Restaurants in Korea make it really clear what they serve. When a restaurant has pictures of chicken feet and chilies all over its signs and banners–guess what?–they serve hot & spicy chicken feet. At least the beer was pretty good, and not terribly expensive. I filled up on salad. They probably had something vegetarian there, but the menu had no pictures and my Korean isn’t good enough yet to ask what options they may have had. Oddly enough, I think my vegetarianism will be a solid further impetus for me to learn Korean; I’m going to need to speak at least passably to order food here.
So that was Friday night. Monday we went into work, but only for about 2 hours, just to meet all the big-wigs at the Office of Education. Meeting people, especially bosses, is really stressful for me here, because the expectations are so different. The bowing, the formalized greetings. Koreans, at least higher-ups, also seem to think they have to compliment your looks. So when we met the Superintendent for the whole city and then the Director of our Center, they both complimented us all, especially our friend with blue eyes. I can’t imagine anything like that occurring in the States. Today’s Independence (from the hated Japanese) Day, so I’m going to try and get out and explore the city some more.
I’ve already managed to see a bit of it, because Chungju doesn’t sprawl at all. There are literally rice paddies 300 feet from 30-storey apartment blocks. So even though there are more than 200,000 people living here, the city isn’t wider than 4 miles–which is great. I can walk from one end to the other in less than an hour if I don’t get stopped up at the big intersections.
As for the Northern English Center itself, the building is ridiculously well-equipped. It’s only a year old, and there are flat screen TVs in every classroom. And each room has a theme (hospital, restaurant, city hall, etc.) to facilitate teaching English through content. All three of our Korean co-teachers are incredibly nice and seem genuinely excited to meet us. The only downside, really, is that our Center doesn’t operate like a regular school. Students from all over northern Chungbuk come for an intensive one-week English immersive experience, and then go home to their normal schools. So we won’t get to really build relationships with our students. Additionally, we’ll basically be repeating the same lesson plans over and over every week (though we’ll be switching rooms, and therefore themes and lesson plans, every few months). All in all, though, I’m really happy with my placement, as there are other GETs (Guest English Teachers) at schools where the co-teachers barely speak English and they have classes with over 40 students, many of whom are undisciplined (we heard some horror stories in orientation). So I think I’m actually pretty lucky.
Ok, this is a pathetically short post, but people keep asking for updates from me, so I just wanted to get something down.
Update: For any doubting any of this, here’s a picture: