Teaching in Korea!!

June 13, 2007
Mood: Tired!!

I woke up after a nice sleep at Scott's house, and he offered to take me to his school to see what teaching in Korea is like. I was happy to see what it was like, and from what he said, suspected the kids would be really fun.

In the morning he caught a public bus. He wouldn't be avaialble until noonish, but I had to go with him to find the school. The I would have the morning to myself. I wanted to save money, but also get exercise, and have my bike when I left the school, and I was sure I could chase the bus on my bike and get there at the same time. So he got on the bus, and I started biking after it. To my surprise, it was not a local bus, and so made no stops. Soon, it was far ahead of me, and all I could see was that it turned right. I caught up with the street it turned onto, but it was REALLY steep. So I slowly climbed the street, and evenually realised there was any number of side streets the bus could have taken. I was getting super hot and sweaty, and had completely lost the bus. the road evenually led back to the main road anyway, so I started looking for bus stop signs that would at least show that the bus had continued on this route. I found one, and then another. I was back on the right track. By shear luck, there was another small side road at the bottom of a hill that had the another bus stop on it - indicating the bus turned here. It was another steep hill. This time, steeper, actually. But there were no side roads that the bus could possibly tkae, and as the road led up a mountian, I found another bus stop. It was in a community of high rises (which can be found everywhere in Busan). There were a number of kids walking in uniform in the same direction, and I knew I had found Scott's school! What luck!!!

I biked up to the school gates and saw tons of kids playing in the bare-dirt field. Just like Japan, they don't plant grass, or even trees in school fields. this kids play on dirt that has been packed by thousands of their peers' feet for decades. Ugly, but low-maintenance. Personally I'd rather have grass fields, but then again, I'm not in charge of the school budget.

I confirmed with some of the kids that Scott worked here, and now had the rest of the morning to relax and cool off after that sweaty, hot ride. I found the local food markets and explored the unfamiliar cuisine choices. I found something cool to drink, and tried some frozen snack, and took them to a modern gazebo in a park nearbye. I laid down and cooled off...

Next thing I knew I was waking up. It was much hotter and sunnier. Hours had passed! I wasn't late yet, but I had to run back to the school and meet Scott immediately. I locked up my bike near the school, and walked into the gates. Scott met me and told me we'd meet some of the other teachers in the teachers' room and then have lunch with the students. We went to the teachers room (which was just like they are in Japan), and met some teachers he liked, and some teachers he didn't like so much (he was giving a running comentary on the real inner-workings of being an ESL teacher in Korea - and all the fun AND annoying things about it). The we went to have school lunch. In Japan, the students eat lunch IN their classroom, at their desks. I was surprised by this in Japan, but I guess there's no real reason to have a whole other room for eating, that remains empty the rest of the day. But in Korean schools (or at least this one) they have a normal caffeteria, just like we do in the US. The only differnece is that (just like in Japan) instead of having the kids go into a kitchen in the building to pick up their food choices, the food is delivered in huge bowls, and the bowls are all put on a long table in the caffeteria. The students all line up and take a spoon of each thing (army-style). The teachers actually get a different room, but Scott likes to eat with the students. Same for me in Japan. Teachers would normally eat in the teachers room if they weren't a homeroom teacher, but I always ate with students in whatever class I hadn't been to in a while. It was always a riot for them.

After lunch Scott had class, and had invited me to join him (and cleared it with the school). It was mostly just a borrage of questions in English and me answering in a way that they would understand and think was funny. Scott also taught a lesson, and had the older (older kids are more shy, and less confident in asking questions) kids play a game. It was loads of fun and made me want to be an English teach in Korea - the kids and school system seemed like so much fun! Maybe someday...

5th graders playing an English game

After school we went to another downtown area of Busan and Scott showed me the shooping area, and the rich up-and-coming area around the corner. This was the older shopping area. (modern rich area not shown)

Then as is got dark we met up with some of Scott's friends for Korean BBQ. You cook it all yourself at the table. Mmmmmm... so good!!



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