That Time I Went to Avalon

I was prepared for the first day of school to suck. “I love going back to school!” 

Said no one, ever

However, today was perhaps the best first day of school I’ve ever had.

I think I’m going to like my job. Actually though.

Oh gosh, where do I even begin. There’s so much!

Let’s just go by people.

First, my head teacher did pick me up this morning. She’s a six foot tall blue eyed blonde, and she apologized profusely for whatever happened yesterday. There was some miscommunication—but really I had a good day so no worries. She was with this little cute Korean guy who she introduced to me as her boyfriend. She’s literally 5 inches taller than him and it’s probably one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. A lot of things normal people find weird, I find adorable so you may not agree with me. I asked her what brought her to Korea, which is my first question to everyone. Apparently she met her boyfriend in the States at college and followed him to Korea while he did his mandatory military service. She’s the only one who stuck around through Ex-Director.

Ex-Director: When I emailed head teacher about Suwon, she said, “we’ve gone through a lot of positive changes lately.” This was not reassuring. Turns out, this school went through a phase of horrible beyond imagination management. I was told that for a good year, this Suwon langcon couldn’t hold a teacher for more than three months. Literally, teachers left their contracts. I don’t know exactly what she did—all I could get was that she piled on the work and expected the impossible. Head Teacher only stayed because of her Korean BF.

New Director: Is a sweetheart. And she’s not actually “new”—she directed the school before Evil Director and Head Teacher says that the past few months have been making up for all the damage done. She speaks perfect English, and when I gave her my maple syrup she said she would “treasure it” because once she went to Canada and missed the syrup and her husband owns a cafe and knows how to make waffles. So—I think that was a good idea. There are many more people, but I think I’ll save it until they are relevant just to make things easier.

So…here’s what my schedule is going to be like:

12:30-2:50: at the office preparing lessons. The four foreign teachers and three Korean teachers all share an office about the size of an average living room. It’s quite cozy. Everyone seems to get along well and they have all these inside jokes about the students that I’m sure I’ll understand eventually. I have to be there for those 2+ hours, even though we are just chilling around the office, because it counts as work time. And most people need it, seeing as I’ll probably be teaching 6 different classes every day. As in, 6 entirely different lesson plans. However, it’s not like I’ll be pulling topics out of Suwon air—each level has it’s own textbook and straightforward activities. You have to get x amount of pages done every day in class, and it’s been regularized enough so that if you’re doing it right, it takes that exact amount of time. So basically that preparation time will be for printing out flashcards and familiarizing yourself with the lesson—reviewing your knowledge of endangered animals and whether grandparents is one word or two type of thing. And eating lunch because there’s no official lunch break. You’re not supposed to eat at school at all, but people do anyway.

You just have to be secretive about it

2:50-7:35 Teaching the classes. Each class is about 40 minutes long. Some of them have five minute breaks between, one has a 10 minute break, and the others don’t have any break at all. I don’t really know the difference yet.

7:35-8:35 Preparing for the next day. Once again, just a lot of time sitting around putting in hours, but everyone looked relatively busy so I guess there will come a point where I’ll have more to do than scroll tumblr.

Because today I didn’t teach anything. I shadowed a few classes and then the Director asked me to do some interesting things. First thing though—the whole process seems relatively straight forward. And the best part? These kids actually speak English. They answered questions and read passages and only spoke in English and they knew exactly what was expected of them. I mean, they were still a little crazy, as expected of an 8 year old. Oh yeah—all the students are between 8 and 10. And by that I mean somewhere between 7 and 12. It’s complicated, and I’ll go into it in another post, but just know that Korean Age is different than International Age, and you never actually know which they’re talking about.

Another thing—looks like I’ll be chill in in the Motel for two weeks until the girl I replace moves out. I guess it’s kind of a right of passage—everyone at the Avalon Langcon in Suwon stays in the J-Motel without wifi. Everyone empathizes and does what they can to help. So it kind of sucks but I’ll get through it.

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Home sweet home

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