Week 18, 3017

Monday and Tuesday we had Children’s Day celebrations for our classes. Our campus had a Pokémon theme. We played bingo, stack the cups, had the students write cards for their parents, and did paper puzzles like mazes, and word finds. One of our classes on Tuesday gets an extra half hour of class so they got to play jeopardy. They also had “battles” against another class where they got to play games as a class. The kids seemed to really enjoy it. 

Wednesday was Buddha’s Birthday so I didn’t work! Thank you Buddha! It was hot enough for me to turn on the air con. It was 82 degrees  fahrenheit at noon today. I did extensive cleaning, garbage sorting, and laundry. Then I decided to go walk around the mall. 

While waiting for the bus to the mall, I saw a former coworker out of the corner of my eye. We used to hang out and haven’t talked for months. I found it amusing how much effort she was putting in to make sure I didn’t see or talk to her, or whatever the fuck she was trying to do. She sees me and stops dead in her tracks and starts taking selfies by a flowering bush next to the sidewalk, all while having her back to me but I can see her face on the phone screen. She moves into the bus stop area but still has her back to me, a very unnatural way to move. It just made her that more awkwardly obvious. Part of me really wanted to crush her obvious desire for avoidance but the other part of me was like, “nah, if I wanted to talk to you I would have before now.” So I just smirked at her awkwardness, got on the bus, and went about my business.

Thursday was back to work. It was so discombobulating. Because Friday is a holiday as well, there were hardly any students in attendance. My first class of the day only had two students of ten show up. For my next two classes, my co-teacher and I combined our classes and we played rock, scissor, paper to see who would teach first. 😂 It was quite a day. 

Friday was Children’s Day so again no work. I had plans to go to the arboretum with a friend but “something important came up…” while I don’t doubt this is a legit excuse, this is the second time this week it’s happened – it’s annoying. So I stayed home until the late afternoon because it was quite warm out. I took myself to the movies and dinner. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2. It was a good movie. It made me stop thinking about dumb shit for the duration of it so that’s good. 

Saturday we didn’t have Korean class but I met two of my classmates, Claudia and Shabrina, and we went to Dongdaemun Design Plaza for an exhibition on Pixar 30 Years of Animation. It was very awesome. We were there for three and a half hours! Then we took the train to Jamsil and walked around in the Lotte World Mall. It was a great day – I walked 9.1 km and didn’t get home almost 12 hours after leaving in the morning. 

Sunday I went to a multi room near Suwon Station. I played Wii for two hours. I’m hilariously bad at video games so it was a fun time. 

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

Week 9, 2017

I feel like it’s getting more difficult to differentiate between days, weeks, months the longer I am here…does that mean I’m more comfortable because things don’t stick out as much? That I’m finally acclimatized to things and how they’re done here?

I have no idea what happened last Monday other than it was the last Monday of the 2016 Winter term.

Tuesday was our head teacher’s last day. It was really surreal feeling. It didn’t seem real; she’s been here the whole six months I’ve been in Korea and has been a super cool head teacher.

I got eyelash extensions before school because why not?

Wednesday we didn’t have work because of Sam-il which celebrates the first demonstrations and resistance against Japanese colonialism in Korea; it is credited with gaining momentum for the Korean Independence Movement.

I’m not 100% sure but I’m pretty sure I stayed home and watched dramas all day… I also sent 203943890 snaps to my friend Lee. They said this snapchat filter is my ~true~ form. I agree.

Thursday was the start of the new term. I have the lowest level of learners once on Tues-Thurs and they are so cute! I have a pretty good mix of students that I’ve taught the previous two terms and new students.

Friday I had two more of the lowest level classes right out the gate. I’m a bit more worried about my Mon, Wed, Fri classes because the the lower level classes keep trying to talk to me in Korean and I, obviously, keep talking to them in English then we reach an impasse where we just stare at each other. It’s so awkward! So cute, but damn, so so awkward.

Saturday I went with our new teacher to sign up for Korean class! I woke up at 8:30 on a weekend… *shocked* We took a taxi to Yeongtong Station in Suwon. It was such a hilarious trip because we had the most adorable, dad taxi driver. He picked us up and immediately wanted to know where we were from. After he learned we were from America he proceeded to unlock his phone and show us a photo of his daughter who goes to University of Kansas. He wanted to know which states we were from and why we were in Korea. He asked us if we were military and my mind immediately went to,”lololololololol, what you playin’ at old man?!” I told him we were teachers and he immediately rubbed his hands together to signify his approval of our money making ventures. Oh man, he was a hoot!

We finally arrived at Yeongtong Station and after the most ridiculous confusion we realized we were not lost and there was a sign right in front of our faces about the class we were looking for. We got in and registered for our classes. I suddenly understood how our new students feel when we ask them if they have an English name because that happened to me here. I was good because I already have a Korean name but dang that’s some pressure to put on someone. I’ve studied Hangul previously I was placed in level one. Asia was placed in Hangul class. Another teacher at our school, Olivia, registered also and will be in the same level as Asia. We were there for probably five minutes and finished; I was told I could buy my book that day so we made our way to the front desk. Come to find out I already have both the text and workbooks from attempting to self study. So yay! 🙂

After that, we hopped on the train to Suwon Station because Asia wanted to return some things she bought and didn’t need. We walked around, got lunch, and got her a SIM card for her phone. A pretty productive day so far if I do say so, and it was only about two in the afternoon at this point.

I had gotten home and I got a message from a guy, Sung, I have talking to saying we should go to the seashore. So he picked me up and we drove for about an hour to Daebudo, an island in the Yellow Sea on the western coast of South Korea. That was probably the longest I’ve been in a car since I arrived in Korea and took a taxi from the airport. We got to our destination, walked along the mud flats, looked at shells, and then Sung said he wanted to watch the sunset. So we got back in the car and drove to the western part of the island that is known for sunsets. It was getting chilly so we headed to a restaurant for dinner. He talked me into eating octopus. <_< We got seafood stew that had octopus, crabs, clams, and shrimp. It wasn’t that bad. He also ordered seafood potato pancake. I wish I would have taken pictures because this stew looked like a work of art. Then we came back to Suwon, he dropped me off and went back home to Seoul. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Sunday I planned on doing laundry all day. I got a message from a Korean teacher at my school asking if I wanted to join her and another teacher at the mall for shopping. That sounded a hell of a lot more fun than laundry so I agreed. Apparently it was their mission to find me a pair or two of pants because a comment was made previously in the week about how my pants are too big. While this was done with the best intentions, finding plus size pants here in a regular store is next to impossible. Even back home, finding pants to fit me in a store is difficult. She thought she found pair that looked like they’d fit… I couldn’t get them over my knees because of my chunky thighs. I appreciated the gesture and effort, but it just wasn’t meant to be. We walked around and looked at all the stuff in the mall, ate some pretty cake, and had coffee. I started to feel really tired so we parted our ways and I went home. I went straight to bed because I developed  a headache. I slept for an hour and then did some dishes and read for a bit.

Until next week,

B

So I’ve been in South Korea for 33 days…

As the title states, I’ve been in Korea for 33 days now. I’ve experienced and learned loads of things.

Things I’ve learned:

  • moving to another country is OVERWHELMING as fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck
  • students are really impressed when you can spell your name in Hangul
  • students are also exponentially impressed when you answer them, outside of their paid class time, in Korean
  • taking the bus at night when you know nothing about your surroundings is terrifying – especially if you get lost
  • you get lost a lot – like A LOT
  • you will have so many blisters on your feet from walking around – like incepta-blisters (blisters on top of blisters, on top of blisters, on top of blisters)
  • the general public is either terrified of you (locking their car doors when they see you walking) or exponentially happy to see you (waving and smiling and trying to speak English to you)
  • bus drivers are really REALLY nice and will try to help you as much as they can
  • If you want American style pizza, like Papa John’s, it’s going to cost you about $30-ish for what we consider a medium size and it will be their large size
  • Koreans put sweet corn on their pizza – like wtf and I’m from Iowa
  • Korean shampoo makes my hair super greasy feeling – yuck
  • not having a clothes dryer actually kind of sucks in a really humid environment
  • if you can read Hungul but don’t comprehend what you’re reading it doesn’t really help that much
  • people like to abruptly stop in the middle of the sidewalk and you will bump into them and they will act like it is your fault
  • if you are female and someone calls you “pumpkin” it means they think you’re ugly
  • if you’re female and someone asks you if you’re Russian, it means they think you’re a prostitute
  •  you will make a ton of mistakes
  • just when you think you’re getting shit together, something else happens and you’re back to feeling like a loser who always fucks up

Yesterday I went to register myself as an alien. I love that I can say that. Yo, I’m an alien guys! The director’s assistant, Hyo Bin, and I went to the clinic to pick up the results for my health check that I had last week. He was exceptionally hung over and still reeked of alcohol – I wonder if he would have passed a breathalyzer.  I passed, obviously because I have neither HIV nor do methamphetamines which seem to be the most important tests they run on you. So we went to the opposite side of Suwon and I paid money to register myself as an alien. I also had my finger prints re-scanned and gave a picture of myself for my alien registration card (ARC). 

On the way back to school a 방탄소년단 or BTS song came on and I was trying very hard not to burst out in uncontrollable laughter. The song, Fire, is totally my jam and I tucked my lips inside my mouth over my teeth to keep from embarrassing myself. Well that shit didn’t work! I was humming along and Hyo Bin grabbed my shoulder in shock and asked me if I knew the song. He also asked me if I liked Kpop and I did my best to appear casual about it. And then he asked me which groups I like and I just pointed at his radio. He was like, “aaah but they’re babies!” And I was like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   Yeah, so? He seemed so surprised that I knew that song though. 

This week we started calling students at home for phone speaking; where we have to call all students we have in our classes once per term. I found out I screwed up my phone schedule I handed out to the kids (see aforementioned fuck ups) so that was fun. My Korean and native English speaking coworkers were really understanding about it though and said some kind, encouraging words to me. I at least got a trail run to make a phone call to one student and it went pretty well. It is a bit weird though, calling students who don’t ever really talk in class and you’re like, wow you have a voice!?

One of my Korean co-teachers told me today that when she spoke with the kids’ parents the kids always tell the parents about how kind Britt Teacher is. That made me feel pretty good.

Today I learned if students are missing from class longer than three minutes I am to notify staff as they might have been injured or tried to attempt suicide. 😳

Monday, October 3 is Gaecheonjeol, or National Foundation Day. This is a pretty cool holiday because it celebrates the creation myth of Korea as the founding of the nation (see Creation Myth). Because of the three day weekend, my coworker Sean, girl who works at our parent company Brittany, and another girl who I have yet to meet Elizabeth are going to stay in a hostel and putz around Seoul. Luckily, there are loads of free or relatively inexpensive things for our broke asses to do. I know we’re going to the Korean War Memorial, Namsan Tower, Gyeonbok Palace, and some sort of theme cafe.