Archive for the ‘Changpyeong’ Category

Spring Cleaning

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Last night I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to go on an after-midnight cleaning spree.  After sweeping I had a lot of fine dust particles that were seemingly stuck to the dustpan and after trying to get the dust off with the brush into the trashcan for what seemed like forever, I decided to shake the dustpan out the window.

Well. Apparently the bin and the handle are detachable, so while enjoying the cool night breeze and shaking my dustpan I freaking CHUCKED MY DUSTPAN OUT OF THE WINDOW. I live on the second floor. It fell 2 stories and landed on the ground with a thump

 A dog started to bark but other than that I didn’t hear any sounds, so then I stealthily snuck out with my hood over my head, grabbed it, and hurried back inside. Thank goodness I live in the countryside, and my apartment is full of people that sleep at normal times, this  would’ve been difficult to explain.

Em in Asia! 2012-04-10 02:28:04

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

One of my first grade boys was coughing, so I asked if any of the other students were sick. Most of them just shrugged, or said yeah, except one kid who said that he was homesick, and then asked if that counted.

Yeah kid, yeah it does.

The Coffee Fairy

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

I should probably preface this story by saying that in South Korea we (students, teachers, professionals, old people, young people, you name it) drink a whole lot of instant coffee. You can buy it in many forms, in individually portioned and easily portable sticks that contain sugar, cream, and coffee, in big bags of just powder, in individual cups filled with strange flavor combinations (vanilla cappuchino drip mocha coffee) at convenience stores, and most notably in vending machines.

Our school, like every other (high) school I’ve been to, has at least two coffee vending machines. You put in 200 – 400 won (20 to 40 US cents – I’ve found that the more rural you are, the cheaper the coffee – in Changpyeong it’s 200, Yesan it was 300, Seoul it was 400) and choose what flavor you want. A dixie cup drops down and spurts out powder and hot water, and voila! Instant cheap caffeine fix.

Now I normally don’t use the vending machine – I’m a teacher and have my own desk and mug, so I tend to just buy my coffee sticks in bulk and mix there, or have tea like a classy person, but sometimes I want to take a short walk, or I’ve run out of coffee, so I pay the coffee vending machine a visit. 200 won is very cheap but also an awkward amount, so normally I pay with a 1,000 won bill, or a 500 won coin. I like to leave the rest of my change in the machine, so that way when students are on their break and about to put in money to buy coffee it’s like a magical coffee fairy visited and granted them access to the magical world of height-stunting, tongue-scalding, sugary-yet-not-quite-delicious hot beverages. I always make sure to do this when students are in their classes, so no one can chase after me with the change.

Today on my way back from my one class I met two first grade boys by the vending machine. They called me over (Boy A: PODOLSKI!!!! Boy B: Ya! Are you crazy? Call her Teacher! Emily: Guys. It’s Potosky. Pah-tah-ski) and we chatted for a bit about the trip they’re taking tomorrow. They then finished getting their coffee and using the leftover change bought me some as well.

What goes around comes around.

It’s the end of days

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

…is what I thought when I left the main building this morning to go teach second grade and first smelled the air – instead of the relatively clear and fresh air I’ve grown accustomed to, it smelled like smoke. I looked up and saw little twisted black spirals floating down, as all the kids ran to class with their hands over their face.

So it turns out that someone decided to burn their trash on the field next to our school, but the wind picked up the ashes and flung them into the air, and they’ve decided to land on the grounds of Changpyeong High School and in the lungs of Changpyeong students. I felt really really bad for the first period PE class…


This is a picture I took a few days ago, before the Trash Dust Bowl of 2012. I took this standing just outside the main entrance looking out at the soccer field and second grade (boys? not sure) dormitory. On clear days you can clearly see all of the mountains that surround Changpyeong… it’s beautiful.

When I first came to school I found another letter from MW, along with a little present. I had talked to her during cleaning period yesterday and she had apologized for not being able to photocopy the letter. I said it was fine and she could give it to me the next day. She asked what time I’d leave school and I said I wasn’t feeling well so I’d probably leave soon.

 DSC03262                       DSC03263

She made a box out of post-it notes and stuck chocolate inside. She is so cute.

That’s all for today, folks! Stay classy. Don’t inhale trash.


OHMYGOODNESS while writing this blog entry I found out that the hot water dispenser isn’t working. IT IS THE END OF DAYS. Now I have to use a hot water kettle to make tea.

Microcosom of Personality

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Receiving these notecards is, as always, so interesting. Not only do I learn a little about my new students, but I learn a little more about the students I’ve already taught and it helps me distinguish them and helps me see them as an individual student rather than a member of the class, which I’d like to think that I already do but when you teach eight hundred students, some of them only once every two weeks, sometimes some of them slip through the gaps and you find yourself not recognizing them. Hopefully with my new mug shot system (I took pictures of all of the students holding up a white board with their names on it – they say that Changpyeong is a jail, so the mug shots are rather fitting) and with these notecards I’ll be able to keep better track of all of my students.

It’s so interesting to see what students choose to share with me. I leave it very vague:

1. Hometown (not much room for creativity here)
2. Favorite music (genre/artist)
3. Hobby
4. **Random Fact**
5. What do you want to learn in this class
6. What is your goal for this year and the future [1st grade]/Name three things that make you happy [2nd grade]

As simple as it is, this separates out the students fairly well because even if a student answers every question with nary a thought, generally he or she has something (normally a hobby or music preference) that will give me pause. The student who wants to impress me, who wants to study English more intensely, who wants to make me laugh, or who really wants me to know him or her tends to be amazingly creative with his or her answers, and often has me immediately reaching for my camera to look for his or her picture.

It’s a really, really interesting way to while away a few hours.

Without further ado, some of my favorites…

2. Favorite Music:
“My favorite music is hip hop. For example: Let’s get it started.”

3. Hobby:
“My hobby is go outside illegally” [he probably means break school curfew. probably.]

4. Random fact:
“I’ve never had a girlfriend”
“Changpyeong is garbage”
“I have met you before in English contest in Damyang”
“Learning how to draw pictures. I love magazine. I want to be a fashion businessman!!”
“I don’t know why I have to study hard.”
“I like ants and spiders.”
“I bought kimchi refrigerator.”
“My favorite animal is donkey.”
“I want to marry with TOP ㅋㅋㅋ and I love one piece.”
“My good point is height.”
“Today wish is eat real food (because I have a food poison disease) so I just eat rice and water.”
“I like word ‘metal’ and ‘tiger’.”
“My nickname is koala.”
“I’ll get new face. I’ll do plastic surgery. 쉿! It’s secret. Don’t tell anyone. I’ll live new life. Forget me.” [preeeettttty sure this is a joke...?]
“My face is look like moon.”
“I like “BREAD” my nickname is 빵순이. I love BREAD very much give me some bread right now!!”
“I’m unique.”
“My hobby is creating strange food. I love meat a lot.”

5. What do you want to learn in this class?
“I want to learn even profound topics, too (justice, philosophy…)”
“I want to learn about America’s roadside food.”
“I want to know foreign cute, handsome boys or men.”

6. What are your goals for this year/the future?
“I will be a super daddy”
“Becoming a master of NTS (National Tax Service)”
“My goals are going to Korea University and being rich man. Because I can do anything with money.”
“I’ll master hearing English.”
“My goals: traveling whole the world and making the finest Korean film.”
“I want to make a girlfriend.”
“I go to Yonsei University because I want to become a dentist, so, after 10 years if children have a decayed tooth, I treat them with kindness.”

6. What makes you happy?
“Your love”
“I will soon go to home.”
“Family. Friends. Freedom.”
“I’m proud of very very positive. Im thankful for something from little to big always. Maybe I’m most happy girl not this class but also this school. When I reading books, playing with cats, and do my best something I’m happy.”
“What makes me happy is chatting with my friend eating snacks, ice cream or noodle, and taking a walk with beautiful countryside landscape also makes me happy.”

There are so many more, but I can’t type them all, and I haven’t even finished teaching my intro lesson to all of the students. The more I teach the more optimistic I get – these kids are going to do something great one day. I’m excited to see how they develop over the next semester…

End of the Year Newspaper Article

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Students asked me to write an article for the newspaper. I asked when it was due, how long it should be, and what it should be about, and they answered “whenever, about a page, something funny.” Thanks guys. I set the limit of Friday at lunch to try to finish it in time, but I just finished it about a half hour ago. For those of you that read my final address to the Sapgyo students parts of this may seem familiar, and that’s because I took direct inspiration from that address. I feel like something I can’t tell students enough is that when they come talk to me they’re not a burden to me, even if they are not very good at English, I still really enjoy talking to them.

Most likely I won’t update this blog until after I come back from traveling (January 15th), so I’ll leave you with my nice long newspaper article. Happy holidays!


“It seems like it was just yesterday that I was worried about what to write for this newspaper, and now I am worrying about what to write again. In my last article I introduced myself and said hello to all of the students, and now inevitably I have to say goodbye, not only to the third graders who are graduating and starting a new chapter in their lives, but to the second graders who I will no longer teach. Thank you all for making my first semester at Changpyeong High School memorable.

As a native English teacher in Korea, who is studying Korean in her free time, my life is overwhelmed by language. The longer I stay in Korea the more the lines between English and Korean blur and while it is very fun, sometimes by the end of the day I cannot speak any language, let alone Korean or English. I’m sure you know what that’s like.

I think learning a foreign language is one of the most difficult things a person can do. It is very frustrating when you can communicate perfectly well in your native language, but can’t think of the simplest words in another. Not only that, but it is so easy to make very basic mistakes. The first few weeks I was in Korea every time I went to a coffee shop I ordered a 코피 [kopi - nose bleed] instead of a 커피 [keopi - coffee]. I’m sure that sometimes I still do. It is also easy to make vocabulary mistakes. In English we have two distinct words, “head” and “hair” whereas in Korea there is only the word [meori] 머리, so sometimes I make mistakes when listening to people talk about their hair or head. Therefore though it is easy for you to know what someone means when they say “머리를 자르고 싶다” [meorilul jareugo shipda - want to cut hair/head], I become very worried until I realize that they probably just want a hair cut.

However, the most difficult part of learning to speak a foreign language is not grammar or vocabulary, but self-confidence. The purpose of learning a foreign language is to communicate. In order to speak a foreign language you must feel two things. One – that you can do it. You know the vocabulary, grammar, etc. Two – that you are worth listening to, that you have interesting and important things to say. It is important to know vocabulary and grammar, however the most important thing when speaking a foreign language is your feeling of self-worth, and not being afraid to make mistakes. No matter how good your English is, if you feel that you are not worth listening to, it will hurt you more than bad grammar.

In my opinion, the best English speakers at Changpyeong High School don’t always have the highest grades – they are the ones who are confident in themselves. Because I am the foreign teacher, I know it can be intimidating to talk to me. You have to think carefully about your words, and it can be very stressful and tiring. However, even though you didn’t have to talk to me outside of class, many of you did. Some of you talked to me on the street, or in the hallways of the school, or on the bus, and for that I thank you. Thank you for telling me all of the best places to eat in Changpyeong. Thank you for explaining to how the dormitory works, and telling me stories about your roommates. Thank you for showing me pictures of your family. Thank you for telling me about your morning EBS classes, and the nightly self-study system, and how vacation days work, and other seemingly small things that help me understand Changpyeong students better. Thank you for giving me high-fives in the hallways. Thank you for sharing with me pieces of your lives – even if you think they were small or insignificant, you taught me a lot.

Have a good holiday, study hard (but not too hard), and I will see you again next semester. I’m excited to meet you again, and hear more stories.”

YDAC (Youth Diplomacy Action Conference) Pictures

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Students hard at work.


Em in Asia! 2011-11-16 20:31:50

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

We had a warm spurt for late October and early November. It almost helped me forget that this time last year I was getting sick every other week and absolutely freezing.  Alas, now winter is here in full force, and everyday as I walk to school I can see my breath. I also remember this time last year my coffee intake went way up, because I couldn’t stand to be outside for more than thirty minutes at a time, so whenever I met my friends we had coffee.

Seriously though, all I want to do is wear sweaters and eat soup.

This has been a stressful week. Yesterday I took a team of four students to YDAC, a Youth Diplomacy Action Conference that was thought of and created by a fellow f*brighter. Jeollado (broken into two parts, Jeollabukdo -north- and Jeollanamdo -south-) generally has less resources than many of the other provinces (especially Gyeonggido, the province that surounds Seoul) so this Jeollabukdo-residing f*brighter decided to create a diplomacy simulation that was targeted towards high school students in Jeolla. It was ridiculously fun.

I had to choose a team of four students (I chose one second grade boy and girl and one first grade boy and girl to show an accurate representation of our school, and also to try to combat the gender division/grade division in school) and they had to write a mock resolution. We wrote one on global warming:

A Resolution on Global Warming

1. Whereas, the world became industrialized and the use of fossil fuels increased; and

 2. Whereas, carbon dioxide is increasing because of using fossil fuels; and

 3. Whereas, cars and factories, the source of greenhouse gases are increasing; and

 4. Whereas, harmful greenhouse gases lead to changing climate which causes abnormal weather and melting icebergs; therefore

 BE IT RESOLVED THAT Factories in developed countries should decrease their carbon dioxide emissions by 35% within 10 years.

Then the students had to prepare a 5 – 7 minute speech expanding on their resolution, as well as read resolutions that the 8 other schools had prepared and think up some counter-arguments or points to support them. They also had to later on in the day read a mock situation and respond to it.

I was really proud of not only my students but also all the students from the other schools that came.  My students seemed to really enjoy the conference. It was also fun just being able to hang with them, and having them want to speak to me in English.

On top of all that, today is the SCHOOL FESTIVAL! Oh man, I’m excited, even if many of the students aren’t. Turns out the reason why we don’t have classes today isn’t entirely because of the festival – all morning classes are cancelled for the school-wide essay competition. What fun. Also, there’s currently some school drama going down, because they had to cut some of the acts in the school festival due to time restraints, and ended up cutting some of the homeroom dances/skits, so now some of the students are mad at some of the faculty. Anyway, I’m still excited. One of my YDAC kids (Future Diplomat – referred to him a bit earlier) is apparently performing in the my school’s shortened rendition of Grease as “로저” which translates to “Roger” which is apparently Putzy’s name in the musical. I’m SO EXCITED to see FD as Putzy, it’s going to be hillarious.

Em in Asia! 2011-11-14 08:39:40

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Today I go to school to find THIS.




That’s right, if you look carefully you can see a forklift. What’s it doing at school you ask? Well, now that the suneung has passed the 3rd grade students don’t need to study anymore, so they’re running outside dumping their books on the ground where forklift is then is taking them all away to be recycled.


Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

After 2.4′s class today I got stopped by two of my competition kids who thanked me for helping them during the competition and wanted to tell me that they along with one other second grade girl placed! Considering there are only 4 high school winners, that is not bad at all. Yayyyy Changpyeong!

Their prize is that they get to go to Australia on a paid vacation February 2nd – 10th. I told them to buy me a kangaroo, and they responded that they’d get me a koala also. I responded that I hate koalas (vicious little creatures) but thanks for the offer. Then there were high-fives all around.

I really like class 2.4… I just wish they liked me as much as I like them. Recently I had a conversation about different types of classes with the ever-awesome Sam Morrow – first grade girls are the most receptive and willing to listen and easiest to discipline, second grade girls you have to earn their respect but once you do they’re super thoughtful and will listen, and first grade boys are crazy and have lots of energy. They’re all relatively easy to cow, though, and for the most part there’s a reciprocal amount of affection there. The girls’ classes are the easiest to work with, and that makes them really really nice, but second grade boys are honestly my favorites. However, I think generally I like them way more than they like me. Thus is life.

Today I taught 2.6 (girls, science track), 2.4 (boys, society), and 1.1A (girls, advanced, not tracked yet) and it was the first day of my Scrabble week. It’s been fun walking around in the halls carrying my six sets of Scrabble boards and hearing students from other classes whisper 오! 좋겠다!

Scrabble is really really hard for EFL students, even advanced ones, so to break it up a bit we actually played two different games – Ultimate Scrabble and regular board Scrabble. Ultimate Scrabble is a class-wide version of scrabble, where you split the students into groups of five (so, in my class of thirty I had six teams) and every round it is a team’s turn and the teacher draws a letter and puts it in the letter bank on the board. Every turn a team has a chance to make a word. If they make the word they get the corresponding number of points scrabble style (E is 1 point, Q is 10). However, they are not just limited to using the word bank, they can also “steal” points by rearranging other team’s words, which then not only gives them points, but subtracts points from other teams. For example, if the letter bank has the letters ARSTMTILE Team 4 can say “STAR” and receive however many points. Then it’s team 5′s turn, and they draw the letter P, so the letters remaining in the bank are MTILEP. Team 5 can either “steal” Team 4′s points by rearranging STAR and adding a P to make it PARTS, or they can create a new word, like TIME. Theoretically, they can even do both if they think of it. The girls thought this was fun, but difficult. The boys went ballistic.

When I say ballistic I mean like, screaming, standing on chairs in order to see the board, and students actually coming up to the board and using color-coded chalk to show how they were rearranging four words and taking letters from the word bank to create three new words. And yes, that actually happened, multiple times in fact - one student in one turn got his team twenty-five points and caused three other teams to each lose five points. Other students were coming up with words like TOXIN and ANNOY. It was ridiculous. I’m so excited to keep doing scrabble this week, even if I am going to end up throwing out my back.