Friday, May 30, 2014

From Spring to Summer with So Much to Do!

I decided to have some photos taken! © j i m i z e l l : p h o t o g r a p h y

It's Spring now, and the weather has really improved drastically! My life is just moving along, as usual.

I have been transitioning to my new job pretty well, and it has definitely been a big change. There is also a lot more work, but I really love it! Most of my kids are well-behaved and eager to learn. Having my own kids and classroom really makes a difference, because I can develop a real relationship with every student and watch them all progress. This works wonders with classroom management as well, because I can put real procedures in place that the kids and I follow every single day. I love all of my second-graders, no matter how bad ::wink::

Gifts from the students on Teachers' Day!
My first round of parent-teacher conferences are over, and it was really nice meeting all of the parents. Well, mostly moms came, but some dads did as well. I was surprised at the excellent English skills of so many of the parents. The school provided translators, but only a few actually needed them. There's also a culture of parents always hovering around the school, usually toward the afternoons. This hasn't really been a problem, but it's certainly a change from hagwon life where I never met any of the parents! When meeting them for the first time, a surprising number of them were very reasonable and even chill. I really liked that.

 I'm almost finished with the TeacherReady program too. It has not been without its hiccups, however. Somewhere along the line last winter, around the intensive season at my last hagwon job, I fell behind on the assignments.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sometimes, a Good Korean Friend Can Truly Be Hard to Find

Wow! I'm in shock right now.

But let me begin with a story from awhile ago.

When I first arrived to Korea, I was starry-eyed and open to all of the new possibilities that the country could offer. I knew I would be exposed to a new culture, new food and new people. I knew I didn't speak Korean, but I was hopeful that I would be able to make good friends here easily. After all, I am a friendly person who likes meeting new people.

On that hiking trip some years ago. The woman referenced in the post is not in this picture

One day, I went on a hiking tour with a group of strangers. About half of them were Korean, and the other half were foreign students, military and teachers like me. I figured it would be a good way to meet new people.

While riding on a bus toward the mountain, a slightly older Korean woman approached me. Her English was good, I thought. She made up some small talk, asking me all sorts of questions about where I was from, and what I was doing in Korea.

When we talked about our hobbies, it appeared that we didn't have much in common. We weren't into the same leisure activities, didn't listen to the same types of music, nor did we have anywhere near the same sense of humor. We were different people, and that was okay. However, I did notice something. She stuck by me.

Throughout the bus ride and the long hiking trail, she made sure she stayed with me. The lady kept chatting and chatting with me. Even when I wanted to just walk, she seemed to always have something else to say. At the end of the day, she made sure she got my phone number.

Once she had that, she kept texting via SMS and calling, asking about when we were going to meet up again. She really wanted to hang out with me. Was she my new Korean friend?

Sense anything wrong yet?