Life on the Island

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August 30th 2006
Published: September 1st 2006
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Dolsan Bridge by DayDolsan Bridge by DayDolsan Bridge by Day

It lights up in pretty colors at night!
Yes, I've finished my second week at my new home on Dolsan Island (in Yeosu) and a week-and-a-half of teaching at my school (on mainland Yeosu). What can I say so far? Well, many things. My first week of teaching was fantastic. The kids are so energetic and excited, and they seemed to learn things while having fun. The teachers, too, were wonderful. They have all been so kind and open with me, inviting me to dine with them in the cafeteria (even the non-English-speaking ones), to eat ice cream, etc. They all ask me how I'm adjusting and if everything's okay at the school and if I have any problems. Everyone is so considerate, including my principal and vice principal. I'm really lucky!

So, the Korean high school classroom is a little different from the American one. Each class has about 30-40 students, and in English class, they don't usually speak, just do grammar and analysis. My school is all girls, of course, and everyone wears a uniform (which I think is common even in public schools). We don't wear shoes in school, only slippers (basically sports sandals) over our hosiery or socks.

I'm getting used to the bowing, too. There are about 50 teachers at my school, I think, and all of them are older than me (yes, I'm quite the anomaly). So, I bow to everyone. They all bow back, of course (just like waving), but as I'm younger, I go first. Some teachers, though (and students), have taken to waving at me, which suits me fine. All the students wave. I wave back at them, but I usually do a bow-and-then-wave at the teachers.

My usual day is going to school about 7:30AM (when my host sister has to go to school), waiting about an hour, and then teaching my first class at 8:50. I usually teach three to four 50-minute classes a day, which can be exhausting by day 5-- especially since right now I'm teaching all the classes the same lesson. The same lesson 18 times... well, I'm trying to find ways to change it up some. I think starting next week or the week after I will begin teaching different things to the advanced and lower levels.

My homestay is still great. My homestay sister speaks English very well, so we are able to communicate in the family. Plus, I
Lights and Water FunLights and Water FunLights and Water Fun

At Odongdo Park, Yeosu
am learning more Korean. My homestay sister's English hagwon (after-school academy) teacher has befriended me and is helping me improve my Korean (as well as showing me around Yeosu, going out for shopping and coffee with me, etc.). Everyone is so generous to me. For instance, I went with my homestay family to church (I asked if I could), and though I didn't understand everything, I was still happy to go. But, my homestay family noticed I was a little lost sometimes. So, the next week, we were sitting around, and my homestay mother gave me a box. Inside was a copy of a Korean/English Bible (with both translations) and hymns with English translations in the back. It almost made me cry. It was so kind of them. And that's just part of the kindnesses I've received from them! Again, I am so lucky!

Week two was a little more difficult to kick off than week one. I was just a little more tired and I think everything from the week before caught up with me. But, due to testing, I had the day off yesterday and think I've recovered. This week, I'm teaching them how to make questions in English. I think it's going well. We played a game in English, and I think they had fun. That's what really counts!

Well, I must get to work, but I'll try to detail more of life here later-- like the raw meat I ate (yes, I know, bad idea), the raw fish I ate, the inner workings of a Korean teachers' office, and more.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9



And the mountain/sea surroundings
Re-created turtle boatRe-created turtle boat
Re-created turtle boat

Famous iron-sided style of boat used to fend off the Japanese--Dolsan Island
My host sisterMy host sister
My host sister

My host sister and translator Bo-yeon
Lights and Water FunLights and Water Fun
Lights and Water Fun

At Odongdo Park, Yeosu
Lights and Water FunLights and Water Fun
Lights and Water Fun

At Odongdo Park, Yeosu

1st September 2006

life in Yeosu
Hi Als! Yeosu looks really neat! I'm glad to hear your first few weeks are going well, and it sounds like your host family is really special. Keep us updated! xoxoxoxo
1st September 2006

Glad All is Well
Hey, Alexis. I'm glad everything is going well. I really enjoy reading your updates (I'm actually a "subscriber," so I get a notification in my e-mail--pretty nifty, eh). It's nice to read something, well, entertaining every now and then. Teaching is a blast. I know we're teaching kids in two totally different cultures and in completely different settings (although your grammar school students are probably much more excited than my football-crazed American college students), but, man... it's just fun. Keep in touch, and try not to work too hard!

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