The clock in our office included a row marked "D-Day" and finally yesterday it reached 0. I'm sure most of you are confused and curious as to what i'm referring to. Yesterday was THE day, at least for the third grade high school students (seniors), it was the day that would decide their fate. You think I'm kidding? It may sound a bit extreme but trust me...
Yesterday, 660,000 students sat down to take the 9 hour college entrance exam (think ACT/SAT), hoping their years of arduous study would pay off. The results of the exam significantly impact the students future, used as the determining factor for college admissions, thus affecting their future jobs, it's a big deal.
"The most crucial test seen as a deciding factor in an applicant's choice of college and subsequent career" ~ The Korean Herald
In the months before coming to Korea I'd have to say I was a lot more focused on how I would adjust to a new apartment, culture and language - the minor detail of becoming a teacher seems to have slipped my mind. The EPIK staff and lectures gave us some great material and resources to use for the classroom, however learning how to be a teacher is usually done over more than a weeks time span
After my whirlwind vacation and a few quiet weeks in Gumi I'm back at it - time for a brand new school year. To be quite honest, I feel like I haven't taught a real class since about November of last year, so getting back into the swing of things might take some time. On the plus side, I don't have to go through the "new kid" weeks again since i'm already accustomed to my school. There are, of course, new students and teachers to meet and many changes to be had, but I think I'm ready for them all. We had the opening ceremony this morning and I got my 15 seconds of fame as applause erupted from the student body when I was introduced. I wasn't the most popular teacher of the day, however - our PE teacher 윤종태 was easily the most popular among the students, followed closely by a few of the attractive math teachers.
Being the Holiday season and all I thought I'd pay tribute to some of the great gift packages one may receive in Korea. Like this spam and canola oil number I received for Chuseok one year.
This post is an ode to Buksam, my quaint little town, and all of the people in it. I had this realization today while traveling around nearby towns that I really love the place I live.
Last week Friday was our school festival so leading up to the event I decided to do a lesson on festivals around the world. I found some material on Waygook so I didn't have to do too much work (I'm lazy) and then at the end of class I thought it'd be fun to let the students create their own festivals. I let them work in groups with hopes that this would prompt them to actually do the activity - I have a few sloth students that like to pretend to be invisible and sleep through most of class. (although who can blame then, when they rarely get a chance to do so). I must say I got some interesting festivals in return.
Last week, while all of the grade 2 students enjoyed three days in Jeju, I was lucky enough to join grade one on a field trip to Mungyeong. I think I might have messed up because I was supposed to be going with one of my co-teachers and her class (1-2) but I got on the bus with the Math teacher and his class (1-7). It actually wasn't a mistake as much as it was intentional on my behalf. Class 1-2 was just playing games all day and 1-7 was going to a coal museum, riding rail cars and theeen playing games for the rest of the day. We started at the coal museum which I never really caught the name of. The kids basically ran through the museum part and moved on to the outdoor area where we proceeded to take pictures and play some old school games.
Being thrown in head first and learning to teach is a bit rough - but no one said there was no reward. Last Wednesday the principal, 지경진 Ji gyeong gin asked what my favorite Korean food was and if I would like to go to dinner. I of course had no plans so yes, i'd love to go. The Chinese character teacher, 임동향 Im dong hyang and biology teacher 강병권 jang byeong gwon joined us for Galbi (korean bbq - again cooked at your table over hot coals) various side dishes, rice, and of course some Soju.
I could not be happier to be free from the dorm living and cafeteria food. Although I made some great friends at orientation and am now miles away from them I am confident that I will keep in touch and see those that mean something to me. The last few days of orientation were more of the same, lectures about how to be a good teacher and survive in this country and more bland, not too authentic Korean food. The last lecture my class had was a short Taekwondo class and it was probably one of my favorites. The instructors were awesome and you could tell they really appreciated us being here to teach. I really underestimated how grateful a majority of the country is that we are coming here to teach. I hadn't thought about it as being a big deal but the more I realize this the happier I am that I'm here.