Life in Daegu

I have an apartment and a school and students! I am so excited, because orientation is finished, and things are just getting started. So much has happened in just a few days. Orientation was very helpful in preparing me to have an idea of what I will be doing in Korea and what to expect while I am here. I also learned a lot of great tips for the classroom and lesson plans and activities. I think teaching may be in my genes (I mean so many people in my family are in the education field), even though I tried to avoid it for a while. Though I’m not a full-on teacher here (more about that in a bit), I still have the basic responsibilities of a teacher and am happy to say that I seem to have a pretty strong presence in the classroom. I will be teaching 7 classes of fifth grade twice a week and eight classes of sixth grade once a week. I have four co-teachers, and they are all very nice! They seem excited that I am really enthusiastic about teaching and coming up with fun activities for the classroom. I can’t wait to learn more Korean and hopefully be able to have good conversations with them and learn about them.

I have a total of 22 “hours” (really periods of teaching, as they are each 40 minutes, which totally flies by!) and the rest of the time I have for planning. I work from 8:30 to 4:30 everyday, so it is really an excellent schedule… not too early and I don’t get out too late. Though I fear in time after I create lesson plans for the lessons that I might not have enough to do. So my plan is to just try to make the lessons even smoother and more fun for the students. I really want them to enjoy the class so they enjoy the language and really put effort in to learning English not just for the sake of taking some test, but so they can communicate well. This week I have just been introducing myself and getting a feel for how the lessons will go, but next week I will start co-teaching. I really hope I will be able to be really involved with the teaching over time. My principal (who incidentally is also my landlord) is really nice, but is leaving our school to head to another one soon, so hopefully we get a good replacement. All the staff in the school seem nice, so it’s really a great placement. Things have been working out so well. And we also get lunch everyday, which has been really tasty so far. It’s fun to have at least one Korean meal a day. Rice and Kimchi are staples plus some kind of soup, semisweet dessert and side vegetable dish. We finish each meal with some tea. The other teachers are happy that I enjoy the food (seriously, it’s been great!) and are impressed that I can use chopsticks. It’s so fun to get a feel for the culture.
But now to the apartment! It’s a great space in a fairly small building (about 5 stories). Happily I am on the second floor, because there is no elevator but I’m also not on the street level, which would kind of freak me out. Pictures will follow shortly once I get my own Internet. I am lucky enough to have two other GET (guest English teachers) or NET (native English teachers) as they are dubbed in Daegu. One of the girls is on my floor and has been very gracious in allowing me to use her Internet. I have to get my alien registration card, which I applied for today so I should have it within three weeks, before I can get Internet and a phone, so I will be fairly disconnected for a while. Anywho, back to the apartment! One of my favorite things about Korea so far is the lock system. You just have to enter a code to get in to the building, and then another code to get in to the room. It’s so incredibly, awesomely convenient, because I don’t have to lug keys around! How awesome, right?! Ever residence (plus the schools) have a little area to leave your shoes before entering the house. It’s a great way to keep dirt to a minimum. Take a tiny step up and you are in the kitchen! I am so excited to have a pretty good size sink, a really large fridge/freezer, a great cabinet meets pantry and a gas stove! SO glad it’s not electric, because gas is way easier to control the temperature. I have pretty good storage space, but basically no counter space, so I’m planning to buy a table with my first pay check. I have already purchased a toaster oven, because it seemed the most useful item I could add to the kitchen so far. I was incredibly lucky, because the previous NET left cups (so many cups!), a bowl, plate, spoons, butter knives, spatula and wisk. So I really didn’t have to buy my for my apartment to survive.
To the left of my kitchen is my bathroom, which is decently sized. It has good storage area for all the things I need and a nice Western style toilet! The showerhead is attached directly to the sink faucet, so I just leave it selected as the showerhead and brush my teeth/wash my hand in the kitchen. There is no separation for the shower, but it works out well. My toilet paper stays dry and there is a holder to keep the showerhead aloft hands free, so things are quite good! Next to the bathroom (though you enter from the kitchen) is the small room with my washer and drying rack, which hangs from the ceiling, though I may get another for the ground to have more drying space. It took some trial and error, but I can wash my clothes and get the water to drain and the machine to spin to shake off the water. There are a bunch more options that I will have to decode once I get Internet, but the basics work for now! The washing machine plays an excellent jingle to let me know it’s finished, which I thoroughly enjoy.
My bedroom is to the right of the kitchen and is the biggest room in my apartment. It is really quite large and has a table, bed night stand, shelves and a dresser/closet. Again, there is pretty good storage space, though I may get a TV stand for the room to have a little more shelf space (it’s currently living on the shelf tucked in to the back corner of my room, which is hidden by the door when it is ajar). I was also incredibly lucky to have (clean) sheets, a pillow and comforter left behind! So glad I didn’t have to buy any, because apparently they are really expensive and hard to find. I also have a convenient little bedside lamp. I do have a list of some things I want to buy for the apartment, but it is actually pretty small and nothing is urgently necessary. I am really surprised at how quickly I have settled in to my space. I am looking forward to having a little money to spend on some decorations so I can make it a little bit homier. But all in all things have really fallen in to place quite well. I am so blessed. It’s just crazy. I don’t know why I’m able to do these things (both opportunity and desire) but I am so beyond grateful and I absolutely want to make the best of it. Sure I’m still in the honeymoon stage and things are new, but I am very happy so far. Of course, I’ll have to update my status a few months in once things are less shiny and start getting covered with a dusting of snow. Though I have already survived a typhoon! The first day I went to school (Tuesday), the typhoon was at it’s peak, so I actually didn’t have to go to work until 10 a.m. It really wasn’t so bad, lots of rain and high winds, but it was a bit uncomfortable during the walk to work. My apartment is about twenty minutes from the school on foot, so I was pretty soaked once I arrived. But it is actually a pretty nice walk, and I go through the Wolgok History Museum, which has a great display of artifacts. Plus I get at least 40 minutes of exercise every weekday, so that’s a benefit! I am certainly planning to join a gym soon, and want to take advantage of the nearby mountain and awesome outdoor activities that Daegu offers. From what I’ve read so far it seems to be a pretty active city with lots to do. And it’s in the middle of the country and is the main transportation hub, connecting the north and the south. I am very glad that I was placed here. It’s a big city with lots to do, but it’s not overwhelmingly huge. It’s a wonderful balance in every aspect, and I can do lots of traveling from here! Now I need to read up on Korea and my city and what to do!

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