Korea First Days, Teaching–1

March 6, 2000

Yesterday, walking around campus, I saw a poster on the door of a small building.  I sounded out the hangul (Korean writing):  Ping.  Pong.  Oh!  I was surprised that I could understand.  It made me smile.  I think the students will make me smile–and laugh too, I hope.


March 7, 2000

Where can I eat dinner?  That’s my real question.  I teach from 1:30 to 3:30.  So, maybe after my afternoon classes, I’ll come home and have a noodle cup at 4:30 or 5.  Then I teach night classes from 6:55 to 10:10, four forty-five-minute classes, with five minute breaks between them.

My first class yesterday was two fifty-minute periods, 11:30 to 12:20, then 12:30 to 1:20.  It was a big class, 23 students.  Today’s section will be bigger, 41–but at least it’s only one fifty-minute period.

Then I have Freshman Conversation, 2:30 to 3:30.


March 8, 2000

I have to go to Taejon today, alone, on the bus.  Lara was going to go with me, but at the last minute, yesterday morning, she told me she couldn’t, because some friends of theirs are coming to visit from Moscow.  I don’t want to go alone, but I will because I want to get my passport back.

Yesterday was a nightmare.  “Boot camp” was the phrase that came to mind as I was trudging to and from campus–tired, freezing.  Walking up and down that hill is killing me.  I hate it.  I hate the blaring music in the morning, hate the students walking in front of and behind me, chatting merrily in Korean.  Hate that the buildings are absolutely freezing in the hallways, and in some of the classrooms, hate that they make me work from morning until late at night, giving me humungous classes.  Hate that my textbooks are not in, so I had to wing it last night for three hours and fifteen minutes straight.  Hate that I’m not sure how many copies I can legitimately ask the office to make.

I actually had two Freshman Conversation classes, day and night sections.  The first one, at 1:30, had 45 students.  The next one, at 2:30, had 42 students.  I don’t know how I’ll teach such large classes–for conversation.  I prepared my evening classes and checked email, went home and ate quickly at 5.  I went back and taught two classes, 6:55 to 9:20, with two five-minute breaks, then 9:25 to 10:10.

I got a ride home from some students.  I was catatonic for forty-five minutes, then went to bed.

I wonder why I left my comfortable life to go to a place where everything is different, difficult.  I don’t know if I can stay here.



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