I am sorry that this e-mail is later in coming than it should be. I am finally getting a few minutes to sit and write a little blurb about what my past week has entailed, and some quick impressions.
I arrived safely to my apartment in Gwangju last Tuesday morning around 12:30am after about 25 hours of plane and bus travel. The next morning I arose bright and early for my first day at the school, and to meet the other teachers. The school system here is different than anything I've encountered in the States. Classes start at 10am for the pre-school aged students. They stay at the school until 2:30pm. Then at 3:00, 4:20 and 6:00pm different elementary-aged classes come from other schools around the city and specifically work on their English language skills. These are long work days, but there are breaks in between each class which helps to break up the day. You will all be pleased to know that the students are adorable and quirky and affectionate. I can't believe I get to hang out with kids who actually enjoy school and like their teachers all day long.
I spent most of the week sitting in on other teachers' classes and watching how they do their thing. One of the teachers let me help teach, lead science activities and also introduce new vocab. I really appreciated the chance to practice some of the things I'll need to use in my own classroom. On Monday and Tuesday the head teacher had to take a quick trip out of the country, so at 1:00 the boss told me I was to teach the 3:00 and 4:20 elementary classes. I wish I had a hilarious horror story to share, but honestly the students were patient and helpful. I really enjoyed the two days I taught them, and I'm under the impression that they enjoyed having me too. We got to sing "California Dreamin"...it doesn't get much better than that.
I'm living in an apartment which is about a 12 minute walk from the school. It is cozy and yellow. I think it suits me. I have been fortunate enough to live next door to another teacher named David for the last week. We cooked, shopped and hung out a bunch. But today his contract for the year ended and he heads back to Brooklyn. Some of the other teachers who have been very friendly and helpful in showing me around will leave tomorrow. It feels weird and sad to already say goodbye.
Let's see, what else? The chopsticks are growing on me. After a week I am able to pick things up from across the table which feels like quite a feat. We do a lot of eating while sitting on cushions on the floor. In fact I sit on the floor a lot here, and rarely wear shoes. I think both habits are nice.
Well, I must be off to clean and organize a bit. Later I will eat a duck.
I have appreciated all the e-mails and well-wishes these past days. I miss your faces and voices. Please know that I think of you all often and with fondness.
With much love,