Thursday, April 9, 2009

And days go by, I can feel them flying, like a hand out the window in the wind

Almost a week since my last post - where did the time go?
Once again we've been incredibly busy.

On Sunday we checked out another of Busan's famous beaches - Gwangali beach. The views were amazing. We got some great pictures of the bridge and the windsurfing lessons going on. Definitely something I want to try once the weather warms up. My brothers are avid windsurfers, and I've tried at home, but always just seem to get blown down the lake!

On Monday I started teaching. English class at my school is conducted in Korean for a large portion of the time. Every so often I'm required to read a sentence from the textbook for the students to repeat. After they marvel at my wonderful pronunciation, (and sometimes even clap) then repeat a few times and promptly switch back to Korean! Hopefully as my Korean co-teachers get used to working with me this will change. For now it's a nice way to ease into teaching, learn about the curriculum and gauge the student's English ability.
Also on Monday - a forest fire! There is a mountain within a kilometre of my school. The fire was on the far side of the mountain, so it seemed close enough that we should evacuate, especially since the school was filling with smoke and there were chunks of ash falling from the sky. However, I obviously know nothing about how schools in Korea are run. We closed the windows and continued our afternoon. At one point I looked out the window and saw the grade 1 girls prancing around the front yard of the school through the thick smoke in their belly dancing costumes - bizarre! Luckily the fire was brought under control and the school was fine, as were all of the houses of our students.
We also applied for our alien registration cards this week. We need this card to stay in Korea. Its our approved form of identification here, is needed to sign up for cell or internet service, and is required to return to Korea after travelling out of the country. Getting that done was a huge relief!
I have had some great dinners this week - Wood roasted chicken on Monday with George, Kimbap on Tuesday with the other foreign teacher from my school, Mexican food on Tuesday with a friend from orientation, and kimbap and soup again last night with a fellow Laurier alum. FYI: Kimbap is kind of Korea's version of sushi. It's the same format - rice rolled in seaweed, but instead of raw fish it is stuffed with a variety of veggies and/or cooked meats, cucumber and picked radish. It goes for approximately $2-3 for a 6-8 inch roll, and kimbap restaurants can be found on every block. I can see this becoming one of the staples of my diet!
I also got my first good bout of physical activity last night in the form of a 2+ hour walk/hike to Haeundae beach and along a mountainous lookout trail nearby. It felt good to get some physical activity in, even though the air quality leaves much to be desired. We haven't been able to see the beach from our apartment at all this week - which means SERIOUS smog - my poor lungs hurt! Below are photos from my walk on Thursday night.


Haeundae beach and Gangali bridge at night
I think that's it for now - I hope to post again tomorrow. I'm going on a trip with the teachers from my school tonight to a town that is famed for it's cherry blossoms. I am excited, but also nervous about how I'm going to spend 6ish hours speaking to my co-workers! I've been spoiled so far, the other foreign teacher at my school can speak Korean so he does alot of translating for me. I really don't think anyone but my Korean co-teacher and one other teacher speak any English!
Wish me luck :)

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