First Things First
Things are going well and we are settled into our apartment in Cheonan! Our first full week has been jam packed full of meeting new people, lesson planning, walking, and finding my way around the school, neighborhood, and city. 😂
Both Matt and I teach at the same boys’ high school. We have 22 – 50 minute English Conversation classes per week. I’m teaching 1st grade (freshmen) and Matt is teaching 2nd grade (sophomores). All of our classes have been or will be split in half according to language level. The more advanced students will be with the other two foreign teachers and the regular students will stay with us for the first semester. Next semester we’ll switch. Several of my classes can speak quite comfortably with me but there are a few whose English is not as strong. I’ve heard that several students in the advanced classes are fluent…so next semester will be a totally different experience.
The school requires us to teach a thin textbook and have the students give two essays and two presentations. I’m still working on my lesson planning for the semester. I had most of it done but then there were a few changes made to the schedules, a few classes were not split in half (so I co-taught with the other foreign teacher), and it was only a two day work-week. Basically the plans went out the window and I need to start again. It’s time consuming but I’m not terribly upset because I have a better understanding of the students’ language levels after spending time with them this week.
Our apartment is about 20 minutes away from the school on foot. It snowed last week and so it took about 30 minutes to get there. Now that it’s all melted and we know the way, we might be able to get there in about 15 minutes. Maybe. There is a bus we could catch but two bus fares is nearly the cost of a taxi…so we might as well catch a cab if we don’t want to walk. The walk is not the idyllic walk I had hoped for. Haha. There is a lot of weaving among cars on uneven sidewalks and we have to cross two busy streets. There is another way, down next to a stream/river type thing, which I should probably start taking to avoid the chaos now that the snow and ice has melted.
The apartment itself is really nice. We feel pretty lucky not to have to live in a small studio apartment. Our place has two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room (anyone is welcome to visit!). It’s quite small compared to our apartment in China and it didn’t come furnished. Our school made an exception and provided a bed for us and the apartment came with a refrigerator, a small kitchen table (that retracts into the wall), a washing machine, and several built in cabinets, so we have the basics. We bought two chairs for the table and pretty much sit there or on the bed when we are at home. We also found a three-drawer dresser yesterday and brought it in. It’s not that big but it takes up a lot of space in the room. Haha. At some point we will probably buy a couch or two comfortable chairs for the living room. We’ve looked at furniture at a couple of stores but everything costs way more than I am willing to pay right now.
We have not explored Cheonan much yet. We are getting to know our neighborhood pretty well from all the walking around but we haven’t taken the subway or busses to get to other parts of the city yet. We have taken taxis to get to Costco and the hospital (for our medical checks). This week we will take a taxi to the immigration office. Once we get our ID numbers we will be able to open a bank account and get cell phones. There are open wifi spots pretty much everywhere but it’ll be nice to have data and be able to make phone calls again.
So things are going well. It’s been a bit of an adjustment, even though Korea is familiar to us already. In addition to teaching, I’m also working part-time for my former job through April. I’m really grateful to be working with them and hope to do it again starting in the fall for a few months. It has made for a busy beginning here in Korea but I’m confident things will start to settle down soon and it won’t be as tiring.
I’ll include some more pictures in future posts. I haven’t been taking as many as normal because my mind has been on finding my way, getting to places on time, and organizing my life. It feels out of control, at times, thanks to this crazy move and starting work pretty much right after getting here. Oh well. On that note…I’m off to tackle week 2!