Friday, 25 March 2011

CRIBS - The Suji Edition

I have been living in Suji for almost a month and I feel completely settled in my apartment so I thought it was time to post some pictures! It's not a big place but I am not a big person so it works. Also, I don't pay rent. I was trying to post these pictures earlier in the week but they weren't uploading and in the meantime I acquired a new piece of furniture. One of the other teachers, Hilary, and I found a dresser outside of our building and assumed that it was garbage and now it's mine. I hope I didn't steal it! Anyway, not much else to say about this, I think the pictures speak for themselves.

Rows of houses
Dumpster dresser
A must: Necklaces on display
I shower standing in the middle of my bathroom...
...and then put this down so my feet don't get soaked when I need to go back in
Brought 13 pairs of shoes so they needed a picture. (Not pictured: black leather riding boots)

It's more impressive on Cribs..

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Post-It Note of Doom

I didn't think I would be writing another post so soon but I had to share this story with whoever is reading my blog. I didn't have the best day to begin with but I won't get into that...but I could summarize my frustration as being told nothing but being expected to know everything.

Anyway, so I was done work and about to head home when my Korean co-teacher came upstairs and handed me a pink post-it note (with a phone number and name on it) and told me that the mom of one of my students wants me to call her in regards to why I made her son cry! AAAH! I knew that the Korean teachers have to deal with concerned parents on a regular basis but I had never heard of one of the foreign teachers to have to do it. I was sooo nervous but of course I made the call...and beforehand I was told that I couldn't say anything negative about the student because parents don't want to hear those things so early in the semester.

Fortunately, the mom spoke perfect English and was really sweet to me. She was just genuinely concerned about her son. I explained that he was getting distracted by playing with his pencil case so I took it away, and the reason he cried was likely because I almost forgot to give it back at the end of the class and he must have thought I would keep it. Then she went on to talk about how he hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, and was too stressed out to eat most of his lunch etc etc.

This experience taught me a few lessons. Korean parents must worry about their kids every second of every day...Korean English teachers have to deal with so much more than we do...and DON'T make your students cry because their parents may come after you!!!

Monday, 14 March 2011

I've Got A Crush on Seoul

This Saturday I met up with Roxy's friend Leah (who is teaching English in Anyang) for a night out in Seoul. We had never met before but had been messaging each other on FB and she was kind enough to answer all my dumb questions such as, "Do you need to have noodles for breakfast in Korea??"

I was worried on the bus ride up about finding my way on the subway, and all I knew was that I had to meet her at Sinchon on line 2 but Seoul has the third biggest subway in the world so that's pretty intimidating. Luckily, the girl sitting next to me on the bus was going to the exact place I was so she helped me out. She was so great and friendly, similar to most Koreans I have met so far!

Leah and I went out for dinner at a vegetarian restaurant called the Loving Hut and I was so excited to have delicious veggie food! Everything on the menu was under 5000 won and 1000 won is a little less than $1. I took some tourist pictures along the way of course!

We went to meet up with some friends of hers at a bar called the Canteen in a neighbourhood next to Itaewon. Itaewon is a super Western area. Leah opened and slammed this basement type door thinking we had barged in on a veterans meeting. The sign on the door said something about Veterans of America. We finally got the courage to go in and the place had such a strange vibe and was filled with such a random collection of people that I didn't particularly want to meet. They seemed to be procrastinating life by living in Korea. The analogy I suggested to Leah was that when you ask someone what type of music they like and they say "Everything", this is that, in the form of people in a bar.

The inside

Leah, Ellie (a Korean teacher from Leah's school) and I decided to go to the next bar and took a cab to Hongdae, a fun part of Seoul. We were heading to Motown night at a bar when we passed through a park filled with people drinking, hanging out, dancing, and just generally loving life by being out on a Saturday night in a great city!

Leah and Ellie are in the left hand corner
On our way there we walked by this amazing hole in the wall Melbourne type bar, with fun LA sounding electro. SO GOOD! It made me so happy to know that not every bar in Seoul plays Top 40 and K-Pop. The standard price for beer in Korea seems to be 3000 won which is awesome! So we danced there for a while and I high fived the DJ a few times because I was so happy with the music and everything about the bar.

We eventually made it to Motown night and I don't remember the name of the bar but it was super crowded and sweaty and filled with Westerners and also a lot of fun. It's weird being surrounded by so many Westerners, but not in a bad way (because I do realize I am one of them) but in a sort of I feel less special way. Anyway we danced and danced then called it a night and I found my way home to Suji in the morning.

I'm not the only one whose face goes super red from drinking!

Ah, as cheesy as it sounds I really do have a huge crush on Seoul. I think about it all the time and can't wait to go back and get to know it better!!!

Friday, 11 March 2011

TGIF (seriously!)

It's Friday night and I am so thankful because this week was extremely exhausting! I am not used to working full time hours or running around after kids. I met my 6 year old Supsok kids and they were such devils! I have felt like I didn't have constant control over classes before but this one was such an extreme. At one point 2 of the kids got up and started washing their pencil cases and erasers in the sink while the rest chased each other around the tables. I felt so helpless. Luckily, the room was connected to the next one by a window and I managed to get over there and get Dennis' attention by making what he later called a very worried and scared look that made him laugh. But anyway, he came over and got my kids under control. I was, and still am, very grateful. I guess I have to learn to raise my voice once in a while.

My Pooh class keeps me going though. They are unbelievably cute and some are already starting to really like me. During play time today, about 5 kids were crammed into the small playhouse and were yelling STEEE-PAAA-NYYY to get my attention...then I would make a scary rrrroaarrr sound and they would laugh as though I had just told the funniest joke ever. For me, it got old fast but that was definitely no the case for them.

I felt super grumpy and tired all day today but luckily it ended on a really good note and made me realize I will eventually get used to teaching and even enjoy it. I have a small class of 5 older kids...well they are less than 10 years old...but anyway, their English is quite good.  We finished the work 20 minutes early so we played a game. Each student was standing at the whiteboard with a marker in hand and I would tell them a word from the chapter we had worked on that they had to spell.  Whoever finished first and had the correct spelling won. It was fun, and they got so into it that by the end they were taking off their jackets because of all the running around and excitement. Then at the end of the class, one of the students said, "Thank you for today's lesson, Stefany Teacher "(oh, we are all called by our first names and Teacher). It was such a good way to end such an intense week.

I just need to remind myself that like other fun things in life, the good and bad both come in waves.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

A Long Week

Okay, looking back at my first post my tone seemed somewhat pessimistic but I think it was just because I felt like I had to give some type of an update and I rushed it. That first night was great, eating and drinking with new people is much better than a boring, lonely hotel room. So just to clarify, I like it here so far. A lot!

I moved into my apartment a couple of nights ago. No more love motel. I am still setting stuff up so I hope to have pictures up in a few days! The school is a fifteen minute walk away. I think I can do it by myself now... and if you know me, you know that is an accomplishment. In the morning I teach the Pooh class (every class is named after a Disney character). I was told they are 5 years old and although that's true in Korean years, in North American years that is 3 or 4!! They are babies! In Korea, you are 1 year old when you are born. The young kids are adorable and so well dressed! I helped a 3 year old take off his Burberry jacket on the first day. After lunch I teach 2 other classes (Supsok) in which the kids are older but know very basic English. Pooh and Supsok classes are every day of the week. On every day but Wednesday I teach other short classes to kids who can speak English fairly well. Those are much easier but less interesting.

The Pooh class is suuuuper cute! But I know it will be hard because they look right at me and speak to me in Korean and all I can say is I don't understand...then they giggle and run away... probably because I've finally said something they understand. But eventually their frustration will come out in the form of tears.

So far I've stacked blocks, sang songs and danced, cleaned up a bloody nose and witnessed a barfing incident involving milk...but tomorrow I teach the Pooh class without the Korean co-teacher and I am nervous! I assume there will be some criers.

These 4 pages are tomorrow's lessons. Hope I can keep them entertained!

More to follow on going out in Seoul!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

First Day

I got picked up from the bus stop thinking I was on my way to a nice warm bed but instead I was dropped off downtown and went out for a 9pm dinner (and drinks) with all of the teachers. Ended up getting drunk and having a good night, minus getting lost. I posted some pictures from my visit to Seoul today. As of right now I wish I lived there, but I live in Suji which is 40 minutes away. I hope it grows on me! Haha I just read this post - okay not too interesting, but bear with me, I am not a blogger. First day of class tomorrow, wish me luck!

More fish!
For Roxy
From Seoul Tower

Locks of Love