Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I'm going on vacation today! The last time I travelled was in August when I went to Hawaii, and I feel like it's been a very long time. (I know it actually hasn't, and that's one of the reasons I love my job so much.) I'm going to Japan and the Philippines with my friends Thao and Katherine. We're spending 5 days in Japan and 7 in the Philippines. I cannot wait to go to new places and see new things, and to finally be warm again. 

We'll be in Tokyo and Osaka, with maybe a day trip to Kyoto

We'll be lying on the beach in Palawan

See you in 12 days Korea!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I hate moving

This week Sun-am told me I could "work at home." English camp is over and I think they didn't want to pay for the heat I would turn on in my classroom if I was there, so here I sit at 11:00 on a Wednesday  morning in my pajamas. Not bad.

In between movie-watching and sleeping in, I've been cleaning out my apartment. I'm moving soon-ish, and I've seen enough people pack and up and leave that I know something unexpected always happens. Things take longer than you think, you have way more stuff than you realized, everything won't fit into your suitcases...I want to avoid that mess.

It's kind of amazing what you can fit into a 10-foot apartment. Then again I've been here for 2 years. And I like to shop. I was looking through my closet and I have pretty equal amounts of clothes I brought with me and clothes I've bought along the way. I've got a desk full random papers that I thought might be important one day, samples of student work, old birthday cards.

Today one bag of clothes goes to charity and another goes in the trash. I hate moving.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I went ice fishing

This weekend I went ice fishing for the first time ever! We took a very long bus ride to Pyeongchang and spent the day on the lake. Its much further north that Ulsan, so the weather was cold and they had lots of snow. I loved it! It would have been more fun if we caught something, but we still had a good time. 
 Fishy faces, ready to go

 Scooping the ice out of the water

 Ice fishers
 So many people did this - lay down on the ice and stick their face in the hole. I don't get it.
 Winter wonderland

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The way things work around here

The school system is different over here. There are things that are better and things that are worse, but the thing that I hate the most is the way they do special ed. I can't speak for every school, but in my schools it's pretty non-existent. As far as I know there is no such thing as an IEP, there are no special-ed paras or teachers, and there's no differentiation. Teachers are aware of who in their class has trouble learning, but there's nobody and nothing to help the students be successful learning or to help the classroom teachers be successful teaching them.

In English class this is especially frustrating. I have several kids that come in and try to learn, but by the next lesson they've already forgotten what I taught. Then there are kids who don't even make an effort anymore, and really who can blame them? I've got some 5th and 6th graders that still don't know the alphabet. And I wonder if this is the best use of their time. I'm not saying kids should be treated different if they have trouble learning, because that's not true. And I'm not saying language learning isn't important, because I think it is. But it might be a lot more valuable for those students to skip English class and spend extra time studying math, or science, or something they're going to need and use more in their lives. Unfortunately this isn't an option. I don't think it's something anybody would even consider. Every student will attend every class, period.

I've got a 5th grade boy who is so severely disabled. He needs help doing the most basic things, like putting on his shoes. He can't speak, and he's always got this blank look on his face. And he comes to English class every week. He goes everywhere with an "aid." And when I say aid, I mean one of those public service kids. (In Korea every man has to do 2 years of military service, unless they find you physically unable, then you do 2 years of public service somewhere.) I'm so angry for this child. He can't even speak Korean, there's zero reason for him to be attending English class. They should be teaching him life skills instead of wasting 80 minutes of his time every week.

It's not even that the system is broken, there's not a system in place. So many kids at my schools are falling through the cracks because there's nobody to help them. I know the classroom teachers want their students to learn, but when nobody has taught you how to deal with different types of learners and there's no extra support, there's only so much you can do.

Friday, January 4, 2013


I grew a lot during 2012. Things were fun, hard, boring, exciting. My 2nd year in Korea was a lot different than my first. I'm glad I stayed. It was great to be able to do the same job twice - I learned a lot and it was so fun to continue getting to know and teach (most) of the kiddos. But I feel very ready to move on in a few months. I made and lost a lot of friends. It's hard to have a rotating door of people in your life, but there are also friends who will always be there no matter how far away they are, and those are the ones to hold on to. This is my year in review:

I went to Thailand with Katie, Garrett, and Kyla. We saw lots of beautiful gold, ate pad thai from the street, and spent a day playing with tigers.

 My best friends all went back to America. I did not like it.

 New school year with all new co-teachers. It took a lot of adjusting. I went to a basketball game with some friends - Korean basketball is very different than American basketball.

 Cherry blossom season in Korea. Alexis and I went to the park near our apartment to enjoy the beauty.

 Bethany and I found New Philadelphia Church in Busan, and that shaped the rest of my year. She and I went together every Sunday until she left Korea, and I still go every weekend. It's my weekend home and they are my family.

 Trip to Seoul! Full of shopping and eating.

 My old co-teacher Yuri got married and I was invited to her wedding. It was so beautiful, and such an experience. Now she's pregnant with a baby boy.

I met my family + my college roommate Ashley for a vacation in Hawaii. We laid on the beach, went hiking, snorkeling, saw a luau, ate a lot of pineapple

 I got to talk to all these girls. We grew up together and have scattered, but are still very good friends. It's hard to coordinate all our schedules in all our time zones, so it's pretty special when we're all free.

The leaves don't change colors, but they do get big. 

 Ugly sweater Thanksgiving party! We had turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes...all the good good food. And we looked awesome.

 These girls made my first Christmas in Korea a lot of fun. 

Happy new year!
This is my favorite picture from the night. One person was trying to organize us by shirt color, and another person was trying to organize us by skin color.

Last new years eve was my last night home in America. I rung in the new year with my friends, then got on a plane a few hours later. And let me tell you, that was a long sad flight. This time I spent the first day of the new year with lots of new fun friends. 2013 is going to be exciting!