Day 288 - NKR Classes

This past Saturday I realized it's my favorite class of the week. The students there are so motivated, so attentive, so eager to learn. It's wildly different from my regular teaching gig, where I have to make my lessons more like entertainment with a few grains of English in them and my students are apathetic to say the least. With my regular students, I deal with that apathy and behavior issues. With the NKR classes, I can choose any topic and they'll be so enthusiastic about learning it that they're impatient. I'm so glad I have the opportunity to work with them because they a part of Korea that not a lot of people get to interact with. I feel really lucky to be one of the few that gets to help them out.


Day 276 - Jeju Spring Conference, Homestay, Goals


First. Hello, fellow F'brighters. I'm still not sure how to feel about you all reading the blog intended for my family and friends back home in the States, but right now it's a mixture of Wow Dude That's Creepy and My Life Isn't That Interesting, so, um, next time you do a guest reading of my entries, I guess you can open with that?


Over the weekend, I went to a teaching conference held on Jeju island for my program. It was fantastic, especially fantastic because it was free. Most of the time was set aside so that we could relax and enjoy the scenery, which was like an entirely different country compared to mainland Korea. Blue water, green palm trees, bright flowers, volcanic rock beaches -- it was definitely a welcome change from the gray and dull brown that I see in Nonsan. We did a little sightseeing as a group but there's so much more to do there that I plan on going back on my own time, maybe with Hallie and some of the other Nonsan foreigners who were thinking about making a weekend trip.

It was especially nice to be around 90 familiar faces for Easter. A group of us went to services on Sunday, followed by a kimbab picnic and a trip to one of the waterfalls. It wasn't a particularly traditional Easter holiday, but it was definitely made a lot better by being surrounded by friends!

Again, no pictures because I'm writing behind a proxy. sooooorrrrryyyyyyy


My new homestay. Things are Not So Bad there. The mother is so enthusiastic about learning English. She's a straight-up housewife. I don't think she really ever leaves the house, so she has this shelf full of English study books and I think she just memorizes words in her free time. She also wants me to be more like a member of the family than the last homestay. By that, I mean she treats me as her own child, not a guest. I had a few pieces of laundry in my laundry bag when I left for Jeju, but when I returned, they were all washed and folded in the dresser. Including my underwear.

(In Korea, our program has heavily stressed that you are never to give your underwear to your host mother, even if she offers to do your laundry for you. It's highly offensive, I guess, so I was shocked to come home from Jeju and discover that she not only did Surprise Laundry but also my underwear. Which was not only in my laundry bag but in a separate lingerie bag WITHIN that laundry bag.)

The cats are okay, I guess. White Cat puked under my bed and crapped in the bathtub. That makes me feel not fantastic. Gray Cat is pretty chill and just likes sleeping on my bed and mreowing at me a lot.

The kids are nice, the younger twins. The other day one of them was eagerly showing me how he got his six pack after I mentioned to host mom that I wanted to join a nearby gym so I could continue exercising. I'm not even sure sixth graders should have six packs. Disturbing.


One of my Big Plans when I came to Korea was to travel and see as much as I could while I was living here, both Korea and the surrounding Asian countries. However, I'm kind of a timid person and I have trouble seizing opportunities even when there's an open door so I haven't really done anything like that yet. Yet. I'm planning a weekend trip to Taiwan with another F'brighter during our midterm testing period. My school also has a school trip for the students to Jeju, so while they're gone I hope to get down to Indonesia for a week to see my college friend who is also on an English teaching grant with F'bright there. This weekend, I'm finally going to start knocking things off the "To Do In Korea" list by sight-seeing Seoul with DY -- we made a deal where he'll show me the palace, Insadong, and the history museum, then in return I'll go with him to his friend's wedding. Quid pro quo.

I've also been inspired by Amy ( I've never even met her, but I found her blog about two years ago when I decided I wanted to come to Korea and started searching for ways to do so. She's been able to start a great language-exchange group up in Cheonan. Now, when I first came to Korea, my Statement of Purpose talked about improving relations between US military and ROK citizens, because the media had made it seem as though that was a bad relationship. In reality, it's an old relationship -- these days, it's more that the ROK citizens view the native English speakers as the "bad foreigner" in Korea.

Being a native English teacher in a rural area, this hits close to home.

So when I realized this, my Statement of Purpose changed and I want to improve relations between native English speakers and ROK citizens. I think the best way to do this is through Korean language/culture classes. My program is great in the sense that it prepares its teachers the most for life in Korea -- some programs don't offer language and culture classes.

Too long, don't read; long story short, I want to start a language exchange club in Nonsan where the foreigners can learn Korean and Koreans can practice their English. I think this would do good things for both parties and it fits well with my Statement of Purpose.

Now I just need to actually do it, instead of think about what a great idea it is.


Day 269 -- New Homestay

Despite being ridiculously sick, my co-teacher came by yesterday to help me move my things to the new homestay. I'm living with another TOEFL class student, Hyeon Soo. His mom's a housewife, I don't know what his dad does, he's got twin 6th grade brothers and two cats. Hurray kitties! My room is a bit smaller than my last one and there's no closet, so I'm kind of concerned where I'll be able to put all my stuff. The apartment is in a good part of Nonsan -- there's a lot of restaurants, banks, and a few bakeries, one of which has a little cafe where I can study. There's also a gym nearby that I'll check out, although DY says it's smaller and older than the gym I used to go to. He adds that he's good friends with the trainer there, though, so maybe he won't get so peeved now when I ask for weight lifting help.

I have no pictures of the new homestay yet because I am once again writing behind a proxy, but maybe after the Jeju conference I'll put some up.

Speaking of Jeju conference, I just want to vent about how frustrated I am about this. I told my co-teacher FAR before the school year even started that I needed tickets to Jeju. She didn't get them early enough (she waited about a month, actually) so now I'm forced to fly out of Incheon. I live like 5 hours by public transportation from Incheon. And I'm leaving wicked early in the morning, so these two factors combined means I have to leave today, find a cheap hotel, and spend the night alone in Incheon so I can catch a flight early tomorrow morning because my co-teacher procrastinated getting tickets.