We are still very much enjoying our experience here. Our students are very adorable, yet sometimes they can be challenging. Like any other children, some won't stop talking, some don't pay attention, some are very quiet, and some are very shy. We teach kids with all kinds of personalities
. Check out our pictures. They are all very cute. I work at the second campus three days a week. This campus has mostly younger students with low English speaking ability. However, there are some classes that can communicate very well in English. It is quite challenging sometimes to communicate with the language barrier. Somehow I manage to get things across. My English-Korean translation book has helped me quite a bit. Fridays I have three individual clinics and those are great. They focus on either speaking or writing. It is much easier to teach one student at a time. Saturdays I have older kids that are pretty good in English. A significant amount of kids can write and read well, but cannot express themselves well verbally. I have one discussion class with 10 fluent teenagers. I also have a conversational class with seven women. They are so wonderful and sweet. It is nice to have these two last classes where I can have a serious adult discussion. Ian's students are mostly advanced and gifted in English. He has one class that isn't.
Ian plays soccer with the other male teachers and locals every Sunday. He scored his first goal this Sunday and was quite happy. Last Sunday I went with Jessica (another teacher here) to a Korean girl's birthday party. It was really fun. At the end of the night I experienced my first singing room. Singing rooms are really popular here
. It is like Karaoke, although you have a private room for you and your friends. I had a blast. They have tons of English music. I also experienced my first hole toilet that I had heard much about but had never seen before. Check out the picture. Quite a few public places have them.
Ian and I have noticed some other differences between Canada and Korea. In general, we have found that people tend to be more friendly and respectful towards each other, especially the youth towards the elders. Children are heavily influenced by their parents' wishes, and there are not many who would cross their parents. People our age also seem to be quite friendly with us, although that might be due to the influence of alcohol, as most of the time we spend with people our age is at bars. Another difference is that there seems to be more tolerance of seemingly homosexual behaviour, although it is quite frowned upon to be a homosexual couple. For example, boys in our classes will commonly pet each other's heads or even cuddle a bit. One boy slapped another boy on the bum, and it was not seen as abnormal behaviour. Also, it is very acceptable for a man to comment on another man's looks, using terms such as 'handsome,' 'good-looking,' or even 'cute.' Another thing, which may not be surprising, is that almost everybody lives in apartments. Very few people live in houses. Another thing is that garbage day is everyday
. You have to buy special bags and you can put them on the sidewalk at any time. Instead of handshakes, there is a lot of bowing. There are vegetable gardens everywhere there is free land and there is very little grass. It is a fairly alcoholic culture (perhaps somewhat similar to Canada), although there does not seem to be a drug problem here at all. Our teenaged students have told us that the only drugs people do are butane gas and glue, which are legal products that people use for alternative purposes. There seem to be no illegal drugs around, probably because the penalties are very severe. Another major difference is the emphasis placed on post-secondary education. If you don't go to a university of some kind, you are seen as a second-class citizen and will have extreme difficulty finding employment of ANY kind. One of Ian's students said that there are people with PhDs waiting tables, and even the people who sweep the sidewalk have a university degree of some kind. This student was saying that over-education is a big problem in Korea. Another difference here is the possibility of negotiating prices for consumer products. Some things don't have a price tag at all. The last thing we will mention is the food at restaurants. Most restaurants seem to specialize in one main dish (although there are many side dishes), and quite often the food is cooked right on the table in front of you. This adds to the whole dining experience, as it is kind of fun to watch it cook, and the whole spread of side dishes is cool too
. The food is generally spicy, but not burn-your-face-off spicy. It is quite nice. Also, you don't tip at restaurants, and in fact they usually give you something for free, such as soft drinks.
I guess that's about it for now...it has so far been quite an amazing experience. It is a thrill to learn about a different culture this way. Check out our pictures for images of Chuncheon, night life, students and scenery.
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Ian and Mel
Hello everyone!!! We have just completed our first month in South Korea! Time flies, we will be back in Canada in no time :). Ian and I have established a regular weekly routine now. During the week we work between the hours of 2 to 10 p.m. We come home make some dinner, do some preparation for classes and then usually watch movies. We work Tuesdays to Saturdays and have Sundays and Mondays off. On the weekend we usually go out to eat and drink with the other teachers. We also check out different parts of the city. Finally, we do our groceries because our mini fridge can only hold a week's worth.