teaching is actually a lot more difficult than i thought it would be. the hours are fairly easy compared to my last job, i only teach for less than 3 hours each day, even though i have to be at the school in between classes. it requires a lot of preparation, my biggest fear is always to show up in front of a class with nothing to do or say. i was surprised, we did not get any training at all! i was expecting at least a few days of training in a classroom, but no. first day of school they gave me a schedule, some books and i had to come up with something to say to those little korean kids staring at me. i follow the book and we have some picture cards, cds, and dvds, but i like to be creative and add my own learning games. i am quite comfortable around kids, i guess it comes from all the summers i spent working as a camp counselor. i love my kids, i dont know any names yet (they all picked an english name, but still i'm confused), but they're adorable for the most part. the only part that bothers me is when they don't seem to care at all (we have a few bad classes), and how the school is disorganized in general- they seem to always have surprises for us, last-minute changes. i think i hate teaching in slippers too, i just feel so ridiculous. and i'm quite clumsy, so i 'slip' a lot it seems. plus it looks horrible when i'm all dressed nice. the shoes are part of the outfit!
life in seoul has been pretty sweet. i've been quite sick lately though, i don't know what happened, but i think it's a combination of all the departure jitters/jetlag/cold apartment. so i've been more tired than usual and it sucks because i feel like i cannot take full advantage of everything seoul has to offer. i'm getting better now, i saw the school nurse and she gave me some strange pills, saw the pharmacist and got some other kind, and apparently it's working now, my cold is slowly going away. aaron and i went to a city called daejon over the weekend, that's where he used to teach two years ago. it was a lot of fun, we went clubbing and hung out with his friends.
i also got my first encounter with 'foreigner' bars. basically, bars where other foreign teachers hang out. actually, seoul has a neighbourhood called itaewon, or "america town", where english teachers go hang out, and the american army crew. believe me, you don't want to be there. i thought i'd be excited to see other canadians or americans i could relate to, but i definitely do not relate to them! for some reason, most of them become white trash party animals when they are abroad: they hate korean culture and korean food, but they love the cheap alcohol and the korean girls. it's a pretty disgusting sight. apparently they also very much like canadian girls and dancing on a stage at a club, pretending they are black and from the ghetto. not all of them are jerks, but most i met over the weekend fit the loaded frat guy, meathead-type. they're actually an embarrassment, giving a bad image of canadians (or americans, for that matter) abroad.
oh well, i definitely won't be hanging out in itaewon very much. i do hope i meet some nice canadians or americans, i'm sure they're out there. clubbing in korea has been quite the experience: bars are open all night, they close at sunrise. they love to dance, and some places you just pay a cover charge (like 10$) and drink all you want. no tipping either! they also have those little lockers, just like at the swimming pool, where you can leave your jacket and bag, so you don't need to lug anything around or wait in line for coat check. i love that about korea, they seem to be so organized about most things. it was fun to dance and drink with the koreans, they are so nice and polite. they wave and smile a lot, they're very shy, but they are so interesting and respectful. you would never see that in a montreal club.
we also went hiking over the weekend, i think i'm in love with it! korea is covered by mountains (70%), so it's a great place to go hiking. it was my first experience, and i did pretty well for a beginner. it was a small one, but we made it to the top and it was very exciting. it's an amazing workout too, i should try to go once a week.
and today i had my medical exam, required by immigration. they test for drugs, hiv, and whatnot. i was pretty nervous, i hate hospitals and the sight of blood, and it was a pretty long series of tests. i'm glad it's over now, i think the staff got a kick out of us.
homesickness level: pretty low. i haven't been homesick very much so far. i know it has yet to come, and even though i go through ups and downs all day, i am not homesick. i miss a few things here and there, but it hasn't kicked in full gear.