Archive for the ‘South Korea’ Category

Em in Asia! 2013-06-27 00:12:16

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Freaking out. Freaking out. Freaking out.

Em in Asia! 2013-06-24 21:25:51

Monday, June 24th, 2013

I’m sorry for the lack of updates.

I just… it’s hard for me to write when I feel like my heart is being torn into multiple pieces everyday. I came to the astonishing realization last week that some of my students don’t realize that I’m leaving. I’ve told them so often that I’m leaving – for vacation, I normally hasten to add, that they don’t realize that when I say that I’m going to America I mean that I’m not coming back. Furthermore, the Korean school year starts in the fall, so I’m leaving halfway through the year, why on earth wouldn’t I come back?

Last week I made it very clear that I was leaving. I told one of my second grade girls’ classes the number of weeks that I had left at our school and was surprised to find the class captain crying.

I got a phone call from my host mother on Saturday. She doesn’t speak any English so while I would’ve been scared talk with her on the phone my first year, it’s a mark of my improvement that without hesitation I picked up the phone and we had a short conversation. She wants me to visit before I leave.

Our program’s final dinner is this weekend and I can’t bring myself to be excited about it. I love F*lbright, but I can’t shake off the feeling that by spending a weekend elsewhere, I’m missing stuff here.

In addition I’ve been trying to make time to meet and see everyone I’ve grown to know over the past two/three years, make time for a new special person, teach special Friday classes, prepare for YDAC (we got 3rd place!) keep up my Korean studying, host visitors, hike mountains, plan for Camp F*lbright, pack up my belongings to mail to the US (check!), apply for jobs (I hate my resume. I hate my resume. I hate my resume), cry over my failing TOPIK result (partially joking), and keep myself together. It’s exhausting.

I found this letter in one of my club class students’ notebooks.

IMG_20130617_151109

 

Yes, yes I am sad, and pensive, and happy, and nervous, and frustrated, and overwhelmed, and surprisingly numb. She’s a very perceptive student, but I don’t think she’ll ever realize how much it means to me that she used the word “our.”

The coffee is still forthcoming…

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Remember that kid who said he’d bring me coffee during cleaning period? As of yet, no dice.

Yesterday I ran into him and he looked horrified. TEACHER I’M SORRY I FORGOT I’LL BRING YOU COFFEE TODAY DURING CLEANING PERIOD. I assured him that it wasn’t necessary, but he insisted that he would. He didn’t.

Today I ran into him on my way to lunch. I gave him a look, and jokingly asked him where my coffee was. He dug into his pockets, pulled out a 500 won coin, and holding it over his head video-game style, and shouted I HAVE MONEY TODAY.

So, we’ll see.

Pet Peeves

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

It annoys me when my students complain a lot, which is something they’ve been doing more and more frequently.

Teacher I’m tired!

Teacher, English is too hard!

Teacher, our school is a jail!

Teacher -

I understand that they are frustrated, and this time of year is especially difficult, but complaining never solved anything. Well, you know, except when it does. Squeaky wheel and all that.

In order for my squeaky wheels to get some grease, this week I’ve been teaching a lesson on annoyances and pet peeves, and how to complain in English. Politely. We start by watching a video showing some very annoying things and having students vote on whether or not it’s annoying and telling me why, playing annoyance human bingo (I show 25 pictures, they write them down on a bingo sheet, then they must interview each other to find students who think thing is annoying.) Then finally, I have them write down their annoyances on a piece of paper using three sentence structures:

My pet peeve is _________.

It annoys me when ____________.

It drives me up the wall when ______________.

It’s been really interesting reading their answers. The following are the noteable ones from eight of my ten second grade classes. Interestingly enough, most of the responses listed below are from female students. The female students on average were more interested in playing with the structures and expressing their own annoyances, while the male students were more likely to just use vocabulary we had studied in class. Some of the following are funny, but there are also a few sad complaints.

It drives me up the wall when my friend is annoyed and just express her annoyance though she doesn’t tell me the reason.

My pet peeve is being woken by song in the morning.

It drives me up the wall when I must take care of babies.

It drives me up the wall when someone acts like a fool.

It annoys me when Ethics teacher gives questions to me in class.

It annoys me when I’m soaked with sweat after showering and wearing clothes.

It drives me up the wall when parents inquire my report card.

It drives me up the wall when insects creep my body or my bed.

It drives me up the wall when I see cells picture in biology textbooks.

It annoys me when my leg muscle cramps are sudden.

It drives me up the wall when I stay with someone who are selfish and use abusive language.

It drives me up the wall when I’m constipated.

It annoys me when I watch a show and Father comes and turns the channel to a fishing program.

It annoys me when math questions are not be solved.

It annoys me when I see the person who long time no shower.

It drives me up the wall when he bites my arm. [...what?]

My pet peeve is someone speaks me with nervous tone.

It drives me up the wall when someone sings song very careless.

My pet peeve is bring no spoon when in cafeteria.

It annoys me when my character die in the game

It annoys me when someone play piano at night.

It drives me up the wall when I can’t do what I want.

It drives me up the wall when there are too many tests and too much undone homework.

It drives me up the wall when there is a hair on my bed.

[From the same girl - note, there are frogs that live in the rice paddy right next to the dormitory] My pet peeve is frog. It annoys me when the frogs crying. It drives me up the wall when the frogs appear in front of me.

It annoys me when I smell people’s smell.

It annoys me when people talk to me or treat me when I am concentrating,

My pet peeve is baby hair.

It drives me up the wall when JW show me his middle finger.

It annoys me when I was angried about trivial things. [meta...]

My pet peeve is someone ransack my personal thing.

It drives me up the wall when [people] say [I am a] pig. I’m not pig. Pig is CW.

It drives me up the wall when people make fun of me.

It annoys me when people who lend me the money don’t pay back money.

It annoys me when you say to me a “black” [this comes from a student who has darker skin, and thus is told all the time that he is "black." Based on my experiences, and my friends' experiences (both Korean and foreign) I can say that shadeism issues are rampant in Korean schools.]

It annoys me when people don’t understand me.

My pet peeves are girls who love me.

Coffee and Good Cheer

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Ugh 2.9. 2.9. It’s so frustrating teaching them because anything that works well with any other class flops. They’ve been getting better but even their “better” in my class isn’t great. I lectured the class as a whole, talked to some kids individually, and left class feeling really discouraged when I ran into one of my favorite second graders.

I asked how his day was and he responded “FANTASTIC” with a giant grin on his face, then asked me how I was. Something must have shown in my face, because when I answered “oh I’m fine” he could tell something was up.

“What’s wrong, teacher?”
“Oh nothing. I just want to sleep. Mornings are very difficult. I must go drink coffee.”
“I WILL BUY YOU COFFEE.”
“Oh no! You don’t have to buy me coffee.”
“Yes Teacher! I will buy you coffee! Wait a moment please!”

The student thrust his hand into his pockets and then realized that he was wearing his gym uniform, and then hurriedly explained that he could not buy me coffee because he didn’t have any money on him, but that he would buy me machine milk coffee during cleaning period. I assured him that he didn’t have to, but he insisted.

I realize that I haven’t been blogging very much recently. Recently I’ve been slammed with work (both professional and personal), but that doesn’t mean that my life has ceased to be interesting. I’m still having good days and bad days, and more commonly just days with good and bad moments, and though I won’t be here much longer I’ll make renew my effort to write all those moments down, so I don’t forget them when I go.

On the TOPIK and Being Okay with Failure

Friday, May 31st, 2013

I failed the Intermediate Topik again.

I took the test in April, and have been anxiously awaiting the results ever since. The results came out yesterday at 3 and I ran up to my co-teacher’s office to use her computer because mine was too slow. The score finally came up, right as the bell signifying the next period rang. 불합격. I had failed. The tightness in my chest I had felt while waiting for the test results further constricted, and surprisingly I found myself struggling to hold back tears. My co-teacher looked at me, concerned, and I left to go teach.

I have spent the last three years “studying” Korean, but to be honest with myself I have spent only the last year and a half intensively studying Korean. I’ve done classes, private lessons, and studied on my own. My focus ever since I submitted my graduate school applications has been the TOPIK, and I’ve given up a lot of other extracurricular activities to further focus on studying for this test. However, according to the Korean government I’m not good enough at Korean to be considered an intermediate speaker – I’m just a beginner.

This is obviously just me feeling sorry for myself, as I’m not a beginner by any stretch of the imagination, but I spent most of yesterday down in the dumps. You see – I didn’t expect a failing grade, I actually thought I would pass.

In order to pass the Intermediate TOPIK with a score of 3 you have to get a 50% on all 4 sections, the grammar/vocabulary, writing, reading, and listening. In order to receive a score of 4, you have to get a 70% on all of the sections. A 50% is pretty low, so even if you feel like you failed the test, there’s a chance you passed it. I had taken the TOPIK once before and had failed it then, so when I left the building this time around I felt much better, and it turns out I should have. I got a 70% on grammar/vocab (enough to qualify me for a 4 in that section), and a surprising 66 on the reading – which last time around was my worst section. I felt a little nervous about my listening score, but as listening is normally my best section I assumed that I had passed it and I did with a score of 59%. Writing is what killed me, with a score of 35%. 35%. One percent worse than I did last time. Where I improved by leaps and bounds, almost doubling my listening and grammar/vocab scores, my writing score actually got worse and I was so frustrated that I probably would’ve burst into tears if I hadn’t had class.

Today I finished teaching my content matter a little early, so I let students relax for the last five minutes of class. A student called me over and asked if she could talk to me about something. She ended up telling me about her English grades, and how her teacher had told her that her English was getting worse because her test scores were dropping. She was really upset because she thought that her English was pretty good, but both her score and her teacher were telling her that she wasn’t.

I sat down and told her that I couldn’t say that scores don’t matter, because unfortunately they do, but we both know that she has a high English level. Of course she wants to improve her score, and she should try, but a lower test score doesn’t mean that her English is bad. I then told her that I had just failed a Korean test. Her eyes got wide, and she exclaimed “but you’re good at Korean!” and I replied “I know. But sometimes we get bad scores.” It took talking to this student for me to remember that scores aren’t the end all be all. We tell our students everyday that the score less important than your actual ability, but I had to tell a student this in order to apply it to myself. Yes, I failed this proficiency test – but I’m still good at Korean. And I will pass this test the next time around.

Coffee

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

I have been lectured twice in recent days about my coffee habit, once by a student and once by a teacher.

One student brought me  a present – a can of poweraid. She said that she knows I like coffee, but she gave me this instead because it’s healthier and she thinks I drink too much coffee.

Today I had lunch with a teacher who asked me what I ate for breakfast. I truthfully answered that I don’t eat breakfast, I just drink coffee, and she became very worried about the state of my digestive system.

I may have a problem.

Coffee

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

I have been lectured twice in recent days about my coffee habit, once by a student and once by a teacher.

One student brought me  a present – a can of poweraid. She said that she knows I like coffee, but she gave me this instead because it’s healthier and she thinks I drink too much coffee.

Today I had lunch with a teacher who asked me what I ate for breakfast. I truthfully answered that I don’t eat breakfast, I just drink coffee, and she became very worried about the state of my digestive system.

I may have a problem.

Nuance

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

This morning while standing in the hallway taking off my rainboots, a third grade student came up to me and asked me for some clarification.

“Teacher. If I say “I gotta go pee pee” is that okay?
“Um… Well…”

I then spent the next five minutes in the hallway differentiating between all the various ways we express our bodily urges. Good to know that even though I don’t teach third grade students anymore, they still view me as a resource.

Waves

Monday, May 27th, 2013

I have a student who has become a favorite of mine simply due to his ridiculous wave. He grins broadly, then yanks his arm back and forth so violently, that his elbow operating on a parallel plane, gets thrown in the other direction to the point where his arm is almost perpendicular to the ground.