22 December 2005

A Foggy Christmas

Tomorrow I have 3 Elementary and 1 Kindergarden demonstration lessons. My current supervisor, the supervisor for the new SLP plus others will watch and assess my teaching. This did not happen at my last hagwon, so I am feeling a tad nervous. At least my cold is starting to clear, ready for me to sing 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer' with a bunch of 5 year olds.

Immigration have finished checking my documents and have confirmed that everything is ok. However, it may take them a while to produce the actual certificate inviting me to work here, as they have a backlog of work. No one, including the supervisors know exactly when I will get the certificate, thus I still do not know when I have to make the trip to Japan. A date for moving to my new apartment and thus the new SLP in Jeungnam (or whatever it is called) has not been set either, thought it seems that Mr Lee wants us working there on Monday 2nd January. Everything is foggy and uncertain, and typically I will be told last minute exactly what is going on.

18 December 2005

In my p'al, pal!

Friday was rounded off with all of the Kindergarden staff going out for a meal together. The purpose of the get-together was to celebrate the success of the Kindergarden Christmas plays of last Friday, which I had no hand in. Nonetheless, I was invited anyway, and everyone including myself were made to give a short speech. Afterwards, a small group of us went to a Hoff to play card games, but the lady who owned the place said that even though we had ordered drinks and anju, she was not happy about us playing there.

Saturday my cold felt worse; a friend of mine took me to the doctor's, who said that I am fine and that I have just a cold. The nurse wanted to shove a needle in my derriere (typical Korean style) but I kicked up a stink until she agreed to put it my arm (p'al). "많이 앞아요?/Does it hurt alot?" she enquired. "No, it's fine" I said. She could not believe me.

The weather on saturday was terrible; the wind howled and lashed at my face, making my throat drier and more painful. Sunday was spent sleeping off my cold, aparently missing the snowfall, and unfortunately the play that I was invited to go to.

I still have not worked out what I am going to do for Christmas...

14 December 2005

Mild turbulance

I got through immigration without any problems, and was met at arrivals by my agency contacts' non-English speaking sister, who was quick to inform me that she was suffering with a cold. I too felt a bit of something coming on towards the end of my flight, but I could not tell if it was the air-conditioning on the aeroplane, or if I have caught something nasty from my grandmother.

I had no sleep on the aeroplane and am having to force myself to stay awake to 9-10pm ish (2 hours 20 minutes to go....). When I arrived I discovered that I am only training at Gwanak SLP, and will start working at the new SLP branch once it has finished being refurbished, and once I have my E2 visa. Memories came flooding back of a conversation I had with the boss about starting at a new place, but I was under the impression that Gwanak is the new branch, due to Gwanak being on my contract. In between the confusion of language barrier and the frustration of a quiet connection between my boss' phone and my parents' in England, and explaining to Mr Lee, and the vice president Catherine that the agency had forwarded me the contract with 'Gwanak SLP' typed in where the name of the other branch should be....(and why did he not notice himself?) I have decided to go with the flow, as long as a) I don't run out of money and b) that everything gets done legally.

The accommodation I am currently occupying is thus temporary. It is a room on the top floor of the school that has been converted into living space for emergencies. The plus side is that I will turn up for my training on time. The down side is that I am not able to produce a private phone number or address as I have neither. I wonder how long I will be in that room for. At any rate, it explains the elusiveness over my address....the boss probably hasn't organised my accommodation for the new place either.

When I see him I have a list of questions that need definate answers.

10 December 2005

Bumpy Take-Off

New website, new look, new photograph that seems to be taking a while to replace the old one. Just as well; the new photograph is a passport photo, complete with coal-sacks under my eyes, moutainous zit, and murderous expression. All this is rehearsal for my new teaching position at Gwanak SLP. The unfortunate thing is that I generally look terrible on photographs, no matter the type of camera used or the amount of air-brushing. This and the last one are the best photographs of me, taken 5 years apart. Really...it has taken that long. The design of the blog may change again, as I am planning on letting my web designer-friend lose on it.

I arrive in Korea 14th December, having been offered this teaching position after only setting foot in England for 4 days. After that I will have to make a trip to Japan (unescorted) for the visa run, as my typically Korean boss does not have the patience to allow me to wait in my own country, nor the common sense to interview and hire someone at least 2 months before they are needed to start working. Processing of the immigration certificate is taking a long time, so I am not clear when exactly I can fly to Japan and visit the Korean Embassy with it. Still, I should look on the bright side; I have a free trip to Japan, when I wanted to visit Japan anyway.

I have twice asked for the address of my flat in Korea, and both times the question has been evaded. I wonder if they actually have somewhere to put me, or if I will spend my first few weeks in a love motel. I think to myself 'don't be ridiculous, you are working for SLP'. However, if there is one thing I have learned about my relationship with Korea, it is to expect the unexpected (like compensating for my boss' disorganisation by flying to Japan for my E2 visa).

Despite the rather bumpy take-off, I hope to have a smooth journey this year. I hope to continue my Korean language studies, with some help from Korean friends. Moreover, I am really looking forward to catching up with friends in Gunsan and Seoul.

I think I should take the time to explain my silly web address for this site. Maum-ui chingu is Korean for 'Soul-mate'. Soul...Seoul...geddit? I am sure that many other people who are living in Seoul have set up a website trying to make a pun with the name of Korea's capital city. This is the best my limited imagination could produce, with 'Louise's Seoul' as the title. This has probably been done before, and if it has, I apologise to the owner(s). Any suggestions for a better title and/or web address gratefully received. Winning suggestion gets a years supply of kimchi. (Don't hold me to that, though).