OK so I have been back in Korea for almost a week now. I arrived on Sunday night after only just managing to catch the bus to Ulsan. I was picked up at the bus station by my director whose English name is Coco. She took me straight to my apartment which is in Mugeo-Dong (the University area of the city).

The apartment is just about ok. Most foreigner teachers in Korea live in studio apartments that vary in size and quality. Mine is reasonably sized, if a little dank. To get to it you have to go down a dark little alley way, and it’s on the first floor so I think cock-roaches might be a problem in the summer. Inside, the décor is a little drab but acceptable, although I’m not a fan at all of the prison-esque bars on the windows. I have a big wardrobe and a table and most importantly, a double bed. I also have a bin bag full of clothes thoughtfully left for me by the previous tenant (who was either a girl or a transvestite). She even more thoughtfully didn’t clean the place or take out the rubbish so I had to share the room with a bit of a stink for the first few days. But after a little bit of cleaning, it has scrubbed up nicely and I do feel at home here (especially now that the fridge is working properly).

Despite arriving so late on Sunday night, Coco asked me if I could work on Monday afternoon and I agreed wanting to make a good impression. This is not uncommon in Korea and I have a friend who arrived after a 17 hour flight and was told to start teaching straight away, so it could have been worse. I got to the school at around 1 o’clock and my first impressions were good. It’s quite small (around 80 students) but well appointed and with less retina damaging wall paper than my last school. Something else I noticed immediately was how disorganised the school was. Coco told me that it was because a new academic year at the school is starting in April and that this meant that things were all a bit up in the air. However, upon speaking to the other teachers at the school, I was informed that it was ever thus at Wonderland. I have decided to just go with the flow and keep my head down and hope that I don’t make too many mistakes……

Wonderland is primarily a kindergarten age school, so as you can imagine, the students tend to be of a diminutive stature. The youngest student has just turned 3 so he’s basically still a baby. Most of the students are 4 or 5 years old, something I was worried about before coming out here. But I must say that I am deeply impressed with the general standard of English that the kids have. And my, but aren’t they just the cutest things that I have ever seen….just really adorable (at least in appearance, some of them are proper little so and so’s…)

Because they are so young, it would be fair to say that childminding is part of my job description. This is to my advantage as I seem to have a lot more freedom to play games and have fun with them rather than being pushed into meeting deadlines and doing monthly tests etc etc. Even better, every Thursday is an activity day where the kids either go on field trips, do some cooking, do situational role plays or have theme days. This Thursday, the kids spent the day learning about frogs. They did some colouring and made some origami frogs. After that I read them the story of the princess and the frog (although in the Korean version the princess transforms the frog by throwing him away rather than kissing him, thus neatly side-stepping the moral point of the tale). Finally I organised a frog racing competition where the kids had to hop across the floor as quickly as they could. All in all it was jolly good fun. I’m certainly looking forward to my first field-trip.

So far it’s been great being back in Korea and in particular getting to practice my Korean! On Friday night we went out to a Korean bar and ended up making friends with the proprietors which was great fun, although apparently I’m now obliged to be friends with their son. I’ll be getting some photos put up this week of my apartment and the school.

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