Well I'm coming up on the end of my first week in the East, so here are my impressions thus far. I'll start with basic living conditions. My setup here is nothing short of incredible to the point of absurdity. The apartment I have been given has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, and a balcony. Not only am I the only one living there but the rent is half of what I paid for my cheapest Montreal apartment. High speed internet, which will most likely be set up by the end of the week, will run around 5$ a month. Things only get better once you head into town, as the food is both dirt cheap (indivudual items running around 1$-4$) and absolutely delicious. Both general and specialty items are quite cheap as well, I just purchased a 12 megapixel Olympus camera for around 200$.
Now on to the work. So far I have taught 2 kindegarten classes and 2 first grade classes. The kids are great, both in terms of behavior and enthusiasm in the classroom. Over the course of several conversations I have had with the school director, Lianne, I have begun to get a sense of the teaching philosophy here. Contrary to most American schools, the focus here is on comprehension rather than retention, which is an incredible relief for me. Rather than having to prepare the students for tests or some form of standardized evaluation, I can actually work on creating a truly effective learning environment. This is also bolstered by the fact that the school's curriculum only stipulates what I teach, not how. I pretty much have a free hand in creating my own games and classroom activities, and so far the feedback I have gotten on work has been quite good (one staff member made me blush a bit when she told me that it already felt like I had been teaching there for months rather than days).
Well that about does it for week one. Now that I am properly equiped in the camera department, pictures will start coming up asap.