Saturday, March 22, 2008

il pleut sur séoul

went hiking again yesterday, this time right in seoul. just hopped on the subway and got off at one of the numerous mountains of seoul, they're everywhere. i truly enjoy hiking, it's a good workout and it feels nice to get away from the downtown area for a bit. i want to keep going on a regular basis, on top of my usual gym sessions.

i'm thisclose to obtaining my 'alien' status in korea. the month of april will certainly be more interesting: i'll have some spending money, a gym membership, and a phone! i also feel more comfortable with my teaching duties. it's still very different from what i was doing before, but in a way it's definitely more rewarding. sometimes i feel like i'm spending a 40-minute class just screaming to get the kids' attention, but other times i see them really learning and enjoying the games- those moments are the best. i also like running into my students in the street- i don't recognize them sometimes, but they obviosuly recognize me, and they shout: "vivian teacher, vivian teacher!!". i just try to keep on a good behaviour, i don't want them to see me drinking or something, hehe. we're surrounded by students and staff here, a lot of people live in the school-owned apartments, so i feel like i have to be careful. sometimes i miss my old job, but mostly the people i worked with. maybe i just didn't have time to think about it too much, because everything has been so exciting here. it was so difficult to quit, but i'm so relieved i did. if i had stayed in montreal i'd be missing out on so much. i feel like i'm actually living my life here, instead of just working long hours and trying to squeeze in some gym time.

i am still trying to adjust to korean way regarding our duties: they tend to sneak things up on us and telling us everything at the last minute. for example, last week we had a school banquet and i was just chilling out by the table. suddenly the head of the english department came over and casually ask me what my plan was regarding teaching the korean teachers. i went like: "whaaaaaat? i wasn't aware i had to teach teachers!!". after some discussion with the principal and even though i kept saying i was not comfortable doing so, i still got stuck with the duty. they don't really listen and that made me angry, and when the principal said i wouldn't have to teach, but rather to just "smile and hang out with the korean teachers", i couldn't really say no. it's only two hours per week, and i also felt guilty saying no when i only teach er.... 21 hours per week.

another example of the korean stubornness: when you are shopping for clothes, the sales assstants don't always let you try what you want. from what i could sense, they'll only let you try what they think will look good on you. my weirdest experience so far was in a little boutique down the street, i was browsing through the dresses and the sales girl asked me for my size. i had no idea what my korean size was, so she just told me to open my jacket and she felt my waist and went: "oooooohh!!!!!". anyways, she told me i was a korean size 5, but every dress in the store was either a 4, a 6 or an 8, so she did not let me try anything on. i pointed to two dresses, sizes 4 and 6 (i might as well try both, one should fit!), but "no, no!!"

so today is easter, but it's not celebrated here. however i made a little easter egg hunt for aaron, but then again i did not find any easter chocolate, just regular one. it's still fun. it's been raining all day today, first rain i've experienced in seoul. april is supposed to be quite rainy, but at least it's warm! i'm definitely not missing all the snow and harsh temperatures back home. spring in seoul has been beautiful so far, very warm and sunny. i also discoved a great park right behind the school, they have workout machines right outside! i must take some pictures.

we also have some new canadian friends, teaching with us and living right next door, which is nice! the other foreign teachers at our school are south african, and they've been here for several years, so they've been so great at helping us settling in. the rest of the english department are four korean girls around my age, they are very nice too, but so different: they go to church and probably don't drink or party too much, so i'm always afraid i'll offend them somehow. they're very sweet though, they want to go shopping and go to the beach in the summer, so we'll see.

and last thing. the following video was made by some foreigners teaching in korea, and it pretty much sums it all up for me, they got all the funny cultural bits, and as a newcomer to korea, i feel like i can relate so much:

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