Hi peoples - okay sorry it took me a few days to update on here but things have basically been nonstop since we got here Saturday night. Landed in Incheon around 6pm Saturday, which was 2am my time, running on fumes basically. Hardly slept or ate on the plane ride, which felt like it went by surprisingly quickly for 11.5 hours! Chungdahm makes it pretty easy to get from the airport to the hotel (one bus ride and one taxi ride), with really thorough directions and whatnot. Found my way to the Coatel with Gill, the Canadian girl who was on the Seattle flight with me, and a guy named Steve, who was on a flight that landed around the same time from LAX.
Korean flags are ALL OVER main streets.
The first night/day in Seoul was pretty fun, I acclimated to the time change way quicker than I'd imaged I would, so that was nice. Woke up at a normal time and went to check out some of the surrounding areas by our hotel with three other girls. Gill (Canadian), Sara (another Canadian who is also my roommate this week and is going to be teaching at the Suji branch with me), and Gill's training week roommate Kiersten (who graduated from Westmont the same year as Britt - small world!).
These streets are so tiny and crazy, there are hundreds of restaurants and little convenience stores all along them, and they're located right off of super busy main thoroughfares. Kind of fun but dirtier than bigger streets and usually pretty smelly.
Lunch on day one! A sort of Korean BBQ. They serve it super hot in this dish with a burner below it, and you're supposed to mix in all the stuff on top. There was octopus with their tiny tentacles still attached in this one. It was actually surprisingly good!
The first two days we were here were so incredibly hot it seriously started to feel like I was going to have to start training in a bikini or I would die of heat stroke. Then, the rain came... and by rain I really mean monsoons. Which was good because it cooled things down a bit, but on the other hand we all looked completely terrible (wet hair, runny makeup, see through clothes) any time we stepped outside. Almost gave up on straightening my hair, but who am I kidding? I'd rather die.
Training day 1, Sara and I taking unashamed selfies in the mirrors on the elevator. We're supposed to wear business casual to training... we ended up looking like we drowned by the end of this day.
Before the first day of training we had medical exams... literally the most thorough thing I've ever experienced. Height, weight, hearing test, blood pressure, eye test, EKG, blood test, urine test, dental check up, lung test, family health history records, passport check... seriously the list goes on. You'd think we're applying to teach in North Korea or something.
My general feelings about the health center.
So after the checkup we basically jumped right into training. We only had a few hours Monday, but were right back at it full days Tuesday & today from 9am to around 3. We have a morning session and an afternoon session. My morning is Interactive Reading (Eagle level). Chungdahm organizes their English classes by levels and the top six are golf terms, so Eagle is 3 below the highest level of classes they offer. It's pretty difficult in theory and mock training, but I think it will turn out to be really fun and rewarding when I actually get kids engaged in a subject and get them to think critically and deeper about issues they might not have on their own. After IRE we get a half hour break for lunch, and our trainer told us about a place across the street that is quick and really good.
This is what I had there on the first day, bibimbap! It's a cold rice dish with spicy sauce, veggies, fried egg, and seaweed. Plus all the extra stuff they bring to your table with your meal. Some of it delicious, some scary.
After break we go back for the afternoon session, which for me is Memory English. ME is a very basic level of English class Chungdahm offers, therefore it's much easier to learn and apply to a classroom (in my opinion)! I'll be teaching ME 4x a week, as opposed to IRE which I'll only teach 2x, which is partially a blessing and a curse. I think it will get more monotonous than IRE, but will be a lot easier to prep... but we'll see! It's mostly basic sentence structure, vocabulary, transition words, and things like that.
Training is pretty difficult, to be honest. I'm pretty drained and we're only halfway there (well, a little more than, I guess). The days feel long, and by the time we get back to the Coatel on the subway it's already 4pm and we still have to prep around 2 hours for each session. With a dinner break in between the two prep sessions, by the time we finished we're exhausted! Tomorrow is the last day like that, plus an extra class after our second session... then on Friday we have an exam on classroom structure and our final mock teaching presentation. Promise these updates will get more fun as I start doing more fun things (ie, NOT sitting in classrooms all day long learning about Engrish).
If you want to text me, there's a .99 app called WhatsApp that you can download and text for free, to any country! I have it and it works great, it's really cool. Plus, obviously, Skype. And facebook, but that's for old people (just kidding mom).