Thursday, July 16, 2009

SMOE Orientation in Seoul, South Korea: my packing list for the orienation-quarantine-24/7 lock down . . .

Yesterday I had an interview with SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Education Office). It went well, and I think I got the job.

During the interview I was asked if I had any questions. My only real question was about how SMOE intends to manage the mass influx of foriegn teachers fresh off the plane and packed into one location for an entire week with H1N1 making its global rounds . . . all it takes is one infected person and things begin to get interesting . . .

My sense of what I heard is that the orientation is going to double as a quarantine. That the foreign teachers attending the orientation will be under a 24 hours a day lock down . . .

I also learned that there will likely be Korean medical staff present at the orientation to do medical checks for all the foreign teachers (instead of later after the orientation, though I'm also betting that some schools will still try to force their teachers to get another done anyway) at the orientation. The medical staff may also be staying for the duration of the orientation to do daily temperature checks of the foreign teachers to see if anyone is getting sick . . .

I imagine that a fair number of the foreign teachers at the orientation will be people who have already been living and teaching in Korea for a while so they won't be too shocked by the differences in medical treatment culture . . . but for the newbies I wonder how they'll react when they're still jet-lagged and suddenly get to experience the very open and very public style of medical checks that usually happens.

With all this in mind I've begun making a mental list of what I'm going to bring with me,

1. lap top
2. movies and TV shows on DVD
3. snacks: chocolate, crackers, etc.
4. a ton of books: novels, and a few academic books to exercise my brain
5. hand sanitizer
6. cans of tuna, ramyeon noodles
7. my camera
8. meds: tylenol, gravol, etc (though from other foreign teachers postings on quarantine it seems like they might not let me use them . . . we'll see about that)
9. decks of playing cards
10. my Xbox .. . maybe ....

And the brainstorming continues . . .

If hundreds of teachers fresh off the plane are packed into an orientation . . . I think we can pretty much expect that at least one of them is going to be an H1N1 carrier . . .

I'm sure I'll have some pretty interesting posts during the last week of August . . .



Mark Eaton said...

Clever, the duality of the orientation.

Brian said...

You must have a bottomless suitcase.

Matt said...

there's no difference between this year and any other year except for the "checkups" that you mention.

every year SMOE forbids its new NSET teachers from leaving the Hyundai training complex (ie: orientation compound) for the entirety of the one week program.

and of course, they have a doctor on hand although there have never been "checkups."

these "checkups" are probably just hearsay, too. i would be surprised if your temperature is checked more than when you first arrive.

the orientation compound has a small store with snacks and cigarettes and such. there are limited toiletries. last year i didn't bring any towels because i knew i could get them at emart so i was stuck using a small complimentary handtowel to dry myself the whole week.

at the overwhelming complaint of NSETS, the compound store also stocked up on calling cards and plug adapters by the 3rd day.

the compound has a gym, a pc bang, limited entertainment and some sports. it was a shitty week and i don't envy you.

however - i don't think this orientation should be described in any light that connects it with H1N1.

Jason said...

"however - i don't think this orientation should be described in any light that connects it with H1N1."

I don't get it. If medical staff are brought in, and are there every day checking temperatures, and the rules are even more strict for the teachers at the orientation--isn't that primarily due to H1N1?

I realize that the lock down thing won't be a change--but the conditions of the lock down might be a bit different . . .

I guess only time will tell, eh?


Jason R said...

Hello Jason,
Thanks for the heads-up.
You better not be bring H1N1 lol
Once I've got my visa sorted I might still have time to book a flight to Seoul in time for the induction programme.

Have a good'n

p.s. There's a group on Facebook you might be interested in joining.Search 'Fall 2009 SMOE English Teachers'

Christopher said...

Yah! Bring your xbox! 360? I'm going to orientation and I haven't played video games for so long. do you have NHL 09? if you're canadian isn't it a must? I miss hockey and xbox so much..

Jason said...

Hi Chris,

I don't know if I'm going to bring my xbox or not. It takes up a lot of space in a suitcase, etc.

We'll see . . . . . .

See you there,