Sunday, August 30, 2009

Boys in the 'hood

(above: my classroom; below: a restroom door at school; think you'd see this logo at a high school in the States?)

Tug and I have been on the edge of Seoul (the school's in the city but the apartment's not) for six days now, and it's a best of times, not-so-best of times situation. The neighborhood is great, but it's a major, major endeavor to go anywhere to say, buy a book, see a movie, or see any sights.

I'll talk about the drawbacks in my next post; for now, here's the good stuff, which on a day-to-day basis far outweighs the bad. Though my apartment's quite small, now that things are tucked away, if they get me that wardrobe they've been promising (I'm still living out of suitcases) it will be pretty homey. Tug's starting to settle in: he's beginning to sleep somewhere other than under the bed; in fact, I woke up this morning with him curled up next to me, for the first time ever.

I have a window over my bed and a sliding door to a tiny balcony, both of them facing west, over a nice little park with basketball and tennis courts, a flower walk, and a lot of lively little kids on bikes and skates. It gets quiet by 10 p.m. or so, though.

Past the park? Mountains at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock. (No, they're there all the time; I mean that as geographical orientation.)

A few blocks to my left is LG's research-and-development campus, with a 30-story building that faces my street, so it's easy to orient myself from anywhere in the area. Costco, E-Mart, and an upscale collection of shops in two ten-story buildings are near there, about six blocks from home.

On this misty, moisty Sunday morning I just discovered something wonderful: a few blocks to my right is a path that runs for miles along a stream, with banks of wild vegetation on either side topped in many spots by rows of greenhouses. I saw a great blue heron and two egrets this morning. (So much for the old song lyric, "But when it's raining, have no egrets.") Most of the path is rubberized material, so it's one of the best places for running (which I did, in a cool gentle rain) I've seen. It leads into Citizen's Forest Park, which is full of trees, grass, and winding trails, near my school.

Speaking of the school, it's a three-minute walk from my apartment to the main street, and another three minutes to school. I get an hour for lunch each day and will be able to come home to eat if I want.

The school itself practically looks like something from Star Trek: Next Gen. The faculty signs in and out with security cards, the students with a thumb scanner, and all the facilities are spanking-new, which may be unfortunate, as we are one of the few schools in the country that doesn't use corporal punishment.

I got the room I wanted, at the end of the hallway, a kind of trapezoid with windows on the south and east-northeast. (I'm not sure, though; it could be somewhere between east-northeast and east-east-northeast; it's hard to say.)

Orientation for the kids is tomorrow; then come the regular school days, which on the face of it will be enjoyable and have a very easy schedule. I've never done a block schedule before, so I may have to work at filling 90 minutes, but get this: On "A" days I have English 7, English 9, 90 minutes of planning time (150 minutes, really, as it segues with lunch), and American lit honors. On "B" days, I have 90 minutes' planning, Creative Writing, 90 (150) minutes' planning, and an alternating schedule of clubs (in my case, newspaper), study hall, and an informal speech class, which I'm syllabizing (syllabusizing?) for the whole school.

Best of all, we're taking a three-day school trip to Jeju Island, which is known as Korea's Hawaii, at the end of September, as long as fears over H1N1, which have already caused some schools to close for a few days, don't make the administration cancel it. I like my coworkers, too, which is a big thing, of course. So all in all, it's a pretty darn good situation.

(below: the view from my balcony; not what you anticipate when you hear the phrase "second-most populous metro area in the world")
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