Hello, hello. I’m writing this from the train station in Daegu. I’m taking Korean classes at the YMCA here on Tuesday nights and, because the only trains back to town on weeknights are at 9:00 and 10:30 and my class ends at 8:50, I usually end up with about an hour and a half to kill at the train station on Tuesday nights. Usually I bring my TOEFL certificate homework with me but I was a little behind schedule handing it in last week so I haven’t received the new units yet. I was going to use the free internet at Starbucks to work on my online accounting homework but I couldn’t get it to work. (I don’t know if the problem is Korea or my HP netbook, but the two really don’t seem to like each other when it comes to WiFi hot spots.) I could pay for internet access here, but there’s only about 40 minutes until my train so I don’t think it’s worth it today. So, lucky you, you get a blog update and I get to do my homework later in the week.
Korean classes are going well, albeit slowly. Right now we’re on the same sort of lessons we did in 3rd grade French. (“What is that?” “It’s a pencil.” “What is that?” “It’s a window.” To this day “It’s a window” is one of the only phrases I know in French, although I can’t spell it or pronounce it correctly.) It’s a fun group, although most of them are EPIK teachers from Daegu who all know each other already so it hasn’t been as easy to people as I was hoping it would be. One of these days I’ll get brave enough to elbow my way into one of their conversations, give me some time…
By the way, for those of you who think the American government is fucked up (What the fuck is up with Arizona? “Let’s get rid of the immigrants by forcing our police to resort to fascist harassment tactics or else we’ll sue our own communities.” Good job, Arizona. Where’s Chuck D when we need him?) I heard a great story tonight about the government here. One of the members of our class is a guy from the Netherlands. Tonight in class we were talking about our jobs. When we asked him what he’s doing in Korea, he told us that he came to visit a year or so ago and the Korean government suddenly decided that he had to serve in the Army. Apparently he had never carried a Korean passport or anything – he doesn’t even speak Korean, which is why he’s in our class – but somehow Korea decided he’s a citizen and therefore he has to do his compulsory service. In the process he lost his job back home, among other things. (He didn’t go into detail about what happened to his stuff – all he said was, “You can imagine what happened.”)
Work has been going better. After the lesson I attempted two weeks ago that blew up in my face I got a little smarter about gearing my lessons to my students’ abilities, so things have been going smoother. Next week is some sort of big test for three days (that’s right, three straight days of testing) and Wednesday is Children’s Day so I don’t really have to even complete a lesson this week. That’s probably a good thing since Friday we have open classes and I’ve been using my time to prepare for those. “Open classes” mean that parents get to drop in and observe a class. I appreciate the transparency and everything but as you can imagine the pressure is on to make the lesson look good so that none of my co-teachers end up looking bad. Again, I shouldn’t say too much about the details because I don’t want to embarrass anyone or share too much. I guess it’s nice that the parents care enough that they want to see where their educational dollars are going, but you know how it is, nobody likes having to work with people peering over their shoulders.
Whoa - I think I just saw one of the folks I met in orientation in this train station. This deserves investigating. Back later.