Friday, March 29, 2013

You Have a Drivers License??

I originally started this post months ago but somehow it fell by the wayside, not sure how that's not like I've been busy teaching, traveling and living... but there's a new reason for me to come back to this post, I have something more to add and so here it goes - driving in Korea. watch out.  When my students and co-workers found out that I not only had a drivers license back home but have been driving since the age of 16 they were amazed. "Wow you can drive?! Are you a good driver?"...I likely just responded with a blank stare - umm yeah?

I know there are boundless stereotypes out there that Asian drivers are terrible, before living in Korea I took that all with a grain of salt and let it roll of my back - I mean I am from Wisconsin where we have to deal with the FIB's from the south (now those are some terrible drivers).  However, after moving here I have a new appreciation for what bad driving really entails - let me break it down: parking, public transportation and of course the scooter.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Off to a Good Start

Everyone told me that my second year of teaching would be much easier, seeing as I would now have a year of experience under my belt and hopefully know what the hell I'm doing.  Well, so far so good - but that might just be luck.  I feel like a college student again, you know the part where in the beginning of the semester you highlight your syllabus, fill your planner with important dates, show up to class, and actually do the assignments.  Honestly, it's the same for teachers...

I have all these great plans for the semester but my only fear is that the new, fresh, exciting feelings will soon wear off and lesson plans will go out the door.  I'm going to try my hardest not to let this happen but I guess only time will tell.  For now, lesson plans are in the works, prezi presentations are being created, and i'm drilling student names into my head.  That's probably my #1 goal for the semester - to remember more of my student names, but honestly it's hard. I mean, I DO have just shy of 500 to remember...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Grinning from Ear to Ear

Okay so i'm not even one week into the new school year but I'm in love. If this were my first year in Korea you could argue that i'm in my honeymoon stage where everything is new and exciting and fun - but I've been here for a year, I know the ropes, I get it.  Next week my classes might suck, stare at me with ubber confusion thus making me want to pull my hair out, but let's focus on the present...

This post is just going to be some ramblings about how much I love some of the special people in my life, so if you don't want to hear it move along. **Update - after I wrote this it turned into a novel, and there's not many pictures -don't say I didn't warn you**

Monday, March 4, 2013

Back for Round 2

After my whirlwind vacation and a few quite weeks in Gumi i'm back at it - time for a brand new school year. To be quite honest, I feel like I haven't taught a real class since about November of last year, so getting back into the swing of things might take some time. On the plus side, I don't have to go through the "new kid" weeks again since i'm already accustomed to my school.  There are, of course, new students and teachers to meet and many changes to be had, but I think i'm ready for them all.

We had the opening ceremony this morning and I got my 15 seconds of fame as applause erupted from the student body after I was introduced. I wasn't the most popular teacher of the day however - our PE teacher 윤종태 was easily the most popular among the students, followed closely by a few of the attractive math teachers.

My co-teacher 이혜진 (Anna) from last year has taken over responsibility for me after my old co-teacher, 김주연 decided to take a year leave to care for her baby.  I'm excited about this change and think it's going to be a great improvement for the year. Communication between Anna and I is a lot clearer and I feel more comfortable asking her for help - she also has a great appreciation for the work I put in which I believe will benefit me as she spreads this recognition through the rest of the staff. She's also been encouraging other teachers to speak to me, even if it is only "hi" or "bye" as they enter/exit our office.

As I walked around during lunch today it was amusing to see the changes among the students. My old second graders are now the head of the school, which in Korea takes on a different meaning than in the US.  There's no room here for senioritis as the kids prepare for the SAT next November.  I fear that some of my favorites will turn into, what I call, the shadows of Buksam.  Hopefully they'll still find time to break away from the classroom and come find me in the halls, or on the playground, making time for some fun.  I've yet to officially meet the new students but I have been stared at with a look of wonder by many, with a few brave souls testing out a "Hi" or "Hello" as I walked by - hopefully that enthusiasm will spill over into the classroom.

As I start my second year here in Korea, I can confidently say that I've made the right decision to stay.  Although I know there will be many Sunday night discussions with friends sounding something like this: "ugh school tomorrow / what am I doing this week? /   oh crap I have nothing prepared / can't the weekend be longer?" i'm eager for the new school year and can't wait to see what it will bring.  I can't wait to repeat the highlights from last year: school festival, sports day, school birthday, teachers dinners and the epic summer field trip, but know they'll be even better this time around, as i'm more prepared.

On top of everything from last year there are a few great additions this time around:   First, I get to join the second grade class on their 4 day field trip to Jeju Island, yeah be jealous! Knowing they go every year I figured it didn't  hurt to ask if I could tag along and seeing as my principal loves me, he jumped right on board - in fact we're travel partners for the week.  Also, at the end of April my mom will be making the journey across the globe to come visit me! I can't wait to introduce her to my life here: friends, students and teachers - I know she's going to fall in love with everyone and have a deeper understanding as to why i'm still over here.   After that it'll be time to jump back into the festival season of Korea and plan loads of weekend trips with friends, there's still a lot to be explored in this beautiful country and i'm going to take every opportunity I have to do so.  Oh and i've also found myself falling in love with running - not sure if it's the gorgeous weather or boundless rice fields at my door step, but whatever the reason I hope it lasts....

So, to the year of 2013 in Korea:  show me what you've got, i'm ready for it. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

All Good Things Must Come to an End

On my second full day in Bali I wanted to get out of Ubud and see some more of the country. Usually i'm not one for organized tours but there were some pretty sweet deals that took you around so I signed up for the "Kintamani - Besakih Tour"...thankfully it wasn't your typical tour guide bs trip. The group was just me and two other girls from the Netherlands and of course our guide. Local guy from Ubud named Juk who seemed pretty BA.  I started the day off early with another 7am yoga class and was at the visitors center by 9 (after stopping for some fruit at the market and getting ridiculously ripped off).  We set off with a full day of fun ahead - first stop the Elephant Cave Temple.