Day 1-4: Orientation

August 21, 2011

Wow I didn't realize how disoriented I was. Partly because the days of the week are irrelevant but also because Tuesday was lost in the time change.

The first day of orientation was pretty uneventful. There were lots of introductions and "Korea at a Glance" which was a lot of housekeeping...
Lunch was horrifying! As always there was rice and kimchi... but there was soup with every kind of seafood you can imagine (yes, even fish brains). Dinner was a lot better with a soup of beef and ham/spam.

Every day the lunches have been somewhat similar: fishy or meaty soup, plus rice, kimchi, and other side dishes (tempura shrimp, lotus roots, bean sprouts).

On Wednesday night, most of the group ventured out to downtown Gwangju. Our first stop was Wabar which is a western style bar. We got the house brew which didn't taste bad for 3000 won! (~$3)

From there we travelled a couple blocks to German Bar which was essentially a wood-panelled room which reminded me of a basement back home. Some of the girls went to a club but I ventured out to find Burger King. What a mission that was. When we asked people on the street "Buh-guh King?" they were so excited to help us. We found it eventually, and it was pure gluttonous bliss.

On Thursday we began (as all mornings begin) with a tasty Western-style breakfast: eggs, bacon, pancakes... We had a quick session on secondary lesson planning then headed to another soup/rice/kimchi lunch. After lunch we headed to the much-dreaded hospital visit! At the hospital we were asked some questions ("Are there any drugs you enjoy?") then they drew our blood at the "blood collection desk" where we sat at a counter, out in the open, while they did their thing.

Once back at the hotel, we were heading on another bus to attend an infamous baseball game! Outside the stadium there were stalls selling beer that you were able to bring into the stadium! The crowd at the game was amazing. They sang chants constantly and never lost their energy (even though their team lost). When the game began, I was so impressed that everyone knew the chants and sang together so well... but by the end of the game it was evident that the reason they all knew the songs was because there were probably only 3 in total that were repeated through the entire game.

For dinner we had boxes and boxes of pizza (topped with shrimp, of course) and tasty fried chicken. At the end of the game, one of the supervisors from the board of education signalled for me to come over. It made me a little nervous! He's kind of a big deal, I think. There was a Korean boy in middle school who simply wanted to practice his conversational english! He was adorable and so proud when I told him that he spoke english very well!

On Friday we had a session on "Teaching the Textbook" (although my highschool classes don't have a textbook), had our soup/rice/kimchi lunch, then had a crash course in Hangul. This class was pretty dull mostly because we're all a little worn out but it was nice to have a refresher on how to read the language. Next step: understanding the language.

After this session, I was very happy because I knew I would be having dinner with my aunt Patti :) It was so strange to see her here and I kept feeling like I was back in Canada. We went to the Outback Steakhouse downtown which was tasty. After dinner we walked around, had coffee, and I was able to call my momma at work.

So today here we are... Western breakfast and some more "Korea at a Glance", soup/rice/kimchi, then we had a presentation on gender roles in Korea.

The last presentation was "Your First Year" and what to expect. Cue soup/rice/kimchi dinner.
Tonight the agency and board of education have brought in some beer and soju for a flip cup tournament. I don't think boards of ed would do this at home!

Oh, Korea!

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