Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Two weeks ago today

Two weeks ago today I left General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee and connected to my plane out of Chicago to fly here. It feels as though I've lived a lifetime in these two weeks, all cliches aside. I do mean it. With each day the language and culture becomes easier to adjust to. The homesickness comes and goes like the ocean tides. My new friends and emails to family and old friends has also helped. Being at school and teaching provides the bridge between life in the US and life in Korea since it has as many similarities as it does differences. The teachers and staff here at Gimhwa High School and Gimwha Girls Middle School have been welcoming. I daresay the teachers, staff, and students are nicer here than back home. Nice doesn't begin to describe it.

Despite the smallness (~3,000 give or take the soldiers coming and going) of the town, life's been, well, active here. It feels like a rollercoaster ride, like all I can do is simply hang on. Each day brings more words and phrases learned and more food sampled in this beautiful and strange landscape. By now I've learned to read most or all of the Korean alphabet and have begun sounding out words. The teachers here say they're impressed. I'm glad. I came here to learn. Learning to read has eased the frustration.

That and the dinners with the school staff. Between yesterday and last week I've gone to dinner with the middle school and the high school staff, plus a few teachers (and other EPIK friends) here and there. The dinner and drinking culture's quite different here. At the high school dinner for example, we took a shot with all three of the toasts before we started eating. I've done shots of soju with my principal. He's apparently told other teachers that I drink like a Korean. Over here, that's a high compliment. Where else would this happen? Where else can you drink with your co-workers at dinner and then sing karaoke with them (whilst drinking more beer)?

I meant to show these pictures earlier, so here they are. These are pics of the schools:

Outside of Gimhwa High School. The right-hand building houses my English classroom, another English classroom, and a math classroom.

My desk inside the high school.

Office space at the middle school

The middle school English classroom. Spacious.

The back wall of the middle school English classroom.

The high school English classroom. Behind the partition lies my desk as well as Mr. Kim's desk.

The back wall of the high school English classroom. One of the blinds has a Shakespearean sonnet on them.

As you can see, each classroom has a Smartboard and top-notch equipment.



  1. hi ben , uncle tim here. WOW! those class rooms and the respect the kids give to education it is refreshing. that is a major problem in most American schools.

    Well Brian is about to start his mission soon. He is nervous but he wants to get it over with.

    As soon as i get more info on address and specifics i will post it here. can't say much about his mission here.

    LOVE your beer pong pics LOL!! who's The Korean champ?
    well gotta go,
    love you ben

  2. Ben,
    It sounds like everything is going well and that you are really enjoying yourself. I think our schools here could learn something from the Koreans. I like the fact that you are respected and that the kids treat you that way. It has to feel great considering how you were treated here. You have heard the old saying the customer is always right well here the student is always right!!!.
    I really enjoy looking at the pictures and you have a wonderful view from your apartment. I am glad that you are teaching them some new drinking games. What a hit you have made!!!!
    It sounds like they all like their beer and wine. Good People!!
    I am glad that you and Mark got to talk when you were here and even though I didn't know that is what Mark thought I am glad that he shared it with you. Mark never told me to much about his feelings because he was always afraid that it would worry me. I am glad that everything is going well for you and it sounds like you are really enjoying yourself. Keep up the good work. Tim and I are very proud of you.
    You are making a difference for the future. OUR CHILDREN!!!!!!
    I will write soon. Take care of yourself and be safe.