Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Effects of One

Todays article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe.  A new topic and various articles will be posted on the 5th of every  month, so come back often! 

Teaching English in another country is definitely a unique and ever-changing experience, I remember being told from day 1 that there is no REAL way to prepare the new teachers. For every incoming teacher, their city, school, co-workers and of course students are going to vary drastically.  I strongly believe that it's a teachers attitude that is going to "make or break" their career abroad.  Coming in with a positive outlook, ready to take on any challenges or obstacles is going to set you up for success.  Of course, there may be difficult moments full of challenging students, frustrating situations, and surprise schedule changes, ultimately making you want to say,  "I'm done with this", but the rewards are soon to follow.  After spending close to two years in the classroom i'm happy to say that I've had a positive experience and wouldn't trade it for the world. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Well, That was Interesting

Since my time in Korea is winding down (more on that later) I decided to start working on my Korean bucket list, you know the things that one "must do" while in Korea.  I've been talking about doing a temple stay since I first arrived in Korea, but for some reason kept putting it off.  About a month ago my vice principal walked over to my desk and handed me a packet of papers saying "umm if you're interested you can do" and then disappeared (he's sneaky like that).  I'm not sure if he can read minds (or maybe he spies on me?) because I had literally been searching for a temple stay that morning, and what he handed me was an application for a free temple stay at Jikj temple in Gimcheon.  I've been to this temple once before, with my dad and really enjoyed the scenery and beauty of the mountain setting.  The temple stay program is one of the most popular in this area so seeing as I hadn't yet made plans for that weekend I decided to apply, after all it was  free so I had nothing to lose. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

단풍 ~ The Leaves are Changing

Although the temperatures have been dropping to numbers I don't agree with I can't deny that the last few weeks in Korea have been anything but beautiful.  If it weren't for cold nights, difficult mornings (my bed is suddenly soooo comfortable in the AM) and early darkness, fall would probably be my favorite season.  "Sweatshirt weather" as many affectionately call it, is pretty awesome, but unfortunately that's only valid between the hours of, oh say 10 and 4, before and after that you need to throw on a few extra layers.  I've been trying to take advantage of the last few pleasant days before the death of winter sets itself upon me so walking has become my new hobby, and mode of transportation.  After all it's easier on the knees than running and saves me a few dollars on my scooter, oh and not to mention allows me views like this one: 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Joining the Quarter Century Club

I generally don't like to talk about myself, so last year when my birthday passed by with few people at school noticing I wasn't too surprised.  After all, I hadn't really told or reminded people that the big day was coming and to be fair when they found out they felt bad for missing it and insisted I should have told them.  After seeing some friends brag about the cakes and presents they received from their staff I decided this year would be different. I worked the whole "birthday" thing into my classes every once in a while with subtle reminders of when my birthday was, not only that but I made a valiant effort to remember my students birthdays this year.  I was surprised about a month ago when Anna brought up the topic with a few other co-teachers reminding them that my birthday was coming soon.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised because I know she really cares about me and wants to make sure I enjoy myself here but sometimes she comes across a bit, well, scatter brained. When I got to school Thursday morning I could tell Anna was up to something when she confirmed with me which classes I had that morning, oh and then there was one of the guys in our office who asked her what the cake was for, to which she replied "cake, what cake? I don't know?" (all of this in Korea of course).  Despite her best efforts I was onto her but tried to play along as I came back from my first period to the surprise of cake, singing and even presents.  

Every good birthday starts with cake for breakfast

Thursday, November 7, 2013

수능 잘쳐!

The crisp air, delayed rise and early fall of the sun, leaves changing and falling can only mean one thing. You're probably thinking fall has arrived but that's not exactly what i'm talking about.  In Korea, the dropping of temperatures and changing of leaves reminds students, parents and teachers of one thing - D-day.  If you remember, I already wrote about this infamous day last year so you can get most of the details there.  This time around however, I had a bit of a different experience so I wanted to give it another go.  Now that i'm a veteran teacher the intensity of this day hit a little bit closer to home, last year I didn't know any of the 3rd grade students; I never got the chance to teach any of them let alone have a conversation with them.  This year it was a bit different, some of my favorite students and the reason I decided to stay for a second year, were among those preparing for the exam. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Weekday Getaway

Despite the fact that I thought November would be a long month (only one scheduled day off for the Korean SAT and our school festival) I've been blessed with some extra surprises. Last week was the annual EPIK trip which I was lucky enough to join this year, giving me an extra two days off school, creating a nice little 4-day weekend.  The bi-annual trips are open to all EPIK teachers, however preference is given to those that have been here over a year (have renewed their contract) and received a positive recommendation from their school.  I was happy to hear that many of my friends, both from Buksam and my original orientation class would be joining for the adventure, although I had some reservations about spending 24+ hours with 150 foreigners, I guess I've gotten used to my isolation on the farm. Honestly the best part of the trip, in my opinion, was that I didn't have to go to school for two days. Don't get me wrong, I love my job and don't mind coming to school everyday, but the students seem to be in a slump with an insurmountable need for sleep, not ideal teaching conditions. So yes, I greeted the opportunity to wander Korea for two days with open arms, even if it did require my wearing a name tag.  

Woryeong bridge, Nakdong river and golden Ginko trees