A view down the main street with our new imported flowers
Seems we've been writing a lot of entries about our travels, but no-one really knows what goes on during the work week. So here' s a bit of an update on life in English Village.
English Village is a really more like a theme park than a school. The whole place is designed to look very Western, with little red telephone boxes, trams and even a Stone- (concrete) henge outside the front (See We're Here!
). Cath and I work in what is called the One Day Program (ODP). This means that people come to EV and buy tickets to individual classes at the front gate. We have a daily schedule teaching the various classes. Sometime no one shows up for class, and sometimes we have 50 little kindergarten kids, depending on how full the Village is and who has bought tickets.
It also means that we don't know who is comming to the classes. During the week our tickets are mostly sold to groups of school kids on outings. While the classes all have a recommended age, we find ourselves teaching students as young as 3 years old, up to grey-haired adults. The level can also vary from toddlers
The concert hall
Beutiful tree-covered hills that were bare just a month ago...
who cannot even speak Korean yet (class becomes very basic, songs and colouring in etc.) to people who are completely fluent (Cath and I have both taught classes of Korean judges who could speak English very well). The fun part comes in when you find that your class is a mix of ages and levels who have all bought individual tickets and need to be accomodated. You learn very quickly to adapt your class and teaching as you go!
The village is a pretty high-class outfit, having had millions of dollars in capital poured in to establish it. This means that unlike most schools, we are blessed to have the most fantastic facilities and teaching aids. Huge wide-screen TVs, computers with floor-to-ceiling projectors and massive PA sound systems are in most of the classrooms. And a good deal of it is never used. The ticket prices are also not cheap, so even though our classes may be a real mix of student types, everyone expects to get their money's worth.
The classes are really fun though. Our work hours are great too. We start work at 10h30 on weekdays and 10am on weekends, but have to meet in
Our picturesque little apartment building. Aptly named... Jupiter?
our teacher's office half an hour before every day. We then teach four 50 min classes on a weekday or 5 on weekends. All in all, with the prep between classes, meetings and our lunch hour we get off at 6pm. By then you're pretty tired, but the late start the next morning makes up for it.
The way our weekends are worked out also suits us really well. We have Monday off every second week, but the weeks between that we get Mon-Wed off. So every second weekend we take the 3-day break to get away to some corner of the country to go explore. The public transport in Korea is so good that it is pretty easy to get a bus to anywhere in the country.
From our blogs, most people think that this year must be nothing more than one long party. Most of the time it is, but work is still work and it does come with its own frustrations. Being an "Westerner" here makes you stand out like crazy. Between classes we almost constantly have kids shouting "Hello", "How are you" or "nice to meet you" at us at the top of their lungs. The kids will also very often say you're handsome or you're beautiful to us. Sounds nice, but you soon find it is just dumb flattery and it gets really irritating after hearing it 100 times a day. We often feel like real live English people put on display in their natural environment for the entertainment of the locals.
Work is pretty relaxed. We can usually get away with wearing shorts and slops. We also get treated to a free buffet lunch every day, which becomes the main meal of the day and saves us a lot on food costs. The lunch is usually half traditional Korean food, which gets better every day, but can be inedible (barbecued cuttlefish, pig stomach stew and acorn jelly anyone?). The other half is pretty good.
One big bonus is the fact that we live in the Village. That means that the walk to work in the morning only takes 2 mins and we don't have to pay for accomodation. The apartments are really mini, but it's amazing how much fits into them. We even get out own washing machine! Cath and I have next-door apartments. We do our shopping together, and then cook supper together in the evenings. It is cheaper that way, and we can handle a peaceful hour or two together after a busy day.
EV is also a really beautiful place to live these days. One day the administration dept. decided it was spring, turned on all the fountains, and filled all the flowerbeds and potplants with brightly flowering plants. THey even brought in a bunch of green trees to plant along the streets. So everything is brightly coloured and the weather has also become hot and sunny. It feels so different to the cold emoty place we arrived to in the beginning.
As far as sport goes, we haven't had the opportunity to get involved in teaching. The village does have it's own very well stocked gym, which we can join at discounted rates. Since it is in the village we go just about every day. The nice thing about the gym is also that they give you clean shorts, shirt and towels to use, so we can go straight from work. We have both taken to using the indoor pool and sauna quite a lot. Some days of the week we join the other teachers for social games of soccer, touchies or frisbee, which are really good fun. I have never been big into the gym thing, but without a bike or beach, I'm a bit lost for how to get decent exercise.
Well, that's our daily lives. The good, the bad and even the ugly. It's a fun place to work, but it also feels veery synthetic at times, which is why we make an effort to get far away on our off days.
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