Day 2 : “Shut up!” and musicals

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So it took me 4 days but I realized that I have been writing the days in reverse order….basically I’ve messed up and gone backwards.

But since tomorrow is the last day, too bad.

Today was my first class without my favorite co and with my new co.  It was also the first class that I basically taught on my own. SCARY.  Actually the kids were pretty good today, obviously testing out the new teacher, and I managed to get through it and on time.

However, I was exhausted after teaching 80 minutes straight on my own with kids whose English is the lowest level I have.  But somehow they were very good.

I made them write nametags for her benefit and mine, as well as played an introduction game with candies.

But my second class….it’s a weird class.

Techincally speaking, they are not a bad class. BUT. Half of them act like zombies while the other half won’t stop talking. Then they get into too many fights.

It should be an easy class and at the start of the year it was one of my favorite classes. But slowly, they have begun to descend into madness. Three students have been sent to the Vice Principal’s office-something that DOES NOT happen in Korea.

Several students have had to stay after class and were yelled at by my co teacher/ forced to write lines/forced to kneel on the ground.

I was then told by my co that their homeroom teacher-who teaches them almost all subjects-can’t control them.  She doesn’t give them the attention they need I guess and they don’t like her.  So they act out in my class at times.

One student I know suffers from extreme ADHD. Shockingly enough he is pretty well behaved in my class but he must disrupt his other classes because he was late to class today due to a meeting with the VP.

A problem I see with a lot of my students and co teachers is that unlike what I experienced with my own schooling, is that the teachers here seem to think their duty stops once the children step out of their classroom. Korea already has an issue with the lack of awareness-WALKING (subways from hell at times) driving, etc. And I think because the children aren’t taught any of this at home or at school, it carries on into adulthood.

Even though my students are no longer in my care, they are always my responsibility. I look out for them in the hallway, I scold them.  I help them.  I give them the attention the need that I think other teachers don’t.

Anyway going back to my post-80 min solo session and dealing with my problem class, I had had enough of talking and almost fully said out loud “Shut up.”
In all fairness it was more of a “shut u-” But still they heard. They knew. They used.  I didn’t want to tell them it was a bad word because it’s not. But I couldn’t let them think it was ok to use. So I told them it was a rude word and it hurts people’s feelings.

And then I pretend it never happened.

My new co is really nice. She’s friendly and polite and I think we will do well together. But the whole time I thought to myself…when are we getting back to normal. And then I realized..this is the new normal.

I didn’t realize how much I was attached until the reality hit that I had to deal with a new co teacher.  Last night I couldn’t get to sleep, my heart was beating out of my chest….I was nervous.

Even now, despite knowing my new co is nice and we will be fine, I still really miss my old co. I went to bring him tea and our old fifth grade class escorted me/followed me to his room and proceeded to stay there until he told them to leave.

I will have to get used to it and I’m sure it will be fine. I’m not someone who hates change. As someone who does suffer from ADHD (cleaning my bedroom oh look there’s a missing CD, I should go find the CD but then I have to look through the messy desk, maybe i should clean the desk, but I don’t want to clean the desk if I don’t “clean clean” the desk, but I should clean clean the aparment but if I do that then I need to pick things up off the floor like my bedroom…) I deal with change everyday.

Furniture, clothes are one thing. But when it comes to people…that’s where I hate change. i hate when people leave and or new people come in. I’ve been told I’m unapproachable because I look unfriendly. I’m not going to be the first one to talk to you most of the time and if you are friends with my other friends, sometimes I might seem like I’m excluding you. Truth  is I just hate meeting new people. But this is a job, and for the job I must suck it up, and be friendly.  I did it with the old co, I can do it here.

Moving on to today’s song choices…. #4 and # 3.

At #4 on my birthday countdown list….

One Day More: Les Miserables.

Much like how yesterday “Into the West” was a representation of all of Lord Of the Rings soundtracks…I chose this song to represent all of Broadway musicals.

Why? Because it’s an epic song that kicks song. It’s like the song to end all end songs.

Now before any of you get excited about Hugh Jackman and Amanda Seyfriend and the disgusting choice of Russel Crow…this is not that version.

This is my favorite version minus the fact that Nick Jonas is apart of it.

I of course love the original, love the 10th Anniversary, but it was the 25th anniversary that I not only discovered who Ramin Karimloo was (and his heavenly voice) but also by then I was old enough to really understand the story and appreciate the music.

I was always engrossed in classical music and musicals growing up.  I guess it was the best music to play for a child? I have no clue. But I grew up on Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, Les Mis, Aaron Copeland etc.

It’s not surprising when you know my mom who has always been musical. But when people find out that my dad (he claims he’s macho/manly and used to be homophobic though in recent years he has become more open and understanding) loves musicals…they are really confused.  And now that I know the relationship between musicals and the gay community…well it all makes sense why their is shock and confusion.

Although “Phantom Of the Opera” is acutally my favorite musical followed by Wicked and then…I don’t even know , this song in particular really represents all the great things about the power of musicals. The emotions, the vocal power, the orchestration….

I’m really glad to have been able to see 3 musicals here in Korea so far : In the Heights, Cinderella, Chess (I totally almost typed Ken) and yes while the main pull for most people is the idols (it’s like a 55% pull for me) I love going to see musicals. I always have. And I was super jealous that I missed Wicked in March-my parents went without me. How Rude.

But I fell in love with Chess. Was blown away by the In The Heights. And Enjoyed Cinderella. Even though there was a language barrier, and at times I didn’t know what was going on, the music and the staging …it all made for a real positive experience. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy seeing Ken from VIxx (twice) and Chen from Exo.  That would be a straight up lie

Rounding out my top 3 songs….. #3 is Slide by the Goo Goo Dolls.

So I grew up in the late 90’s early 2000’s. When I was younger post grunge rock was really popular. And I remember listening to these songs on the radio. But it wasn’t until I was much older that I really fell in love with the Goo Goo Dolls.

The Goo Goo Dolls changed my perspective on a lot of things music wise, appearence wise, emotionally…..

At the time that I “rediscovered” the Goo Goo Dolls, I was very much into music that featured a strong powerful belter who had soul and could perform these amazing vocal runs.  I was more focused on music that didn’t really have super meaningful lyrics. (not that this is a bad thing at all)

But the Goo Goo Dolls and John Rzeznick’s music really taught me that sometimes a powerful amazing voice is always necessary and that lyrics do matter.

The Goo Goo Dolls came into my life at a very important time. I was floundering. I didn’t graduate college when I was supposed to. I started smoking briefly. All of my friends had moved on and I was still stuck at college. But worst of all, my 20th month old dalmatian boxer got Cancer in august, and had to be put down on my birthday.  It really sent me into a tail spin. I felt that I had no one to rely on. But I found comfort and solace in listening to the words that came on my iTunes.

“Dizzy Up the Girl”, “Gutterflower”, “Let Love In” takes you on an emotional rollercoaster.  You feel the pain, anger and despair in Gutterflower. You feel the contentment, the acceptance in Let Love In.  And for me, Dizzy up the Girl took me back to a simpler time of being a kid, waiting for my mom to pick me up from school to go home, change out of my school uniform and do my homework (or not do because I hated homework).

It was what I needed and thankfully it really kept me out of going into a complete dark place in life. Slide connected with me on a level which I think would be a surprise to most people. The song is about an abortion. The boyfriend is telling the girl whatever you want to do, make your choice and I will support you and love you.

Now, clearly I wasn’t dealing with having an abortion. But I was at a place where I felt abanonded by everything and everyone. I felt alone and I couldn’t keep my head above water. But this song, hearing someone say “whatever choice you make I will support you” is something that I was longing to hear. I wanted someone to tell me it was going to be fine, I was going to be okay and they supported me through this time when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to the next day. It gave me hope and whenever I heard Slide, or think of the Goo Goo Dolls, I think of how dark of a place I was, what I did to come out of it and where I am now.  I never in a million years would have thought I would be teaching in Korea.

I hope it’s a beacon of hope for those who are going through a time where they aren’t sure if they will make it to the next day. I understand.

*Side note strangely enough this was around the same time that I also discovered the show Avatar the Last Airbender so now I naturally think of them in one package deal. I know…it’s really really strange to combine them.

So that is all for today! Tomorrow is our last day! Can you believe it? I think i will continue on with these lists -maybe a new one every week unless it’s a special event or something.

I think I’ve settled on favorite TV Series for next week. And I will probably stick with 5-one for each day.

I started to neglect my blog but it feels like it’s a real place where I can talk about the day. It’s not meant to be a journal but something where I can record what my days were like my first year in Korea.

I don’t mind sharing my insanity and embarssment with my readers because..it means I actually have readers.

But at the same time, my friend W (if you are reading this now sorry) found my blog, read it and then told me about it. It embarssed the hell out of me. While it is not meant to be a journal, its more that this is for people I don’t know and will never meet.

You know it’s easier to talk in front of a group of people you don’t know.

Well it’s the same thing here. So if you are my friend and have found my blog, please just don’t tell me about it 🙂

So tomorrow is the last day to the Favorite Song Birthday countdown challenge! I think tomorrow might 1 part be surprising and 1 part not be surprising. Also I think I will add in 3 honorable mentions -songs that either 1. i really like but haven’t liked long enough to count them as favorites or 2 that just didn’t quite make the cut.

**VIXX put out a dance preview…..and I’m pretty sure Leo just gave me a nosebleed with his uh…”dancing”.  4 more days…can’t wait!

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Get by with a little help from my new found aquaintences

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I don’t know if I would consider the people I met at the GEPIK teachers seminar “friends” but I would consider the possibility.  Now before you think I sound like a complete heartless loser, let us define what a friend is.  Someone you talk to on a daily basis, hang out with, share you issues and secrets.  So no, I don’t think I am a heartless tin man…woman..person.

 

Moving on. The seminar was good. I did learn some things about teaching, my personal situation, and myself.

First we had 4 classes a day all 50 mins.  Topics included writing, art, communication and issues.  I found while these were helpful, everything felt very rushed.  I had hoped we would have spent more time in class.

 

There was an “elective” that we chose which lasted over an hour and a half…after our regular classes.  Needless to say I don’t think I was being unreasonable when my lack of participation in group work was noticed.  I hate group work anyway.  Always have.

 

Aside from learning helpful techinicuqes and activities, the seminar gave me the biggest piece of helpful advice by simply turning me into a student once more.

It’s been over a half a year since I last had my Spanish class, and even those were not your typical structured classes.  I suspect most of the teachers have been out of school even longer than me.

By becoming a student once more and having a teacher lead the classroom, I was able to remember and understand the perspective of being a student once more.  I wanted my teachers approval.  I wanted to get all the answers right.  I got competitive with the other students.  I think realizing the dynamic of the classroom, not as a teacher, but as a student , was the thing that I took back with me, conciously planning to implement it in my teaching. (I realize that was one long ass sentence and full of fragments but whatever).

I think putting yourself back in a student mindset is something a lot of teachers forget.  They forget the students needs and struggles.

Now getting down to my living and group situtation.

Most dorms had 3-4 people.  I had one other who happened to be the loudest/leader/most outgoing of the entire group.  I wanted to shoot myself.  By nature, upon meeting new people, I am more reserved, wanting to get a feel for their personalites by watching and listening.

While some people get the hint and back off…others refuse to leave! Constant “Roomie!” and “My roommate is the best!” and the “My roommate loves me.” Silence…That was all I asked for at night….thank you Beats by Dr Dre with your noise cancelling feature.

But after spending some time alone with my “roomie” I came to the realization that she could be relatively normal.  In a weird way she reminded me a lot of my best friend (currently in China) back when we were in college.  We wound up spending the last night talking with her other friend.  I came to the conclusion that my groupmates weren’t completely scary and the final day turned out to be rather enjoyable.

Though..I will say…I was called “cute” by my younger classmates….my “dongsaengs”…that will never go away will it? I finally understand Baby Spice’s little breakdown in “Spice World” “I’m going to cute even when I’m 30.” which…is now scarily not that far off…..ugh.

Now during my stay it was my “25th” anniversary of leaving Korea for America…..weird.  It passed without much fanfare i’m sad to say because I was busy with “school.”  I will make some time for this soon though.

After my 3 day seminar I had a 4 day vacation that was “spring break/children’s day” so I had over a week off from work.  It was hard getting back into the swing of things.

You know how after the initial two days of being happy you have no school, is slowly followed by 3rd and 4th day where you kind of are bored and want to go back to school, is quickly replaced at day 5 and 6 where you are content to no have work? Well that’s where I was.  I had even gotten accustomed to going to bed later.

It’s now Friday and I’ve only had two classes this week, due to “sports day” being the wednesday that I returned to school.  I was glad I got to see my 1st, 3rd, and especially 5th graders compete, despite that only being in the sun for an hour or so on a cloudy mild day, I GOT SUNBURNED! Now the top of my chest is red-this does not happen to people like me.

While yes i no longer can tan and look like N from Vixx, I sure as hell have never burned the first week in May…..except…I do now…..dammit. Maybe the sun is stronger here?

But Maryland is pretty damn hot.  Speaking of Maryland, Sunday is mother’s day and my first one away from my mom.  I sent off “cards” which was an easy and cheap thing to do-so i will def be doing it more often.  But it will still be strange.  I guess we will have to skype that day.  She still gets confused thinking i’m a full 24hours a head of her, not just 12.  It’s very funny and cute.

Now regarding some teaching life/customs because I feel like i need to make this some how informational…that is so not a word….is it?  I swear since I had my hair “dyed” (bleached people, bleached) from the dark dark dark dark brown (aka the shade above black) I have said/done more dumb things that I have ever done before.

I won’t say what they are because…well thats just too embarssasing.

So as I mentiond I had been on break. When I left, I was told to go and talk with the principal.  I was given a specific saying on a post it.

Now I have no problem doings things asked of me if it’s not a normal custom for me.  I understand that.

However, when I came back from break, I was not told that I needed to see the principal again and greet him AND give him a gift.

I was not told of this at all until of course after the principal had mentioned something to my co teacher about recieving a gift from the other foreign teacher who has been teachnig in korean for about 6 years.  So i was given a “passive aggressive” note saying that I need to learn Korean style.

I would have had no problem buying the principal something small, or going in to say hello to him had I been told BEFORE. In this situtaion, I was the “scapegoat”  because I was the foreinger.

Those who say that “oh you’re korean  they probably just assumed you knew what to say and do.”  I have this to say: they’ve known me for over two months.  They still think I can’t read hangul and romanize everything for me.  So they clearly knew I would have no clue what to say to the principal.

After talking (VENTING) to my friends I calmed down a bit, took the passive aggressive letter with a grain of salt, and continued on.  This is Korean custom as well-not wanting conflict to save face where in America this is considered rude, cowardly and one of the things most people consider their biggest pet peeve.

So today, I continued on with my normal day, did my business and have kept to myself a little more than usual.  My friend told me that there is a time when your co teachers no longer treat you as a guest, and you are considered part of the staff-and will be treated like so. She said most teachers decide during this time to leave or stay a year. I am guessing this is the “light switch” but it was so bizarre-I don’t know if they thought that the GEPIK seminar (run by mostly westerns) would suddenly make me a korean teacher…..I don’t know but they signed me up for it so I think they would know.

March went by like a slug. April was a bit faster.  Here’s to hoping May will progress fast as well…which judging my calander sitting on my desk, it has-since it’s already May 8…and I totally just realized it’s my half birthday….which now means I’m closer to 26 than 25…..which in turn means i’m closer to 30 than 20…..ok I can’t deal with that head trauma right now.

Luckily this month I have “Dream Concert” to look forward to on the 23rd.  Like I’m way more excited than I should be.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, which yes I used to be you like…a month ago …..it’s bascially a giant kpop concert with different artists.

This year 4mintue, BTOB, Shinee, Sistar, topp dogg, BTS, EXO (what’s left of them anyway ….not sorry) and Vixx are some of the names as well as a bunch of others.  I am sad that I will miss out n Beast who was there last year.  But I’m totally excited!

I also spent more than I’ve ever spent before on a concert.  Let’s just say the inital price was 200 for reserved sitting …..and we got standing so….I don’t want to reveal the price because I’m not that gaudy…and I’m also slightly unable to wrap my head around it still.

 

I do want to talk about a conversation my friend and I had about music and KPOP in general because it could seem that I’m a pyscho fangirl ….which I’m really not. But that would invovle going on a tangent and it would be unrelated to this post.  So check out my next post which I will start now!

Next time on the real black and white dog archives: my introduction and journey through KPOP, how music is beyond normal thinking and reason and feeling, and  why it’s more than a simple song. Prepare yourself…or simply skip over it.