Cheorwon / living / South Korea

Halfway

Matt and I have now been in Korea for six months, which means we’re halfway done with our contract. We’re actually more than halfway done with teaching, since the second semester started two weeks ago.

Time is flying by, usually. What can I tell you after six months?

It’s home:
Things are still exciting and a lot of times it feels like we’re on vacation. But, we are actually living here, and we have jobs. So we do what most people do after a long day of work: we come home, relax, maybe go for a run, go out to eat and it’s bed time. We aren’t constantly in explore mode.

The food:
I haven’t gotten sick of the food yet. Seriously, it’s good. My favorite thing about Korean food is that it comes with a lot of little side dishes. It’s perfect for someone like me who can get tired of eating a meal with only one or two things in it. I’d rather have a little bit of a lot of things any day of the week. People sometimes tell us, “Oh, you are Korean,” when they see the way we eat here and that we don’t shy away from spicy foods.

The teaching:
Teaching has definitely gotten easier and more comfortable, but it’s still nerve-wracking before any new lesson. In the second semester, I teach all three grades on Monday, so I have to be really prepared. However, I have learned a lot about what things work well and what things don’t, so I have a feeling this semester will go smoother than the last.

On being flexible:
Before my interview for EPIK, my recruiter stressed the importance of being flexible. Flexibility is one of my positive attributes, in my opinion, so I wasn’t very concerned about that being a problem. And it hasn’t been a problem, but I’m very happy my personality type is more of a “roll with the punches” kind rather than a type A. Things change here. A lot. Sometimes I think people just don’t think.

The second semester started last Aug. 13. You would’ve thought it was the very first day a school had ever opened in history by the way no one seemed to know what the schedule was. Then we got the schedule and one teacher had two classes scheduled at the same time. … I was told I had to teach at the middle school on the day I always teach at the high school; the high school was called and told that I would not be coming. About 20 minutes later, I was told to go to the high school.

Since coming here there have been schedule changes that no one thinks to tell me about, even though it affects me. I’ve been sitting at my desk at 8:32 when someone says, “Alli, you have class right now.”

“No, I don’t,” I say. “Not until second period.”

“Oh, seventh period classes got moved to first period today.” Seriously, this has happened more than once. I now know to never count on that empty first “planning period.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked questions — that to me seem like they are imperative to performing my job duties — and have been told “I’m not sure” or “maybe.” I could go on and on, but I think it best to save that for another post. Suffice it to say, my flexible personality has been an advantage to me here.

I’ll leave you with some random photos I took on Day 180:

Chili peppers drying in the sun. How does everyone use up so many chili peppers, I foolishly wondered out loud one day. Oh yeah, Koreans eat kimchi. Sometimes.

Chili peppers drying in the sun. How does everyone use up so many chili peppers, I foolishly wondered out loud one day. Oh yeah, Koreans eat kimchi. Sometimes.

Chili peppers growing in a yard on my walk home from school.

Chili peppers growing in a yard on my walk home from school.

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5 thoughts on “Halfway

    • We actually just got an email about whether to extend and we are supposed to say by next week. But our contracts don’t even end for more than 5 months, so it seems way too early to decide!

  1. You do a great job with the blog, Is there an opportunity to extend or does visa stuff make one year at a time the limit?

    • Yes, we could extend as long as our schools are happy with us. (And as far as I know both our schools are happy with us.) But we will probably head home in 2014. …

  2. Wow, the halfway point. Hard to believe really. Thanks for taking us along on your adventure with this blog…it’s been wonderful keeping up with you guys….thanks for spending all the time to keep this going 🙂

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