Friday, April 08, 2005


I visited the Smoo campus today and signed my life away. They're upping my monthly pay by W100,000, which now effectively covers my rent. They told me my expected net take-home pay will be around W1.6 million, which is about what I calculated.

Classes will be starting earlier in the day than expected, but the teaching load is what they said, from 15 to 18 hours. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I'll be doing three hours from about 8AM to 11AM. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, about 8AM to 11:30AM.

For a whole month, I'll be finishing my day before fuckin' lunch. Things don't get much better than that. Oh, wait-- yes they can: after that month, I'm on paid vacation. Sorry... just rubbing it in. God, I'm a fucking bastard.

I've turned in my English-through-drama curriculum proposal, which is currently long on generalities and short on specifics: I didn't recommend any particular scripts. The very motherly program director actually gave me some script ideas, as well as a script website for me to check out. She and I talked for over an hour about religion-- all my pet subjects: interreligious dialogue, Buddhist-Christian relations in Korea, yogic practice, Buddhist meditation... we covered a lot of religious ground when we probably should have been talking about the nuts and bolts of the language program.

We also talked a lot about drama. Although I'd given her my proposal, she ignored it in favor of talking with me about theatrical goings-on on campus and elsewhere. She's understandably cautious about implementing drama as a course, but she loves theater, as it turns out. I made sure, in my proposal, to cover both the advantages and disadvantages of using drama as a teaching method; I hope this assuages her fears somewhat. I'd really like to get a program off the ground. Drama can be very liberating, especially for introverts like yours truly, and it's a good, holistic approach to language learning, as I know from having done French theater.

Had a chance to see what my new digs look like. I'll be on the second floor of the international dorm (Dorm II, not Dorm I), and it's sweet: I'll have about as much space as I have now, plus a real bathroom. Will still be stuck with electric burners instead of a gas range, but I'm happy to report that I won't be paying utilities: the rental cost covers all.

At this point it looks like my take-home pay from Smoo, plus a little something on the side, will net me about W2 million a month. Still not what I'd like (I'd like closer to W3 million net), but almost exactly the same as what I was getting while at EC. The major difference lies in larger housing and far, far fewer teaching hours. So it's a step in the right direction.

Oh, yeah: Internet is free. They've got a LAN. I realize there are disadvantages to being on a LAN, but hell-- it's free.

The director stopped me before I left her office. There was an awkward pause, then she told me a bit about one of the Smoo teachers who's going to be leaving soon. I'm supposed to meet this individual, who has apparently done a lot for the program, but who, in the director's opinion, has been slipping somewhat in terms of the image presented to the students. "Don't be like [that person]," she said cryptically, with an awkward smile. The director's assistant told me the director was a friendly person, and I believe her: she (the director) obviously didn't want to speak ill of this teacher, despite the evident presence of some sort of problem. The director also cautioned me, very obliquely, to "practice discretion" regarding a man's, uh, nocturnal doings with those of the female persuasion. As I'm typing this, I've got this picture in my head of Jack Nicholson as the Joker from "Batman," leering at Bruce Wayne and purring, "Well, well... another rooster in the henhouse." Given my current state of spiritual flaccidity, I don't think the hormonal thing is going to be an issue anytime soon. Not unless I stumble upon a juicy, brainy grad student. We like the brainy ones, yes we do. Just gotta remember to avoid neurotic firstborns like myself.

Having received sex advice from the director, having signed four copies of the employment contract, having given over my diploma and other documents, I left the director's office and stepped into the hallway. I paused in front of a bulletin board, part of whose surface was covered with a miniature gallery of foreign teacher's faces. Under those images, stacks of student evaluations had been stapled. I flipped through them, curious to read the student comments. All of them were good, except for a few complaints written in Korean. The complaints, such as they were, seemed fairly generic and not too hard-hitting:

"Didn't seem to listen to student problems too well."

"Went through the textbook too fast." (I can imagine receiving that complaint myself.)

"Whenever students were talking, seemed to be bored or seemed like he didn't want to be there."

"Talked too softly." (No student has ever given that complaint about my classes. I'm a damn loud teacher, there's no getting around it.)

Some comments written in the complaint boxes were downright cute, though. One female teacher in particular received adoring "complaints" from two of her students:

"Two months went by too fast," and

"It's the end of the course. When will we ever see each other again?" This was accompanied by the East Asian emoticon "TT," a double-T, indicating eyes closed and tears streaming down the face.

Awwwwwww. I hope to receive complaints like that, but I know what mine will be already:

"Seemed impatient with the slow and the stupid."

"Had no mercy on the timid."

"Kept making us do pushups. Not girlie pushups, either."

"Demanded my immortal soul on several occasions."

"Peppered class with inappropriate questions about salary, cooking, and virginity."

"Always started and ended class exactly on time. Almost as if he'd lived in Switzerland or something."

Seriously, though: everywhere I've taught, I've been liked by 95% percent of my students. The remaining 5% are a hard sell, and in my opinion it's usually because they're assholes. I'm sure they think the same of me, and that's fine; I sleep well at night.

As I was turning away from the bulletin board and about to head out of the building, the director's assistant walked past and remarked, "You know... they selected only the better comments to stick up on that board."


I have to visit the campus a couple more times before I move in on the 20th. More news as it happens.


No comments: