For Better or Worse
I'm back in Korea.
1. I get paid more.
2. I get more vacation time.
3. I work less.
4. I get to make my own lesson plans.
1. I'm in the concrete jungle.
2. I teach a lot of sixth graders.
3. Lack of foreign influence.
So I'm trying to get the hang of my new job. I'll admit that I started this new job with a sense of cockiness, telling people that I was in Korea last year, that I've taught kids in the states, that this new job should be a breeze. I've always figured it's better to go into something a little bit cocky anyways. Well, the job has it's ups and downs. Instead of classes of fifteen, like I had last year, I now have classes of forty. Instead of living close to hiking trails and such, I live close to an unbelievable amount of bars. Instead of walking to work everyday, I now cram into a metal tube with a thousand other stranger and get shot to my school. And this is considered sane?
Still, it's nice to have things different. I get to make my own lesson plans so if the lesson sinks or fails it's totally my doing. It's interesting to run around this concrete jungle and see what I can find. Once this whole teaching in Korea thing gets old I hope I'll have the sense to stop doing it.
I also got and early break. Chu-sok (Korean Thanksgiving) was last week. Not even a week into the new job and already a five day vacation. Scott, Al, and I went to Namwon to hit up Jirisan national park. I'd like to say Jirisan was great but I don't know if we ever really got there. Jirisan is contains the second largest mountain peak in Korea so we thought the people of Namwon would have known how to get to this mountain, especially the guy at the tourist information office. No dice. I've never recieved so much misinformation in my life. I understand that a lot is going to be lost in any translation, especially when I have the basic vocabulary of a two year old, but we'd ask one person how to get to Jirisan (in Korean) and we'd get different info from everyone we asked. The tourist misinformation dude didn't seem to know where Jirisan was, the bus ticket dude didn't know how to get there. We ended up lost on the wrong trail. Surprisingly that wasn't so bad. We ended up on a hike that took us to some cool waterfalls and through the valley of snakes. We saw three snakes in fact and one was surprisingly big. Good thing for us they were all camera shy and scuttled away pretty damn fast whenever they saw us. Oh, it rained on us the whole time we were in Namwon also. Soggy and lost, that sounds like a lot of my getaways.
After Namwon Scott, Alison and I joined up with Warren, Ashley and Kat in Youngpyeong (not to be confused with Pyeongyang). This portion of the trip was considerably more relaxing as we just swam, played guitar, drank beer and had six hour long BBQs.
So that's the time so far in Korea. I'm trying to get out and enjoy myself, trying to keep everything fresh and look at this land, this job, this environment with open eyes. When I came here the year before astonishment was easy, but now it can be and effort. Sometimes its hard to slog to and from work and occasionally I get tired of not being understood, misunderstood, not heard. These are just occasions though and I comfort myself (or delude myself) with the truth that usually the effort is worth it.