Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stepping In

Feeling better today but have some tummy issues as leftovers of the flu. Hoping it is not a mini-flare from Crohn's / Colitis.

I think it is actually a reaction from the drugs the doc gave me.

Ah well~!

So I thought I would share my experience of visiting the Elementary School in Sanbon.

I was taken there by my recruiting agency via car. The ride there was very interesting because we got out of Seoul and I saw some mountains. As we went along he pointed out certain areas and told me what was interesting in them.

When we arrived at Sanbon / Gunpo I could see that it was slightly different from Seoul. There were mostly tall apartment complexes with tree lined streets. Of course there were the other streets with shops and businesses. But around the school it was mostly residential. It really felt like I was far away from Seoul. But all in all I got a homey kind of feeling.

We parked next to the school, which was this 6 story building made of bricks. In front of the school was this large dirt field with a playground. It was still early in the day so the kids were inside in their classes.

Walking inside I immediately caught site of the classrooms. Behind closed doors with little windows I saw rows and rows of children doing their lessons. I could here the kids laughing and crying.

We had to go up 5 flights of stairs. As we went past each floor I took a glimpse of the classrooms. It seemed as we went up each level so did the age of the students.

On one floor the students were all sitting up straight and quiet. I saw a teacher walk around the classroom and his hands was what looked like a stick. Immediately I recalled the discussions of how Korean teachers here discipline children by hitting them. But to see this kind of image face to face, was a little shocking.

Yet, I accepted it as what it was.

On the fifth floor I was taken to the English learning room, which had bright posters on the walls with English words and sayings. I met my coteacher who appeared nice. We all sat down and they went over my contract.

Next was the interview.
We all went back downstairs and entered the principles office. I didn't really expect this, but quickly realized that it made sense. Inside the room were plush cushioned chairs. We all sat around a coffee table.

To my right was the Principle and in front of me was the Vice Principle. I didn't do much talking. Instead my recruiter talked to everyone. But they did have specific questions for me. I would answer the questions and then the recruiter would translate.

It felt professinal and also very official. I was of course feeling achy because of my flu, but tried not to show this.

They were mostly concerned with these things:
  • Will I stay for a whole year.
  • Housing
  • Starting in November
I was fine with everything and said I would stay a whole year.

As of now they don't have any housing yet, because they only have a week to find it. But they said that if they can't find something decent they will let me live in a hotel or do a homestay, before I move to my permanent residence. I was okay with this, too.

After the meeting we went to a room where we went over the contract with the coteacher. I agreed and signed it.

Then we went to the fifth floor again and I was shown my office.

A real office! With a desk, computer and chair! Not the square inches I have at the hagwon, I was really excited!

Anyways, it was time to get going and so we said our goodbyes and left for Seoul.

All in all, I am still mystified by the experience and hope that when I start it goes well and I make the right impression first.


  1. I never even interviewed for my public school job. My recruiter did the interview over the phone for me.

    Ahhh, Korea.


  2. Yea I thought it would be just a phone interview thing, but they insisted on it being in person.

    Meeting the ahjushi Vice President had me nervous as heck! But he was the funny cackling kind / serious... anyways.

    I am in for the ride now.

  3. Ahh, but what I mean is that I never talked to anyone at my school. My recruiter did the interview! I slept while he interviewed!

    I hope the school goes well for you. A big, big plus of working elementary is that your OT is all within the regular work day (at least in my experience and every other elementary teacher I knew in GEPIK).

    Also, they NEVER gave me grief when I was sick and in fact would sometimes come over with medicine or food for me. On the one hand, I know this was sort of to check if I was really sick. On the other hand, I'll take free food.

    I always had a ton of down time at my school to study Korean, or to write, too. It was nice.

    I know all schools aren't like mine, but I hope your school is.

  4. Wow! They did the interviews?? Well, while I was there the recruiter did most of the talking...which might as well been for the best. Because he sounded like a sweet talker. hehe.

    But it did feel good to see the school and the people before taking the job.

    I don't know exactly my schedule right now, but will when I start.

    I am hoping too for some time when there aren't any classes.

    Anyways thanks for the tips!

  5. Hope you're feeling better.... TAKE CARE & don't go to work at the Hagwon til you REALLY feel better!
    Sounds good!
    Joy - Did you see your curriculum, books, etc...
    Hopefully they will give you some time to review/prepare before the very first day w/the students.

    Homestay??? I would request the hotel, rather than staying in someone's home. Personally, having had that experience while teaching the Art Ark, some "homestays" were ok, when I had REAL privacy & autonomy like that artist's studio bldg in G.Valley, but other experiences were extremely unnerving, I couldn't get ANY rest at all & was frightened about some aspects of the situation & I requested (Basically know me) a motel!

  6. Wonderful! An office! Never, in my teaching years, did I have an office.
    Yes, I'm with Mom on the home stay issue. Just starting a new job will be strenuous enough. Stay someplace where you can feel very much yourself in the evenings... in essence, be Joyous!

  7. Thanks!

    Hi Ancient Cousin~ Welcome back to posting comments....;)

    I would actually prefer homestay because the hotels here don't have kitchens or laundry options, so homestay would allow me to cook and clean my laundry.

    All this could change next week if they find something in time.

    But I hope they consider finding something nice instead of something quickly.

    Anyways~ feeling better but now I am congested! haha

  8. So relieved to learn your health's improved!
    Are you sure a homestay host would welcome your cooking in her kitchen? She might prefer preparing your meals along with food for her family. Who are the typical hosts in such cases? Parents of the school's pupils? Persons who are paid to take roomers?

  9. Be careful with homestays because they tend to be a bit cheaper than the school putting you up in a love motel, which means the school may dawdle on getting housing.

    As for the curriculum, if you're at a typical GEPIK school, your lesson plans are already scripted for you. You'll probably have to adjust them, but they probably won't expect from-scratch lessons. Note...the lessons plans aren't necessarily good.

  10. hmmm thanks Amanda. My homestay would be with a teacher from the school.

    I was told that the vice principle was getting on finding a home for me right away. But I told them to take their time so to find something nice.

    Ah well it is a roll of the dice!

    That is interesting about the lesson plans. I would have to say that it may be a good start for me because at the hagwon I didn't really make the snazziest of lesson plans get by I went by the teacher guide.

    I am guessing my biggest battle will be consuming the time in the class with learning. And knowing how to teach 45 children!


    I am in contact with the previous teacher and I am asking him for his tips.

    Anyways, 1 more week!

  11. Glad to hear that they found you an apt. right off the bat!

    Staying in someone's home is touchy Joy, you should know that....what if they don't go to bed at 8:00p.???? and have the TV on too loud for you?? And stuff like that....Did you consider that??!!
    You definitley need your own least in a hotel rm., one can wash undies in the sink & eat take out....the main thing is you can have the peace n quiet when you need it.
    Well.....hope your new place is comfy and clean!
    - Hope you feel better.....did the Dr. give u something like Sudafed or Cold Meds to dry up your congestion??

  12. Ditto, Baby! When you've made friends among your colleagues, there will be plenty of time to accept invitations for overnight visits ... but you can choose to stay with folks you're most comfortable with.
    Too much intimacy too early can start you off on the wrong foot.


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