Sunday, November 27, 2016

The BIG Question: Korea or China?

Should you go to Korea or China to teach? It’s a tough question that depends on your priorities and circumstances.

To give you some background about me: I’ve taught in Korea for nearly five years, and I’m currently doing my second year in China. I started out teaching at language academies in Korea, then took a job teaching subjects (Science, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Math) at an elementary school whilst pursuing certification. Once I finished that, I ended up heading to China from Korea. China was *not* on my radar at all but a good opportunity came up—so I took it!

I’ve noticed that a lot of misinformation gets tossed around about both places, so I wanted to spell out many of the differences that I’ve noticed.

I’ll write about Korea and China in general as much as I can, but in essence I’m comparing Seoul to Shanghai. I spent most of my time in Korea either in or around Seoul. Even when I didn’t live in Seoul, my entire social life was there. I’ve traveled around China a bit, but I live in Shanghai. I do talk to people who don’t live in Shanghai regularly.

I’ve taught EFL and I’ve taught at an international school.  I’ll try to cover both—although I haven’t taught EFL here in China. Again, I am regularly interacting with people who do.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Waving Goodbye to 2014!

This year is coming to a close, and I can't believe it!

Fun times in Busan!

 For me, 2014 has been full of ups and downs, but I'm still going strong.

So, what's going on with Little Lady? A lot of things in a short period of time! Here are some of the most exciting things that have occurred this year:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Barcelona Blues: Why It Wasn't My Favorite City

I was pumped for Barcelona, after so many people telling me that I would just love it there! I gave myself more time to stay there than in the other cities. I booked a train to Barcelona, which took some time. I wasn't able to find a decent host on Couchsurfing, so I decided to just book a hostel in a smaller, all female room.

Arriving at the train station, Sants, I was so confused. That's because they had the long distance train, the regional train and the metro going through there. That's good and dandy, but at the same time the signage there didn't make things obvious. There was lots of figuring out to do. I knew that I was supposed to take a train a couple of stops, and I knew my destination station, so I waited in a line to talk to the one lady at the information desk that was open. Good. Which train am I actually catching? With no map, I wasn't sure. Called the hostel, and got no answer. Then I had to buy the ticket. A bunch of different looking machines. Which one do I use? Finally got my ticket. I go to the right platform, but they had a few different trains running through there. Had to ask again. The first two trains weren't right, but the third one was. The lady told me it was my train. Good.

I get to the hostel, ready to check in. This hostel was called Urbany Hostel on a street called Mediana. I added one night, then with the city's tourist tax and the hostel's key deposit, my bill was over 100 euros. So, I pulled out my lucky 200 Euro bill I got from the exchange house in Seoul. The guy at the counter looks at me like I'm crazy, then tells me that they don't accept 200 Euro bills. They asked me to pay by credit card, and I declined, knowing that my U.S. Bank charges very high fees when using their card overseas. My Korean bank card was for withdraws only, and they cost money too of course. I wanted to be careful. I wanted to use that precious 200 Euro bill I had. Can't go to waste, can it? I asked to go to the bank later to exchange it for smaller bills, which should be free. They said okay.

Why am I telling this in detail? You'll see later.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My First Adventures in Spain: Madrid and Basque Country

After a stressful first semester at work, I decided to embark on my first journey to Europe. I spent a few weeks in Spain. While there, I wrote a bit about my experiences. As anyone would imagine, it was like a big side step from the daily life I am used to.


I spent a lot of time sipping wine and munching on tasty olives when I was in Spain.
My trip took a long time, obviously. I flew from Seoul, to Beijing, to Amsterdam, then finally to Madrid. The middle, long flight was unfortunately terrible! My seat was in the middle of a two-story plane, looking at a blue wall, and next to a toddler. It was a bad ten hours, but it ended eventually. Beijing's airport was messy and disorganized, I and had to constantly ask around to find out what to do and where to go for my connecting flight. It was full of conflicting information from different people. Amsterdam's airport was fantastic, though. Completely the opposite, and I was impressed with everything being automated. I saw a huge tribute to the victims of Malaysia airlines flight 17 outside of the airport. The lawn was covered with flowers and stuffed animals, which I thought was sweet. I wasn't able to get a picture, though.

About 22 hours later, I finally arrived to Madrid feeling like a zombie.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Question: Going Back to the U.S. After Ferguson?

Plenty has been happening while I've been on vacation in Spain

I'm a political and news junkie, and most weeknights you would find me on my bed, reading and watching the news. I'm almost always listening to political commentary whenever I get the chance. Even while vacationing in Spain, I'm still finding out what's going on via my cell phone and trusty tablet PC.

For the last week or so, I've heard the news about yet another black man killed by a police officer inappropriately. Since I've been paying attention, I realize that this is something that happens all the time. I see that black Americans are stopped by police, harassed, arrested for malicious reasons and often killed when they really shouldn't have been.  

However, this particular case has been all over the news, it looks like the people of Ferguson are rallying against it, and the happenings have been posted all over my Facebook feed. Political pundits on all sides are commenting on this story.

In light of all the coverage, I ran into a question posted in a Facebook group. Does the current state of affairs concerning police brutality against black people in the United States affect my decision on whether to go back?

I thought this was a good question to ask myself, especially as an expat that has been living in South Korea for almost four years now. I first moved abroad over four years ago, and I recently have thought about moving back.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Single Black Female: My Own Experiences Dating in South Korea

My favorite dates always include a good meal!

I didn't specifically come to Korea to date, but to teach. However, I do make dating a mild priority while I'm here.

One of the first lessons I learned was:

Some are More Successful than Others

Dating is mindblowingly easy in Korea if you are of a certain demographic. I think we can all guess what that demographic would be. Here's an example:

I first came to Korea in 2010. I was working at a small kindergarten with two other foreign coworkers, both of whom were male. One was American.

One Sunday morning, I headed to the American's apartment looking for help. He told me that he could assist me. He offered me some water, and vented some of his frustration to me.

He ranted about a Korean woman who simply wouldn't leave him alone.

You see, they had met on a night out, where he made the mistake of giving away his phone number to this particular gal. She kept calling and texting him. He showed me the texts where the Korean woman kept asking to meet up with him at night, presumably for sex.

While this guy didn't like that girl, I noticed the thing that stood out: A Korean woman was begging this guy for sex?

I was in a relationship at the time, but the idea of it stuck with me.

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.