Friday, December 30, 2005

Life in Seongnam

I'm still up near Seoul, having just completed my three day training for the school I'll be teaching at. Overall, it was a good training - there is a very structured set of activities, so I won't be having to do a lot of class planning. On the down side, it's a lot to learn and remember. Next week also starts the busy vacation period, so I'm being thrown right into the fire. The Korean school children (at least the middle class on up, who can afford it) go to public school during the day, and then to private hagwons after school until late at night. During vacation periods (7 weeks in the winter and ?? weeks in the summer), they go to the hagwons all day long. The 7 week winter "break" starts next week.

The area I'm in currently is probably one of the most densely populated areas I've ever seen. I'm in the midst of a business district - 6 to 10 story tall buildings that are packed with restaurants, offices, schools, and whatnots. Every floor of every building is filled with businesses. Looking out my window I see signs for about 10 restaurants in the building across the street. This area stretches about 3 or 4 blocks on all sides of where I'm at. Outside of this area, there are the residential blocks. Consisting entirely of high rise apartments, almost all 10 to 15 floors each. These apartment buildings are clustered in like-minded groups, and stretch as far as the eye can see.

The apartment I'm staying in is right across the street from the school branch. It's a nice studio apartment with an upper 1/2 floor for storage or, I suppose, sleeping if you remembered not to stand up. It even has a washing machine built into the kitchen area. The only problems are - the heat comes up from the floor, and doesn't really warm the room. They just got the apartment (I'm the inaugeral visitor) so there are no curtains on the windows (annoying when there are 20 shop lights blaring outside my window, not to mention the restaurant that is directly across from my window), and no pots, pans, or cutlery. At least there's a mat to sleep on and some blankets. Interesting facets are the video monitor of the front door - not the front door of the building, but the front door of the apartment. Also, the public address announcements that come in - being in Korean, we weren't quite sure what they said, but our trainer picked up "slowly", so we assumed they were warning us about the slippery streets outside. This announcement came on three or four times today.

So that's the new news from Korea. I've got a ticket to Daegu for Monday morning. On the bullet train. Until then, I get to do a little exploring. And hopefully meet up with a couple of my Peace Corps friends who are in the Seoul area teaching as well. I'll try to get some pictures added before I head south.

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