Tag Archive: work


Goodbyes

I have been home now for a couple of weeks and it has been a weird, yet nice time.  I definitely got behind on finishing wrapping up this blog and my year working in South Korea.

So I got together with some friends on my last weekend in Korea for drinks and darts and just spending some quality time together for the last time.  It was a really fun night and I really do miss the people already. Of course we were at Metropolis, which became my MacLaren’s if you watch How I Met Your Mother. I love every person that works there. They treated us so well and became great friends of mine.  They always bought dinner or made sure we made it home safely.  Saying goodbye to them wasn’t easy, but we had a few laughs that definitely made it more bearable.

3 pf my favorite, favorite Koreans.  I loved working with Eileen and Joanne. They are funny, kind, and just really awesome people.  It was fun overcoming barriers of language and culture and I am grateful that with all of the things I dealt with throughout the year at work that having co-workers wasn’t one of them.  Then Jun Soo was always super helpful and willing to do pretty much anything we asked of him.  He made sure we made it home and helped me get awesomely cheap contacts. yay!

It was Jun Soo’s idea to tear up the napkins to make them look like tears because it totally resembles what it looks like when someone is crying in a particular Korean kid’s cartoon.  It was really funny to take these pictures while everyone was watching us.

These people plus the missing Jun-Soo and the already returned Rachel and Sara made up the core of my friendships and system during my time in Korea.

and then finally one of me and Andy.  I am so glad that Andy had this place that we could go to that was a really constant mix of Koreans and foreigners and then made it so awesome that we went back time after time.

The next set of goodbyes were so hard for me to make.  It is not uncommon for foreign teachers to pick up private students they teach on the side for extra money.  Technically most of the time it can be used for termination of your contract, but everyone does it.  So I hopped on this train and taught a couple myself.  I first began teaching these two little 5 year old girls.  They were great. I played with them and we sang songs and read books, and I just really enjoyed their eagerness to learn.  One of the girls had an older cousin that I also began to teach.  Her English was really good and she loves learning.  She is an overall great student, but even more so at English.  Her name is Grace.  I loved spending time with Grace’s family.  They always treated me so well and constantly went above and beyond what they paid me every week.  When I was sunburned her mom cut up her aloe plant and made me lay for hours covered in aloe.  She constantly would take flowers from her own vase and send them home with me.   They took me to lunch many times.  I also spent a day just playing in the park with Grace and her little cousin Min Seo.  It was really appreciated and I loved the relationship I built with their family.  I let Eileen take over the lessons and I am glad that Grace will be taken care of.  During my last lesson we had lunch and chatted for awhile.  It was just really nice to feel like I had moments where I got to be this almost natural part of someone’s family even though I clearly wasn’t.

This was our last meeting together.  We went to my favorite Chinese place and I had this delicious spicy seafood soup called jjambbong.  Min Seo the smaller girl really was my favorite person.  She is so funny and smart and just a really well behaved child.  I told her parents that any time they wanted to send her to America I would be more than glad to take her.  She was so cute and loving.  and then of course the same with Grace.  She was such a good student and so easy to chat with and I always looked forward to our lessons.

I really like this picture of Grace and I.

Leaving Korea was easy in some ways because I was ready, but there were definitely things that kind of hit me at the last minute and caused me to just feel this deep sadness about returning home.

I am grateful for the people that I was able to meet and make connections with during my year there.  I am even more grateful for the technology that allows me to keep in contact and to keep building relationships with people like Eileen that I hold so dear.

 

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Shake, Shake!

Last week in science class with my GS students we didn’t have an assigned project.  Usually we do these silly little prepackaged projects from these books.  Some of them are fun and some of them are just ridiculously pointless. Anyway, last week I suppose they didn’t come in on time because we were told it would be a “review week”.  These aren’t really things you can review because these poor kids don’t even get half the things you say to them most days.

So I decided to do something fun and make a project to keep them busy and to let them have fun.  I finally settled on the idea of making ice cream in baggies.  The kids had a great time.  It was a little more messy than I would have hoped, and I probably should have had them work in teams instead of individually, but hey I know better for next time I suppose.

I looked up a basic how-to guide on-line just to get some accurate measurements and tested it at home the night before just to make sure it would work. It was really easy and I used chocolate milk just to skip a lot of extra steps.

Meet GS4A. From the left row front to back and the right row back to front  Sally, Daniel, Christal, Julia, Tom, Steve, and James.  They are a handful.  The boys in this class are hardcore.  They talk 100 miles and hour and they love to destroy…everything.

Daniel is a weird child.  I teach his sister Bella, too and  I would love to meet their parents.  They are very strange kids.  Definitely marching to a way off beat drum.  Daniel kept wanting to lick the salt.  It was gross and unsanitary and I just couldn’t reason with him.  I am sure his sodium levels were spiked for days.

James and Julia shaking away.  The bags got really cold, of course, so I had brought some hand towels to class for them to use when they needed them.

Stillll Shaking!

Poor Sally, she is one of my favorites. She was so excited about her awesome looking ice cream, but some how some of the salt got mixed in with her milk, and she had some terrible tasting ice cream.  I did give her a new chocolate milk to make up for it though.  Other than her mishap and a few not quite frozen situations everyone’s turned out great.

맛있는!  (delicious!)

It’s a little blurry because Daniel wouldn’t hold the cup still, but yay! icecream!

And it was during their last class of the day, so I sugared them up and then put them on the bus home.  ^_^

The month 6 hodge-podge

I am half way through this adventure in Korea now and feeling kind of weary about the next couple of months.  The month of April has been birthday month like crazy but May will be the month of goodbyes.  and these goodbyes will continue on through August.

However, this entry is supposed to be about all the awesome things I did in the last month.  First, I had my own birthday.  I had a really awesome one thanks to my friends here.  Sadly though, because Facebook has changed its privacy settings, which is good but just a little annoying, I can no longer steal pictures from my friends when they post, so I don’t actually have any pictures from my actual birthday that are really cute.  However, I think maybe if you try this link you can see one.

I got so much awesome mail! I love getting mail and I received birthday boxes galore.  The door guy downstairs must have thought I was having everything I owned shipped over. Lots of good stuff.

Then this past weekend I had a 1980s themed outing.  It was a ton of fun.  All the girls came over to get ready and help each other with the high hair and crimping.

I think we looked pretty awesome. Though, maybe we still missed the authentic mark a bit.  In our defense most of us weren’t even born until the later 80s. What do we know?

We had a really great night out.  Lots of dancing and fun and the usual kebab breakfast before we came home.

Then yesterday Rachel and I went to Yeouido to look at the cherry blossoms.  There is a huge festival somewhere outside the city, but this is the best place to see them in the city.  We were given misdirections a bit and never made it to the river where they are in huge abundance, but we found a pretty park that had all the ones we needed.  I am not having terrible allergy issues, but it is worth it for sure.  They were gorgeous.

then a close up:

There were so many in this one area. It was awesome.

Then I found this little bee helping with pollination and he’s going to be going up on my Flickr account for sure.

We also saw a statue of  Sejong the Great of Joseon.  He invented Hangul, the Korean language in 1446.

then we found some cool kids running around:

I definitely wanted to snatch them up and bring them home.

Then me with the blossoms. I am wearing a jacket but it was actually really warm by lunch time.

Otherwise this month has just been a lot of celebrating and spending quality time with friends and trying to make sure everyone fits in all of their sight seeing before they leave.  I am still liking my classes, and now that I have been here for 6 months my boss can no longer threaten to fire me.

So now I am on the downhill slope and looking forward to getting to see much more of Korea now that the weather is more cooperative!

oooooh children…

Many times my kids say some really funny things, or write them in their journals and I always mean to share them on here but then I forget, which I hate buuuut yeah.

h’okay so. Today’s episode was just too funny not to share. I warn you it might be slightly offensive?

I was teaching GS 3 science today.  The class is composed of 2 girls and 3 boys.  The boys are silly and are always talk, talk, talking.  Today’s unit involved making shapes out of tangrams.  We went over the usual square, triangle, lozenge and then put together numbers, cats, foxes, people, and so on.  Once we were done and had time to kill I let them create their own shapes.  I made a butterfly at one point and then moved on to the next shape when one of the boys was like look teacher I made a butterfly with a 고추=gochu I was like hochu? pepper? a butterfly with a pepper? Then I realized that I had just had a conversation with my friends about how the word pepper and penis were ridiculously similar in Korean to the point that foreigners often say it wrong.

So I have this kid pointing to this blue lozenge telling me its a butterfly penis. Really kid? I was like ummm what?! the other kids were giggling and I was kind of in shock.  I quickly tried to explain how that was really inappropriate and make him stand with his hands up, which he refused to do after telling me no and got in bigger trouble for, but anyway it was ridiculous.  He is this little, whacky, 7 year old kid telling me he made a butterfly to top mine because his had a penis. Kids these days I tell ya.

on a side note the word for vagina and tuna are also a very similar sound annnd I think I have been saying the wrong version while ordering my kimbap.  No wonder the woman always looks at me a little funny. sheesh.

And, tomorrow we are supposed to be getting radioactive rain. Awesome.  They are saying only trace amounts, but I am kind of hoping for some Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs kind of action. ^_^

Month 5

wow…has it been another month already?

This month went by really fast. really, really fast.  We finally for real booked the booked the boyfriend’s ticket booked.  I can’t wait!

I got into a huge fight with my boss. She threatened to fire me because she completely misunderstood everything that happened which was awful and kind of forced me to realize that even when you’re the most stubborn person ever sometimes you just don’t get a chance to explain yourself.  Sometimes you just have to bow your head, say you’re sorry and hope that your work life doesn’t get worse. It still sucks, but hey I got at least the three days in August I wanted.

I got to meet up with a friend I studied with in Denmark that I haven’s seen since June 2008.  Then I realized just how long I had been away from Europe and how much I still miss it. Then all of this led to me realizing the difference between here and there.  In Europe I was studying so I got long breaks, I didn’t have to go to class if I didn’t want to, I could travel and explore.  Here I feel more chained.  Every day I do the same thing for the most part.  Wake up, gym, shower, food, work, sleep. rinse and repeat.  And I know this is the way life is for 90% of people it really just kills me that I feel this way at 23. I hate that I can’t just call in sick and take a day off here. so it goes.

But hey on a better note it is officially a little less than a month until my birthday! I love birthdays and I can’t wait to see what goes down here.  I have already started planning my 80’s themed party.  It is so easy to find clothes that look like 1984 threw up on them here.

Also, I rearranged my apartment. Cue the pictures and funny story…well, I will try and make it funny because it might be a need to be there story.

So, the other day I found a couch on the sidewalk.  My friend Tom helped me carry it home.  I decided that I wanted to put my bed up in the loft because I really wanted a separation from where I sleep to where people are when they come to my apartment.  I was feeling much to collegy and not using my space to its fullest potential.

Anyway, so I was going to have the boys help, only Rachel, Sara, and I decided we could do it alone…then Sara got tied up sooo it was just Rachel and I.  We took the mattress off and slowly took the frame apart.  The frame wasn’t quite so heavy and neither was the headboard, buuuut the mattress was another story.  It really is suuuuuper heavy because the box springs and mattress are all in the same little layer. Anyway so I am sitting on my ladder trying to pull, she is pushing, and I have a terrible case of the nervous giggles.  Then we have to turn it over flat to actually get it in the loft.  Only its really heavy and its really high up in the loft. She thinks she will be crushed and I just picture a movie scene moment and then laughed harder and almost dropped it and then was sad that no one there was to watch this feat we had accomplished. So here are the pictures of the semi finished project.  I want to get another low table and one of my walls is uber bare so I need to get some posters or something to hang up. I also got this plant from Rachel and thought it would look perfect on the table only the cat has tried to eat it repeatedly like cats doooo so I might just be plantless here.

so now I have a little sitting area and its all comfy.

My card/postcard hanging wall ^_^

and now my little loft nook:

Hopefully this next month will continue to be enjoyable and trouble free.

I’m a goldfish?

Tuesday we finalized everything for the boyfriend’s flight. I was super excited and already counting down the days until July 21st, and by counting down you know I mean like I just happened to notice that at that time it was 135 days away not really counting because who really counts that far in advance right?

So anyway, I went to work looked at my calendar and decided to put in for my vacation time. I figured giving my boss 4 months and 19 days (again who’s counting, right?) would be plenty of time in advance, and I put it in writing just to cover all my bases. Only I gave it to her, she looked at me, looked at the dates and laughed. She laughed at me.

She then tried to tell me that because we will be on a summer intensives schedule that taking time on a M,W,F would be impossible.  there would be absolutely no way for her to find a substitute, you know 4 months and 19 days in advance. really? really? not at all? eh?

I was growing more and more frustrated with her as she proceeded to take me into the teachers work room where all of our desks are and continue to spread all of my business throughout the office. Thanks for being so professional Ma’am. She is having Eileen tell me the same thing she had just told me.  Then I grew so overwhelmed that I kind of broke and cried. I know that at 23 I shouldn’t be crying at work over something like this, but I had been so excited and she ripped all of that away by telling me that even though he will be here for 5 weeks and I am only asking for 4 days of my 10 off that it just can’t be done. right.

She then decided that she would take them into further consideration and see what she could do. Here is the kicker though, I had a co-worker during winter intensives take 3 vacation days one a Monday and one a Friday. So why the double standard you ask? Yeah I couldn’t get a reason either.

The day only got better when I misread the schedule and wasn’t there to teach a class that I was supposed to be in and she came barreling into the office when I got back demanding I get to my class right away because Rachel was having to teach it. She was a saint for covering for me.  After class though apparently my boss could tell I was still mad at her for the earlier fiasco and asked Eileen why I couldn’t just let it go.  Rachel said it best by pointing out we aren’t goldfish our rebound and attention rates aren’t 3 seconds. Of course I am still mad at her.

Rachel being awesome bought almond kisses and a coke and left them with a funny note on my desk after my class.

I still won’t look at or talk to my boss. She is one of those people that really really hates when people are upset with her and has to fix it. Well, until she tells me that we can get a sub and I get my days that are in my contract, then I will be unprofesh too and just pretend she isn’t even there. Childish, but effective as many stories from previous similar instances suggest.

The good news is that there is time to worry about it later.

Month 4 Check-In

So here is a little video update for you guys. I tried to upload it directly into the entry buuut it wouldn’t let me because it wasn’t the right type after I compressed it so blah blah blah point is I made a video update this month. 🙂

Also, there is really no appearance from Hans because we are not on speaking terms. He decided to get into the trash and scatter it alllll over my apartment, and claw a hole in the wall straight through to the concrete. I am hoping I can just paint over it and no one will notice since it is up in loft, but his clawing up of things is starting to drive me crazy. I need to get a claw file or something that actually exists to stop this madness.

anyway, enjoy the video!

When it rains it pours

Oh Korea…things don’t just happen here, they come in waves.

This past week my apartment has had one failure after another. It started small with a blown light bulb in the bathroom.

Then apparently a vent wasn’t closed properly in the boiler closet that I have never even opened by the way and so my pipes froze and I had no hot water for almost 5 days. Luckily, we had a day above 32F and so in those few “warm” hours they unfroze enough that they are now working fine. My boss kept asking me to wait before she sent someone over. um hello. NO HOT WATER isnt really something you can just go days without. Rachel, thankfully, was kind enough to let me use her shower.

Now I am pretty sure my washer is on the fritz. It keeps hitting error on the spin cycle. Not pleasant. and my fridge doesn’t seal properly which is going to kill my electric bill. For the moment duct tape works, though I just don’t know why they never update these darn things.

When Eileen came over and saw all of my appliances she was kind of shocked by the ancient-ness of them. I am also afraid my boss would try and make me pay for it which wouldn’t be fair. So for now I am just trying to keep things together with tape and lots of stern threats aimed at my appliances.

Also, can someone please tell me why I decided to come to Korea while they of course have a winter that is one of the coldest in the entire history of the nation. No really, why?

Only one week left of my ridiculous day schedule then it’s back to my night owl ways that come so much more natural than this 8:30-5:30 business.

Month 3

I am 1 week shy of my 3 month mark here in Korea. Time was flying by until this week. Working days really makes the work day feel never ending. Things have been a mess there for me and I am just waiting for the talk I know is coming about something I am doing wrong. My boss just likes to find things to pick on sometimes.

Anyway, this monthly update comes with pictures! I realized during the holidays that my hair was becoming unmanageable here. I have really healthy hair and it can withstand a lot, but the dry gross weather and air here were just taking hair disasters to a whole new level so since I best Korean friend’s mom is a hairdresser I headed over to her salon and prayed really hard that when I asked her to chop off my hair that it would end well.

Korean and Western hair are soooo very different. Westerners tend to have much finer hair in comparison and it retains about ten times the water. Anyway, I showed her some pictures and she went to work. I was kind of panicked at one point as my friend Eileen made this noise that in the States means like yeaaaah that’s bad. Like sucking air loudly through your teeth. Yeah well as her mom is chopping away she makes this noise simply because my wet hair is curling and she is curious about the curly level of shorter hair or something, but I was scared to death her mom had slaughtered my hair or some such. Luckily though, it was just curiosity. Anyway before annnnd after 🙂

My hair grows waaaay fast here. It was like that in Denmark too. Very strange.

I looooooove it. Her mom did suuuch a good job.

Also, I am down 12 pounds and joining the gym this month. Body image really is something you are aware of all the time here. I eat such good food and its so healthy. I would stay here forever just for the cheap eats.

The holidays are over and things are settling down some, but there are still a lot of birthdays and things coming up.

And I need to take a moment to share with you something that made me terribly excited yesterday.  My mom sent me a package from home and I hadn’t received it and I was getting nervous that it got lost or something.  I called the post office and they said there was no such package. I was soooo frustrated. Then, yesterday this little guard my building has knocks on my door and tells me I need to come downstairs. Mostly we converse in gestures because he is probably 70 and his English is limited to “hello” and “what is your name?” so I followed him downstairs and my package from home has been sitting for a week in his office and no one thought to leave me a note or anything. I was kind of angry at first, but glad that it wasn’t lost. My mom though sent me sooooo much awesome stuff I can’t wait to really dig into it all. Spices, bullion cubes, peanut butter, mixes, candies, and Christmas stuff.

and of course Hans von Mouseman was very interested in the new box and just licked everything inside. He is so weird.

Overall, this month has just been busy and came to a sudden halt with the arrival of my day schedule at work.  I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the administration at work, and looking forward to the end of January and returning to a normal schedule.

This month I sat down and really studied the Korean language and can now succesfully read everything, even if I don’t know what the words mean. That part comes next. I love having my conversation and cooking classes with Eileen.  We put them on hold for the holidays and are trying to work around busy schedules and ridiculous work things.  If not they will pick up again in February.

I am also counting down until the end of March when hopefully it will start to warm up and I no longer have to wear a billion layers of clothes so that it doesn’t actually feel like the 7 degrees it really is outside most nights. I couldn’t stay here for a second year I don’t think just because I am a wimp for the cold and it is killing me here. It is a bitter, bitter winter in Korea.

I am looking forward to wrapping up month 3 and the first quarter of my adventure here.

Winter Intensives

With the beginning of the new year comes winter vacation for Korean children.  They get 1 month off in the winter from school.  Now at home this usually means kids wear pajamas for days on end and watch lots of television.  Of course, in Korea it means their parents send them to even more academies and they have just as much work as if they were in regular school.

We started a new schedule at my work and it has been a very rocky transition.  We have known the change was coming for months now. Literally it is the same every year.  Since the kids don’t have school we work days. 8:30-5:30…I might not make it through January for this very reason.  I am soooooo not a morning person, therefore these days are really awful. The other schedule is perfect for my night owl lifestyle.

Anyway, so this change over…originally we were supposed to have Wednesday as a free day for planning and organizing.  That was changed though and we just had regular classes. Well, it’s Wednesday and we still don’t know our new schedules.  We finally get them at 8:45pm. No joke. 12 hours before we have to be back at work with new classes, books, kids, etc. Then my boss thinks it is funny to laugh and ask why the foreign teachers work so hard when we are still at work at 11pm last night. I was fuming. We were still at work scrambling to organize so that we would be prepared for our 9am classes. If we had received our schedules and new books earlier then there would have been no late night and frustration.

I just don’t understand how some people can have a complete lack of disregard for us.  The Korean teachers all received their schedules mid day yesterday and were much more prepared and able to leave at a very reasonable hour.

I recognize this is really becoming a rant. So sorry about that, but the frustration being felt by the foreign teachers is really high today.

Anyway, so I have new classes. So far I like them. I am re-teaching some of my favorite classes from last semester which is fun.  Also, I am going to be working Saturdays in January which will be nice.  It is only for a couple of hours and totally worth the overtime.

Also, Korea…in winter…death trap.  It has been snowing here this week.  Snowing a couple of inches throughout the entire week…salt? salt? I am not sure they know what it is or at least not in mass amounts.  Quite literally they will walk on the sidewalk until the snow compacts down to a layer of nice and then continue to walk across it.  I have already fallen a couple of times because my shoes just don’t have the grip.  We are thinking about getting some cross country skis and poles to just take care of the problem. 🙂 In real life though its way dangerous and scary.  I am more afraid of dying by falling on the ice than I am of N. Korea. fact.

Overall, winter intensives…are intense.