Done and done.

So, I went to immigration today and got myself sorted for the next year in Korea.  I’m thinking this will be my last year teaching in Korea.  I love teaching, but I’d like to further my education and I hope to teach in a more stable setting.

The after-school academies (or hagwons) tend to be a bit more unstable as they can be opened up with anyone with enough money (really) and they’re everywhere.  I really enjoy my classes and the school that I’m at so I’m hoping for another year like this one.  This past year seemed to breeze by pretty quickly.  There’s a bit of negativity though, and that can be a bit rough, but trying to keep my head down and do my own best with my classes and sort of just do what I’m doing.

I already have quite a few things in store for the coming year, so hopefully things go smoothly.

Here’s a teaser for the year to come–obviously things change and put this is what I’m looking at as of now:
*Hoping I get the OK to carve pumpkins with my kiddos at school.  Our classes are smaller and I’d LOVE to give them this experience.  Halloween isn’t really that big here yet (slowly…) so I’d like to let them experience making a jack-o-lantern.
I’m thinking that letting them draw and scoop out the mess would be best and I’ll do the cutting.
(Plus decorating my room a bit for Halloween!  Yay!  I love having my own classroom!)

* Christmas at home (first time in almost 3 years!! Squeeeee!)

*New Years in LA (first time!)

*back with ultimate frisbee in the spring 🙂  (Too many things going on in the fall right now to dedicate the time and money to it)

*Toying with the idea of Budapest in February (Yes, winter)

*Working on another surprise of sorts for my summer vacation— I sent my mom and brother on an all-expenses paid cruise two years ago (to the Bahamas, I believe).  Expensive, yes, but it makes me happy and I think that’s what life is about.  This won’t be quite that extravagant, but it still puts an extra spring in my step and makes my heart feel lighter when I think about it. My mom is a single mom and she works her butt off (and has) for years and years and never gets a vacation, so I had wanted to change that.

*Finish contract in September

*Thailand for a bit of muay thai fighting training

Anyway, this would be the dream scenario, but I like making my dreams happen.  So, we shall see 😀

Too Much Pinterest Makes Stacey a Crazy Lady

I’ve been on Pinterest way too much today…and now I have a ton of ideas on how to re-organize my classroom.
I sketched it out and it looks pretty snazzy, IMHO (in my humble opinion), but I wish my brain would learn to shut off at times, haha.  😀

I think my classroom looks good now, but I *love* organizing things and making things more practical and useful and Pinterest is amazing for new ideas.
I’ll try and take pictures of how it looks now once I get back into the classroom on Monday so I can get some comparing and contrasting in.
Sprucing up a classroom is a bit difficult when you only have 2 weeks off per year, so I actually try my best to change things as I go along.  I think it helps keep things fresh and the students get excited when they come in and something looks different.  Example:  I moved the bookshelf from being flush against the wall to perpendicular to the wall (trying to create a nook-like area) and they all got super excited and loved the change.  haha.
I also used to have the tables arranged differently, but it always bothered me that some kids were further from the board than I liked but I couldn’t figure out how to fix it.  Better now though 🙂

Grandma/Family–if you’re reading, my room is roughly the size of your living room (minus the kitchen), but anyway, here are some rough sketches I drew out.  I’m hoping to organize the walls a bit more into bulletin board/typical classroom style.  I’d like to make the walls look a bit neater and brighter.

CAM03386 CAM03387 CAM03388

For the birthdays, I’m using this idea:

http://scrappingwest.blogspot.kr/2010/08/birthday-cupcakes.html

Community Helpers (LOVE THESE!!! And Free 😀 :D)

http://www.teachersnotebook.com/product/kadeenwhitby/free-community-helpers-posters

I’m planning to put up some velcro and put a spotlight on only 3 or so (depending on space) and change them out every 1-2 weeks.  The pictures are adorable and I love the multi-cultural aspect on the posters as well.  And they’re beautiful 🙂

To make this new wall, I’d also be removing the colors and numbers, which worries me a bit because they still use these for spelling purposes.  It’s also a bit different because with these after-school type schools, we get new students all the time and sometimes without notice, so I don’t change displays too much because there’s likely always a newer kid who might still need them.
However, I found these on Pinterest:

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Monster-Theme-Name-Plates-34-Unique-Designs-Editable-767893

They’re nameplates for the desks!  SO CUTE…and practical!  Yay!
Another challenge is that my classes are two hours long and then I change students.  I have 3, 2-hour long classes a day.  They’re back-to-back with 5-10 minutes “break” in between.  Another thing about teaching ESL over here is there isn’t a defined “school year” when you teach in the academies after school.  There’s a heavier registration time, but otherwise the classes continue on.  My particular classes “re-set” every 3-4 months and then we shuffle the kids around depending on where kids are currently at ability-wise.  Some kids work harder and they’re ready to advance and some kids aren’t.  So they’ll stay in the same class or might get bumped down.  (THANK THE LORD that my current school lets us bump kids down to a lower level…several schools (including my last) didn’t want kids to go lower because they thought the parents would be angry and pull their kids out of the school.)

Anyway, I was thinking about getting some of these and laminating them (makes it easy for kids that are new or “trying out” the class).  Then, we could stick them onto the desks with Velcro, and the kids could change them as they came in for the day and hang them up at the end.
ALSO, this would free up some wall space.  😀
Granted, they would still need the numbers, but I could just add them to my fancy new word wall.

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I’m thinking of making something out of the little fake window and actually using it to pretend it’s a real window.  I’m thinking of going to Daiso (our version of the dollar store) and getting a cheap curtain to rig up. I’ll laminate some weather words and pictures and we can change them each day.  I’d like to also move the seasons from the front wall to this wall so everything “weather” can all be in one space.

Again, just sketches for now, but maybe it’ll help give an idea better than me just rambling on about it.  Anyway, I’m also hoping to make a little “student center” somewhere where they can get their pencils, erasers, and bookmarks (new idea!) and how to make it look a little better than it currently does.

I need more wall space!!!  I love this idea too!

http://fieldofpoppies.blogspot.kr/2012/09/shades-of-meaning.html

Other things I’d like to do:
*create a super cute and functional reading nook from minimal space for minimal wons (or dollars…)
–I have the beginning stages, but I want better, fun seating for them.  Some throw pillows or cushions for the area and some Christmas lights when the time comes.
*customized pencils would be AWESOME.  Ideally pencils with my name/borrowed from/etc and/or other pencils with the school’s name on it.  I haven’t seen much customization anywhere in this country… Granted, I am in Asia, and the group is more important than the individual usually, but still…the students would freak out (in a good way) if they got pencils with their names on them.  I’ll have to see what I can do when I get back to the US.
*I want to be able to use these or these  or these somehow! 😦 🙂 😦 🙂

And yes, I know, these things cost money, but I don’t mind spending the money when I feel it helps my students or makes them excited.  Plus, I get excited about these things too, so it’s a win-win.  Also, I’m also at work nearly as much as I’m at home (or more sometimes, it feels like) and I’d like to make my second-home as cozy as possible.  I also hope that the students like the room so they keep wanting to come back and that it feels like a little home to them too.

Anyway, it’s late, so off to bed 😀

Edit:
LOOK AT THESE ROOMS!!!!
http://www.theschoolsupplyaddict.com/room-setup.html

AND how cool is this?!?!?
http://newadventuresinfirstgrade.blogspot.ch/2011/09/where-it-happens-wednesday.html

I want to be in their classes!  How do I go back to elementary school?
So so fun!

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.

Image

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…

Now…
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!

She Bangs! She Bangs!

With any luck, I got that Ricky Martin song stuck in your head.  😛

In this entry I’m going to focus on the bangs ( 방) or rooms, in Korea.
Bang (not pronounced like it is in English–the b is a slight mix of the b and p sounds and the a is pronounced like “ah”)
Anyway, there are a few different varieties here:
PC bangs: (computer rooms–basically where all the gamers go–but a giant computer lounge where you pay for internet access by the hour–really nice computers too.  I used these when I first got here and didn’t have my internet set up yet.

Noraebang:  (Pronounced “Nor-a-bang”)–Karaoke rooms!  I’m completely dumbfounded as to why these aren’t in the US yet.
It’s a private room that you can pay for and you can have a karaoke party with your friends.  (Mostly done after you finish up at the bars, but can definitely be done at other times too).  Comes with two microphones, a giant flat screen tv, 2 giant song books (English and Korean song choices), wrap-around couches…and you can bring alcohol into the rooms.  (Alcohol is a very big part of the culture here so it’d be really strange for it not to be allowed…but that’s beside the point.)
You walk into a noraebang, pay at the counter and escorts you to your private karaoke room.
Personally, I don’t really do karaoke in bars or in that sort of scene because I don’t want to sing in front of all those people, but this is really cool. Sing until your heart’s content…judgement free!  (hopefully :-P)

Jimjilbang:  a Korean public sauna/bathhouse.  They’re really popular over here (uh…planning on trying it out for the first time later this week)…just the one catch:  you’re naked.  Ya.  Naked.
There are a bunch of them all over, but I haven’t gotten the courage to go yet…I just want to try it at least once before I leave.
There are mixed parts of the bathhouse where (you’re fully clothed here) you can relax or get a massage (apparently these are not the same as the ones you’d expect back home.  a bit rougher, I believe.)
But in the actual saunas, there are a bunch of different rooms to choose from, varying in heat and types of saunas themselves.
I’ll be able to update more on this after I go.
It’s supposed to be a really relaxing thing (aside from the Koreans staring at you because of your foreigner body (ha) and a great way to detox your body).  Plus, it’s not something you can find in most places.

Also, you’re able to spend the night there too!  It’s a cheap option (cheaper than a hostel) and I’ve heard of people doing it at the airport (I think there’s one in the Seoul-Incheon airport) if they have an early flight the next morning.
The whole thing can range from $4-10!!  Closer to 10 if you stay the night!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jjimjilbang

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1KJfTwj2lU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvJWdK6DOn0&feature=plcp

There are a few other types of 방 here (as it means “room”), but I think those are the most common.

Ok, headed to bed!
Happy Thursday!
MUDFEST this weekend!!

Sorry!

Just wanted to make an apology for the lack of posts recently. My TEFL course is due on Thursday (it’s Monday) and I’m working by butt off to get it finished.
I’m re-doing one of the lessons, but otherwise, I’m on Unit 18/20.

I feel like I’ve learned a lot, but I’m just ready for the course to be over.  I’m ready to have my free time back…

Note:  I’ve been working on this for 7 months as of Thursday.

Note 2:  Nothing super thrilling has been happening recently anyway.  Just the same ol’ thing.  Teach, TEFL, hang out with people, weekend.  Repeat.  🙂
I’ll be sure to check back in once I get this finished.
However!  Not really teaching related, but I’ve been trying to get myself into a routine of eating more fruit (veggies too, slowly…heh.) and working out more….and, well I’ve noticed changes, but a co-worker of mine mentioned to me yesterday that she can see a change.  She said I’m becoming more trim and slender.  YAY!!!
I don’t have a weightloss goal or anything, just trying to be healthier, lose a bit of that lower belly pudge and tone up my thighs.   Overall toning is my goal.
It’s been on the backburner for a bit now though because of the TEFL thing, but I’m still walking a lot and I plan on jumping right back into it when my course is over.  🙂

Tie-Dye Fun!

For art class today, I joined up with the other teacher that teaches art, and we did a whole-kindergarten tie-dye project.
The school provided white t-shirts with the school’s name on the front…and the kids got to have some fun.

I was pretty much the leader/organizer for this particular project because none of the Koreans had done or even knew what tie-dyeing was and the other teacher that taught art hadn’t ever done it herself.

So, armed with my knowledge from when I was 13-14, we managed to get all 20-something kindergartners their very own tie-dyed shirt!
I had them in groups–all the students started in the main room, where they put on their plastic painting sleeves (little plastic sleeves that covered wrist to elbow) and aprons.  They they went into the other room where our other art teacher (another foreign teacher who just so happens to teach art classes, like myself) helped the kids write their names inside the shirts and put rubber bands on them.

She sent them over to me and I supervised the tie-dyeing process.  I had 3 colors for them to use and only had 3 students dyeing at a time.  I had any other students that came into the room sitting in chairs watching.  A bit stressful (ages 3-6) but really fun and I think the kids really enjoyed the process.  Our head Korean teacher also said that she wanted to make one.  (She’s never done tie-dye…it’s not really a thing here…yet.  😉 )
Some of the other Korean teachers helped supervise the kids, and our head Korean teacher was in the room with me, helping replenish dye colors as they were used up.  😀

I wish I could let the kids open the shirts themselves, but we’re off tomorrow (public holiday! yay!), so we’re just going to hand them back on Thursday.  Plus, having 20 something kindergartners undoing their rubberbanded shirts could be an ordeal in itself.  AND, I can try and get them washed/cleaned before handing them back.  That way the kids can wear them on Thursday if they want and not have to worry about colors coming off on their clothes.

AHHH..I’m so excited 😀
I like doing the art classes…and it’s more fun bringing some of our American-style art projects to the school here.  I just love seeing their reactions.  Our head teacher was amazed at some of the projects that we’ve been doing recently…she was even more amazed that I remembered doing them from kindergarten and elementary school myself.
Side note–Not sure if I mentioned it before or not, but prior to all these art projects, our kids were doing art books that were at about the 5th grade level.  Each one was centered on a famous artist from the past and they had to ‘re-create” famous pieces.  Um.  These kids are really young..some can’t even color inside the lines…much less doing projects like that.

Anyway, extremely happy that our head teacher let us have a go at making up some of the art lessons ourselves and that we’re away from the books now.
She gave us a trial week a few weeks back (to see what we’d do in class for projects) and now it’s been a few weeks and we have all of June (at least) to do whatever we want in classes.  😀

I’m just really grateful for her allowing us (especially me, since I love the creative artsy/craftsy stuff) the flexibility to try some new stuff. I really think this has brought the life back into the place.  It helps to have stuff to look forward to 🙂

Edit: 6.6.12
Freshly hand-washed tie-dye shirts 😀  Lookin’ good!  (I panicked a bit when the water changed color when I dipped them in the sink…but looks good, I think!)

 

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!