Tales From School

Lunch has been quite strange for me since starting the new school year. There are about 8-10 of us that eat together, but more than half of them have changed this year. The previous teachers were all really nice to me and had already learned about my likes and dislikes (regarding food). Even though I ate in silence, it was very comfortable. Now, I’m going through the learning curve all over again. The teachers talk about me a lot more (in Korean) and always seem to be worried about how little food is on my lunch tray. Lately, a few have been saying “Hi!” to me and then the others giggle.

I had a really interesting lunch experience today. The lunch options weren’t that great for me. I am usually always able to eat rice if nothing else appeals to me, but today’s rice had mysterious white strips in it. When I sat down, I asked JuHye if it was tofu or fish cake and then the other teachers were so curious about what we were talking about. As it turns out, it was fish cake and the teachers learned a new word (In Korea it’s 오뎅, or oh-deng). It was really cute because I heard them saying “fish cake” all throughout lunch.

As I was picking at my lunch, JuHye turned to me and said, “Meagan, they would all like to introduce themselves to you.” They all went around the table saying, “My name is _____.” and what they did at school. JuHye translated the last bit. I honestly think it was the most English I’ve heard at lunch since I’ve been teaching in Korea. It was really sweet and I enjoyed it.

Ups and Downs

I went to the doctor again today and he said the graft on my ear looks better than yesterday. He has a camera hooked up to where you can see inside of your ear on a monitor on the wall. He had me look yesterday and it was obviously very pink and inflamed and today you could tell it wasn’t as irritated. He said it was turning back to white, which is good.

He’s really nice. He said, “During the recovery process there will be ups and downs. The past few days we experienced some downs, but we’re working through them.” I go back again tomorrow and probably Monday too.

Afterwards I went to my favorite neighborhood restaurant. It’s a small hole in the wall kinda place. It’s the Korean version of fast food restaurant (no drive thru, but they do deliver). The most expensive thing on the menu is 5,500 ₩ which is just over $5. That is a sweet potato and cheese stuffed fried pork cutlet. It’s much better than it probably sounds. Today, I got 제육덮밥 (jae-yook-dup-bap).  It’s basically stir fried pork and veggies in a red sauce that’s a little bit spicy served with rice. It also comes with miso soup and a tray of side dishes. Every Korean meal comes with side dishes. Today’s sides at the restaurant were kimchi, some kind of potato/macaroni salad thing, fish cakes, and dried anchovies mixed with some sort of green veggie. All that for 4,000 ₩ (about $3.50).

I had to go to a cheap place because I am skint (my new English word for broke). After what I spent today, I only have 1,315 ₩ (less than $1) in my bank account. Thank goodness tomorrow is payday!

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.

Urban Hike

I recently ran across a Busan etour website and found my neighborhood and discovered all sorts of things that I never knew existed. On Sunday I decided to set out alone to explore my area.

Dongnae Station is in the middle of the map. I live near Minam Station (left of Dongnae), which is about a 15 minute walk from Dongnae Station. I make this walk all of the time. If you look at the map, you can see that there are all sorts of landmarks in the area behind Dongnae Station so I decided to go exploring and see if I could find any of the things listed on the map.

I was basically wandering aimlessly. I just started walking in what I thought might be the general direction of things and hoped eventually I might run into something on the map. The first thing I came across wasn’t actually on the map.

   

  

The cool thing about this place was that it was tucked away in the middle of an outdoor market that I just happened to decide to walk through.

Next, I saw something that looked interesting so I walked up the winding driveway and it happened to lead to a Buddhist temple. The temple was quite busy. I saw many people heading up the stairs and there were women out front greeting people as they entered. They bowed to me when I walked up so I said, “annyeong haseyo” (hello) and they all giggled. They were super cute so I decided to try to ask them directions to one of the places on the map. I showed them the map on my iPhone and they all discussed things amongst themselves before they called over another woman who spoke a bit of English. That woman asked me where I was trying to go and then walked me back down the winding driveway so she could give me better directions. Her directions weren’t extremely clear so I ended up getting a bit lost.

I was trying to find Beokcheondong Gobungun Ancient Tombs. The woman told me that I should walk past these apartments so that’s what I did. If you click on the picture, you can see that the tombs are in the background, but there’s just no way to get to them from where I was. I kept walking up and behind this area, but it came to a dead end. It was so frustrating because I could see the tombs and the museum… I was walking all around them… but I just couldn’t figure out how to get to them.

  

So I went back and decided to keep walking even farther past the apartments on the main street. It worked out for the best because I came across some other nice finds, including a Confucian school and this man, decked out in full hiking gear, that I though truly represented my “Urban Hike” theme.

  

  

I had been walking for a few hours at this point and I was beginning to get exhausted, but I was determined to find the tombs before heading back home. I followed the road and took the first right at the next major intersection and I just kept walking…

 

I was so close to quitting, but I didn’t. I pushed through and I’m so glad I did because after the bend in the road, I finally found what it was I was looking for (and more)!

First I walked up the trail…

  

Then through the Dongnae Eupseong Fortress and Science Park…

  

As I walked a little further, I knew I was in the right place!

  

After the long journey I had just endured, it felt AMAZING to walk across this bridge because it led straight to the tombs. Success!

  

  

Sunday’s hike was so much fun. I can’t wait to get out there and explore some more!

I hope you clicked on some of the pics. I know the pictures don’t really do it justice, but the views were truly amazing.

Summer Camp – Week 1

I am thrilled to say this…

It’s over!!! One week down, two to go.

Most elementary English teachers in Korea have to teach 3 weeks of summer camp after the regular semester ends. As I previously mentioned, during the first week I taught 1st & 2nd graders. In my school, the students don’t begin learning English until the 3rd grade so this was my first time to teach the little ones. It was a challenge! They are soooo full of energy and their attention span is so short. They were all really excited about camp though. They were always in a good mood and very enthusiastic.

They tried to try to talk to me in Korean quite a bit and I had no clue what the heck they were saying. They probably felt the same way when I was talking to them. I did have a pretty high level student in one of my classes that always listened very closely when I would talk and then he would say, “Ok, ok, ok!” and translate what I said to the rest of the class (even if they didn’t need it). It was pretty funny.

We learned about many different things this week:

Monday – Body parts, “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes” song
Tuesday – Animals & colors, “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” book/song
Wednesday – Bugs, “Itsy Bitsy Spider” song
Thursday – How are you?
Friday – Review & Veggies

I don’t have camp next week so I will be sitting at my desk all day Monday and Tuesday. I’ll probably prepare for lessons… or watch movies. I have Wed – Fri off so I’ll probably go to the beach if the weather is nice. I am also thinking about doing a temple stay (at a Buddhist temple about 2 hours away) with one of my friends.

Camp starts back up again on August 8th. I’ll be teaching 3rd & 4th graders. Wish me luck!

You can view the pictures below. Click on any photo to see a larger image.

Parents Class

I am pretty sure that I mentioned before that I am teaching a parents class during summer camp. I change elementary students every week, but the parents class is the same parents all 3 weeks. They are really nice ladies and I am happy that the two women that I thought might drop out of the class are still coming.

There are 2 teachers for the parents class, JuHye and myself. JuHye’s class is supposed to run from 2:00 – 2:40 and my class is from 2:50 – 3:30. The vice principal was worried that the parents wouldn’t feel comfortable in a classroom with just me (because of the language barrier) so she suggested that JuHye and I teach together. We did that for the first few days, but if we do it consistently then it will put me over my teaching hours so it won’t really work out. Plus, JuHye and I would rather teach separately.

Today was the first day that I taught completely solo and it went extremely well. The first few days they kept saying “English stress!” at the end of class and today one of the women said, “No stress. Enjoy.” That made me feel good.

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.