Friday, December 16, 2011


This is how I know I've been living in Korea for 10 months:

I have to fight the urge to say "chogio" in a restaurant or look for a button on the table
When I go to the bathroom in a public restroom I look for the trash can to throw my toilet paper away
When something happens that I like I say "assa" or "nice-uh" in my head (or sometimes out loud...embarassing...)
I look for a place to put my shoes when I walk into a building
I knew for a fact that the family in front of me in the check-out line was Chinese. Not Japanese, or Korean, or Vietnamese
I haven't had rice in a week and my body can tell
The internet seems soooooooooo slow

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Welcome home

After 28 hours of travel time, I'm home. The flight was just awful. I like flying, but not for 11 hours straight. However I got to eat sandwiches and diet coke on the plane, and I met some nice people and made small talk in English. I haven't been able to do that for a long time and it was very refreshing. When we touched down in Chicago the pilot said "Welcome to America" and it was the greatest thing I've ever heard. I was only expecting my parents at the airport, but these friends were there too.
They brought me an American flag balloon, signs in Korean and English, and a diet coke. Then we all came back to my house and ate chicken wings, goldfish crackers, veggies and dip, and cookies. What a nice welcome to America.
The jet lag wasn't too bad. I was verrrrry tired and I slept like 12 hours the first night, but I think I'm pretty much over it. 
I saw more friends the next day at church. I've had a few moments where I think "What am I doing...why don't I just live here?!" But, when I'm with everyone it feels like I never left. I've had tons of really good food, watched the Vikings, drank Caribou, gone shopping, and gone driving. And its only been 3 days :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011


What do you do when you're expecting a class of 18 and only 4 kids show up? You make them do your Christmas worksheet, then you let them play Twister and listen to Jingle Bell Rock on repeat (both of these were their idea)

And of course you record some of it

Monday, December 5, 2011


I love getting my hair cut in Korea. I go to this awesome salon called Juno Hair, and I always go to the one stylist who can speak English, Ban Seok. Luckily she's also very nice and very good at her job. And since we discovered we both go to church, we're best friends too. I get my hair cut, washed, styled, plus a scalp massage and a cup of coffee for $20. Greatest salon ever.

Ban Seok was cutting my hair tonight and some other girl came and stood by us. She didn't speak a lot of English, but she talked a little bit. When Ban Seok was done, other girl asked if she could style my hair. I said sure. She said "Can I wave dry it?" I wasn't really sure what that meant, but I said yes. Then she started taking tiny little chunks of hair and wrapping them around the curling iron. I thought "oh my gosh, I'm going to be here for 3 hours" but she somehow did it pretty quickly. I think she just wanted to play with white girl hair. She brushed, dried, curled, then brushed some more. I left looking like Taylor Swift. Too bad it was 7:30 on a Monday night and I didn't really have anywhere to go.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dear Santa

Here's some more of my students' writing for you. This week they either had to write a letter to Santa or to their English teacher.

Hi santa!!  
My mame is LeeJung Soo. 
I want to a chrismas present is goalkeeper's gloves.
I like soccer.and I like goalkeeper.      
I Will play soocer this winter vacation.

From _ Ray
Hi  Santa. This is Ray.
This Christmas  I want to a UFO.
Beacause I take the UFO.
UFO is really fast .
So I want to  a UFO.
Bye, Santa.
To_ Santa

Breann teacher.
 Hi Breann teacher I'm scott^^.
Teacher happy Christmas day .
And everyday smily ^^
Thankyou teacher .

Hello santa!
My name is Rose.
Nice to meet you.
I want many notebooks.
I need when study history,Korean,science.
I don't have many notebooks.
I need Engilsh notebook.
I need notebooks.
Please.Give me.

Hi~ Breann teacher my name is charly.
2/25 is christmas  I like christmas.
How about you Berann?
Christmas, my sister give me computer..
And my family my friend give me  present.
How about your family , friend  what  present?
Give me study, thanks teacher.
Merry  christmas ^^~

Hi santa I want to be a smart phone
because my phone is fritz
If I have a smart phone
I want to play another game, and I boast
please give me that
I will good student

To.Breann teacher
Marry christmas teacher.
My name is 'Alex'
Thankyou for study English.
Teacher live a long and don't forget we

Santa please give me my happy
And, health give please
I like family and freand
Them happy and health
That my greatest gift

Hello~ Breann , I'm Min kyung.
How are you?? (I think:I'm happy)
thank,teach English..
I want you don't go America
you are pretty.
so I like you.
good bye~~

To. Breann teacher.
Hi, Breann teacher.
I thank you for the lesson you gave me.
English many teach.
I want many game.
I am happy When game in English class.

Santa hi! I`m Mia.
Santa  give me dollar and computer and bike and bed and house.
many? ^^
Thank you if you give me.
I love you  Santa.
Good bye.              
                                              From. mia

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for...

my family
my friends back home who will always be there
new friends who have gotten me through this year
all the people who haven't forgotten about me
my job - I know I'm lucky to be employed, and I get to do what I love
Yuri, Jenny, and Sam
my students. we don't always understand each other, and sometimes we make each other mad, but they're pretty great
the opportunity to live in a foreign country
learning what it's like to be an immigrant
that I can pay my bills
my frig full of food and my closet full of clothes
Pastor Steven Furtick and Elevation Church. I watch their sermon online every week
Bible study
all the vacations I've been able to take and the things I've seen
the internet and skype - keeping me in touch with the rest of the world
that I get to be home for Christmas in 16 days
the kindness of strangers
meeting people from all over the world
music, movies, tv shows...English entertainment
being an American and a native English speaker
boxes full of American snacks and candy
learning how to take care of myself and be independent

I know there are a million more things. God has blessed my life, especially this year in Korea. I'm thankful to be here each day. Even though some days are hard, I know this is where I'm supposed to be.

Thanksgiving dinner with the foreigners

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Put your hands up

I don't really have any fantastic pictures or stories to share with you this week, except for this. One day 2 of my 5th grade boys were pretend arguing with each other during their break time. They're best friends and they were kind of laughing, so I knew it was no big deal. All the sudden friend #1 (who has a black belt in taekwando) kicked friend #2 in the chest and friend #2 fell down and slid across the floor, just like in a cartoon. They both looked at me and kind of laughed (friend #2 was not hurt), and my first thought was "I'm really impressed that you can get your leg up that high and that fast" but I decided not to say that out loud. Instead I said "No taekwando in English class" then I thought "I can't believe I had to say that."
One story is not that exciting, so I'll leave you with some of my students' favorite kpop :) Enjoy

The girls loooooooooooove this band

There was a period of time when every time I said "raise your hand" at least one kid would start singing the chorus to this song

I cannot leave my apartment without hearing this song

Friday, November 18, 2011

Public transportation

This morning I was riding the bus to work. I was sitting on the back bench. We went over a speed bump and I literally was lifted out of my seat! It was like being on a roller coaster, but without the harness. I guess speed bumps don't mean the same thing in Korea as they do in America.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How I survive little kids

We were playing banangrams in 2nd grade (its like scrabble but easier). Everybody had 15 tiles, and all
the tiles and children were spread out on the floor. Then a bunch of the girls started fighting over the
letters. They were whining and complaining and grabbing things from each other and yelling. I looked at
Sam and said "I'm so glad I can't understand them right now."And then he dealt with it. These are the
times that not speaking Korean is a good thing :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall fun

On Sunday we went hiking to see the pretty fall leaves. I love that it's November and there's no snow and its still warm enough to walk around outside. I don't love how hard hiking is, even when I think it's not going to be.

 Those lumps in the ground are tombs. We're not sure why they're buried on the side of a mountain, or how they got up the mountain.

 This is how all the professionals take pictures.

 They were scared to cross the bush boundary.

 At the bottom of every mountain they have these air pumps you can use to clean the dirt off your shoes...
 ...or as a wind machine for your hair
 We saw this sign on our way to dinner. I wonder what the shop owners think it says.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Future Einsteins?

Every week my 5th and 6th graders do an online writing assignment. They are given a prompt and they write a few sentences and I correct them. Some of them are really hard to understand, and some of them are really funny. This week the question was something along the lines of "what do you think will be/should be invented in the future?" Enjoy your glimpse into my job.

In future car is  invented 
It  can fly and swim
Because,people can go  fast.
and be convenient for transportation.
I want to   be invented this car soon.

This is actually really brilliant
I invent pill.
It is breathe in the water.
Becuse if tsunami come people can survive.
and We can eat delicious fish in the water.
We save money
Beacuse no ride submarine.

This boy must be a sci-fi fan. I have no idea what a spider monkey has to do with anything
I think it  is a watch.
If you  push buttons people change alien.
Beacause change alien fly in the sky, stronger alien, Spider monkeys  and Clever aliens.
It`s a watch is convenient

Either this kid misspelled 'tiger,' or he's the biggest Napoleon Dynamite fan
I want to robot liger.
1.I like liger.
2.Liger is reduction.
3.Liger has a vicious temper.
4.Small liger is very cute.

Her mom would be so proud
Cleaning on the robot
 It is very good
Because Cleaning is very hard
It use  not  hard And it save time
Mom is   comfortable
 It is very good

Because carrying a ruler and a pencil is just too heavy...
I want to invention "ruler pencil".
Because  convenient.
We don`t need to carry  a ruler.
"Ruler pencil" is amazing.
"Ruler pencil" is pencilcase more large.

I'm not sure why 'spoon' is spelled 'shoop'...
I want to invent  shoop chopsticks.
Shoop chopsticks is convenient.
We don't need shoop and chopsticks.
It is easy to do the dishes.
We save money and water.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Decision made

I have stay in Korea another year! A few Mondays ago Yuri told me I had until the following Monday to make my decision because she needed to fill out papers. That same week Katie told me she was definitely going home. She had been on the fence, and she was the last of my friends to decide. I was really really really hoping she would stay. That was a stressful week, but I'm so happy the decision is made and I don't have to worry about it anymore.

There are definitely hard days at school, but overall I love my job. I've got great co-teachers. Unfortunately Jenny has to switch schools next year, but I'll still have Yuri and Sam, and most of the classroom teachers will stay the same. I love my students and I'm excited to work with the same kids another year. Knowing the schools, the teachers, and the students will make my job way easier. Plus I've already planned a year's worth of lessons that hopefully I can re-use. I know there will be bad days, but at least I know what I'm getting myself into. I probably wouldn't be staying if I couldn't stay at my same schools. I've learned so much about how to be a teacher this year, and I'm excited for everything I'm going to learn next year too.

My 4 best friends in Korea are Katie, Alissa, Garrett, and Kyla. They're all leaving. I'm not thrilled, and I really can't imagine what my life will be like without them, especially Katie. We went to college together and had the same major and all the same classes...I've basically seen or talked to her every single day for the last 3 years. We've gone through a ton of stuff together and I probably wouldn't have come to Korea if she hadn't come with me. So them all leaving is not ideal, but I know I'll make new friends. Every English teacher who leaves gets replaced by someone else, I just hope I like the new people as much as I like my friends now.

I feel more peace when I think about staying than when I think about leaving. I don't feel like I'm done. For me, one year is not enough. A ton of thought and prayer went into this decision, and I know God wants me here a little longer. So I'm very happy and content. And, because I'm staying another year I get extra winter vacation! I'll be home December 10- January 1. Katie and I made a countdown chain last week. See you in 33 days :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011


This week Jang Saeng Po bought a trampoline. They use it as a giant bribe for the kids. Teachers give kids trampoline tickets for doing good things, and every ticket is worth a minute of jumping time, or something like that. They keep it locked so the kids can't get in there without an adult. On Friday Jenny borrowed the key and we played :)
A few of the kids accidentally saw this picture on my computer, and they got SO UPSET! They mostly whined in Korean, but I heard a lot of "teachaaaaa whyyyyyyyyy?" :)

Dance dance

 Earlier this week Yuri told me I should come to school Saturday morning to see an art festival. I assumed I would look at some paintings, say hi to my students, show my face, and go back to my apartment for a nap. I was so wrong. When I got there everyone was in the gym. It was full of parents and all the students were sitting in single file lines wearing sparkly costumes. I asked Yuri what was going on and she said "it's the art festival" like I was an idiot for not knowing that art festival means coreographed dances. Every grade did 2 songs. Of course some of the naughtiest kids were the best dancers, and nobody was more excited than the 5th and 6th grade boys. Seriously. It was a very interesting and very cute Saturday morning.
 The day started off with some traditional drums
 Then the kindergarteners did a little dance. The girls wore these tiny sparkly belly shirts, and I couldn't decide if it was cute or creepy
 2nd grade singing and dancing in matching plaid
3rd grade in sparkly superman outfits. The song definitely had nothing to do with superman.
 Every adult's worst nightmare: recorder performance
 These 6th graders were the MCs, but the looked more like a bride and groom to me
1st grade cheerleaders!

 5th grade sailors
 This is the 5th grade teacher conducting them. She was in charge of the whole festival. I love her. She doesn't speak a lot of English, but she tries really hard, and she's so cute.
Kindergarten had a costume change and came back dressed as Elvis!

 6th grade
 The 5th graders were imitating this famous cooking/drum show called Nanta
1st grade Indian dance

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloweeeeeeeen

We decided to have a Halloween night-o-fun and make chili, carve pumpkins, eat candy, and watch Hocus Pocus. Step 1 was finding pumpkins to carve. It was much more difficult than you would expect. My co-teacher Jenny warned me that it would be basically impossible to find orange pumpkins, so we bought the green ones at the market. Then we had to carry them back. I carried 2 and Katie carried one, and after that walk I decided I could have twins.
 We got all 3 greens for $8. What a steal. The baby green one turned out to be some strange melon that tasted like cucumber. We asked the lady at the market what it was and she said the word for pumpkin, but then Katie's co-teachers told us that the word "pumpkin" in Korean has 2 meanings: pumpkin and this mystery melon. Oh well. We carved it anyways.
 We went to Katie's apartment - we always go to hers because its the biggest. She invited 2 of her co-teachers, Liz and Kate.
 Alissa had to wear a costume for school that day, so she kept it on for us. It was a dinosaur and we loved it almost as much as her kids did!
 Lights on: Garrett and Kyla made an angry pig, Alissa made a monster, I made some stars, Alissa drew a duck that Katie carved, and Katie and her co-teachers made a face and then attached everyone else's scraps to their pumpkin.
 Lights off
What a lovely couple. They were lucky enough to find a real orange one!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

These are the days I love my job

My students started talking about Halloween 2 weeks ago. I'm not sure how they got so excited about it because I didn't really mention it and Korea doesn't celebrate it. But, they were pumped. Some of the moms brought stuff to have a Halloween party on Friday, so that's what we did. I may have gotten a little too excited about taking pictures...but they were just so cute.
 Carving pumpkins was too dangerous (Jenny was afraid they would stab each other), so we decorated tangerines.

 Then they wore costumes and we went trick-or-treating around the school
 This girl was a witch with a pumpkin face
 So awesome! This is one of those hoodies that zips all the way up your face

 He had a witch cape, Zorro mask, vampire teeth, and a cowboy hat. I guess they don't understand that all the pieces of your costume should go together...

 Feel the love
 There are no words to describe this child...
 Cute 2nd grade girls
 Upside down pumpkin mask, witch cape, and spear
 LOVE the pose!

They walked around chanting "trick or treat". Probably because I told them if they didn't say it right they wouldn't get candy.