"Words have no wings, but they can travel a thousand miles" (Korean Proverb)

Welcome to Flying Words, Jon and Aileen's blog of our adventures in South Korea! We will be in South Korea for a year, starting in mid-July, teaching English in a private school. We just graduated from college this past May, and are looking forward to having some adventures before continuing our education. 
We started this blog to keep all our family and friends updated and to share our photos and stories. We hope this is entertaining for you! We will miss you all, and are very thankful to have the internet to keep us in touch. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Snails, Students and Soju!

So, as some of you know, Jon and I started teaching on Monday. It's pretty evident just from the fact that it's taken me until Wednesday night to have time to write about this exciting event that we've been BUSY! 

Monday morning we had training... a very quick and not too in-depth introduction to the very complicated Reading Town Curriculum. There are four big level distinctions (AS, AP, XL and XT) and then each level has 3 sublevels. Each class has 4 subjects (speaking, comprehension, writing and reading), and native English speakers teach speaking and writing, and Korean teachers teach the other two. There are more complications, but that's the basics. Oh, except XT does not have reading, and only English teachers teach XT since it is the highest level. 

Luckily, Jon and I had written lesson plans on Sunday, since we'd had a bit of an introduction on Friday, and didn't have tooooo much planning to do for our first classes that afternoon. But it was still a little hectic, just jumping in without too long to figure everything out.

In between training and planning/teaching, we all went to lunch at at restaurant across the street from the school. We were told that their specialty was snail soup, so, why not? We had some! Even our trainer from Seoul had never eaten snail, so it was a group experience. They were really small snails, so I didn't really notice that they were snails. It was a really good-- and pretty-- soup, with lots of greens like scallion, and the blue-green snails. 

All our classes went pretty well, with the expected kinks of the first day of class, but we are settling into the routine. It can be overwhelming, though, since mostly everything going on around us in the school is in Korean...and it's been crazy, with people running around since the school just opened and students are still being tested and registered for next month, since they can start month by month. And apparently Korean parents are very involved... our Korean counterparts are often on the phone with current or perspective students' parents. 

Korean students so far seem more disciplined than American students, and more studious. Though my younger students are still mostly full of energy and giggles! My class sizes range from one student to six, but we should be getting more as the year progresses. 

After the first day of classes, Jon, the two Korean teachers (Laura and Dana...their English names) and I went out for a quick drink to celebrate. Although, as I found out, there is no "out for a quick drink" in Korea. Much like normal meals, which come with an array of side dishes included in the meal price, Korean bars bring out side dishes with drinks...from creamed corn (it was really good!!) to popcorn to something that looked like coleslaw. Also, Laura and Dana told us that Koreans eat when they drink, so we ordered a pot of seafood stew with octopus, clams, mushrooms and other veggies. 

To go with all this food, our Korean bar guides ordered a bottle of plain soju (a traditional Korean liquor) and a bottle of lemon soju. It comes in small bottles, about 16 ounces, and ranges from $3-15. The Koreans wanted to mix the soju, since the plain was too strong for them, but Jon and I insisted on trying the plain stuff....we had to experience the true culture! :) So we all did a shot, and it was surprisingly smooth... like tequila but much more drinkable. Then we drank the mixed stuff, which was even better. Like hard lemonade. Strong hard lemonade. 

So, the moral of the story is, don't try to go our for a 'quick drink' in Korea. With all the food involved, you almost lose track of what you came for. But it was definately a lot of fun. Laura and Dana tried to get us to go out for karaoke, but we left that for another night.....maybe Friday? 


(p.s.- I know I wrote a lot more about going out than I wrote about school. Rest assured, I am spending plenty of time focusing on work. I just thought that the bar story was much more interesting than the confusing curriculum and crazy classes :) ) 


Lyn said...

Very interesting! I'm glad that you're keeping busy and enjoying yourselves. I've got a question for you though. Are snails pescatarian-friendly? I don't really know what a snail is classified as... !! :) lol

Erin said...

aileen, please go do karaoke.
that would be great.hahah oh boy

Jon and Aileen said...

yeah, tara, we decided that since the snails that you eat...at least the ones here...are from the ocean, then they are seafood. Cuz i eat clams and mussels, so that's not too different. :) ................

Anna said...

^. .^

katharsis said...

i sure hope that snails count as vegetarian food! haha, it sounds like you're enjoying yourselves :)

Lyn said...

lol... that could get interesting. "Excuse me, waiter, but could you please find out where these snails come from?" lol... I just did a wiki search of snails. There is a lot of info that I did not know. :)

So are vegetarians common in Korea or will I be a freak like I was in Italy?? lol

Jon and Aileen said...

tara, you already are a freek, don't let being in Korea make you feel like one :-D hahaha... but actually, ya vegies are rare around here

Lyn said...

lol... well, when you put it that way, I guess I don't really care. :) I think being a freak is probably better than being "normal" anyway... lol