Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ass still hurts, Orientation Part 2, etc.

Life is full of aches and pains. Sometimes you give yourself a paper cut, and sometimes you trip over a bathroom scale and fall on your posterior. I guess I must have really bruised my coccyx. It still hurts to cough or sneeze, or even to sit a certain way on a chair. Damn that vestigial tail of mine. Part of me thinks that, if I cough hard enough, an actual tail will pop, fully formed and salaciously simian, out of my ass. Why, hello, ladies! While I'm groaning about my ass, I should also note that my right pinky toe still hurts as well. I'm trying hard not to limp in front of my coworkers; not sure how well I'm succeeding. Meanwhile, I'm idly wondering whether that toenail is going to just drop off one of these days. It seems my initial impression was mistaken: along with ripping off some toe skin, I did damage the nail.

In other news: my morning class went much better than I thought it would. It was a 9AM intro-level class, but the kids seemed more awake and alert than I'd anticipated. Communication breakdowns occurred, of course, as they must during such sessions: I asked the class whether anyone drank coffee; no one raised a hand, but one guy had a can of "Let's Be"-brand coffee sitting right in front of him, so I immediately singled him out and jokingly branded him a liar, much to the amusement of the other students.

The 9AM-ers responded well to a modified version of the mixer exercises I had done with previous classes; having seen how my intermediate-level kids responded to my original, unaltered tasks, I knew my beginners would have an even harder time. So as Clint Eastwood growled in "Heartbreak Ridge," improvise, adapt, overcome. I'm glad I changed the plan. Tomorrow, I've got two classes of beginners, so the plan will remain changed for them as well.

It was close to 11AM. To avoid a second sweatfest, I decided to stay on campus until 5PM, which was the appointed time for our second orientation. The first orientation had been for our department only; this orientation was for new foreign profs in general. As I whiled away the hours from late morning to midafternoon, my faculty office underwent a quiet metamorphosis: first, a small table was brought in so that students and profs would have a place to sit and talk casually, or to hold tutoring sessions. Next, the tech guys came in and we all received spanking-new telephones in our respective cubicles. I asked one tech guy what my desk's new phone number was and whether I needed to dial "9" before dialing out; he told me I could simply dial out without any prefix. This is bad news, because giving me a phone is like giving a five-year-old a stick of dynamite: I'm going to abuse this new power by ordering plenty of food at the office from now on. I hope my office mates, and the people in the hallways, get used to the harsh clangor of food-delivery men slamming open their boxy metal food-carriers and dropping off Chinese, bunshik, and bossam. Oh, hell, yes.

Around 4:40PM, I tidied up my work station, took a healthy dump, then headed over to the library for our orientation. When I got to the fifth floor, the situation was much the same as it had been for the first orientation: the room was too hot and humid. This time, though, it didn't seem there were any plans to move the venue into the more air-conditioned B1 level; we'd all have to tough this one out. I signed in and picked up a small calendar, which immediately became a hand fan. Some of my colleagues were there, along with some new faces; I met one Indian gent who is teaching chemistry, and an American woman who is at CU to teach anatomy and physiology. The food station at the back of the room was laden with cookies and cute little plastic-wrapped sandwiches; I grabbed a cookie and sandwich packet and sat near the back of the room.

The presentation was given by a young, 20-something guy from our Admin Building. He did a good job of leading us through his PowerPoint slides, then he fielded questions in both English and Korean. All in all, I felt that 95% percent of the information I'd heard at orientation came from the handbook we had already been given, so the meeting was mostly redundant. Still, it was a chance to see some new faces and to eat a cute little sandwich, so all was not lost. Also, some of the questions at the end of the orientation session dealt with matters I hadn't thought about, so that was useful as well.

As I may have written before, I've been quietly arranging free, basic-level Korean lessons with several colleagues who want to learn Korean from the ground up. I've got six students thus far; we'll be meeting for 90 minutes, once per week, and going over the rudiments of the language—from the alphabet to basic pronunciation to simple words, phrases, and sentences. My goals for this class are modest: just get the students able to read things like bus-route charts and menus that don't feature any English on them. The university offers more in-depth conversation courses for the asking.

And that's the update for today. Two beginner-level classes tomorrow, then an intermediate-level class Thursday afternoon, then I'm free on Friday—which is the day I'll most likely go apply for my alien residence card. And maybe get my required medical checkup to boot.


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