Week 1: Orientation and Quarantine
안녕하세요 (hello) everyone! So like I stated in my last post, since I internationally traveled to South Korea, I am required to do a two week quarantine at my Fulbright site. During my mandatory two week quarantine, I will be starting my Fulbright orientation. Well, I have just completed my first week of orientation and quarantine! It's crazy how much you can learn in a single week. I have been taking four hour Korean classes daily with an additional two hour supplemental Korean class for a total of six hours of Korean classes daily. I came to South Korea with absolutely no Korean language knowledge except for knowing Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. I was placed in the middle level of beginner 1 classes and my instructors don't speak any English during our classes. It can be very confusing but I think I prefer this as it forces me to learn Korean and I am able to pick up some of the common words (book, do you understand, any questions, etc). Besides having picked up some words, I have also learned a lot within the past couple of days. I've learned how to greet people, introduce myself (I'm Lulu, I'm American, I'm a student), describes what I am doing, words for objects and much more. Even though I feel like I am one of the slower learners in my class, I'm proud I have learned so much already as I’m not a great language learner in a classroom setting. But I can't wait until I'm able to apply this language knowledge within my local Korean community.
On top of the Korean classes, I also have Teaching Workshops (TW), General Meetings (GM) and Cultural Workshops (CW). TW sessions teach us how to teach English to Korean students and what our roles are as a teacher. GMs are basically meetings that tell us what our role as a Fulbright person is and how to adapt in this new environment. CW are workshops that teach us about Korean culture, society and people. It basically tells us how to live in South Korea as a native and how not to offend anyone. During my six weeks of orientation, we also have two weeks where we have teaching practicums. During the practicum weeks, we have to teach two classes (one online and one in person). We do these entirely on our own so we have to make our own lesson plans and execute all of that too which is nerve wracking.
I am not going to lie, as I am writing this blog, I’m feeling so overwhelmed by this entire prospect. I think it just hit me that I left a country/language/people/job that I knew and came to a very unknown environment where I don't know the language, culture, people or even have any teaching experience. I kept telling my parents and sister back when I was in the States leading up to my trip that I feel like these changes hasn't hit me yet. Well, I think it has officially hit me now. I knew coming into this, the journey would be hard since I didn't know Korean or have any formal teaching experiences. I knew they would just be challenges that I need to overcome. All of that just hit me and I have just started to process all of those emotions. It also doesn't help that I feel like I’m in complete isolation even though I interact with people via Zoom. Quarantine for the most part has been fine but I am starting to feel lonely and miss physically being able to talk with people and going outdoors for fresh air. I had a good cry sesh with one of my orientation leaders via Zoom tonight and now feel much better. I really think I just needed to release my emotions and tell someone outside of my family members of my overwhelming feelings and worries for this journey. I hadn't cried leading up to my trip, or at all since coming to South Korea (until now) and honestly thought that was strange because I tend to cry before big life changes. But now that everything has hit me and I’m able to process it all, it’s been overwhelming and my emotions are heightened. I know it's normal to feel this way which is why I'm not overly stressed or concerned about it. I realize there will be waves throughout this entire journey where I will have overwhelming feelings and emotions, this is just the first of many. I‘ve been able to deal with these overwhelming thoughts and feelings by crying because it really does relieve me mentally/physically, talking with my family members/cohort members, working out and blogging my thoughts and feelings.
Anyhow, this basically concludes my first week here in South Korea. Wow, I can't believe its already been a week! I hope everyone is doing well back in the States.
For anyone who is interested in what my daily schedule has been like and will continue to be throughout my six week orientation.
My Daily Schedule:
06:45 to 07:30 - Get up and workout.
07:30 to 08:00 - Get ready for the day.
08:00 to 08:50 - Eat breakfast and FaceTime my parents/sister.
09:00 to 13:00 - Korean classes.
13:00 to 14:00 - Lunch.
14:00 to 17:00/18:00 - TW, CW or GM sessions.
18:00 to 19:00 - Dinner.
19:00 to 21:00 - Supplemental Korean classes.
21:00 - Getting ready for bed then SLEEP (my favorite)!
Also, here are some fun pictures of my last day before quarantine (5 days ago on my way to the university campus) and my last pretty scenery... look at the mountains!
***Somewhere in Incheon, South Korea