Two weeks in Busan

Hello Friends! We are exhausted but in a very good way. We have now been here in South Korea for two weeks and are officially in love. Last weekend we moved into our apartment about an 8 min. walk from school. Our apartment is wondeful and very nice. Korean’s don’t like carpet so everybody has hardwood or tiled floors. Our apartment has light hardwood floors and very contemporary furniture. Since we don’t have alot of stuff we are loving all the floor space for yoga. We live on the 15th floor and the only thing we have noticed noise wise is the car lift. What is a car lift you ask? Well, you pull your car into an elevator looking thing and it lifts your car up and puts it in your designated spot up to 15 floors up! We have mountains that surround us and the beach is only 20 min. by subway. We can walk almost everywhere and we love our neighborhood. We live right next to a river with a walking path that goes for about 10k. There are fitness stations along the whole path and for some great entertainment you can go out and watch the senior Koreans doing sit ups with only their arms! There is also a accupressure stone park that is free to the pubic. The stones are put into the cement in different patterns and degrees of difficulty to walk on. You just walk around and do the little exercises and I swear you feel like your legs just got an hour massage! We have been trying to go there as often as possible since it is only a 5 minute walk away.

We officially started teaching our own classes at school last Monday. Our school is called the Sogang Language University or SLP. All the classrooms are named after famous universities in the states like Brown, UPenn, Stanford, Yale and others. In the morning the students are the young ones Korean ages 5, 6, 7 and 8.  In Korea, when you are born you are considered 1 already so the kids are really 4, 5, 6,  and 7 years old. The have class from 9:45am-2:20pm. We split the teachings with the Korean teachers and it is really fun working together with them to make sure the kids learn the correct way to  speak English. The children are not allowed to speak Korean at the school so most of the students can speak and understand English pretty well. The really young students who are 4 years old only speak alittle but they improve very quickly.

I teach in the morning Stanford class. I have 8 students who are Korean age 7 (US age 6). They are so smart! They love to learn and get really excited about anything new. I have a book that I have to follow for the main ideas of their lessons but I can add my own activities and games when I can fit them in. My kids already know how to write and spell very well. We have had a word of the day everyday in class that I think they should know but is a little harder than some of their vocab words. This week they were in love with the word “broadcasting station.” On Monday they didn’t know what it was or how to say it but by Friday they all wrote it correctly in a sentence. I love teaching them and playing games with them.

In the afternoons the school has older students (Korean age 11-14) who come AFTER their regular school for extra classes at SLP to improve their English and studies. Some of the kids go to school and lessons for 12 hours a day! There is alot of pressure from the parents to do well in everything and there really isn’t an emphasis on recreation. The older kids are very serious and sometimes I make it my goal to get them to laugh in class. I teach a variety of different students for 40min. each class until 7pm. Each class has different levels and different programs depending on what the parents want to emphasize in their studies (speaking, writing, or both).  Overall, the classes are so much fun but it can be tough because the parents have really high expectations and can observe your class on a monitor at any time. My favorite part of all the classes is the funny questions they ask me about the U.S. “US is so wonderful, right Ashley teacher?” They are almost brainwashed to think the US is the best place in the world!

So what are we doing withour free time? Exploring of course! We have met some great people so far. We work with4 other foreigner teachers at the school and we hang out with them in our free time. The first weekend we all went out to celebrate the departure of 3 of the foreigner teachers and welcome their replacements (us!). We went out to a raw fish place with all the Korean teachers and the foreigners. We sat on the floor at the restaurant and as soon as we sat the food started coming. Koreans are famous for their side dishes and during a meal you could have over 8 side dishes! Everyone gets one main plate that is empty and everything comes family style. We just sat there for 2 hours as the dishes kept coming and we kept picking at all the dishes. The fish was so fresh and everything else was very interesting. I wish I could be more specific as to what we ate but at this point I am not sure. We never individually ordered, we just ordered for the table! I know I liked the cold soup with spicy noodles and the fish. After that we went to a Nora Bong which is a karaoke room just for us. You get a big book of songs and just type them into the computer pad and Bam! you are singing with the huge screen and video. The Korean teachers were amazing at singing and I loved the half English half Korean songs that are popular here. We sang and danced until 3am which I guess is typical here (we were hurting the next day). 

This past weekend we got up early and went to Korean lessons for 2 hours. They are held at the local city hall and all the teachers there are volunteers! Everyone gets their own private tutor and you learn whatever you want. The only cost of the program is to cover the snacks they serve at the break. So, we are paying $2.50 a monthfor private Korean lessons every week. We then went out to an amazing veggie place with one of the Korean teachers from our school and her American husband. We had such a great time and the food was amazing! We are definitely going to hang out with Kate and Ryan because they are into all the things we love. We are going to join them at their philosophy club next sunday so we are super excited about that. We will continue to keep you updated on our lives here but I will end this novel because there is just too much to tell!

-Ash

2 Responses to “Two weeks in Busan”

  1. The raw fish you would be eating is in a Korean method of preparation called ‘Hwae’ (it basically means raw [fish a lot of the time])

    Side dishes are called ‘banchan’

    I’m glad you’re loving the food and lol @ Jason’s post about Korean traffic… I may steal parts of it to show my friends hahahaha!

    Hope all is well and my message arrives to you in good health

  2. Dori says:

    the kids are precious. everything sounds great.

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