We've officially lived in South Korea for 6 months!!! As much fun as we have had and love the people we work with, we know we won't be renewing our contract here at CEV for another year. That being said, we're still unsure of our next move. To be determined. Mid-week last week, our local farmer's bank held a big sale all day at their mart down the road. We were told free food and big sale items, but when we arrived, there were a couple hundred people, tons of tables set up and music was blaring. This was crazy to us since we literally live on an onion field and we never see more than 10 people outside. We had a big free lunch before work which consisted of the most random array of foods: watermelon, broiled pork, kimchi, coffee, soju, garlic & peppers - yum! Usually in Korea they assume we can't handle spicy food (for me, this is a valid assumption) but it was funny because they continuously kept serving us watermelon haha! Shortly after, we were told we needed to sing karaoke in front of everyone. So we did what every foreigner would do in that situation... we sang karaoke as a group, and even did the wave while hundreds of ajummas and ajusshis (old women and men) stared at us in awe as if they've never seen a white person before. It was hysterical.
My cyber school desk!
Luke and I have been teaching Cyber School for one week out of nine weeks total and it's definitely been interesting. We now teach 3 classes Monday - Thursday and 1 class on Friday, all of which are in the evening (5:00, 7:00 and 8:00). We each have our own tiny little room where we teach online with a headset and video camera. The program is pretty old which makes for some frustrating technical problems almost every day, but as time goes on, it will hopefully be a little less as we understand how to use it and fix the ongoing problems. My 2nd class is 8 elementary beginner students so that is definitely my most challenging. I do like however, that we get to teach the same students for the entire 9 weeks. We get to know them quite a bit more then we do in the regular daily CEV camp.
In Cyber School, there is no book to follow so the teachers make the curriculum. So far we've decided to teach a different "subject" each week, and tailor it to the different level classes. Last week we taught games. Physical, Logic, Board, Card and Video games were all covered and seemed to keep their interest. Many of the students, especially the intermediate kids, take multiple English classes at a time. Pretty much every Korean school teaches an English class, then there is CEV daily camp, CEV evening class, and then Cyber School. We have students who are in every one of these, so by the time Cyber School comes around at 8:00 PM, they are pretty much zoned out or working on other homework and answering questions only when called on. Overall it's not too bad, but requires preparing different types of lessons and a lot of patience!
Last weekend, all of the teachers decided to do one of the best and longest hikes in Korea in Seoraksan National Park - Dinosaur Ridge. It's called Dinosaur Ridge because once you make the initial climb, it is a lot of ups and downs, which look like the spikes on the back of a dinosaur. The eight of us took an overnight bus to Sokcho (Northeast area of South Korea) and arrived at about 2 in the morning. We had planned to leave our big luggage at the bus terminal when we arrived, but soon came to find out that it was not open 24/7 so that was no longer an option. We eventually convinced the woman at the nearby convenience store to hold our bags there for a day while we went on the hike. For 10,000 won a bag, we found our bags outside by the cooler when we returned. Good to know that Korea is such a safe country that we don't have to worry about people taking our belongings!
After leaving our bags, changing in the middle of the street, and stocking up on drinks and snacks, we cabbed it over to Seoraksan National Park where we began our hike dark and early at 3:30 AM! Unfortunately, my dinner had not digested very well and I struggled quite a bit for the first couple hours. We got to a decent lookout point just in time for the sunrise. We were in awe of the views by 6 AM and still had 12 hours to go. After what felt like endless questioning of the map, stopping for umpteen rests, multiple bum knees and some bathroom breaks in the trees, we had made it past all the ups and downs of the course and saw the coolest views we have seen in Korea thus far. Unfortunately, we were unable to hit Daecheongbong Peak (the highest point in the park 1,708 meters or 5,603 feet) but were still more than satisfied with our day hike. We ended at almost exactly 6:30 PM which made for a 15 hour hike! By this point, we had one mission: food. We didn't care where or how much it cost but we needed it pronto. Mr. Pizza's got the job done with more than enough pizza for all of us and some weird appetizers from the salad bar to hold us over.
We cabbed our way to the closest beach, set up our tents and after Liam so graciously made each of us a s'more or two, we passed out immediately.
It was a weekend well spent that will be remembered for a lifetime!