Day 8: Orientation & Day 9-13: Life in Mokpo

August 30, 2011

I can't believe so much has happened and I haven't written! Actually, I can believe it because I have been so busy!!

On Tuesday night, we went out to experience the nore-bang! I didn't sing but it was very entertaining nonetheless.

On Wednesday we had sessions that involved lesson planning which was probably the most helpful session. We organized an intro lesson as well as one random holiday. In the afternoon we had a session on games to use in the classroom and, just like that, orientation was over!! That night we ventured out again to Wabar and Bubble Bar. I stayed up much too late considering the big meet-the-coteacher I had the next day... but it was our last night in Gwangju and had to be done!

Thursday was the amped up meeting of the coteachers. We got in lines and walked into the giant room of awaiting guests. Talk about pressure. We were all so nervous only to realize that, hey, they're people too and it's not such a big deal. After I met my CoT, we checked out of the hotel and enjoyed our predictable soupy lunch. From there we were on the road to Mokpo!

On my first day, we needed to pick up some documents from the school so I went in to meet the staff. Everyone is very welcoming and happy to help me out. From there we headed to the immigration office to get my Alien Registration Card... And guess who I crossed paths with?! Patti!! From that point on we've hardly been apart, lol. We went to set up my bank account then went back to my apartment to settle in.

My apartment is much more than I expected! It's a studio apartment in a small, 6-storey building behind a big-box store called Home Plus. My bathroom is traditionally Korean (no shower stall; just a faucet on the wall), the kitchen is decent (fridge, sink, gas range, microwave, rice cooker), and the living area with a couch, TV, bed, makeshift closet, and vanity. Patti is awesome and spent much of the weekend helping me scrub the place down :)

On Friday morning, we met up with Patti's friend and her little squishy daughter, Hakyung! She is precious. We went to Holly's Coffee then hung out with Hakyung all day. We went to the university where Patti works and had lunch there in that area.

That night we met up with one of Patti's oldest friend and her daughters, who I had met two or three times in Canada. On the way home from dinner, we stopped at a few geocache locations for the girls to find treasures.

On Saturday, I intended to go over to Patti's to help her around her house but we were distracted by panini sandwiches, and little Hakyung. Later in the afternoon we met P's friend and his family. We visited Yudalsan mountain and enjoyed the view of Mokpo.

From there we headed to the water front where we sat and watched the sunset. It was so nice! We had dinner at what Koreans consider to be Japanese but what I consider to be delicious! (I really wish I took pictures of some of my meals).We did a little shopping then headed home.

I finally got to sleep in on Sunday! Yay. I did some lesson planning and headed to Home Plus (solo!) to do some shopping. Patti met me and we went for a tasty dinner of grilled, marinated pork. Yum!
When I got home, I gathered all of my things together for my first day at work!

Anticipation of things is just the worst.

When I woke up this morning, I swear I was nervous enough to be sick! It's about a 15 minute walk to my school - yay for me not getting lost! As I walked up the path I met who I found out later to be the principal. Principals here are described as being the leaders of small countries - that much power. But I had a private conversation with him and he told me to let him know if I needed anything. So not what I was expecting.

My first class was scheduled for 10:30 but as I've heard is the norm in Korea, my schedule changed and I was to begin teaching in 10 minutes. All of my classes differ greatly in ability and personality and I'm doing my best to get to know them (20 classes, ~450 students).

The school lunch was not nearly as scary as I expected it to be. One of my CoTs brought me to the cafeteria and showed me the ropes. Rice, kimchi, fish, random meat, vegetables, and soup. The other teachers talked to me as much as they could but I've accepted the fact that my days will be pretty devoid of lengthy conversations.

During the last period of the day, I joined the teachers in a staff meeting where, aside from my introduction, I sat for an hour and listened to the meeting proceed in Korean.

After school, we headed to the staff dinner! We went to a place to eat a Korean dish called samgyeopsal which is pork that is grilled right at the table. Everything that we heard at orientation made this dinner seem so daunting but it was great!

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