Learning to Fly

So, I’ve got 15 days now til I’m (hey–mid-route) back to the US.
In case you haven’t been following along, I’ve been here four years and will be making returning home at the end of this month.

I’ve been feeling a lot of emotions, especially this month in particular.  I feel like the past few months have been me just saying “Oh yeah, I’m leaving in February” and it officially hit this month.  It still comes along, the reality of it slamming into me every few days or so and there’s excitement and anxiety and stress and joy and stress, all rolled into one happy little vortex of emotions.

I’m definitely ready to come back and it’s turned into a sort of “anywhere but here” kind of thing.  I’m just done.  I’ve got my lists of things to accomplish before the 29th and I feel like I’m plugging along quite nicely, but the panic is still there.  I think it’s more to do with the worry that I won’t get everything done in time.
My last day of work is the Friday before my flight (Monday), so I’m trying to get all of this done on the weekends (typically when I meet people to sell things) and during the week before work (when I do anything that involves government offices/post office/etc.)

People have said they’re surprised at how “early” I’ve started doing everything, and honestly, moving overseas is no joke.  It shocks me in return to see so many people who leave it all til the last minute and are scrambling to pack suitcases the night before their flight.

For shorter trips, I do pack fairly last minute, but when I have to have my apartment completely empty, and I essentially can’t do anything in the days leading up to my flight (weekend) plus I’m moving out on the Thursday before (next week!)…I feel like I’m on the right track.

This difference in opinions is popping up when people say they want to meet to pick-up stuff, can’t meet for x reason this week, ask when I’m leaving, then ask to get it like two days before I move out.  Then, if they bail then, what am I supposed to do?  I’ll likely just pitch everything that I don’t sell, but I don’t need added stress if I can avoid it.

Also, I had my Farewell Party thing last night, which is the norm for all departing expats–also got people asking why I was having it “so early”, which shouldn’t matter, but whatevs.  Anyway, I had a nice group of people saying they were going to be there (as of Friday, party being Saturday) and then I ended up with two people coming because people were sick and/or didn’t want to get out because of the rain.  Then they said we could just reschedule and do something later.  Honestly, I don’t even want to bother anymore.  I just felt really disappointed and had it early because I’m moving out soon and don’t want to come back to someone else’s house after a drunken night out.
I know everyone has their reasons and I didn’t complain or say anything about it because I didn’t want to come off as some whiny, selfish brat.  It was nice though for what it was, but I definitely don’t see myself organizing any other events in the near future.  I’m also trying to save money for my return and for my England trip so I haven’t gone out to eat in awhile or gone out for a drink since like December (partially also because I don’t like being cold/winter), so heading out for another dinner and drinks night isn’t high on my list of priorities.

I think after I head home I’m going to take a social media break.  I need some time to unplug and pull away from all of this.

 

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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. 😀

Ramblings

Thanks for all the comments 🙂

I’m not sure if this makes me “old” or not, but I generally really enjoy solitude.  I enjoy my own company and could spend a day or a whole weekend just reading or doing random things like baking or going for a walk around my neighborhood/area.
Living in Korea is in a way like a second college experience, or it can be if that’s what you choose for it to be.  Anyway, I keep busy with Ultimate Frisbee, traveling, brunch, classroom decorating, sightseeing and a bunch of other stuff, but going out drinking seems to be a major way to socialize and…it seems to be more and more often that I’d rather just watch a movie in my pajamas or try out a new recipe than participate like that.
I must have an 80-year-old soul or something, ha.  Or maybe it’s with the cooler temperatures, but I just don’t really like going out drinking anymore.  Now that I have a Kindle (did I mention this?!) and my gym membership, I feel pretty at peace with the world.  I have a few fitness goals that I’m trying to achieve and drinking definitely doesn’t help.

Anyway, just rambling and hoping that I’m not alone, ha.  I’m playing in a Halloween Hat Tournament this weekend and we played 3 games today.  Not sure if it was the three games or the uncharacteristically warm weather this time of year or the combination of the two, but after a shower at home I was wiped out.
I’m at a coffee shop now getting some work done mainly because I had to drag myself out of my house otherwise I’d have been asleep by 8pm (and likely lively and awake at 3am, haha).

Back to the Kindle…I’m so happy I got this thing.  I still have a thing for new books and bookstores, but this is so nice.  I can get books at a tap of a button (er…mildly dangerous…), adjust the lighting, no cramped wrists from holding big books open for hours at a time AND I love the dictionary feature.  I just press the screen over the new word and it gives me a definition right then and there for it.  It also stores the new words and you can quiz yourself later if you so choose.

Also, I joined a gym about…3? weeks ago and it feels so great to be back at it.  I thought I might have some trouble getting into a routine again because it’s getting chilly outside, but so far, so good.  My gym is just the right size and the guys that work there are all really friendly.  They sometimes walk around and give advice or help on form if needed.  I also got a free, spontaneous cardio/bootcamp workout with another lady from one of the trainers. They don’t offer any sort of classes, so that was pretty fun.  One guy speaks some English, or at least tries really hard and I try out some of my broken Korean too.  (Where is the chapter on muscle groups and gym lingo in my Korean book?).  Anyway, it’s a great environment there and will help me through the winter months.  I’m also already in a routine and my body craves exercise if I go without it for a day or two.
My current fitness goals are to:
*tone up my arms/legs and in general get a bit more muscle definition
*do a pull-up (still working on it–I had a bit of a hiatus after I got back from Japan, and I’m back at it now)

I also want to try this out at some point:

It looks intense, but we all know what incredible shape gymnasts are in…
It also makes me tired just watching it, so that must be a good sign that it’s a good workout, haha.
I keep telling myself that it’s only 4 minutes.  You can do almost anything for four minutes.

Hm…ok, I think that’s all for tonight 😀

I have some papers I want to grade before tomorrow’s full day of Ultimate games 😀

*2 months til Christmas and 56 days til I’m back in America–first time in nearly two years…!!!
Also, last bit of randomness, but this coffee shop has some saxophone music playing and it reminds me of Christmas 🙂

Ok, bye!

My Hands! My Hands!

So, I think summer is on it’s way out which I’m a bit sad about.  I feel like it went by too quickly :-/
However, I won’t be sorry to say goodbye to super sweaty walks to my school or wishing that I could wear shorts in the classroom.  Also, I’m one season closer to being home for the holidays.  🙂  I just wish I had more time out in the sun and at the beach.

Also, yesterday I finally bought some pre-heat cream which I can use before using a hairdryer or a straightener…and not sure if it’s something different with the temperature or this cream, but MY GOSH…my hair is ridiculously soft!!  It’s a-mazing!

Anyway, an explanation of the title is probably in order.  I’ve been working a bit (er…a lot) on a display for my classroom and I’m nearly finished!  Yay!
I’m pretty happy with it because it’s one of three “interactive” displays in my room, which I’m in love with.
Remember the “Careers” section in my newest room update?

CAM03412
(on the right)

Ok, well I wanted something else to go along with it and I made “accessories” or extra vocab cutouts for each of the 20-something jobs that came in the set.
(MY HANNNNNDS!)

CAM03420 CAM03422 CAM03424

Each job has 3 or more extra vocab words to go with it, which I stuffed into a plain white envelope.  Each brown envelope holds 2-3 of the “job envelopes” for faster searching.
My plan is to switch the jobs out each week (was every two weeks, but I scratched that plan) and a student from each of my three classes can choose the job and the “accessories” that they want to display.  Each job will have only 3 Velcro stickies so it won’t be too cluttered.
Hopefully it’ll be a fun way for the kids to learn some extra vocabulary words.  I was thinking about color-coding them but only thought of it after I already wrote the names on all the brown envelopes.  Ah well.

3 jobs on the community jobs board, 3 accessories per job per week, 3 students total get to change out the jobs (rotate weekly)
I bought a little basket from Daiso (about $5/5,000) to store them in…should be good *fingers crossed*

Again..MY HANDS!!!!  So much cutting!  When I was finished, the file of pictures on MS Word was 32 pages (!)…oi.  Cut those out and laminate.  Cut again.  Label envelopes.  Sort.  Pass out and hope for the best.  😀  Still need to stick velcro onto the back of each card…  Maybe I’ll get a massage this weekend…

Anyway, we’re off Friday for Korea’s Independence Day (from Japan), so tomorrow is my Friday–hoorah!

Goodnight!

Edit:

This is the website where I got my ‘Community Helpers’ printables.  I wanted to share it again because they’re adorable AND FREE!!!
http://www.teachersnotebook.com/product/kadeenwhitby/free-community-helpers-posters

These are great too:
http://www.teachersnotebook.com/product/kadeenwhitby/all-the-people-in-my-neighborhood-community-posters

 

One More Thing

I had a nice talk/vent with my aunt on the phone last night and was able to get a lot of my frustrations out…and as I told her, it feels a bit like I have a weight on my shoulders that I can’t seem to shake off.  
Another thing that’s on my mind is stuff with work.
Culture Differences + Gossipy/Bitchy Co-Workers + Minimal Vacation + Incompetence = No Fun.

I like my classes well enough, it’s just the work environment itself.
We got a new owner back in January and it’s had its ups and downs, but as long as I get paid on time and the school doesn’t get shut down, then I’m a pretty easy-going person, I’d like to think.
However, the Korean teachers (minus 1 of them who seems pretty mellow) and now the other 3 foreign teachers (1 not as much) talk SO MUCH SMACK on this guy.
I mean, no one is perfect, and he certainly isn’t, but I think he’s trying.
It’s just so wearing.  The negativity.  
Like, as soon as he leaves the room, they start in on him.  One Korean girl and 2 foreigners in particular.

It’s just crazy.  And half the time, I’m wondering if they’re hearing the words that are coming out of their mouths.  
I’ve pretty much stopped talking and zone out or leave the room during it because it just makes me so angry.  The Korean girl seems to really like drama and gossip anyway because she initiates most of it, but the foreigners are pretty good people.  
I wonder how much of this is brought on because we work so much and just…stress-overload/exhaustion.

Either way, it’s just so tiring…day in and day out.
And especially now that the owner has been coming in more often.

I’ve stuck up for him a few times, but they give me crazy looks and just brush my comments away.  So, I’ve just resorted to keeping out of it.

So much drama.  😦

And Finally…

Quick Quick!

It’s really late here, but just wanted to add a quick update on the school/money situation.
1. Our director had a meeting with me today and apologized saying he had been really busy, but that the rest of the money I’m owed was being deposited into my account today (remainder of severance, overtime pay from intensives and the rest of my pay from January).
Very happy that that’s all sorted.  A big weight has been lifted!

Working on getting my renewed visa now.  He said he should have that by tomorrow.  From what he said, it sounds like progress has been made since when we originally talked about it, so I trust his words.

Just ready to have this all situated.  I feel a bit bad because I know I’ve gotten pushy, but I don’t honestly see any other way to get things done.
I’m still being polite about it, but I’m just asking frequently.  Because…when I don’t ask, no progress is made, and I don’t get any sort of updates about what’s happening.  So, hopefully all this will be sorted soon so I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

2.  I have a hamster!
We had a class pet from Winter Intensives, and I asked to keep him afterward (instead of giving ours to a student, lol) and they said ok.
His original name was “Mystery”, but I renamed him “Munch-a-saurus Rex”, or “Munch” for short.

It’s Munch!

 

3.  I’m going to be volunteering at a preschool when I get home 🙂  (5 days til American soil!)
I think it’ll be a fun and interesting experience to work in an American preschool and  see any similarities or differences.  The main thing is that I wanted something to do while I’m at home so I’m not sitting around watching tv for hours on end while my family and friends are at work.  😀

Ok, goodnight!

Need to Re-Group

I never thought I’d be at this point as a person.  I need to work on controlling my temper.  I know I can be stubborn and want things a certain way, but I’m feeling sort of mixed on this.

In Korea, especially working at a hagwon (the private schools that are independently owned  and are a dime a dozen), it’s fairly common knowledge that schools can (doesn’t mean they all do…just have to be very cautious.  Many are in this just to make money, not because they care about actually educating children) just close up overnight or you might have a director that doesn’t pay you on time, etc.
We have a new director and he seems nice and is investing money in our school (which our last owners didn’t), so that’s all good.  But…
Ok, I was going to try and make a long story short, but I think some backstory is necessary.

I (along with previous employees) got 5% taken out of my check by the school–they said for tax purposes, but we all assumed it was actually to keep the foreigners from doing a midnight run (to the airport and going home), because it was written into the contract that you’d get the money back at the end.  Uh…which is also not legal.  They aren’t supposed to take things out that aren’t allowed by the government).
But anyway, I resigned a new contract when the new owner got here (new owner, new contract), and insisted it was removed.
The other foreigners get paid on the 10th of each month (1st for me–apparently because of that 5% clause…which doesn’t make sense to me)–and I wanted to still be paid on the same day and have the clause removed.  I can’t just not get paid for an extra two weeks because of that.  Sorry.
Anyway, fast forward to now–last month I had issues getting paid and had to ask about it 3 times but it was apparently something with the accountant.  “The accountant hadn’t sent them the paper showing how much money to take out for taxes”.  Um..ok..even if that’s the case, then you should have been working on that well before my payday.  That payday also happened to be the day I was supposed to be leaving for Seoul so I could leave the next morning for the Philippines.  Without a paycheck.
They said they could just put the full amount into my check and I could wire back the money from the taxes…which…whatever, but they should have been getting the information from the accountant BEFORE payday happens….not just “Oh sorry!  Please understand the situation….”

Btw… “Please understand”  is the most common thing you hear here when there’s some sort of dilemma.  And there’s never a solution attached to it.  Just “Please understand”…it’s more of a “Please understand what I’m saying”…not a “please understand the situation.”
It’s one of my biggest pet peeves.  Ugh.  There’s no way of SOLVING anything…just “understand”.  And if you say “I understand”, then it’s your way of agreeing with them and saying that whatever is happening is completely ok with you.

Anyway, so my payday rolls around this month (yesterday), and I was already going into it with my expectations very low because of the previous month’s issues.
I got another schpeal about the accountant (IMO, get a new accountant).  Apparently “she’s lazy” and hadn’t sent over the form again (HOUND HER..paying your employees is important).   I was pissed off inside and just really annoyed.  The head-teacher and director said I would “definitely” get paid Monday after they talked with the accountant.  I left and was basically like “Right.  Monday for sure.”
Which, in my contract it says the 1st of each month, and I was talking with a co-worker after I left and she reminded me that I shouldn’t have to put up with their crap and feel extra stressed because of their laziness/mistakes/etc.  If I get paid on the 1st, I should be paid on the 1st.  End of discussion.
So, I went back up to the school after our conversation, hoping to see someone who could fix the situation and our director was sitting at the front desk working on some paperwork.

I talked with him and said that I needed to get paid today (yesterday).  That I have bills to pay and I needed to get paid.  He asked if I was angry and I said that I was a little angry and frustrated.  He apologized for the situation and brought more of the “Please understand” crap into the conversation, but wired the money over right then and there.
I also mentioned that the other teachers were nervous about getting paid on time (because they are—there’s a bit of tension running through the school–which I suppose is normal because we have a new owner.  Another girl had issues getting paid last month too, except she got too much, and they never got back with her when she was trying to right the situation.)

Anyway, he seemed worried when I mentioned that people were worried about getting paid on time.  (Which is true, because there’s a lot of tension around the school due to having a new director, and not being sure what kind of person he is).
I’m a bit worried whether I said too much, but I also feel more confident that it won’t happen again.
I feel that I also need to stand up for my rights, because here especially, you need to look out for yourself because there aren’t many others that will.  Especially when it comes to the workplace.
I think it’s the lingering part of my western mindset that makes me feel like I may have overstepped a boundary line, but when I take into account the experience I have here so far, I feel like I did what’s right.  A bold move, but a necessary one.

It isn’t unheard of here for hagwon owners here not to pay on-time or to just leave in the middle of the night (and no one notices for a few days) while taking the money and leaving.
It’s not super common from what I’ve heard, but it’s still an issue either way, and I still feel like I need to look out for myself.
Another thing is that I have bills at home set for automatic withdrawal back home and if I don’t have any money in my account because I’m not paid on time (and it takes a bit of time for the money to clear once I make a transfer) then it’s my own neck on the chopping block when loans or other bills are late.  Not theirs.  And they won’t give a damn about it either.  Not that I expect them to, but yeah, I also don’t want the new owner to think he can just push me around.
He seems nice, but that’s common here too.  Everything is for show.  Look nice, get a fancy degree, but there’s a whole different something beneath the exterior.

(Note:  I’ve met a lot of great people OUTSIDE of the business/work/school world here that are great, but that is the general mentality.)

Anyway, I think it’ll be better once I get home to a bit of normalcy.  It’s also supposed to be easier the second year because you already know the culture and are familiar with things.  So, here’s to that.

Oh, and 7 days!!