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Yesterday is dead….

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Yesterday is dead. Tomorrow is a dream. Today – each today – is where the action is – where all of life occurs. Today IS your life – your only life. Life today to the fullest.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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How can you not love a face like this… when a 2 year old discovers what he looks like and how to use a camera, funny faces were made and continued for hourssss.

Just got notified from WordPress I have achieved my ‘5 followers’ award. How exciting. Thanks to those of you that stick through the long boring ramblings to get to the fun stuff.

Can you believe it is already 2013? I can’t.

Many times living abroad, I have to remind myself to take a step back and realize how thankful and lucky I am to be able to live the life I am living. I could not have done it without the most important people in my life, Pats. Mumsy and Daddy have become such an important role in my life as I am getting older. They are always supportive, no matter if I want to move to some foreign country across the world, or work a dead-end job at home to get me here. I know my mom is probably crying by now reading this, (I’m holding em back too ma, it’s okay), but I do not get enough chances in life to express my thanks. So usually around the New Year is when people take some time to reflect on the past year and yadda yadda. So with this blog, and my free time at work, I am taking this opportunity to reach out the longest arms in the world and hug my parents. There is not enough ways to say that I am so grateful each day that I have two loving parents, together, and healthy. Meeting people from all walks of life abroad, makes you realize that this is a rare occurance as we hit a year. So here it is, Pat and Pat you are my world, my light and my guides and guardians, thank you.

March 1st 2012.
Let’s recap on some posts from last year when I first landed in Korea.
I think my posts were more of a sugar-coated top layer of my experience in Korea. It’s hard to write a blog while at school, hating on school. I am currently counting down the next 37 working days with my other 9 co-workers that are also going to run out of these doors and not turn back on February 28th.
My first month was a shocking experience, settling in, figuring out what the hell I was doing here, why I brought this upon myself, etc.. Oh and how on Earth I was going to survive an entire year.
Here I am January 2013 with a positive attitude, and about to start a new contract and extend my Korean life for another year.

I would say until about month 6, I didn’t know I had such a strong love for Korea. It has it’s ups and downs. Most of the downs involve school, work, co-workers, boss, the bullshit that comes with most jobs, plus a massively gigantic language barrier working at a Korean school.
The ups mostly involve meeting some awesome friends, other expats, Koreans, etc. Exploring Korea, going to festivals, trips, Japan, Philippines, and getting out of the concrete jungle of Seoul we like to call ‘home.’ I cannot express enough how much I love living in Korea. Since it is my first city experience, I think it was a good choice. It is cheap, unlike most major cities, and easy to get around. The English help is average until you look around and speak up, you can get help at every corner and corner store you could dream of… for the most part.

As I’ve written before, I work at a Korean hag won or play school. It is about playing and it is all in Korean. I teach English to all classes for 30-60 minutes each day.
Next year, the school I have signed up for is an English Kindergarten with 16 foreign teachers and Koreans as helpers. Thank the lord. There is a god. I also have two friends that I will be working with and have met most of the other co-workers who are awesome.

I guess I should note that I just returned from a fabulous tropical island vacation in the Philippines. 9 days of sun, summer, mango shakes, and scuba diving was just what I needed to spend Christmas on the beach.

20130108-150116.jpgTaking a motorbike to the north of Malapascua to see some deserted beaches and spend day with two beaches and just us 3.

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Just after returning from a 4am Thresher Shark dive. saw 8 sharks. Definitely one of my diving highlights, life highlights, 2012 highlights, etc. AMAZINGGGG.

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Leaving Malapascua 5am. Last mango for god knows how long I’ll enjoy one of those in a tropical remote island like Malapascua. Paradise.

We returned to Seoul to ring in the New Year around 10pm and got here safe and sound just in time to be atthe bar by midnight. Phew. That was a close call.

Side notes/life reminders:
-boss (will probably never know her real name, that is what she is and forever will be known as to me) paid us 6 days late in December and returned 5 days after Christmas break was over for the rest of us. My smart coworkers put it together before she returned, plastic surgery. And indeed she returned, new face, new nose, botox, lips, the whole 9. Classic Korean move.

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One of my lovely elementary students. She is the brightest I have. And even got a name change, Kaylee. Love her still.

-my friend Geoff comes tonight for about a month or so. Who knows. But I am very off the walls excited to have a familiar face around. It is going to be so surreal to meet him later and have him stay with me!
-This is coldest winter in a long time Korea has witnessed. Today was a mild 12 on my way to work this morning and will go up to 28 today. Lucky me.

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Wasn’t joking about that… This was forecast for the week I returned from the Philippines. Yes this is Fahrenheit. Woot.

-Jen, Jenna and I will be living together come mid-feb and we are currently house hunting. It is quite complicated/backwards like most things in Korea, and we are told to only return to the Realtors two weeks before we want to move in and find a place. Go figure. Since our new school will pay for everyyyythinngggg It is not much worry for us, except to find our ideal dream home.

Signing off for now, I will try and make it my new years resolution to write again.

As I posted last March on my very first post in this blog:

“You’re on your own. and you know what you know. and you are the one who’ll decide where to go…” Dr. Seuss.

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Philadelphia Cream Cheese ad in Costco. Represent!

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Goodnight from the 5 year old Mond class. I told them to go to sleep. They listened. First time for everything.

Then I turned into an art teacher

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Prior to Christmas season, I started crafting during Halloween. It became a bit of a hobby of mine, to fine new crafts and stuff during my free time at work, thanks to pinterest!  These are just a few of my creations. I should update the rest soon…

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Haba Play School

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Friday Birthday Party 🙂

 

 

Hello again! So sorry to my three readers that I have not update in some time. As far as comments show, I have three special readers, Mom, Aunt Gail, and Colleen 🙂 And a shout out to Nicole who also left a comment before. Thank you all for the motivation to keep my monthly update.. ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ (that is text laughing in Korean) sounds like K sound kkkkkkk

This week at the haba hagwon nightmare of an institution, I call my job, we had parent observations. After a little post on facebook about this said experience, a traveling friend I met last year, Chris put it perfectly ‘That is the day I realized I will never be able to teach in Korea again.’

It is a tramatizing experience. The homeroom teacher of the class or a Korean English teacher, and myself, with 8-11 kids depending on the class and their parents, grandparents, and housemaids snuggled into one little classroom. Oh how darling this week was. Due to the extreme hangover look in this photo, I treated myself to some ladies’ night at the local bar (free drinks 10-12 for ladies) after this was all said and done. Tuesday had 1 and 1/2 hours of observing and Thursday was 2 hours straight. 4 classes, 30 minutes each. My cousin Justin asked for an explanation of why I recently commented about the Korean school system vs. the American school system. I’m sure you can find this on your local google page, but I think I will try to make a more personal experience for him and those others interested.

I work at a private school in Korea. I attended public school my entire life in America. Korean private schools are also called hagwons, academies, etc. My school has children 3-7 which is Korean age (1 year older than American age, when you are born you are one, and everyone turns a year older when it is a new year, nothing in Korea makes sense, trust me, just bare with me). So the children are technically 2-6 years old. The school day begins at 8:40 when the first bus load of students arrive and the latest stay till 6 pm. This is also a kindergarten, so I guess it would be more considered full time daycare for the 2 year old class. I do not teach the 2 year olds, but I do teach 3-6 years old, daily. The school is entirely taught in Korean. There are 10 teachers plus me. There are also two assistants for the younger classes, one in the 2 year old, and one in the 3 year olds. The biggest class is 13 students. So there are roughly 55 students in the school.  It is definitely a small school and more of a homey type for the children, or that is what the idea is I suppose.

This week for parent observations I got to see first hand how ridiculous the hagwon title is. Parents pay a minimum of 700,000 korean won and a maximum of 1,000,000 won per month for their children. That is easily converted to USD as  1 million won is $904.00. For the two weeks prior to the parents coming, my boss watched every class I taught tweeking and changing just about everything I thought I was going to be doing for the parents. We had to make obnoxiously large posters and display boards for games and activities we had to do to make it appear like the students were having a ridiculously fun time. We had to be extremely cheerful, loud, and happy the entire time. We were not allowed to directly discipline students, remind them not to speak Korean, or do anything they would see as negative, like we are usually told to do during normal class time. I created correography to many songs and stories that we read. I wish I had pictures. I even made little headbands with different animals on each for the students to wear and participate in one of the stories. Farmer and the Carrot. A story about a farmer trying to pull up a huge carrot from the ground so called all his animals for help. And one by one they came up and helped the farmer (me) pull up a huge carrot. Then while the parents were here, we gave them some real carrot to eat when we pulled it up. These kids are 5. It was cute, everyone loved it, crowd pleaser, yadda yadda. We also did songs and dances like itsy bitsy spider, I’m a little teapot, and those are the only popular ones you would know of. Our cirriculum is made entirely of stories, songs, chants, poems, and action activities. It is good way to learn English, have students memorize stories and songs and dances for two months and bam move up to next level whether they are on track or not, right? Wrong!

I was never a fan of school as a kid. As I grew older I remember trying to avoid it at all costs some days. I am pretty clueless and I will be the first one to admit, how the American school system operates. I do know that many people like myself come to Korea with the intention of gaining experience and going home to America, Canada, and other English speaking countries and find that there is such a huge difference, Korea is not technically ‘teaching.’ I am aware of that. For some reason also, I was always the kid to say ‘When I grow up I want to be a teacher.’ Probably had something to do with the fact that I idolized my older cousin Kirsten and she is probably a fantastic teacher. I do not think that is the path the big man up there had for me. I am okay with that, unfortunately my career path did not come with a Plan B. So that is something I need to figure out.

Korean schools make me laugh. Parents pay a shit ton (excuse me) of money for a ridiculous puppeteer show. I have had my picture taken numerous times, been interviewed, classes filmed, recorded. I have been published in multiple magazines, a newspaper, and various publications. My PICTURE is the most important part of my job. Thanks for the blonde hair pats it’s really working to my advantage this year. Baaahaha.

I knew what it was like when I applied and they required a picture and skype interview to make sure I was really the person I said I was. Only in Korea (asia).

I’ll end with this. I recently attended this Stand-up Comedy night in Gangnam (yes Gangnam is a real place). It is basically a bunch of expats like myself poking fun at the world around us, Korea and Koreans to be exact. This one guy put it quite well. He said something along the lines of, If you look around and see a 6 year old wearing heels and ask why is there a 6 year old wearing heels. You replace Why with of course and everything will make much more sense. Of course there is a 6 year old wearing heels. Only in Korea.

Much love xoxo

p.s. I’m staying another year 🙂