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The 6th graders all came to school this morning to find out which of the 4 neighborhood Middle Schools they'll be attending in March. (It's done by a lottery system in Korea and their elementary school teachers tell them). My entire hallway erupted, for at least an hour, with the loudest screams as the students found out which middle school they were assigned. They seemed to be either really excited, or really bummed about the news...  Either way, it was the SAME sounding, blood curdling, scream!  Gotta love overly dramatic Korean preteens! blog-signature

Don’t You Want to Be in Kindergarten?

I haven’t written much in the past few days because I’ve been greatly involved in this cool activity known as sleeping.  I don’t know if it’s the flu shot I recently got (better late than never, right?) or if I’m still trying to readjust after coming back from vacation, or the fact that I am a teacher and therefore run around all day.  Either way, I’ve been falling asleep by 10:30 the last few nights.

My 2012: While you were busy Googling ‘What is a Gangnam?’…

New Year Update

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Our first meeting
Because of doing the Japan blogs I've not had chance to say much else about what's happening at the moment.

We are in the throws of Winter Camp here, which means working 9-1:30 with lots of different classes, teaching lots of different things which is proving to be lots more interesting than regular school. I think the hours tip me into prefering Camp too.

The Norebang, Or How Koreans Do Business Meetings

Last Thursday, we had a schoolwide dinner meeting.  Unlike the American public schools I’ve worked for, our employers at the hagwon usually spring for a pretty elaborate dinner at a fairly nice restaurant.  And, as anyone who has ever eaten at any Korean restaurant knows, if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault.  Thursday’s selections, spicy beef and pork ribs, did not disappoint.

Thank You 2012

Dear 2012,

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!

December Memories: CHRISTMAS DAY

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas everyone! These are some of the fabulous people
that i spent my first Christmas in Busan with. I had an
amazing day filled with good food, drink, games
and skype chats.

High 1 Skiing

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.

The Reason

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:



I’ll transcribe the text for you, errors and all:


December Memories: Day 14

London Red Bus
Two 2nd graders on their way to London for the event day. Cute!

December Memories: Day 13

English Obama
Tash and I had no input into this semester's English themed Event Day preparations so
were surprised to be met with this when we walked in. No wonder

Community Voluntary Projects

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!

There’s a Raccoon in My Building

…and it was super cute!


The other day after I had parked my bike in the parking lot, I saw this adorable little raccoon toddling along to her Mom’s car outside my school’s building.


December Memories: Day 3

Cute Korean Second Graders
Most of the time my 2nd grade class are monsters but I can't deny how adorable
they are in matching polka dot coats and bows!

I’m A Winner!

… 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.

I now present to you...

My adorable Korean students and their even more adorable, talents! :)

I now present to you...

My adorable Korean students and their even more adorable, talents! :)

Hitting the Wall

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.

My Kids are…

…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.

Gangnam Style... Talent Show Style!

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!   

Sucking It Up

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.

A Day in the Life

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.

“Call Me Maybe, Teacher?” -Phone Teaching with Korean Students-

Liebster Award

Grading Papers - Korean style!

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!

Evening Class

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!

5 Awesomely Awesome Things: Travel Songs Edition

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.


1. “California”- Joni Mitchell:

We Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts!

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.

Heavy Rainfall Before “Hurricane Busy”

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).


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