For those of you who don’t know the details of our new job here in Korea, I think I should mention that ours is not a traditional teaching job. In fact, our employer is a camp rather than a school. The camp is located on the grounds of a resort/hotel, and our students come via appointments made by their schools. Essentially, we are a field trip destination! We have a particular group of kids for one, two, or three days (rarely more), and then they go back to the real world of school while we wait for the next camp to start. Never having worked at a camp before, this is certainly a new way of working for me. Fortunately for Tara, it’s right up her alley!
Being the official English teachers at this camp does come with certain perks. Case in point, desks!
Tara snagged the bigger desk, which coincidentally also has the superior computer. I’m very jealous.
So what do we do with our fancy desks? It depends on whether or not we have a camp day. If the kids are coming, then we’re out in the classrooms doing what teachers do. Since this is a camp the emphasis is on fun activities rather than intensive teaching, especially since the kids skew to the younger grades. On non-camp days, we prepare for upcoming camps, tinkering with lesson plans and discussing methods and schedules and all that good office stuff.
At least, that’s the pattern thus far. We’ve had one non-camp and one camp day so far, and for today’s camp Tara and I mostly observed the part-time teachers. Our first real camp is on Thursday, with kindergarteners, and boy, speaking of things I’ve never done before…
In addition to our little classes, the resort has other amenities that the students, and by extension ourselves, can take advantage of. We have a sledding hill (whee!) for a quick dash of winter sports; an indoor water-park of fantastical proportions (currently closed, due to reopen in January); and a carnival/amusement park, which won’t be operating until we get some warmer weather. Fun for the kids, a nice little perk for us teachers!
Thus far, the trickiest part of work has been getting there. We believed that our apartment would be in walking distance of the resort. While this is technically true, it is only so in the sense that a person might walk for an hour and a half or more and not suffer the loss of their feet. The first day, we rode in a cab with a co-worker who happens to live in our neighborhood. Since she had to be at work earlier than us today, we decided to try our luck with the bus system. We managed to get ourselves about halfway there, but couldn’t figure out which connection to make. So we found ourselves walking after all, until (as luck would have it) our co-worker passed us on the road! We think we have it all figured out now, but transportation is bound to be an adventure until we figure out a real routine.
All told, we’re having an excellent time here in Korea. We are on good terms with our boss, who seems excited for what we can bring to the camp. All of the people we’ve talked to have been extremely helpful, whether they’ve had to be or not. Our shower has been fixed (thank goodness), so we’re once again clean and pleasant-smelling. And our work is looking to be fulfilling and enjoyable, even with the language barrier to contend with. The kids have been great, generally all smiles and eager to say “hello!” Not too much beyond “hello,” but they really do love it.
One last thing; after a couple of days of eating mostly ramen and other cheap meals, we finally had a truly delicious and satisfying meal of kimbap and bibimbap in a small restaurant near the Korea Tech campus. The menu was all in hangul, so ordering what we wanted took all of our skill. But you can’t really go wrong with bibimbap, especially served out of a hot stone bowl. We don’t want to get sick of it, but I’m sure we’ll be eating there a lot.