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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Instant message from my co-teacher

Things like this make everything worth it…

“i’m lucky teacher because i met you!”

June 23, 2011

Let’s fast forward to the present so I can tell you about the day I’ve had…

The students are all preparing for their final exams so all they’ve been doing in class is reviewing previous lessons and taking practice tests. My co-teacher and I had some time to chat today. The topics were broad and included fruit, Costco, the movie White Chicks, Texas, Las Vegas and In-N-Out Burger.

I mentioned how I can’t keep bananas in my apartment anymore because they attract fruit flies. It’s really sad because most other fruit here is really expensive, but it looks like I’m going to have to start eating fruit that I can keep in the fridge.

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I was so excited last week when I saw blueberries in the grocery store, but the price tag kept me from buying them. They were 5,980 won ($5.50) for about half a pint. Yikes! I mentioned this to my co-teacher so she immediately pulled up the GMarket website (sort of like a Korean version of Amazon) to try to help me find cheaper blueberries. No luck.

I mentioned that I might try Costco this weekend so she started telling me all of my options for getting there (subway, bus, taxi). She even wrote out instructions for the taxi driver in case I decided to take a taxi. I posted them below if anyone is interested. The first line is a landmark near the Costco in Busan in case the taxi driver doesn’t know Costco. The second line is just Costco written out in Korean.

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Later, my co-teacher confiscated a handheld fan from one of the students. You know… the kind you spread out and wave at yourself to cool you down. It was really cute (like everything here tends to be) and had 7 baby chicken heads on it. This led to her think of the word “chicks” and then she got really excited and told me that she really likes the movie White Chicks. She said it is “soooooo funny!” I don’t know why, but that warmed my heart. I love that she loves this movie! haha

She then started telling me about her friend (another Korean elementary school teacher) that moved to Oklahoma. She showed me pictures that she sent her and one of the pictures was her husband posing in front of the University of North Texas, which is the university I went to. I then tried to draw Texas so I could explain that UNT and the University of Texas are completely different and she laughed pretty hard at my drawing and said, “Really?” I’m still not sure if she was laughing because of the shape of Texas or because I’m terrible at drawing.

She also showed me her friend’s pictures of Las Vegas, which included a picture of In-N-Out. And that led to us looking at Korean blogs posted about In-N-Out… and then Five Guys. I told her about the In-N-Outs that opened in Texas recently and all the buzz it’s caused. After class I sent her the videos below, to which she responded, “after see the youtube, i really want to eat the burger, eh?”

After 4 classes, it was time for lunch. My first thought after walking into the lunch room was, “What the H is that?” I am pretty sure the rest of the teachers felt the same way. One of our dishes was some weird meat thing that was all smooshed… it looked like red mashed potatoes with little bits of peas and potatoes. It was actually pretty good, but looked rather sketchy. Sometimes I wish it wouldn’t be awkward if I took my camera to lunch with me.

So I feel like I have rambled on enough (maybe too much), but I was rather proud of one of my 5th grade students today. He decided to be clever and change the words of a Korean pop song to suit how he felt about today’s testing. He changed the words of Big Bang’s  “Love Song” from  “I hate this love song.” to “I hate this test.” I was impressed. At least he gets the meaning, right??

What a random day!

Food in Korea

When I told people back home that I was moving to Korea, one of the questions that was asked the most was, “What are you going to eat?!” I really didn’t know, to be honest. I knew Busan was a coastal city so there would be lots of seafood so I was just hoping that there would be options for me since I am not a seafood lover. I do tend to take a lot of pictures of the food here because I know everyone back home is curious about what I’m eating.

I’ll have to admit that when I first got to Korea I was worried that I was going to starve. I wasn’t impressed with the food at orientation and my neighborhood didn’t really seem to have a lot of options. I definitely craved Western food.

I do have a few options close to my house. I have fallen in love with a bakery called Paris Baguette. The one by my house is quite small in comparison to other locations, but I have found some things there that I love. There is also a Caffe Bene close by. They have tiramissou!

I have become great friends with one of the English teachers from my school. She took me to Home Plus to help me find some things I need for my apartment and treated me to dinner in the food court afterwards. It was different, but pretty good. We had some sort of fried pork. It was nice. The salad was good also. I still don’t know how I feel about the rice stuffed omelet thing, but it was a nice meal overall. The longer I’m here, the more the food grows on me. There are a lot of really great restaurants in Busan and it’s fun trying new things.

I was pretty pleased when I went to the movies in Korea for the first time. I saw Rango (in English with Korean subtitles) and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was also quite lovely because I got to eat nachos!

My friend Faith and I went to Seomyeon one Friday night to meet up for dinner. Seomyeon is like the city center and has loads to see and do. There are also many restaurants, including several Western options. We opted for TGIFridays. It was so yummy. I had a burger and Faith had fajitas.

I don’t just eat Western food here. There’s a lot of really good Korean food, as well. One weekend I got together with my friends Cilla and Sonal and went for lunch. We ate at a really great chicken place. The chicken was lovely, but it was quite spicy.  The waiter scared us a bit because when we ordered this dish, he did his best to warn us that it was spicy and even pointed and something different on the menu. I really enjoy the spiciness here. We all shared the spicy chicken and then did some walking around before we dropped by Angels in Us Coffee for some dessert… hot chocolate, cheesecake and a blueberry waffle.

Busy, busy, busy!

I am loving Korea so much! I have been in my apartment just over a week now, and it is really nice. It is a studio style apartment, but I think it’s just enough room for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to inherit furniture, appliances and cleaning supplies from the previous EPIK teacher at my school. He also left me peanut butter, which made me quite happy (and I’m all out now, which makes me quite sad).

I have had some ups and downs since being here, but things have been getting better with time. I started teaching last week and things at school are going very well. I really like my co-workers and I think they like me too. I have made some really great friends here, including these 5 girls…

I have so much to say, but not enough time to write it all down. I just wanted to write a short post to let everyone know that life in Korea is good. I will post an update very soon.

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

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GRADUATED from university

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and went on a cruise!

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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!