ROA and Spirit!

One more day of intensives and I couldn’t be happier.  And kindergarten are “maybe” going on a field trip on Wednesday.  *facepalm*  “Maybe”…thanks for being clear about that.  lol

Should be nice to get some work done that morning.  They ask one foreign teacher to go each time, and we usually rotate.  We got a new teacher about 2 months? ago and she’s up to go–apparently it’s Cinderella the musical, which should be fun, so she was up for it (and it’s her turn anyway since she’s new, but it’s nice that it worked out that way).  I just really need some time to work on report cards.

Anyway, 2 things:
I’ve been introducing the concept of “Random Acts of Kindness” (and used the picture from the movie Pay it Forward to show how the actions might influence others, sort of like a domino effect.
I’m sort of putting it into the lesson plans, and one class finished their stuff a month early, so I was free to plan stuff more freely.
There isn’t as much “excuse me/please/thank you/sorry!” here, and holding doors is basically nonexistent.  Elevator courtesy (waiting to enter until the people have exited) is also a treat.  Trying to expose this to them to just make them more aware of their actions, and how it’s perceived from other people.
The thing is, a few of them acknowledge and know that it’s rude, so they were interested in the discussion.
Hopefully it hits home somehow.  I give them homework to think of 7 kind things they can do for other people.  I don’t usually get the types of answers I want, but I think it’s good anyway because it still gets them thinking about how their actions affect other people.

ALSO…I talked with our director about a few ideas I had to spice things up around our school.  He said he was open to hearing our ideas, and I just naturally think of things like this.
So, I presented my thoughts (mostly to get the kids having more fun and also a bit of cheap advertising for the school mixed in too).

My ideas (thanks to my experiences at a US public school):
*A Field Day with English Games–which is basically an outdoor sports day (but adding English games to make it more ESL friendly)–held at a local park
-students could wear school shirts (and they could tye-dye shirts also at the event)
-have a table with info about the school for passerby who are interested

(ignore the school name…Thanks Maryville Elementary! :))

*Spirit Days
We had these in school, especially in high school during the week leading up to homecoming or school dances.
-80s day
-mis-matched day
-pajama day

(sample ideas)

*School Apparel for Purchase
-colored t-shirts available for purchase through the front desk

*School T-shirts for the older students (elementary)
-younger students (kindergarten) have the shirts–we tye-dyed them in art class last summer (and will again this summer), but the older kids should too

–None of this is done here…school is simply that…school.  Study study study!  But thankfully our new director seems interested in adding a bit of fun to our school, so I gave him some ideas.  He honestly seemed shocked and amazed.  I guess that’s how it is though, coming from a country that doesn’t have any of this.
He seemed excited about it though….we shall see.  Hopefully some fun stuff in store  for the near future.
It’s fun for the kids and also cheap advertising for the school. 🙂

Excited! 😀

The Next Few Years..

It can’t be normal to have this many potential plans for the next few years of your life…

*2nd year in Korea
*3rd year in Korea
*Back to the US to get my teaching degree or teaching certificate (apparently there’s a way to get a certificate that doesn’t involve getting more debt at a university)

*2nd year in Korea
*Back to the US to get my teaching cert.

*2nd year in Korea
*travel SE Asia and do the Trans-Siberian railway journey in Russia (maybe learn Kung Fu in China)

*2nd year in Korea
*Disney English in China

*2nd year in Korea
*Teach in Japan with my friend Bethany (she works at an AMAZING school and will be going into her 3rd year there)

And then there’s the teaching itself…
-teach in the US, Canada, Europe?…and then where within each place?
-regular kindergarten teacher vs. international school vs. ESL teacher

I’d also want to take Spanish along with whatever route I take, so I can become more marketable in the US.
And I’m a bit over being single too.  I mean, I’m doing a lot and keeping busy, but it would be nice to have someone to join me on the journey.

Anyway, feels better to have all this out of my head.

A Bit of Randomness and Some Updates

First off, I need to get better about updating, sheesh.
We’re in the middle of Winter Intensives though, so I just feel like collapsing by the time I get home..bah.  They’re over Tuesday though….finally!
And also, I partially feel like I have to have something exciting to say when I come on here, because who wants to read about me doing laundry or sitting around in my pajamas til 2pm on a Saturday.  haha

Anyway, the random bit.
I was thinking just now how weird my shopping cart is going to look when I go home (more on that in a bit) and re-stock on some lovely American goodies.
A shopping cart filled with a year-supply of toothpaste (it tastes extra pasty and less minty here), deodorant (not readily available…and when it is, it’s expensive!), 10 boxes of spiral Mac and Cheese and other easy-to-cook, overly processed, but homey-comfort foods.
Cake mixes and icings.  Food coloring (um…we have terrible powdered stuff here)
The checker lady is going to be so confused.  haha.


Anyway, I got the school stuff sorted out and resigned my contract!  I’m coming home in 2 weeks…and it’s honestly a bit surreal.  It doesn’t really feel like it’s here.  Just sort of going about my business as usual.  It felt more exciting on the actual day that I booked my ticket.
Planning on visiting family in Chicago and visiting family and friends back home too.  I was going to go to LA to see a bunch of friends, but the flights are a bit (um…a lot…) expensive, so I don’t think it’s a wise choice to go this time around since I’ll be on a limited budget and won’t really be working for a month.  I think it would make things difficult when I got back and had to make it through the month with even less.  Still have bills to pay and everything, so…yeah.  Next time.

Let’s see, what else is new…
Oh, I found a jazz dance studio near me (and the owner?) speaks English!!! AHHHH!!!!  Classes aren’t too expensive and it’s really close to my apartment, so I’m thinking of doing that and continuing my tango classes when I get back.
It’s hard because I like tango, and everyone is super nice, but I feel somewhat like a burden at times though.  I think because I don’t understand what they’re saying and maybe they feel bad.  I don’t know.  I could also be making that up in my head completely, but it still feels that way nonetheless.  I’m going to keep at it though, mainly because I got shoes, but I also don’t want to be a coward and miss out on this just because of things that people might or might not be thinking.
I also have to keep in mind that it’s going to be the same with jazz too.  Or any extracurricular that I participate in here.  They’re all friendly, but I think it’s just something I need to get over.

I’ve been a bit lounge-y this weekend, which has been much-needed.
I saw Life of Pi yesterday (Saturday)–first movie I’ve seen by myself, and loved it.  Definitely recommend it.  I also need to read the book too.  Went for Indian food afterwards (who would have thought that I would become a massive fan of Indian food (chicken curry and butter naan) while I was living in Korea…
Today was just an errands and laundry day.  Nothing super exciting.
I did buy a new hamster ball for the class hamster that I’m babysitting on weekends.  I’m keeping him after intensives end…he’s super sweet and cute, and it’s nice having a little (low-maintenance too!) pet to come home to. 🙂  The school threw the first one away (“accident”…not sure how you accidentally throw out a hamster ball..but whatever), so now he has a new one to zoom around in.

Hm, can’t think of anything else at the moment…

Reading: nothing currently.  Recently finished Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl and enjoyed that, but as mentioned before…just a bit tired from intensives.  Planning on starting The Night Circus in the near future.

Watching: had a few hour-long watching sessions to finish the third season of Downton Abbey (!!), recently started An Idiot Abroad, which is an English show about a guy that hates traveling is sent on trips across the world and gives his opinion on things.  I think it’s pretty funny–can be a bit slow at times, but still humorous.  Not a fan of how his “friends” treat him–the guys who organize each trip for him though…but yeah.
Probably going to start Once Upon a Time after that.

I was never really big into TV series when I was home, but I think that’s because my work schedule was always so crazy that I couldn’t really have time to get into one.  Tuesdays at 7?  Ok, well that might work 1 time of the month, but not the rest.  And I didn’t know how to download shows then, or have much interest in sitting around watching it.
It’s a nice break from life now though.  And especially since I don’t have a regular tv here, it’s nice to be able to pick and choose my series, and de-stress a bit.

On my mind: going home/being home/what it’s going to be like/not forgetting stuff/etc., my brother, excitement for the end of intensives, happy that I finally have a cleaned and organized apartment  (I also bought a ginormous piggy bank today), needing to take my Christmas tree down…but mostly content.  A lot of the weights have been taken off my shoulders with only a few major things on the ol’ to-do list before I head back.

Also, as the first year is coming to a close, I thought this could be interesting.
Best things about Korea:
1. BBQ (grill meat yourself at the table)
2. overall friendliness
3. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION!!!!!  (cheap, readily available, punctual, reliable…etc etc.)
4. The Cute-sey stuff.  This could easily go either way.  But I’m feeling positive today, so it’s going here.  Animal shaped winter hats and clever scissors brighten my day.

Not-So-Favorite Things:
1. The naivety of the people who haven’t been abroad (I know this is mostly due to the fact that the country only recently opened up, but it’s staying on my list)
2. Fashion-sense/buying clothes/shoes in general
3. Not being able to communicate properly (Me, as a foreigner.  Just a frustration, nothing against the Korean people)
4. The “For-Show” aspect of the culture

*Note:  This is just from my own personal experience and shouldn’t be taken personally.  I must like living her enough, since I’m staying a second year.  😉

Ok, bedtime 🙂
Goodnight/Good Afternoon/Good Morning!

Le Sigh…

I need to sort of vent or think out loud (except on a blog…which is somehow less weird than talking to myself, lol)

So, I was originally supposed to be going home at the end of my contract for 3 weeks (because I asked and they were gracious enough to grant me that request.  To see my family after not seeing them for a year.  Anyway, I digress.  
That was surprisingly moved up (yay!) and I’m now supposed to go home at the beginning of February instead of the end, so I’m back in time for the new semester.
Ok…sounds good.

However, I’m now about 3 weeks away from my departure time and I still don’t have a signed contract for the upcoming year. Which means that I don’t have a plane ticket yet because I’m not booking anything until I’m sure that I will still be with them.
I’ve asked at least 3-4 times now to see this new contract (and so I can book my flights before prices reach the point of being outrageous), but there’s always something that comes up.  “Oh yeah!  We’ll do that later!” or
“Oh, it’s not ready yet, but we can do it on Friday this week!”…then Friday comes and “Oh!  We are completely out of time…we can do it Monday.”  “Ok, so…Monday then?”  “Yeah yeah, Monday.”  *enter Monday*  “When can we discuss my contract?” “Oh, when the director comes”….director doesn’t come or I’m working a 5 class in a row stretch and have only 5 minutes between classes….ie: barely time for a bathroom break, much less time to discuss contracts.

Just getting very annoyed and frustrated.
I’m also a bit irked because it’s in my contract that I should have a paid flight home….but I’m getting $500 (going to get it in Won because the Won is stronger right now, heh) toward that flight.  They said it’s because I’m taking a break between contracts.
Which…granted, I don’t know many people able to take a break between contracts…much less having their school help them with the flight…but…I would THINK that it only makes SENSE (which is nonexistent here) that I would have it paid for.  BECAUSE…it’s supposed to be paid for when I go home (the main point), and then they’d have to pay for someone else to come over anyway.
The director says he wants to recruit people from within the country rather than using recruiters to pull people in from abroad anyway (to save money)….makes sense, but not sure how truthful that is.
He also says since he’s worked in this business for 7+ years (which he has), that he knows “a lot” of foreigners in Korea that would be interested in the job.
Pretty sure THAT’s a stretch because most foreigners that are here are already employed, or they wouldn’t be here very long without some sort of employment due to visa requirements and that sort of thing.

Anyway, I don’t really know what to think.
I don’t REALLY want to leave the school because I like the structure I have with the classes but then there’s also the flexibility there too.  I also really like my students and I LOVE my apartment and the location that I’m in.  I also have a sort of base built here.  I have friends here and finally feel comfortable with where I am.  I have language exchanges and favorite places and that tango class..and just…to start all over again is just…ugh.
I feel like I could get over their ridiculous antics were they were to stop giving me the runaround on this flight and contract business.  SERIOUSLY…about 3 weeks to go.  

Not sure what I’m supposed to do.  I was talking to my grandma, and she said (and I agreed) that it’s probably a power thing.  They’re pushing it off to the last minute so I have no choice but to agree to the terms of the contract.  
A bit shitty (excuse my French) if you ask me, and not a great way to start off a new year with an employee (and one that you (and the students and parents) like), by pushing them into a corner so that they’re forced (or made to feel that way) to agree.

But again..that’s logic speaking.

So, I started actually looking at other jobs tonight.  I still don’t really WANT to leave (reasons above), but I’m trying to keep my options open.  I don’t want to end up feeling like I have no choice in what I do next year.  
I started looking at positions in Seoul (bigger city, lots of options for jobs)–not really a fan of how crowded and congested (and polluted…) it is up there, but here are some of the positives I thought of.

*definite paid for flights–because it’s in the first contract, and the new school usually (99.9% of the time) pays for your RT flights to and from your country.
*I’d get to stay and see the kindergarten graduation (because I’d likely be leaving at my original date)
*More opportunities for foreigners (because the city is bigger)–According to Google, as of 2010, Seoul had 10 million people
*Closer to Incheon airport (less travel time when departing the country, lol)

I dunno, just an option.  Trying not to limit myself, or to let myself feel limited just because they want me to feel that way.  
I have to keep in mind (and it’s true, thankfully for me) that as a female from the Midwest (no/plain accent) of the US that already has a year of experience under her belt…I can get damn near any job I want.
They should be the ones that are nervous and anxious about the future, not me.
And maybe they are…and that could be why they’re doing this.

And to that I say, karma is a bitch,  
How inconsiderate.  

Anyway, it’s late, so goodnight!

It’s the Final Countdown…! *insert song here*

Quick updates because I’m tired.

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I updated.  Time really does fly.  I’m not even sure what I’ve really done since I last posted.

Well, I did go to the Philippines for my winter vacation–more on that when I have more time.
I kept a journal, so I might just upload picture images from that.

Also, my contract for my school ends on the 23rd of February, but they want to send me home on the 9th (since I asked to go home and they said it would be ok), so I can be gone for 3 weeks and then be back in time for the new semester that starts at the beginning of March.
Still going over the new contract and working on finer details (getting a substitute for while I’m away…ugh..hard work) and will soon be booking flights.

I’ll be sure to post again once everything is official.  Should be by the end of the week…

Anyway, that’s it for now…keeping busy as usual.

Oh, and I finished 2 books in the past month.  Mostly due to my vacation 🙂
The Art of Racing in the Rain–good, but I got annoyed with all the racing (car, not bike) references, since I’m not really into it.  It has a good message though, but didn’t really stimulate my brain too much.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl–I think this is one of those classic, must-read-before-you-die-if-you-like-reading kinds of books.  I’ve been meaning to read it for awhile now but haven’t had the time or motivation.

Also read in the past few months: 
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

^Both are REALLY good.  As in, I felt different, or changed in a way after reading them.  Fascinating to read.

The Night Circus by Emily Morgenstern
It was recommended to me by a friend that absolutely loved it.  Haven’t started it, but I will in the next few days. 🙂

Oh!  and another friend told me of a place near my apartment (and work) where I can get an hour-long massage for 30,000won…or $35? (with exchange rate).  Sounds great!  
She goes on a fairly frequent basis, so I’m hoping to make this part of my routine too 😀

Ok, goodnight!