Tuesday, 14 February 2012

What have I been doing with my time?

I've been pretty quiet of late, on my blog that is.  Things here are starting to become 'normal'.  All the strange and exotic things when we first arrived have all begun to blend into the background as we go about our daily business much like anyone else, anywhere else.  The language doesn't seem as alien.  The food which had so many unknown flavours in it when we arrived, is now exactly what I crave. When we got here first, I remember a friend telling me how she loves eating seaweed paper.  She said she used to be a crisp monster at home (Ireland) but now she chows down on seaweed when she's watching telly instead! I thought she was a lunatic but I'm beginning to understand what she was on about!  There is something nice about it alright!

I've started doing an online TEFL course.  I started it almost two weeks ago now.  That's another reason I've been so quiet.  It's taking up a lot more time than I thought it would.  It's a fairly intensive course; 120hours in 100days. I'm trying to do it in three, three hour blocks a week.  All the grammar is killing me!  I know what it all is, I've just no idea of the names of all the different things but getting my head 'round it all has already started to have benefits in school.  It's crazy really that Korean schools employ people like me, with no teaching qualifications what so ever.  Especially when you think that the kids parents are paying roughly US$1000 a month per child!

What else have I been doing with my time? I've been trying to get a bit fitter.  I started a program three weeks ago.  Its half an hour four mornings a week.  Friday will be the last day of it.  It's been mainly conditioning rather that aerobic cardio kind of stuff but i'm feeling so much stronger.  Once the weather warms up a bit more I'll get out and start running too.  We've got a really nice park about a kilometer up the road, with loads of exercise machines which is where Nick's been doing his running (until he sprained his ankle) and the river is really close by too.   You can run along the river bank for about twenty miles (if that's your thing!)

The track along the riverside, goes on both sides for about 20miles

Work's been going well.  Time is flying by, everyday seems like Friday!  One of the Korean teachers, Kate (who's 19 and isn't actually a teacher either), is working at Lexis during a year out from college (where she's studying Theology).  The aim is to improve her English enough so that she can pass the TEOFL exam and hopefully go to the States on erasmus.  Her reading and writing are almost flawless but her ability to understand and speak English are virtually non-existant.  When she reads, she has no comprehension of what it is that she's just read! Anyway, I take her for a conversation class once a week.  Last week she started telling me about her church and how much she loves it.  She spends every Sunday there from 10:30am til 9pm.  The church is on the 2nd floor of the building she lives in.  Her dad is one of the pastors.  When I told her I didn't believe in god, she asked me what I believe in.  She said, in a disbelieving, shocked voice 'Do you think we come from monkeys?'  So we spent the rest of the class taking about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and at the end of the class I'm not sure who thought who was more mad in the head!

Anyway, that's just a bit of background on Kate.  What I really wanted to say is what happened the next day!  I teach a class of twelve and thirteen year olds, called CH, three times a week, for half an hour each time.  They are one of the nicer/easier class I have.  They always do their homework, they rarely chat in class, if they are messing and you ask them to stop they will etc etc.  Anyway, I walked into their class last Wednesday and they were all standing up, gathered round each other, looking a bit distraught.  They are usually sitting at their desks so I knew immediately that something was up.  I asked one of the girls, Emma, what had happened and she said 'Kate teacher hit us' and put out her hand to show me.  Hitting the kids is a fairly common occurance in the regular schools but its almost unheard of in the academys or hagwons.  Apparently they hadn't been working hard enough so Kate had belted them all across the palm with a metal ruler.  Emma's hand seemed the worst.  You could see where the ruler had come down and her hand was all swollen on either side of the welt.  She couldn't move it, let alone pick up a pen!  I couldn't believe it.  Here she was, preaching to me all about her god and how happy her religion made her feel just the day before, and then the next day bashing the kids about the classroom!

Apart from the Kate incident though, my TEFL and my exercise are all the news I really have.  I'm settling down into being a 'real person' with a 'real job' and so far so good.  We really have such great little lives for ourselves here, the only thing missing is the sun!  Roll on the summer heat I say!

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