And then there were 5 ….

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Can’t believe there are only 5 more days of this 13day of Halloween Song challenge!

Today will also be an update as well because it’s Thursday and due to another school event (the amount in this month alone is staggering) I have no class.

Lesson Plans:

So with the Halloween holiday coming up, I wanted to do something special for my kids. I remember as a student, anytime there was a holiday, school schedules were a little different. It was exciting and fun and the best time.

But Halloween isn’t really a thing in Korea (like it is apparently in Japan). The students know the general idea-costumes and candy. But that’s about it. There’s no special event or anything (which makes sense) but I always was told that I’m not only introducing English to them but also to bring a little American culture as well.

So I decided last year to do some things that I remember loving as a student myself.

Now sadly there aren’t really costumes and I doubt the school would be happy if I asked the students to dress up next Monday.

So I decided to purchase some cheap things from the local store.

The first activity is called “Candy Guessing Game”

And to celebrate the holiday in class, I bought a clear glass jar, filled it with peanut M&M’s (I hate regular M&M’s and I will be eating them afterwards 🙂 I counted them as I put them into the jar. Then I have the students line up, look at the jar and guess how many candies are in the jar.

Now in my youth, the winner usually kept the jar of candies, but due to the fact I have 8 classes and Peanut M&M’ s aren’t cheap here, I bought chocolate bars for the winners. If you have smaller classes or find cheaper candy, then you can give the winner the jar of candy. I used Peanut M&M’s because of their color, size and the fact I want to eat them afterwards. I’m a little selfish.

I suggest though if you have multiple classes you wait until all classes have done the activity. If you announce the winner, students from other classes will ask what the winning number is and eventually all the kids will know the winning number. It sucks especially if some of your classes are on different lessons (trust me I know) but unless you want to put them in a different jar and redo it, it’s just better to wait until all of your classes have guessed.

The next activity is a Halloween word search to be done while waiting for their turn to guess the candy. Korean students really love word searches for some reason. It’s really easy to find these online. I chose a medium level one so the smarter kids have something to keep them busy for a while, and the lower level students can work with partners.

The final activity is showing a little bit of “Nightmare before Christmas”. Kids here love slightly bizarre things and animation-so I assumed they would love this. It’s a different type of animation than they are used to and as we all know Tim Burton is into some weird shit. I would suggest if you don’t have this than try Corpse Bride maybe….Corline apparently has a weird scene that involves some…kind of animation nudity  or something and showing that to kids without parent supervision might be considered bad taste.

Music:

Since there are only 5 more days left I chose Beast/B2st “Shadow”. This is one of my all time favorite KPOP songs though it’s less popular than their infamous “Fiction”. It’s maybe not as “themey” as other videos, but it’s definitely creepy…..especially the end.

It’s also appropriate I chose this for the 5th spot if a little sad.

Though not entirely surprising, Hyunseung left the group earlier this year.  He’s always been a little bit quieter and 4D but I felt like after his dad died he really changed a lot. I thought he was getting better the past year or so but with all the “scandals” he’s been involved, and his own solo album, it really felt like he didn’t want to be part of the group anymore. I think the saddest thing is that the members revealed they don’t speak anymore.

So now there are only 5 members.

To me this was a group that was way more talented than some of the bigger groups out there-because every single one of them had a talent. And while as individual members they were great, together they were perfect. They always sounded like the swallowed a CD. Their performances were always on point. There really was no fault with this group.

And then CUBE really ran them into the ground. No promotion, nothing. And they weren’t the only group to feel this in CUBE.

So I was relieved to see them leave. I’m grateful to CUBE for giving them the second chance they all deserved but it’s time for them to make their own label.

 

Aside for the typical post about music, I also went to the Lotte Duty Free Family Concert last Saturday. It was a first come first serve type of thing so I didn’t really want to wait too long because I would be far away anyway. Didn’t really matter because the seats didn’t fill up as much as I thought. I was pretty close to the field, though still far away. Luckily I was alone so finding 1 seat open is much easier.

Bad news, my EXO lightstick batteries died. Good news…I was surrounded by EXO-L’s.

I always forget how crazy EXO-L’s go at any event EXO is at. I mean this in the best way possible.

Other than EXO, TWICE, NCT (both units minus Dream), EXID, G Friend (the place was really quiet during their performance…I’m not a huge fan because I think all their songs sound the same, but I felt bad for them), Mamamoo (who were SOOOOOOOO amazing-the past few times I’ve seen them they looked super tired but they were all on fire and the place was SOOOOOO loud for them)….I think that’s it. There weren’t many groups but they each did at least 5 songs so it was really nice.

Also there weren’t any idiot hosts and filming so it went super smooth. It was nice seeing Lay do his song, but sad that EXO only did 4 songs. Though they finished with “Lucky” which is one of my favorite songs of theirs so it was okay.

 

Travel:

So I’m hoping finally this weekend, I can get to hiking in Goyang. My weekends have been so busy and I haven’t had time -plus it rained last weekend. I was invitied to go hiking with some of the teachers at my school last week but they didn’t tell me until I had been at school for a few hours already…and had no way to change before they left (I don’t understand how they thought that I would be able to go with no warning-like a day in advance would have been nice).

I really wanted to go hiking in the fall for the colors, but it’s been on and off rainy this fall (wow rainy season is finally here!)

So I’m hoping, weather barring (and physically -I started a new workout regime) I can make it to the mountains this Saturday and see some great fall colors, enjoy the crisp air, visit the town, and get a great hike in.

 

 

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On the 8th day before Christmas…

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My students gave to me…a funny and easy final 5-7 class.

 

This class I love so much.  There are too many cute ones to name.

Jake: the one with big eyes who always wants my attention.

Rainbow: the smartest student who asked me today if we are using the simple present or present progressive for an activity (darn you Rainbow..I don’t remember!)

Twin Girl: Her twin brother is in my 5-2 class. While they are both very smart, it’s obvious he’s a little more wild than she is.

Sehun: My EXO fan (I have one in every class) who likes Sehun the best.

Tony: Who is so small and so cute he look like a mix between Filbert from Rocko’s modern life and D.O. from EXO.  Weird combo I know but he was so cute today with his facial expressions!

 

And finally probably my favorite student Dion. Mr. Ash Blonde hair.  His English is pretty good compared to others but the way he tries so hard and always says “teacher”.  He’s so well behaved and tries to help keep the class quiet.  He will grow up to be a great person I think and I am going to miss him so much next year.

 

Now because I’m in the ending phase of planning my Winter camp which has turned me into a workaholic this past week, I will quickly finish up this post with Christmas song.

Now this will NOT be the last you see of The Nutcracker because well..I’m obsessed with it. (I GET TO SEE IT TOMORROW!!!WAHHH!! IN SEOUL!!! OMG) Ok now that, that is finished.

Usually I am a purist when it comes to anything classical and for most music.  But on occasion I do like remixes-usually ones that don’t change too much like the melody or overall feel. (Any VIXX fans here? Check out BEAST Fiction/VIXX Error remix..it slays)

So when I was working in PETCO …last year? This would come on and I couldn’t help but to secretly love it.  The slightly haunting feel is the same and though there isn’t the light and clean sound because of the ….dubstep?? It still feels really cool.

 

Hope you guys enjoy!! Because I will most likely not update this saturday and sunday…I should probably do so now…So…I will do Saturday’s post now in a seperate post…ok..bye.

Let It Be

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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!