when you have a late picnic. For more information as well as pictures, click HERE.

A great story from the classroom. 

Wow, so many to choose from! I am teaching phonics to my 2nd graders and as I've been having some computer problems recently, I had mostly been doing review the last few weeks. Once my computer was in excellent shape again, we were doing an alphabet race using an online bomb timer that counts down to a BOOM explosion. My kids loved it and asked me to do it again. I put it on for 20s and most of them rushed over to touch the spark or the bomb. They counted down with the timer (yay, for numbers!) and then when it exploded threw themselves on the ground as if they were dead. We ended up using the timer several times in the class and each time they responded as above. I don't think I stopped laughing the rest of the class! Click here for more details on this story. 

Another one just happened yesterday! I am teaching camp and with my 5th graders we were doing a game where they had to introduce themselves, spell their name and say where they were from. I was throwing a bean bag to each student and all was going so well until I threw the bean bag to this one boy. He's really excitable and very hilarious so he was jumping on his tiptoes the whole time he was giving me the spiel. When he was finished, he threw the bean bag back to me and it landed on my shoulder. That's when I realised that instead of throwing the bean bag he threw his yoghurt drink instead and it landed on my shoulder spilling on to my hair and clothes. Immediately everyone reacted: the other boys (4 of them) fell to the ground laughing. The three girls were laughing while trying to make sure I was ok and the culprit - well he was standing there appalled but giggly. I've never had someone apologise so profusely before! What a great way to start camp! 

So you might think, I'm mad to miss a Korail app and that people spitting is the equivalent of nails scraping a chalkboard for me. You might think I'm mad to try and highlight a town that really doesn't have many amenities at present but I think that to "live it up" one needs to see the world you live in through different glasses.  

PS For more information on what your options are for teaching in South Korea, please look at this page. It also provides information and links to an excellent recruitment agency (Footprints Recruiting)and a company that provides excellent TEFL training (i-to-i).
PS This post was inspired by the Black Eyed Peas "I gotta feeling".

No comments:

Post a Comment

Any comments or questions are welcome.

Thank you!