Tag Archives: Teaching

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.

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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… 😉