Thursday, 22 December 2011

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Well, this time I've really gone too long without blogging. I don't recall what I last talked about, but I'll take a jab in the dark. We recently got a new supervisor (maybe about 3 weeks ago?) and she's stuck with us so far. There are some issues that she has to deal with that previous supervisors didn't want to put up with. She seems to really care about these kids, though, like us and is sticking around. That makes me happy. It also makes me really happy that we can tell her anything and she isn't afraid to be honest to parents about how spoiled or ill-mannered their kids are. Being in a rich area, these kids have really spoiled attitudes, and it's really disgusting to watch.

About a month ago, we were supposed to get alien registration card, but our employer kept putting it off until 2 days before the date was up. We took a Friday morning off to go to the Seoul immigration office only to find out we had to go to a different city 3 hours away. (We'd woken up at 6am that morning to wait for a bus that never came and took a subway a couple times, by the way.) So, we had to actually ended up taking the entire day off. We bought a bus ticket to a city I won't mention just for safe purposes... and we were picked up by a staff member of the other school in that city. She was a really sweet and comforting woman. She bought us coffee, took us to the immigration office there, and then to the school. We met the other foreigner teachers at the school and got to see the different school. It was an eye-opening experience... this school had every ounce of effort poured into it. A homely Christmas feeling, tons of staff members, lots of foreign teachers, more books... everything about it was just nice. Anyway, the same lady that took us around the city took us to dinner and then back to the bus station. She was an all-around sweet lady and I wish we could've kept in touch just because she was so friendly. By the time we got home, it was 11:30. Exhausted might be a decent word to describe the day.

The weekend after, we went to visit our friend, Mark, in Gimcheon for Thanksgiving which was really nice. We all brought/cooked something and ate at a restaurant that hosted our get together. We just had to buy drinks-- that was it. It was nice because people came from different places... far away, too. It took us about 3 hours to get to Gimcheon, but it was worth it.

Recently, one our friends, Manuel, got his visa and flew into Seoul so we met him this past Monday. It was really nice to see another familiar face and to just hang out with someone who spoke English and wanted our company. A majority of the Koreans we are around tend to be rather stand-offish or egotistical, so it was refreshing. At dinner, we went to eat Korean BBQ and for the first time, someone was able to figure out that I was American... but a Chinese American. She spoke Mandarin to me and it threw me off. "Ni hui bu hui shuo Zhongwen?" Hold on, let me do a double take at you. Come again? "Hui bu hui?" I kind of got excited and replied "Bu hui" like an idiot. I was thinking, "Well, you're speaking Chinese right now..." and she looked at me incredulously and took some slight umbrage at that response possibly. She begged for some kind of explanation. So I told her very quaintly, "Yi dian-r, Yi dian-r. Dui bu qi." Boy did I feel like an idiot. Then the entire dinner consisted of a waitress standing over us and cooking our BBQ even though we knew how to do it. I was almost tempted to ask them if we could do it ourselves since I knew that they could speak Mandarin, but I just bit my tongue and understood they were doing it out of the thought that maybe we didn't know what we were doing. Every BBQ place eats their sides/meat differently so we just let them do their thing. We then met up with Ryan's friend from Yonsei that same day and finally got Jamba Juice. It was pretty exciting for us. I was just craving it the day before.

Other things I can think of are that we had our first snow about 2 weeks ago, so that was pretty awesome. Not used to it snowing still since it's only snowed maybe 3-4 times. Most of the snow was light and none of it has stuck to the ground yet. Today, Ryan and I just went and bought Christmas presents for our pre-kindergarten children that we have from 9:50-2:15 and for the Korean staff members. Tomorrow morning, we have to buy bags and some wrapping paper. Our boss didn't pay our Internet bills so we are without Internet for a while; Starbucks wifi is our friend. The only downside is we have to purchase an Sbucks here everytime, and it's more expensive here!

Anyway, Christmas break is coming up next Tuesday so we'll be meeting with our good friend, Gunawan, from Cali. Pretty excited. :) I'll try and update more after that. Hope you all have a wonderful and Merry Christmas! Stay warm!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Exciting News!

Good or bad... I'll let you decide.

Our new supervisor didn't last long. There are reasons I can't explain here for why she left aside from what you can guess. I'm a little disappointed because I feel like if she had just hung in there for a couple weeks longer, she could've really done some good things around here to help. Her intentions were really in a good place-- or in the same place as mine and Ryan's.

Anyway, I might have mentioned this, but a couple weeks ago the mother of a pre-kindergarten kid got angry at everyone because the kid was not improving in math. When we decided to give worksheets for homework, she screamed at a staff member and pulled her kid out. The same mother who decided to pick the worst and most unlikely meaning of "mad" and got upset with me for the misunderstanding. I found it hilarious seeing as I never spoke to the kid that day except to tell him his behavior of "being mad and rude" was unacceptable and they are reading a book called "Mad Dog." As bad as this sounds, it was a load of stress off everyone's shoulders. Not only because of the mother but also because the other kid could get a break at being teased for his English. This week, however, he came back. Today went alright, but I'm going to expect the worst. That way, I won't be surprised the next time something off- the- wall happens.

On the up side my ribs, lungs, and cartilage are all finally healing! Last week was still pretty painful but I've definitely noticed the difference in the last few days, so I am very happy. Having coughing episodes where I'd end up throwing up was pretty crazy. I've never had coughs that bad where I'd gag. But all is well! And just in time for December :) December is my favorite month because I love the Christmas spirit, lights, and everything about December in general so I can actually enjoy myself and not be sick in bed! Although I know December/Christmas just won't have the same warm and cozy feeling as being back in Cali... but having something from home (Ryan and one of my stuffed animals) with me definitely makes it a little easier. I know Ryan will probably try to make this month super special and Christmas-y/Decemberish to me, too since he knows I love this time of the year.

I've been looking into yoga/ballet stretching/pilates classes to take in the next few days since I feel well enough to start working out. I'm pretty excited but nervous since I don't speak any English. Hopefully it goes over well and I can mesh into the classes without any difficulties! That's all for now.

Stay warm!

Saturday, 5 November 2011


It's a song from Tron, and it's not an actual word if I'm correct. But I'm giving it the definition of how I feel at the moment.

The dirty, ugly side of work is coming to light. You learn that kids say things even if they don't know what they're saying. They don't understand the consequences, and you can't really be angry at them. They're kids after all. I remember being little and making excuses even if they were made up. They made sense in my head and seemed like it wouldn't harm anyone. It's only natural. Being on the opposite of the spectrum, I get why it can be so frustrating for adults. I just don't remember ever having made excuses by making false examples of an older person in my life. Example. Several weeks ago, one kindergarten kid told his mom we didn't read out of a text book, which was obviously not true. One of the Korean staff ladies got yelled at by his mom, and she then confronted us asking if we ever read out of the book. We naturally said we did, but what good is our word against a mother's own child? The staff lady called over the other kids and asked them if they remembered reading the book, and they all said yes. She rolled her eyes in frustration at the child's tendencies to tell his mother false things. I don't blame her; she gets yelled at for it.

This Friday, we were told of complaints... these ones were pretty crazy. A different kid told her mom something and made an excuse about us for her actions. I can't really go into details here, but suffice it to say, it has left me beyond frustrated at how things are run here. No supervisers and extra work, a soon quitting staff member and secretary that now knows our hard working ethics to back us up should other problems like this arise... I've got a feeling things are going to be hairy. The crazy thing is, we aren't even looking for this kind of ridiculous drama. We were thrown into work on day one with no real instruction, no expectations expected of us. All we have ever done was try to fill in the shoes of a missing secretary and to teach to the best of our abilities.

One of the other complaints was that we were not like the previous teachers. I.e., we don't talk to the mothers when they come to pick up their children. First of all, I am very irked by this because we have been compared to these previous teachers since day 1. We are compared to these teachers right in front of our faces almost on a weekly basis, and I find it pretty hurtful. We are not them and we do our darn best. Secondly, I say hello and bow to the mothers. I smile. I would talk to them if I knew that was what they wanted. Also, I would talk to them if we had a supervisor. Unfortunately, there are other kids after these kindergarteners who require equal attention as they are actually in school so preparing for them in 15 minutes is highly justified. I know it may not work the same way here, but I feel they should set up meetings with parents where we can attend so we can update them on progress and listen to what they expect of us directly. Just my opinion-- I really don't know anything.

Another thing a kid said was that we are late to class. We had to laugh at this. We get there by 8:50 am... exactly one hour before class ever starts. We get there before the secretary even opens the door to school.

As if that didn't bother me enough, we found out some pretty disturbing things that, again, I can't really talk about. If you ever ask me or I normally talk to you, you will find out. This stuff that I can't talk about is the most unsettling of this entire post. So, although Friday being the end of the week would normally make me feel like everything is okay, it doesn't.

Do adults really stay immature and create drama this much? I feel this is so unnecessary...

I guess on the upside, it's only two parents from the morning. I've never had any complaints from any of my other kids' parents. Here's hoping things go better on Monday. *Crossing fingers*

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Never Gonna Leave This Bed

My title is from Maroon 5. It seems fitting since I actually don't want to leave my bed or go out. Anyway, since my last post I haven't really healed like I expected. My cough came back with a vengeance one night last weekend. I had to go back for more and stronger medication this past week. The pain came back and it became pretty unbearable. I am happy to say that the medication is working and I am actually feeling as though I am recovering. Obviously, there is still a lot of pain when I move or even sleep, but my cough is, for the most part, gone and the pain is back to being tolerable. Believe it or not, this has been a pretty big hindrance in my daily activities. It makes me grumpy, really tired, not hungry... a zombie would fit my description pretty well. I didn't want to go out on weekends, I'd sleep as soon as my food digested from dinner, I didn't want to play StarCraft or go shopping for clothes I needed for fall, and I would be irritated at writing my personal statement every night.

I'm a very lucky girl, though. Ryan has been very patient and helping me pick up slack around home/school, albeit very worried and understandably stressed. My stress tends to rub on him and my stress level goes pretty high often. So I'm very appreciative of him letting me get porridge when he wants to have beef soup or something tasty. Good sport. :)

Anyway, juicy news as I promised! I can't recall where I left off, but I remember stating that our school is supervisor-less. Well, just when we thought that was the worst of our news, the Korean staff lady, who is probably the last person able to help the school function and communicate with us, told us she was going to quit by the end of this month.

This was two weeks ago. Ryan and I started freaking out thinking we might need to look for another job ASAP, but we weren't too worried since we now have our TEFL certificates. (Thanks Mom and Dad for paying for that!) A week later, the Korean lady and I were talking as I was getting more medication and I casually asked what the other Korean lady she worked with was going to do since she would be the only person working at the school other than us. (The lady also doesn't speak English so we wouldn't be able to run things at the school smoothly.) She told me the other lady was also planning on quitting. So, my initial thought was, "Peachy." I couldn't believe how much drama goes on between adults. We heard lots of screaming and yelling from our boss behind walls, and we saw lots of frustration from the Korean lady that helps us with whatever we need.

To an extent, I feel sorry for the ladies that want to quit... but sometimes, I don't. The things they do aren't hard. Ryan and I observe these ladies as we switch every hour planning lessons: grading homework with answer keys (which takes all of 5 minutes a kid) and here's a for clothes online! The lady packs a child's backpack, then sits down, goes "Ahh!!!" Mutters "so hard" in Korean, puts her head down and massages her back. Ryan and I think: "What??" This happens at least 10 times a day-- I will never understand it. I try giving her the benefit of the doubt by thinking she is trying to learn English as she grades, but at the same time, it's not her job to learn English. It's to look at an answer key, correct 14 multiple choice questions, and answer phone calls. Unnecessary stress or overly exaggerated is what it all seems like.

This past week, they stayed at the school til 12 decorating/making block signs. Ryan and I looked at each other thinking I could've done all of that in 1 hour at least. 2 hours max. It was crazy. Yesterday, however, was pretty hectic I admit. She didn't have time to slack... so I offered to help her grade, write in the kids' journals, and clean up. She was so stubborn about letting me grade for some reason... as if she didn't think I could do it or she just really wanted to do it even though she didn't have time?? So strange, but she eventually gave in because it only made sense that I do it and she was crunched for time. I finished it all in 10 minutes for five kids. Makes me wonder how much I would get paid if I had her job on top of teaching.

Things aren't bad here, though. These are just some pet peeves and worries.

Anyway, last week, we went on a field trip with the kindergarteners to a park near Bundang, which was fun. This week, two students that moved out of my class into Ryan's for a month, transferred back in because his class was too hard. Now my MWF 2-4 class, which is already tough to control, has 6 kids again. Whooo! Always up for a good challenge. :P Yesterday, the "hectic day" I mentioned was an early Halloween party for all classes Monday through Friday. They do something called Market Day where they have cards earned from the points Ryan and I give them, and they buy toys, stationaries, and other things. It was pretty fun and it made the week go by a lot faster.

Tomorrow, we are going to Yonsei because Ryan wants to show me around. I've only been there once and that was with my family a couple years ago. Should be fun, and I'm feeling well enough to do it! Long update and quite overdue. I can't remember if I'm leaving anything out, but if I remember anything it will be edited in this post with a big **EDIT** sign. :)

Sunday, 16 October 2011

When At Starbucks...

You blog!
Since my last blog, my cold hasn't gotten any better. Last week, I started experiencing slight and bearable pain around my right rib area. I figured it was bruising from coughing-- something I've had before. I had also looked it up on the Internet so I wasn't worried. One of the Korean staff ladies took me to a pediatrician's office just for a quick check-up. It was a funny experience being a kid again. I felt like I had a mother signing me in all over again since I don't speak Korean. She had to tell the nurse all my symptoms, tell me to weigh myself, everything my mother used to do with me. Anyway, the doctor said it was just very light bruising from my coughing and sent me on my way with different medication not at normal pharmacies.

Well about two days later I started coughing violently and felt like something popped near my rib. At first I kind of freaked out but then pain quickly took over the fear. Ryan was in the kitchen asking if I was okay and I couldn't talk from the sharp and immense pain. The next day, I tried taking a deep breath and I felt like something inside was collapsing. Basically, something didn't feel right. The Korean staff lady took me to get an X-ray just to be sure I didn't have a cracked rib as it is possible to get one from traumatic coughing. The doctor felt around my chest area to see if I had any pain or swelling when he pushed some pressure onto me. After looking at the X-rays, he said I had chostocondritis-- inflammation where the bone and cartilage meet, and he said my muscle (or lung??) was very, very bruised. I think I could've guessed looking at my X-ray. One looked way brighter than the other, haha. Anyway, he gave me new medication. 5 pills 3 times a day plus cough medicine and about a week's worth. This will take 3-4 weeks to heal, though.

Leaving Starbucks now. Maybe I'll finish updating at another time. 10/16/11


Coming soon! I promise! I am going through some new health issues. It's been a while since my last blog, but I am sloooowwwlllyyy getting better. Patience! I've got some new juicy news.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Feeling a Bit Under the Weather

But alas, that won't stop me from writing!

This week has definitely been interesting. I haven't decided whether it's good or bad, really. Currently, I am sitting in my favourite coffee shop where a kind fellow always makes mine and Ryan's day. It's called Tombola, and it's right outside our apartment complex. Every time we come here, he manages to turn my frowns into smiles. I don't think I've ever met anyone quite like that other than Ryan, my brother, and my dad. (Oh, and my Uncle Bob, Uncle Aaron, and cousins Evan and Adam.) He doesn't know a thing about mine or Ryan's day, and he just makes us feel like the black cloud never hovered over our heads to begin with. Although there is a language barrier, he tries to speak English, apologizes when he can't translate when we should be the ones apologizing... everything he does is so wholehearted and sincere. He just might be the most humble stranger I've ever met. Ryan and I always talk about how sweet he is and how he just melts our hearts to pieces, and we've never met anyone quite like him. I personally can't wait for Christmas because we both want to give him something in return just for being him. We talk about how if we were rich, we'd buy him a plane ticket to anywhere in the world he'd want to go and he can bring a friend. Just a few moments ago, Ryan joked about how he wouldn't be surprised if he followed us all the way back to our apartment complex yelling, "Thank you! Kamsahamnida! Annyonghi kaseyo!" I can't help but laugh because I kind of believe it could happen, and it wouldn't bother me, either. Or Ryan for that matter.

To give you an example of just how amiable this guy is:
Ryan handed me a cup with water he poured into it. I asked him if his water tasted like smoke and he tasted mine. We both made a grossed out face and realized it was only mine; someone probably was a smoker when they drank out of it. Well, we handed it to this man just to let him know it was dirty (not because we were trying to be picky-- we thought it would be out of interest for other people, too). He humbly bowed his head several times, fussed with his hair as if embarrassed, and as we rounded back to our seats, he came around the corner with bigger cups filled with ice. Ryan and I felt so bad... this guy was just the most generous guy we've ever encountered. This guy seriously makes you gravitate towards his contagious personality. This is getting sappy, but if you met this guy, you would just keel over at his gentle and welcoming disposition.

I digress. He cheered us up from what was becoming a stressful week. As I mentioned in the previous post, the younger supervisor who helped us settle into work finished her time last week. The older woman they were going to hire decided this past Monday that she didn't want the job, thus leaving us supervisor-less. This is a problem because the supervisor is supposed to be the bridge for us to the Korean staff as she speaks both English and Korean. Also, she plans the lessons for our classes. Well, the problem became apparent yesterday when one Korean staff member approached me with a worried look.

The kids we have come from rich families and so take education seriously-- hence, expensive hagwon school, right? Well, some kids' mothers watch the lesson plans with a careful eye and interrogate their children right after class on what they did in class. Then they check off each thing on the schedule to make sure we are doing our jobs. I had no idea about this, but luckily I take my job seriously and follow the plan religiously. I sometimes even throw in extra things to push their learning curve. Anyway, she tells me about the moms and that I now have to plan a week's worth of schedules for five classes and 9 hours a day worth of material. I was pretty unprepared for that just because it came all at once, and Ryan and I hardly have time to prepare anything before/in between classes already.

Ryan and I quickly strategized how we were going to do this in one day: today. Because we teach kindergarten from 9- 2 together, we figured we could take turns for an hour teaching while one person made lesson plans for the respective classes we teach. This worked out pretty well, but it was very stressful as well since there was a lot of technical changes that needed to be done (more so on my part) and also some other nit-picky things that needed to be altered to the parents' wishes (which I know nothing about). It's a lot of pressure to say the least: I want to make sure I am meeting the parents' demands but at the same time, no one prepared us for this the right way. To be fair, we are thankful that the Korean staff teacher is understanding and as helpful as she can be to us. I do feel a little paranoid that I am not planning the lesson plans how she would like them. All I can say is I put a lot into the time I was given, so I can feel confident that I did everything to the best of my abilities and in the children's best interests.

Some other stressful things: 1) A kid running into a door. One of our kindergarteners had to go to the doctor's during lunch because the wooden door he ran into caused his eyelid to bleed, on the outside mind you. We were informed that the mother had a moment of rage and that she was taking him to a plastic surgeon. Our reaction to this was ".................................." because really, it was just a cut... I don't think the mother's anger was directed at us, but whether it was to us or the Korean staff, or even both of us, it was a little ridiculous. Everyone agreed. She later calmed down, which was good, because it was still pretty stressful to deal with. 2) A kid who is incredibly sick coughs deliberately in your face and general direction more than 7 times. He does not hold back, either. It is with all his might... almost hoping you might catch his illness. So I am now coming down with a cold-- I am starting to lose my voice and am in the stage of what I like to call a man-voice. 3) How in the world do you teach kids that don't know "What is_____?" They don't know "read" "spell" or "write" even if I do motions. It's one thing to legitimately not understand things if you are trying but these kids don't even try. I guess I should have more sympathy. I just don't see how these kids can have no motivation to learn a simple word when I can remember being their age and paying attention like the world would end if I didn't. Then again, I didn't have to learn a second language at a later age. I lost my fluency in Chinese at the age of six as I was immersed completely in English both at home and at school.

Sometimes, writing in this blog makes me realize mid-blog or mid-sentence that I need to be more lenient. I am trying to assume the most adult role I can possibly assume at my age and sometimes forget my natural tendency to be a kid that I naturally I am. As cheesy as this sounds, I suppose I am trying to find balance with the 6 year old I naturally am and in being an adult in the real world. When I act like a grown up, I really act like a grown up. And when I'm myself naturally, I forget the rules of the world and am at play with everything and everyone around me. I find that I take after my mom's "whip-you-into-shape-into-no-time"attitude when it comes to education with kids aged 7-10. I remember not liking it, but at the same time I appreciate it. I knew then (and even now), though, that there are better ways that are conducive to learning faster. I know because my dad used to balance my mother's education techniques, which I also appreciated very much. Patience, even with mistakes, gentle encouragement, and firm pushing. It was a good balance. In all honesty, growing up, I preferred the latter and today, I still do. It's just my upbringing that brings out the stereotypical Asian mom characteristics. Oy vey. In any case, that's the thing I am trying to figure out: balance. I have it half way figured out in terms of discipline. Oh well, it's a learning experience, right?

On the plus side, we gained another kindergartener this week and hopefully, another little princess if her mother decides she wants her to keep attending. This week is a test trial, I think. It would be good for the only girl in this class to have her best friend back in class. Ryan and I absolutely adore the only girl in this class-- she's incredibly smart. We were joking about how her brain is too advanced for her body. She knows too much but her brain has to process and figure out how to convey what she's trying to say, sometimes. It's too cute for us to handle. We glance at each other from across the room and giggle. Everyday, she just says or does the darndest things-- sweet, smart, or comedic, and we just want to squish the cute out of her. It's good to hear from her mother that she adores me. :)))) I just want to take her home with me, haha. And Ryan admits his heart melts when she hugs/sits on his lap/kisses him.

These kids-- hard and good times-- make everything here and back at home worth it. Hopefully I can jot down some funny things Ryan's told me about his classes. Or maybe I can get him to write on here, too, because he has more interesting things happen in his classes in my opinion.

Anyway, that's all for now. Zoom zoom!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Time for a blog again. I have a lot of pictures to update both on Facebook and here as well, but maybe over the weekend.

Some things Ryan and I have noticed since last weekend:
In the US, if boys or men cross their legs tightly, they get made fun of or are assumed to be gay. (Some exceptions Ryan and I thought of were professors, lawyers, doctors, and businessmen. I honestly have no idea why we thought of them specifically, but it's what came to mind.) However, here, it seems to emit sophistication or something of the like. I actually had that first cross my mind as I was eating across from Ryan. I saw two men probably a few years older than us behind him, and I'm not sure why I thought of it then, but my brain just seemed to zone in on what would be peculiar in the US. I think I'm used to it since I've seen it in Korean dramas. Maybe-- I'm not really sure.

Also, during our lunch break this week, we were walking back from grabbing some coffee. While standing at a corner waiting for the walk signal to turn green, an old man ecstatically said, "Hello! Hello! Hello!" until Ryan and I turned our heads. He then said, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!" Then he proceeded to walk ahead of us. Everyone around us looked just as confused as us. Ryan and I laughed, but as we were walking behind him, he told me about how this had happened to him while he studied at Yonsei last summer. He said he thinks it might be because they think he is in the army. He was happy I finally got to witness this, and I laughed because he fit the mold-- tall, caucasian, and muscle-y.

Now, as far as our week has been going, it's been much better than last week. Our supervisor is leaving the job this week, so the new supervisor came in to get a hold on things. She is much older, and I think she speaks better English. Lately, we've been having the Korean ladies sit in on our class-- we're not sure why. Evaluate most likely... it's kind of uncomfortable, but I'm just now getting used to it. Today, though, the new supervisor sat in on one of my classes and it was like treading on water all over again. So weird. There were times when she would help explain things to the children in Korean, but she realized how hard it was for me to teach the class because they can't understand very much English. She suggested I read the sentences to have them repeat after me, but from testing out the waters (and personal experience) it is very easy to make the same noise without looking at what you're reading. I know these kids pretty well by now as it is our 4th week. I've tried what she's suggested and figured out that when I have them read it to me afterwards by themselves, they don't have a clue at all as to how to say some things. I find it better to have them read the sentences so that I can correct them and know which words they have problems with. I can then hone in on what I want to fix over the next 1.5 hours and I can also correct them on the spot while they are actually paying attention.

Although it was a friendly first day suggestion, it was a little frustrating. Not sure why-- I guess I just felt that it wasn't her place to tell me on her first day observing? Or maybe because I've tried what she suggested and it didn't work? I'm not sure. I do like the new lady, though. She seems very nice, professional, and helpful.

That's all I can think of for now, so ta!

Friday, 16 September 2011


Although this week has been short due to the four day weekend, it was probably what seemed like the longest and hardest week. Why? Well, a couple of things. 1) As you know, Ryan and I co-teach three 5 and 6 year olds. One boy trouble maker, one smart and motivated boy, and a very happy and smart girl from 9:50-2:30. Well, this week (and part of last week), the trouble maker was being extremely good while the smart and motivated one was saying no to everything we were supposed to do. He'd throw ropes and the troublemaker during breaks, storm in and out of the room(s) slamming the doors, and he would have temper tantrums that lasted pretty much all day. Well, yesterday, I had barely interacted with the usually good-natured boy since I tend to work better with the troublemaker than Ryan. The only time I ever spoke to him was when I said, "You need to be nice, please and listen to the teacher" and "You are a good boy, you just need to listen." Ryan and I both also told him, "If you are mad, you won't get any points. You're the only one not working." What does this have to do with anything? Apparently, this boy's mom called because he told his mom that I said he was "mad." Mad in the sense that he was mentally retarded, I guess. One of the Korean co-teachers we work with can understand English and Korean, so after pulling both of us aside to tell us the issue, she said that the mother probably looked up the word "mad" and it was a misunderstanding. What I was boggled at was not that the mother was initially upset with me, it was that the boy mentioned my name when I didn't interact with him the entire day except for those few words. It also wasn't like only I said the word mad, anyway.

I realize and admit my initial reaction of complete aggravation and frustration was a tad bit immature seeing as he's just a baby and says anything. But I just didn't like the blame at the time and I didn't want to get fired over something like this. I was aware my feelings were bad, but at the same time, I guess being in the moment I didn't care at the moment that he was a child. The kid is normally so good, and I had never seen this side of him that I forgot what his actual age was. Anyway, the teacher cleared up the misunderstanding with the mother, so that's good.

2) The good boy went back to being good and the naughty kid went back to being naughty. There were things I knew he could do but he wouldn't do it. That's the very short, less convoluted answer.

3) Today, my toughest class that I had mentioned before proved more than ever that I am going to have to really hone up my teacher skills even though I've never been taught how to teach. I actually had to raise my voice.... actually yell at all the kids several times. And I threatened to make them go out of the classroom at least a good five times. I was mentally exhausted trying to teach five kids how to do verbs. The one trouble maker in the class made it all difficult. (If he gone, they would have understood everything). Unfortunately, there's one in every classroom, right? I spent an hour and a half on a worksheet of verbs. They all know what verbs are. All they had to do was circle the verbs in the sentence and then tell me whether they were past, present, or future tense. I did sample exercises with them and knew they understood it. But, of course, the trouble maker made it so no one would pay attention (except for one girl). When I saw they weren't following simple directions on the paper, I told them exactly what to do by doing an example on board. After that, I gave up. I worked with one girl who got everything right while everyone else missed everything on the worksheet. Then, I practiced with the trouble maker on his spelling before his spelling test. He got everything correctly when he practiced with me and as soon as he took his test, he mentally checked out-- didn't even try.

Now, I'm not a real teacher and it's not my passion otherwise I would be working towards something in this field... but just because I am doing this as a temporary thing, it doesn't mean I don't care about these kids--

I take my job very seriously, and I used to want to be a teacher as a kid. I've always wanted to make a big difference in the world, which is why I wanted to be a pediatrician and a lawyer (one of which I am working on right now). I know teaching kids is something very important, so I care very much about these kids. Even if they have their wild child tendencies and drive me off the walls...

All that being said, I wanted to make the point that though I am not a real teacher, it is so frustrating to see kids not trying when I know they can answer the question because they've done it so well in previous days. Or seeing kids get their entire paper marked up in red because they are getting distracted and not following simple, simple, simple directions that I talk them through two times. When I physically do all the problems on the board, help them answer the questions-- there should be no reason for them to fail.

AHHHH! This was just one of those weeks... days I wanted to pull my hair out. I sat defeated in that classroom for a half hour as they played and yelled. I was at the end of the rope. I just know this means that although this week, this day was rough, I'll just have to better figure out how to handle myself and trouble makers. Or suck up my pride and bring in the co-teacher to have them talk to the kid(s). If I can't handle the kids, maybe she can, and we'll get the kids back on the right track.

Didn't say everything I wanted to say in this post like funny occurrences at school and whatnot, but maybe tomorrow since I'm pretty tired and I'm heading to Dongdaemun for some shopping for work clothes. *sigh* Hate spending money. lol Alrighty, that's all for now. I'll be posting again soon!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Been a while since I've blogged (again). For some reason, I was much better at blogging about my experiences in England, but perhaps because I had a little more down time in between classes, homework, and going in and out of London/Brighton/Paris.

My schedule usually goes like this:
I wake up at 6:30-7:00, get on the Internet to quickly check email, facebook, watch a quick 20 minute show, maybe lay down for another 15 minutes. Then by 7:30, I hop into the shower and freshen up so Ryan can use the bathroom by 7:45. By 8:10 at the very latest, we are out the door to grab some coffee and take the bus to school. 9:30, we are at school printing out worksheets that we've planned/made up. Then the schedule for classes follows:
9:50- 2:10 Ryan and I co-teach 5-6 year olds. (All of them know more than US kids their age-- I see where my mom got off whipping me into shape at 4 years old...)
2:15-4:05 I teach about five to six 7-10 year olds on M/W/F, and then I teach one girl who is around 8-9 years old T/TH.
4:10- 6:00 I teach a 6th grader who is around 12-13 years old on M/W/F, then three 7-9 year olds T/TH.

My hardest classes are with, believe it or not, the five kids that are 7-10 and the three 7-9 year olds. They are all great kids, but they are kind of hard to control. I've got a better handle on them now that it is the second week, but it still is very tiring. I can understand how children can tune out a teacher without feeling bad when they don't understand a second language too well. Some kids are also on the brink of being a teenager so they give me attitude. Strangely, the whole blackmailing of taking away points still works on them.

In my 4:10-6:00 class with the 3 kids, one girl hates studying and ends up coming to my class and crying for a good hour and a half. She doesn't like trying at all. I'll tell her it's time for apractice test, and after about the 2nd word, she ends up crying waterfalls because I won't let her cheat off her friend and she refuses to try using her own brain. It can be very frustrating for me. On Thursday, I gave her a practice test and the exact same thing happened. Then I told her if she practiced with me on the board, she could get 100% on her real test with me in the next hour. Her friend (who always gets 90-100) would try and snatch a marker out of my hand so she could take away points from the only boy in the class while I'm not looking or to write the correct spelling on the board for the girl to see and cheat off of. I had to sternly tell her no and that if she wanted to see her friend cry again, it would be because she wasn't learning the words on her own. It didn't seem to get through to her and taking away points didn't bother her. I had to end up scolding her. :/ By the time the girl I was practicing with had finally gotten a hang of her spelling words, we took the test and it resulted in her crying all over again. Ahhh! I did all I could-- even encouraging, reminding her that she had just gotten it down several times with me, and telling her that if she just put more effort into using her own brain instead of putting effort into cheating she might just surprise herself and be less stressed. Oh well-- I did all I could.

The positive thing from that class was that I got the boy into line. At the beginning of class, he wasn't trying when I asked him to show me the definition of something. Then after missing 8/11 on his practice spelling test, I worked long and hard with him for a half hour on the board and he got 100%! So proud of that kid. :) Things like that make my day.

Another thing I wanted to note was that I got sunscreen from a girl as a gift. I'm guessing for Chuseok? I tried to ask her why but she just ran off, haha I opened it at home and initially thought, "What kid would... OH, of course. It's from the mother." Haha I'm too tan :( I know. But I know when winter rolls around, I'll be less tan.

Some other things about things we've noticed:
It's not very common to see couples with a caucasian and an asian. This is obvious, however it has really been evident lately with all the stares we get on the subway and from time to time, on the streets. The starting gets a little ridiculous sometimes that Ryan and I have a hard time ignoring it. We joke around about both staring at them bug-eyed or waving at them (but of course we don't).

Then there are the girls. They all look so fashionable and pretty. Then they take off their sunglasses and Ryan and I become surprised, haha. I guess the saying, "It's all about the eyes" really does mean something. We've become better at figuring out who has gotten cosmetic surgery (which are a lot of girls we've come across) and figuring out who uses glue to make the double eyelids. Thank you mom and dad for gifting me with double eyelids because I youtubed the whole using glue and pushing it into your eyeball lid ordeal--- got so grossed out. *shiver*

Another thing, which I think is worthy of noting, is when people assume that I can speak Korean. I forget that I'm Asian sometimes and that that's the reason they always assume I can speak their language. It's funny because when I'm in England, I don't think about my ethnicity. When I was in France, I definitely was aware of it. When I'm in the U.S., I am aware around my caucasian friends but also very aware of it even when I am around my Asian friends. (Don't really know why... I have an idea of why I feel this way in the U.S., but maybe that is for another time). It's nice for once to not be aware of whether I'm Chinese or not. Here, I feel like Ryan-- a foreigner. I'm sure his feelings are different from mine since he is actually a caucasian foreigner, but to some degree, I feel like a caucasian foreigner since I can't speak the language and once they realize this, they look at me/treat me the same way they do with him. It's not rude by any means, but there is an underlying feeling you get from them sometimes with the way they interact with you.

Well, in closing, I had an eventful four day weekend and a much needed break. 1) I got to see Artosis and Tasteless (SC2 American casters for GSL). We went to Gwangnaru to watch the finals for GSL and as we walked out of dinner, we saw the casters across the street. I was pretty starstruck, and as soon as the walk light turned green, I ran to get a picture... of their backs, haha. We sat pretty close to them and even got pictures with them :) 2) We went to Everland, which Ryan says blows Lotte World out of the water and is still a knock-off of Disneyland. It was a long ways to get there, but it was definitely worth it. Maybe I'll go back for Christmas. 3) Found our 2nd kitty cafe... cats everywhere! 4) I get paid this week, woohoo! No more having to completely rely on my parents for money, anymore. No more guilt for buying even food or home essentials. I'm too frugal-- even for Ryan, and he's very good about being frugal. Apparently, I'm on the far end because I hate buying clothes that I need for work/winter or even food. But no more!! Hehehe or at least, a little less guilt.

Alright, that's all for now. Hope you enjoyed this post. (And to mom: You'll be happy to know they have 4-5 different kinds of gardens at Everland. Yes, even Victorian gardens albeit a little smaller than you're used to.)

Time for pictures! And of course, the rest of my pictures are on facebook.

The gift I got from my student.
Ryan and I eating Korean bbq.
The gift before I unwrapped it.
And lastly...

Tasteless, me, Ryan, and Artosis.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

End of the Week

I have more pictures but they are all on facebook. Pictures of food and more school things, but it takes way longer to post here. :/

Food on our second night.Second day of work:My favourite picture of Ryan and Andy. Andy is extremely smart and good-natured.I spy "Margaret teacher." HeheheheFriday:

After a long day of work:

Back! We just had lunch. I ended up getting a pie with pizza in it. The store is called Jesters if I remember correctly, and they have all sorts of UK-like pies. Dessert pies and lunch pies. They are actually really small (about the size of my fist), but the pie I got was just the right amount of food for me. After that, I went to a GS25, which is a 24 hour convenience store, to get a red bean ice cream/popsicle. Ryan told me that it was a different experience being in Korea with me because everyone thinks I can speak Korean. I had an idea about why, but I asked him anyway just to be sure, and he said that people don’t talk about him when I am around. We laughed about it because he liked it that way, and I knew it was true. It’s all good until I open my mouth and struggle to talk like any other American foreigner. We’ll be downloading Rosetta stone tonight, though, because we want to be able to learn the language and obviously, get around on our own more easily.

Anyway, we walked around our apartment-mall complex and discovered more stores than we initially saw. They have make-up shops where girls (and boys) get their make-up done for fun and for pictures. I remember seeing my friends that had gone to China, Indonesia, and Korea come back with pictures. It seems like an Asian girl thing to do. I’m not one to really dress up and take pictures, but I think I might just do it once for the experience and see what all the hype is about. (Even just for that, though, I am pretty hesitant haha). We discovered more café shops that had free wi-fi where we could work at while planning/making lesson plans. In fact, we might go there later in the day since we have to teach tomorrow. Next to the make-up and hair shops, we saw wedding pictures being taken and a wedding venue being prepared. I should have taken a picture of what all these things looked like because it is hard to describe in words, and I’m not as articulate with my words as I used to be. Basically, the wedding venue was a room about the size of my apartment, which, if you have seen my Facebook pictures, know that it is really small). The tables and chairs are decorated simply with white ribbons and are lined up tightly along either sides of the room. Then, in the middle is a sort of runway, which Ryan and I assumed was for the bride to walk down the aisle. Very interesting to say the least. If I walk by there again, I’ll take pictures and hopefully I’ll catch the wedding venue happening.

Feeling tired at the moment because Ryan and I just finished unpacking and cleaning our apartment, but I need to blog about yesterday so that I will be caught up on everything that has happened. We took the subway from Bundang, which is about a 5-10 minute walk from our apartment. We transferred 3 times to get to Myeong-dong, and I think I was there before with my family. I can’t exactly remember. But anyway, we were meeting one of Ryan’s friends from Yonsei since he studied here last summer. We did a lot of browsing around this area, and we noticed a lot of tourists around. Everything was really busy, and I liked it a lot. I noticed shoes were cheap, and I needed some for work, but maybe I’ll go back next weekend to browse. After about 3 hours in Myeong-dong, we took the subway back to Bundang, ordered Pizza, and went home. Ordering pizza was interesting. Ryan and I began to wonder how English could be so bad in the younger generation when most of the schools in Korea emphasize learning English so much. The students that go to the hagwon have bad English, too, so I wonder what and how the kids in public schools learn. It’s crazy! Anyway, not much on yesterday but that’s all that has happened. I’m sure my blogs would have been more interesting had I gotten to my blog sooner. Things were more vivid and I could remember all the interesting cultural details that Ryan and I thought about. If I remember anything, I’ll post it in a new entry, but from here on out, you’ll be getting fresher descriptions, and maybe it will be less mundane. Hopefully :P I’ll work on brushing up my writing in the process, as I’ve been out of this kind of writing style for a while. Academics seem to have killed my creative composition skills.

Everyone Loves Pictures to Start Off With!

Starting off with some pictures since I'm sure most of you are curious to see:
Our apartment on the second day. Quite messy as we are unpacking.
Kitchen area. There is a button underneath the sink you press with your foot to use the water. The fridge is to the right of the sink and the freezer likewise.
The entry to our apartment. When you walk in, the light comes on.
Ryan's first day:My first day:Jeong-hyo's first day:

Back! I'm just going to jump right back in.

Day 2, we woke up at 6:00 am. Our bodies naturally woke us up around that time, so we figured we would walk around, grab some breakfast, and then we would walk back to our apartment. While walking around, we decided to go to a place called "Paris Baguette", which is every 10-15 blocks around Bundang... or so it seems. There is one right across the street from our apartment and one in the same building as our school. Funny thing was, after breakfast, our boss picked us up from our apartment and treated us to another breakfast and coffee but at the Paris Baguette at our school. On our first day, we were introduced to 3 little kids aged 6 and 7 in Korean years. That means they are around 4-6 years old in the American age system. Anyway, there are two boys and one girl- Andy, Jack, and Jeong-hyo. We were told that these kids made a sort of "triangle" where if one boy played with Jeong-hyo, the other boy would get jealous and want to sit next to her/play with her. We were also told that one of the boys, Jack, was very slow at all his subjects, so Ryan and I were determined to help him catch up with his classmates.

We learned very quickly that Jack is a distraction and a trouble-maker, so the first day, we got a good feel of how things would run in the classroom with him around. Andy is the little goody two shoes-- very obedient and quiet most of the time. When he gets upset, he starts to make little foams in his mouth that bubble out and stares hard at something while his eyes tear up. It actually happened on the first day during math time. Ryan and I couldn't figure out what was wrong until we asked Jack who told us that he wanted Jeong-hyo to do the same page as him.

Class with these 3 kids goes until 2:30 and then our kids from 2:35-4:00 are older kids, but we teach in separate classrooms (1st grade and up). The kids I have from 2:35-4:00 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday can be sweet, but they can also be little devils. They actually gave me the hardest time my third day (Friday), which I will try and talk about in another post. But I have six kids that all sit at a small table and talk to each other all the time at every opportunity they can. Some of them have really bad attitude problems and I have to scold them, which I hate doing. :/ The girl I have from 2:35-4:00 on Tuesday and Thursday is very smart, talkative, but also very respectful. Her name is Lea, and she is the prettiest student I have even for how young she is. I think she is 7-9 in US years. But she's always inquisitive and really surprises me with how curious she is and in a way, pushing herself to learn more. For example, we were reading about simple machines and everytime we talked about inclined planes or pulleys, she would say, "Teacher, is an elevator a pulley?" It caught me so off-guard that I just stared at her for a while. The other kids I have never really asked me questions whether they were right or wrong. She'd ask me what a wedge was and how she'd never seen one before. Then she'd go around the room trying to make inclined planes and would ask, "Teacher, inclined plane?"

My oldest kid who comes in Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, is my favorite to teach because she is in the 6th grade. The grade system here is different in the US, if I recall correctly, so she is actually older than the kids who are in 6th grade [in the US]. (I think 13 years old?) Her favorite is crazy. When I ask her about someone in her family, some of her friends, or the kids in Ryan's classroom, she says they are crazy.

Day 3 and Day 4 were kind of a blur. Some things I quickly jotted down on my sticky:

Andy was crying because I told him to put away his toys because it was time to work. So as Ryan and I tried to comfort him, Jeong-hyo and Andy started kissing him on the cheek and arms. It was the cutest thing Ryan and I had ever seen. During lunch time, Jeong-hyo tried to attack Ryan with kisses and he started giving me the "EW" look, hahah. I think he actually likes it :P My 2:30-4:00 kids (6 uncontrollable kids in the class) were getting more difficult because new students kept piling into the classroom. My inability to control them eventually led me to teach them one at a time because everyone was getting so distracted with one another. Finally, one of the older women working at the front desk got fed up with the kids being so disrespectful to me that she had to sit in there and work on papers. They have problems with understanding the difference between the words "real" and "will" and "these" and "this." It was frustrating when I would get them to finally understand the pronunciation and how to spell them just because as soon as they start to say one word to another kid, they would forget everything they just learned. Even after 5 times of getting it down. I really think they would get their spelling test right if they all just stopped talking to each other. :/ But now that I have someone else in the room to watch them, I think things will start to change.

Ryan's kids from 4:05-6:00 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are much like my 2:30-4:00 kids on M,W, and F. He has 3-4 boys ages 12-14, and they like to mess with him. They change their names constantly and talk to each other while he is trying to teach them. On Friday, he even had the same teacher sitting in to keep the quiet. One occasion, which I found hilarious was during break, I had walked into his room to ask how he was doing. Well, after the day was over and Ryan and I were heading home, he told me all the boys were following me as I walked out of the room to stare at me. Then they said, "Girl teacher so beautiful! Who is she?" And Ryan said, "My girlfriend." One or maybe all of them (I can't recall) said, "No, my girlfriend." Hahaha that actually kind of made my day. So sweet. :)) This has happened twice so far, and it makes my days so much better after feeling defeated from just 2 hours with 6 crazy kids that need less sugar. Ahh!

I have to say Friday was my roughest day by far just because of those 6 kids. But I'm hoping this week, I find a better way of dealing with the kids. My only complaint other than that is that Ryan and I are assigned too little to teach in the time slots we are supposed to teach. So we are taking it upon ourselves to assign more in teaching and make more worksheets. We asked for the full week schedule and brought it home with us. Hopefully things will go more smoothly for the both of us. A criticism I have of the school is that they have the older students write a journal entry, and when they correct it, they say it's all okay when there are tons of grammatical errors! I have no idea how they can let it slide like that or why they don't give it to us to correct but I was so dumbfounded when I found out. The kids, the "teachers" here know their parents are paying a lot of money for this kind of schooling. (My school is a hagwon, by the way) so it really boggles my mind that this sort of thing could go on-- reinforcing bad English when they've brought us here to teach them proper English. I guess on the upside, it helped to give me an idea of what to work on with my 6th grader and other students.

And on the bright side, Ryan and I were having trouble ordering breakfast Friday morning. We ordered bibimbap (traditional Korean food) and one man saw that we needed help ordering. He ended up buying us a soup and the entire meal! Sweet, sweet man. I wish I could thank him for his kindness, but all I could do was bow and say Kamsahamnida over and over again. It's little things like that that can make all the difference in my day. :)

I think that's all I've got for now. I'm caught up for the most part, but I'll write another entry about my first weekend here tonight. Toodles!

Friday, 2 September 2011


It's been a while since I've blogged in any blog. If you have my other one, then you know how stressed I've been with my cousin's wedding performance and preparations for going to Korea. Anyway, I've been trying to decide whether I want to start a new blog just for Korea or whether I should continue my updates on my England blog. I've figured it's too complicated to make myself a new email and start another one. Also, my personal blog is... well, personal, and I have been having issues with my ucdavis gmail login. (It creates problems for me logging into my personal blog).

Now if I can just remember everything that has happened since Seattle.

As you all probably know, I was performing in my cousin's wedding. I was a nervous wreck for the two weeks leading up to his special day. Things with Korea weren't working out or needed some sorting out. My violin was having problems (and it never really got fixed, but no one noticed). The wedding turned out beautifully and I loved Seattle. Most importantly, I am so overjoyed to have seen the family I love again and to have gained a sister figure in my life!

The morning after the wedding was pretty crazy. Ryan and I were out until 1 am at a bar with my cousin and most of the wedding attendees. (I think it was my first time getting a whee bit tipsy, too.) Anyway, we had to wake up at 4 and got out the door by 4:40. United Airlines was pretty confusing with the way they checked us and our luggage in, but we eventually figured it out after 30 minutes. Now, although I've ridden on a bagillion short and long flights my entire life, it never gets easier. Turbulence, taking off, landing, etc. Well, this United Airlines flight attendant was saying "Emergency Evacuation" at all the wrong times, and I am pretty sure you only say those words before take-off and if there is a real emergency. This flight attendant said, "We are now descending. During an emergency evacuation, leave all your belongings behind." In all the airplane rides of my life, not one has said that while descending. Ryan and I both looked at each other confused and a little freaked out. For the 15 minutes that we were in the air to the touch-down, we were both trying to figure out what was going on. Then, we ended up taxing for about 5-7 minutes, during which the same flight attended muttered something about an emergency for our plane again. WHAT? lol This flight attendant was either new or off her rocker. The flight to Korea went very smoothly, and the guy sitting next to me was apparently also teaching English, too. As soon as we arrived, our employer met us at our apartment complex, which is called I want. It was around 8:30 pm, and we were exhausted so we grabbed a quick dinner and went to bed. I have to say, though, the neat thing about our apartment complex is that it is a part of a small mall. So the grocery store, a cafe, and some restaurants are just down stairs. Anyway, that was day 1.

I will update on the days up to today after dinner or tomorrow. Ryan is famished. :)