Thursday, March 29, 2012

Teacher - Picture!

The past week hasn't been all that exciting. After spending St. Paddy's weekend in Daegu with some friends I caught the cold that's floating around Korea. I figured water and sleep would be my cure, and I was right, until I decided it was a good idea to go out on Friday.

I would've been fine had I made my way home that night, however this was not the case.  I decided to stay out with my friends Son and Em, until eh maybe 3am.  The 12 hours between 8pm Friday and 8am Saturday were somewhat of a blur which included walking around in cold wind and rain - not what my cold asked for.  Once home, at around 9:30am saturday,  after my lovely bus ride (would be sarcasm except for the fact that I called Shane and got to talk to him for the first time since seeing him in Nashville so it was bearable) it was back to bed.  I slept on and off for a majority of the day until it was time to meet Delarey (South African who lives in my town) for a round of screen golf.  It's a little hard to get used to, or at least that's what i'm blaming my +45 score on.  By 8 o'clock I was exhausted, my throat hurt and I could barely talk so I was ready to call it a night.Sunday - Wednesday I decided to give myself adequate time to recover. Luckily my 2nd graders were on a field trip all week (to Jeju Island - lucky ducks) so I had more time to relax.  Good thing too because today was field trip day!  Half the first grade students were going to Pohang and half to Mungyeong, with me joining the latter group.

Class 1-7
I think I might have messed up because I was supposed to be going with one of my co-teachers and her class (1-2) but I got on the bus with the Math teacher and his class (1-7).  It wasn't a mistake as 1-2 was just playing games all day and 1-7 was going to a coal museum, riding rail cars and theeen playing games for the rest of the day.  We started at the coal museum which I never really caught the name of. The kids basically ran through the museum part of the place and moved on to the outdoor area where we proceeded to take pictures and play some old school games.  

Around 11 it was time to leave and head to the next destination, we were off to ride old fashion rail cars.  I really had no idea what that meant but sounded fun. There's really no way to describe it so i'll let the pictures do the talking. A nice man was giving us instructions, for a good mmmh 3 minutes? The only thing I understood was that the lever next to me was the break for my car - and that's only because of the lovely student seated to my left. I hope the rest of what he said wasn't too important considering I couldn't understan a damn word.

After our ride - which was actually a lot of work, it was time for lunch. We drove for close to a half an hour before arriving at what I thought was our rest stop for lunch.  All of the students got off the bus carrying their Kimbap and various other snacks they had packed.  No one told me to bring a lunch, but thankfully my co-teachers are like angels sent from Heaven.  They take care of me like a lost puppy found on the side of the road.  So, we start walking up this winding road (mind you were in the middle of a mountain).  After passing multiple restaurants and picnic areas I begin to wonder where the F we're going.  

By this point I was a bit peeved, I thought we were breaking for lunch, not climbing a mountain. Then again, I was wondering what the driver and teacher were announcing to the students for a good 5 minutes before we got off the bus. Maybe they were explaining this journey we were about to embark on, but no one felt it necessary to inform me so you know, when in Korea - roll with it.  Alas, a big stone with some crazy writing on it - no picnic tables, nah not even a garbage can, but this - this is where we are going to take a break for lunch.

So by this point I realized that I had no idea what the day held for me. I thought we were breaking for a quick lunch and then meeting up with class 1-2 to play "running man".  Nope, wrong again, we'd be playing right here, in the mountain.  Basically there's two teams, the "horses" and the "spys". Horses get like 5 minutes to run away and then the spies have to go find them - wearing bells on their shoes so that they knew we were coming (yes, I got to be a spy). 

Some of my favorite boys 
During the bus ride home I began wondering what class 1-2 and the students who went to Pohang did all day.  I realized that our field trip didn't seem to have much of a purpose, were they all this way?  Usually in the states your field trips coincide with something your studying, a cultural event, holiday, something.....didn't seem this way today.  I mean there was the coal museum, but I don't think one student stopped at an exhibit for more than 5 seconds - and that was just to snap a quick picture.  I feel like today really was just a play day, a break from the never ending hours these kids spend in the classroom.  Either way, I had fun and I hope they did too. 

Sorry that post was about 2209384 miles long - kind of how my day felt. It's 9pm and I'm ready for bed.  One more day and then it's off to Busan to see some family! I am so excited - I'll be meeting up with  Darren, Joan, Alivia, Claire and Adam for the weekend.  As Alivia said it will be a crazy day, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  

Lots of love, 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What's your blood type?

I remember on the first few days of orientation people were talking about how strange it was that Facebook was asking them to add their blood type.  Soon after some were being asked this question from their co-teachers or other Korean's.  Why does anyone care what my blood type is? The only time I've been asked that in the US is if i'm donating or dying. Until yesterday I was a bit perplexed, thankfully the topic came up during my English teacher's discussion class.  I found the reasoning interesting so I thought i'd share...
In Korea, rather than the ubiquitous North American question, “What’s your sign? you are more likely to be asked, “What’s your blood type?” Linking blood types to personalities allegedly goes back to the 1920’s in Japan with the concept being resuscitated in the 1970’s by a Japanese writer, Masahiko Nomi. The idea then spread outward and took root elsewhere, primarily in Taiwan and South Korea.
Following are the personality traits ascribed to the basic blood types: A, B, AB and O.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Extra Curricular's

So yeah, learning to teach is a bit rough - but no one said there was no reward.

After the first day of school we had a staff outing - dinner and drinks on the schools tab.  We went to a blow fish restaurant near the school. Now if you're like me you're thinking "isn't blow fish dangerous to eat?" (cue Simpsons episode?).  Yeah, that's what I thought but apparently not here - they know what they're doing and how to cook it.  We had it both deep fried and in a soup - pretty good but probably not my favorite.

Then last Wednesday the principal, 지경진  Ji gyeong gin asked what my favorite Korean food was and if I would like to go to dinner. I of course had no plans so yes, i'd love to go. The Chinese character teacher,  임동향  Im dong hyang and biology teacher 강병권 jang byeong gwon joined us for Galbi (korean bbq - again cooked at your table over hot coals) various side dishes, rice, and of course some Soju.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

School Life

So in the months before coming to Korea I'd have to say I was a lot more focused on how I would adjust to a new apartment, culture and language - the minor detail of becoming a teacher seems to have slipped my mind.  The EPIK staff and lectures gave us some great material and resources to use for the classroom, however learning how to be a teacher is usually done over more than a weeks time span.

Never-the-less I was throw in blind last week Monday. Welcome to Buksam high school you are now the native English teacher for 480 students! I admit it was both exciting and a bit scary.  Most of the students were well behaved, granted it was the first class and they were eager to see who this 외곡 (foreigner) was in their classroom - we'll see how long that lasts.  After 1 week here's a list of some things i've observed and learned

1. Teaching is hard - there is more to it than just showing up in the classroom and talking for an hour, I have underestimated how long it takes to prepare what the hell you're going to talk about - and also making sure that the kids are entertained/active/engaged...

2. Teaching the same lesson 16 times in one week is boring. This is something I always wondered about when I was a student - didn't teachers basically have the lesson memorized - answer: yes. However I also have a lot of time spent at my desk so I guess it balances out?

3. This is something that I'm still trying to figure out  - how they treat special needs students here. I've had a few classes where the kids and teacher have told me "oh he's special, just ignore him". Yes, by special they mean mentally handicapped or slow.  I'm really hoping that they only told me to ignore these students in my class because it is too hard for them to understand the English instruction and obviously I can't translate everything for them.  I'm not sure how they're treated outside of the English discussion room but it seems that they're just thrown in with the rest of the students and expected to keep up.  I was told at my teachers meeting that they may not come to my class after the first few weeks. I'm hoping this is the case because it makes class awkward when I can't do anything to help them.

4. I'm teaching high school? Hm could have fooled me - not sure if it's just me but I thought high school students were a little more mature.  The girls are worse - super giggly, shy and seem to be more like 6th grade students.  I think what adds to this is that the principal prefers boys and girls don't mix so they are separated in their seating arrangement - also at lunch, boys on one side, girls on the other.

Those are just some of the things i've picked up in my first week here - hoping classes continue to go smoothly.  The hardest challenge right now is decided what and how to teach the lessons. My major problem is that I want to plan out my whole year and have a "road map" however that's more or less impossible in Korea as there are constant changes being made.  Just have to learn to roll with it.

My school from the back - not the pretties picture

Walk on the way to school - steep hill but only takes like 5 minutes

Kind of failed at pictures of my school so far, i'll post more soon.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Out and about

It's kind of amazing how such seemingly simple tasks become your greatest accomplishments while living in a foreign country - especially during the first few weeks.  

The first weekend here I had made plans to meet my friend Sara at the Waegwon train station so that we could go to Daegu and meet up with our teacher J.  At the time I really had no idea how to get to the station but was determined to figure it out - on Friday I ran into a girl from America who is teaching at the elementary school near my house. She told me that bus 111 should take me to where I needed to go.  Success! I made it to the station, met up with Sara and off to Daegu we went.