You guessed it, its approximately time for your monthly update all theway from Korea!! As promised I am emailing you because all of my academy reports are done, and work is starting to slow down... just one week until I get to enjoy my hard earned week of paid vacation! My last day of teaching for the week is August 23rd. (After the 23rd the office won't be opening up again until after the 31st. So if you are wanting to send boxes, it would probably be best to wait until after vacation, because it takes 7-10 days by the post office, and even longer through UPS.)
These past 3 weeks have flown by for intensives,and I am sure the next couple of weeks will fly by as well. It is strange to be working during the day, as I teach at the academy in the afternoon and evening. I am kind of starting to miss my vampire-like schedule, in Korea its much harder to get things done when you work during the day because hardly anything is open before 10 am. I think Iam just going to hang out in Korea over my holiday go see some of thethings to see in my province. There is also the issue of there not really being any set hours in Korea, even for international franchises. The subway here has been completely closed down twice now for a total of six days. I don't think that this would be able to happen in the United States. The owner decided to go on vacation or whatever and so she closed up shop. The owner is a very nice woman.
This Friday was all of (North and South) Korea's independence day! August 15th, 1945 is the day that Korea finally got rid of Japanese rule in their penninsula. The Koreans are very distrustful of the Japanese. Not to say that I blame them since they did take over their country and outlaw the Korean language and customs. I have read many different essays about the Japanese from my students, which is very interesting. It is customary to to hang a flag out of your window which of course the landlady did. I of course worked all day, but Iam getting paid overtime because it is a Korean holiday. So Happy Korean Independence Day Everyone!!!!!!
With August also comes my birthday! There are no offical plans yet, as it is Korea and we don't really plan super far in advance. But there are rumors of going to the horses races next weekend. I have never been to the horse races before-- so it would be a new adventure. We will also go out for a nice dinner. I will have to let you know more about what I did for my birthday in the next email.
The school that I work at is a hogwon, which basically means that its an after school academy. Korean children only get one month off for summer and so a lot of the academies like to have them come more often than the would normally when school is in session. This is to give them extra practice etc. There are academies for practically everything.
My academy does what is called intensives... where students of all levels except for Kbridge who are very tiny students (they are ready to be working with an English speaking teacher, but they are too young to start K1 phonics) K bridge, K1, and K2 are all kindergarten aged children between the ages of 5-7/8. They are also have the lowest levels of English as a whole. Kinder classes (or Kinderbabies as they are sometimes called by the foriegn teachers,because they are so tiny) have reading and phonics classes. In Phonics we teach students to recognize letter sounds, beginning and ending sounds, and vocabulary words. For whatever reason almost every kinderkid knows "delicious" and "cot" by the time they start working with foriegn teachers... as well as the ever important "water" and "bathroom/ toilet". Though one should never send more than one kinder kid out of theclassroom at the time because they get distracted by their desire to play. They also get introduced to reading. The books are boring but they have lots of repetition that students need and we work on things like names of transportation, names of food, colors etc.
A group that is even younger than the K1 kids are the activities kids. Activities kids come once a week during Intensives to work with a foriegn teacher. These kids will most likely be starting K1 in the fall, though I suspect that some of them may be starting Kbridge because they are so teeny tiny. I believe that there are activity classes on Wednesday so that students can practice their English. It is also so that they aren't terrified of the foriegn teachers when they startclasses.
Grades 1-5 are pretty much like those that you would find in theclassrooms in the United States. The especially since our Science and Social Studies books come from publishing companies in the United STates. The students learn Science, Social Studies, Writing/ Grammar, and Trophies(which is vocabulary building and reading). I teach Science, Social, and occasionally will teach Writing/ Grammar.
The Global Leaders are the oldest group of students (they are middle school students) they have grammar, news/ current events, reading, andTOEFL test preparation. I teach 2 test prepartaion courses, and grammar along with the current events class.
So that is basically what my students are like!
My average class sizeis 7 students, but that can change fairly easily. Students are not going to necessarily show up on their own day. They like to move around a little bit because sometimes their schedule changes. Right now the smallest class I have is 7 and the largest has been 12. I am kind of anxious for the day when classes aren't so large anymore-- because we get less accomplished and its a little more stressful.
What I have been up to mainly consists of working and sleeping, and I have managed to read a few books besides. I highly recommend The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It is very interesting and I think alot of you would really enjoy it, especially uncle david. I have purchased a few more books than I normally would in the past few weeks.
So yesterday after work I went home and was kind of chilling out whenI recieved a call from friends that they were going to go get Vietnamese for lunch. After lunch they were going to to the bookstore in Gongnam. I did of course want to go along. So after getting lunch we went to the bank, and afterwards went to the bus stop. The bus from Suwon to Gongnam is about a 40 minute ride. It had started to rain and of course my umbrella had decided to break. So now I have no umbrellas in Korea. When I go to buy water today I will have to pick up an umbrella. You don't drink the water in Korea and everyone knows it. If its boiled it is of course fine. Every restaurant has a water cooler so don't worry.
It was in Gongnam that books in English were purchased. They of coursehave a fabulous selection of English books in many different categories. That is not something that you can't find in a lot of places in Korea. But on the way there it was very rainy and my umbrella decided to no longer be functional. All of sudden an older Korean man was there sharing his umbrella with me. It was very nice of him. After I we were done looking at books (Richard, Nickie and I went) we decided that it was not so bad anymore and so we went by metro to Insadong to go check out culture street. We didn't find it right away so of course we pretty much wandered through the area, but it was kind of nice-- we discovered a park. Which we walked through and we watched the old Korean men play agame that is very difficult to understand. It has black and white circular pieces that are put on coordinates. I would like to find outwhat the name of the game is and then try to play it. This weekend was the first time that I had actually seen people wearing traditional clothing also known as the hanbok. It was in Insadong that we also found a Starbucks, they are just as expensive as at home. I don't drink "yuppie coffees" very often because they can be hard to come by and they are also very expensive. In the spirit of getting a treat I also purchased a piece of New York cheesecake which was fabulous. Well, worth every penny of it. Though it was slightly expensive.
After our refreshing break we were ready to do some shopping there were tons upon tons of stores and shops. There were some beautiful pieces there. I bought a scarf, two necklaces, some postcards (which are next to impossible to find in Korea), an older man bought me a fan as a gift.... a bag, and a hard rock cafe t-shirt.
Nickie and Richard were looking at a map of the area. The space where they were was already crowded and so I decided to not crowd in and look at the map. Instead I was looking at these hand painted fans that a street merchant was selling. When an older man (Nickie and I later found out that he was 60) asked if I was American. I'm always slightly nervous when that question is asked. When I said yes the man said "America Good, U.S.A. good." and gave me a thumbs up. He saw me looking at the fans and he picked one out for me, and had a man stamp it (add his signature to it) and he gave it to me... It was at this point that I wished that I knew Korean. He was a man that fought in the Vietnam war along side American troops (That is my guess anyways). It was also in Vietnam that his leg got shot off. Which he proudly showed us, and on his hat he has different pins from the military and patriotic pins. One of the pins had two flags, one Korean and one the U.S.A flag. Koreans are very patriotic, especially the men. I cannot say if thisis true in men of my age, because I don't talk to a lot of Korean men my age.
It was at this point that we finally found culture street-- Wevfound things from all over Asia. There were some beautiful pieces ofvartwork! There was pottery, and hanboks and all sorts of wonderfulvthings. I mainly stuck to the smaller shops and street vendors. After walking down the street we were starting to get very hungry. It was at this point that we decided to head to Itaewon to get dinner, because we were too hungry to make it back to Suwon. We took a cab there, it was then that I stumbled across the Hard Rock Cafe-- Seoul. We were off in search of the Mexican Restaurant. In true Nickie fashion she was off blazing ahead (not that it is a bad thing)... I called her name and we stopped. I told her that we could just stop and see and if it was really expensive and that we didn't have to eat there. Well, we did eat there and they were both amazed by it. Neither of them had been to one before, I have been to a couple. :-)
Overall it was a fun day, and by the time I got home I was exhausted and ended up falling asleep very soon after I laid down. :-)
In September I am starting Korean classes, which I am really excited about!
Scott Update ----> Scott and I have now dated for a year. :-) He hasbeen very busy this summer with his classes, and his two jobs. Scott and I talk as much as we can on different chat mechanisms, we talk on skype, and we send emails back and forth. We communicate with each other in some form or fashion everyday. Though my intensive schedule and the time difference it has been a little morechallenging. He is planning to come and visit me.
That's pretty much all of the news that I have. Though, I did go through my first typhoon. It was really windy and the power was kind of flickering. I didn't really go outside though. But I am anxiously awaiting news from everyone.