Friday, November 30, 2012


If you have ever been a teacher of mine, I feel like I owe you an apology. Or 47.

It’s not that I thought this job was going to be a breeze, because I didn’t. It’s not that I thought I would have a full grasp of the concept of teaching on the first day, because I didn’t. I knew it would be a challenge. A change of pace and a different life was why I came here. But OH EMM GEE. This is not easy. And I will be not be disrespected by an 8 year old just because he knows two languages and I know one. No sir. It will not go down like that. You will sit down in your seat and you will do your workbook or you will see American crazy.

Oh, but discipline is one thing. It’s the easiest part by far. It’s the blank stare you get when they obviously don’t understand and there are only so many ways you can explain what the word “browse” means. Come on guys! Or when you grade tests and they failed and you know they’re smart kids and even after a week of knowing them you feel this ridiculous burden of figuring out how to not only teach them English but teaching them to care. (I know that was a ridiculous run-on, fragmented sentence. I’m conveying emotion, not teaching.)

When I interviewed for this job I was told not to accept it if I was just looking for adventure because a lot would be asked of me. Well, I’m always looking for adventure (and I found it), but she wasn’t kidding. From 1-10 we’re working. It’s monthly test week right now so I’m frantically grading papers and trying to get 12 syllabi ready for next week vocabulary and comprehension tests. And of course they give the new girl 3 classes that are using all new books. Thanks guys. They really have too much faith in me. I’m absolutely sure my co-teachers are tired of answering questions, but they’ve been so wonderful. A new Korean teacher was actually just hired about 3 days ago and she thought I’d been at Reading Star for months. She had no idea I’d only been there a week when she got there. That was a great compliment. Showed me how really welcomed I am.

SO, to all of those teachers from grade school to college, I know what a “spirited girl” I am. I have a greater appreciation for what you put up with. And I’ve only been doing this for two weeks. Just imagine how thankful I’ll be at the end of my time here! Many thanks to all of you. Most of you have no idea how much you impacted me. So, here’s to impacting others.

Okay. Now let me explain a little about my school and why I work until 10 pm. Reading Star is a hagwon. Not to be confused with Hogwarts. Because when Koreans say hagwon it sounds a lot like Hogwarts and I’m not exactly qualified to teach spells. Okay, enough Harry Potter…A hagwon is an academy. Reading Star is an English academy. You can have any type of hagwon. English, art, math, dance, tae kwon do, music, ect. Academies never end. So the kids are in school from 8:00ish to 2:00ish, depending on their school. Then after school they go to their hagwons. Some kids go to multiple academies in a day. My schedule is really confusing, and I start teaching full time Monday and I still don’t completely understand how they keep up with all of these kids. There’s a whole color coded system and everything. Some kids come Monday, Wednesday, Friday and some come Tuesday, Thursday. The ones who come on Monday, Wednesday, Friday only have the same classes on Monday, Wednesday or Monday, Friday, or Wednesday, Friday. Like I said, confusing. I don’t get it either. Whatever. I just do what they tell me to do.
So yes, these children are in school until 10 and they still have to go home and do homework from real school and their academies but it’s because their parents are paying for it. So don’t feel bad. This is by choice. Yes, all of them would rather be home watching TV or playing computer games. They tell me. But Korean culture is serious about their education. Especially English. It’s very important for college admissions in the universities here. (no pressure, right?)

Sorry, I wrote a book this time. But I’m sure you guys loved every word.

Until next time,

Saturday, November 24, 2012

One week.

Well, I've survived one week. And I don't even know how to tell you about everything that as gone on. I pretty much just hit the ground running. It was an exhausting week. Friday night after work all the Korean teachers where asking me my plans for the weekend and I was like, SLEEP. It was so great.

Saturday afternoon I met up with my friend Oliver who I know from MC. He's been in Korea since August. He doesn't live in Seoul, but it's so easy to travel here. Buses, subway, taxis. It's so nice. And compared to home it's so much cheaper. So he came me, and we did a little exploring. It was nice to have a tour guide who spoke English. Bought some post cards. So as soon as I figure out how to send them to you, I'll get one that. Saw the statue of the guy who created the Korean letters. That was cool. Had a good lesson on riding the subway. I mean, it's pretty much just like riding the subway in any other city, you just have to know where you're going. Thats the part I don't really have a full grasp on right now...But I am so good at getting from work to home and home to work. Could do it blind folded by now. It was fun day. The greatest part about it was he gave me an adapter so now I can plug in my computer, and charge my phone at home! And most importantly use my hair dryer and straightener. I won't even begin to tell you what's been going on with my hair. However, my co-teachers have been very complimentary about my hair. I can't wait to show them what it looks like when it's clean and straight!

I do not understand the metric system. And I feel like even after a year here I won't. It's not an easy switch, you know? Sure go 23 years living you're life measuring things in feet and miles and using fahrenheit and then you're just expected to know what 21 degrees celsius is? No. It's hard. Don't let anyone tell you it isn't. Guess I should have paid better attention in chemistry class. Whatever...

My computer at work is all in Korean. So when I have to open documents or use Word right now it's pretty much just click and hope I'm right. Whatever. It's fine. I basically use the same things everyday so I just memorize what to click on and the order. I'm getting there.

So to tell you a little about this process of moving to Korea, I had to get what's called and E-2 visa. It's specifically for foreign teachers and it's for a 12 months period. Once the process is completed on the native country's side you can be allowed to enter the country. (I did all of that, obviously) Once you enter the country you have to have a medical check. So Monday morning my director took me to the hospital to have all these test done. Normal stuff. Sight, hearing, blood pressure, blood and urine, a chest x-ray (ummm, having a chest x-ray in a Korea was a somewhat awkward experience. Pretty sure that's not how it goes down in America, but whatever). My director, David, got the results on Tuesday and he told me that there was a problem. I was like on great. Of course there's a problem. And I asked what it was, and he said, "I don't know. They said maybe there is problem, maybe there is not." (use your Asian accent when you read this). So wednesday, I go back to the hospital for more blood word. He asked me, "Do you have disease?" I was like nooooo.  He said, "Not even small disease?" I was like, what is a small disease?????? So I'm having this blood work done thinking they've found a "small disease" and I'm gonna be shipped home next week. Not a good day. So Thursday we get the results back and David says, "No problem." I still have no idea what was wrong with my blood work and what the difference was the next day. It was probably like low iron or something ridiculous and they're over here making me think I have cancer. Thanks guys. SO, Friday we went to the immigration office to apply for my Alien Registration Card. Like an ID. Once I have that, which should be in a couple weeks, I can get a Korean phone and have internet hooked up in my apartment and finally feel like a real girl again! I told my manager that we must celebrate when I get it. So hopefully soon we'll be going out for some live octopus. I've been trying to get someone to take me to eat octopus since I got here. I did get some pig intestines the other day. Pretty tasty. I won't lie.

It's been a busy week. I've been working hard learning curriculum and teaching books I've never read before. But it's been fun. And everyday gets a little easier. Everything is still very much in the new stage and when I'm alone and need to buy things I'm just just pointing and nodding. But i've been told my korean pronunciation is very good and that I don't even have an accent when I speak it. So as soon as I figure out how to remember everything they're trying to teach me and not just be able to repeat after them I'll be doing great.

Sorry I don't have more pictures. I really have just been working for 7 days. Soon.

Oh, also, at the end of December all of my school's campuses get together for an end of the year party at our main campus in Gwangju. And apparently there is a talent show. And apparently I'm like required to perform...this could be so bad. So I need ideas. I don't have a clue what to do. Email me all ideas.

loving you guys!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


So many of you have been asking for pictures. And I want to give you so many! But I have a little hang up at the moment... I, being an intelligent young woman knew I would need an outlet adapter for my computer. So I bought one. But the sweet man at radio shack did not sell me the right thing. So I'm still without a computer until I can purchase an adapter here. BUT, I will hold you over with a few pictures that I have taken with my phone.

The girl in the picture with me is one of my coteachers. Her name is Grace and we are kind of kindred spirits. You guys don't worry about me not making friends. I've been well received and everyone here makes fun of my laugh just like all of you at home.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Welcome to Korea

Um...I don't know where to start. Just roll with me.

A LOT happened in four and half days. Have I only been here for four and a half days??? Woah. Weird.

The plane ride was less than desirable for sure. 13 hours is no fun. Middle seat. Homeboy by the widow kept getting up. At least he was skinny. There was this really cute little girl across the aisle from me, but she was not so cute after 7 hours of screaming. She made sleeping difficult.

After my plane landed I had an almost 2 hour bus ride to Lotte World. A shopping mall-ish amusement park. I don't know. My boss picked me up there once I gave my phone to some Korean man standing next to me and said, "Can you tell this man where I am?" I have no idea if he understood me but David found me. It was fine.

For the weekend I stayed in a hotel. My apartment wasn't ready until Monday. It was actually a "love motel" and if you don't know what that is I'm not going to explain it. Use your imagination. But don't worry. There was no love going on. Just lots of sleeping. Jet lag is real. I watched a lot of Korean soap operas over the weekend. They're pretty much like American soap operas. You just turn down the volume and make up the script.

Reading Star (my school) has 5 different campuses. The main one is on Gwanju about 4 hours south of here. A native English teacher from Gwanju was asked to come up for the week and train me. Her name is Frances. She's from Scottland. She's been teaching abroad for several years. She's been in China and Korea. I've been spending most of my time her and she's been a HUGE help adjusting. She's not very familiar with Seoul, since she doesn't live here. But she she's been in Korea for 18 months and she's a fantastic teacher. We're best friends. My Korean coteachers are awesome. I love them. I just smile and giggle a lot because most of the time I have no idea whats going on. I want to take everyone of the children home. But we would be pretty crowded in my tiny apartment.

I've gotta go do some work now. Or pretend to.