You’ve been a lovely year. You began with great friends in the States, and now you’re ending with great friends here once again in Korea.
Thank you 2012, for amazing students who surprise me constantly, personal fulfillment, the ability to complete 50,000 word writing goals, and even more travel! You haven’t always been the easiest year, but you have definitely been an unforgettable one!
When I first came to Korea I had no idea what the weather was like, apart from the fact my friend Dan had lived there for a year in the past and assured me that Busan had beaches and in summer it was a good place to be. That probably explains some of the atrocious decisions I made when packing. I imagined a summer like in Europe, pleasantly warm and dry with a mild winter. One fur leopard coat is proving not to be warm enough against the winter winds that blow around every crook and cranny of Busan's jiggledy buildings and the shoes I brought for summer are all but ruined now after the monsoons and the humidity. With all of these things unthought of, I definitely oblivious to the fact that Korea would have a massive ski season here.
So, sometimes teaching becomes flat-out overwhelming. Kids are demanding, coworkers are demanding, and navigating an educational system in another language and culture can be pretty exhausting most days. Especially when you contemplate the fact that we have worked every weekday since October 4th with no day off and will only be getting the 25th for Christmas.
But then there are days like today.
Days when, surprisingly, the kids get their work done with a minimum of groaning and moaning. Days when I come out of my 5:50 class to find a student waiting to give me this:
This week at CEV it has not been a regular English Camp schedule. On Monday and Tuesday we taught kindergarten students for two forty minute periods. It was a little crazy but a lot of fun. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing but I really enjoyed myself. The students are really cute. They didn’t understand the fact I couldn’t understand them speaking Korean. They knew many English nursery rhymes so I spent the lessons singing and dancing with them!
We spent the remainder of our working week taking part in a variety of community voluntary projects. On Wednesday all of the foreign and Korean staff from CEV went to a rehabilitation centre to help out. The women assisted in the kitchen handing out lunch to the service users and the men washed the company vans. I think the women got a better deal as it was minus 4 degrees outside!
… and not just because my Mom says I’m a winner, although she does.
Tomorrow is the last day of National Novel Writing Month and I am not worried because thanks to yesterday’s marathon writing, I am finished!! On the 28th I wrote just shy of 5,000 words and crossed the line into 50,000 word territory! The novel isn’t finished by any means, but it’s hopefully a good chunk of the way there. This month really has taught me a lot about writing a novel and even gave me ideas about future novels.
Here it is. 9 days left in my marathon that is the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a 50,000 word novel. The way things look right now, I think I’ve hit the wall. It’s funny how hitting the proverbial wall makes me want to hit a real wall. 9 DAYS! That seems like zero time at all right now. I feel like it’s going to be more like 9 hours instead. This is the first time since I started where I’m not entirely sure I’m going to be able to finish on time.
…a little crazy, and I wouldn’t want them any other way. The other day after a ten-minute break between Elementary classes, I come in to see this on my white board. It’s the cover of the book we’re currently reading and it’s really great.
I know I couldn’t draw that well in 2nd grade, or probably even now. Especially with teaching Kindergarten, I tend to focus on the refined art of coloring.
I liked it so much that I made sure my little ones didn’t erase it. And apart from an accidental smudge or two, it stayed relatively intact, which is kind of a miracle.
Ever wondered what "Gangnam Style" looks like when 2nd - 5th grade Korean elementary school kids perform it at a talent show?! If so, then today's your luck day! Introducing the Dance Kidz Club after school class performing it at last Friday's talent show!
PS. "Gangnam" is actually NOT pronounced gang-nam. It's pronounced gong-nam. I can't help it! Sometimes the teacher side of me comes out, even in my blogging! Happy Monday from Korea!
A few weeks ago was October’s Birthday Party for our Kindergarten classes, and this coming Friday will be November’s Birthday Party. This means lots of pictures, fried chicken and kimbap for lunch, Birthday cake, and a ceiling full of balloons.
So, just in case you’re curious, here’s what a typical day in Busan looks like for the two of us. It’s a drastically different schedule from the one we kept in Lenoir, and while we miss some things (Iike Friday night lights at HHS), there are a lot of liberating aspects of this life we got here.
8:00: We wake up. Usually. Sometimes we sleep as late as 8:30, especially if it’s Wednesday or Friday and we don’t have hapkido.
9:00 or so: On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, we head out to catch the bus to hapkido. This involves a ten minute walk to the bus stop (there is a bus closer but it’s so obscenely crowded at this hour that we prefer to walk a little farther) and a twenty minute bus ride to the Gwanganli neighborhood of Busan. Sometimes there’s a stop at the post office on the way to the dojang if we have something to send.
I love school supplies. Call me a nerd if you want, but every year, even all through college, one of the things I most looked forward to before each school year was shopping for school supplies.
New pens and highlighters are fabulous, new binders and organizers leave me elated, and a fresh notebook full of clean pages almost makes me weak in the knees. Give me something cute and functional like a USB stick that looks like a Lego block, and I am over the moon. There have been years while during the “Back to School” season, I’m pretty sure I was more excited to shop for new supplies than new clothes. I mean I did get a minor in List-Making at University, and I have a notebook in my purse pretty much all of the time.
I got to my desk this morning and was promptly told that my 3rd and 4th period classes were cancelled. Then, my 2nd period class never showed up! AWESOME! Just when I thought I was free and clear to have the whole day to play around, I was handed a GIANT pile of tests to grade! 7 classes worth to be exact, with between 30-40 questions each. That's 245 questions to check if you do the math! This wouldn't be such a big deal, except for the fact that Korean's don't just check the wrong answers, they circle the right answers too! (Grading tests this way literally takes about 10 times longer!) Oh, and it has to be done with a red crayon, Nothing else will do!
It’s that time of year were I teach evening class. This is an extra class addition to English Camp. I teach nine pupils for one hour, 7.20-8.20 pm and I teach the same students for six weeks. It’s a nice change because when I teach in the day at English Camp I teach different students every week and I never become familiar with any of them. In Evening Class I am able to get to know them a little more, which is nice. Also in Evening Class we don’t have a set curriculum so I get to teach whatever I want. This is much more interesting. As it is October I have been able to incorporate Halloween into my lessons. It has been so much fun!
I love making playlists. I love trying to find perfect songs to fit certain moods, and I love a good theme. A goodbye party, a mix for flying back home from Korea, or even a ‘6-am during a Chicago Winter and I have to go to work pump up’ mix, I will gladly craft a playlist to help enhance any occasion or mood (or at least I’ll try my hardest to do so). So I wanted to share some of my favorite travel songs that are almost always on any travel themed playlist I make.
Yesterday we had our school Halloween Party. As part of the party there was a singing contest where each class sang a song. Everyone did such a great job, and the little ones were super cute. I was very impressed with all the classes- since we had little over a week to practice. One of the classes did the Who’s “Boris the Spider” which was awesome to have these little kids basically growling.
Basically, this is what happens when I am told I can pick any Halloween song for my Kindergartens:
We finished strong- even though some of the kids were very shy.
This week is definitely not the calm before the NaNoWriMo Storm. In fact, there is a lot of things to do, most of them not involved with writing.
Tomorrow is my school’s Halloween party. There will be lots of pictures, as it promises to be awesomely insane. Not only will there be a scary haunted house, and crafts, but also an inflatable bouncy tiger thing (yes I asked, that is its real name).
The other day I was sat at my desk happily minding my own business when the vice principle shuffled in and smiled at me. He paused at my desk as if preparing to say something to me, thought better of it and turned to my coteacher.
I heard my name mentioned a few times and when I turned he did another suspicious smile at me. Then Grace, my coteacher, translated the message 'You must look pretty on Monday'. I was sat with unkempt hair, in an outfit I had thrown on in 2 minutes that morning, so wasn't quite sure how to take the comment, but I just smiled at him and he looked relieved and left.
Every school year at Namsung they throw four event days in the English department. Last week was our third one of the year. From previous experience I knew what to expect, late nights decorating, lots of last minute of packing goody bags for the kids and tweaking our costumes. For the teachers it's pretty hard going, for weeks before hand you need to drill into the kids songs, dialogues and games they'll perform in each room, repeating the same thing two times an hour for 5 hours a day, and then the late nights planning it before hand, but for the kids I imagine that it's pretty magical.
… you talk about a lot of weird things, and here is a taste courtesy of my crazy and loveable little monsters.
1. I asked my kids the other day what my Halloween costume should be. Some of the answers include:
a giraffe, a marker, Ironman, a table, a window (can you tell they were just looking around the classroom?)and my favorite- A TOOTHBURSH. Part of me wants to try to make a toothbrush headpiece to really surprise them. I would not be the first according to the Internet.
I'd heard horror stories of sports days in Korea from friends who had been surprised on the day and asked to participate. Sometimes with incredibly humiliating consequences. Others had been given their own special tracksuit in preparation for the day.
Therefore I was rather wary when we were told that it was sports day and maybe we should wear a tracksuit and trainers. I had flashbacks to my fourteen year old self where I would be a nervous wreck on sports day, never being forthcoming about taking part in anything for fear of showing myself up. Or just demonstrating how utterly atrocious I was at sport. Is it hop, then skip and jump or jump, then hop and skip? By the time I'd had that mental dialogue with myself I was on my backside in a sand pit, having put my foot over the line. Bum.
I teach an after school English class for some of the more advanced students in my elementary school. Today, we played the game 3 Truths and A Lie. I told them to write down 3 true sentences and 1 lie. We didn't have enough time to read them outloud in class today and guess which sentence was the lie, so I collected their papers and tucked them away for next week's class... but not before reading a few to see what they came up with!