Weeks 23 and 24¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Uhhh so I guess I forgot to write two weeks worth of life? I have a bad memory so this doesn’t surprise me. 

As mentioned previously, we started the new term on June 1st. Things seem to be going ok so far. I like the majority of my classes. The Korean teacher and I have had some issues with one of the girls in a higher level class being rude to us and not being a pleasant person. I scolded her in class and my coworker called her mom. Another one of my classes is probably the worst behaved class I’ve had my entire time here. There are four or five students in the class that are angels and the others…well they’re just not motivated to be there or think it’s social hour. 

I asked the director at my school if she would like me to stay an extra term and she seemed shocked that I suggested such a thing. But honestly, this came about after I had talked to a recruiter for a different job I was interested in and even though I would have about a month between the jobs, I wouldn’t be able to go home. I thought about this and decided it wasn’t ideal for many reasons and let him know I would wait a term and apply later. So, expect me stateside ~December and January at least. 🎄✌🏻

Everyone in my family is/was on baby watch. My brother’s wife, Hannah, was due to give birth to their second child any day and being 14 time zones away is a bit difficult to stay in the loop. On Monday June 12th, Astrid Jean joined the Hokanson clan. 

This year is going to be interesting because three of my cousins and a friend are also pregnant, all due one month after each other… it will certainly make coming home in December all the more exciting. 👶🏼👶🏼👶🏼👶🏼👶🏼

Friday I went out with four of my coworkers. The first bar we went to had ladies night with half priced drinks. Anything other than beer or soju is generally expensive in Korea so we took advantage of that. Then we went to a dance club. I somehow lost my apartment key while dancing. I went to the dj to ask if they had a lost and found, they didn’t but he was kind enough to announce to the whole club I’d lost my r2d2 Lego keychain 🤦🏼‍♀️ and maybe 30 minutes later the bartender comes up to me with my key! I hugged her so hard. I’m honestly really lucky in the fact that the unlucky things that happen to me turn out waaaaay worse than they could. After that debacle we danced for an eternity. I ate McDonald’s breakfast before staggering home around 5:45am. 


Saturday I was not hungover! Yay. I didn’t do much because, although I didn’t have a hangover my body hurt from all the drunk dancing I did. I did laundry and tidied up. I met Asia for pizza and went back to doing nothing at home. I watched Supergirl on Netflix.

Sunday slept in and met Asia and Sharon for 샤브샤브  for a late lunch. I did not eat 샤브샤브 because it’s hot soup and it was hot out. I had a super huge and equally delicious salad for lunch. After that we decided to go walk around a different part of Suwon. I walked over 11,000 steps so I’d say it was a productive day. 

Until next week,

B

Week 11, 2017

Last Monday was the Monday-iest Monday ever. I got bit by a child twice in the span of ten minutes because I wouldn’t let him open the door.

Tuesday was White Day – some sort of extra Valentine’s Day that some Asian countries celebrate. I still don’t know what it’s all about. Our director gave us a Beauty and the Beast chocolate rose lolly though, so that’s cool. Some of the kids in my classes also gave me candy; like this pirate’s gold!

Wednesday the child that bit me was a bit more calm because the Korean teacher scolded him. Nothing else of substance to report.

Thursday two of my classes had to write a report. Since the example was about Korean symbols, one class decided to pick American symbols.  They wrote about the American flag and what the components meant and the national anthem. I thought that was pretty cool.

I lost my pencil while grading book reports and when I looked in the mirror this is what I saw. I’ve officially lost my damn mind.

I saw this cool clown car.


Friday wasn’t that great.

Saturday I went to Korean class. I have to wear a face mask because the yellow dust and pollution are irritating my respiratory system. I think I look like a thief.


Our class was only one hour long instead of the normal two because we had orientation. I was trying to take a selfie and my classmates photobombed me.


We sat there for an hour on plastic stools that made my butt go numb. Then, my class went for lunch.

My classmate that can be seen in the center of the photobombing, Tien, sat next to me at lunch. We were chatting with other classmates. Tien made us guess how old he is…because, you know, that game always works out… I guessed that he was the same age as me. He confirmed that I was born in 1986 and was like, “so you’re 31?” My response was, “no! Not yet!” So he asked me when I’ll be 31. I said May. His eyes got big. “Me too! What day!?” “The 19th,” and his eyes got really big and he hit me on the shoulder. “Me too!” And come to find out he has the ~EXACT~ same birthday as me. He asked me what time! I told him I’d look at my birth certificate when I got home to let him know. We even whipped out our alien registration cards to prove it. So the class was making jokes about how we’re twins separated at birth and how we’ll have to have a joint birthday party. I’ve met people with the same birthday as me before, but not the whole month, day, year same! It’s pretty cool.

After all that, I went to Suwon Station to get a hair cut. The man who cut my hair caught me off guard by offering me money to help him with his English. I would, but my contract specifically forbids this and I don’t think it’s worth the risk of being fired/deported. Next I went to scope out one of my favorite stores and it was closed! I don’t know if it merged with the men’s store that was down the street but it definitely packed up and left its building. So I wondered over to LOHB which is an equivalent to CVS and I found the mother load of imported foods. I was especially impressed enough with their selection of Campbell’s soups that I took a picture. I got off the bus early and walked along the stream back to my house.

 


Sunday I didn’t do much. I did some loads of laundry and went to a Korean barbecue meat buffet with Asia.

I forgot to post this before… it’s official.

 

Until next week,

B

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah

It’s been pretty mild here, weather wise. None of that crazy snow and subzero temperatures you all back home had. In fact, it’s been so nice that the trees have become confused and started to bud again.

Wednesday and Thursday it rained quite a bit. On Friday there was snow in the morning but the only evidence was on the windshields of parked cars.


At work this week we started phone speaking, where we call the kids at home and ask them questions one would generally be asked when meeting a new person and some questions from their lessons. We talk to each of our students for 5 minutes. It gets a bit tricky because we hand out a schedule about a week in advance but of course, some kids lose them, never show their parents, forget; you know normal kid things.

Thursday and Friday we had Christmas activities for the kids which were balloon volleyball and writing three wishes on a paper ornament. The staff also handed out lollipops which caused whining of all sorts because kids wanted a specific shape and a lot of kids disliked how they tasted and some of them turned the kids’ mouths black.

Back: JiYoung, Nick, Andrea, Kathy, Summer, Alicia, and Sean
Front: Olivia, JiEun, Chloe, Jessica, Jinny, and obviously me

This is Daniel, he’s an interesting fellow. He asked me what my last name was and without thinking about it, I told him. Now in class for answers in class and in his book it’s, “Britt Hokanson…”

Thursday I went to eat Korean Barbecue with three of my coworkers after work. One of them paid and told us to pay her back whenever (because she knows where we work…) So after this, I went to the ATM to withdrawal some monies and the @#$@^##$@ ATM shuts off as it’s counting my money!!!!   zoom-in-castle-gasp-gif


I’m panicking and continue to touch the ATM like it’s going to “wake up” and continue it’s job. Luckily, there was an ajusshi (an older Korean man) and his wife waiting in close proxmity to my broken down ATM and I approached them to ask if they knew English and to ask them for their help. The wife pushed the husband toward me and poked him, so that was a good sign. I told him what had happened and asked him how to fix it. He tried the service phone the ATM’s little cubicle, but it was out of order… He then located the number and called on his personal phone to the ATM service people. During this time, hid daughter had come from her academy and they seemed restless to get home. He seemed a bit put out that the ATM service man said it would take 15 minutes to get there and I reassured him I’d be okay waiting by myself. So the nice family left and I was waiting…waiting… waiting… until I saw someone walking extremely fast toward me out of the corner of my eye. The ATM service man! YAY! He was really attractive. He opened up the machine and retrieved my card and I was like, giphy
“Thank you!!!” with the dumbest look on my face probably, I don’t know because I can’t see my own face.

Friday, I was rudely awoken by my doorbell. Luckily it was for a good thing… I got a package from my friend Carly! It included a super cool Christmas card and some random goodies that made me smile. Carly, that Cadbury bar was bomb!

Saturday I went with Sean to his friend Tim’s in Jamsil for a Christmas lunch/movie get together. There were lots of people there and everyone brought amazingly delicious things to share. We watched Elf, Bad Santa, and a good portion of Die Hard. Video games were played. Alcohol was consumed. It was good. I left with Nick, my coworker, around 7 or 8 I don’t remember, and we caught the train and bus back to Suwon.

Nick and me 

Me and Lizzie
Today I did nothing special; laundry mostly. I, of course, had the most traditional of Christmas meals today… grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch and McDonald’s for dinner. McDonald’s was poppin’ too. I got there right before a rush of people came through.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah,
Britt

I can cross that off my lame bucket list…

I didn’t really do a whole lot this past week.

Wednesday was interesting; we learned the outcome of the Presidential election and the day was somber in tone.

gump

Last Friday, my ear started to get achy and I was hoping it was just because of the weather change. Wrong. It wasn’t unbearable until this past Thursday. Luckily there is an ENT doctor in the same building as my bank. So, I got to experience going to the doctor in a different country (check that off the lamest bucket list ever…). Anyway, I popped into the doctor’s office before work and I had a fever which was no surprise to me because I was drenched with sweat. I was surprised how streamlined this doctor’s visit was. No questionnaires about health problems or medical history, just tell me what your problem is and I’ll take a look. So the doctor does this and then puts a camera up my nose and in each ear canal to get a better look. Not only do I have a fever, but a sinus infection and double ear infections. Great. So he prescribes me some medicines and I go to the pharmacy. The pharmacist explains each of the pills in the little packets and when I should take them. Only after I paid for my medicine and left the pharmacy did I remember, oh yeah I’m allergic to like three different antibiotics. Below is one day’s worth of meds.


You don’t really get to call in sick here unless you’re dying so I got to wear a cool mask and sweat my ass off while I felt dizzy. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be but damn Friday went about as fast as a Galapagos Tortoise. After classes were done we had a rehearsal for the school’s festival which I’ll get in to below.


Friday was made better by the arrival of a huge box from my parents. I was super excited and I opened it right at my desk. I was nervous because it seemed like the box was purely filled with crumpled up newspaper pages but it was heavy. Then I got to the good stuff; Cheetos and Doritos! Yes, they sell Cheetos and Doritos in South Korea but they have a funky sweet taste to them and the “cheese” taste is super nasty. In other words, I’m a Cheetos/Doritos snob and will only eat those imported from The United States of America. Also in this box were some new shirts my mom picked out, my teddy bear, some shoes, and other items I requested.


Today, we had LangCon Fest which, from what I gather occurs to make teachers and staff irritated but is a good public relations/recruiting tool for our school’s company. Kids practiced and sang a song to “audition” for parts in this greater festival in the beginning of the year. For the past month or so, we’ve been working with teams of three to five students to get them ready for the school’s festival which was today. Then two teams will move on to a company wide festival in December (?).


So not only do I have the aforementioned illnesses but I have to be at work on a Saturday at 9 a.m. and an irritating part, I’m not getting paid for it. Awesome. Luckily by some random act of the universe, my part in this festival was pretty minimal and I just had to sit in a chair and pretend to judge the competition as we had already decided the results last night during the practice the night before. Every group did a great job and some were out of this world. After cleaning up, the staff and teachers went for lunch.


After lunch I took a four hour nap! I feel better but at the same time, I don’t. I did however feel well enough to walk to the grocery store to buy food as I only had a lemon and some cheddar cheese in my fridge. I bought bananas, clementines, and grapes because I decided part of the reason I’m in this state right now is because I don’t eat enough fruit. The other half being, shit otolaryngic genetics (thanks, fam). While at the store I found almond milk and I was so happy. So now I have Frosted Flakes and I can eat them without wanting to die afterward.

Yesterday was pretty crazy!

Thursday we had Papa John’s pizza and it was pretty much like back home but the the garlic sauce cups aren’t. Everyone else called them pizza sunscreen…

So Friday; D-Day finally came. It was my first day of teaching. As expected my first class was awful. I had no idea what I was doing, not that I do now but a teeny tiny bit more. The day seemed to wiz by pretty fast and my confidence level raised as it went by. There were some super adorable kids that were helping me out; pure angels. Other kids couldn’t have given a damn – they already go to public school and come to academy for extra English instruction and they usually go to other academies, like science, math, even other languages. 

After school was over at 9 pm I finally moved in to my apartment. 


It’s pretty standard for a Korean apartment. The school supposedly hired someone to clean but what they did is beyond me because the bathroom and weird porch thing that houses my washing machine were pretty moldy 😖.

So when I woke up today I scrubbed the wall that was moldy and gross in the porch. There was also a decaying, moldy piece of wood under a shelving unit so that was a fun find. 

I made two trips to the stores today. The first being to Daiso which is like a cheap persons heaven on Earth. It’s like a Dollar General but with more things. I got about $50 USD worth of stuff – I needed everything except the stainless steel chopsticks I bought but whatever. It was hella hot on my walk back home and I chilled for like three hours to cool down. 

Then I called home and talked to my Dad. We talked about my apartment and the first day of teaching. Then I heard my kitty talking to me over the phone! 😻

I started to get hungry and there wasn’t much food left by the previous teacher so I made my way to the grocery store. I didn’t get much but what I did get was pretty expensive ☹️. I also went to the bakery to get their super delicious bagels but they were all gone so that was a bit of a mood ruiner. 

I still have some things on my list that I’d like to get for my apartment but I have do idea where to find them. I guess I’ll just figure that out in time. 

I also did four loads of laundry today and according to my Fitbit I was active for 50 minutes today. I know I was sweating like I was in an oven so that doesn’t surprise me.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be more humid so we’ll see how much walking about I’ll do but there is a Baskin-Robbins not far so that’s a bit of a curiosity. Of all the American or familiar foods I’ve had here aren’t exactly the same but aren’t bad either. 

Unknowns and Anxiety

So, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about how I feel about my up and coming move across the world and it kind of bothers me that I don’t have a lot of the information that people questioning me seek. I don’t know specifically where I’m going to be living, what my address will be, what condition my housing is in. I don’t know much about the school other than its address and name. I don’t know if I’m going to only stay for a year or extend my living abroad after this. Shit, I don’t even know when my flight to go over to Korea is yet – just that I have to be there before the 22nd of August, which is the first date of my contract.

There are so many unknowns about this whole situation and it makes me anxious. Clearly it’s bearable because there are thousands of native English teachers living abroad and have survived to write, blog, or speak about it. I just have a problem with the unknowns.

My Motives

I’ve had many different and some very interesting questions regarding my motives for want to teach English in South Korea.

Truth be told, my interest in Korea is not very old and it started with being fired from a job and having way too much free time so I took up using whatever disposable income I had on cutesy stationery to decorate my Filofax planner with. All the cute Korean planner stickers I found on etsy, eBay, etc. had Hangul writing and Korean phrases on them.

In 2014, I moved in with a roommate who had interests in Korean and Japanese cultures and she allowed my curiosity to flourish. I started watching Korean dramas and listening to Kpop. She also had a friend that taught English in Japan and encouraged me to look into options appealing to me so I started looking into English teaching jobs in Korea.

Since I was also going to University of Iowa during this time and they have Korean language and culture classes I decided I might as well take some. I took a Korean Humanities class that encompassed the history, folklore, and arts of Korean people. During this time I also took a Hangul class to learn how to read and write via King Sejong Institute.

I decided to apply to some teaching jobs in Korea because why the heck not?! And now I’m going on my next adventure.