Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week 2: Welcome to Hell

School started on a Wednesday, and the night before was spent at school cutting out and laminating a multitude of bright decorations for the class rooms. My thumb was actually sore from using the scissors for so long. It was the first time we found out who are Korean co-teachers were and we worked together two set up our two joint class rooms. I of course, got a co-teacher that was kind of a bitch. I am still scared of her. The rest of the foreign teachers got nice, giggily typical Koreans and I got the sassy one..go figure.
It never really crossed my mind when I was preparing for this trip that the children would all be crazy. I had heard that Korean children were obedient, eager to learn and would just sit in their chairs and do anything you say. I was more concerned about whether or not I would be a good teacher. How I would control the kids was never a though that crossed my mind..obviously if you are a teacher you would think that I am retarded. The first day finally came and may have been one of the worst experiences I have ever had. I started out with a classroom of 9, six-year-old Korean kids. This is their second year at the school so they speak pretty good English and they know how everything should go. Everytime, I made a mistake they knew and they would attack. I had kids running on the desk and screaming at the top of their lungs. I had kids punching other kids in the face and laughing. At one point, I finished a lesson too early and did not know what to do so I gave them something to color. Just as I did that the head teacher walked in and freaked out. She started screaming at me in front of my entire class. Apparently the kids are not allowed to have foreign coloring materials at school and she made me rip the crayons out of the kids hands and shove the illegal coloring materials into their backpacks. After the yelling incident, I had completely lost my authority with the kids and they would not listen to me and just ran around the classroom screaming. At one point, amidst the chaos, I thought to myself, "Fuck, how am I going to do this shit for a year..." and then I felt like I might cry. Luckily I got myself together and started bribing them with stickers. Somehow I got through lunchtime, which unfortunately I have to eat with them and then I switched to my last hour with my other 6 year old class which was a lot tamer and just seemed bored of me for an hour but luckily did not run around. When I was walking my kids out to the bus line, I finally saw all the other teachers for the first time, and we all looked like we had just been through a war. Later I found out that multiple people actually had started crying and that night one afternoon teacher just straight up bought a plane ticket and left the next morning with no word to the school until he landed safe in Canada. The next day I was actually terrified of going back, it was another terrible day of children screaming and punching each other. Some how, we made it to the weekend and we all drank ourselves into oblivion.

First Week: The Honey Moon

So I arrived in Incheon on February 22nd. The flight was terrible and long. A. I was hung over and nautious the whole time and B. I sat in front of two old Korean grandpas who decided that I should not be able to recline my seat for 12 hours. Every time I tried to put my seat back, they would kick it and push it back up to the upright position. Finally, I turned around and went off on them for about five minutes. I don;t really think they understood a word I said but they got the point. When we finally arrived, a guy from the Theme Park Tourist Hotel picked up two other girls, Jess and I. It was incredibly difficult for him to fit all of Jessica's luggage into the van but he finally did it and we were on our way.
I can't really complain about the accommodations for the first week either. Jess and I each had our own room with a giant bed, big screen T.V. with a hundred channels, hot tub bath ect. Training started the day after we got there and the hotel worker even drove us to the school. We met the other teachers foreign and Korean. Everyone that we work with is actually really cool too. This fact is very lucky because there are a lot of western people here that are freaks. Men especially that live in dark basements and watch anime and come to Asia to find a hot girl friend that they could never get back home. As far as the Koreans themselves, the ones we work with are nice but extremely awkward. They laugh for periods of five minutes at a time as a response to most questions and between sentences as well. They also will tell you anything that they think about you, even if it is bad. For example, on day two of training, we walked in and our boss said, " Oh, you look so pretty today, not like yesterday where you did not look so good..." This statement was then followed by a period of 5 minute long awkward laughter.
Training went on for 4 days in which we observed classes and watched meaningless videos about the curriculum in which I retained nothing. Life was good then when we all had unrealistic ideas of what teaching would be like. If was still fun then to be in another country and explore the surrounding areas. One night Jess and I ventured into a restaurant that looked good on the outside but was the most disturbing food I have ever had. After we realized that the language barrier was going to keep us from ordering anything we actually wanted, we decided it would be a good idea to just point at some pictures. To our dismay, what came out about 15 minutes later was stir-fry chicken gizzards and a tater-tot casserole that was smothered in cheese, raisons, onion, bell peppers and cabbage. After picking around some of the stuff and eating a few vegetables we got the bill which was ridiculously expensive and left as fast as possible. Later on, we were to discover that we had eaten a Hof, which is a theme bar notorious for overpriced fried crap.
The rest of the first week went by quickly and before we knew it the weekend had come. We went out with our new teaching friends in Seoul. There is an area called Hongdae which is a University area full of shops, cafes, bars and clubs. We drank from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. and danced for hours. It was fun, but needless to say I was feeling a little under the weather the next day. Beside going out, we explored the surrounding area a little and prepared the for the upcoming week.