Life So Far in 2015 (and bits about my trip home)

I’m back in Korea and settling back into daily life here.  I’m actually pretty happy because I’m doing a nice job of kicking jet lag in the teeth.  Thankfully in most part due to work, heh.  The first night I slept about 4 hours even though I was exhausted…(1 car trip to the airport in LA, 3 flights, an overnight sleep in the airport, a 2.5 hour bus ride from the airport and a taxi ride to my house). Yeahhhh…that makes for a very sleepy me.
Work has also been keeping me busy, especially that first day.  The first day I not only was on 4 hours of sleep, but we started our new term (new students, updating the classroom, clearing out stuff from any old students) and catching myself up from what the sub did while I was away.  We also just got our student rosters on the first day of classes (typical hagwon-style).  Then my classes, which are back-to-back.  So, by the end, I was completely wiped out.  I finish now around 8:30, but I stayed til 9:30 entering grades from the tests they took while I was away and updating my classroom for the new classes/students.

Yesterday was much better. I don’t mind staying late if it’s going to help make things run more smoothly for the following days.  Also, I bought two maps off Amazon while I was in the US–one world map and one map of the US.  They’re actually pretty big, which I was expecting to an extent, but I was still a bit shocked at the size when I opened them up.  I’m really happy with them now that they have a place in the room though.  I also took down our Christmas decorations yesterday.
Combined with doing laundry, unpacking, making meals and meeting a friend for brunch…my past two days have been crazy.  It’s also rough with new students because you begin again with everything, so I realized I took for granted how much my kids had learned and I’m working on teaching our routine to my newest bunch in my beginner class.  It’s a good opportunity to tweak things, but also exhausting when you need to explain everything again. My last bunch were (are–just in my next level class) fairly self-sufficient and now I’m going to be working on those skills with the new kiddos.

I’ve heard that jet lag goes away more quickly when you travel in one direction rather than the other, and it looks like it might be east–>west.  🙂  I was kept pretty busy at home too and I didn’t adjust any faster, I was just exhausted.  I know you’re supposed to ease yourself back into the time change–keep active and adjust your lifestyle to the new one–but go slowly at first…but life doesn’t always allow for that.  I’m just keeping an eye out for signs of illness now.

Anyway, so home was great…maybe a bit *too* great because coming back was a bit rough.  My mom took off work for most of my time at home and she helped me a ton by taking me to and from various places and treating me to meals at my favorite places.  I ate tons of great food, went shopping (and spent too much money…oops…), reunited with friends and got to spend my first Christmas at home since my last in 2011.
I bought my second cousin (we need a better term for that–this one sounds awkward) Jordan a personalized book from iseeme.com.  They have so many cute books there and the prices are reasonable.  Since I’ve ordered two (another for my friend’s nephew here in Korea) I get all sorts of discount codes in my email too.  My Korean friend said that she could tell it was a “Western-style” book because it encouraged kids to be whatever they wanted, and not only a doctor or scientist.

This one here.
The books are super cute and great quality.  If you’re poking around the site and debating ordering, I’m 100% satisfied with the books and will use them again if the need arises.  🙂

Next I went to Los Angeles to visit some friends and be a tourist 🙂  I’ve never been to the west coast, so that was pretty cool too.  I had a day flight, so I got to see some of the scenery from down below and the deserts were pretty awesome…Nevada, I’m guessing.  Maybe I’ll have to look at that giant map in my classroom, heh.
I spent 5 days there and saw most of the main touristy things there…and maybe fell a bit in love with California…
  
Walk of Fame                                                       Hollywood Sign!

Cool shopping center in Hollywood–This is one of the best locations to view the Hollywood sign (at least from where I saw anyway).  They have a hiking trail sort of by it, but you can’t get to the actual sign itself (saves it from vandalism etc.)

Venice Beach–It was a rainy and oddly chilly day in December, so there weren’t many people out.  The beach has a bike trail which I thought was awesome.  It’d be nice to be able to run/bike etc on the beach without having the sand flying in your face (and minus all the extra effort of running on sand).

Introduced to the gloriousness of deep-fried Oreos…


Venice Beach

Santa Monica Pier

I also went to In-and-Out, which everyone recommended I do while on the West Coast.  Overall another great (and delicious) trip.  For New Years, I went to my host-friend’s friend’s place and we had a party there.  It was basically a big bbq.  Anyway, that was cool too.

I thiiiink I’m all updated…I still need to upload those journal pics from my Japan trip, but my journal is at the gym and I don’t start up again there until Monday (wanted to get re-acclimated here and not need to worry about missing gym time on top of everything else).
I’ll take updated classroom pics when I get there today now that everything is all caught up.

Random Junk on My Mind:
**I got a new laptop battery and my laptop now lasts hours instead of 30 minutes when unplugged from the wall (hurrah!)
**Wishing my brain would stop with the decorating ideas for my apartment–trying to save for post-Korea (and maybe Budapest…)
**Signed up for ultimate frisbee again in the spring
**Munch-a-Saurus is back in my life (my hamster)
**PENPAL LETTERS made it to the US…finally…after like a month, sheesh.  That’s longer than a care package.  Such a huge relief though.  I think I’m still waiting on one more envelope (1 of 4), but all the letters are pretty much finished by the sounds of it and headed back this way.  We just changed classes around, so it could get interesting, but still relieved that they’ve made it over.

**Also must finish report cards by Friday…already ready for the weekend, but thankfully it’s Wednesday…
**I brought back a ton of stuff for my students too–Pixie Stix, Warheads (sour candy), maps, Mr. Sketch scented markers (which they’re amazed by… 🙂 ), Crayola crayons and colored pencils (Crayola wax crayons are about $10/box here) and a Magnetic Poetry kit.  I got my kit when it was on sale for Christmas though 🙂  We just put it out yesterday and it might be a bit hard, but better than the ABC letters that were up previously.  I’ll give them a few months and report back 🙂

*BREAKFAST IDEAS?–Any chefs out there?  We have like 4 kinds of cereal here and I’m getting burnt out with my oatmeal.  Help 😦  I’ve been doing combinations of fruit, yogurt and oatmeal, but looking for something else.  I was thinking of doing more eggs but they’re always too brown and dry and that puts me off making them.  (Plus, more mess to clean up.)  Fruit is expensive here btw.
Thinking about these breakfast cups...easy, healthy, quick and minimal mess.

Another doozy of a post.

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Preparations and Stuff…and Titles Are No Fun

First off, I got all but one of the “My Hero” papers finished on Friday…wahoo!  Feeling prettty fantastic.
Second, tomorrow should be pretty interesting as well.  I usually have 3 different spelling lists for the 3 different classes that I teach, but this week I’m going to give them out based on their grade level (and corresponding reading books) that they’re working on.
On Mondays we talk about our new spelling words, so some kids will be having different lists.  I think I’ll just group them up though, so shouldn’t be too bad…just a bit crazy at first.

Third, I bought some plane/travel clothes for my flight-a-palooza coming up.  I have a fleece jacket that is basically a white soft, fuzzy blanket made into a jacket.  (Good work designers, I approve.)  I also got this skirt/leggings combo that’s super popular over here…which is also lined with soft fabric (not fleece…but warm) inside.  Great for layers.  Paired with some fuzzy wool socks and UGG-esque boots.  I’m going to be one comfy lady. 🙂
It’s also hard not to be in a good mood when your jacket feels like your bed on a Saturday morning.  haha 🙂

I also have Christmas gifts either bought or at least planned for for 98% of everyone on my list.  So…feeling good.

Oh and T-13 days.

Holiday Time + Hanukkah!

I did a short Powerpoint presentation on Hanukkah today with all 3 classes and then they made their own menorahs 🙂

They had never heard of Hanukkah, so I was really happy with my decision to teach them about 3 of the major winter holidays.  They learned about latke, menorahs, dreidles and gelt.  I feel more knowledgeable too, haha.  I did quite a bit of research putting the powerpoint together.

I’m looking for a fun Hanukkah-related movie for our movie day on Friday to help wrap up the week so it’s not just today, but there don’t seem to be that many.

hanukkah

I also decorated the rest of the classroom today 😀

holiday1
Classroom–the garland has white twinkle lights in it (super fun when we have the lights off for a video clip)
holiday2
O
ur classroom door

Back to Hanukkah, I was also toying with the idea of trying to make latke (fried potato pancakes), but I have no idea how those would keep throughout the day…probably not well.  Might just stick with the movie.

I also had a super religious 5-year old in my first class and I was a bit nervous talking about Hanukkah with him there because I didn’t want him to run and tell his mom that we were learning about different religions.  Anyway, he seemed to enjoy it when the Dreidle song started up in the presentation, and I still think it’s good for them to learn about the different holidays.  I had some students in my second class who were shocked when I said Christmas isn’t the only holiday in winter.
Anyway, so far so good!  I’m also loving how the menorahs turned out 😀  Lots of creativity in those pictures 🙂

Also, I learned that our front desk girl that has been there since before I was there is being let go because she wants to go to the US for a week for her friend’s wedding.  (Keep in mind that we work all through the year with only 10 days of vacation).  Head Front Desk lady said that Korean people don’t need vacation..soo…yeah.
She’s always been super nice and great with the kids and parents, so it’s a bit of a shock.  She’s being replaced by another Korean girl who doesn’t speak any English… :-/
Should be…interesting…
Trying to keep positive though.  At least she gets to go to her friend’s wedding?  And she’ll still be in our city…so…that’s good.  *sigh*
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

But, to end on a positive note–I sent out all the penpal letters today! (and yesterday–stragglers…)  Wahoo!  I love projects and I love this one, but it’s also really nice to have it all finished and out of my hair and thoughts.  I was going to include some Korea presents/candy, but I’m also hesitant about sending candy and such because I don’t want the other teachers in the US to feel obligated or anything to send stuff, especially because sending stuff from the US to Korea seems to be more expensive.

Anyway, goodnight!  Hope it’s warmer where you are 😀

December Plans

So, I have three teaching weeks in December before break and I wanted to write out my holiday plans for the kids.
First off, Christmas is my favvvvvvorite holiday so I’m hoping to spread some holiday cheer with them.

I’ve nearly finished a Powerpoint presentation on the three main winter holidays in the Western world, or at least as far as I’m aware.  I’m going to break up the Powerpoint and talk about Hanukkah the first week, Christmas the second week and Kwanzaa the third week.  That’s the order they fall in this year, so it works out nicely.  Christmas decorations have recently started to become more of a thing where I’m living, so I’m hoping to tell them about the spirit of giving and family, and not only Santa and presents.  I don’t celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, but I’m hoping to at least make them aware of the different holidays that are going on this time of year.  Lots of Googling going on these days.
Note: if you celebrate Kwanzaa and want to make sure I include something important, feel free to send me a message!  I’m just going off what I find online.

I’m also super grateful that my classes are fairly flexible and that the parents seem to be ok with whatever I do with the kids.
I’m thinking about having a cookie-making contest with my 2 youngest classes and making a gingerbread house from graham crackers (or cookies) with the last/oldest class.  I only have so many graham crackers, and the last class is a bit older and smaller, so it might be a bit more manageable.
I just thought up the cookie-making contest the other day and I think it would be good fun.  I only have 8-9 kids in my first two classes (yay for the after-school academies!), so I’d like to make copies of the directions, teach basic words and then put them into teams.  They could try and make the same recipe and see how they turn out at the end.  Maybe do this the day before break.
1. Learning a new skill
2. Everyone loves holiday cookies!
3. All in English
4. Kids love competition 🙂

Anyway, those are my current plans 🙂

Oooooh!!  Maybe I could even put together a little holiday cookie recipe book!  How fun!

Ya know, sometimes I wish I could shut my brain off and just go through life like a normal person…

I was also thinking of doing a small holiday craft related to the “holiday of the week” so they can get more into it.  I’ve seen a few easy Hanukkah-related activities already and they seem fairly simple.

Anyway…my favorite time of year is upon us and I’m stuffed to the brim from my Thanksgiving dinner.  Life is good.  Just need to find another sub for my class (last one was rejected because apparently she has the wrong sort of visa…oi.)…aside from that stress, things are good.  🙂

Also, why am I thinking of more pumpkin pie when I’m still full?

Easy cookie recipes for future reference (for me):
http://www.food.com/recipe/eloises-easy-sugar-cookies-82945

http://www.food.com/recipe/soft-snickerdoodle-cookies-97496

Mayyybe these depending on the students (allergy)
http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/classic-peanut-butter-blossom-cookies/a3563f6e-96b0-443f-ae0a-53cef4be6db6

I’d also looooove to do these because they’re amazing:
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-crinkles-ii/

But I can’t find a recipe at the moment that doesn’t involve putting them into the fridge for x amount of hours…
Anyway, fun (and delicious) times await 😀

Lots of Love :)

I just wanted to share some of the things my kiddos have made for me in the past few weeks 🙂

love1
love2
love3

love4

The first one was just the front and back of a sheet of paper.  I was making something for a display before class and they took the scrap and wrote on it in “secret” and then gave it to me when they were finished.  🙂  They did it in pencil so it’s pretty light; you might have to click on them to view them properly.
Another girl gave me a bracelet too 😀  It’s made out of those plastic beads that link together.  Cute cute cute!

The last two are from a student that had his last day on Friday.  He’s moving to a new city and gave me the present at the end of class.  I wasn’t expecting anything and it was so sweet.  I loved the letter and I have it hanging on my refrigerator.  🙂

Anyway, I’ve been keeping busy over here.  The penpal letters are finished (minus one student that left his at home and keeps forgetting it…which is delaying me sending the package..oi.) and I’m going to send them off on Monday.
I have 3 envelopes going out.  One for the younger students to a group of kids in Illinois and one to my second cousin (I think that’s the proper name for her) who is the same age as my students.  She’s going to be paired up with one of my kiddos.  Then I’ll mail out the second one on Tuesday I guess because of that last kid.  If he doesn’t bring his letter on Monday, then I’ll have him write a new one.  Can’t have 50 other students waiting for one kid to get organized.

Also, I’m going to a Thanksgiving party in just a bit.  It’s a bit delayed, but as Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here, our group moved it to the weekend so we all have time and can meet up properly for it instead of having it super late at night.

Annnd lastly, I put up my Christmas decorations yesterday 😀

christmas1christmas2

Hurrah! Hurrah!

These last two weeks have been killer.  Last week dragged on like none other but this one went quickly but I’m feeling worn for whatever reason.  Either way, that brings me closer to the holidays, so it’s alright 🙂

Speaking of holidays, my friend’s friend owns a bar here and for Thanksgiving he’s closing down the bar and having a private get together.  So I’m going with my friend and some others and we’ll have our own Thanksgiving, complete with all or mostly-all of the “fixins'” as they say.  Pumpkin pie, turkey and anything else people can whip up.

The actual reason I came on here to post was that, well even with all my trips and things, I’ve become fairly good at saving money.  I wasn’t able to do it before I came here so it’s nice to finally be able to put money away.
I remember being at home while working my last job 40+ hours a week and barely able to make ends meet, with my $400/month student loan payments, car payments, insurance, rent, basic phone bill, gas…etc. etc.
Anyway, I have my bank account and then I’ve also been pulling extra money from my Korean account and my own wallet at times to throw at my savings and I’ve just passed the $1000 mark.  This has been going for awhile and I’m planning on using it during my trip back home.  $1000 from just odds and ends.  Heck yes.  I feel…liberated.
I want to use it as my spending money while I’m back and to deposit anything I don’t spend.  I’m assuming the bank tellers won’t freak out if I make a larger deposit in cash?  Is that weird?  I’ve never had enough money to have to worry about it before.

Also, my grandma recently just had open-heart surgery (last week) and she just left the hospital, so there’s good news there as well.  I’ve got a small little gift box headed her way…hopefully I can make it to the post office tomorrow…

Anyway, Happy Friday! (to those on this side of the globe) and Happy Friday Eve to those elsewhere 🙂