Valentine’s Day Approaches

As a single lady, I don’t really have any reasons to be super excited that Valentine’s Day is coming, but I do love it because holidays are always a fun thing to celebrate in a classroom.

I’m planning on turning Friday into a mini-party–still working out logistics–but I’m going to bake Funfetti cupcakes with pink icing and I want to make these cookies:

Yummy!  😀

And maybe some of these too–I could put together some cookie bags like I did for Christmas.  😀  We’ll see.

I also want to have them make Valentine’s cards for each other as it’s a cultural experience and it’s not something that’s done here.

Valentine’s Day in Korea is when the girls give chocolates/candy to the boys and a month later on March 14, White Day, the guys return the favor.  Apparently there’s also Black Day the following month (April 14) and that’s for the single people.

You’re supposed to go to the restaurants and order jjajjangmyeong, which is a cold, black bean and noodle dish.  You’re then essentially upping your chances to meet other single people in hopes that you won’t be single the next time it rolls around.

My goal with the treats and Valentine’s party is to make a fun party out of it.  I want them to be able to enjoy the holiday in another way.  I like opening their eyes to different things.
For example, a girl was reading a book about apple picking and there were yellow apples in the book and she thought it was funny.  In Korea, we have one type of red apples and SOMETIMES green apples (and the world goes crazy when they are here), but there aren’t any yellow apples.  I explained to the girl that there are yellow apples too and she thought I was joking, but I pulled up an American grocery store on Google and she was amazed by all the apples.  Not just one kind of red…but a lot of red, green and yes, yellow apples.
I try to also include other countries into the mix also.  I don’t want it to be all about America, but also about other places that I’ve experienced.  I like to pass on as many cultural things as possible to open their minds a bit.

With Valentine’s Day, I want them to know that it can be celebrated any way you want, but especially including your firends and family into the mixture.  It’s not only for boyfriends/girlfriends.  I hear so much about being “lonely”/”don’t want to be lonely”/”Aren’t you lonely” from the older people (my age) that it’d be nice to diffuse some of that before it gets going.

Let’s see…oh!  We watched Matilda the past two movie days (Only about 30 minutes each time)–and usually I don’t do two movies in a row because there are so many out there, but they LOVED Matilda, so we continued on a bit more with it.  (One of my girls in the class found the book in our library and I encouraged her to take it home and try it out.  It’s well above her reading level but she loved the movie and she seemed excited to have it, especially knowing that there wasn’t a rush and she wouldn’t have a test over it.
Ah yes, the point…if you’ve seen the movie or read the book you know there’s a horrible principal called Miss Trunchbull, and later in the movie it lets on that she’s superstitious and afraid of spooky/ghosty things.
This lead to a segway about superstition. A massive word for them, but I talked about it anyway.  We talked about good luck and bad luck and what things people are superstitious about in Korea.  They didn’t know the word superstitious in Korean (I translated it, but they don’t know it yet in their language, but they knew bad luck).  We also talked about how superstitions (or things that are bad luck) can be different in each country.
For example, in Korea, the number 4 is considered to be bad luck, as is writing someone’s name in red ink (symbolizes death),  I talked about some that we have in the US (walking under ladders, #13, black cats) and helped them understand why Miss Trunchbull was freaking out when there was a black cat near her in the movie.

Whew.  A bit long-winded tonight.
We had the movie day on Friday, but I made a note to talk with them about it because they seemed confused as to why this big strong lady was afraid of cats.  One boy just thought she didn’t like cats…but it was a good learning experience.

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More on Korean superstitions herehere and here!!
The first link is a good one and talks about ‘fan death’.  😛

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Anyway, I’m eagerly awaiting for a package from my mom with the two Titanic books that I ordered off Amazon for my Titanic-obsessed student.  I want to see his face when he gets them so bad.  It’s going to be beautiful.

Valentine’s Day is going to be snack-time (cupcakes and cookies–bagged candy can be pricey and I love baking, so baked goods it is!) and they’re going to make Valentine’s for each other and their parents.
We have two hours…so that should be enough time…right?

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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 🙂

Jetlag

Jetlag is no joke, seriously. It’s essentially being exhausted the entire day and then not being able to sleep at night because you’re still mentally in another time zone. And the cycle repeats and repeats.
Also, everyone around you seems to have boundless energy and I just want to put on my comfy pajamas, curl up in bed and watch movies all day.
Thankfully, there’s such a thing as NyQuil and also that it’s Thursday.  Weekend is coming.  Weekend is coming.

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.

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 😀

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

*Dance Dance*

I was a bit concerned about my youngest kids and this penpal project because we’re matching the kids up with 5th graders and I didn’t know if (1) they would have much to talk about with the age gap (my youngest: 1 kindy and some 1st graders) and (2) ability level.
So, I did some poking around and I got another class (THANK YOU MATT!!!!!!!!!) that is interested in writing to my youngest babies.  They’re kindergarten, but apparently fairly advanced.  Either way, that would be great practice for them.

Yay!  😀 😀
Still awaiting a confirmation email on the second school from the teacher herself, but I’m feeling good.  Happy week 😀