SENSATION 2012: An Ocean of White, Care Packages and Beachy Destinations

Now THIS was an amazing experience that I won’t soon forget.  So happy that I took lots of pictures and video footage.
SENSATION is basically a touring rave party.  They hit hot spots in South America and Europe and have one stop in the US (NYC, of course) and its first-ever stop in Asia happened to be in Seoul this past weekend.

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Absolutely incredible.

The theme was “An Ocean of White” and the dress code was for everyone to wear white…hence the white clothes, and it was a really cool thing to see all those people (apparently sold out show at 50,000 people) in the same color.
It also helped the hype when you were on your way to the venue and you’d randomly see someone else all dressed in white and wondering if they were on their way to the same place that you were headed.  🙂
The rave (my first) started at 10pm and went to 6am.  I went with a friend of mine and we stayed til about 5:15am and headed back to try and beat some of the crowds for the subways and the trains back home.
It was busier than I’m sure it normally was at 6am on the subway, but not anything too crazy.

The event has a really good energy and lots of people were up and dancing around, and they had a few fun photo-op type things set up around the arena for before or during the event when you wanted to take a breather.
You paid for food and drinks with these little tokens that you bought (everything was obviously overpriced, but that’s to be expected).

I started to write out descriptions of what all happened, but it’s just one of those things that you’d have to experience it to fully understand.
However: giant inflatable, color-changing, glowing balls in the crowd; lasers; great dance music; fireballs; fountains; wristbands that turned on and glowed green on cue; dancers.

There you go.  Perhaps your own imagination can do better justice to the show than my writing can.  🙂

I also managed to lose my bank card while I was at the rave and tried hard not to let it spoil my evening.  I’m normally very organized and good with money, and that’s never happened to me before so I wasn’t too thrilled.
I told the information desk and gave them my number and they said they’d call if it showed up (made me feel a bit better that they had a stack of about 8 other cards at the desk).
I later found out that someone had charged 60,000 won (about $58) to my card while at the event…most likely on tokens since there wasn’t much else to purchase there.

On Monday morning (banks are closed on Sundays here too), a Korean co-worker went to the bank with me and talked to the teller about the situation.  We cancelled the old card (and thankfully, the person only used that card for that one 60,000won purchase and that’s it) and she issued me a new one on the spot.
My co-worker also filled out a form explaining what had happened (in Korean) and they’re going to see about getting me the money back.  It’ll take 1-2 weeks to find out whether or not I get anything back.  I might or might not…or I could get a portion of it.  Either way, I’m not expecting to get anything back, so if I do, it’ll just be a nice surprise.
Thankfully, I get paid this week and I’m not in a huge need for money right now (sure, the 60,000 would be nice), but payday is coming and I’ll take this as a lesson learned to be extra careful next time, because if there is a next time, I probably won’t be so lucky.  They could have easily drained the whole account or kept making additional purchases.

Anyway, I also got another care package…this time from my mom! 😀
It had a bunch of food and magazines in it.  And MAC AND CHEESE!  And Angel Food Cake mix!  haha.  Apparently sending the cake mix was an accident, but I’m happy it was sent along.  🙂
Oh!  And I got more lotion from Bath and Body Works!!  Hurrah!!

Annnnd last but definitely not least….


Count’em!  3! Days!! 😀
Summer vacation is almost here!!

I can definitely use it because I already teach a lot of classes and Summer Intensive classes start up tomorrow (ie: adding more classes into our schedule.  1 more for me…making 10-11 classes a day).
Friday can’t come soon enough.

Breakdowns + Media Posts

Had a bit of a rough day today.  I can tell it’s been kind of a long time coming, but I had a bit of a homesickness//I-HATE-THIS-SO-MUCH kind of breakdown.
Our head-teacher is well…an interesting type of person.  Again, she’s the one that would rather us lie to the parents to save face.  Actually, I’m learning quickly that A LOT of Korea (granted, not everyone is like that) is about saving face.  Saving the reputation and making things look all cheery and wonderful.  Even if it’s not.
Not sure if I updated on the little comment book situation, but to recap–we have little comment books for each kindergartener that float back and forth between their teachers and the parents.  Good idea in theory, because the parents can be informed of what their kid is doing in class.
Anyway, one of my girls was having a hard time paying attention in class…which is fine and completely understandable…because she’s like 5 years old (western age) and it’s kindergarten…whatever.  We’re working on it.
Anyway, her mom had asked me directly (in English) how her daughter was doing in class and with the other students because she wasn’t speaking English at home.  I proceeded to use the OREO (taught that in school..heh) method (also what they use–not called OREO though) to tell the mom.  The only thing that wasn’t strictly positive in the whole entry was when I said “______ can be easily distracted in class, but she’s a very friendly and energetic young girl, and we’re working on paying attention in class.”
Which…TO ME…sound fine.  It’s constructive and tells about what’s holding her back.  The rest just said that she was young and that this all takes time and that we’re working together on also building her confidence.
Anyway-I was told to white-out that bit and write a bit of fluff about how wonderful she was.
Teacher said she “didn’t have time to hand back the books to the parents, so not to worry”–on Tuesday.  Then, today, when I was given her book back, I check to see what they had done about the white-out bit in the book….AND…they gave her a completely new book.  The old one is nowhere to be seen..completely new book and not a word about it.

YEAH.  I know.

Anyway, there’s that and just…crap from school mostly and I just lost it.  I could feel it sort of coming through most of the morning…a sort of heaviness in my chest and it felt harder to breathe.  I just kept telling myself to fight it back…don’t cry…it’s ok…it’s just a cultural thing…just focus on the class.
Lunch time came and I left with the other foreigners and we were talking about work as we left the building (we’re on an upper floor) and I just completely lost it.  Right there in the middle of the hallway leading out of the building.  The other two teachers both gave me a giant group hug and sympathized with me and gave plenty of kind and supportive words.
The homesickness just hits hard and fast, completely when you least expect it.
That’s one of the best, BEST parts about working with other foreigners.  You’re like a tight little family away from your own family.  They know exactly what I’m going through…because they’ve been there.  One of them just went through it this past winter.  It’s all part of the process, and you learn to adapt and adjust, and you help eachother along in the process.  Celebrating during the best of times and picking eachother up and supporting eachother when times get rough.
I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.  But, it’s one of those unspoken truths around here.  We’re all here for eachother.  And it’s wonderful.
As nice as it is to communicate pretty frequent contact with my family…it feels as if there’s a glass wall there.  I can see them and hear about what’s going on, but I can’t actually feel or be present in it all.  And that can be very hard.  I’m enjoying myself here though.  I’ve met great people and the money is fantastic.  And I get to travel.  It’s great.  I love, LOVE my kids and teaching…it’s just the politics of it all.

One of my co-teachers was talking with me during lunch today and she really wanted to stress to me that she thinks I’m fantastic with the kids and at teaching because I’m enthusiastic and “have the right personality for working with kids”, and she said she doesn’t want this experience (because all the schools are different…some are worse and some are better.  It’s very hit and miss) to ruin my outlook on becoming a teacher.
Look out for Number One.  (Me).
You are your first priority.
Don’t let this get to you, because it can, and they don’t give a damn if it does.  (Again, not all Koreans are like this…but as the foreigner…and as a female, you’re pretty much considered a second-class citizen.)
She also said that she thinks that there’s a bigger reason for as to why we were “chosen” to come here.  She thinks that we’re acting a bit as ambassadors and can help shape the next generation of citizens here…so that they can be prepared for living with diversity and how to treat other people.  Treat them to show respect and to have integrity so that in the future, they’ll have a chance to change the way things are.

Anyway, after lunch, I went to Zara (:-D) and did some retail therapy.  One of the few times in my life I’ve been able to do that, ha.  If you’re living check to check, retail therapy isn’t an option, unless you don’t want to eat that week.
Also, I didn’t have a lot of time because it was only a lunch break, so when I say I did some “retail therapy”, I mean that I bought 1 shirt.  haha 🙂
I also use the app for music on my phone and took out my anger and frustration on the pavement as I walked the 15 minutes to the store and then back again.  I felt refreshed when I got back, and then finished off my day.
I was tired at the end of the day, but not feeling nearly as terrible as I did at lunch.  (BTW, I’m not sick anymore, in  case you were curious.)

THEN…I went back to my apartment and saw I had a note on the door about having a package downstairs.  (They leave a note if you’re not there and then leave it with security for you to pick up).
😀 😀 😀
I got a surprise care package from my grandma…full of Easter goodies and some pretty (fake :-P) flowers.  What amazing timing.  Lots of Easter candy and a wonderful card that just made me smile from ear to ear.
Also, the envelope said “Stacey Teacher” on the front 🙂  ie: my name at school.–It’s not Miss Stacey or anything similar.  Just your first name and “Teacher” after that.  Or just “TEACHERRRRRRRRRR!!!”
heh.  I like the first one better. 🙂

Anyway, it’s been a roller coaster of a day, and it’s time for bed.

TGIF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (x4000)
Fun weekend planned.  More on that later.  Goodnight!!
And thank you for the care package Grandma!!! Love you!!! Thank you! Thank you!!!!! 🙂

Care Package pics and pics from my “shopping spree” 🙂 haha.

Classroom footage–working on our ABCs during Phonics Class on 4.11.12

Care Package!!

The care package from my grandma’s friend (family friend) Kay arrived today…and I was stunned.  Absolutely more than I could have hoped for!!!
Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!!

My face hurts from smiling so much 😀

Also, my grandma sent me this image and I felt like passing it along.

Ooh! For me?! And it’s NOT a bill in Korean?! :)

Ladies and Gentlemen…it has happened!  I received my first “care package” from home..ah..Thursday?
It actually wasn’t really a care package, but I ordered from running shorts and new shoes from, and since they don’t ship to Korea, I had them shipped to my mom’s house and she sent them over to me. (Thanks again, Mom! :))
Even though I knew it was coming, I was still really excited (ie: dancing around in the elevator, haha) when I got to pick it up from the security guy at the front desk.  🙂
Annnnnd…it only took 5 days!  Not too shabby!

My grandma’s friend Kay (practically family) also apparently sent me one recently too!  I feel so spoiled 😀  A real one this time…wahoo!  😀

Anyway, I still haven’t finished my TEFL course (yeah…remember that?  from months ago? ha.), so I’m trying to work on that and get it knocked out.  The online course has a 6 month limit and I have til May 16th or something like that.
I just got so busy with the car thing and then moving here…and then getting settled.
Now, I just need to make myself crank it out and get it done.  Ugh.

These are AWESOME!!!
Learn Korean

KWOW (Korean Word of the Week)

Sidenote 2:
I have almost 700 views to my blog!

Sidenote 3:
I think I’ve *inspired* my second person to come teach in Korea.  😀 😀

Running out of titles…bah…

So, I had a pretty good day today.  Teaching is still as exhausting as ever, but after work, I went with another teacher to the stationary (um…pretty much a store dedicated to school supplies) across the street and got some more organization tools.  I’m a pretty organized person, and if I’m not organized, I tend to get more stressed out.
Anyway, my desk at work is currently pretty neat and tidy from the looks of it, but I know once we get more into the school year, it’s going to get a bit more insane.  Hopefully this will help combat that.

I was pretty happy because I felt like I had some good discussions in some classes and also played a flashcard game with my kindergarteners that went over pretty well.
My school is also having the kindergarteners prepare a weekly speech (basically to show the parents (via video footage) what the kids are learning.  Anyway, in my classes, we started the speeches yesterday morning and by the afternoon today, they had them memorized.  I was so proud 😀 😀  haha
It was pretty simple, but keeping in mind that their English is also pretty basic too.  I have 4 in my class and I think only one is pretty solid on her alphabet.
The speeches were:
My name is _____.
I am __ years old.
Thank you!”

haha.  Pretty basic, but they also had to memorize them…and considering that we just started pretty much on Monday, that’s not too shabby.  I’m like a proud mama 🙂  Hopefully they don’t forget them by tomorrow.  I reward them with stickers (they have sticker charts as kindergarteners and sticker books for the elem. kids) or m&ms.  One m&m typically does the trick.

Also, in case anyone from home was thinking about a care package (:-D  doesn’t have to be now…but I made a list anyway.  Whether it’s in October for my birthday or whatever…this is just a little list of what I wouldn’t mind receiving :-P)
*(new) Whole Grain Pasta (ie: spaghetti)–Please?? 🙂 🙂 I know for sure that it’s at Walmart 🙂  Pleasssssse!
*Ginger Snaps (whichever brand my grandma buys from the $1 store) 😀
*Peanut Butter
*Mac and Cheese (spirals :-D)
*Lipton noodles–“butter” or “garlic shells”
*Do-si-do girl scout cookies
*Microwavable deserts (in the baking aisle)—Don’t be mean and send things that require an oven.  lol.  Ovens are extremely rare here.
*Popcorn salt/butter flavor stuff
*Garlic Powder (in the spices aisle)
*Bath and Body Works Stuff 😀  (in plastic bags in case they open)
*more socks 😦

Please and thank you, please and thank you 🙂

Oh, and this was just a good link I found on packing/bringing things to Korea/Korea in general etc.
(Karen, if you’re reading, this would be good for you too.  Also, when you get to the packing stage, just let me know and I’ll do my best to help you out)

I went to the gym three times and I think I like it (haven’t paid yet)…and it’s hard to say whether I want to sign up or not.
I just feel like a fish out of water….which is going to happen no matter which gym I join.  The language barrier will always be there.  I think I like the jiu jitsu, but it’s hard to say because everything is so new there.  New language, new sport, new people/faces.
It’s roughly $50/mo (50,000 won/mo), which is actually really cheap for a gym…and I can go as many times as I want and take as many classes (ie: including kickboxing) as I want.
It’s also hard because I get out of school at 6:45/last class ends at 6:45 and the jiu jitsu is at 7pm..and it’s about a 15 minute walk from the school.  So, I basically have to haul ass to get there..and I’m still late because I have to sort of wrap up after my classes.
The instructor doesn’t seem to mind that I’m late (and I explained the situation–and he speaks ok english–which is also rare)…but I just feel crappy about it.
Jiu Jitsu is at 7pm every night (except sunday) and Kickboxing is from 9-10.
Soooo…also, if I were to do both (note to self: I also don’t NEED to go there every night either) then I’m basically busy from 9:30am to 10pm.  Then I come back and am exhausted.  Then I get up the next morning for a full day of classes.

I told myself that I’d take the rest of the week off (as far as working out–school only) and decide if this is something I really want to do.  Then, if so, I’ll figure out a plan and get my payment in on Monday.
Until then…tomorrow is Friday and I have a ski trip to look forward to this weekend 🙂

And tonight, it’ll be just me and Downton Abbey.  🙂
I used to watch the series with my grandma from time to time (if I was at her house and it was on)…I now have the first season downloaded on my computer and I’m working my way through that.
I watched episodes one and two last night.  Love it!!

Sheesh…I logged on to just post about one thing, and then this happened, haha.  🙂

Update within an update (my grandma asked me about this on Skype and I guess I never mentioned anything about it):
Our new school year started on March 2nd and with that came my own classes.  So I have Kindergarten in the morning, go to lunch (an hour and half!!) and finish up with one more half hour kindergarten class after that.
Then from 2:50-6:45 I have 6 (one is a double period class) elementary classes. Those classes are like 40 minutes or something.  5 minute breaks in between.

*Haven’t checked a whole lot more into the Korean lessons (found places that offer them for free)–just haven’t had the time.
I know where they are, but I haven’t been out there for more info (times, etc) yet.
I know a new session starts in April though.
*I also joined a book club.
*I haven’t received a paycheck yet…first payday will be April 1.  (Technically should have been on March 1, but I don’t have a bank account yet, and they aren’t allowed to just give me cash.  Can’t get a bank account yet because I don’t have that ARC card yet).  <<That ARC card also allows me to get a cell phone.

Anyway, I think that’s a big enough update for today.  🙂