Happy Belated Birthday, Mom.
Miss you. Love you.
when you know that what you’re doing is what you’re destined to do? Well, I don’t know if I’m destined to be a teacher, but I know that right now…right at this moment, that this is where I have to be. Everything just feels so right that it can be a little bit scary. But I know one thing for sure, that…I am in love. With who you ask? More like…with what?
I am truly, madly, deeply, in love with life.
Not only am I experiencing a whole different life and culture here in South Korea, but I am also growing as a person. I can definitely say that I’ve matured and have become more independent! Heck, I’ve been doing my own laundry, cleaning my apartment every week, going grocery shopping, cooking, working a full-time job, and running around a country that speaks a whole different language from me! I am most definitely proud of myself and how far I’ve gone. Many people have doubted that I could even attempt to live alone in a different country! Even I had doubts myself that I could ever attempt such a thing, but look at me now. Almost 3 months in SK and I am loving every moment of it. The people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had, I can guarantee you that these are things that you can’t get back home.
선생님 - “Seongsaengnim” - “Teacher”
My students call me “Mary-teacher”, “Seongsaengnim”, “Sam (short form)”, “Mary-Sam”, or just “Mary”. They keep forgetting that it’s “Ma-rie” not Mary. Marie also sounds similar to the korean word for head, so some of my Grade 2’s like to tease me and call me ‘head’.
I love being a teacher. It’s a rewarding job, and I love most of my kids. I like walking into school hearing my kids scream out my name, or bow, or practice their English with me by saying “Hello” and running away after I say “How are you?” because they’re shy. On Monday I had a big open class, where teachers, parents, the superintendent, and my principal and vp were going to observe my teaching for the first time. It was quite nerve racking having 30 people watching while teaching 30 students, so there were around 60 people in the room. After we had a meeting with the teachers to discuss and reflect on mine and my co-teacher’s lesson. They were speaking Korean most of the time, so I was just chilling sitting there minding my own business until they told me to give my 2 cents. Now THAT caught me off guard! Luckily, I winged it and gave a good answer which I am very proud of myself! :) After, me and two other teachers went out to celebrate! It was a great day. Today I have no classes again, these past two weeks have been easy breezy because of the school festival that my school is having tomorrow, so they have been practicing like crazy! I don’t mind not teaching, but sometimes it gets really boring just stting at my desk. Facebook is getting really boring, and I need something else to do, and it makes me miss my kids. I haven’t seen my grade 5’s in almost 2 or 3 weeks! We are way behind in our lessons and I still have halloween candy to give them =(
So this weekend, it will be my relaxation weekend. I have been travelling or out with friends almost every weekend since I’ve been here. Seoul twice and Busan three times! So this is the first time that I am in Daejeon alone without the company of my girlfriends. It should be nice, my apartment needs some cleaning. But next week, it’s back on! I’m craving for some Seoul food ;)
I would like to sincerely apologize to my family and friends for not updating this blog as I promised. To be honest, I have been really busy…working, exploring, travelling, and just enjoying my life here in Korea. I will briefly write about the past month and half, from when I left the EPIK orientation to when I arrived in my new home in Daejeon, South Korea.
After an hour and a half bus ride from Jeonju University to Daejeon, I was greeted by my new
co-teacher. Her English is Sky, and we immediately greeted each other big smiles. Just by looking at her, I knew we would get along. She is responsible for me here in Korea. She helped me to move into my new apartment, and she is my go-to person for everything and anything that I need. Usually this person is supposed to be your co-teacher, but she is actually a Grade 1 homeroom teacher, so I do not teach with her at all. Instead, I teach with only one teacher in my ‘big school’ (I teach in two schools, 1 big and 1 small). Her name is Hee and she is my age and a new teacher too! It’s funny because in my small school with 57 students, I have 4 co-teachers (all homeroom teachers) whereas at my big school (500 students), I only have 1 co-teacher. Both of the schools are great, and even though at first I was really disappointed that I had to travel back and forth to two schools (Mon, Tues, Fri - big school; Wed, Thurs - small school), I am kind of relieved now that I have that variety. There are some days when teaching a big class can be tiring and hard to control the students, that’s when I’m glad to be teaching in my small school. My relationship with the students in my smaller school is closer, and I even know some of their names by heart. They greet me with smiles, hugs, and screams from across the hallway “Mary Teacher!!!”. There are also days where I miss the big classes, and playing fun games with them and seeing them all excited. I like the sound of walking into my big school and hearing kids laughing and screaming, whereas at my small school…I rarely hear a peep. They both have their pros and cons, but I’ll save that for another day.
When I first walked into my apartment, I was surprised as to how SMALL it was. I think I have the smallest apartment than anyone in EPIK. BUT, the location is great, the water works, the heat works, the air conditioning works, the tv works, and I got internet connection right when I moved in. Most people had to wait a few weeks to get their Alien Registration Card to get internet connection so they had to go to a PC bang. My landlord is also very sweet. Even though he can’t speak a word of English, he has sort of become a father figure to me. He would always remind me to lock my door three times, and he always greets me with a smile. I live right by Chungnam University, so the area is filled with cafes, cheap restaurants, and young people. I live by a major bus stop and I’m a 15 min walk to the nearest subway station. There’s also an English cafe called Talkholic just 2 min away from me, and I’m literally there almost everyday of the week. I’m at the cafe as I write this :) Anything and everything you can think of, I’m pretty sure I have access to it. Me and my friend Rob (we’re always together and we have become best buddies here ..even though he hates to admit it. I see him as my older brother) went running by the river that passes along Daejeon, it was beautiful and peaceful and I hope to keep it up. I want to take advantage to all there is here, because Daejeon is a beautiful city. It’s clean and it isn’t hectic like Seoul.
So far since I’ve been here, I have travelled twice to Busan and once in Seoul. Every weekend has been an adventure. There hasn’t been a weekend where I had nothing to do. Either I’m travelling or I’m hosting some friends in my city. This weekend Daejeon is hosting its first Rock Festival. WIth 20 different rock bands from across the country and over 200 international food and drink vendors from all over the world, it’s bound to be amazing! And what makes this weekend even more exciting, is that 4 of my closest friends from orientation will be coming. I would either see 2 of them in one city and the other 2 in another, so I’m happy that we’ll all be able to hang out all together. Our plan for the weekend is to visit a jimjilbang (bath house) for some R&R time, dinner, rock festival, and clubbing. Clubbing here is crazy, the clubs are always packed, and for some weird reason they all face the DJ which makes him/her look like a God. One thing I dislike about Korea, is that you can smoke anywhere…even in clubs, so my clothes always smell like shit after. I would talk more about Busan and Seoul, but I’m lazy and tired at the moment.
This is my update for now, I promise to write more when anything else exciting or interesting comes up. I apologize for my laziness.
EPIK Field Trip at a Temple