"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." - Saint Augustine

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What I've realized/affirmed...

Visiting the Preschoolers/Kindergarteners in my school!

The early childhood wing of my school!

Since I don't have a dryer I dry my clothes by laying them on my heated floors!

One of my class rules is "always try your hardest" and this often involves drawing pictures or demonstrating something if my students can't say it in English to me. Mike clearly wanted a drink of water! So cute! 

Now that I have officially made my decision to go back home to Michigan in the end of December I do feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I was so torn between what to do and I honestly could have debated over it forever. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have this unique experience to travel around another country while teaching and learning all about their education system. I’ve noticed how learning about children in Korea and their schooling is definitely what I am the most interested in learning about while I’m here. I have no doubt that my passion lies within the education world and specifically, but I know there are so many things that interest me right now and I feel it’s best go to home and figure out what’s my next step!

I can honestly say that every day I’ve been here in Korea has been wonderful. Sure there have been moments of stress and such, but overall I have absolutely loved everything about being here. I feel like so many people have realized so much about themselves and want to come back to the states and totally change their lives and become better people. I feel like coming here I was already in a really good place and I found myself wondering if I had really changed at all, and realized that of course ANYONE would change after an experience like this. I definitely have realized many things about myself since I find I have way more time to reflect on life, teaching, etc. here in Korea than I ever have had in my entire life.

I’ve realized/affirmed:
  1. I AM A PEOPLE PERSON! I love being around people and think the people I choose to surround myself with have a LOT to do with my happiness. I consider myself to be a very happy and positive person (I definitely am an optimist) so…thanks to everyone who is a part of my life! I consider the people in my life to be the BEST part of my life.
  2. I love children and teaching. I always knew this, but teaching English in Korea is very different than any teaching experiences I’ve had in the states.  This is my first time having my own students, classroom, and flexibility to teach whatever I want. I LOVE IT! I have so many interests in the field of education and cannot wait to continue my education, experiences, and get my Ph.D. and teach college courses someday.
  3. I want to travel, explore, and learn more about my city, state, and country. Whether this be reading books or websites or going out into the community and trying new and different things…I want to come home and do new and exciting things in a place that has become very familiar to me. I know there is a lot more to learn and see in my own country!
  4. I am interested in teaching/living/traveling abroad again. My family traveled A LOT as I grew up but we stayed within the U.S. (aside from Canada and Mexico).  Before Korea I had been interested in teaching on a military base/teaching for the DoD (thanks to my boyfriend Alex being in the military and exposing this to me)! I know that this will become more difficult as I get older and have more responsibilities and commitments back at home. I’m going to look into this once I get home and see what my options are!
  5. I want to have more time for myself (more time to sleep, read, exercise, and just relax and do all things I never feel I have enough time to do). As organized as I am I still think this means I need to manage/prioritize my time better.
  6. I want to run a full marathon next year and focus more on clean eating!

On Monday Eunhye and I went out for sweet potato pizza after school. We were there for almost 5 hours and I learned so much about things in Korea and I helped her translate and write the script for a short movie she has to make for her English Cinema class. Here’s a few interesting things I learned:
  • Tv shows/dramas are not allowed to promote/show smoking and smoking is only allowed in movies.
  • There are no food/cooking shows or advertisements for food past appx. 10pm since this makes people hungry and Korea tries to promote health in many ways. 
  • It is not nearly as common for couples to live together before marriage as it is back in the sates. Many couples who do this live together “in secret” (usually when away at college) from their friends or family since they feel ashamed.
  • When you’re in debt there is a debt collector who comes around and puts little red square stickers on items that now belong to the government.
  • Korean teachers switch schools every 4 years! Eunhye thinks this is to reduce problems between staff and to have fresh/new teachers at school.
  • Every teacher picks a major (Gym, Music, English, Art, Math, Science, etc.) so they are able to teach a “specials” class, but they are all also educated to be regular classroom teachers as well.
  • After graduation for the college of education newly graduated teachers decide what province they want to teach in and apply within that province. Every 4 years they apply for their top 3 schools and then get placed somewhere.
  • Teachers get points for volunteering, teaching in a rural area, being a head teacher, English teacher, etc. and the more points you have the better chance you have of getting your #1 choice school  (when switching schools every 4 years) or moving up to a higher position in the educational system.

Eunhye and I at dinner!
This picture is blurry but the lady was pretty confused
 about how to use the camera so we just settled with this one!

Our delicious sweet potato pizza with cheese crust!

One of my favorite things about teaching here in Korea is the relationships I’m able to form with my students. I love that I can walk home from school with my students and see them out around town. I know some teachers (in America and here in Korea) don’t like seeing their students outside of school and I understand it’s nice to have your privacy and life outside of school. I view teaching as a full time role model “job” and think it’s neat to run into my students in places besides school. They’re always so excited to see me and I love laughing and talking with them and brining a smile to their face (and mine). For example:

Earlier in the week I was walking home with one of my 4th grade students, Brittany. We walked and talked the entire 20 minute walk home which is pretty impressive considering neither one of us knows the other’s language all that well! She taught me how to say many things in Korean and we were laughing so hard over the different animal names and noises…pig, horse, cat, dog, sheep, chicken…the all have different sounds than ours do back at home. We talked about different fruits, vegetables, and I read all the English to her on signs as we passed by. She told me about her 17 year old sister and 6 year old brother and I tried to ask about her parents jobs but it was very confusing and I couldn’t figure out another way to explain it since I only knew an example occupation of “teacher” in Korean. I taught her how to say “Cheongdo Elementary School” by comparing it to “Cheongdo Chodong Hakyo”. I found out she lives just a few buildings away from me! We took this picture together and after looking at it she wanted me to delete it and was saying "I'm ugly...ugly!" I was so surprised, but assured her that she was very pretty and that I loved how friendly she is and that she always has a smile on her face. I could tell she was very happy to hear this! :)

Walking home with Brittany. :)

Then, on Friday night Eunhye, my co teacher, and I were walking home from school and waved to two of my 5th grade boys sitting at the window of a convenience store eating Ramen noodles. I know these two boys get silly about taking pictures so I tried to get one and they started laughing and pulling down the blinds. It still amazes me how independent children are here. They usually go to a convenience store a stand on the street for dinner as they make their way to a Hogwan to continue their studies into the evening. 
Thanks for pulling down the blinds!

Caught you!! 

Eunhye ordering our drinks and cheesecake.

Lattes, cinnamon bread, and cheesecake.

After hours of talking and studying Korean you can see our snacks are gone!

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