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20 September 2004
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Korea Life Blog - Change of Seasons


The weather has turned cold here today. I rushed out for work with a short sleeve button-up shirt and realized I should have taken a jacket. Rainy and cool, almost cold. I was practically shivering tonight on the way home.

The weather couldn't have been any nicer on Sunday. John wanted to relax and stay in his cave-gwan and rest, but I coaxed him to go with me to Jongnoguru's home in Pyung Chang Dong where we ate salami and olives, frozen pizza (yes, Jongnoguru even has an oven that he's been toting around for 4-5 years), and drove around in the hills on scooters for over an hour, then relaxed on the patio and chatted over some ice cold Sangria Wine. As usual, everyone had a really nice time. Jognoguru and his girlfriend are wonderful hosts. I guess most Korean and British people are, and I guess Swiss James would be, too - if he didn't live in a motel. But he tries his best. Last time I went to his room, he picked up some nice $5 vodka and orange juice at a Family Mart, and everyone drank Screwdrivers while he stood on his head and juggled his collection of limited edition MC Hammer B-side CDs.

Back to today. Nothing too much to say about the job. It's going very well and despite having a larger number of students than in a hagwon, the kids are well behaved for the most part (of course there are always a few little twerps you want to throw out the window). Having a lot of teaching experience, I know it's important to establish myself in the beginning. I put up a short list of simple rules on the wall and made them repeat them over and over. I also have been teaching them classroom language everyday (come here, sit down, pay attention, clean up, and so on). The classes are running smoothly and my assistant hasn't had to do much besides make coffee and copies and call the parents when a kid is absent.

The biggest difference, though, has been starting the year together with these students, unlike working in a hagwon in which you are hired at a random time in the year and kids are constantly coming and going anyway. Also, I teach these kids everyday. That really helps. In a hagwon you may only see the kids once, twice or three times a week. I suppose another important factor is that I'm teaching them in a public school and not a hagwon. This must give me a little more legitimacy as a teacher in their eyes. I'm not sitting there in a goofy kiddie hagwon wearing shorts, sandals and a rock T-shirt with kids names after WWF wrestlers. Not that I did that before, either, but I've seen others dress like that. I don't wear a suit and tie every day, but I at least dress decently.

One of these days I'll take my camera with me. Maybe I'll put it in my bag now. OK, done. The agency is coming in tomorrow to throw a monthly birthday party for the kids. That will make a good excuse to take photos.

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