Archive for August, 2012

The Journey

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Things That are Different between Travelling Domestically and Travelling Internationally

  • Not everyone speaks English.
  • Customs. I missed the memo on some form that I need to fill out. Whoops. Also, learned that it’s important to actually sign your passport. Whoops whoops!
  • My flight from Dulles to Brussels put me on the biggest plane I’ve ever been on. Three rows of three (two aisles!) and about 10 different types of economic first business plus classes.
  • My flight from Brussels to Bristol put me on the tiniest plane I’ve ever been on (even tinier than the connecting flight from Seattle to Spokane). When they took our boarding passes they loaded us up on a little bus that drove us to this teeny little plane. I’m so used to walking the giant metal tunnel to the plane, that it was so strange to walk up the tiny fold out stairs!
  • The currency! I have so many coins but I don’t know what they mean.
  • The jetlag. It’s on a different intensity, for certain.
  • I can’t turn my cell phone on to check for texts while the aircraft is taxiing.
  • The train turntables were the most confusing things to decipher. Thank goodness I’ve outgrown my fear of asking dumb questions to strangers.
  • Both bus drivers I met were strangely aggressive, yet delightful. I didn’t know buses could go that fast outside of Speed.
  • I knew they drove on the opposite of side of the road from the US, but it is so strange to be on a vehicle where all you want to do is swerve!


Sunday, August 26th, 2012

A big typhoon is hitting Jeju island as we speak, and it’s going to make it’s way up the mainland. I live in the southernmost tip of Korea, and I live on the top floor (the second) of one of the tallest buildings in my town. My co-teacher just suggested that I buy tape and tape down my windows.

I’m honestly less worried about my windows, and more depressed about having to walk to school tomorrow in the middle of a gigantic rainstorm.

Back to School Chaos

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

It amazes me that no matter how old I am, no matter how long I’ve been doing this for, or what I’m there for, I’m always nervous on the first day of school. Kindergarten I didn’t want to go to, and same with fourth grade – my rebel year where I refused to do my book reports and was held in from recess for a week. In eighth grade I was nervous because it was my last year of middle school and everything would be different. That feeling reappeared in twelfth grade and my senior year of college. Interestingly enough, this year I seem to be a reincarnation of my 8th grade, 12th grade, and senior year selves. I may be a teacher, and I’m not graduating, but this is the beginning of the end of my time at a Korean high school. Hopefully this isn’t my last stint at a school, a few years from now it would be nice to have this same feeling again upon getting ready to graduate from graduate school, but let’s not count our chickens before they hatch.

So far the start has been chaotic, like it always is. I arrived at school early just in case there was a surprise teacher’s meeting (there was) and went to pick up the papers I had had copied for this week.  I received the papers (halfsheets made to look like postcards) and had a silent freak out, because they weren’t double-sided like I asked. Normally this wouldn’t faze me, but it’s the first day of school, and I was berating myself for not asking someone how to say “double-sided” and going to the copier alone. As soon as I calmed myself down and started cutting them I found out that they were in fact double-sided, and only the first page if the stack wasn’t. I originally only needed 288 copies, so that’s what I requested, forgetting to cut that order in half because I was making half sheets. I then decided last night to teach the same lesson to first and second grade, thereby doubling the amount of copies I needed, and making it so that the number I had had printed was the correct number after all.

I haven’t even taught yet.

August 18, 2012

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

I did two very different things today, both were great experiences: today I visited Robben Island and I went to a professional rugby game (South Africa vs. Argentina).

Robben Island – - We left from the waterfront on a medium-sized boat to Robben Island. On the boat I felt sadness and trepidation as I imagined that I was a political prisoner being brought to the island, not sure when I would be back to the mainland again. From the boat the first thing that I could make out on the shore was the prison, it looked extremely ominous, a grey building looming in the foreground. We were given a tour of the island by a woman that lives on island. We drove around the entire island and learned about its history. There were some things that really stuck out to me on the tour: the actual prisoners (murderers and rapists) were placed in a less secure prison than the political prisoners and they were given more freedoms, the manual labor that the prisoners had to do five days a week was difficult, the single cell that Nelson Mandela lived in as well as others deemed political leaders were extremely small. After being driven around the island by our tour guide we were shown the maximum security prison where the political prisoners were held, we were shown prison by an ex-political prisoner. He was placed in the prison because he was a part of the student demonstrations against forcing the schools to teach in Afrikaans. He explained to us his experience of being imprisoned for seven years. Monday through Friday the prisoners were forced to do manual labor, starting at six in the morning and ending around four in the afternoon. He was forced to work on building all the roads that are still on the island today. Saturdays were the days they looked forward to, they received mail and visits on Saturdays, they also played each other in rugby, tennis and soccer. He had a light-hearted way of telling the stories that made it less heavy to hear but it still made me think about what these men went through in order to bring South Africa to where it is today. They had a goal that they wanted to achieve and they worked towards this goal with everything that they had; they were even willing to sacrifice their own freedom to create equality in South Africa. The visit was inspiring.

Rugby Match – - As you know I play rugby for Mary Washington so it was one of my dreams to see a professional rugby game live. Not only did I get to see a professional rugby game but I got to see the national South African team play, it was an incredible experience. I had a seat right in the middle of the stadium and four rows up from the field. I saw everything that happened during the game, it was so different from watching a game on TV. The game was great and South Africa beat Argentina 27-8. It was an incredible atmosphere, everyone joining together to watch the sport that South Africa is famous for. I hope to see New Zealand play next month, fingers crossed I will be able to get tickets.

view of Table Mountain from Robben Island

Nelson Mandela’s Cell


On Vacation

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

It’s almost time to go back to Korea, which means it’s almost time to see my kids again. I needed the vacation, but I’ve missed my little terrors.

My female students told me (jokingly) before I left that I needed to take pictures of EVERYTHING. When I asked them to be a bit more specific, they requested pictures of attractive men and food. I laughed and agreed. When I thought about it some more, I realized that taking pictures of food was actually kind-of brilliant. I’ve always had difficulty describing “American food” to my students, because there is no set “American” menu. Not only does “American” food vary per region, but as someone who lives near the nation’s capital, there are so many diverse food options in my area. Whenever my students ask me if I eat rice in America I just have to laugh. I explain to them that not only have I eaten rice, but I’ve eaten kimchi. When they ask where, I reply that it’s fairly common at Korean restaurants. So, I’m not sure when I’ll use these pictures – maybe in my first lesson, maybe later as part of a food unit, but I’m excited to answer their food questions with pictures.

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mmmm I love food.

I still have four more days in the states, so obviously I’m not finished collecting pictures. If there’s anyone reading this that is upset because I left out a quintessentially American food do both of us a favor and take a picture for me to share with my students, and enjoy it! My students will either thank you, or curse you, depending on how hungry they are during class.

August 12, 2012

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

It is hard to believe but I have been in Cape Town, South Africa for a little over a month now and so far it has been an incredible experience. So much has happened over such a short period of time but looking back over this past month there are a few events that really stand out above the rest.

Probably my favorite experience so far are the visits to the townships. Two weekends ago my study abroad program took all of us on a township homestay. We were paired up with a family and they welcomed us into their homes and allowed us to have a small glimpse into what their daily lives are like living in a township. The family that I was paired with has an older couple with four sons. The mother showed us around the township and treated us with incredible hospitality. It always amazes me that those that have so little are so willing to give what little they have to welcome you into their homes. 

The next morning after spending the night in their home we were taken to a local church. It was extremely different from an American church, there was no real structure to it. People were dancing and singing throughout the service, it was completely different from anything that I have ever experienced. There was a time when the whole congregation was dancing the electric slide.

 Although it was just a tiny glimpse into a “typical” township it was certainly eye opening. I learned a lot from this experience and when it was time to leave I found myself wishing that I could stay. I felt at home with these people, they welcomed me as a part of their community. The best part of the entire experience was playing with the children. They craved attention which I gladly gave them. I cannot wait to begin my service learning so that I can spend more time with children. 

I am wrapping up from a four day weekend because we got off from classes because of Women’s Day, it is going to be a busy week but I am looking forward to it. DSC04332 DSC04354