The End is Near

In two weeks my five month ESL adventure in South Korea will come to an end. All resignation paperwork has been turned in. My luggage is packed. I’m ready and waiting.

I never did experience the honeymoon phase of coming here and it still hasn’t quite settled with me that I’m actually in South Korea. Things started out on the downside within a week of my arrival, so it’s more of an eking out an existence. I’m just…here. Which sucks because I waited several years for this! I plan to make up for this disappointment though, once I decide on my next international destination.

Thankfully, these last few weeks are during the school’s summer vacation. There are no lesson plans and PowerPoint presentations holding me captive on the weekends, so I’m able to get out and do a bit of exploring.  Since my coteacher is on vacation, I can venture about town before five in the afternoon on work days, after my first grade lesson, instead of being a prisoner in my apartment until after five.

I just finished up my last kindergarten class this morning. My kindergartners showered me with hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s”. I will miss them. They’re so sweet and incredibly cute!

My beautiful kindergartners and I posing during our last class this morning.

I’ll be saying my goodbyes to my Dochang boys after summer camp tomorrow, and repeating the process on next Wednesday with my Seomyeon kids.

I’m excited to be going back home while simultaneously dreading it. Of course I miss my family and friends, my car (and just being able to drive!), and the diversity of people and foods, but since I’ve had this international experience-the good and the bad- I know things just

aren’t going to be the same. I’m already feeling restless and I’m not even there yet!

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Making The Goal in Half The Time

I set my mind on a financial goal before arriving in Korea, and I’ve been true to reaching it. I’m thankful for the financial discipline I have. I came here on a one year contract not aware of the bear trap I was stepping into. But you know what? It doesn’t matter! In 83 days, I will have reached my goal, in half the time anticipated, and will be headed to wherever I want to go that’s not Korea! Just imagine if I could stomach staying til I completed the year…Oh, well… I can get the same result putting simple principles to use. So no worries.

I started on a new book a few days ago. Here’s one of my favorite passages thus far from The Richest Man in Babylon:
“….Thereupon they agreed that it was so.
“Then,” continued Arkad, “if each of you desireth to build for himself a
fortune, is it not wise to start by utilizing that source of wealth which he already has established?”
To this they agreed.
Then Arkad turned to a humble man who had declared himself an egg merchant. “If thou select one of thy baskets and put into it each morning ten eggs and take out from it each evening nine eggs, what will eventually happen?”
“It will become in time overflowing.”
“Why?”
“Because each day I put in one more egg than I take out.” Arkad turned to the class with a smile. “Does any man here
have a lean purse?” First they looked amused. Then they laughed. Lastly they waved their purses in jest.
“All right,” he continued, “Now I shall tell thee the first remedy I learned to cure a lean purse. Do exactly as I have
suggested to the egg merchant. For every ten coins thou placest within thy purse take out for use but nine. Thy purse will start to fatten at once and its increasing weight will feel good in thy hand and bring satisfaction to thy soul.
“Deride not what I say because of its simplicity. Truth is always simple.”

Indeed. Truth is always simple. I’m asked how I’ve managed to save so much in such a short period. Same principle I held as a child- Don’t buy what you don’t need. Really simple.

I buy only what I need. Here and there a little trip or two to keep from losing my mind being in this town, but even then I try not to spend much. I don’t care much for a lot of hanging out with others, too expensive. I have a goal and I’m not about let anyone get me off track. So don’t get offended when I turn down invites. I’m on a mission to get my money and get out of here.

I can’t do as much as I’d like to being out in the distance, but when I get back to the States I’ll be ready to start the next task: “This, then, is the third cure for a lean purse: to put each coin to laboring that it may reproduce its kind even as the flocks of the field and help bring to thee income, a stream of wealth that shall flow constantly into thy purse.”- Arkad, The Richest Man in Babylon

Family, ATL- See you soon!

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A Tuesday Afternoon: Day In The Life Of A TEFL Teacher Abroad

Reflecting

It is Tuesday afternoon. I am sitting at a bus stop in the little town of Yukdan-ri. I have completed my day of teaching at Geunnam Elementary School.

Now, I’m just sitting here relaxing, reflecting. I’ve been on my feet, in flats, most of the day. It feels great to sit down and rest these puppies. As you can see from my photo, I don’t have very much to occupy my mind while I wait, naturally I start mulling over today’s events.

Taxi Fares

The taxi ride from Wasu to Geunnam Chodong Hakyo (Guennam Elementary School) wasn’t bad. It never is. It costs about 6,000 won (~$5.40) every time. The taxi drivers are pretty nice and usually don’t ask for the extra when the fare goes over 6,000. I sometimes get up to a 700 won break. It’s not much, but over time it adds up quite nicely. I’m all about saving money, so give me all the breaks you want taxi dudes!

MERS Health Check

Just as I entered the double doors, the school nurse and security guard stopped me. The nurse motioned for me to follow her back outside where she pointed to a sign on the front of one of the doors. My Korean skills are not up to par, so I stared blankly at the sign and nodded my head. Having no idea what was actually written on it. Calling on the mind reading skills I’ve developed since being in Korea, I knew it had to be about taking precautionary measures to avoid MERS. She pointed to her ear and motioned for me to follow her. The ear… temperature I figure. Okay, she’s going to check my temperature to make sure I’m fever-free. No problem with that. Gotta keep the babies safe. Off to the nurse’s office we went. She asked me to wash my hands…Scrub. Scrub. Scrub. Rub-a-dub-dub. All clean. I used the medical technique. She laughed. I stood facing her, waiting to see a thermometer. She looks at me and asks, “Have fever?” I give her a quizzical look. “Noooo,” I respond half declaratively, half questioning. She says, “Okay! Sign!” I scribbled my signature into an empty space on a name list….and that was the end of my medical evaluation for a deadly virus. Ohhh, Korea.  Korea…

A typical school day

After that, since I had about fifteen minutes until my first class, I went to sit in the front office with the other teachers. I pulled out my trusty HP Stream and made sure all my lessons were still in working order. Fifteen minutes later, I was standing in front of about 20 wide-eyed third graders. All eager to learn some English- not really. After the dreaded How Many Dogs? textbook lesson, however, they were amped. We played a telepathy game. Kids here go crazy over telepathy games. Then, it was on to each of my other forty-minute classes: fourth through sixth grades. Not much exciting to talk about concerning them. We had our lessons; I scribbled all over the chalkboard. (I love drawing diagrams and pictures, and jotting down notes- I guess that comes from the scientist and artist in me.) We, of course, played games as is expected of the waygooks here.

A Nice Tuesday

After going over the class time by five minutes, I had to dash off to the cubby area in the next building to change out of my school shoes, and speed walk to the bus stop. Another pleasant Tuesday at Geunnam coming to a close.

Now, here I am. Waiting. I don’t mind this waiting here. It’s much better than desk warming.

Ah, here comes the bus….

Co-teacher

Where’s my co-teacher?

Ok. So I go in for work at about 8:55 this morning. My co-teacher isn’t in the classroom. So, I do my normal whipping out of my laptop and start typing away on lesson plans, etc. There’s no 1st period on Mondays, so I think nothing of it when 9:20 rolls around and my Co-teacher still hasn’t shown up. Second period starts at 10:10, so when 10:00 rolls around, I start thinking, Hmm… Maybe she’s downstairs talking to the principal or office staff? I run downstairs to the office. I ask where she is and the office ladies tell me that she isn’t coming in today because she’s sick. They proceed to apologize. I respond with a resounding, “Oh no! It’s OK! Kenchanayo!”

Oh, happy day!

I left out of that room with a pep in my step! Not that I was happy about her being sick… But, finally, I was about to have the opportunity to actually TEACH at Wasu! Boy did the kids and I have fun today! We sang and danced a little; did our book lessons, played games, worked on fun worksheets, and the kids joked about classmates having MERS. Everyone earned stamps today. I made sure each student had the opportunity to answer a question. When they got it wrong, I gave hints so they could retry the answer. They were happy about that. During the afterschool program, my kindergartners and  I freeze danced. We had a blast. I nearly passed out because it was hot and I danced with all my might.

Where’d the time go?

The day was over so fast, and I was back in my little apartment in the twinkle of an eye. And I was feeling great!

Today was the best day I’ve had at Wasu since….well… since I’ve been here. I hope my students enjoyed today as much I did. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to teach- which was the whole point of coming to Korea.

Until next time…

I’m An EPIK Teacher

My EPIK teacher life

It’s officiIt’s official. I am an EPIK teacher in South Korea! No more hospital lab work. I’ve gotten TEFL certified and cleared to teach English in South Korea.

I decided to start this blog to chronicle the happenings of my first expat experience, and to keep friends and family abreast of my well-being.

A sign of things to come?

I arrived in South Korea on March 26th, and well, I can say it has been an experience! I developed acute bronchitis a week after arriving. I suffered through pretty severe symptoms for a month. I was weak, dehydrated, had a sore throat, lost my voice and had bloody phlegm- and was still expected to teach- and teach I did.  I’m a trooper 🙂  (So glad it’s over!)

I was placed in a small, agricultural town in Gangwon Province called Wasu.  I’ve never been gawked at so much as I have since being here. It’s quite amusing. I’m a bit of star right now. The townspeople are pretty nice. I try to walk through town often to get everyone used to seeing me and interacting with me.

Not making any promises!

I tend to be quite busy between 4 schools, after school classes, an adult class, and preparing lessons for all of my classes, but I will try to update this blog often.

Well,

The view from my apartment window when I arrived in Wasu.

I must get back to my EPIK teacher life…

Until next time!