Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Week 2 rundown... creative title fail

(A picture of the outside of the Hagwon I teach at... also my place of residence)

Holy wow another blog post! Disclaimer: I have about a week+ worth of material to write so bare with me if I start to babble. I'm really going to try and work on the bi-weekly postings...

May 10-14th
My neighbors and I spent Monday morning (the 10th) at Gwangju hospital (name not correct) getting our "physicals" which are required to receive our alien registration cards. Lemme just say... if you ever end up in a Korean hospital, make sure there is a translator readily available. I pretty much knew every test they were doing (though why we had to get a dental exam I'll never know), but it was still scary not being able to ask the doctors questions, or understand what they were trying to explain in return. It was mostly basic stuff... height, weight, blood work, TB test, and eye exam, where I was "told" that my long distance vision is poor and I may possibly be color blind.

Fun fact: I got glasses right before I left for Korea but was unaware of the eye exam, so didn't bring them with me to the hospital. And I'm not color blind... I just couldn't make out the shapes because apparently I skipped that lesson in preschool.

The rest of Monday and all of Tuesday through Friday (11-14th) I spent teaching by myself (Tuesday was my first full day). The first few days by myself took some time getting used to. Teaching here isn't very structured... at least not for the foreign teachers. We don't really do lesson planning or have much of an idea as to what chapters in the books we'll be teaching next. I've been planning on stealing extra copies of the books to try and get a basic grasp on lessons/actually prepare something so my kids don't think I'm a loony... but damn my procrastinating tendencies. I'm sure I'll get to it once I find my rhythm/teaching style.

Some of my classes are more difficult than others (communication wise). The preschool/kindergarten classes are taught in the morning and are named after U.S. states. For example, I teach Washington class and Maryland class, which are my kinders, and then I teach New York class right before lunch... which are my preschoolers!

The above 2 are pictures of my Washington class. The one time I actually want them to misbehave and do funny things for the camera... they decide to sit, focus on their assignments and completely ignore my presence.

The next 2 are from my Maryland class. The little boy that looks like the devil is Logan. He's a very funny/extremely hyper child. He's probably the most active child that I teach. Or the most hyperactive child I've ever met. The 2 girls I'm pictured with are Esther and Polly. Those 2 are just adorable. Esther never really listens to me... but I can never be frustrated with her. And Polly always wears her hair in curly pigtails which is just sooo cute haha.

New York class.... my preschoolers!!! I love love love teaching this class. They laugh at everything you say.

This is me with Lily... another one of my favorite students. She's so incredibly shy and never really speaks but always has that cute little smirk on her face.

The boy in the #3 shirt is Dean. He falls over from laughing too hard... all the time.

Anyhoooo, like I was saying earlier, communication with my morning classes can sometimes be difficult because they've all had no more than 1 year of English lessons, and for the preschoolers this is the first year of English lessons. My kinders can understand the basic directions coming from the books, and can answer simple questions like "how are you?" or "how's the weather?", but a conversation involving weekend plans or favorite extra curricular activities is out of the question. My preschoolers don't really understand sentences. I give directions usually in 2 words or less... and even have a Korean teacher to help translate. When all else fails, I just put on some music because they LOVE to sing and dance... and it's just way too adorable (please see video at end of post). They also really love stickers. I don't recall loving stickers that much when I was a child... but stickers have been a lifesaver so far (i.e. when I want my students to listen).

Teaching the afternoon classes is a bit easier. Grades range from 1st to 6th, and the older the students the easier it is to have conversations and teach. I like teaching the older classes because we do about 15-20 minutes of lesson then 10-15 minutes of playing games/teach Danielle Korean. Such games include hangman, rock paper scissors (BIG HIT), and my personal favorite, Head's Up Seven Up. They also seem to get extremely amused whenever I ask them to teach me certain words. Unfortunately, no pics of my afternoon classes yet because some of the older kids are "too cool for school" and get really camera shy.

Hmmmm what else?

Wednesday night my friends took me out for "yangnyum galbi"... more commonly referred to as Korean BBQ

I think it's been one of my favorite meals I've had since I've been here. You sit on the floor around an individual grill for your table, and the server brings out a few sides to start you off. Not quite sure yet what I was getting into... but everything was delicious. Next, she brings out a large plate of uncooked meat, turns on the grill, and we have at it. We cooked everything ourselves which was really fun! Oh.. while it was cooking we were brought about 2374114667 more sides. Now the way you eat it is interesting (that's what she said). You take a giant leaf (yes, leaf) and lay it in your hand. Add beef, rice, any sides and sauces you choose, roll the leaf, and basically shove it all in your mouth (again insert dirty jokes... it's hard not to talk about food without dirty jokes). All in all it was a very unique dining experiences, incredibly tasty and filling, and very cheap (about 7,000 won/person or $6.90).

And for those of you interested in the extremely diverse and more traditional local cuisine...

Octopus tentacles anyone?

Ok, friends... that's my (last) week in a giant nutshell. Next up: weekend adventure fail and the 8th world wonder that is my new gym.

To close, the adorable video of my Maryland class spontaneously breaking out into song.


  1. Your students are SO CUTE! What do they call you in class? Do they address you by your first name or what? Also, are western names very common with Korean children?

  2. amazing post. but at first i read octopus testicles. guess that is something completely different. and btw, it is extremely difficult for me to leave a comment since it involves signing in and promising money and your first born. lol

  3. another GREAT post. Maybe I'm just in sync with your humor but you may have been meant to be a blogger/writer. I find your writing style a perfect blend of information, adorable kids, amusing stories, side notes, commentary as well as formal and every day speaking mannerisms. To summarize: Bravo! (this should also serve as encouragement to continue blogging more regularly.

    favorite part: "And I'm not color blind... I just couldn't make out the shapes because apparently I skipped that lesson in preschool." I was hysterical.

  4. Another excellent blog. Keep them coming, and btw...I helped with your preschool education. You passed your kindergarten test, colors, numbers, and shapes.

    You missed your calling, you always were and continue to be an excellent writer.

    Miss you lots, Mom