That doesn't mean anything. I'm just using a Korean keyboard and thought it would be cool to use a few Hangeul sumbols. Aren't they neato?
Orientation has been fantastic. When we got here, even though I was ready to barf, I was shocked and happily surprised by how organized and friendly the orientation was. The process was smooth. After 20 minutes we had all of our orientation materials (including sandwich, bottled water, orientation guide, tourism guidebook, and free hoodie and embroidered towels!!!) and a quaint but clean room on the first floor of the dormitory. The next morning, we awoke to smells of scrambled eggs and fresh kimchi. Ok, there wasn't actually any kimchi at breakfast. But there is at every other meal. The food has been great, for the most part. I think I will survive here well, though I fear for Sara and her crusade against meat. Vegitarian food is rare and abnormal here.
As for preparing me to be am EFL teacher, I think they've done a fine job. We learned on the first day that the main reason for this program (besides English being a major economical language) is that people were having to send their children overseas to English schools in order to truly learn the language. Here they learned grammar and punctuation, but not pronounciation or communication skills. Koreans were devastated by this process of having their families torn apart in the pursuit of language learning. The solution? Tear the Westerners away from their families and bring them here!
What we've learned about the classroom themselves is encouraging. I won't be required to produce grades, nor am I put under an immense ammount of pressure. There are dozens of websites chocked full of EFL lesson plans that I can draw from, and I have 18 hours a week (minimum) of "free time" to lesson plan for the other 22. Since lesson planning can't possibly take 22 hours, many people end up on Facebook and Youtube for a large part of their day.
In addition, though I don't know how my specific school will be, many EPIK teachers are not required to come to school during the students' breaks (July/August and January/February). Essentially, this extends my vacation time to 4 months, assuming my school works under these rules. If not, I will be there diligently, on Facebook, every day.
Today we depart for downtown Seoul, the Korean National Museum, an old Korean palace, an internationally renowned Korean show called "Nanta Cooking" where chefs perform and cook for you, and a fabulous dinner at a seafood restaurant called Marisco. Then, we finally get an oppurtunity to walk around for a bit and experience the city. Of course, there are plenty of frat boys and sorority girls here who have been--ahem--"experiencing" the city nightly. I'm not sure how they got into this program, but I hope they act more like teachers when they get to their schools. Teachers have a wonderful reputation in Korea. I'd prefer it not be my countrymen who ruin that.
But I can't be too sour, because this place is magical so far (as is any new place), and I'd like my honeymoon with it to last as long as possible. I hope the charm doesn't wear off any time soon, but if it does, I want to remember these first weeks exactly as they were--fresh, exciting, foreign, and filled with new chances to explore the world and myself.
Now it's off for a quick shower and a healthy breakfast. Good morning to me and good afternoon to all of you. The sun is finally rising over the mountain tops that are mere city blocks from my window.
I think I'm really beginning to like it here.