some thoughts on my last day at work

23 Aug

Seriously, man, I’m really awful at this blogging thing. I haven’t even updated my LiveJournal since January, and I used to post on that thing religiously! I’ll probably end up doing some more posts about stuff that’s happened since May, but today I just want to talk about my year in Korea, in general terms.

On my first day at work, Daegu was hit with a typhoon, and it rained a ton and I got lost coming out of Sangin station and then I didn’t end up having to teach anything because we had a “typhoon day” and the kids just sat in their homerooms and studied or something. Today it rained, too (though not nearly as heavily), and I felt a little odd – things coming full circle, and all that. I wore the same shoes today that I wore on the first day of school last August, but today I took the bus to school. (I’ve gotten so much better at navigating the bus routes in Daegu in the last couple of months.) Today I felt no awkwardness or apprehension, just… same old, same old. I don’t think everyone knows that it’s my last day. Actually, I know not everyone knows it’s my last day, because I told one of my co-teachers it was my last day of work at Sangwon High School and she was absolutely shocked.

Whoops.

I probably should have snuck into the faculty meeting on Monday and mentioned to the staff that I would be leaving, but I didn’t want to interrupt or anything so I just stayed in my office. I’ll probably wander around school sometime before I leave today and say my thank-yous and goodbyes.

It’s weird. I don’t feel very sad. I thought I would feel sadder. Maybe because leaving America was so hard (like, “bursting into hysterical tears every time I thought about leaving my mother alone”-hard), and I cried when I left my job at the mall… I expected it would be a similar experience. I did cry randomly last week after receiving a message from my co-teacher; kind of glad I was alone in the office for that, haha.

Mostly I just feel like it’s time to leave. Tomorrow I’m taking the bus from Daegu to Incheon Airport, where I’m leaving my big suitcases for a couple of days while I visit my friend in Seoul and get in some last-minute fun, and then Tuesday afternoon I’m flying out. Normally I’m very stressed before a flight, but I’m just overcome with a sense of readiness. I’m a little nervous about going home and readjusting and being unsure about what the future holds, but I feel like every molecule in my body is just ready to be back in America. I loved my time in Korea; I will probably always view this country as a second home of sorts, and I look forward to coming back to visit. But I think one thing that was hammered home in Korea was that I am a foreigner. I’ll always be a foreigner in Korea, and I guess that’s okay. As an American, I feel like I’ve grown up in a culture that doesn’t particularly prize self-awareness over any other virtue, but I think being in Korea made me more aware of the fact that I’m an American. Not in the sense that I have any sort of national pride (I don’t, really, although I’ve found I don’t particularly like being judged based on the country in which I was born), but it gave me a greater sense of appreciation for American culture and how diverse it is.

I think that might be the thing I’ve missed the most about home. Korea is very Korean, obviously. Less than 3% of the population is non-Korean. Everyone speaks Korean, eats Korean food, and watches Korean TV programs and films. People definitely participate in multicultural activities and eat food from other countries, etc, but what I’m trying to get at is that this country has a very unified culture. Which is cool! I think being in Korea is a very different experience for Americans in particular, because American culture is very multifaceted thanks to the multitudes of people from different backgrounds who contribute to our society. Neither is better, they’re just different. It’s been an interesting year in that regard. Frustrating, at times, but generally positive.

I’ve already got a few jobs lined up at home, just my old part-time jobs, so I can save up money for graduate school and readjust to living in the U.S. before I take that big leap. I’m excited to get back into the classroom as a student. I think being a teacher was a weird experience for me because I’ve always enjoyed being a student so much. As much as I have a tendency to slack off and not do all of my work when it needs to be done, I have always enjoyed learning and reading and talking about different topics with people. I’m hoping I can pull myself together and get rid of the bad habits that plagued me in college before starting graduate school. My Korean studies have made me a little bit better at sticking to a schedule (which is good, because I plan to continue studying in America, just for fun), so I’m hoping for some good results when I start working on my Masters.

This blog isn’t over – I still have way too many pictures on my phone that need to be transferred and uploaded and written about here (Girls’ Generation concert! EXO fansign! Jeju! Seoul! Other stuff that I can’t recall at the moment!) so keep watching. And in the event I make it back to Korea someday, I’ll probably write about it here.

Thanks for sticking with me this year. It’s been a blast.

안녕히 가세요!

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오랜만이에요…

10 May

I’m really bad at this blog thing. In my defense, I haven’t updated my private journal either. These days, all I have time or energy for is Twitter (which is private) and Facebook (again… private, for the most part).

Not to say that I’ve been doing anything that interesting in the last couple of months! The new school year began the first week of March (because schools in Korea start in March and end in December, whereas in the U.S. we usually start in August/September and end in May/June) and I’ve been run off my feet with work since then. I’m teaching five more classes this term than I was in the fall because the second graders are split differently this term, and I have another class with the Korean English teachers as well. Last semester, my second grade classes were split into three rotating groups of four classes, where I’d teach the advanced class the first week, the intermediate kids the second week, and last, the lower level. This semester, there are four groups of four classes, leveled A, B, C, and D. So instead of having four classes each week, I have eight: A/B the first week, and C/D the second week. This is good, because I see my students every other week instead of every three weeks now. It means I have to create a few more lesson plans for this semester, but so far my new lessons have gone over relatively well… I’ve done classes on film studies, how to get around at the airport, American regional foods, and American colleges, and I think at least some of the students have found them engaging.

My first graders are new this year and I’m getting to know them better, now that we’re halfway through the term. (They had midterm exams last week, actually.) We get along pretty well. I had my open class for this semester two weeks ago with a group of first-grade girls and it went swimmingly. I’ve instituted a sticker system to get them to participate better, and it’s sort of working? At any rate, I have a few classes that are doing really well and that’s about all I can ask for, what with teaching, like, a thousand students or something like that. Sometimes I wish there was another NET at the school so we could split the classes and it wouldn’t be so overwhelming, because I feel really bad when students ask me, “Teacher, do you know my name?” and I don’t have an answer for them. It’s not that I don’t care, and I don’t want them to think I just see them as numbers on a seating chart. It’s just that I see them for fifty minutes a week once a week (and once every other week, if class isn’t canceled for exams, for my second graders) and that’s not enough time for me to match names to faces. I am getting better at remembering names, but mostly just for the kids who participate more (or the kids who act up, unfortunately). I can usually remember which class a student is in if I see them in the hallway, though, so that’s… something. 😐

At the behest of one of my co-teachers, I’m also teaching an extra class twice a week from 8:10-9:00 p.m. to help some of the first graders practice their English listening skills. I don’t mind, because they don’t misbehave (I mean… they requested the extra help, so obviously they’re serious about improving), and it’s a little extra money. I’ve been awful at saving money and if doing two hours of overtime a week helps me pull in an extra couple hundred thousand won, it’s fine by me. I’m also working at the DMOE Global Cultural Festival again in a few weeks for some extra money. I enjoyed it in the fall, and it’s four hours out of my Saturday morning, no big deal. I spent a lot of money this month (tickets to see Super Junior’s Sungmin in Jack the Ripper, tickets for Dream Concert, tickets for Girls’ Generation… lots of tickets) so having a buffer sounds really good right about now.

I’ve been studying Korean really hard lately. I finished the Sogang University Korean 2A course a couple of weeks ago, and 2B started last Thursday. Lots of grammar, but I’m really amazed at how much more I understand the language than I did back in January. Doing the intensive courses is really challenging, but it’s something I enjoy. I even managed to write a pretty long fan letter to Baekhyun of EXO for his birthday, which is next week. My Korean teacher helped me correct it… a little embarrassing, but I’m kind of proud of myself that I’m able to communicate well enough for a native to understand, even if it’s only in writing. My speaking still has a way to go, but I feel more comfortable having a simple, sustained conversation than I did five months ago. 🙂

I haven’t done a whole lot outside of school and Korean lessons lately, since by the time the weekend rolls around I basically want to lie in bed and never get up, but I did have two big trips in the last two months that I should probably mention:

1. Super Show 5

One of my favorite K-Pop groups is Super Junior, and on March 23rd and 24th I went to see them perform in Seoul. It was basically one of the greatest weekends of my life. I went with Lena and Stacey. There were two shows, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, so on Saturday we had tickets for the seated section, and Sunday we planned to be in the standing section. The two of them had tickets for standing already, so I had to haul my ass back out to the Olympic Park at 7 a.m. Sunday and wait in line until 1:30 p.m. for a ticket. Obviously I managed to get one!! I met some nice German fans in line as well, haha. There were lots of people from Japan and China… SJ aren’t very popular in Korea but they have a lot of fans in other Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

Anyway, the concert was amazing. Great setlist: Mr. Simple, 미인아, Super Girl, 너라고, Sexy Free & Single, Bad Girl (Boom Boom), Club No. 1 (which was ridiculously hot and should be banned in several countries because it was basically obscene and I loved every second of it, especially on day 2 when I was this close to Donghae at the front of the stage), Henry’s new song “Cold” (performed with Donghae, Eunhyuk, and Siwon), Kangin’s solo, Kyuhyun/Zhou Mi/Sungmin/Ryeowook covering Michael Bolton’s “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?”, and Yesung’s solo. Then things got a bit weird – Donghae, Eunhyuk, and Shindong did the Harlem Shake (which I still haven’t actually watched on Youtube, w/e), and then there was a crossdressing stage where Siwon did Son Dam-Bi’s “Saturday Night,” Ryeowook covered S.E.S. Bada’s “Loving You,” Kangin was Brown Eyed Girls’ Ga-In for “Bloom” (RIDICULOUSLY HOT JESUS CHRIST HE WAS WEARING A GARTER BELT), and Sungmin performed a bit of Hyuna’s “Ice Cream” while doing inappropriate things to a chocolate ice cream cone and he should definitely go to jail for them forever, SOBBBBBBB. Then the four of them danced to Sistar’s “나 혼자” and I just wanted to roll out of my chair and off the planet, lmfao. SO FUNNY.

After that, Super Junior-M (the Mandarin subgroup) had their set, where they performed three songs from their most recent album: Break Down, Go!, and A-Oh. BEST PART OF THE SHOW. SJ-M has all of my favorite people from Suju in it and their last album was so perfect. I just ran around the pit on day 2 waving my Zhou Mi banner and dry sobbing the whole time, lmfao. After SJ-M’s set, the rest of the boys joined in for “Shake It Up!” and “Rockstar,” the latter song in which they trolled the hell out of us. Every time we thought the song was over, they’d come back out screaming “TELL THE DJ, TURN IT UP” and it would just devolve into hip thrusting and headbanging and general debauchery and madness. Then there was the ballad section, which I don’t really care about, and then they dressed up as superheroes and did another song called “Dreaming Hero,” followed by SJ-Happy’s “Sunny” (at which point they taught us a cute little dance to do for the chorus) and the OST track from their film Attack on the Pin-Up Boys “Wonder Boy.” The last bit of the main show was “Marry U,” which all the fans sang (sort of… we forgot the words, lmfao) when they played the background music before the boys came out to perform it for real. Then they left, but came back after a few minutes for the encore: Sorry Sorry, Show Me Your Love (a TVXQ/Suju collab from forever ago), Sapphire Blue (one of my favorite songs, I absolutely shrieked when I heard those opening notes), and So I (a track from their first album).

Honestly, the best part was how much Zhou Mi and Henry (the two members of SJ-M who were added in 2008 and did not feature in the original 13-member SJ lineup) were able to participate compared to past Super Shows. I was so proud of them and happy for them. The second best part was that Zhou Mi made eye contact with me TWICE on day 2. Once during “So I,” when he was standing stage left right in front of my section and I was waving my banner for him and he looked down and nodded at me, and then again when they were going around at the end of the concert saying their goodbyes, and I shouted “ZHOU MI, I LOVE YOU!” and waved my banner again, and he saw me and laughed. I LITERALLY JUMPED UP AND DOWN SHRIEKING WITH GLEE. It was so embarrassing, rofl.

And then I had to go home and teach the next day and I had post-concert depression and and and oppas. 😦 Such a great show. I really hope they come to the States after I go back home. I’d love to see them again in the U.S. ;A;

2. Jindo

Over the last weekend in April I went with Lena and Stacey to the island of Jindo in Jeollanam-do for the Jindo Sea Parting Festival. Every year for a few days, the tide shifts enough that the water level decreases to reveal a ~3km path between Jindo and Modo island, which festival-goers can walk across. There are other traditional Korean festival sights at this festival, like dancing and music and food. We ate a lot of things on sticks. A lot. Jindo is also really famous for the Jindo dog, so we got to see a dog show and play with puppies, which was pretty much the highlight of my weekend, if not my entire time spent in Korea so far. Y’all don’t even know how long it’s been since I got to play with a puppy. 😦

Until next time… I’ll try to write something next week since Dream Concert is this weekend. I’m seeing EXO, SHINee, and SNSD for the first time – if I don’t go into cardiac arrest from the joy of it all, I’m sure I’ll have a lot to talk about.

two months later…

14 Feb

Every time I pull up a new browser window, I stare guiltily at the bookmark for this blog and ask myself when I’m going to bother to write a new post. (Now, I guess.) Not that I have many readers – I mean, at some point all of these “20-something college grads to go Asia” blogs are going to start sounding the same, and who needs to follow 10 of them when you can read one and get the gist of the experience? – but I guess I feel guilty that I’m not documenting it very well for myself. I tend to tweet the funnier things that happen to me, and then forget that said situations ever happened, and that’s the story of how I’m sitting here on a Thursday night wondering what I’ve been doing for the past two months.

Went out to a fancy buffet on New Year's Eve. I was just looking for an excuse to wear this dress, to be honest.

Went out to a fancy buffet on New Year’s Eve. I was just looking for an excuse to wear this dress, to be honest.

This was the first time I wore bb cream... probably won't do it again, I looked like a ghost in some of the pictures at the restaurant.

This was the first time I wore bb cream… probably won’t do it again, I looked like a ghost in some of the pictures at the restaurant.

The answer is not much! With the school year over (as schools in Korea begin their academic year in March and end in December, with supplementary classes running throughout January and third-grade high schoolers graduating in the first two weeks of February), I’ve been deskwarming and doing a lot of studying and thinking about the future. After Christmas (which was pretty rough – probably the loneliest I’ve felt since I’ve been away from home), I decided I won’t renew my contract and I’ll go home at the end of August. I’m preparing for the GRE right now (which is so unbearably tedious, I can’t even begin to explain), since I can take it right here in Daegu at Keimyung University, and looking at grad schools. So far, I like NYU’s Master of Science in Digital & Print Publishing, so that’s my top priority, but I’ve got some other programs on my list as well. I’m aiming to enroll for the Spring 2014 semester, since simultaneously having to decompress from a year abroad and get back into the routine of being a student again seems like a recipe for disaster.

Free hugs from cute Korean guys on Christmas!

Free hugs from cute Korean guys on Christmas!

I made this chicken pot pie for Christmas dinner. It was delicious. Bless Martha Stewart and her pie crust recipe, even if it did call for two sticks of butter.

I made this chicken pot pie for Christmas dinner. It was delicious. Bless Martha Stewart and her pie crust recipe, even if it did call for two sticks of butter.

In the meantime, I’m still studying Korean pretty hard. In January I started the intensive Sogang 1B course at the YMCA, since the regular level course I took from September-December was a little slow for me. I love it. It’s challenging and fast-paced, but I haven’t had problems keeping up, and I’ve noticed my comprehension has been improving by leaps and bounds. I’m still a nervous speaker (although, let’s be honest, I’m not the most eloquent speaker in my native language, either), and I often have to ask people to speak slower (“천천히 말해주세요,” cheoncheonhi malhaejuseyo, is easily one of the most useful phrases in the Korean language to that effect), but my writing looks pretty snazzy and my reading comprehension is much better. It’s getting to the point where I can get the gist of what is being said even if the details are a little fuzzy, and I’m okay with that. This course ends on the 28th, and the 2A level begins on March 7. I’m hoping to get through 3A before I leave, and then I’m going to buy the textbooks for 3B through 5B and continue to study on my own in the States. I don’t suppose Korean is all that practical to keep studying if I’m going to be living in the States for the forseeable future, but I like languages and I still regret not pursuing French more seriously after high school. (On that note, I have this terrible habit of mish-mashing French and Korean in my head when I’m trying to think of how to phrase something in Korean… every time I want to say “but,” I try to say mais instead of 하지만, hajiman. WTF.)

Miju and I went out for lunch and coffee over my vacation in January. Isn't she the cutest?

Miju and I went out for lunch and coffee over my vacation in January. Isn’t she the cutest?

20130204_213424

My Korean class this term! We went out for fried chicken after class a couple weeks ago because Cindy is going back to Canada now that her contract is up. 😦

I haven’t done too much traveling since the end of the fall semester, since it’s been cold and money has been a little tight. (I did manage to pay off two of my credit accounts, so the only obligations I have now are my student loans and one credit card. Finally, I can afford to save money!!!) Lena came to visit me around New Year’s , since neither of us wanted to be alone for the holiday, she hadn’t been to Daegu, and the Korean song festivals (가요대전, gayo daejun) were broadcast that weekend, so I showed her around town and I successfully ordered fried chicken over the phone in Korean for the first time (it helps that I’m probably the only foreigner who goes into that particular restaurant with relative frequency, and that I actually wrote out my address and drew a map for them back in October, even though my apartment is probably a two-minute ride away on a motorbike) and we sat around in my apartment screaming at the TV because SHINee and Super Junior and EXO. It was great.

20130206_110443

졸업식, joreopsik, or the school graduation ceremony. I missed most of it because no one told me when I should go down to the gym… so I just sat in my office… oops.

Speaking of Super Junior, they’re doing a concert in March… conveniently on the weekend I have to take the GRE. GODDAMN YOU, SUJU. I would have gone to both shows if I didn’t have this exam, but it looks like I’ll only be able to make the Sunday matinée. That is, if the fanclub presale doesn’t sell out the whole damn stadium. E.L.F. (Super Junior’s fanclub, which stands for “Ever Lasting Friends,” which is… kind of adorably lame, as are most Korean pop idol fanclub names) is legion. It’s going to sell out in, like, five minutes during the general sale. D: I’m going to let Stacey and Lena flip out about that for me, since they’re the ones buying the tickets so we can all sit together. I’ll just be over here, crossing my fingers and screaming obscenities at GMarket in solidarity. I’m excited, though! It’ll be my first K-Pop concert, since I was never able to go to any of the SMTown concerts they’ve held in the U.S. Hopefully I’ll get to see a Girls’ Generation and SHINee concert before I leave, too. I’ll settle for SMTown, though!

My calendar for the spring semester after I went through and translated all of the Korean to English, haha.

My calendar for the spring semester after I went through and translated all of the Korean to English, haha.

SO ORGANIZED, IT'S TERRIFYING.

SO ORGANIZED, IT’S TERRIFYING.

Other than that, there’s not much going on in the next few weeks. I’m on vacation until the 20th (read: I get to stay home from school and sleep in, since I can’t afford to go backpacking through Southeast Asia or whatever else people do on their vacations here), and I’m going down to Gwangju this weekend to hang out with Lena and Stacey. The new term starts on March 4th, so I have some old lessons to revamp for my new first graders (who I’m really excited to meet!!!) and some new ones to develop for my second graders (I’m thinking about a very basic lesson on film studies… it would give us a lot to talk about for the spring semester speaking tests). I’ll likely be getting some new co-teachers, since Sunyoung left Sangwon and is moving to Seoul. 😦 And I guess the teachers don’t find out which grade they’ll be teaching until just before the term starts, so the co-teachers I have for different grades might switch around as well. Besides school, Katt’s birthday is March 9, so we’ll likely be doing something that weekend… but other than that, I’m just waiting for it to warm up (I’m so over winter right now, although I feel bad for all my friends in the Northeast what with that blizzard), studying my ass off, and trying to sock away some cash. But if anything interesting comes up, I’ll let you guys know…

나중에 봐요!

birthday shenanigans!

16 Dec

I promised a birthday post, so here we go.

On December 3rd (mark it on your calendar and remember it forever), I turned 24. Kind of an unremarkable age; any age between 21 and 30 is pretty unimportant, really. What made it even remotely special was the fact that I got to celebrate it in Korea. Originally I was just going to stick around in Daegu and maybe go out to dinner with a friend or two, but then my friend Vanessa was like, “Hey, my visa is going to expire soon and you should come to Seoul so I can see you,” and I was like, “Well, this sounds like a way better plan.” So I took the KTX up to Seoul after school on Friday and met her at Seoul Station (where she gave me my birthday present – a Baekhyun TMoney card for the subway, and an EXO necklace!), and then we moseyed on over to our guesthouse in Hongdae. (Hongdae Guesthouse, for the record. Very cute, and it’s actually in a building connected to Hongdae Station, so you don’t have to go outside to get to the subway. YESSSS.) I stayed in Hongdae (short for Hongik Daehakgyo, or Hongik University) for a couple nights when I arrived in Korea in August, but I didn’t get to see much of the area (or much of Seoul at all, aside from Gyeongbokgung), so it was nice to just wander around and look at all the stuff. Hongdae is a really cool area; reminds me a lot of downtown Daegu, really – busy but laid-back.

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that time i forgot about my blog for a month

4 Dec

What up, nerds?

Sorry for the radio silence the last few weeks. I feel bad for leaving you guys on a sad note, since I was so bummed out in the last entry, but November has basically been a whirlwind of insanity and I just haven’t had the time or presence of mind to update. Lots of things have happened this month, so I’m just going to recap as quickly as I can with the aid of many, many pictures and videos…

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as the inimitable liz lemon once said, “blarg”

30 Oct

I think I can safely say that this is the first time since I arrived in Daegu that I’ve really felt stressed. My job has its challenges, but it’s not hard – and unlike Korean teachers, I don’t have any administrative tasks to take care of (like one of my co-teachers who is in charge of allocating funds for school lunches or something like that on top of teaching English during the day and after school), and I don’t teach after-school classes, so when 4:30 rolls around, I’m out of there faster than you can say “안녕히 가세요.” I make my lesson plans at the last minute and they never have the kinks worked out of them until about Wednesday. And when I’m not in class, I’m usually messing around on Facebook or Tumblr or watching a TV show online and tweeting relentlessly about my day. (It’s an addiction.)

In some ways I feel like a fraud, and I suppose it makes sense that the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education is cutting back on the number of foreign teachers it employs – I don’t feel all that qualified to be responsible for someone’s education, especially when there’s such an emphasis on English education. And okay, maybe I’m overstating how important I actually am, in the grand scheme of things – these kids see me once a week, maybe once every three weeks with second graders, and I’m just there to make things fun or teach them something practical and not related to grammar or learning an absurd number of SAT-level vocabulary words (seriously, some of the words I’ve seen in my students’ notes are just… totally unnecessary to speaking the English language). The thing is, I really enjoy it, for the most part. I have a couple of classes that make me want to dive out the window on occasion, and yeah, sometimes it’s awkward to talk to a room full of teenagers when half of them are sleeping, but they can be so sweet at times that it more than makes up for it. I’m administering speaking exams for my second graders at the moment, and the boys are kind of hilarious… one of them brought me a candy last Thursday before he and his partner started their dialogue, another pair today decided to use me in their sketch (“Wow… she is really beautiful! You should introduce me to her!” Commence me slumping over the desk and cackling like a crazy person), and another couple of guys asked for my input on whether I prefer high or low male voices (low, I said, when it comes to rap – they were talking about Epik High and Tablo vs. Mithra. I just couldn’t stop thinking about Park Chanyeol, which makes me hate myself, rofl). I don’t know, man, they’re just really adorable (I can’t believe I’m using that word to describe 16-year-olds; teenagers are pretty much the furthest thing from adorable, and I say that having been one not too long ago). I can’t help but wonder, however, whether I’m doing them a disservice in my teaching, as much as I enjoy it.

I guess the self-doubt is bugging me lately because tomorrow is my Critical Friends Group (CFG) open class, and a rep from the Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education (DMOE) will be there, as well as three fellow EPIK teachers. I’m not really nervous about presenting my lesson in front of them so much as I don’t want to look like a complete tool up there. Which I guess means I’m scared of presenting my lesson. ARG. Whatever. It’s just been making me second-guess myself all week. My lesson is on musical genres and I keep asking myself, “Are these too obscure? How are you going to explain “alternative” music? What kind of vocabulary can they get out of this? Are you teaching them any damn English at all?” And yeah, there’s a vocab portion and they have time to talk in English and answer some pretty basic questions by talking with their partner (“What kind of music are you into?” “If you had a band, what kind of music would you like to play?”). I just don’t know whether I’m spending too much time on the game (guess the genre of the song clip I play) and not enough time… imparting any sort of functional knowledge of English. I mean, the less teacher talking time, the better, and I try to elicit answers from them as often as I can (e.g. “What instruments do you know?” “What genres do you already know?” “If I say a song is ‘catchy,’ what do you think that means?”). I just… blarg. The only reason I worry about this so much is because I want to do good by my students. They like me well enough, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually learning anything… I loved my chem teacher in high school, but nothing he ever said made any sense to me. I’m just concerned, is all.

And the fact that I have nine million other things to do – speaking tests until the middle of December, grading the writing tests from the midterm (twelve classes’ worth, and with an average of about 40 students per class, I just want to jump out the window every time I see the stack looming oppressively on my desk; they aren’t due until the end of November, but still, ugh), looking over The Sangwon Times, our school’s English newspaper (the docs for which I did not get until this morning because I forgot to check my CoolMessenger inbox yesterday, and it’s all due back with corrections tomorrow) – is not helping. And I keep forgetting to start working on my EPIK in-service online training. And I really need to clean my apartment and maybe buy some food. And I’m always freaking out about money, but I’m even more on edge because my first student loan bill came in this week. Oh, and yesterday while I was walking to the subway after school I tripped and went flying in, like, a full-body splat on the pavement in front of a bunch of students. Scraped the hell out of my elbow, knees, and hands, and I had to suffer the indignity of people who, in theory, respect me seeing it. A couple of boys helped me up, at least, and picked up the stuff I’d dropped, which was nice. But this is the second time in two weeks I’ve essentially faceplanted in front of students and I would really like it to stop please and thank you. 😐

Sorry this entry is so mopey, I’m just feeling a little anxious lately and needed to vent. It’ll blow over after tomorrow, I think, and at least I’m busy all week/end! Tomorrow’s pub night and trivia, Thursday I have plans to see some live music with a couple of friends, Friday I’m seeing Don Giovanni, which is being performed as part of the Daegu International Opera Festival, Saturday is English Club, and Sunday I might pop by the Daegu Food Expo for lack of anything else to do. Stacey and Lena are coming in a couple of weeks for early Thanksgiving, the school festival is coming up soon, and I’m helping with this global English festival the DMOE is hosting on the 24th. And I’ve been invited to my first Korean wedding on the 25th, so I’m really excited for that. Hoping things start looking up, mood-wise, after this week is over. 🙂

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you only live once… obviously

14 Oct

YOLO is a pretty stupid phenomenon, but I admit that the whole carpe diem thing has got me trying stuff I normally wouldn’t, or makes me do things even when I feel like I’m too tired or maybe don’t especially want to. Because sometimes there really is only one chance to do these things, and I’d be angry at myself if I didn’t at least try. Case in point: My school is on a half-day schedule due to midterm exams, so I got out of work around noon on Thursday. Thursday was also the opening ceremony of Korea’s 93rd Annual National Sports Festival, which is being held in Daegu this year. And who else but Psy would be performing at the opening ceremony! I’m pretty sick of “Gangnam Style,” and I’m not a Psy fan in the least (not that I dislike him, I’m just… indifferent, as usual), but they were giving out free tickets starting at 2 p.m. on Thursday at Daegu Stadium, and I had the afternoon off… I would have felt like a complete loser if I didn’t at least try to get a ticket. So I ran home, shoveled down some lunch, and made my way to Daegu Stadium.

(Can I just say that the green line on the subway takes so much longer than the red line? The distance between the stations is astonishingly long, I was getting so annoyed sitting on the train.)

Of course, I wasn’t the only one with that idea, unfortunately… when we arrived at Daegu Grand Park station, literally 80% of the passengers got off the train. I ran up the steps while everyone was waiting on the escalator, then hoofed it up a good six flights of stairs to the surface. By the time I got to the bus stop, I was half dead, and people were crowding all around the bus stop trying to cram onto the 939 bus that stopped a few minutes later. Korean buses are pretty cramped as it is without shoving, like, fifty people into one, standing room only. The driver could barely close the door, and I was practically sitting in this ahjumma‘s lap. (An ahjumma, for the record, is a middle-aged woman.) Luckily, the stadium was only about a five-minute drive from the station. But by the time we arrived (maybe 2:20), the tickets were all gone. Some fellow handed me a ticket stub, and an ahjussi (middle-aged man) tried to explain that maybe I could use it to get into the venue.

Got my hopes up for no reason. 😦 The rest of the ticket (the part that tells you what seat you’re in) was missing.

Turns out I couldn’t. 😐 But hey, I tried. So I took the bus back to the station and took the train downtown to Dongseongno, one of the main streets in downtown Daegu (the other being Jungangno), bought myself a smoothie, and wandered around for the rest of the afternoon. As consolation I bought myself some makeup and even took myself to see the SM Town Live in Tokyo 3D film playing at the CGV in Lotte Young Plaza, which was really fun, especially since I was one of two people in the theatre (the other being an ahjussi, which was… weird. He was probably there for Girls’ Generation, which creeps me out the most; their “uncle” fans give me the wig), so I could sing along without fear of being heard by anyone nearby. I can’t wait to actually see a K-Pop concert in real life. I’m thinking of going to Seoul sometime in November to watch a taping of one of the music shows when one of my favorite groups starts promoting a new song, but seeing a proper concert is what I’m really excited about. I think Super Junior will start touring Super Show 5 before the end of the year, so that’s something to look forward to (besides seeing Muse in Japan in January).

Friday I got out of school early as well, but I was tired, so I went home, took a nap, and started watching Downton Abbey, which I am now officially obsessed with after having finished the first series. Then I went over to Katt’s and crashed for the night, because Saturday her co-teacher, Jo, and Jo’s friend Minjung picked us up on that side of town to go to Jinju (roughly 1.5 hours away, in Gyeongnam province) for the annual lantern festival. We only went for the day – I got home at about 11:30 last night – but it was a really nice trip. The lanterns were beautiful, Jinju is a very pretty city, and I got to try some Korean food I hadn’t tried before (Jinju bulgogi onmyeon, a type of hot noodle soup with strips of beef in it; traditionally it’s made with beef broth, but in Jinju, the broth is made from anchovies… which perhaps explains why it was not my favorite. Not a big fan of seafood, alas). Here are some pictures:

Today was a pretty lazy day; started watching a new drama (To the Beautiful You, an adaptation of the Japanese drama Hana Kimi starring Minho from SHINee and Sulli from f(x)) and ordered a pizza, since my gas was turned off last week and I can’t use my stove until it’s reconnected. 😐 Hoping they’ll get on that tomorrow or Tuesday. In the meantime, there’s always leftovers and takeout.

I also got to see my mom for the first time in nearly two months today! Not in person, but we did get to Skype – I bought her a webcam and had it shipped home, so now we can actually see each other when we talk. Google Voice was really great (and, you know, free), but it’s nice to actually see the person you’re talking to. 🙂

Going to watch some more Downton Abbey and maybe think about going to bed… tomorrow is the last day of midterms, so I’m going to do some lesson planning in the morning and then come home and go back to sleep. I love exams. ♥

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