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Published: October 12th 2008
As time continues to fly by I thought it was about time for another update. No trip to a sunny island to tell you about this time, but life has been very busy in other ways over the last few weeks and there’s always lots going on.
Now that I’ve been here for six weeks I am feeling more familiar with the place and the people around me. Thankfully, I seem to have made a favourable impression with the Korean teachers at both of my schools and I have been taken out for countless lunches and dinners by my very nice colleagues. Two teachers from one school have asked me to help them with their English. They offered to pay me but I didn’t want to take money so, in return for meeting them every Wednesday before school, they buy me lunch or take me out. It’s an excellent arrangement for everyone concerned and I was honoured that they chose to ask me over the two other foreign teachers even though I’m the newest. Whenever I meet with the teachers they seem highly interested in learning about me and life in England and I’m always happy to answer their bombardment of questions; some more personal than others. ‘Teaching teachers’ is a strange concept but it’s also quite refreshing to be teaching conversational English and idiom as opposed to colours and names of fruits.
As of this week, when I’m not teaching I’m going to be studying. When I was in a book shop on Monday looking for a phrasebook, I was approached by a very kind Korean man who spoke remarkably good English and wanted to help. It turned out that he has a Japanese wife who was just starting Korean lessons close by and he gave me instructions on how to find the place, insisting that I checked it out. I duly obliged.
So having gone out to buy one book, I found myself in a language school enrolling on a Korean course that would start the next morning. For the first three-month term the cost is 10,000 Won, or a fiver in real money! It meant going back to the bookshop and buying some textbooks but I was happy to do so. Learning a little Korean is something I had hoped to do anyway but didn’t know where I could do it. I was just grateful I’d bumped in to the kind man in the book shop. It will be near impossible to reach a decent standard in the short time I’ll be here but if I can pick up some more useful phrases. If nothing else some variation in what I can order in restaurants would be beneficial!
Last weekend was yet another holiday weekend and I had Friday off. Unfortunately I spent much of it bed feeling unwell but I’d got myself together by Saturday morning and headed in to Seoul with some friends for the day. We had a great time in Yeouedo where we went on a really long bike ride around the Han River on what was a perfect day for a bike ride and some sightseeing. We stopped for some lunch before taking a trip in a glass elevator to the top of ’63 building’ which is the second tallest building in Korea and is so called because of the number of floors it has. The view of the city from the top is pretty impressive and quite varied. You can look out of one window and see the plethora of vast high-rises in the financial centre of Seoul and the massive World Cup stadium whilst from the other side you can see the haphazardly built shed-type houses in the poorer area of the city. At this point I feel it would be prudent to make a promise to you all. I WILL buy a camera in the very near future. Now I’ve said it on here it will make me actually do it and stop putting it off. That day in Seoul made me really regret not having one and whilst my friend took some second rate snaps on her cheap camera (which I will post at a later stage if I can get my hands on them), it’s never the same as having your own. Maybe this time you’ll just have to take my word for it that we saw some great things that day and leave it at that!
As another interesting sideline, one of the lads that was teaching at my school has gone home this week. He is coming back for a second year but asked a few of us to look after his stuff in the meantime in order to to save him travelling with it. I got the best deal and bagged his Ukulele.
So in summary then……still enjoying school, keeping good company with locals and foreigners, using the weekends wisely (most of the time), teaching teachers as well as children, attempting to learn an entirely new alphabet, and teaching myself the Ukulele. Never has life been more interesting!
I hope you are all well and whilst there’s so much going on, please be assured that I still find time to miss you all every day.
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