Week 6 and Week 7: End of Orientation and a New Home
Hello everyone! I have officially finished my Fulbright orientation. I passed all my classes, and we had a graduation ceremony which I think I discussed in my last blog. After the graduation ceremony, we found out our living situation. I was placed in a homestay! I was given the information that my homestay family was of a father, mother and 2 girls (6th and 2nd grade). The last days of orientation were such a frenzy with a lot of sad farewells. All of us ETAs would be spread across South Korea and with the Covid-19 pandemic still present, we didn’t know what the travel restrictions would be and when we would see each other next. I made some super close friends during orientation and thankfully, they aren’t placed too far from me, so I’ll be able to visit during the weekends if I wanted to. After finding out our living situations, we just packed and had last minute meetings about life in South Korea and being a Fulbright ETA. Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of the last days because they were so busy, and a lot was happening.
Here are pics of some of my friends that I made during orientation!
I have now settled into my homestay and let me tell you, I don’t think I could have gotten a better homestay family or living situation. My host family owns two apartments, so I live in my own apartment with my own bathroom, kitchen, dining area, and laundry area. This is not common for people who have homestays as the ETAs would typically live in the apartment with the host family. However, I lucked out on this as I have my own privacy and space to myself. But my homestay family’s apartment is just above me and I just join them for my meals and when I want to hang out with them. I’ve been loving the time that I’ve hung out with them as they are so sweet and kind. The father is a Hapkido instructor and owns his own gym. Hapkido is a form of Korean mixed martial arts. The mother is a freelancer and I think she teaches art, drawing and painting (I don’t actually quite know). The two girls are very sweet and I’m grateful they already feel comfortable around me and like having me around.
I told my host dad that since he was a hapkido instructor, I would love to take some of his classes throughout my stay here in South Korea since I did boxing classes in the State. I didn’t think he would give me my Dobok (uniform) the day I met them and 2 days later, I started my Hapkido classes. Classes have been about 60-90 minutes every day, Monday through Friday. I am in a class with about 10 elementary and middle school kids, but the kids have been so patient and kind to me. With the language barrier, a lot of the movements are taught by repetitive motions which takes me a while to understand so and the kids always help correct and slow down the movements for me. Funny story, after only two days of classes, they hijacked my phone and added their numbers into it and have started to text and ask me questions. Apparently, this is very common with foreign teachers and not considered weird or inappropriate like it would be in the States but it is still weird to get text messages from a bunch of elementary kids but I guess it's just their way of showing their eagerness to know me.
Here's a picture of my younger host sister Danha (단하) and I during one of my Hapkido classes.
So far, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t explored my new city (Gyeongsan). I’ve started lesson planning and met my new co-teachers and schools. I will be teaching at two schools this year. My main school (Samseonghyeon) has over 1000 student and my other school (Yongseong) only has 60 students. One of my grades at Yongseong only has 3 kids in it! I will be teaching 4 days a week at Samseonghyeon and 1 day a week at Yongseong. I do have a coteacher at Samseonghyeon so I won't be completely by myself but at Yongseong, I will actually be teaching by myself so I am interested in how that will go since I do not know Korean and some of the students at Yongseong don't even know the English alphabet. Anyhow, my first week at my new placement has been good and I am slowly trying to get into a daily routine with my new family, school, hapkido classes and hopefully Korean classes in the very near future. I’ll have more details in my next blog about the school and teaching stuff as I have not taught any lessons yet. Thanks everyone and stay safe.