Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Teaching Elementary

Teaching in a public elementary school is one of the greatest experiences one can have in South Korea. If this job was in the states, it would be the perfect job. I only say that because of all the adapting that is required with living here, such as learning the language and culture. It can be difficult at times, but also very rewarding. For example, today I bought some groceries and other much needed items for my home. Coming back to my apartment, I asked an elderly lady (an ajumma) on the street how much something cost. I even understood what she was saying! She said "il-ch'on" which means one thousand wons (about $0.82). No tax even! Street vendors are the way to go.

Tomorrow I am getting an internet connection in my apartment! They say that the internet here is fastest in the world. So far I've been using a signal from a place down the street (shhh!). It's "free," but too slow to stream TV or radio even at times. With my new internet I'll also have to have a cable running across the floor to connect my computer. I won't be paying for a router though since the guy that lived here before left his for me.

Seems like anyone under the age of 13 knows me in town. (Quick side note: you are born here one year old, so in the states it would be anyone under 12.) When walking into school, I usually get "hi" and "hello" coming from each direction. I try to respond and give an occasional "How are you doing?" to each inquiring student. They like to respond with "OK," "fine," or "very, very happy." Normally when they see an adult teacher, they bow. With me they just wave, and the ones that know my name say "Hi, James." They think it's funny, and I do too most of the time.

Today I found peanut butter and 우유 (milk) butter! It was expensive (6,500 won each), but well worth it. Maybe I'll stop by the store on the way home to get some bread. I haven't eaten bread in about 3 weeks. Eating bread at a meal is rare here, since rice is a staple for Korean meals. Actually, 밥 or "rice" is synonymous with "meal" here. So in Korean, when you say "Do you want to get some rice?" you really mean "Do you want to get some dinner?"

On Friday, I am going to Seoul for a five-day orientation. I was late arriving and the only foreign teacher in town (out of 15) that hasn't been to it yet. I have some teacher friends helping me out though. Pray that it goes well!


  1. I enjoy reading about your experiences. I am glad you are finding friendly people to help you along your adventure.

  2. I enjoy your blog too! Keep it up! Carolyn said she had some friends she used to teach with on Guam who now teach English in Seoul. They are Christians and go to a church there. How far is Seoul from where you live? Love you!