Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Typhoon Update & First Class

The big typhoon (태풍; taepung) that was expected to wreak havoc on the Korean peninsula ended up swinging a bit wide of land and traveled northward off the west coast (서안; seo-an). Here in Changwon, which is on the east coast (동안; dongan), we've been left basically unscathed. According to the weather report (일기 예보), Bolaven has already been downgraded from a typhoon to a tropical storm. It is currently drenching Seoul, the capital of South Korea which is far north of where I am, and will move on into China by tonight.

Having experienced summer typhoons in Asia previously, I was never really worried. During typhoons, my typical modus operandi is simply to stay inside and listen to the wind rage. It's kind of comforting and kind of bizarre to see many Koreans completely unperturbed. Last night, I watched the news with my host family; they were showing footage from Typhoon Maemi (메미), a catastrophic category-5 that hit in 2003. Seeing the floods and the incredible damage done almost ten years ago was kind of jarring, but otherwise the newscasters were very calm. They had a segment on demonstrating ways to prevent your windows from being shattered by high winds. Some of these methods include sticking wet newspapers (신문; shinmun) to your windows or reinforcing them with tape (it's like trussing, except it isn't...). I was highly skeptical of what tape and paper could do against 60mph winds, but my younger host brother was convinced. He gathered up old newspapers around the house and a huge bowl of water and was all ready to go before my host parents told him it wasn't necessary. Haha!

Anyway, everything at school is chill, too. My students live in on-campus dorms; they don't even have to go outside to get to the classrooms. So apart from wind rattling the windows on occassion, my classroom also remains unaffected by the typhoon.

Speaking of which, I did just teach my first class! It was a simple lesson on classroom rules and introductory questions. I had them ask me twenty questions about myself (of course, I got "Do you have a girlfriend?"), and then we played Human Bingo, which was a total hit. Surprisingly, my second-years have good English comprehension. I was expecting to have to explain things very, very simply, but all I did was talk at a lower speed and use cue words, and everything went smoothly. In fact, the class was so fun that it got really loud at one point, but I had neglected to teach them any sort of quiet-down signal, because I didn't expect to have to use one!

They say that science high school and advanced high school students' biggest problem is sleeping in class, because their intense studying schedules leave them exhausted daily. Well, my hope is to bring out as much energy as I can, and enthusiasm for learning English. I can see that they have it; I just have to tap into that potential. I hope my students like me, because I'm impressed with them already! It'll take me a while to learn all of their names, but with fewer than two hundred students total (about twenty-five in each class), I think I can do it.

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