At the beginning of October, my grandma’s old schoolmate Carole, her husband Jim, and their two friends who live on the mainland, Don and Nancy, came to visit. Don and Nancy live on a U.S. military base on the mainland of South Korea, and thus, have access to grocery stores with American food brands! When they were visiting, they offered to send me some American food when they got back… Awesome!!! I emailed her my requests and was sooo happy to get them this week! Mac ‘n’ cheese, Rice Crispies, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and granola bars! So excited to make some Rice Crispy bars and chocolate chip cookies to to eat everything!!!!
Karima and I haven’t really had anyone over to see our new place yet, so we invited our friends Hannah and Becca over for dinner one night. It was delicious! I made a little dish with apples and cucumbers mixed in yogurt. Karima made a bacon, apple, and onion roast with garlic and a mushroom and carrot dish… It was all delicious! We enjoyed that with a nice glass of wine that Hannah brought!
Hannah was telling us about this yoga class she started taking that’s not too far from where Karima and I live. So we thought we’d check it out. I went Monday, Wednesday, and Friday just to check it out before I decided to cough up the money to pay for it… It was amazing! Monday was really nice and PACKED!! There were so many people in there! On Wednesday, Karima and I were the only foreigners there and there weren’t that many other people there. The class is taught completely in Korean! The instructor sometimes comes around and moves people’s bodies to get them in the correct position or to help stretch us a little farther. Friday was the best! It was a pretty intense session. At the end of the class, she had us all try a headstand… Fail! She tried to help me, but it hurt too much and she put my feet down and started massaging (maybe ‘attacking’ is a better word here) my shoulders. She was really digging in. It didn’t feel good while she was “massaging,” but it felt a lot better afterwards. It seems that she’s one of those people that can tell what’s wrong with you or where the problem is just by looking at you. Then she handed me a giant handful of tangerines as I was walking out the door. My body felt so heavenly after that session… I’m sold!
Tuesday night, I headed up to Jejusi (‘si’ means ‘city’) to meet my friend Jen for some dinner at Raj Mahal, an Indian restaurant that has made me fall head over heels for Indian food (specifically the butter chicken curry… YUM!). It was a nice little girls night… Gossip, chatting, venting, and food! We were also sharing a lot of funny stories. I was going to leave at 7 so I could make it back down to Seogwipo in time for yoga, but I was just enjoying myself too much!
I had been trying to transfer money online from my Korean bank account to the one back home for a few weeks now to no avail. Nothing seemed to be working. My co-teacher Seunghee had been trying to help me too, and we just couldn’t figure out what the deal was! So Wednesday in between classes, she drove me to Seogwipo so we could go to the bank there because apparently the smaller bank near my school can’t help with this. It took quite a while to fill out paperwork and what not, then we tried it out… Didn’t work. Turns out there is a limit to how much you can send and I wanted to send a lot more than that. So more paperwork… Then finally! VICTORY!!!! So exciting! With this money, I was able to pay off one of my 4 students loans! Only 3 more to go! I also bought my plane ticket home!! I will be landing in good ol’ Appleton, Wisconsin on Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 at 8:32 pm!! Thanks to my amazing co-teacher, Seunghee!! She was almost late for her class because it took so long in Seogwipo, but she refused to leave the bank until we got this settled. Amazingness! 🙂
There was a meeting between all the teachers in the English office to talk about Sunghee. (I may have already mentioned this, but I have 2 co-teachers with very similar names: Seunghee and then Sunghee, who is Eunmi’s replacement while she’s in Hawaii.) As you may have noticed from previous posts, it is very difficult teaching with Sunghee. She has never taught before taking over for Eunmi. She doesn’t ask for help and doesn’t take advice when it’s given to her. The students walk all over her. Discipline is pretty much non-existent during class while she’s teaching. (Thankfully the students are relatively good when I’m teaching!) And she doesn’t talk to me about lessons unless she absolutely has to, which seems like never. All of the teachers are aware that things are bad in the 6th grade and they want to help. I am the one that teaches with Sunghee most of the time and Seunghee teaches with her a couple times. Other than that, the other teachers don’t work with her in the classroom. I prepared some notes of things to talk about that I feel are really important, which afterwards seemed to be completely pointless. The whole meeting was held in Korean. I had no idea what they were discussing. I was so frustrated because I felt like it was a complete waste of my time. They asked my opinion on one thing and that was the only English throughout the whole meeting. Seunghee would translate for me every now and then. She told me that Kyoungnam (who isn’t an English teacher and knows very little English to begin with) said when she helped with my class those two times, it was very difficult for her to know exactly what was going on and when/if she should translate. I’m not exactly sure why this was brought up because I never co-teach with Kyoungnam, she doesn’t speak English, she isn’t an English teacher, and the issue isn’t about my co-teachers translating for me. I wasn’t happy at all with the meeting, and as much as I try to stay positive, I don’t have much hope for things to get better in the 6th grade classes. Until they do, I’ll continue to mentally withdraw from class when she’s teaching in order to keep my sanity. (Sorry for the rant, but not everything is all fine and dandy over here all the time… Most of the time it’s great though!)
I used the marker board game with my 4th graders and my co-teacher Hosun LOVES it, as do the 4th graders! And I love that this simple marker board game is such a hit! It makes planning activities sooo much easier, not that it was ever really that difficult to begin with. 🙂
On Friday, I played the game Secret Spellers with the 3rd graders! I made up this game with a little inspiration from the textbook and I’m not sure if I have mentioned this game already or not… The class is split into two teams. All the kids on the teams, except 2 or 3, are given necklaces with letters and they wear the necklaces backwards (or are supposed to) so they don’t know what letter they are. The 2 or 3 students from each team that don’t have a necklace are the Spellers. The Spellers meet with me at the back of the classroom and I whisper a word to them. They then have to go find the students with the letters that make up the secret word and put them in order in the front of the room. The Spellers aren’t supposed to say the word they are trying to make out loud. The first team to organize their word correctly wins. They LOVE this game!!! I think it’s so great when my students love the games that are so simple and easy to prepare. They make my job too easy sometimes. I recorded all three of my classes this week while playing this game and it was really funny to watch the videos later on. (Since the videos are too long, I’m going to try to figure out how to edit them. I’ll post them when I figure it out!)
Happy Paepaero Day!!
November 11th is not only a day to celebrate and appreciate the brave men and women that have fought and served our country, it’s also a day to celebrate and share Paepaero Sticks in Korea! Paepaero sticks are little biscuit sticks with different toppings. The Paepaero company made November 11th Paepaero Day because when you lay out 4 Paepaero sticks you get 11-11. So now every November 11th, Koreans go crazy and buy a bunch of Paepaero sticks to give to their friends, loved ones, and teachers! Since November 11th fell on a Sunday this year, my students decided to celebrate on the Friday before. My 3-3 class gave me a little gift box of Paepaero sticks! Yay! Some 5-5 students also came in with some boxes for all the English teachers… Strawberry is delicious!
The weekend was pretty low-key. Saturday was crappy and rainy, so I stayed in and blogged, organized pictures, and watched TV until I went up to Jejusi. I met Seunghee and her two daughters, Hyun-jeong and Jeong-eun, after I got off the bus. We all went to the library together. Hyun-jeong’s English is really good and she enjoys reading English chapter books. So I helped her pick out some good ones to read. After that, we went to their house. The girls and I played some games and they taught me how to play Angry Birds. Jeong-eun kept saying “Champion!” after I’d finish a round. Beginner’s Luck? We also showed each other some card tricks. Seunghee made a delcious dinner of bulgogi (because she knows it’s my favorite), miso soup, rice, and apple & persimmon with fruit mayo. I also brought along some mac ‘n’ cheese because Hyun-jeong told me she wanted to try some one time. Seunghee and her husband lived in Boston for a few years. Hyun-jeong actually started kindergarten there and Jeong-eun was born there, but neither of them had ever tried mac ‘n’ cheese… Until now and they like it! After dinner, we had some grilled sweet potatoes and black raspberry cold tea for dessert! A lovely night with my Korean family!
Sunday my cold felt like it was getting worse, so instead of running off to do an Olle like I wanted, I stayed in and tried to get better. It turned out to be quite the productive day! I caught up on some of my TV shows, uploaded pictures to Facebook, wrapped some Christmas presents to send home, and organized and cleaned my room! Karima later brought me some hot shrimp juk (rice porridge) for my soar throat and we watched Sex and the City!