Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Back on the wagon!!

APRIL 27, 2011???!!! That was my last post? Are you kidding me? (sigh in self-disappointment) Well, I've procrastinated long enough and it's time to get back on the blog wagon and time to start committing time to this blog. Why do I put it off?? I love writing! My mom frequently asks me about it. I always think about it. Why put it off? Good. Question.

My mother was right (words to live by), I need to start composing small posts about my daily life, adventures, run-ins, experiences, observations, and so forth as apposed to large posts about many things that have happened over the past month. I think this style of blogging is easier for the readers as well as myself when I want to reflect upon my journey or refer back on this blog for information. So, I hope to add more frequent updates about small occurrences. Let's call it my belated new year's resolution--it's better than my prior resolution, which was to conceive a resolution before the end of the first week of January. (sigh again...) Good thing I'm young...

Just to give a brief update of where I am in my life now, I'll skim over the past 7 months in an abridged version.

I finished out my first contract (which was a full year contract) at the elementary school. Because I am a GEPIK teacher, (GEPIK [Gyeonggi-do English Program In Korea] is a government funded program that sponsors teachers in the northern province of Gyeonggi. They are responsible for their housing, salary, and 365-day employment.) I was obliged to stay at my primary school for 365 days but after that, I have liberty to decide if I want to stay at the same school (only in the circumstance that the school's budget allows for it), move to a different school, or leave Korea all together. I knew I wasn't ready to leave Korea quite yet and unfortunately my school was unable to fund me for a second year so I was left with choice B: moving elsewhere. This was actually what I would have done anyway because I was ready to move to a larger city and was in hopes of finding a middle school for my future place of employment. The search was stressful, difficult, and was full of games but as I'm learning, a lot of the professional world is not always...so...professional. I made some appearances to have face-to-face interviews with some privately owned after school tutoring schools (called Hagwons) and found one that I was going to settle for but it just didn't feel right. I kept trying and sent out my resume to countless recruiters and then fatefully heard back from one that had a position open in a city called Ansan; the position was even for a middle school. The only problem was that I would finish my current contract a month after the school in Ansan wanted to hire me. However, the Ansan school was willing to wait for me after reviewing my resume and speaking with my current employer. (happy sigh of relief)

So, on the morning of September 31 (the very last day of my contract) a moving truck arrived at my apartment, packed all of my things into the bed of a rickety truck, and delivered them to Ansan. I moved from here
to here.

Not much of a move, really--only about an hour away but much closer to Seoul and MUCH more accessible to Seoul; it is on the subway line. I was so ecstatic to have a job at a middle school in a large city on the subway line.

I've now been at my new school for 4 months and am thoroughly enjoying it. Teaching middle school students is challenging, no matter where you are in the world. It takes a lot of energy, patience, commitment, and self-confidence. My student are generally well behaved and most have an interest in learning English, though their motivations are all quite different. Some genuinely want to learn English because they have a liking for it or just want to be in with the the hip trend of being able to speak English while others realize that in order to be successful they have to learn English and have taken upon themselves to commit to learning it while others are feeling the heat from their parents to learn English in order to be successful and are doing it because they have to. Still, there are some that have give up hope don't care to speak any other language but their own. English is an EXTREMELY important factor to success in Korea. You must take an English exam to enter college and then almost all jobs require you take an English exam. Your score, of course, determines your success. Even before the college exam, students must take high school entrance exams which consist of all subjects, including English. Their high school entrance exam will place them in the "appropriate" school based upon their test scores. The students that prove to do well on their tests will be placed in a top high school while..well, you know the rest. When students apply for college, their high school plays a BIG role in where they will be accepted. The Korean school system (Korean life system for that matter) is all based on tests. They don't receive grades for homework, for in class work, or for participation; they receive grades based on tests. If you want to do anything in Korea, there's a test for it--including getting hired anywhere. Korean students are all too familial with tests and they also understand how important it is to "learn" English (many can read and write but few can speak) in order to get ahead in this world (Korea).

Speaking of division, the Korean system loves division. I teach 7th and 8th grade students. While I do teach boys and girls together, there is still division in the system. My 8th grade students are divided up by 3 levels: low, intermediate, and advanced. The difference between the classes is drastic! I'm going to allow you to use your common sense to configure how the three classes are different. All in all, I am enjoying my time here and I really like the school and the school staff.

That is the major update. Unfortunately, I've done some small things that I had wanted to share but now have forgotten about so in order to avoid this from happening again, I am going to take my mother's advice and make frequent small posts, for both you and me. Win, win.

One more thing I want to share that was a big part of my life. For 2 months, I fostered a Siberian Husky named Hanul. She was a rescue dog that was found chained up in a busy shopping district of Seoul. Some volunteers had been working to rescue her for a year before I found an advertisement looking for someone to foster her. I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her chained up, living in filthy conditions next a a sewer drain. She was filthy and needed to be set free. I stepped up and took her in as a foster dog. She was there as a guard dog but was far from having a respectable resume for a guard dog. She is SO sweet, kind, loving, never barks, and just wants to run free and love life. She had a terrible ear infection and I soon found out that the bill for an animal doctor is about ten times (if not more) expensive than that of a human doctor's bill. Aside from her ear infection, she was clean. I realized that I'm in no place to be a dog owner (or a mother!) any time soon but for 2 months, I had an amazing companion that I now miss dearly. Since leaving me, she was sent to her forever home in America where she is living on a 20-acre farm in Virginia. She's finally living the life that she deserves. :-)

Also, my sister came to visit me in Korea. We had a great time together and traveled to Ko Phi Phi, Thailand. Southern Thailand was breathtaking. The landscape is incredible and I kept asking myself, 'Am I really here????' Phi Phi was PACKED with tourists, though. Most were European though we did manage to come across a couple other Americans. We spent our days exploring the islands, snorkeling, rock climbing, cliff jumping, lounging, camping, and taking it all in. It was even more incredible to see my sister and spend the holidays with her. There's no love like family love.

Cheers to a new year and sticking to my resolution.

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love that you're back to blogging...but don't forget the short part of the resolution...good for you...good for reader! XOX