Another week of school starts, and I have a good feeling about it!

With the 6th graders, we made name tags. Hangul (the Korean alphabet) on one side, then the romanization of their names on the other side. I’m hoping this helps me with remembering their names. Eun-mi and I were going around helping kids that didn’t know the romanization of their name. When they would ask me, I had them first write their name in Hangul so I could figure out how to write it in English. Many of them were SHOCKED that I could read Hangul!

Tuesdays start off very rough with 2 of my 5th grade classes. They are a few boys in each class that are soooo naughty. My co-teacher seems to have trouble handling them, and when I ask what I can do she just smiles and says, “It’s okay, Brooke. You can just sit down.” It’s NOT okay! These boys are disrupting the whole class and barely being punished for it. It’s very frustrating because there is only so much I can do with the language barrier as it is. On the other hand, the one 5th grade class I have on Wednesdays are ANGELS!! It’s such a relief.

My after school class, English Conversation with Brooke Teacher, started this week. I teach with one of the Korean English teacher aides, Suim, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We have a great group of students! They range in grades from 3rd-5th grade. There are 15 students that signed up for the class, but only about 9 or 10 showed up.

Junseo and Seungwon

Teresa and Minjeong… BFFs!

Since I now have my ARC card, I’m able to get internet!! They came this week to set it up and they told Eun-mi that there would be no one with that would speak English, so she handled all the details on the phone. It turns out they DID send someone along who spoke English. He was actually born and raised in Daejeong, the town where I teach! He was pretty cool! And before he left, he did something on my computer and now the internet is faster! Not as fast as he would like it, but compared to what I was used to, it’s quite wonderful! And thanks to my lovely internet, I was able to Skype with my dad, Jessica, and Jamie and my mama this week for the first time since I’ve been in Jeju!

Also, I received my first gift from 체림 (Chaerim), a 6th grade girl!

First Gift From a Student!

I normally take a carpool to and from school each day with Eun-mi, Mr. Yang, and Mrs. Lee. I usually only talk to Eun-mi because the other two teachers don’t speak English very well… I think they do, but are not very confident in their English abilities. One day this week, Eun-mi and Mrs. Lee were staying after school to get some work done, so I had to ride home alone with Mr. Yang. He sent Eun-mi an email beforehand to tell me that he’s sorry for not talking. But he DID talk!! I was shocked! He spoke English very well. He didn’t say a lot, but what he did say was very clear and easy to understand. 🙂

Thursday: My day to redeem myself with Hosun, my 3rd & 4th grade co-teacher. I am teaching 4th grade with her today. After our little incident last week, she told me the lessons I would have to do for the next week (this week) on Friday before school got out. I would be teaching the 4th graders about “In, On, Under, etc.” I showed students hand gestures for all the words we were learning and then we played a game where I would say a word and they had to show me with their hands, and we went faster and faster! They really liked it. Then I did a demonstration and asked students where an object was and they would tell me. For this, I would ask 1 student from each class to help me. For the demonstration, I used a little garbage can with “garbage” (crumpled balls of paper) in it. The last demonstration would be me saying “The garbage is ON the student!” as I dumped the garbage on my little helper. The kids LOVED it! And after my first lesson, Hosun said to me “Perfect!” Then after the classes she was all smiles and kept telling me how awesome my lesson was. Ahh Sweet REDEMPTION!! (Thanks for the lovely idea from our lessons during orientation Alex, Sarah, and Jonathon!)

Also, we got our first pay check this week!! I am now a Korean millionaire!! 🙂

For the weekend, we went to the Vagina Monologues! It was an event put on by some women from the foreigner community who tell stories of women, some fun and happy and some very sad. All the money that is raised during this event goes toward the women’s shelter on the island! I made a good contribution by buying several “vagina cookies!”


We also went to the foreigners’ market. A bunch of foreigners get together on a Sunday afternoon in a park and sell crafts and food and just hang out. I got some really good freshly squeezed apple juice!

100% Pure Organic Apple Juice… And it was oh-so-good!


Getting Settled

Well my Alien Registration Card (ARC) is finally finished! Now I’m able to get internet, a phone, and a bank account. Woo hoo! The bank account was first… I feel like I had to punch in my pin code a dozen times, but I finally have a bank account!! (With no money in it.) Then we went to get my phone. We checked out a couple different stores to compare prices. We decided with LG. It took a lot longer than expected. I told Eun-mi I wanted the cheapest phone, and it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. They had the little dinky flip phones there, but it turns out that the free phone is an Android. A Smart Phone with touchscreen that makes me feel not-so-smart. Oh how I miss my full keyboard! Every phone that I’ve had in the past that had any touchscreen functions has failed me… We’ll see how this one works out.

March 14th is White Day, which is the equivalent the Valentine’s Day. One of my co-teachers got these almond-hard candy treats from her son that she shared with us… That was my first time ever having an almond, and maybe even my first time having a nut.

The last minute society: Korea is known as the last minute society, which I didn’t really understand until one Friday morning. I got to school at 8:25 and sat at my desk. I had nothing else to do, no lessons to plan or anything, so I just bummed around on Facebook and played Spider Solitaire. Classes start at 9:00. At about 8:50, my 3rd grade co-teacher comes up and asks what I have planned for Lesson 1 today. This was the first time I heard that I was supposed to plan the lesson for today. So I sat there and said I don’t have anything. Then she opens the text book and says “This lesson,” as if that is going to remind me of this conversation that we never had. I told her I will think of something. She then told me I had to fill 15 minutes of class. The lesson I had to do was teach the 3rd graders a song that was 6 lines long, lasted 40 seconds, and only said “Hello” and “Good bye.” During our first class, I did everything I could think of and then looked at my co-teacher after 8 minutes and said I don’t know what else to do… Her exact words, “I’ll cover it today, but from now on you really need to be prepared.” I don’t really like to admit it all the time, but I tend to be a people-please (especially for my teachers and superiors). I know this wasn’t entirely my fault, but it was hard to deal with because I felt like a big disappointment… I’ll do better next time!

Jeju Traditional 5 Day Market

We went to the 5 Day Market for the first time. Wow! The energy in that place is unbelievable! The place is HUGE, there are tons of people there, and countless vendors selling anything and everything: produce, meat, fresh fish, pets, farm animals, plants, tables, dishes, clothes, shoes, spices,household items, you name it! There were also many little stands cooking up some food and there were a few little restaurants set up on the outside perimeter. Also, I came prepared. The week before I studied a little Korean to ask how much stuff is and understand what they would say back to me… It totally paid off! I felt so accomplished to be able to communicate in a different language!

Small Produce Section at the 5-day Market

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!! I know many of you may find this shocking considering where I grew up, but this year was the first time I’ve ever had corned beef and cabbage. Miriah, Karima’s neighbor, invited us over for dinner. She made corned beef and cabbage along with some Bailey’s bread… It was all very good!

Hello Brooke Teacher!

First week of classes… Here we go! I showed each class a PowerPoint about myself. They got a few laughs out of some of the pictures. Mission accomplished! The we would have Q&A afterwards. The two questions that I heard in every class in all grades were “How old are you?” and “Do you have a boyfriend?” (All questions usually had to be translated by one of my co-teachers.) I also got this question a couple times: “Is that your real hair color?” Apparently, I should have “yellow” hair and not brown hair.

I’ve already picked out the trouble makers in 2 of my 3 fifth grade classes. It doesn’t help that my 5th grade co-teacher is very new to teaching and doesn’t seem to have a handle on discipline. The class was complete chaos and she just kept saying what she was saying even though the whole class wasn’t listening and talking over her… This will make for  interesting/stressful Tuesday mornings.

Lunch: For my first lunch at school, I thought I’d make a nice gesture by bringing water to the table for everyone. I got a few weird looks. Eun-mi explained to everyone that in America we have drinks with our meal. I guess that’s not the norm at school. Also, they only serve hot/warm water, no cold water to drink.

The third day of school, I was introduced to “desk warming.” I only have one class on Wednesdays for 1st hour. The rest of the day was spent sitting at my desk switching from Facebook to Hotmail to Spider Solitaire to Minesweeper and back again. Wish I brought my book with me. Turns out the next day was the same exact thing because all the grades had a big test. Too bad I wasn’t informed of this, but thankfully, I did bring something to do! Desk warming makes for a perfect time to study Korean considering I have 5 or 6 women in the room who happen to know a little bit about the Korean language! 🙂

Fridays I teach 3rd graders… I am a celebrity when I walk in their classrooms! They all scream “Hello!” At the end of class they all crowded around me asking me question after question after question… All in Korean. They are the cutest little things!

One day, Karima and I went in search of the English Bookstore on the island. We were having a very hard time finding it. Then this Korean woman came up to us and started talking to us about religion. I’m not much for talking about the Bible, but I sat there and listened because she spoke ENGLISH!! And very well too! Perfect opportunity to ask for directions! Once she was done with her speech and gave us a little flier, I asked her where the bookstore was. We found it! Definitely NOT what I expected… There were two aisles of children’s materials in English and the whole rest of the store was filled  floor to ceiling with Korean books. Not sure why it’s called “English +” because there was way more “+” than there was “English.”

We climbed our first oreums (or parasite volcano)… Sarabong and Byeoldobong. It was a nice little hike, which also provided a great view of the city, ocean, and Hallasan (the volcano on the island). Tucked in between the two oreums was a beautiful little Buddhist temple.

Jeju: We Love Having You Here!

And we’re off to Jeju! For all you Americans, I think you will find traveling in Korea a bit shocking. We were flying from the mainland to Jeju… I think we showed up at the airport 45 minutes before our flight left, which is crazy you know because we have 12 people to get tickets, check baggage, and get through security. Wrong! Security in the US=hell… Security in Korea=we just passed through security? There is no wait in line… Not even 1 minute! You keep your shoes AND jacket on! They put everything through the xray machine for you. Piece of cake! Our flight was 45 minutes and we landed in the rain on Jeju Island… We are home!

The first week of being in Jeju was a little… Foreign (for lack of a better word). We first met our co-teachers, mine of which was the very last one to show up… And very late at that. Then in walks this little petite Korean girl in stillettos, skinny jeans, a long furry vest, and a Prada purse. The first thought that went through my head was “Awesome.. I got the biggest diva on the island for my co-teacher.” Turns out Eun-mi is my savior! She is the most amazing, helpful, fun, smart co-teacher EVER! She told me right then and there that we are going to be friends. 🙂

After that it was another bus ride to our new homes for the next year. It basically felt like we were pushed out of the van by Mr. Han and left to fend for ourselves. Besides furniture, there was NOTHING in my apartment! And I had to go to the bathroom soooo bad! I live out in the country where there is nothing but two restaurants and two tiny convenient stores. I ran to the c-store to find some toilet paper… After looking around for 5 minutes, I finally just asked where it was. Low and behold, it’s on the top shelf on the complete opposite side of the tiny store of where all the rest of the toiletries are… Which makes perfect sense of course.

The next day I met all my co-teachers. All of which speak English… Except two that struggle with it, but still enough for me to understand (for the most part anyways). I met the Principal (King of the school) and Vice Principal and gave them their gifts. I was told it was customary… They seemed really surprised that I was giving them gifts. It was a little awkward as I stood there bowing holding out their gifts and they just sat there asking Eun-mi what was going on.

I also had my first experience at E-Mart (basically the equivalent to Wal-Mart), which was interesting. I’m used to carts where only the front two wheels swivel and the back two are stationary… Not here. All four wheels swivel. Made for an interesting time trying to control the cart. Haha. Fruits and vegetables are NOT weighed at the register. There is an employee that weighs them right there in the produce section. As a former cashier, this is a brilliant idea!

My first time on a public bus in Korea. We were heading out to meet some friends for dinner and a night out. At the bus stop, there was this little old woman holding a plastic bag. Every now and then you’d hear a “meow.” We couldn’t figure out where it was coming from until a little kitten poked its head out from the bag. The lady kept pushing it back in. By the time the lady got off, I didn’t hear much more meowing… Hope the little guy was okay. 😦

First time on the bus by myself… Well I’m still here to tell about it so it’s not so horrible, but it wasn’t fun. I apparently got on the wrong bus because the bus driver all of a sudden told everyone to get off. We were at the edge of town on the complete opposite side of the city that I needed to be. Great! There wasn’t a bus stop in sight. So I backtracked for 10-15 minutes until I found one. Not a single person there could/would speak enough English to help me out. Went to the next one and there was hope! The lady didn’t speak English, but with the help of the translator on her phone she was able to help me get on the right bus. My angel!