Saturday, September 17, 2011

The process of getting settled in... and starting work!

Sunday, August 21, 2011
After a long almost sleepless (we both kept waking up every 15-20 minutes) night we decided to get our day started at 5:30am.  We started by moving the kitchen cabinet into the bedroom to make it a second closet.  We also moved the table/desk into the kitchen.  We unpacked our clothes, cleaned the whole place and started to make it our own.

By noon, we were pretty much all settled in and decided to tackle the subway, E-Mart and the Shinsegae mall (basically to see what was available to us).  The closest subway station to our apartment is Jukjeon station and is approximately a 10-minute walk, which would be reasonable if it wasn’t for this scorching heat.  We figured we may as well find out how Jen would get to her school which is in Bundang.  We walked up to a self-kiosk and, fortunately for us, they had an English option.  (We noticed that most major modes of transportation have English, which is awesome!  We may not be lost yet!)  We bought 2 tickets en route to JeonJa station and it cost 3,000 Korean Won, that’s including a 1,000 KRW deposit that we got refunded once we returned our cards to a machine!!  (A little note about the money:  1 CDN $ = approx. 1,000 KRW).   The ride was for 3 stops and lasted about 5 minutes.
We got off at JeonJa station and started walking UPHILL towards Jennifer’s school.  20-25 minutes later, we were there.  By this time we were both sweating bullets.  There has got to be an easier way than this.  And we will find it!!  We stopped at a “local” 7-eleven on the way back to rehydrate a little bit.
On the way home, we stopped at Shinegae mall.  That’s when we realized we lived in an expensive part of town.  Everything in this 8 story mall was extremely costly and they had all the name brands: Coach, Louis Vuitton, etc.  We quickly decided this mall was out of our pay scale and we would only visit for the cool food courts (there is one on the top floor and one in the basement.  They both looked amazingly delicious).
So we crossed the street to E-Mart…  Hallelujah!!!  This is what we had been hoping for… A Walmart-style department store with everything we could possibly need at a reasonable price, including groceries.  We were in heaven.  We spent a better part of an hour browsing and picking up things we had put on our list.  250,000 KRW later, we were walking home with a smile on our faces and our hands full of stuff!  It’s the small victories that make it all worth it!

Monday, August  22, 2011
After yet another almost sleepless night, this one mostly due to nerves, we finally decided to get up and start our day.  I (Jason) was slated to meet my co-teacher at the Home Plus mart that Ann had pointed out to me.  At 7:40am, I was out of the door and on my way.  I was going to be early and make a great first impression!  At 8:10, my co-teacher strolled around in her Hyundai Avante and picked me up to drive me to my school, which, I was happy to discover, was not that far at all.  It’s approximately a 10-minute walk from our apartment, but in the opposite direction from E-Mart and the subway station.
To my relief, I wasn’t teaching today… phfew!!!  Shim Hye Seon (my co-teacher), introduced me to many people, including the principal and vice-principal, before sending me away to get my medical check done.  I was happy to find out that there was another English teacher at my school.  His name is Jay and his contract ends on September 8, so although I will be by myself for the most part of the year, at least I will get some help to get things started up!  Shim Hye Seon, had Jay accompany me to the clinic where I should have my medical check done.  However, Ann had mentioned to us that we Jen and I should go together and that we had to go to a specific clinic so I was a little weary about this one…. and rightfully so.  Instead of going in, I walked to our apartment and skyped with Ann on a stolen Internet signal.  (In order to get Internet, we need to have an Alien Registration Card… and to get the ARC, we need to have our medical checks.  Same goes for a cell phone… so even though I bought Adam’s smartphone, I can’t get a plan until I have my ARC… grrrr)  Anyway, Ann told me that I should not go to the clinic the school wanted me to go to, and that I should go to the one she recommended, which was about 20km away.  On the bright side, she offered to call my school to explain to them why I would not be returning right away!! 
So Jen and I left to go to the medical clinic Ann recommended.  We took the subway to Migeum station and had some problems finding the place (we took the wrong exit coming out of the subway… how were we supposed to know)  Finally we found it and went in.  No one spoke English, but I guess we were not the first ones to stop by.  The nurses knew what we were there for and helped us fill the form.  We then went for a series of tests: eyesight, hearing, blood test, x-ray, consultation, etc.  30 minutes and 70.000KRW later, we were out of there.  They told us it would be ready in 2 days and that we need to bring a passport photo in order to get our medical checks.  We survived yet another adventure!
When we got back, we stopped at Shinegae mall to grab some take out lunch, ate at the apartment and I left to go back to school.  At this point, it’s 1:30pm.  I spent ths afternoon sitting at my desk or roaming around the halls of my school, trying to figure out where everything was.  Shim Hye Seon told me I was teaching tomorrow but she would only have the schedule for us in the morning.  I asked Jay a bunch of questions about… just about everything.  He was fantastic in helping me out.  So our work day looks kind of like this:
            We have to be there by 8:20am.  School officially starts at 9:00am.  There are seven, 45 min blocks with 10 min breaks in between + a 1-hour lunch at some point.  I am going to teach up to 22 classes a week.  Anything else is considered overtime… Jay told me to expect it though!  I also found out that I will be teaching with approximately 8 different co-teachers.  Shim Hye Seon is basically the English department head teacher… yes we have a department!  Jay and I are the only non-korean though.  Finally, even though the last block ends at 3:10 (except for Thursdays) we are expected to stay at school until 4:20 everyday.
At 3:30pm, all the teachers gathered in the staff room for a good old Korean staff meeting.  I was going to be introduced to the staff!  As I stood up, I was incredibly nervous.  I introduced myself in English and said a few thing along the lines of: “Looking forward to working with all of you as we strive for the betterment of our students”, which was received with a loud cheer.  I thought to myself, “Wow, that was easy!”, then my co-teacher looked at me with a smile and told me no one understood what I had just said!  But they clapped their hands anyway!!  I must say, my first impressions of the school were very positive.  Even if there was a language barrier with most of the staff, everyone was extremely friendly to me!
At 4:20pm, I was a little panicked considering I was teaching tomorrow and had nothing planned.  So I stayed a bit longer to get some pictures off the Internet before going home.  I figured it would help since we didn’t have Internet at the apartment except for that stolen signal that came in and out.
On the way home, I stopped at Home Plus to grab a beer to celebrate my first day of work then proceeded to go see my wife who was most likely waiting for me.   After a good home cooked pasta meal (à la Jen) I started lesson planning for my first day of teaching.  After 30 minutes, I just couldn’t do it anymore.  Exhausted, we laid down and watched a few episodes of hung before calling it a night.

1 comment:

  1. i hope by now jen has figured out how to take the bus to school!