Tag Archives: Korea

Father’s Day… bah humbug

March 3, 2000: The day that made me forever feel sad, lonely, and, I have to admit, a bit resentful on every single Father’s Day that has come and gone since.

I foolishly hoped that moving to Korea, where they don’t celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, (they have Parents’ Day in May) I could escape those feelings this year, but, of course, this is the era of social media, which means I’m never truly all that far from home. So, even though it’s still Saturday night on the other side of the Pacific, my Facebook news feed is already filled with people thanking their fathers and/or husbands for being great dads, and people changing their profile pics to ones with their dad. I don’t have any digital pics of me with mine, unfortunately, so I can’t even do that. 😦 So, here I am, yet again, feeling resentful toward every girl out there who still has their daddy, and missing mine even more than I do on a daily basis. And, instead of having Korea be a safe haven where I can escape displays of a happiness that I can’t feel on this day anymore, being here has actually compounded the loneliness I feel every Father’s Day, because I’m all by myself while my family is together for our annual golf tournament. Last year at this time I was being “serenaded” my nephew D and my cousin O, with a chorus of “Trea to Korea, Trea to Korea…” Granted, they were doing it to be brats cuz they were hassling my oldest brother and I hassled them back on his behalf, but damn, what I wouldn’t give to hear that sassy little refrain right about now.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret being here in Korea. I love it here. It’s a beautiful country with lots of things to do and see, and I’ve met some wonderful people that have made being in a country whose language I don’t speak much less lonely, and often quite the opposite. The decision I made a little over a year ago to uproot my comfortable little living situation and move to the other side of the globe was one of my better ones. But life is what it is, so that means sometimes it’s awesome being here, and other times it’s hard. Today, I’m just having one of those moments where it’s kind of hard.

I miss my Dad. After 14 years, I still think about him every single day of my life, and I still feel an empty space in my heart that used to belong to him. I miss his voice mail messages saying “Trea, it’s your favourite father. Call me so I know you’re not dead in a ditch somewhere.” I miss his chicken noodle soup whenever I’ve got a cold (and I think I’m coming down with one now, dammit). It was just the Lipton’s dry packets, but he knew exactly how much of the flavour cube to put in to make it taste just right (cuz the full thing was way too much) , and the exact time to take it off the stove so the noodles were the perfect level of doneness. I miss him playing guitar and singing. I miss his twisted sense of humour and his willingness to be silly once in a while, just for the sake of amusing me (and himself). I miss debating and arguing with him (cuz we almost never agreed on anything), and sometimes I even miss fighting with him. At least, when we were fighting, he was still alive, you know? Bottom line is, I miss him like crazy and I hate the month of June because first we have Father’s Day, and then there’s his birthday on June 25th. It’s a double-whammy month for me, and being away from home hasn’t really done much to take the edge off of it. 😦

Anyway, this is just me being all emo… A girl’s gotta play to her strengths after all. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and dads-to-be out there! And to all the girls who are lucky enough to still have their dads in their lives… cherish that fact, because one day you won’t, and you may find yourself missing him so much that even the things about him that currently make you want to throttle him don’t seem so bad after all.

I think I’ll make myself kinda scarce on Facebook for the next 24 hours, listen to a whole bunch of K-pop and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist…  Catch you on the flip side…

New Year’s Eve thinky thoughts

2014

With a little less than 5 hours left in 2013 for me, I feel the need to reflect for a moment or two.

This has been an interesting year. The first half was uncomfortable for me. I felt isolated a lot, both at home and at work. Ahh… work… yeah… Work made me really unhappy a lot of the time. Not as unhappy as my first year managing the training team, cuz that was disastrously stressful, but it definitely wasn’t making me feel fulfilled. Or useful. And I think that feeling seeped into my non-work life as well.

Fortunately, I  have some good friends near and far (especially my KDKP fam) who helped prop me up when I needed some extra TLC. And I had Kpop. Roll your eyes if you want. Shake your head and judge me as a weirdo and crazy fangirl if you need to, but the truth is, Kpop is my happy place, and has been for a few years now. It’s my escape from all manner of stressful emotions: whether I feel sad, angry, frustrated, worthless, overwhelmed… whatever negative emotion I feel, if I immerse myself in Kpop for a while, that feeling dissipates. I don’t know why it works that way for me, but I’m not gonna question it.

Kpop also played a part in my decision to quit my job and move to Korea to teach English. It wasn’t the REASON I came to Korea to teach – my interest in Korean culture goes beyond pop culture, and my desire to teach English overseas goes back many years – but the idea that living in Korea could mean more opportunities to see Kpop shows, and specifically to see JYJ live in their own country, gave me the courage to cast aside my fear of rejection and ignore the large part of my brain that kept screaming “No, you don’t like change! Change is scary! Change is bad! Don’t do that!!!”

So, despite 2013’s rocky first half, today I sit here on New Year’s Eve happier and more content than I’ve been on any NYE in recent memory. I love my job to the point that I didn’t mind working until 4:40 today, because it meant hanging out with my rural school students watching Star Wars, decorating cupcakes to look like Princess Leia, having battles with lightsabres made of animal balloons and laughing my butt off on more than one occasion. I’m going on about 4 hours of sleep, because yesterday, I booked it to the bus terminal after school, hopped on a bus to Seoul, met my friend at the subway and headed to Jamsil Sports Complex to see Junsu (yes, JUNSU!!!) in concert. Afterward, we stayed up talking until way too late, then I woke up a good 2 hours before sunrise, hopped on the subway, headed to the bus terminal, then got on a bus back home to Chungju so I could get washed up and ready for my afternoon at school running English Camp. Yet, despite being tired, I’m happy. And I’m going to head upstairs to one of the other English teacher’s apartments where a bunch of us are going to enjoy a Mexican themed evening filled with games, yummy food, sangria, and, I’m sure lots and lots of laughs. Yeah, not a bad way to welcome in 2014. 🙂

Happy New Year, everyone! If 2013 was good to you, I hope that trend continues. If it’s a year you’re happy to see the end of, I hope 2014 is much more to your liking.

World’s most adorable students

I didn’t expect to love teaching as much as I do. I mean, I’ve been doing training for a while and I love the teaching part, but I didn’t expect to love the kids as much as I do. I’ve never been big on large groups of kids together… they tend to get really, REALLY noisy. And my students certainly can bring the noise, but somehow, I kinda tune it out. (I’ve had people tell me that as parents they develop that skill, otherwise they go kinda batty. I guess the same goes for teachers.)

Anyway, I teach some of the cutest and most awesome kids on the planet. Seriously.  On my first day at my main school one of the grade 4 boys gave me a packet of vitamin C drink you add to your bottle of water. I don’t even teach grade 4, but I got a present. And speaking of the grade 4 kids, we had a holiday on Oct 3, and my friends and I were walking toward downtown Chungju when we met up with a group of young girls who all giggled and said “Hello” in English. Then just after we passed I heard “Trea saem?” (saem is short for seonsaengnim – teacher)  in an excited tone, so I turned. Sure enough, the group was a bunch of the grade 4 girls who know me from seeing me around the school or in the office next to the classroom when my co-teacher is teaching them. I lifted up my sunglasses and when the girls saw my face they all squeed and ran toward me to give me a huge hug. It was ridiculously cute.  Then, to top it all off, the the following week, when I saw them at school, they all excitedly ran up to me and told me that they saw me walking to Shinae and asked did I remember that? They squeed again when I said I did. Adorable!

And along the lines of gifts, I got an apple from a grade 1 student at my 2nd school back in September:

apple

Apple received as a present on Sep 12, 2013

And this week, a couple of girls in one of my grade 3 classes came up at the end of class and handed me these:

Origami giftie

Origami from grade 3 students on Nov 4, 2013

My students are so giving! And amazingly honest. I’ve given out markers and crayons and glue for use and always get all of it back. I mean even to the point that if one marker gets left behind in class, they will come up to the English room and bring it to me. Or, as much as they all go completely batty for stickers, I can leave my pack of stickers in their classroom and someone will bring it back to me, completely unscathed. I love that about them.

Anyway, there are a million reasons why I love my students, but this post is getting long, so I’m going to have to tell you about some of the other reasons in another post. It’s time to head home for the day.

^_^

Living in Korea

Okay, okay. I know I promised I’d blog regularly about my experiences in Korea, and here I am a month and a half into my time here and only writing my first one. I promise I will try to change my lazy ways and blog more frequently from here on out.

Right now, I’m sitting in the English classroom at my main school. This is the view from my desk.

image
I’m an English Teacher at 2 different elementary schools. One in Chungju, a city in the middle of South Korea, with a population of about 200,000 people (and where I currently live) and the other is in a rural school about a 40 minute drive away. I’m lucky in that my classes at the main school average about 22 students per class. We were told it’s not uncommon to have 30-40 kids in a public school class, so 22 is awesome! In my main school, I teach grades 3 and 5. At my rural school there’s a total of 30 kids from grades 1-6, and I teach all grades. My largest class there is 8 kids (my grade sixes, whom I love – they’re seriously some of the most awesome and fun kids I’ve ever met) and my smallest classes have 4 kids.

I’m really happy with both of my schools. I know some people who have some really tough classes, but most of my kids are pretty good. Sometimes I want to throttle a few of the students in my 3-3 class, but even the naughty ones usually settle down when the threat of not being able to play the planned game or losing a class sticker is looming.

As for my living situation here in Chungju, it’s actually pretty cool. My apartment is nothing special, it’s basically a bachelor unit. I’ll try to do a video tour at some point soon and post it. But what is cool is that I live in a building with a bunch of other EPIK teachers, so I’m now neighbours with some of the people I met at Orientation. Plus there’s a bunch of other teachers who were already here (both EPIK and hagwon (private school) teachers) and they’ve even got a Facebook group, so when you have questions like ‘Um, how do I work the washing machine, everything is in Korean?’ There’s a place to turn to for help. It also means that when I want to go out for dinner, I can usually find someone to go out with. Overall, I’m liking my current situation. Now if I could only find a weekend where I don’t have plans in another city so I can actually explore my own city, that would be nice… 😉

Jaejoong will release his new single “One Kiss” on Jan 8

This makes my little fangirl heart squee with delight!

JYJ3

Kim Jaejoong will release ‘ONE KISS’ as a preview track on Jan 8, prior to the release of his first solo mini-album called ‘MINE’

C-jes entertainment official said, “MINE, which is the title song and album title of Kim Jaejoong’s first mini solo-album, was produced together with Kim Bada. A large scale music video for the heavy rock song was also produced.’ONE KISS’ will be released online on Jan 8 around 12 noon. It is a song which features Kim Jaejoong’s charming, husky yet sweet voice and is suited for the cold winter weather.”

Also,”We will release an MV behind the scence cut and MV teaser for ‘MINE’ on Jan 8″, he added.

Pre-orders (both online and offline) for Kim Jaejoong’s mini solo-album will begin on Jan 7. It will be available on offline stores like Kyobo Bookstore and Synarra record store, as well as online sites such as Kyobo…

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JYJ: a group worth falling in love with

Junsu, Jaejoong & Yoochun

Junsu, Jaejoong and Yoochun, the 3 members of JYJ

If you’ve read my about page or scanned through earlier posts, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a bit of a JYJ fan. And within JYJ, Junsu is my favourite of the trio. He is the perfect combination of ridiculously adorable, dorky and sexy as all getout. His voice is unequalled, not only within the Korean music industry but worldwide. Seriously, the boy gives me goosebumps when he belts out a tune. He’s also a phenomenal dancer and the ultimate showman. I was fortunate enough to catch his show in New York City on August 30 of this year and he rocked my world from the moment he stepped onto the stage. I still get a fluttery feeling in my tummy when I think about that show. I’m not gonna lie; I was so overwhelmed by the experience, that I found myself unable to contain my tears by the time he sang his final encore song, Fallen Leaves, which he wrote, composed and arranged himself.

Junsu, Jaejoong and Yoochun are all incredibly talented and passionate performers who deserve to be in the spotlight, yet because of an ongoing dispute with their former management company, they are banned from all broadcast stations and have a hard time finding venues in which to hold events. This article in the Asia Sentinel does an excellent job of explaining the situation, so please take a few moments to read it. Perhaps if enough people know about the situation, some sort of solution will be found.

And if you’d like to check out JYJ and Junsu’s music, visit their YouTube page, and then, because I know you’ll love them, here’s where you can buy their albums.