I have been meaning to update but I keep putting it off so here it is! Well my last post was a lot about Korean class so I guess I should start with that. First I want to clarify that I am not unhappy in Korea or wanting to return home. I was just obviously not having the best day but it has been much better since! I actually ended up getting a 16/20 on that quiz so I was pretty stoked about that. I still have mandatory office hours, but at least my average is up now. I took a quiz today but don't feel quite as confident about getting a 16 or higher so who knows what will happen. But we are also going to start our big class project soon so that will be exciting. We have to perform a 6minute movie/skit in front of our peers, teachers, the Fulbright Office, and important people from Korea University all in Korean! We are going to do a movie so at least I won't have to memorize all of it. I want to keep it more of a surprise so I'll leave y'all in suspense about what we are doing.
The biggest piece of news that I have is that I have received my placement! I will be in the city of Gwangyang teaching at Kwangyang High School, which is an all-boys high school. I am pretty excited about the prospect of living in a coastal city since this is something I have never really done before. There are not really any other ETAs in the same city (except one renewee that I have yet to meet) but they are only an hour or so away by bus so I will still be able to see a lot of them. I was told that my students English abilities may be very limited but hopefully it will be enough where we can somewhat understand each other. I will probably have relatively small class sizes (25ish compared to the normal 40) so I am very pleased about that. I will be teaching the 1st and 2nd graders (US equivalent of sophomores and juniors) and they will be leveled in Advanced and Regular classes.
I still don't know a whole lot about my city but I am finding things out bit by bit. I guess the foreigner community here is pretty tight knit so I will probably have a nice support system. Gwangyang is a port city with a lot of factories and other industrial type buildings. I am in the south Jeolla Province of Korea which is known for being coastal and allegedly has the best food so that is huge for me. There are about 138,000 people in Gwangyang so it is a big city for me and a suburb by Korean standards. The nearest big city is Gwangju which has 1.4 million people. Busan is also fairly close and it is the 2nd biggest city in Korea. I am excited to find out more about the area and when I do, I will try and post it on here.
Today was my last day of Taekwondo so our extra curriculars are starting to wrap up. I wasn't able to go as often as I would have liked these past couple of weeks because of Camp Fulbright and all these other things that were going on but I was able to go at least a couple times a week. We did some sparring today which was quite entertaining to watch and do. My round ended in a draw and apparently looked completely ridiculous. I thought we got points for punching but I guess we didn't so I will just blame that rather than my kicking inadequacies. TKD was fun but I think I will probably pursue other activities instead while I am in Gwangyang.
This past weekend, twenty-five or so other ETAs and some OCs went to Songnisan National Park where we hiked up Songnisan Mountain. It is a huge 3,400 mountain with crazy views from the top. Since I haven't uploaded any pics yet, I will let my friend yahoo images show you what it looked like up there:
It was definitely an arduous hike going up but it was worth it. Hiking is huge in Korea and there were tons of people out that day. Many of them were all decked out in full hiking gear complete with a pair of walking sticks and a visor. Hiking is definitely on my list of things to do for this year and my province has plenty of mountains that will allow me to do that. When we got back down, we went to our pension (motel/hostel thingy) and had some dinner and hung out for the evening. It was nice to just have a chill evening to relax with my buddies.
Other than that, nothing too new or exciting has happened. This week we are doing a bunch of cultural workshops about homestays and all sorts of neat things. We only have like two weeks left of orientation and then we are finished! We are heading to Seoul next week on Friday for our Graduation from Korean class, an office visit, DMZ tour, and more. Can't believe it is almost over already!