Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween, in pictures

Part of this whole Korea idea is to get myself out doing things that I wouldn’t normally do.  Halloween is one of those things.  I love the holiday in concept but I am not the dressing up and going out kind of girl.  I much prefer to help get the kids in costume, then play with trick-or-treaters and eat candy all night. 

My Kids

My students are starting a pen pal project with a teacher friend back in the States. This is one of my favorite classes. This was also my first video attempt so please pardon that it's not perfect cinematography.
video

Friday, October 29, 2010

HangMan

hangmanAfter playing HangMan most of today I am completely certain of one thing - these children have never seen Wheel of Fortune.  R S T L N E - The most popular letters in the English language, yes? Ask any 10 year old Korean child and the first letters they come up with are U, H, W, and G.  I’ve never seen a game of HangMan take so long. By the end, the little hangman guy had eyes, ears, a mouth, fingers and toes.  It’s absolutely silly.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Tale of the Tom’s

As you know each of my students have both a Korean and an English name.  I know them solely by their English names of course. Every day each class begins with a vocabulary test and I request they put both Korean and English names at the top of the paper.  I think this is a most basic request but yet it is met by fire every time I say it.  I don’t care. When it is time to pass the tests back to the students I am sincerely grateful for the English names so I make them do it anyway. They don't understand how much it helps me, but really it makes the process much quicker for everyone involved.  (Please note, the Korean name is not spelled out like Kim Soe Jung, it looks more like 접어들었, so yes, I think that’s a fair request.)

Today my 7th graders decided to play a trick on me.  I received the tests back and had 8 with the name Tom.  Coincidentally, I also have 8 little boys in my class.  That was cute.

It’s one of my more fun classes so all I could do was laugh.  I have to give them credit, they are the first class that had the guts to do it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

B is for Blood Type

I kept myself up watching Sex and the City reruns until the wee hours of the morning last night so it was rough when I woke up early to visit the bank today. This was my first time having to exchange money here so I was a tiny bit nervous. When I first arrived I just did a quick ATM withdrawal, that was easy. On Andrea’s recommendation I went to KB Bank.
HPIM0292
I was more than concerned about how this transaction was going to take place given that I speak no useful Korean, have my passport but not my foreigner/alien registration card yet, and I still don’t have a bank account either.  Goodness knows no bank in the States will help you with directions, let alone financial issues, if you don’t have an account with them.  I couldn’t convince myself to drag someone to help me so early so I went alone.  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Easy Life

Hi. I’m back. I know you missed me, it’s been a whopping 48 hours since my last post.  I’m trying to keep up with this as a diary to myself, but I hope that you are enjoying the story along the way.

This weekend was quiet, I didn’t do much at all.  I found a new park for Charlie so that was good. The one they originally showed me to take him to was all pavement and bricks, with a few park benches.  That is not a park.  While Charles has no problem, ummm, taking care of business on the pavement, I just don’t think it gives a good impression of us to the locals.  I did a little more exploring and found a very nice little park just a few more blocks away.  It’s still not by any means what you or I would consider a “park”, but I am living in the downtown district so it’s really the best I can expect. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

First Week in Review

I flew half way around the world with my dog. A feat not to be taken lightly.

I have found the local Starbucks, KFC and Krispie Creme but I have yet to find a McDonald’s.  That’s a bit disappointing.

I learned my first Korean word.

I learned my first Korean cuss word too.

I ate real Korean food, sitting on the floor of a real Korean restaurant.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lily

Thursday I got a new student.  Like new to the academy, not just new to me.  The fun part of new students is that if they don’t have their English name chosen yet I get to name them.

Each student gets to pick their English name when they start with our academy and they can choose anything they want.  There are several named Amy, Sunny, David, and Jon.  Those are the most popular from what I can see. There is the occasional Batman, Superman, and I have a Simpson in one of my classes.  Yes, named after The Simpsons.  They are hugely popular here. I also have a Harry P but I think that may be an unintentional reference.

Korea is like College

The part of college I never really experienced.

We all went out for Korean BBQ after work last night, all 35 of us.  It was pretty fantastic. As with most other places, you kick your shoes off at the door then go find a seat on the floor.  Here are some pictures…  Everybody likes pictures.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Korean Food

I did it. All by myself.  I was walking Charlie tonight after work and there was a street vendor set up right outside.  That was the first time I’ve seen them so I took it as a sign.  On our way back from the park I stopped to see what they had.  We played a short game of miming and back and forth “spicy?” “not spicy” and the wife played with Charlie. Then I walked away with food. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fresh. Tasty. Safe.

That was on the package of my lunch today.  The only three English words.  I think it’s time to go find that grocery store.

Today was great!  I am stupid-happy here.  It’s only been 5 days but I am absolutely in love with South Korea.  Of course it helps that I am doing my dream job, living the dream of a downtown high-rise, and adoring the people here. 

Teaching today was really fun. I am so thankful that I didn’t request elementary.  My youngest class is 2nd grade and it is two girls.  They are absolutely adorable but the speech is so limited that it was really hard for me. We read A LOT and they taught me how to count to 5 in Korean. I consider that a successful class.

Park It

“park it” (pahrk it) verb. - a request, usually from a parent or teacher, to put your rearend back in that chair right now! also know as - the English term I inadvertently taught my 7th graders today. 

Whoops. 

It’s incredibly easy to forget that all the expressions and slang that I have heard all my life are brand new to these kids.  I could walk into any rowdy American classroom, say “park it”, and every student would know the expectation immediately.  In Korea, instead of finding their seat the two students (and the other 8 in the class) all turned and stared in amazement.  They spend so much time learning vocabulary and pronunciation that they are so eager to learn the fun stuff- the slang and western expressions.  And this one was cool.  Apparently.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Training is for Rookies

Yesterday was my first day.  Around 12:30, Patricia, the girl that I am replacing came over to bring me some texts books that I could look through. She helped me with a few questions I had about my apartment and then told me she was leaving in about 12 hours.  I’m sorry, what?

Yep, first night and I was the teacher.  Awesome.

I went in today at 3 today, instead of 4, to get acquainted with the school.  I met Mrs Yu who is the director/head chief/something of the school.  She spoke very little English but was absolutely lovely.  One of the first things she said to me was ‘You were the one who worked at Disney World, yes?”  Disney.  It gets you the job every time.  She hugged me at least 4 times and told people, in Korean of course, that I seemed very nice and she was pleased.  Yay! There was also a staff meeting for all the Korean teachers so they wanted to introduce me to everyone.  I have no idea what was said but everyone was smiling and nodding so I think it was good.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Wiener Dog and the Case of the Missing Cupcakes

I should know better by now. Really I should. After 7 years together we are pretty well versed in each other’s weaknesses.

So after walking Charlie this morning I made a quick run to the store for things to make breakfast and we tried our first “trust (leave him out of the kennel) exercise”.  I came back to an almost empty box of cupcakes on the floor.  From the looks of it tiramisu was his favorite.  Funny, that was probably going to be my favorite too.

At the store this morning I was able to practice my new word, “hello” in Korean.  That went over well.  The clerk smiled and said I did “good!” I’m finding my way slowly. They definitely appreciate you more here when they can tell you are making an attempt at learning their way of life.

Oh, and the chocolate chip cookie the man gave me at the cupcake shop? It may have been the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever had. wow.

Day 2

Ok, I have to admit, I’m a bit stressed out that I’ve been here 36 hours and the only person I’ve seen since arrival is my director yesterday. And that was only for 30 minutes. My first day at work is tomorrow so that will definitely help but I guess this is the truest test of whether or not I can make it here on my own. This is definitely not for everyone.  If I hadn’t brought Charles I would have lost my mind by now. The blogging is definitely going to slow down once I get my internet set up and start work but right now I haven’t got much else to do.

Fearless

I guess it was the six months of planning that went into this whole Korea thing but I’ve never been nervous. I’ve had my moments of apprehension but literally they were moments never lasting more than a few minutes. I realize there are many of you out there whose initial reaction was less than trusting about this idea. I had my doubts too. Not about the stability of Korea, but about the stability of Amy. I mean really, I’m the girl that can’t be on-time to save her life, I lose my cell phone at least four times everyday, and my socks never match. Moving to South Korea, really?  and taking Charles?!?!  hahahaha

However, I’m also the girl that’s always been fearless.  Always.

The Trip Over, Part 2

The Asiana flight, all 13 hours of it, was pretty fantastic.  United needs to take some notes.  I was constantly fed, given slippers within the first 5 minutes in the air, and had an impressive selection of movies/music to entertain me.  Needless to say, I was pleased.

I was seated next to this woman likely to be in the  65-80 range, more towards the latter if I was guessing, and this woman is all Korean.  No westernization here. She obviously doesn’t know a word of English which is fine because I don’t know a word of Korean. Her clothes were 14 different kinds of mismatched and by the time I found my seat she already had her bright pink tennis shoes kicked off revealing her knee highs firmly planted at the ankles.  Language barrier or not, I knew right away that we were going to have a lovely flight together.

The Trip Over, Part 1

Several people have asked me to write about 30 hour trip over here.  About half way through, I knew I had too.  It was just too funny not share. This is probably going to be pretty long so I am breaking it up for ease of reading.  Nobody wants a novel/blog. 

Flash back to two weeks ago when I received my itinerary.  3 flights.  ugh.  St Louis to Denver, Denver to L.A., L.A. to Seoul.  Leave St Louis at 6am October 14, arrive in Seoul 6pm on October 15 and then a 3 hour bus trip to Daejeon.  Not awesome.  I am flying to the other side of the globe and someone else is buying my ticket so of course I say “It’s perfect!” Now that I knew the airlines I was finally able to start researching how in the world I was going to get my animal here with me.  Long story short, airline websites are great!  Tons of information about traveling with your pet.  Just for clarification you should call the airline because they are going to tell you that everything you just read online was WRONG.  They will give you much more really helpful information.  Fun part is, when you arrive at the airport at 4am they will tell you that both sources were shockingly, very wrong.  Thankfully I had done so much research on  my own and I have a wonderful vet that helped with Charlie’s paperwork so I had everything perfectly in order.  Originally L.A.X. was supposed to be a food/potty/sedative break. The airlines had a different plan at check-in. Poor kid.  He just went from plane to plane with my luggage.  I left him 4am (Oct 14) in St Louis and didn’t see him again until 7:15 pm (October 15) in Seoul.  In real time, that’s about 25 hours in a kennel with only one 8-hour sedative.  He made it though, safe and sound. :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Pursuit of Happyness

I realize there are millions of people all over the world going through terrible struggles and heartache everyday and that most everyone, hopefully, is working towards finding their happy place. I would never want to compare my self-induced drama to other’s true and real devastations that are out of their control or their ability to fix. I can fix mine, it just takes a little bit of out of the box thinking.  It is very uncharacteristic of me to get personal on such a public format, well really on any format, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone reading this that the last 12 months in the world of Amy have been very difficult. Somewhere in between belting out Kelly Clarkson’s angry girl lyrics repeatedly and watching the public education system go up in smoke, I realized if anything were to change I was going to have to make it happen. It was time to make a decision.  Either 1. Give up the dream of what you were born to do (at least temporarily) and make a new plan or 2. Find a more creative way to do it. Enter Stage Right - South Korea.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The 3 C’s

Chinese food, a crappy hotel room, and cable.  I’m simply in heaven.

I’d be remiss to not acknowledge that my 7 year tenure in Orlando is ending almost exactly how it began-eating Chinese food somewhere in Georgia with everything I own packed up in my car and fiercely holding my breath until it’s time to make the next big step.  Last time it was only weeks after graduation and I was so anxious and excited to begin my career that I had been planning for so long…  This time it’s anxiety and excitement in unbelievable proportions as I prepare to adjust to life on the opposite side of the planet for a year.