Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Koreans must have many neck problems later in life...

I finally got my computer at school today. I have the nicest one in the room. It's a brand new Samsung with a flat screen and an English version of Microsoft Office. I spent the day installing all of the software I'll need in order to be a good teacher such as MSN Messenger and a few file downloading programs.

I then quickly downloaded the new Slayer album (strictly for educational purposes) and copied it to the memory drive of my camera. Then I had to actually do some work. It was a lot easier planning my lesson with the new Slayer blasting into my ears.

I realized today just how easy my job is going to be. I'll spend about 15 hours a week in the classroom, and 2 more hours giving English lessons to the staff. I teach 22 classes per week in total, with each class being only 40 minutes in length.

Okay, and here's the best part. Each week I will only have to plan 5 lessons. One lesson for grade 1, one for grade 5, and another for grade 6. I will then teach each lesson 6-7 times throughout the week. The other 2 are for the classes I teach to the staff, and I'm thinking these will mainly be conversation based.

But it gets better.

I actually get paid extra for the 2 classes I conduct with the staff. About 20 bucks an hour. It is stipulated in my contract that I must get paid for any lessons I teach that go beyond the 22 regular classes. Awesome.

And you know what, that's not all!

I have to be at school everyday from 8:40 - 4:40 anyway and the 2 extra staff lessons will be given during this time. I think I signed on to a pretty sweet deal here ladies and gentlemen.

More good news today as well. The repair man also showed up at my apartment today and fixed the jammed window and broken step leading up to my loft. And one of my co-teachers gave me a CD by Korea's most famous artist. His name is Seo Tai-ji. "As a cultural comparison, Tai-ji's levels of popularity in Korea is analogous to the popularity of Michael Jackson in the mid-1980s."

One cool thing about this guy is that he dropped out of high school saying, in essence, that the Korean education system is bullshit and it's only good for corrupting the minds of Korea's youth. He may have a point here because most of high school is supposedly spent preparing for some type of university entrance exam.

This guy has done everything from dance pop to rap to metal. He is a controversial figure in Korean culture and his "fourth album exploded with more controversial songs. Come Back Home was a foray into Korean gangster rap. Shidaeyugam (시대유감, "Regret of the Times") was nearly banned by the Korean Broadcasting Ethics Committee as having lyrics that were considered harmful to the young listeners."

According to one review of the album I have (titled "7th Issue"), "many fans have noted that the whole CD sounds like one very long song. This is quite true because Taiji wisely uses the same four chords with bridges and varying melodies." Hmmm, interesting. Hopefully I like these 4 chords but I have a feeling the album is going to be absolutely terrible, although I do appreciate the gesture made by my fellow staff member. More on this after I give it a listen.

One thing I forgot to mention about Korea is bowing. If someone is older than you, you bow your head when you greet them. If they are a lot older than you you're expected to even bend at the waist a little.

Im not quite sure what I'm supposed to do in my role as a foreigner. One of my co-teachers even had a discussion about what I should do. Me, the principal, the 2 vice-principals, and my head co-teacher were in the teacher's room and she asked the admins what they would like me to do. They had a big discussion about whether I should just say hello or do the traditional greeting. I don't know if the came to a consensus, and if they did it wasn't clear to me. I'm gonna ask her about this tomorrow because I don't wanna be offending the boss(es).

Luckily, my usual greeting, even at home, is a simple nod of the head so even if they want a full bow, at least I'm giving them a half-assed bow anyway.

My 25 year old male co-teacher, Dong-Sik (pronounced Shick), goes all out with his bows and his demeanor is very timid when talking to any of the older staff, especially the administrators. It's quite interesting actually.

For me, I only get bows from the students, and lots of them. Some of the female teachers also bow to me, which is pretty cool, even if it is only a neck bow. Although I've received a neck and shoulder bow on a few occasions.

The district supervisors came by the school today. They were sharp looking men and the principal introduced me to them. And of course, he said "This is Richard. Very handsome young man."

I think I may have blushed.

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