Opening Ceremony

Today is the first day of the school year. The first day last year was a crazy day. First, all of the new teachers were introduced to the entire school through the morning TV announcements. Later, I was introduced to an auditorium full of parents. In both situations I had no idea what was being said. I just waited until I thought the principal was done talking about me and bowed. The actual opening ceremony was outside and I was asked to hand balloons to the 6th graders (who would later pass them on to the new 1st grade students). I was given a giant bundle of balloons and had to pass them out, one by one. I was terrified of accidentally losing one or all of my balloons and was passing them out slower than they liked. I knew this because about 3 teachers rushed over to help me. I was proud of myself. I only lost one balloon.

Today’s events were much more relaxed for me because it’s my second year and I no longer qualify as a “new teacher.” Also, the opening ceremony was indoors and didn’t involve any balloons (thank goodness!). The school’s auditorium was full of 6th graders, 1st graders and the parents of the 1st graders. One of the mothers that attended my summer and winter camps was so excited to see me. She came up, shook my hand and said, “Long time no see!” It was cute. I really like her.

I’m not really sure what the opening ceremony consisted of. The 6th grade students each escorted a 1st grade student into the auditorium. Later, each 1st grade student was called to the stage and they were given some sort of necklace and a hat. It was really difficult for me to see because the auditorium was full of proud parents with their cameras at the ready. JuHye and I sneaked out a bit early, but I did manage to snap a few pics.

Here are a few of my 6th grade girls.
They were too amused by my iPhone to pose for the picture.

Some of the 1st graders at the ceremony.
Also in the picture are my principal and new co-teacher.

I have to wear indoor shoes at school. When we have events, the parents are allowed to wear their outdoor shoes, but the school provides little booties for everyone to slip over their shoes. I found these little girls to be extra adorable in their booties.

Arm wrestling students CAN be educational…

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this blog entry. I promise there will be pictures next week!

Sunday, October 2

I had a lazy Sunday. I stayed in the apartment all day, did a few loads of laundry, finished season 5 of Dexter and watched a few movies. It was nice to have some down time. My stomach was upset all week and seems to be doing better now so I think the rest was exactly what I needed.

Monday, October 3

Monday was the National foundation Day of Korea. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it’s a national holiday so I had a 3 day weekend. Jamie and I went to Shinsegae, the world’s largest department store. I guess it’s technically a department store, but it’s more like a mall. There are tons of stores within the department store, like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gap, Banana Republic, etc. I needed to go there because I had a few gifts I needed to pick up. On the way out, we stopped by the international foods area of the grocery section of the store and I picked up 2 cans of Hormel Turkey Chili and a box of 8 Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bars for 17,050 won (about $15!). Afterwards, we went to Seomyeon to get a burger at TGI Friday’s. We sat by the window… across the way we saw a bar called COOL and another one called OOPS.

Tuesday, October 4

My students are pretty funny. They notice everything… while I was walking down the hall, some students yelled, “Hi, Meagan! You’re so beautiful!” while running past me. Later on, two girls were amazed by the rings I wear (I usually get asked if they were given to me by my boyfriend). Finally, a 6th grade girl seemed very frustrated with English when she couldn’t think of how to tell me that she noticed I have my hair parted on the opposite side of my head as usual. She did a great job with hand gestures though!

After school I went back to the doctor. It was my first time in since Friday and it was also the longest I’ve gone between visits. I got great news from the Doc! He said that my ear is 70-80% healed and he doesn’t want to see me again until next week. Also, he took out all of the packing so now the only thing I have stuffed in my ear is a single cotton ball.

Wednesday, October 5

Wednesday was our school’s evaluation. Everyone was dressed up. I made sure to wear dress pants rather than just jeans. I tend to avoid wearing my dress pants because they’re all too big and way too long. My jeans are too, but they don’t look as silly when I roll them up.

The evaluation took place in the library, which is on the same floor as my English classroom. Instead of the kids coming to our classroom, we went to the students’ classroom for classes.

After school I went to the grocery store and stocked up on all things breakfasty. That night, I went home and cooked a breakfast casserole (eggs, onion, bacon and broccoli) so I wouldn’t have to go without breakfast anymore. Not only is it the most important meal of the day, but my school lunches have been pretty inedible lately so breakfast is more important now than ever.

Thursday, October 6

Thursday was an interesting day. Our schedule was slightly interrupted because there was a classical music concert during 2nd period that extended halfway through 3rd period.  The concert was lovely. The students yelled en-core at the end so they played “O Christmas Tree.” My co-teacher said that in Korea the song is about a pine tree.

During 4th period, I had my best class. The were playing “Go Fish” with some vocabulary cards from the book. A few students finished the game before everyone else so I went over to talk to them. Somehow arm wrestling got brought up and I ended up arm wrestling 3 girls… left arm, right arm, and then one on each. They were some strong chicks! One of them beat me. I decided that I needed to at least teach them the English word for arm wrestle so that there was some educational purpose to it. They returned the favor and now I know that arm wrestling is 팔씨름 (pal-shil-um).

After class, the girls told the tale of our arm wrestling match to another boy. He was very interested in arm wrestling me. The girls warned me (in their own way) that he might be short, but he is very strong. They were right! As I was arm wrestling him, the girls told me that my face was getting pink. In my defense, so was his. I could see that he was getting tired so my strategy was to hold strong until he gave up. It eventually paid off. And that is my story of how I beat a bunch of 5th graders at arm wrestling.

Friday, October 7

Quotes of the day:

There is a 4th grade boy that has started yelling “What’s the meeting you here? What do you think so?” at me and then running off. Friday was the second time it happened so finally I made him come back so I could try to make sense of what he was saying. He said is slower then skipped off (yes, acutally skipping). I had to figure out a way to make sure this didn’t become a habit. I went back to the office, wrote down what I thought he might be trying to say (“It’s nice to see you. Don’t you think so?”) and took it to his classroom. We’ll see what happens next week.

6th grade boy: “Teacher, your ear have ouchy?” (because he saw the cotton ball in my ear)

My 6th grade lessons were about comparative adjectives. We did a survey to see who was stronger, luckier, taller, etc. We got to arm wrestle for an educational purpose (to see who’s stronger) and many of the students wanted to arm wrestle me. After beating one of the boys he said, “Teacher, you have man power!” So much for girl power…

Saturday, October 8

There is a Korean man named Charles that organizes cultural trips for foreigners in Busan. On Friday night I went on my first “Charles Trip.” I went with my friend Jamie and made a new friend named Nicole. We went to Jinju to the Lantern Festival. We met up at 8pm and didn’t actually leave Busan until close to 9pm. We took a bus to Jinju, walked around for the lantern festival and then headed back. The festival was gorgeous! I ended up getting home around 4am, but it was definitely worth it.

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Summer Camp, the Conclusion

During the 2nd week of camp, I taught 3rd & 4th graders. I had a lot of fun. The 3rd and 4th graders are the highest level for their age and it’s a lot easier to plan activities for them. Here are some pics…

  

  

My absolute favorite!

  

During week 2 the students “graduated” camp with certificates from the vice principal. On the last day of camp, the vice principal also invited the 3rd and 4th graders to come back to camp the following week along with the 5th graders. For me, this meant I had to make all new lesson plans at the last minute. In the end, everything went well and I had a great time at camp. But I am glad that I don’t have to do that again until the winter!

Week 3 Pictures…

We played a “Trash Ball Game.” The students answered questions for a chance to throw wadded up paper into a box.

  

These boys said the book was easy so I made them read it to the class.

During week 3, the principal handed out the certificates.

We also gave certificates to the parents.

Summer Camp

7 posts in 7 days. Can you believe it?? What’s gotten into me?

Today was the first day of summer camp and I think it went pretty well. I am teaching 1st and 2nd graders this week. I was originally told that I would be teaching alone, but as it turns out, my co-teacher is sitting in on my lessons (or supposed to be) to give me a hand if I need it.

I am also teaching a parents class during all 3 weeks of summer camp. I had no clue what to expect. There were 8 moms signed up for the class, but only 5 showed up today. I was surprised that 3 of the moms had a fairly high English level… two of them even had English names (Cindy and Julia). I suspect that 1-2 of the moms might stop showing up after discovering that the other moms are much better at English than they are. Time will tell.

Last week I had a conversation with some 5th graders about summer camp:

Meagan Teacher: Are you coming to my English summer camp?
Student: No. I don’t have time.
Meagan Teacher: What are you doing this summer?
Student: I go to academy.
Meagan Teacher: What do you study?
Students: English, math, science, Korean
Meagan Teacher: Oh. my. god.
Student: Yes.

Korean students are very hardworking and study quite a lot. Many of them spend so much time studying that they don’t have time for much else. Even though it’s summer, many students will be coming to school for various camps or studying at an academy. I sometimes wonder when they have time to have fun and be kids.

Teachers Day

Sunday is Teachers Day in Korea, and it also happens to be my birthday. Right now the 6th graders are learning about birthdays so a few of them know that my birthday is coming up.

I taught 5 classes of 6th graders today and it was not a fun day for them because they had 3 tests: vocabulary (writing), listening and speaking. Even though it was the busiest day I’ve had, I enjoyed the day because it meant I had one-on-one time with all of my 6th graders.

During my second class, one of the boys got up from the speaking test (he only answered 1/4 correctly) and very sweetly told me, “Happy birthday!” Moments like that make my heart melt. Ahhh they’re so sweet!

During another class, I was still out in the hall giving speaking tests during the passing period when 3 girls came to class singing me happy birthday. It was super sweet. After class they came back with gifts for me. I got a card, a letter and two artificial flower bouquets. I absolutely loved it! You can click on the pictures of the gifts to enlarge the image, but in case you still can’t make out the writing, I have typed it out below.

Congratulations!
You deserve whatever you get.

Hello! Magean~^^
I’m Grade 6-3 Kim Min-Ji.
You’re happy birthday!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
I celebrate you~
Teacher! Happy Birthday
and Happy Teacher’s Day

Bye! Bye! – Min Ji -Kim-

Magean teacher..

Hi~Magean teacher~ my name is Kim da un.
teacher ~ May 15th is Magean teacher’s birthday~!
Happy birthday to you ^^
And, teacher is very beautiful ~
Thank you!

2011.5.13
-Da un-

Later in the afternoon my co-workers surprised me with a birthday cake. It was a good day.

    

Meagan Teacher

The best part about being a teacher are the students. Some of my favorite moments happen outside of the classroom, though.

One of the first lessons the 4th graders had this year was “Good morning/afternoon/evening/night.” Now I have one 4th grade girl who greets me with the time of day every time I see her, and it’s usually multiple times a day and usually in the morning. She definitely seems excited when she sees me after lunch so she can use “Good afternoon.” And just once I saw her at the end of the day and you can imagine the smile she had when she was finally able to say “Good evening.”

I have another student that loves to ask me, “Teacher, how are you?” When I ask her back, she almost always says she’s “Happy!” We have this exchange several times per day.

I always talk to my 6th graders before class and they are the biggest self-esteem boosters. The girls always love my hair, my accessories and they notice every time I change the color of my fingernails. “Teacher, your hair good!” “Your manicure beautiful!” “Teacher… S-Line!” I did get an interesting comment from one of the boys one day though. I asked him, “How are you?” and he said “Scared.” When I asked why, he said, “I saw your eyes… and they scared me because… blue!”

I know you’re not supposed to have a favorite class (or favorite students), but I definitely do. The 6th grade boys are so funny. I’m not sure what the fascination is, but many of them have renamed themselves some variation of my name. It started out as Meagan 1, Meagan 2, etc., but now they have named themselves things like Angelina Jolie Meagan, Ke$ha Meagan, Lady Gaga Meagan and Meagan 10,000.

I only teach 3rd-6th grade, but I love saying hi to the younger students because I get some of the best reactions from them. Many of them actually respond back with a shy “hi” or “hello” but a lot of the time I get a bow and “annyeong haseyo.” I’ve also gotten embarrassed giggles and then I hear the student saying something to their friend about “waygooken,” which means foreigner. They probably are just saying something like, “The foreigner just talked to me!”

Sometimes students just come and stand next to me and stare. You can tell that they really want to talk to me, but they just have no clue what to say.

I really want to take a video camera around with me when I walk through the halls sometime because it’s chaos. I’ve had students that were literally in the middle of a race down the hall with their friends stop dead in their tracks and turn around just to say, “Oh, Meagan! Hiii!”

The kids run around the halls like crazy people and it’s just something I’ve gotten used to. I was pretty much sick for the first two months here. One day I was feeling awful and just wanting to go home and go to bed when I saw a student running down the hall. I didn’t think anything of it until I realized she was running down the hall to give me a hug. Things like that make even the worst days better.

Shark Attack

Life at my school is pretty good. We moved offices not that long ago. It was nice to be able to have my own desk, but I soon discovered that I’d be sharing an office with this…

One of my co-workers and I ended up carrying that darn shark all over school. Our new office is on the 3rd floor so we carried it down to the second floor science lab to see if they wanted it, but they didn’t. Next, we carried it down to the first floor to take it out to the trash. The man we took it to said he actually tried to throw it out before, but they didn’t want to. Oh well. It’s gone now.

“Teacher! Your face! ……….Beautiful.”

I finally got to teach on Thursday and Friday (March 3rd & 4th). My co-teacher spent about 20 minutes introducing the class and the rules and I had the other 20 minutes to introduce myself and my country. It was so much fun! The kids’ reactions were amazing. I’ve noticed that gasping is pretty common in Korea and my presentation got quite a few gasps, like…

When I told them that Texas is so big that it takes me 4 hours to drive to my dad’s house.

When I showed them the picture of the World’s Largest Pecan in Seguin.

When they saw the picture of Dallas at night and again when I told them there’s a restaurant in Reunion Tower… And it turns around in a circle!

But the biggest gasp came when I showed them the picture of my family… And they counted all 20 of them.

The kids loved seeing pictures of my family members. I showed pictures of…

My dad

My mom

My brother & his girlfriend

My brother & his wife

My niece & nephew

Nana

They loved my dad’s grey hair, that I look like my mom and thought my brothers were handsome and their significant others were beautiful. They also really loved seeing my niece and nephew.

Here are some of my favorite comments…

From a boy: “Teacher! Your face! ……….Beautiful.”

From a girl: “You are….. very.” (I took it as a compliment)

Also, one student said the boy sitting next to him thought my niece was cute. The whole class giggled.

Overall, the first week was great and it made me feel a lot more confident about teaching.

Happenings

2010 was a great year for me.

I spent a lot of quality time with friends and family

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Went to Puerto Vallarta… twice

PVR Mexico PVR Mexico PVR Mexico

 

 

PVR Mexico PVR Mexico PVR Mexico

GRADUATED from university

University Graduation University Graduation University Graduation

 

and went on a cruise!

honduras cruise honduras cruise honduras cruise

 

cozumel cruise cozumel cruise cozumel cruise cozumel cruise

 

 

What’s in store for 2011…

For many years I have dreamed of living somewhere overseas. I considered many options, but teaching English seemed like the way to go. I did a lot of research and weighed the pros and cons of each possible country I could teach in and I finally decided on South Korea. In October 2010 I began the application process to apply for EPIK (English Program in Korea). EPIK places Guest English Teachers in public schools all across the country.

The entire process is very long and costly. The application was 10 pages long and required me to write an essay. I also had to gather documents, including a state and FBI background check, transcripts from every college I’ve attended, passport photos, a resume, letters of recommendation, etc. I had to get documents apostilled (and had to learn what the heck an apostille is). But most of all, I had to have patience. After submitting my application, I was interviewed. The interview lasted about 20 minutes and I felt like it went pretty well. Two days later, on my way back from a trip to Austin to get documents apostilled, I was notified that I passed my interview.

After passing an EPIK interview, all documents must be sent to South Korea for review. Placements are made on a first come, first serve basis so it’s important to get everything in early to secure a desirable placement (you know… somewhere that isn’t out in the middle of nowhere). My documents were in by the first week in November… and I waited… and waited… and waited. Placements are not guaranteed so for months I was on pins and needles. I was given final confirmation of placement in early January and my contract arrived a few weeks later. I immediately sent my visa application to the Korean Consulate General in Houston and within days I had my visa back and booked a one way flight to South Korea.

So, ladies and gentlemen, for the next year I will be living in Busan, South Korea. I leave in less than 2 weeks (February 15) and I will be in Korea until February 26, 2012. Once I’m in Korea I will go through a week long orientation in Busan and on the last day I will find out what school I will be teaching at, and what age level. I will also get to meet my co-teacher, and possibly the rest of my co-workers.

I am a level 2 teacher, which means I will make 2 million won every month. My school will provide me with my own apartment, and I will only be responsible to pay utilities and maintenance fees (if charged by my apartment). I will be living in Busan, which is the second largest city in South Korea, so there will be plenty of things to do and see.

I will be updating my blog constantly before I leave so please check back soon. If you have any questions for me, please leave a comment below. I’m going to try to update again tomorrow with more information about Busan.

Thanks for reading!