My first real week in Daegu - teaching

Trip Start Aug 24, 2006
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Long time no speak!

All the kids always shout that at me - long time no see!! They love their phrases and think they are hysterical. Theres only so many times I can laugh at them a day.

So. First of all - I now have a cell phone. Number 010-8004-3107. I'm not sure of the dialing code for korea tho. I cannot use my other phone which is fantastic, and the one I have now cannot send texts to other countries. Which is great. So, no more texting for me! Ever!

We are hoping to get internet and a landline put into the flat sometime this week, so I should be in contact more often, rather than the 4 mins a day I have free at the moment.
So, whats happened since last time? I'm so tired I don't even know what day it is. Hate this teaching business. Especially cos I really like some kids, but others just make it so hard to be nice.

So, ive been in Daegu for...nearly 2 weeks now - been teaching for 1. Feels like months. When I get a chance I'll post some photos on here. Anyhoo, last weekend on Friday night we opened bank accounts and then bought cell phones. Then me n em met up with Courtney, Ed, and Julie. Its sooo hard when everyone doesn't have cell phones and no-one knows where anyone else is! Anyways, we just sat and talked then wandered around a few bars.
On Saturday we met up again and went for some Shabu Shabu. Which is basically raw everything and you cook it yourself, but it tastes amazing!

Sunday, we all traveled out to courtney's house, which is way out in the country, poor girl. But its lovely out there and we ate lots of food and talked for hours and hours. It was lovely.

I am going to have to take up yoga - as you know the tables here don't have chairs, you just sit on the floor. And I get pins and needles all the time from crossing my legs, then I look disabled when I stand up and hobble out. At all the restaurants everyone removes their shoes before walking in. Even at home you do the same.

So, today is Tuesday and the start of my second week of teaching. Its ok, and after a few weeks, I will get used to it. But right now its so hard having to try and please three different teachers when they all have very different teaching styles. Its not like normal teaching - where you go in and teach. Here is very structured and each one cant understand why I don't teach exactly like them. So, ive just got to listen to everything they say at the end of each class and try and work out what they want me to do. Its hard and frustrating but I hope it gets better!!

So, jen (my best friend) is coming out here in a few weeks. She arrives on the 2nd October and is here for nearly 2 weeks. She will be here for chusuk. Chusuk (choosoo) is Korean thanksgiving so we are going to go down to Busan and surf for a few days then come back up and hang around Daegu and do some sightseeing here. It should be amazing fun!! I hope she likes it!!

Also, we are wanting to go to Thailand for a break away from here in January. We don't finish til end of December, and then we have English camp - but don't find out dates until November sometime!! Which is really annoying, but there's nothing I can do!! So, a bunch of us are going to rent a beach hut or something for a few weeks and stay out there doing not very much for as long as possible. So gigha (or anyone else)- if you've nothing to do in January, then why not stay with us?

What other news do I have? Um...am going for a teachers night out on Wednesday to Outback Steakhouse. Random. The western food chains in korea are excellent though - and their pizza's are amazing!! Try pink grapefruit juice and lemonade - its amazing. Unfortunately I am even more excited about food now - anything where I can eat more than rice is a bonus for me!!

This weekend we are having a flat warming party which should be good - seeing as even taxi drivers don't know where my house is. It should be nice to get everyone round. Most weekends are spent trying to meet up with other foreign people. At first when we arrived I was like 'I am not going to a western bar and sitting with westerners the whole time' but now (even though I still refuse to go to western bars) I love to meet other native English speakers - its just so nice not having to repeat and reword and slow down everything you say. And its also nice not needing to correct someone's grammer or tell them the definition of 'trippin'. Most of the teachers advise kids to listen to music and learn language that way. And at a basic level its good, but songs are rubbish for pronunciation and grammer. And that's what the kids pick up.

They also pronounce everything the American way, however with their accent - we cant understand it. For example, remember I told you about the flag rule? That some words are spelt with a 't' but pronounced with a 'd'? Well they learn that rule - and I'm like 'if you do use the 't' then people are more bloody likely to understand you!! I am aware that Americans don't, but Americans can speak clearly enough for me to work it out!' So I am trying my very best to drill into them 'water' 'get' 'thought' etc in the hope that they will speak clearer.

Everyone keeps saying to me 'oh, we were sooooooooooooooooooooo worried that we wouldn't be able to understand you!! But we can!!!' As if it's a surprise!!! I think they should worry more about understanding Americans. Who don't even speak properly. They also make me say words that sound very different to american - for example 'soccer'. Then they laugh hysterically. Makes me feel soooo good about myself!!! Hmmm...

Also, unlike other cultures and languages where if someone doesn't understand you -you slow everything down and pronounce every letter, here, if someone doesn't understand you, you amalgamate even more of the letters. For example, Thank-you = Komapsumnida. But is pronounced Komsnida - and as fast as possible. Same as I live near Yongsan Jihado, but I need to say Yongsn Jihdo, and my school is Yongsan Chung Hakeyo, pronounced Yongsn Jakyo. The shorter and faster, the better. It drives me mad!! The pronunciation here is way too difficult too. They don't have 'r' or 'l' just a sound that's in between. Same as 'g' and 'k'.

I keep making the kids say 'red lorry yellow lorry' which entertains me for hours!! Haha!

When I went to get my alien card, Soojin took me and met up with her boyfriend Racoon (that's his nickname), and ive never met anyone so sarcastic in all my life. Anyways, they give me Korean lessons and the whole way home on the subway I was being tested to read Korean. I still cant work out which direction to read in. I now think you read up.down.right. But who knows. And depending on where abouts in the syllable the letter is, depends on not only its pronunciation, but its shape too. I hate Korean. Plus when I do decode it, I cant translate it. (For those of you who dont speak korean - they have a phonetic alphabet and they write in syllables. They only have one symbol for the sound between 'r' and 'l' and one for the sound between 'g' and 'k'. They can't even hear the difference between them!!)

I have learned directions, and basic hello, thank you, how much is this. And yes is 'ne'. after EVERYTHING they say 'ne, ne'. They sound like horses.

And ive taken to bowing too. Last night, emma passed me a drink (in our flat - there were NO Koreans there) and I bowed. Bloody hell. Its crazy. Everyone bows here for everything. Its quite respectful though. I like it. But I can never decide whether to bow with my head or my whole body.

Ive also learned to say 'opa' which is something you say to a guy who is older than you, but not too old. And 'unni' which is the equivalent for a female. 'unni yepoyo' means pretty. So to a girl older than me it is polite to say 'unni yepoyo' when I meet them. Weird.

Also, the kids here say to me 'teacher teacher! I love you! And you?'
What the bloody hell am I supposed to say to that?! I just say thanks!! Hahaha - and the other night when we were all out, a student text Ed saying hello and that she was his student. Ed's co-teacher had been giving out his number to all of his students and not even told him!!! Ed works in an all girls catholic school. Fun for him!! His phone is about to get very busy!!!

Oh man this is long!! Right, I better go. I have a lesson plan to write for tomorrow and I haven't a clue where to start. I want to make it fun. But there is nooo way I can make it fun AND teach whats in the text book.
So, speak to you soon!
Hopefully I will have a phone within the next few days and internet so I can email more frequently!!
Hope everything is good!!!
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