Due to popular demand, I'm posting more photos outside of links. This post will therefore be fairly image-heavy. (Sorry, Elizabeth!)
So, obviously, I've been busy. First week of classes, and I've been working my steamed buns off (hahaha, Asian food humor, get it? *is shot*) to improve my teaching style and lesson planning.
As you can see, we were all working very hard, including Steven (my boss). This is what my white board looks like:
Some of the cookies we baked:
This poor fellow lost his head!
What a mess:
And here's my classroom after clean-up:
That strange boxy contraption is a UV dish dryer. Comes in quite handy, since we don't have many towels!
And that was just the first day...
Class Day 2 (Wednesday):
I found this in the 7-11 as I was grabbing my morning coffee, and had to buy it for the sake of nostalgia and pure amusement:
It came with a sticker!
After lesson planning in the morning, we (the other foreign teachers and I) decided to hit up Lotteria for lunch. It's a big chain restaurant, similar to McDonalds, but a bit nicer and much more suited for the Asian palate. I really liked their chicken strips, which were a little spicy, and their sweet potato cheese balls, which were absolutely fabulous.
When we got back, I made sure my room was prepped and ready for my first class. As you can see, I was very organized:
I'd even pre-baked some cookies and left some raw cookies on the other pan as an example.
Classes went really well! I was flying solo, but I only had about 5-7 kids per class. The first class was younger, around 7-8 years old, but their overall English ability was astounding. We had a really good time with my new songs, and the lesson went very smoothly. The older kids in the second class were even better at English, and were super sweet as well. In both classes, I wound up with students coming in late-- as late as 30 minutes into a 40 minute class! Parents would bring their kids by late after other school activities and just dump the kids in the classrooms, regardless of the posted times. It was really difficult to have to keep interrupting the lesson to deal with checking in a new student, getting their hands washed, and then trying to get them involved in the lesson in a way that didn't disrupt it too much for the other kids, but I managed fairly well. I'm really glad I didn't deal with the aprons! After class, everyone got their cookies and marched with me in an semi-orderly fashion to the first floor lobby to meet their parents. I got a lot of "thank you, teacher!" and "the cookies are really good!" from my kids, and it was such a good feeling. They were super cute. They even posed for a photo, and laughed at my rendition of Kermit the Frog when I tried to explain to them the fine art of "Kermit-flailing".
I made banana pancakes and bacon for my fellow foreign teachers that night. Everyone enjoyed them, especially since I used some of the partially-melted chocolate chips from class (I couldn't just throw out perfectly good, if melty, chocolate!) in the pancakes. And who doesn't like bacon?
After dinner, we hit up a bar called Happidas (or something) and played some pool. It was all right, for a bar. Lots of foreign EFL teachers seemed to hang out there, as it was near the hagwon district of Anyang. Nice atmosphere. Cozy. Too smoky for me, though. I left early, got ridiculously lost all on my own (because I'm talented like that), and finally had to give my address to a cab driver to get home. Thank goodness for cheap taxi service in Korea!
Class Day 3 (Thursday, today):
Ah, what a beautiful morn--HOLY CRAP THERE'S ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE HUGE YELLOW SPIDERS!
Ahem. Anyway, it was a lovely morning, which was made even lovelier when Cindy took all of us foreign teachers off to the bank to open up our new accounts. We won't have check cards for awhile, at least until after we get our alien registration cards, but it'll be nice to have the ability to transfer money more easily between countries. Also, I can put some of my cash away for bills and such and not worry about losing or spending it.
Classes went all right. I had Nana as co-teacher again, and she was very helpful with the prep work and cleanup, as well as the teaching in between. Our first class was an extraordinarily reluctant group of 7-8 year olds. They were nothing like the class from the previous day. It was like pulling teeth to get them to say anything. They'd repeat what I asked them to readily enough, but seemed to withdraw from any songs and chants like turtles into their shells. Very shy kids. I'll need to work on my technique for drawing those sorts of students OUT of their shells and get them having fun with English. It's a challenge!
The second class was much easier, as they were an older group and more experienced. They really got into the singing and dancing part, and were a really fun bunch of kids. They were so good, in fact, that I let them each have an extra cookie at the end of class, because oh my god we had so many cookies let over anyway.
I even brought some to the office.
We still have a huge tupperware container in the fridge with a full batch of sugar cookie dough. I'm either going to wind up baking it all, or freezing it until we decide to have a bake sale or some nonsense. Because damn. That's a lot of dough.
Today was our last day of classes for the week. Friday will consist of a training session/guest lecture, our E2 health exams, and our schedules/lesson planning for next week's classes. I'll be working every day next week with two classes every day, so I'll be even busier! I hope the food we work with is a bit less complicated, so that I can focus on the teaching rather than food preparation. I was starting to feel like I worked in a bakery again!
I celebrated surviving my first week of classes by going on a little shopping trip. Just a walk up and down the couple of blocks on the main street near our apartment, so I wouldn't get lost, but there are tons of little shops and eateries along that stretch of road. I discovered a bunch of these cute little shops that sold everything from stationary supplies to stuffed toys and socks. Apparently Sponge Bob is pretty popular here in Korea. I also found this cute little knitting set, which included a pair of circular needles, for less than $2. The needles were crap, of course, but I got some pretty soft yarn and a small crochet hook out of the deal, and I found a better pair of circulars at the next shop.
"Yokomako" was probably the best discovery ever. Here's a blurry nighttime photo of it from across the street:
I found a treasure trove of arts and crafts supplies, as well as a ton of other cute and/or useful items. It took all of my willpower not to blow a huge wad of won on the art markers, acrylic paints, brushes, and various other wonderful things in that shop. I did break down and buy a couple pairs of circular knitting needles, but only because I needed some and they were less than a dollar a piece! They didn't break immediately, either, even with a good tug, so I think they'll work pretty well for my purposes. I also got this friggin' adorable little felt fox nameplate thingy, and customized it for my classroom.
After exploring the shops for a bit, I was hungry, so I stopped in a tiny restaurant that served onigiri (rice balls) and udon (thick noodles in soup). It was cheap and delicious and surprisingly filling. There was a game shop next door with one of those skill crane things you see everywhere. Most of the prizes inside were crap, but I blew a few won on it anyway just for shiggles. I got this little dog thing on my first try. I still have no idea what the hell this red rubber brick is for, but it was strapped to the bottom of the dog. Maybe just to weigh it down so it's harder to get with the crane? Honestly, IDEK, guys.
Grabbed some red bean buns, tea, and juice from the 7-11 on my way home, and now I'm here. At home. Writing a blog post. Well, I guess that just about brings this blog up to speed, so I'll sign off now.
E.T.A: I almost forgot my new passport photo! The photographer did a very nice job: