I’ve been meaning to post but with what has been going on the past few weeks (more specifically the past few hours) I have not had the time to do so.
I meant to do a Thanksgiving post as well and list what I’m thankful for here as I did not want to spam my facebook friends.
- I am thankful for my job. Yes this week has been difficult with students completely disrespecting me but I am lucky to have this job. I am even more thankful they want me to resign with them as well. That means 12 extra vacation days, 100,000 won raise (which isn’t much) but at 2,000,000 won singing bonus.
- I am thankful for the friends I have made here. At first it was really difficult but after being sent to the GIFLE training, I made some pretty good friends and I will be sad to see some of them leave. Meeting Korean friends has also helped improve my Korean.
- I am thankful for being able to establish better relationships with people here. Even though I met Emily and Whitney in the USA, I’ve definietly been able to connect better with them here and form stronger friendships. I’m especially grateful to Emily for not only basically saving me from a complete mental breakdown when I first arrived, but still inviting me over and allowing me to celebrate the holidays with her and her goof of a husband Rob.
- I am thankful for my friends who I don’t see. Even though Savannah and I are only a sea apart due to China’s strict laws and her strange hours, we don’t actually talk often. And Treasure is a nurse so her hours are also very strange. But then the three of us manage to have some time together it’s as nothing changed.
- I am thankful for VIXX and KPOP. It might seem silly and petty but as I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, KPOP kind of got me where I am today. Coming to Korea seemed like an unattainable goal but it is now a reality. And during one of the most trying months of my life VIXX came in and gave me something to be positive and excited about.
- But I am most thankful for my family. Both of my parents (as seen in previous blogs) made the trip over to Korea this past summer. It was one of the best weeks I’ve ever had. We did so much together, and had a lot of fun. After talking with a few other friends, it’s seems not everyone’s parents are as supportive or happy as mine are that I’m in Korea. So I’m thankful that they support me and are proud that I’m here. And of course I’m thankful for the Logan! It’s hard being away from him and only seeing him through a computer screen.
As for my students well…
Like with my insane workload, the new co teacher is the reason. I really like her a lot, and we’ve become good friends. But because she was thrown into this mess towards the end of the term with no clue how anything works, she’s had to play catch up and I”vve had to pick up the slack. It’s become exhausting for me, working twice as hard on lesson plans.
This also is right at the time I should be planning my winter camp. But I was just informed that instead of only 5 subjects I need 10 subjects for winter camp…..10. I don’t think even college student would have 10 subjects in one term.
Now once again I have to scramble. I’ve come up with Harry Potter American Camp which sounds strange but I think it will work.
Sadly all of this is nothing when compared to the trajedy that has happened.
My co worker-not my co teacher but an English teacher who works in the same office as me-someone whom I have known for my entire time here-passed away yesterday. She had been battling (openly in our office) severe depression since this past summer. There was an incident with her husband that really shocked her into this depression.
She cried almost everyday, and became very sickly. Because I was told nothing other than “she is sick” I thought cancer or something. I didn’t know the extent of what was happening so I did what I could to help but because I lacked the knowledge, I couldn’t do much
When I found out she was battling depression, I told her to come visit me in America or go some place warm like Guam. To just go abroad and try to get away from the pain at her home.
So when she didn’t come into school yesterday morning, my co teacher tried to call her but there was no answer. Then we were told she was in the hospital and finally that she had passed away.
Korean funerals are very strange for a person with a Western mind. In America, usually there is a funeral service a few days to a week later. Everyone comes to the service and then goes to the gravesite. Sometimes there is a viewing beforehand. We go back to the house and make food for the person grieving so they don’t have to make it themselves.
In Korea, the day of and the next day, we have to go to a funeral home…but it’s a little different. It’s a place where all the people who died that day or the day before go. The person who passed is on a large printed picture surrounded by flowers and candles in a room where their family is and has to recieve everyone who visits. Two full bows and a half bow to the portrait and then one full bow and a half bow to the loved ones. Then go into the hall next door to eat.
My co worker says we stay so the person won’t be lonely. But I found it to be disrespectful to be eating food paid for by the loved ones while the loved ones are still in the next room recieving the bows.
I guess I would think that the loved ones would not want to see all these people and have to bow to them. They are already sad and tired and shocked. But what was worse was making the children stay in the room with the picture of their now dead mother. They were wailing and crying and I felt they should be allowed to grieve in private.
But I guess that is a difference. In America privacy is respectful and respected whereas here everyone is in everyone elses business and it’s normal.
I paid 50,000 won to her husband (as custom) and then sat in the food hall. It still doesn’t feel real. There were many stories going around about why or how she died but I didn’t want to be apart of it. In Korea, mental illness is still seen as negative and if she had deicded to take her own life, the family would feel shame. So their was a story to cover it.
But in my opinion there is no shame. Yes she might have been too weak to stay on Earth, but it is not a shameful thing. It is a way to spread awareness to this country that depression is real, and shouldn’t be tucked away from prying eyes. Getting help for it should be encouraged and if the person couldn’t stand it any longer, there is no shame-they battled against something for so long that they couldn’t win.
Because my one coworker was so close and had been working with her, she has been especially hurt and sad. She was unconsoalable yesterday and today is very quiet and sad. My new co teacher was extremely sad and crying as well. And when my male co teacher came in yesterday he was crying as well.
Because I don’t cry easily or often, I felt I had to be strong for the others and take care of things. So I covered my one co teachers class which leads us to the disrespectful students.
This is the nightmare class. Half of them are good. Half of them are extremely bad. Rude. Disrespectful. Obnoxious kids.
I had three bad words, a bunch of sarcasm, and even a middle finger.
Their usual punishment has lost it’s effect because of how often they have to do it.
I’ve read various things-time outs : I kicked one student of the room which helped mildly. Wait for silence- I’d be waiting all class and then get no where. Ignore it-how can I teach if I ignore them?
What I did was I took things away that they were distracted by and did not give them back. Made them stay late into their break time to finish the punishment. And tomorrow when we have class, there will be a new punishment. Writing lines doesn’t seen to work. Moving desks doesn’t seem to work. So I will have to think of a new consequence. It’s a shame that half of the kids want to learn and are eager, but they are not a class that will police itself.
Some classes, like my 5-3 class and 5-7 class will police themselves. But the good kids in 5-9 don’t even seem to care about their classmates anymore.
With the semester being over so soon, I just want to get through the lesson, but I will not tolerate disrespect and bad words.
I saw some people said to call parents. In the USA, I would send them to principal’s office. But here in Korea, if the VP gets invovled (which she already has) it’s serious. There is no parent teacher conference, there is no suspension, there is no phone call or note home to parents. It seems like schools here are still at the beck and call of parents. Public schools are no different than private schools in the USA.
People always say, oh your children must be so well behaved.
Let’s see. Parents now adays had extremely strict parents growing up. So they felt trapped, like they were living with only rules. So now they have children of their own. And they let them run around like crazy people.
Korea is changing so fast. Years ago, it might be normal to give up your seat for an old person. Nowadays that is no longer the case. I saw an old man on the subway smack some boys with his cane so they would make room for him.Yes, it might be good that the eldery realize they no longer own the universe, but there still has to be some respect there (not even going to mention the lack of people who get up for pregnant women or women with babies).
Just like how children used to be seen not heard, now children can run around and not have any manners because “once they go to middle school they have to study hard for the next 8-10 years or so”. But I think this is not a good way to teach children. It’s just like a classroom. If you don’t give any rules and consequences at the start and them when they go out of line and you punish them, it’s unfair to them.
Children need to learn how to behave. They don’t need to be in line all the time, and it’s ok if they act out every once in a while, but for children to have no respect for anything but their cell phone is getting out of control. Korea will end up having nothing but rude children who grow into even ruder adults.
The Korean school system is flawed in many ways but this is just one of them.
Also I’m in the process of getting sick so I’m trying to battle it. I’ve been taking medicine to help prevent and allow me a good night sleep. But it’s made me drowsy and sleepy so I’ve been going to bed early.I’m trying to stay at least borderline healthy for my students and now my co teachers so they won’t worry about it.