Monday, September 01, 2014

first day of school

My very first class on Mondays isn't until 3:30PM, so I can afford to take my time getting to school. Today, I got there early all the same, mainly because I needed to make photocopies of my in-class activities for the week. We've been given a photocopy budget of only W30,000 per teacher (at a rate of W40 per page, or roughly 4 cents per page), and after having made 160 copies today (80 double-sided sheets), I was out W6,400. This doesn't bode well for the semester; I'm a photocopying fool, so I imagine I'll be blowing through my meager budget within a month, after which I'll have to pay for copies myself.

I'd been told that we didn't need to teach more than 20-30 minutes today, but I ran my classes for nearly an hour each. My intermediates were shy but good, and my advanced students, while not truly advanced, per se, caught on quickly when I ran them through the two-headed monster exercise. Today's classes were Monday/Thursday; when I see these kids again, I'll be running them through the textbooks that I've asked them to buy. Tomorrow's classes are Tuesday/Friday; my first is a 10:30AM class, followed by another 3:30PM class. This is perilously close to teaching a split shift, but because the later class ends before 5PM, I don't think this will be much of a problem. Tuesdays will be a good time for me to explore our campus's many dining facilities; our faculty handbook contains a long list of such facilities, and I've decided to make it my mission to eat at every single one of them.

The one weird thing that happened today was that my second class, which was supposed to have fifteen people in it, had only seven. I checked with a colleague and with our office assistant about this; both said this was normal, given the confusing nature of the first day or two of class. I can probably expect the full complement of kids at the next session.

Speaking of colleagues: given our huge faculty of forty-eight people, I met quite a few office-mates today, only some of whose names I managed to retain. They all seemed friendly and helpful; a few of them went above and beyond in that latter respect, offering to email me any information I might have missed because I'm not quite in the bosses' email loop yet. Dongguk's community of expat faculty seems, all in all, quite tightly knit and very collegial, which is something you look for in a good faculty.

My office computer is smaller and slower than the one I had at my previous job, and my "cubicle" isn't so much a cubicle as a work station with very, very low walls and no real privacy. Not that that matters: the office was stifling hot today because the air conditioner wasn't working; I've vowed to buy yet another electric fan to bring in to the office during these remaining warm months. Once I get paid, of course: everything happens once I get paid.

Last night, I was pleasantly surprised to receive "Happy Birthday!" KakaoTalk messages from several of my former students from my previous job. That was touching, and not a bad prelude to the first day of classes. A couple of the male students told me they weren't looking forward to their obligatory military service, which interrupts the collegiate life of almost every young Korean male, ensuring that most men graduate behind the women. I felt bad for the guys, having never gone through such hellish training myself, but I trust they'll come out of the experience both tougher and more mature.

So all in all, today's experience was fairly pleasant. Since I'm a naturally organized person, I got all my prep done in a timely manner—no drama, no hassle, no confusion. I still felt exhausted by the end of the day; one of the byproducts of introversion is the feeling of being drained after interacting with a bunch of people that you don't know. I walked almost 7,000 steps on campus today, so I'm about to go out and pound out the final 3,000 before midnight. After that: a bit of hand-washed laundry, a shower, a shave, and I'm off to bed.

Up and at 'em again tomorrow.



Unknown said...

Check Seoul Craigslist for a fan. It is one of those items that people leaving the country sell quite cheaply, and you can always find one for sale.

Kevin Kim said...

Good idea. Thanks.