I've officially started teaching. It's hard for me to make any kind of general statements about what it's like because there are ups and downs, different classes can have such different atmospheres, and I can feel anger and frustration one minute and pride the next. For the most part, the younger kids are awesome and the high schoolers make me want to kick someone in the shins.
One thing that made last week (and will probably make next week) so difficult is that I am subbing. I'll get my own classes after next week, which will be nice because I'll finally be able to start remembering names and building rapport with my students. Until then, I'm perpetually left to answer, "Where's Teacher [Insert name here]?" Last week I taught Bridge, a lower-level class for ten to twelve year-olds, and IBT, a TOEFL test-prep class for high school kids. I loved teaching Bridge; our lesson was on apiculture, or beekeeping, and at the end of the class the kids had to create a talk show discussing the positives and negatives of beekeeing. IBT was not so fun, but I got my revenge on Friday when the kids had an hour and a half long test, for which I had no sympathy.
Next week I teach Memory English, which is a very low-level class for very young kids, and Albatross which is one of the highest level classes for students with near-native fluency. It should be an interesting transition going from "What is summer camp?" to "Let's discuss logical fallacies."
In other news, I moved into my apartment on Thursday. It's a pretty good sized officetel (a newer studio apartment) featuring built-in cupboards, a washing machine, a cool-looking full-sized fridge/freezer, a video intercom thingie so that I can see who's knocking on my door, and an OK view of a courtyard currently covered (rather majestically) in snow. When I moved in I didn't have any furniture so I slept on the floor, but two good things happened: (1) I got an email from someone at my school saying they had a bed, a table and chairs for me (for free!) across the street. And (2) I have a good (and strong) friend who pretty much single-handedly moved in the queen-sized bed, mattress, table and chairs, and then proceeded to put it all together for me too. I made him brunch in return. I have since purchased some sheets, a comforter, and a few other things for the apartment but since I haven't been paid yet I think I'll hold off on any big purchases.
I haven't had too much time to explore this new city I'm in, but it's pretty relaxed compared to Seoul. There's a park a few blocks away, plenty of restaurants and bars, and even a few brothels (how do I know, you ask? Well, according to a semi-reliable source, a brothel is identified by two barbershop poles. I've seen a few places featuring these poles and they certainly look like brothels. I know, at the very least, that they are NOT barbershops.)
So that's it for now. I work "full" days Monday through Wednesday and then half days Thursday and Friday so maybe I'll head up to Seoul later in the week. It's still insanely cold here and it snowed again two days ago but I guess I'm getting used to it. I asked my students when it would warm up and they said it usually gets colder in January. Hm.