Weekend In Japan: Official

Hoorah!  I found some free time and now I can quickly write about my time in Japan (before I forget everything, ha).
Also:  I have some new *interesting* stuff that happened at school today.  “Interesting” takes place of some other words that could fit more appropriately here…but I’ll let you be the judge.

Japan!
I got out of work around 7pm on Friday (as usual) and went back to my apartment to finish packing.  I took a slow train to Seoul at 8:55pm  (everything else was booked because of the 3-day weekend) and got there around 11pm.
I checked into my hostel around midnight (takes ages to get in and out of the subway area in Seoul because it’s so massive.  Then made my way to the hostel.)

I stayed at Seoulwise Guesthouse and had a pleasant stay.  Woke up, ate a quick breakfast at the hostel and off again by a bit after 9am.
Took the Airport Train (in the subway station–but a direct line) to Incheon International Airport (rated the #1 airport in the world btw.  And rightfully so.  It’s pretty awesome.  :-D)

Checked in and all that–flight out was at 12:30.  Made it there with plenty of time–airport wasn’t too busy at all.  Only a 2 hour flight to Sendai International Airport and I got a meal included on my flight (both ways!)  Yay Asiana Airlines!  🙂


My friend Bethany (who I was staying with and visiting during this trip) picked me up with a friend of hers at the airport.  We practically had one of those awesome airport hugs straight out of the movies. 😀  It’s been two years since I’ve seen this girl!
Anyway, we drove (well, her friend did) back to Sendai for about an hour.
I dropped my stuff of at her apartment and we went for dinner.  (Ahh! I forgot what it was called…)

Pretty tasty.  The left was just thick noodles with various seasonings (and crunchy things) added in.  On the left was fried shrimp (2) and chicken (1).  Pretty good combination.  I could have had a whole plate of shrimp, haha.

Then we met up with a bunch of her friends from her school and saw Men in Black 3–in 3-D!  I really liked it!..not the price ($22!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  for.a.movie.  Granted, it was 3-D…but REALLY???!?!)
Apparently the movie is a lot cheaper if you don’t do the 3-D (like $10 cheaper) but the majority wanted 3-D.  It was cool though, but I would have rather kept my $10.
In Daejeon, our movies are like $7-9.

We spent some time in the movie theatre arcade and some of us girls did a photo booth thing.  It makes your eyes look huge (a big thing in Asia) and you can edit the pictures you take afterwards…adding hats or glasses, etc.
(Pretty sure this is when we did the sushi part…gah.  If my memory is this bad now…I’m scared for old age.)
After the movie, we (a few of us girls) went to this sushi place that had various dishes coming around the restaurant on several conveyor belts.  Each table had an electronic menu and you could just select what you wanted to order and within a few minutes (people in back had to prepare it) it would come zooming around to your table!  A bit of music would play to signal you that your order was coming–so you didn’t grab someone else’s stuff.  🙂
Note:  I’ve had sushi twice back home and was disgusted by it.  I wanted to try it here only because Japan is the home of sushi…unlike Missouri, USA.
It’s still not a favorite, but I’m not completely disgusted by it anymore.  It definitely isn’t something I’d ever eat again back home, that’s for sure.  I can only have sushi straight from Japan, lol.


After that, we (Bethany and I) went back to her apartment after and watched a part of a Korean drama that she likes (she had been trying to get me into it for awhile, but I never had time.  Now, after watching it a bit from the beginning…pretty sure I’m hooked now too.  Boys Before Flowers is the name.. You can find it on Youtube and some other places.  With English subtitles :))

Day 2//Sunday
Went to a church service with Bethany and some others from her school.  They have this service in a bar that they transform into a make-shift church!  You really can’t tell once they get it set up.  There were probably 20 or so people there.  You really can have a church wherever.  Just bring the people and the music and the rest will follow.
It was also my first multi-lingual service.  It was done in both Japanese and English (speaking bits were translated back and forth and singing would be done in both–alternating songs).  Note:  I sang some in Japanese!  haha.  Granted, I have no idea what I was singing about, but the words were on the screen and you get into a sort of rhythm and start picking up on how sounds are made.

Then, I went with Bethany and her friend Ariel to Matsushima Bay via a boat tour/.cruise.  It was a full day event and really fun.  🙂  The whole bay area was really pretty and strange to think that a huge tsunami had been there just a year before.  Thankfully, it was still pretty much intact because there’s a huge cluster of islands in that area that helped to break up the storm and waves.  I did see some damage (debris) and cracks left in the pavement from the earthquake though.
Bethany did tell me a bit about some other complete towns that weren’t so lucky and were completely swept off the map.  As in…they no longer exist.  That’s…so surreal to think about.  Here you are, standing in a spot in a country that was hit by a major natural disaster (several actually) and thankfully, is still there…but, nearby, there are areas that are no more.


(Picture 1:  us on the massive long bridge (252 meters long) that lead to Fukuurajima Island (island full of just natural beauty–great for a picnic or a light hike)
Picture 2: picture off the island (Fukuurajima)
Picture 3: gorgeous trees near the Zuiganji Temple
Picture 4:  Creepy caves (Dokutsu) near the main temple–Zuihanji Temple)

Anyway, after sightseeing, we got back to Sendai around 8 or so, then went to one of her friend’s houses and hung out and had tasty breakfast burritos.  We all stayed for a few hours and then we went back to her place and went to bed.

Day 3//Monday
Up around 9–and the three of us (same group from when I drove into Sendai) went to Starbucks and then headed back to the airport.
I got there around 11:30 and had a flight out (the only international flight! haha) at around 1:50pm.

I had a really great time over there and would love to eventually make it back.  It’s so expensive over there so it’s actually kind of nice that my trip was short.  😀

///////////
Work stuff:
So, my school/boss has a tendency to make quick/hasty decisions that..well…are “interesting”.  Granted, she’s the owner, so she can do what she wants…but ya know.
Anyway, my boss took all of the games out of the school today and notified us that we were no longer able to use the laptop in the classroom because they think that the kids are being “exposed to too much media”.
So, we cannot use the laptops for Sesame Street videos, songs, clips for social studies class (to explain concepts such as: mudslide, etc)…nothing.

I would have thought a warning would be a good first step, or a “hey, let’s cut back on the use of technology in the classroom” sort of thing…but hey, who am I to say.  Anyway, so that’s the new policy at our school.

I was watching Cinderella with my kindergarteners in class today (could have stemmed from that, but they’ve never had a problem with watching any sort of clip on them before, so I dunno.  Maybe she’s having a rough day.)  because our units are meant for 4 weeks and this month had 5 weeks–so we can’t start the next unit til next week.  We’ve been busy and I thought they’d like to have a fun day today (we only watched it for 2 of their classes  (30 min)) and they had class the rest of the day.
Anyway, we’re normally in charge of running our own classes, so I thought my kids might like a fun day. Could have come from that, but we all use the computers at some point during the week in our classes.

I dunno.  Ah well.
Good thing my kids already know their ABC songs.
Anyway, I’m a bit more ranty than I thought I’d be, but I just think that’s an “interesting” decision.

Aside from that, There’s a lot more I could say about the goings-on around here, but I’ll save it for in-person chats.
I’ve found a new phrase that helps me get through my tough days:
Do it for them.  This is about the kids.

A spin off of “But…think of the CHILDREN!”  lol.  It works though.  I’ve heard some say that they’ve stopped caring, and I’ve thought of that a few times too, but I really can’t.  I know that we deal with a lot of crap from this school, but I can’t withhold all creativity and my own energy just because the bosses do crazy things.
These kids are still kids and they’re making memories that will stick with them forever…whether I decide to care or not.  So, I have to care.  Because they care…and I AM making an impact on their lives.  Who knows, they might remember all of this when they’re older and decide that they want to do things the way that they remember doing it when they were kids (like myself)…and I can’t deprive them of the fun that they SHOULD be having as kids.  They’re in MY class, so I’m going to try my darndest to make sure they they are able to learn and live up to their potential…and have FUN doing it.
Whether it’s more work for me or not is beside the point.
It’s not about me or my school, it’s about them.  

It should always be about them.  Not in the “you’re so great, I’m going to give you everything you want” kind of way…but…I can’t just do the bare minimum because
1. I’ve never been that kind of person and it’s not in my nature
2. If I do the bare minimum…as their teacher…what can I expect from them?  They won’t get anything out of being in my class…and I can’t do that to them.  I want to inspire them to learn and to be great and to do great things…and to be good people.

I know I can’t do that completely because I’m not going to be with them for the rest of their lives…but I know I can lay the groundwork.
If I remember things that I did in kindergarten, who’s to say that they won’t remember what they did in Stacey teacher’s class when they’re 25?

and THAT is why I have to/want to keep working at this…no matter what obstacles are continuously put in my path to  make things more challenging.

//I feel like I’m making my job sound super glamourous…like I walk into class with a gold cape around my neck shouting “Let’s LEARN and MAKE SOME MEMORIES!!!” or something.
Uh…it’s not like that.  lol.  😀  And no, I don’t own a gold cape.  haha 🙂

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Weekend in Japan

Helllllo!

I had an amazing weekend in Sendai, Japan visiting a friend of mine, who happens to also be teaching English.
I’ll do a formal post when I’m not exhausted.  It’s been a long, crazy weekend and I had an even longer day today because of all the traveling…

Men in Black 3. Japanese Sushi (still not my favorite, but better than last time, definitely). Church service in a Japanese bar. Matsushima Bay and boat tour. Breakfast burritos with some awesome new friends.

I’ll post pics too…but for now, off to bed.  Back to work tomorrow.  Short day though!  Elementary classes are cancelled, so I can use that time as a work day (report cards are coming due, so I’ll finally have time to work on those.)

Goodnight for now!

Side note:
Happy Memorial Day!  THANK YOU to all of our servicemen and women.  You truly are inspirational and we all can’t thank you enough for what you have done (and continue to do) for our country.
THANK YOU!

Teenie Tiny Post About Something Awesome

I’ve had a pretty long day today–Full day of classes, but sent in 2 TEFL lessons (13 and 14–of 20) and made pretty great progress on Unit 15.  Hoping my tutor doesn’t send them back to be re-done.  I spent about 3 hours at a cafe near my apartment working on them.  Ugh. (Granted, I was on Facebook and Pinterest a bit too :D)

Anyway–I just wanted to note that the whole stuttering thing is practically nonexistent when I’m teaching.

Yes, you read that right.

I actually kind of forgot about it and then have to remind myself about it.  haha. It’s still there from time to time when I’m talking normally to people—but when I’m teaching…that’s a different story.  I’m not sure where it goes…but I also don’t really care.  Go and don’t ever come back.  ha 🙂
If it does show up (really rare) the kids just assume they’re just supposed to fill in the pause with a word (if I’m reading something to them or whatever).  haha.  Good stuff.  🙂

Anyway, off to bed…exhausted.

Japan in 2 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

//So much for a teenie tiny post 🙂  haha.

P.S.–Like the new layout?  🙂  I think it has a fun POP!

Classroom Fun (pictures!)

Just some pictures about what we’ve been doing in some of my classes.

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Art Class–5.15.2012
We made hats out of construction paper!
Lay the paper flat and have them decorate it any way they wanted (I pre-cut a lot of the stuff to help with creativity and for timing)–Then when finished, put it around their head and staple to size.
Got the idea from Mrs. Robert’s kindergarten art class—From..oh..1991?  🙂  (ie: from when I went to kindergarten)

Image

I saw this on Pinterest and it’s amazing.
I’ve used it with my kindergarten classes too.
This was with my English 1.1 elementary class.  They’ve pretty much mastered the alphabet flashcards (I use those if we have extra time.  I have two sets and I throw them on the ground and the two teams race to put them together the quickest.  Also a good learning tool if not used in a race format).
Anyway–this is the next step.  I hang yarn on the wall and the students match the uppercase cards to the lowercase buddies on the clips and hang them in order.  Took them about 20 minutes. (First time through)–They seemed to really enjoy it and it was a good challenge for them.

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5.22.2012
^^Just made these today!
Apply glue (gluestick) to entire sheet of paper.  Add yarn in a fun (flat) design.
Lay foil over the top and press down.  Color!
Again, THANK YOU PINTEREST!!!

//Side note:
My Pinterest Site:
http://pinterest.com/stacey086/

My Teaching Board on Pinterest:
http://pinterest.com/stacey086/teaching/

My Kid’s Art Crafts on Pinterest:
http://pinterest.com/stacey086/kids-crafts/

Happy 3rd Monthiversary to me!

I’m headed to bed soon, so this will definitely be a short one.

As of tomorrow morning (ie; 6 hours) it will be my 3rd monthiversary here in Korea!  Wow!  3 months already and 1/4 of the way through my first year in Korea!  

I’m having a good time and doing well, and as for the homesickness–it’s just a part of living abroad.  It comes and goes in waves, but it hasn’t struck for awhile.  (hoorah!)

Also, I’ve been working on getting back into a workout regime.  I used to work out more when I was at home and it’s been a process trying to get myself to do the same while I’m here.
I used to work out more at the gym back home and now I’ve found (after purchasing a 3 month gym membership to a place here awhile back) that I like working out at my apartment better.  
Either way, it’s good that I’m doing it again.   I’ve been noticing more results on top of what I had achieved back home too.  (Probably because I don’t have a car and do a lot more walking here).
(Thanks Pinterest for all the fabulous workout ideas!  Helping me mix things up and keep motivated!)
Beach season! Beach season! Beach season!

Ah, what else is happening—
1.  Learning Korean (formal class setting) has been put on hold.  I’m trying to get other things sorted out first, and since I live in such a populated area, learning Korean isn’t super high on the to-do list, since I can get by with what basics I already know. 

2.  SO EXCITED for summer!  I don’t get a summer break or anything, but I have some fun weekend plans and such booked.  July is booked weekend-to-weekend (or will be…)  There’s a ton of fun stuff to do here and stuff is going on all the time…it’s just a matter of finding what it is that you REALLY want to do and just doing that.  And making sure you’re saving money.  (or not, if you choose that route.  And yes, I’m somewhat judging you if you do.)  And on that note, July will probably be the month that I actually won’t send money home.  Everything I have planned is something that I REALLY want to do.  And, as this is as much about having fun and making memories/experiences as it is saving money…I’ll do what I darn well please.  🙂 haha.

3.  If I say (ie: on Facebook) that I’m living off pancakes til the next payday.  Please don’t freak out.  Yes, I’m low on money, but I’m not dying or anything.  I’m restricting myself because I’m going to Japan this weekend…BUT MOSTLY because I only get paid once a month, and May has been a very long month.  (Yes it has.  Go look at a calendar.)  But, I’ll be fine.  Please stop worrying.  Thank you.
Side note: another cool perk about my job is that I can get part of my next check in advance if I am short on cash.  

Anyhoo, headed to bed.  Gooooood night!/Good day/Good afternoon! 🙂

P.S.–I think I’m keeping this layout for awhile.  I kinda like the new look.  🙂 

Clarifying the Financial Side of This

First, this is a close-up of my bracelet–Wordpress kept wanting me to put all my pictures into a slideshow when I just wanted to drop it onto the page.

Take THAT WordPress.  Heh.  😛

A bit blurry because I took it with my phone…and it’s an up-close shot, but you get the idea.
I was eyeing these bracelets (they’re pretty common in the little shops here) the other day but talked myself out of buying it.  Good thing 🙂  I love the colors, the daintiness of it (not a fan of chunky jewelery) and the little star on the end. Love it.  🙂
The two chains are attached at the ends and I suppose are supposed to look separate, but yeah..love it.  🙂

Onto my original plan for this post.
This should actually be a pretty quick one actually.  (Keyword: Should)
I knew that with coming to Korea that I’d be able to have money and to save and all that, but I guess for whatever reason, I had that money accumulating a lot faster in my head than how it works in reality.
I’ve been very good about sending half my check home each month ($1000), which is all great and dandy, but I don’t really have anything to show for it yet.  I’m basically fixing the mess I created for myself before I left.  I was pretty much down to nothing in my checking account (living check to check will do that to you) and my credit card…well, it’s seen better days.  It was at a zero balance before I decided to come to Korea, but got a little out of hand with the costs of coming here, laptop purchase (and external hard-drive), booking vacation trips once I got here..and well, life happened.
Now, I’m repairing what I did, but I don’t really see any other way I could have gone aside from the route I chose to take.  I know that with time I’ll actually be able to save, but I’m impatient by nature, and I like to see results.  And well, I guess I’m just human in that regard.
Anyway, if you plan on coming over, keep in mind that things won’t magically get better right off the bat.  However, I AM doing well over here, but money still gets tight at the end of the month, but that’s more from sending half my check back home (immediately.  no questions asked) and well, living over here.
I still have bills back home (student loans, storage unit and credit card)…and over here.
I guess I just wanted to write about the fact that yes, I get to keep a large portion of my check…but no, I’m still not rich yet.  haha.

I really think that once I get more settled here that I could stay for another year.  Obviously, it’s really early to say either way, and life might have something else to throw my way…but, this is a very real possibility.
Once I get this credit card knocked down, pretty much all of it would be able to rest safely in my account back home…which…is a pretty amazing feeling.

And…I’d want to go home to car payments, gas prices, rent, car maintenance….why?  haha.

Not to worry, it’s still really early to say, and I definitely do not see this as a long-term thing, but just as a tool to get myself back on my feet and ready for the next stage in my life.  In my opinion, it’s better to go into a relationship with some money under your belt. It opens a few more doors and creates more opportunities where there weren’t any before.  Plus, I’d rather be able to put more down on a house with someone than have to struggle to make rent in a tiny apartment because we both don’t have anything in savings and are trying to pay off student loans.  🙂

Baby steps.  I’m a planner/organizer/list-maker at heart, but making myself focus on one thing at a time really helps me keep a grip on my sanity.

(Note: after my checking account is a bit more stable back home, I won’t be sending home money each month, but rather making a running tally of how much I have “available” to use in my Korean account.  I lose a decent chunk of money due to fees and such, and I’d like to be able to just send it over in bigger chunks to minimize the loss…  Again, getting there…in the next few months, I’ll be where I want to be.)

//Want to read my about my journey from the beginning?  Go here.