Korea: Round 2
September 15, 2013 § 1 Comment
Aaaaand we’re back!
As usual, life in Korea never seems to slow down, but I have finally managed to settle in and find some time to write. So let’s take it from where we last left off.
After spending 2 months in England and 2 months in the U.S., I officially arrived back in Gwangju, South Korea at the beginning of July. Jack and I were lucky enough to have friends who had an extra apartment for us to stay in, so we camped up in Songjeong-dong for the first 10 days of our glorious return. After meeting with the director of our new school, we were able to move into a temporary apartment closer to the center of the city, where we stayed for another 10 days. It wasn’t until July 26th that we were finally able to move into our permanent abode for the next year, and let me tell you — it is heavenly! Our new living space is a major upgrade from the studio sized apartments both Jack and I were living in (and at one point, sharing) during our first year. Check out the video tour I’ve made below to get the full effect of its awesomeness.
Besides the apartment, another change to my 2nd year here is my job. I now work at a chain hagwon called E.C.C., in the Bongseon-dong area of Gwangju. Though I still work at an English hagwon, or private school, I primarily teach kindergarteners, which means that instead of working 1:00 pm – 10:00 pm like I did last year, I work 9:00 am to 5:00 or 6:30, depending on the day. The days of waking up at noon and eating dinner at 10:30 pm are over! The ability to walk home at dusk and eat dinner at a normal time is something I sorely missed last year, and I’m grateful that it’s my new ‘norm.’
A third difference between this year and last is that I am able to live and work with my best friend/partner in crime/better half — Jack! Luckily for us, E.C.C. prefers to hire couples, and we are now one of four foreign pairs that work at the school. We celebrated our one year anniversary last August, and it felt perfect to be in the place where we first met and shared so many memories together.
Having a massive apartment and built-in social network of other foreign couples at our school are just some of the many perks of our new school. One of the things I like most about my new job is that we get to teach incredibly young students (whose ages range from 3-6) a myriad of other subjects besides English. In one week, I teach art, origami, science, themed seminars, literacy, and even some cartoon classes. (We watch Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory, if you’re curious.) Though the students can be super exhausting, they’re also super cute, and the amount of love that they provide always outweighs the trouble they can cause.
I’m actually the head Foreign teacher for the youngest class at the school, which consists of 2 ridiculously adorable, sweet little girls at the tender age of 4 named Jenny and Eileen. Though they can sometimes be a handful, they lift my spirits even on the darkest of days. Here are a few photos from our first 6 weeks at school.
When Jack was feeling a bit under the weather one day, I took a second to make him a “get well” video of his homeroom class. It’s a little hard to understand first try, but the kids are saying, ”Feel better, Jack Teacher! We love you!”
But with all the good that I have been fortunate to basically “walk into” on my 2nd year here, there are, of course, some drawbacks. One major downer to this year is the fact that many of the close friends we made in Korea last year are no longer here. Phil, Leanne, and Jon are back in their home countries pursuing careers and eating things like quality cheese and whipped cream (which I can’t afford/don’t really have access to here). I’m hopeful that we will make new friends this year but tainted by how awesome our friends were for the first. Thankfully, we still have a few good friends that live here (like Iris and Julie) and I plan on making the most of the time I have left with them.
As I did my first year, I will update this blog as regularly as I can with all the haps of our second round in Ktown. For now, I will leave you with a video of one of the most recent adventures Jack and I partook in: eating sannakji (or live octopus) while visiting my cousin in Seoul.