The Tide is Turning

Woooow!  What a week.

*Moved out and in with a co-worker
*Closed my bank account
*Had my last days (MWF and T/TH) at work
*Had a pizza and wine night last night with my co-workers
*Caught a cold (not surprising–stress, being super busy and lots of sick kids…)

And here we are…my last weekend in Korea.

I’m actually not doing anything major to mark the occasion or anything.  I’m just exhausted from this week so just mostly hanging out around my friend’s place and grabbing coffee with a few peeps.

I broke down on Thursday when I was working 1-1 with one of my favorite girls.  We were working together on her homework and I ended up having to excuse myself because I couldn’t stop crying.  Er..
I’m not sure how I feel about crying in front of kids…I just felt like I shouldn’t at the time because I didn’t want her to feel worse or whatever, but then it also shows how much I care about her.  I mentioned that I would write to her if she wanted, and she came in the next day (Friday) and reminded me about it.  I didn’t want her to feel forced to when I mentioned it on Thursday during our 1-1, so I’m happy that she came up and said something yesterday.

Also, I just wanted to give a shout-out to myself.  I am sort of amazed at how much I’ve gotten accomplished this week.  Granted, I’ve worn myself into the ground and am physically and emotionally drained..but I got everything on my to-do list done.  Woo!  It was hard because I basically worked right up until the day of my flight and only had a few hours each morning to make sure that I got to each of the various government offices and sold everything that I needed to sell.  Just a few small things this weekend and…the flight on Monday morning (morning starting at 4am to catch the airport bus…hoo.rah.)

Anyway, this post is a grammatical mess and is as disorganized as my own brain, so here are some pictures.

 

And another favorite song:

All Of Me (Cover)–Max and Zendaya [John Legend]

 

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Life Plans

I’m currently planning to leave Korea in September…and I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop doing research on a few of the ideas I’ve had rolling around in my head for the past 6 months or so about what I could see myself doing next.  These are some of the things I’ve thought about:

*Teach for America (application is filled out…just waiting on my own self to hit the submit button)
*A handful of universities in the US to get my degree in education (each offering something a tad different than the others with varying prices)
*Teach First (essentially Teach for America, but in England–and they accept foreigners :D)
*a handful of universities in the UK/Europe (cheaper than the US, but the application process and terminology is very different than what I’m used to here in the US…also daunting)
*Stay in Korea another 6 months to save up more money for the big move

Each one has its own wild path and I’ve asked for advice from several people and gotten a lot of responses, which I’m grateful for, but it’s also made things a bit more confusing as well.  I’m hoping that my research today will help me narrow down some of my choices so I can feel a bit more on top of things.

I’ve heard…less than stellar things about going to teach in the US, and I’m aware of the differences, but about 95% of the people I’ve spoken with said do not teach in America because it’s a huge mess.
I also really like teaching, and I know things will be very different than they are here in Korea.  I know that, and I’m really looking for something more stable than what I’ve got right now.  I want to put down some roots and feel more that I belong.  I think with the Masters (and speaking with a friend of mine helped me to keep this in mind), that it is a higher-level degree, so no matter where I do it (for the most part), it’s the same degree.
I also think that it will help to open more doors for me.
I currently have a bachelor’s in business-marketing, which I haven’t touched, but it’s opened the door to this Korea experience, which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.  A Masters would allow me to teach in the country I got it in, but also let me teach English (or regular classes) in other countries aside from Korea.  Korea (and several others in Asia) only require a bachelors in something, but if you want to go elsewhere, many require a degree in English or Education.  Which I’d be getting…but it’s also insanely expensive (ie: $50,000 give or take a few thousand.)  FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS.  My god. I just keep looking at that number and thinking how long it would take to pay back.  That combined with my undergrad and I’m locked into debt for the rest of my days.  *sigh*

That’s also why I’ve been looking at Europe and the UK–they offer Masters programs that are typically cheaper.  More research to do on these different programs, and here’s to hoping that they aren’t as suffocating and won’t rob me blind like the ones in my home country.

Anyway, I don’t think I’m really looking for advice or anything, just needed a bit of a vent and to get all of this off my chest.  It’s been swirling around in my head for the past few months and I’m ready to start making plans.

Oh, and ALSO, I could stay in Korea another 6 months or so to help save money for the next step…but I feel like it’s draining me.  I love teaching, but I’m feeling so worn.  We teach every day of the year with 2 weeks off–one in the summer and one in the winter and public holidays.  I love my kids to bits, but I feel like I need a 100-year nap.  I’d definitely need a break or something before diving into a Masters program.

Edit: I just stumbled across a really helpful site that converts the US grade scale to the UK’s grade scale.  Awesome 🙂

When Stressed: Make Lists

…no really, that’s my go-to.  Lists, lots of lists.

This is also a perfect description of my life right now.  All those kids that never normally take a sick day when they’re hacking up a lung everywhere have now decided (when we have A LOT to get finished) that now they’ll be absent.  My favorite is when I hear from the front desk that “x has a stomachache and won’t be here today.  He probably won’t be here tomorrow either.”
Ain’t no big thing.  Not like we’ve got a zillion things to finish before Friday.
Anyway, I also have a few super-fast workers that are finished with everything (as of Tuesday…good work!) and now the job is to keep them occupied while the stragglers finish up.  I’ve been pushing them and reminding them for two weeks about what we’re doing and when it needs to be finished by, and now they’re acting all surprised that we need to be finished by/before Friday.
I have a fun day planned, so they need to be finished to participate.

I also noticed that I bring a lot of this stress onto myself.
Brain: “Hey!  You know what would be fun and a great treat for the kids after two weeks of hard work?  Cookies!  They could make Christmas cookies!” “Yeah, yeah, what a great idea!”

Brain Today: “Wtf.  This is still a fun idea, but why do I get myself in these situations.  Yes, cookies will be fun…but is there a less…messy and exhausting activity?  Maybe coloring for the two hours and I can nap in the corner?”

haha 😛  I still love doing things for the kids, though and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I just wish my brain would pace itself a bit or something.

I also made a To-Do list for the next few days as preparation for leaving the country for two weeks/sub-prep etc…and it’s 4 pages.  FOUR PAGGGGGGESSSSS.  Yes.  Really.  Four.
Granted, it’s in a smaller notebook and it’s double-spaced and such, but…FOUUUUURRRR PAGGGGESSS.

I also wrote a few things that I’ve already accomplished so I can cross them out and feel better when I look at it.
Also, my Christmas shopping is 99% finished.
And I have 10+ hours on the plane to write out Christmas cards and read on my Kindle, so that’ll be nice.  I hope my brain will finally be able to quiet down during that time.  It’s like a circus in there right now, heh.  Thankfully…lists.  They help me keep my sanity.

Anyway, bedtime.
Here’s to knocking out a page or two on the ol’ list and another productive day tomorrow.

//Oh!  And I made a bunch of Christmas cookies on the weekend and I gave them out today.  I felt a bit like Santa 🙂  I gave little baggies to the cashiers at E-Mart (a chain grocery store/super giant) and two tins of cookies to my hairdresser ( who doesn’t really speak English, but she’s always super nice) and her team and two to the people at my favorite coffee shop.  😀
I still have few bags leftover from the Emart group, so I think I’m going to give them to my neighbors…I’ve already had quite a few “samples”.  Good thing it’s winter though. 😀

Busy Busy

Oi vey.  What a busy few days (and days to come!)

Granted, I’ve brought it on myself, well, most of it and thankfully, I actually don’t mind too much.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Let’s see–oh I’d say that this will probably be a short post because it’s late and yada yada, but let’s be honest here.  That’s rarely ever how it turns out, haha.

I think it started with last weekend, so let’s start there.

Saturday/Sunday–Ultimate Frisbee Halloween Hat Tournament
-Individual players sign up and are put onto teams (doesn’t matter about your skill level–these are for fun)
-3 games Saturday
-2 on Sunday, but we advanced to the semi-finals and eventually to the finals (2014 Champs! Woot! Out of 20 teams as well), so that was a total of 7 games that weekend.
They weren’t necessarily in a row, but spread out throughout the day on Sat and Sunday.  Each game is roughly 50min to an hour.
-I got a Wonder Woman shirt (+cape) off Amazon and that was my costume.  It fits really nicely annnnd I can wear it to our Halloween party at work on Friday!  Hoorah!

Monday
-I had ordered some stuff from Fabletics (who are amazing btw) and it arrived!  Oh happy day!  Granted, they don’t ship here so my mom shipped it over (along with some mac and cheese and some Italian Seasoning)
-workity work
-went to the gym and I tried a new machine that killed my arms (yay!)

Tuesday
-workity work
-So, I have asked my bosses at work twice if I could make CDs for the students that I teach because we’ve done quite a few English songs in the year that I’ve taught the class.  The first time I asked they said no pretty quickly because I want to charge 2,000won ($2) per CD.  I needed to buy quite a few songs from iTunes and I was going to make a lyric booklet so they could follow along if they don’t remember it from class.  So, purchasing the songs plus labor, I thought that was a steal of a price.
However, they said no at first because they didn’t want to charge the parents, even though the CDs are optional (and I did a sample survey before I asked to get an idea on how many kids were interested and I had over half my kids interested).

Anyway, we got the new lady to help with organization/parent contact/seamlessness, etc (I’m fairly sure that I’ve mentioned her?).  She had asked us about two (three?) weeks ago to tell her if we had any questions or suggestions to make the school better, so I brought up the CD again with her and it got approved.  She wanted me to make them for free as well, but I stood firm on my 2,000won and she said it was ok.
She had me write up an email to the parents (to be translated into Korean) to explain what we were doing and she gave it to a few other classes that are roughly the same level as my classes.  40+ cds later…I think it was a hit.
So…that’s going to be my weekend, haha.
I’m still excited about the CDs, but the number of them is a bit daunting.  Apparently we have some blank CDs around the school somewhere that they said I can use, so I plan to do that if they’re available.  I bought a set of 10 tonight anyway because I wanted to make sure everything downloaded properly and also to get a bit of a head-start on the madness.

Oh, also with the cost, I think that the kids will be more appreciative if they have to pay for it rather than just get it for free.

Anyway, so last night I started working on the lyric book that I’ll be printing and putting together at some point in the next few days.  It’s nearly finished now, but I just need to add the last few songs and format it a bit differently.  On the final CD, I have 24 songs.  😀  We’ve done about 85-90% of them in our classes and I put a few extra ones on there.
I’m also going to get some bags and make the packaging really cute so it looks nice when I give them out.

Wednesday (today)
*put laundry in
*made a batch of brownies (stage 1 of the Halloween treats)
*cleaned/put away dishes
*hung laundry to dry
*workity work
*grocery store–bought those CDs I mentioned and some misc food
*made a second batch of brownies
*decorated the first batch into a Graveyard Cake/brownies
*put away laundry and started another load
*cleaned more dishes and decorated the second batch of graveyard brownies
*worked on the lyric book for the CD
*cleaned the kitchen and the floors

Graveyard Brownies

One of the graves is empty because I couldn’t keep my hands away from the chocolate-y goodness.
Oops 😀  Good thing is goes with the theme…right?  Right.

Tomorrow
-put away laundry away
-grade tests
-workity work
-trivia night–These are held monthly and I went to my first last month and our team came in last, haha.  We were then able to choose a category for this month’s.  We chose Harry Potter because we wanted to go with something at least one person in the group is very solid on (er…me.)  Another girl wanted to do a vampires in movies category, but we figured it might be too broad of a topic.
Now that it’s tomorrow I’m a weeeeeee bit nervous.  I mean, no pressure or anything, right?  haha.  Maybe I’ll try and look up more trivia questions online before work.  I looked some up a few weeks ago and it really could go either way.  It depends on how obscure the questions are.  If they start asking dates or about that one character who sneezed in book 3, it’s gonna be bad.  If it’s general knowledge, I should be alright, haha.

I also need to make up some sort of routine for my classroom’s activity/dance to Thriller for the party on Friday

Friday
-make sure I have a routine set up for the party today
-bring Graveyard brownies to work
Halloween Party (which could be a hot mess)–The past parties have been pretty structured and organized, but the new lady, whom I normally think has a lot of good ideas changed the plan this time and it’s a bit chaotic.
Normally, all the students come at their normal classtimes (2-4/4-6/6-8) and we split the kids up and rotate activities every 20 or so minutes.  Each teacher has a different activity and the kids experience everything.  After the last one, we gathered everyone into the largest classroom to have food and drink.  Then dismissal and repeat with the next group of kids.

This time, the new lady said the kids can arrive anytime between 2:30-7pm.  They’re allowed to bring friends, which is normal, and their parents, which is new.  We had a meeting today but we never got an exact amount of time that the kids will be in each room.  Anywhere from 10-30 minutes.  Also, she was saying she was going to have the food at the front desk (with the computers)…so not sure how that’s going to work.
Anyway,we shall seeee.  Should be interesting.

Then she wants all of us to go out for dinner together afterward, so that’s the plan.  Finish the party then head out to eat.

Saturday/Sunday–out of town–A good friend of mine is leaving Korea and is having a get-together at her place.  She’s from South Africa but she ended up meeting someone here, getting married and now they’re moving to the US together (he’s American.)

Anyway, it’s late and my laptop battery is dying.  So, on that note.  Goodnight!

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!

Final Days and Storing Away My Possessions…

Wow.  What a long day.  Actually, that’s an understatement.

At the end of my last entry, I went to bed around 3:30 or 4 am…woke up at 8 to finish a bit more packing.  Got the rental truck picked up at 10..got home around 10:45 and packed more.  My brother and his friend got to my apartment around 12:45 (and my mom around 11:30–she helped me clean a bit until they got there).  Started loading the truck around 1…finished just before 2.
Then drove to the storage unit and unloaded everything.  Finished around 4:30.
I filled the truck up and dropped it back off..thennnn went back to my apartment with my mom and grabbed the remaining things that I didn’t have in boxes and brought them to her place/storage unit.

Finished up around 6pm.

So close to being finished.  So so close.

I need to get back to the apartment tomorrow to clean and drop off my keys.  And that’ll be that.

Last things on the to-do list:
*Clean apartment
*Call AT&T on Monday morning to shut off internet at apartment
*Call Ameren on Monday to continue utilities through end of the month (per apartment contract)
*Double-check all bags–make sure I’ve got everything..cut anything that is un-needed.
*Return rental car

Cant believe this all is actually happening.  I’m going to be on my way to Korea in just over 48 hours.