Over the last Week

So, I meant to update on Sunday night with my going ons, but then I forgot and didn’t. Saturday I went to Seoul to get my phone. As mentioned in the previous post, I needed to come back on Monday since the English speaking girl wasn’t there. Since I was already in Jongno, I walked to Insadong. And discovered I left my phone back at the apartment. Not exactly my day at this point. 

Anyway, Insadong is a pretty interesting place. Lots of traditional Korean crafts for sale, as well as kitchy souvenirs and stuff. Insadong was crowded and there were a large number of foreigners (like me) there. However, most of them were tourists, and most of the shop keepers assumed I didn’t live here since I wasn’t Korean. I wasn’t that interested in buying a bunch of cheap souvenirs or anything, but I do collect lapel pins and I haven’t gotten any since arriving in Korea, so I looked around for some. Didn’t find many, but I did get a Korean flag and a couple pins of traditional Korean wooden masks. I also bought a mask to hang in my bedroom since I have no art or decoration in the room at this time. 

That night I was planning to meet up with the older gentlemen I had met the Saturday before. Unfortunately, I felt a bit sick. I drank a bit much the night before, so the thought of sitting around pounding soju and eating stomach sounded unappealing. Well, the pounding soju part. I decided I would go out to eat Samgyeopsal (삼겹살), which is a three layered strip of pork and one of the most delicious things in the world. I ate at the little restaurant under the school I work at since I had never been. I had a bit of trouble with the menu, but I eventually got my food ordered. It was a bit difficult to eat alone, as well as a bit depressing, but I guess it couldn’t be helped this time.

On Sunday, I slept late, and then I went to Culcom. A week earlier I went to Culcom and signed up for a language exchange so that I’d be able to learn more Korean. I was told I’d be called a week later with details on my exchange partner, but must have missed the call or something. I was using a prepaid phone left behind by another teacher, and it doesn’t seem terribly reliable. Anyway, I showed up and met a few more people and found out my language exchange was Wednesday. 

On Monday, I was off to Seoul in the morning for my phone. They were going to take to long to prepare the model of phone I wanted, so I signed the contract in the morning, then returned after work to get the phone. It was a lot of subway riding for one day and I ended up riding the second to last train and the last bus in order to get home. I’m thrilled with the cost of my plan since it is so much cheaper than what I was used to in the States. For the first time, I’ve got a top of the line piece of hardware and unlimited data, which is pretty exciting to me. 

At work I was doing well, but if a kid speaks Korean, we’re supposed to send them out of the class as punishment. It is supposed to be full submersion. I usually give warnings and I don’t sweat minor things, but if a student is consistently speaking in Korean, or consistently not listening to me, I send them out. Usually, when the come back in they behave a lot better and the other students pay more attention. Afterwards we try to laugh about it and have fun since I do want to be their friend, but I also have to be strict with them. In the end, that’s what the parents want, and the kids respect me more for it.

This particular day, I had sent out one student in my first class, and he came back in a we laughed and everything was all good. Two other students got sent out in another class because they were goofing off a lot, but that is a bit of a trouble class. They weren’t really affected by it much. Finally, one of the girl students in the class had been giving me trouble. Over the last week she would switch to Korean all the time in class, she would cut up with the girl next to her and she would look on other girls papers during tests. She had been warned by me in English and by the principal in Korean. This day she wasn’t listening to me, she was laughing with another girl, she was looking on other papers, and when I asked her if she was understanding the material she laughed and said stuff to me in Korean. 

I said “That doesn’t sound like English, what did I tell you about speaking Korean?”

She laughed and spoke more Korean. So I told her to leave the class. She then asked why. I said, “Why do you think? I’ve told you not to speak Korean, the head teacher has told you not to speak Korean, and you’re still speaking Korean. Please leave the classroom,”

She looked at me like she didn’t believe it and then I forcefully said, “Now.”

She then stomped out of the class and promptly started crying. For about an hour. I only did what I had been instructed to do, and she had been warned multiple times in multiple languages, so I was shocked that she took it that hard. She made a big deal about it, and the head teacher called her parents to tell them what happened and why I did what I did. I was told that I should have sent the girl next to her out as well because the first girl couldn’t have been speaking Korean alone, but I said at this time she was talking Korean to me. It was a frustrating experience since I was only trying to do what the boss had told me to do, yet it created this huge mess. The head teacher explained to the girl that I was doing what I had to do and that I didn’t feel great about it either. And that she wanted me to apologize to the girl for being harsh and try to get on her good side again, but that I needed to do that only after the girl apologized to me. Outside of that, my classes have run smoothly and are getting better all the time.

On Tuesday, I showed up at Culcom for a language exchange. The manager who set me up with a partner, Heej, was there. She said I was supposed to be there on Wednesday. I could have sworn she had said Tuesday because I made a mental note that it was the same day that Marybeth, one of the other teachers, has lessons in a more formal setting. Either way, I seemed to have come on the wrong day. But I sat in with Heej’s group and helped their discussion and met some cool new people. Then work.

On Wednesday, I went to Culcom again, for my actual exchange. I worked with a guy who’s English name is Ted. We went over some useful phrases and some food vocabulary, which was what I’m most interested in right now. He told me to practice my hangul and grammar on my time, and he would help me with speaking and correcting my reading and grammar. Heej also sat with us for a bit and told me she wanted me to come in on Tuesday and Thursday too, and be her language partner. I agreed.

On Thursday, I was back again. This time sitting with Heej’s group again. We made casual conversation and played a board game. Heej said we’d do our lessons starting next week. This week kind of wore me out, since I woke up around 7am Monday, and then around 8:30am every other morning and I’m at work until 10pm and I’m used to being awake until about 1am or so. Kind of a gradual fatigue added up.

Which brings me to today, Friday morning. I slept in. It was raining, which gave me a bit of a sinus headache. I’m thinking next week will be easier to maintain such a schedule, especially since it would regulate my eating. I can have breakfast at Culcom, lunch before I take the bus to work, then dinner at work, and then I can go to sleep when I get home. Before I would eat breakfast around 11 when I got up, Lunch during work (usually between 4 and 6) and then dinner at 10pm. Not the best of habits. And with four language sessions a week, I should be able to get much better at Korean. 

Well, that about brings you readers up to speed. I’ll be trying to update each day during the weekend at the very least, so you could expect something from me tomorrow or so. Korean time, of course.


~ by James on March 23, 2012.

2 Responses to “Over the last Week”

  1. Making Kids cry is all part of being a teacher, and I bet you’ll never have an issue from her or her class ever again.
    I’ve never quiet found language exchange to work, as it seemed more of a one way street. However after reading about your experiences I think it maybe worth another shot.

    • I could imagine how easily it could become a one-way street depending on who you’re working with. Currently, I think I’ve given away more English practice than I’ve learned Korean, but I have high hopes and I even if it was a one-way street, I’m making a lot of good friends, which is important for me over here.

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