That Time I Didn’t Teach English

Think of the cutest place you have ever been—a baby’s nursery or Magic Kingdom or whatever. Now times that adorableness by 100 and you are maybe close to my location right now “Cafe Coffee”.

To my right is a large table of Korean high school students and some kind of tutor. I know enough Korean to know they’re talking about math.

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I don’t know enough math to know what they’re actually talking about

At the table across from me there’s a pretty and squee-inducing couple. She keeps calling him “Oppa” (Korean for either boyfriend or older brother) and I just…I can’t take this.

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This is all a block down the road from my glorious motel.

I’m drinking hot chocolate, which I managed to order in Korean thank you very much (hoteu choco chuseyo), and he even set up my wifi (wipi—Hangul doesn’t have “f”) for me. It’s freaking delicious.

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so cute, so coco

Today was a great day. Nothing went wrong, and everything that could have gone right did. For instance, I went to the hospital to get a medical check. I need to prove that I don’t have AIDS for them to issue my Alien Residence Card. I can’t get a bank card until I get an ARC. And because of the Lunar Holiday, none of this will happen for another month. -_-

You can tell a lot about a country by its hospitals. Korea has national health care, but everything seems to run fairly smoothly. The rooms are all shiny and there are doctors walking around in lab coats and slippers (adidas sandals) because they don’t wear shoes.

Okay…I did have one awkward moment today. So I had to get an x-ray to prove I wasn’t a cyborg or something and they had me change my shirt into a little hospital one. I go stand at the machine and I’m all ready to be scanned when the doctor told me I had to take my bra off—I should have known this seeing as it has metal clips—I just wasn’t thinking. It was only awkward because he was rather young…and attractive…and he only spoke bra in Konglish which sounds something like, “braji” and he motioned to the clips on the back.

Weird for everyone

Another foreign teacher took me to the hospital, which is just down the street from her apartment. Let’s call her Canada. She’s really chill and easy to talk to. That’s another thing—I’ve known these teachers for a total of 48 hours and I already feel like I’ve known them for a while. I think it takes a certain type of person to go to the other side of the world to teach English without knowing anyone, so when only that type of person is in the same place, they get along. Our personalities just click—does that make sense?

I attended more classes today. The kids are just—adorable. I don’t even know all their names yet and I already dread next February when I have to leave.

That was fast.

The thing that went really right today was when the Director suddenly was like, “can you do a mock lesson for us today?” I didn’t know what a mock lesson actually meant—like, in front of students or in front of teachers? A full 50 minute one or just a ‘then I’ll do this’ type of thing. She gave me two hours off of observation though to prepare so I was like, ‘yeah…I can do this. I can do hard things.’ So she gave me the text I was teaching and it’s really pretty straightforward. You make flashcards for the words laid out, and then you play certain games and exercises to memorize the words, and the kids have workbooks where they fill in the vocabulary and you watch them do it. The only complication is that there are three basic levels, and then each level has 3-4 sub levels, each of which has a specific textbook and different goals— i.e. Base Camp level is more vocabulary based whereas the Columbus level is more grammar based. But within Base Camp there’s Discovery, Navigation, Compass, and Telescope and within Columbus level there’s Santa Maria, Pinta, Nina, and another I can’t remember. Oh and there’s a transition level between Base Camp and Columbus called “Ocean”. While these names do make sense to some degree, I have no idea which order they come in, nor really the differences between each sublevel.

So that’s going to take some time.

Anyway, I planned this lesson and I really have no idea what I’m doing I’m just making up random games and printing out the flashcards.

And then—luck strikes. Director was in some meeting right up until 8:30 so I didn’t have to do it! Now I have to do it Tuesday but…at least I’ll have some training by then.

Speaking of training, I have training all next week. I have to take the bus into this city called Bundang which will be interesting seeing as I know neither where the bus nor where Bundang is. All of the new foreign teachers meet there though so I’ll figure it out.

I asked Head Teacher if this is where we learn the games and teaching methods and she was like, ‘no, it’s mostly just being brainwashed with Avalon philosophy.’

Hopefully this means I will walk away with a deeper understanding of how Telescope is more advanced than Compass .

Which was really more useful to Columbus?

So there’s Avalon wide training all day Monday, just Langcon on Wednesday, and then everyone is together again on Friday. The middle school teachers have to go in Tuesday and Thursday too.

Oh, and I think I figured out the difference between the the schools. So there’s what’s considered ‘elementary’ which is like the babies just learning English. And then there’s Langcon  (me) which is 8-12 year olds. And then there’s middle school which is like American High School. They’re all under the Avalon company, just different age groups.

There’s just so much I’m all over the place right now.

If I write every day, there will eventually be a time where things settle down and I have a normal schedule and things may become monotonous. I’ll use those days to go more into depth about people and places and things but right now I just have to hit on the big points for these to make even some sense.

Oh, tomorrow I’m going into Seoul. While in the airport I met another AT teacher on the other side of Suwon who loves Korean Pop culture as much as I do and we are going into the city to do Kpop things and even though I’ve talked to her for literally 10 minutes…we’re going on vacation together it’s fine.That sounded really creepy.

Dang it Cafe Coffee’s wifi isn’t working anymore. I think it’s because the students in textbooks left and now there’s a group of ahjummas and ahjussis (old people) sucking up the wipi. So that stinks. I’m sure I’ll have so much to write tomorrow and I have no idea when I’ll be able to post it because I don’t know how late things will be open on the holiday. And J-Motel, as I’ve said many times, is brainless.

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Okay it’s not that bad

The only good thing about that though is now I am determined to visit as many cafe’s in Suwon as possible to use their wipi.

I don’t think there can be a cuter one than this but the one next door is called “Floretta” and there are literally flowers hanging from the ceiling. And if it has wipi…it will probably win.

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