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Fall Approaching

This morning the air is a bit breezy and cool, which means Fall is on its way here. I don't hear any cicadas buzzing, well just a few, but with it not being so deafening anymore this is also a sign of the changing seasons.

The first week back to work went all right with a few jolts to remind me that I am teaching first grade. The kid's levels have been changed and there are new groups now. Overall, most of them are descent but there is one that is just pure awfulness. However, I have good feelings for this semester which is helped by the prep work I have done and the experience behind me.

Fall Semester Comes

As I woke up semi-late this morning (7:45 AM) I knew tomorrow was going to be a work day. Usually I am woken by Tom nudging me or climbing on top of me to get a good petting in before the day starts. On work days I can only give him that good petting for a short little time. But I am not here to complain, just saying my lovely two weeks of vacation are quickly ending.

I feel this vacation was especially good for me because I feel balanced out. The free time allowed me to understand what transpired during the last semester and what I need to focus on for the next. I feel mentally ready to take on the challenges.

What is Jeju Jet Lag?

When coming back from a trip to Jeju Island one might experience, "Jeju jet lag" as I am having right now. What is this? You might be asking, since Jeju is just about 50 minutes away by plane from Seoul and doesn't require one to change time zones. Well then, let me enlighten you.

Jeju jet lag is a mental and physical condition where one experiences the rush that comes with leaving Jeju and arriving back in Seoul. The body will immediately feel toasty from all the sunburns but also tired from all the hiking, walking and swimming. The mind will feel a sense of nostalgia for the Jeju country side and vast green spaces. Also, ones mind will feel the readjustment of being back in the urban jungle of Seoul.

To cure Jeju jet lag I recommend heading home, taking a good cleansing shower and hitting the hay. If you have to pick up two cats along the way (one is yours...the other your friend's) for cat sitting, then so be it.

Off to some island out there...

So I am going to Jeju for 5 days and not bringing my computer. I am sure you can put two-and-two together. Whatever you are doing for the next week just enjoy it, okay!

Last Few Days of Camp Finally

There are just three more days of camp and thank goodness! Although, tiring and often mind-boggling strange, the camp has been going pretty well. I have learned what the low-levels need and how better to pace myself for them. They take time to process the English and I try to give it to them in a slow yet understandable manner. But mostly they want to learn through games, crafts and activities. I guess that is true for all first-graders.

Camp, as mentioned earlier, wasn't planned very well even though the planning committee did do hard work. I want to step up for winter camp and plan some new stuff for them, but am trying to lay-low so not to seem like a pushy person.

All This Idling Time

You finish work and you go home. What do you do? You should go to the gym and exercise. You should study Korean or do some painting.

Mostly what happens to me is that I sit back and think about my past. It's not just homesickness but the feeling that you are getting older and further away from everyone and everything in your past. Then you end up listening to a podcast and hear the following song by Adele. The rainy weather might be affecting me but generally sometimes my life in Korea makes me feel isolated and lonely. Maybe that is why I push so hard to get out on the weekend and why I am always reading other folk's blogs.

Oh my! They took off their shoes.

"The road closures and sporadic public transportation made commuters late for work, and people took off their shoes and socks in offices to dry them."

My iPhone Alternative

I really thought I didn't need such a thing as an iPhone, mostly because I have an iPod and a phone and really people don't call me that much. But then my friend was snazzily working away at her iPhone looking at a map and Googling something there on the street. I thought to myself, "Maybe I could use such a thing when I go to Jeju. In case I get lost."

Thus ensued a trip yesterday to the KT headquarters in Gwanghwamun with my friend and her Korean boyfriend (who was kind enough to help me.)

Recent Artworks

JH really likes the one up there, and I call the following, "leaf flowers".

First Semester is OVER!

My gosh did it go so fast! I am really pleased that this semester has come to an end. Of course, kind of not looking forward to three weeks of camp with the same group of kids. But, in essence the toils and trials of everyday work will not come to me again till September.

Things I've Learned:
First graders do require a lot of energy, but you don't have to put on a show all the time. They like games and things for them to do that can keep their minds and hands busy. Teaching at a private elementary school has a lot of benefits when compared to my previous job. I have enjoyed the lack of coteaching and love being in control of my own classroom. However, I have not escaped the Korean workplace and still encounter many snafus related to this. I've learned that patience is the key and one can be strict with the students but not take it emotionally. 

Mom Sent a Package

A while ago my mom sent a package with all sorts of stuff in it for JH and I. She mostly wanted to send him good wishes for his birthday, which was back in April.

The Rain Pours

I am okay with rainy weather. I would rather be soaked to the bone in a downpour than freezing my butt off in sleety-icy rain.

But the rain brings one to notice that it is definitely summer and the months are trucking along. Already my first semester at job #4, in Korea, is nearly over. I have learned so much about myself and what it is like to really be a teacher. Also, I am really proud of my accomplishments at the job.

In life, things seem to putter along quite nicely as well. Although, JH and I still find ourselves at odds with how to spend our weekend time together. There are also a lot of personal developments between us but I don't want to share it yet.

A week vacation is on the horizon, followed by three weeks of camp and then two more weeks of vacation. I am looking forward to a slow down in work life.

Cat Sleepover

Hamster's mom found herself a new job and so was moving this weekend. Actually, Hamster's name is now Kaiju. This meant that the third brother of the kitty-cat trio got to stay at my house with his brother Tom.

When I brought Kaiju home Friday evening at first Tom wasn't sure what thing was walking around his house. He followed Kaiju around and finally the two had at it. It wasn't aggressive fighting but more like brotherly love. However, their rumblings lasted all night which wasn't helpful for my already exhausted body.

Win Them With Your Smile

Open classes are over! All that stress and anticipation has left me like a deep drop in a waterfall. Anyways, I might be bad at making metaphors right now because I really can't believe the results.

I was praised by the parents and the principals. I was told they especially liked me and really liked my smile. Imagine! All I had to do was prop up a huge smile the whole time.

Actually, it is kind of a life-story of mine that I win people over with my smile but that I always forget this. During class even when awkward or bad things happened I just smiled at it and got the kids back on pace. There were a few mishaps, I finished a little early at the start and one kid cried in the afternoon.

Life of Tom

JH said it perfectly yesterday, "I wish I could trade lives with Tom and Tiger." Tom's life is pretty serene and well taken care of.

He is getting past his kittenness and sleeping a lot during the daytime, already having his favorite spots.

Open Class Coming and other Work Stuff

As you can see spring has been good to me with fun trips to places here and there. The warm weather has helped calm my mood and ease my mind when it comes to work rambles. The job is puttering on like a well greased machine, with a few hiccups here and there.

But a big bump in the road is coming up, and that would be open class. It's not my first time with this kind of job-related aspect, but I definitely feel like this one will be more serious. For one the people who will be observing me are the parents, and since they pay for their kids education I can only guess their gaze will be mighty. The open class is not till next month, but I am already in the thick of planning it. We are given the liberty to do whatever we want, even can break away from our regularly scheduled plan. However, I am planning on sticking with the schedule but making sure there are interactive activities involved.

Recent Artworks

Ever since I came back to Korea, back in February, I have been itching to document my works of art from the past few years here. As you may recall I documented works from long ago while I was on vacation back in the States, but left my Korean works back in Korea. Anyways, I finally got out today during the morning hours and photographed my works. It was a bit fun trying to do this while people passed by. I did it in the park nearby where the sun was shining very well on a particular park bench.

New Design and Layout

Hi everyone, I've messed around a little bit with Blogger today and I've decided to change the look of the page. It's not really that big of a change, but I'd still love to have your opinions! I'll probably be tweaking a few more things over the next few days.
The colors used in the logo are from a traditional Korean Seakdong (색동), Saekdong is a type of multicolor pattern used to make traditional vests (저고리) such as this one:

Two Months Have Passed

Two months have passed at the new job and it feels good. Except, the children are still acting out now and then. Well, I know this will never really change. I think I am just starting to get a little burnt out.

No really, things are in a routine these days and I am starting to see that teaching first graders math isn't too hard.

Anyways, next week promises a couple of vacation days. Where will I go?

Job Satisfaction

Maybe it is because I didn't have six classes as usual today or that spring is here. I am sure there is a reason but whatever it is I feel really satisfied with my job in Korea, right now. It's the fourth job and I suppose after many trials and errors I have come to a point where I like my work. I wasn't trained to be a teacher but I feel I have learned and survived through enough that I am capable of the job.

I guess it could be that the kids are transitioning out of their kindy-selves and into first graders. Really, though I feel like this job suits me and I am starting to enjoy being in a room full of feisty children. One thing though that has really helped is that I don't do any coteaching anymore. I don't have to worry about coordinating things with someone who doesn't understand me and won't take the time to try.

Spring morning

I am happy it is Spring, finally. I am not happy I have some kind of sinus congestion thing.

Tom needs to go to the vet for his check up and I want to prance in the park. I hope some of those things happen this weekend. :)

The Afternoon That Got Swept Away

Although getting home at five PM is pretty sweet compared to most jobs in life, my afternoon today was a little bit different from usual. I was thinking of going to Lotte Mart to pick up some things, but then decided I didn't feel like eating dinner there. When I entered the entrance of my apartment complex the Ahjusshi was there along with another fellow. The Ahjusshi asked me something, but I didn't know what he was saying. However, it sounded pretty serious. The only thing I made out of it was a number, and so I figured he needed some payment.

Actually, when I moved in the previous teacher/tenant gave me a bag of money and a payment slip. He told me to head to the management office and pay it next month. Well time has passed, and I did go to the management office last month. But they only took half my payment. So I figured the Ahjusshi today was trying to get me to pay the rest.


It's April and that means a full month has gone by at my new job. I have to say a lot has transpired within that time. I panicked and worked at a stressed pace the first three weeks and then started to get my bearings. Also for some reason I thought I had to go slower in the book, but it turns out I should have been going faster.

That brings me to today where I realized that since I need to cover about four pages per class that there will be little time for extra activities and games. One way you can look at this is that the children will miss out on having a good time, but you can also see it as I don't have to spend so much time planning. Before I was trying to find key points to address about the math they were learning and bring it to them in a way that developed their English. Now I see I will just try to make sure they are speaking and creating the Math-English while we work in the book. I am sure I can squeeze in a fun game or craft somewhere amongst that.

Not On An Island

Today I am feeling a bit better, consciously not physically, about these conundrums at work. Our school has put together committees of teachers to assess things like curriculum, camp and other topics. I am on the curriculum committee and we had our first meeting today.

After talk of what we will do and such rituals we came to a discussion of the woes-of-work. So it is that I found out my troubles are not isolated and this is basically how the school functions. Everyone said they had issues with bad students and groups and that it is tough to get them involved. Alongside this everyone experiences the murky communication amongst the departments. In essence, I am not alone in my troubles and probably shouldn't have thought so anyways.

Culmination of Challenges

Today I am writing this post but if things go grammatically wrong do forgive me. Work has been culminating into a pool of half good and half bad. The good half are the groups of children that function in the classrooom, and the bad half are the groups of children that are dysfunctional in the classroom. What has ended up happening is that the bad half drains the life out of me and makes me wish I wasn't a teacher.

The good half, on the other hand makes me feel warm inside when a toothless-girl smiles at me and we giggle together. This half makes me believe that I can transform the subject of "Math" and turn it into "Math English." I feel hopeful and full of life!

The Children, The Classroom

 So cute with their missing teeth...

Tom's Furball News

 Tom here! Meowwwww

I am herezz to talk about my Mummy Joy. Okay okay she said I should stop talking in catzz speak.

Joy seems to be doing well these days and not as stressed. I recall seeing her last week at the L-shaped box thingy with flashy-lights. Plus she kept on pushing me off the bed, but nowadays let's me rest on her chest. Well sort-of.

There is this guy who comes over and stares at the L-shaped thingy too, eats the food she cooks and then disappears again.

Mrawwweow..... Oh sorry I thought I heard something in the kitchen. Ah yes that was mom cleaning again.

She wants to remind you guys that she is past 900 posts on the blog and whenever it gets to a 1000 that will be a grand day.

Tom the Laptop

I have yet to purchase a desk for my home. Instead of a nice comfortable place to do my work I have been completing it on my bed. Tom seems to find this a fun advantage for him, as instead of my laptop making it onto my lap, Tom gets there first most often. Usually the following picture is how I look while I try to get ahead on my lesson planning.

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