Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Konglish is the use of American words in Korea. Though it makes a lot of things easier in some ways, sometimes the words are just weird.

You have regular Konglish which is the korean word for computer is cahm-pu-tah, but then there is the english where you have no idea where it came from. (also, you have to pronounce it that way or they will have no idea what you are saying)

The best example is probably 'skinship'. Koreans use this to express when you touch someone or someone is touchy feely.

Cider here means a type of soft drink like sprite or 7up.  In the USA it's a type of apple juice.

Cunning in Korea means cheating.

Dessert is just something you do after dinner. It isn't necessarily a sweet, it can be coffee or tea.

Hunting isn't about killing animals, hunting here is looking for women.

Toast is a sandwich here, usually toasted but has meat or egg on it.

There are also odd english phrases taught here that every korean seems to know.  For example "Take a rest" is used so often i've even started to use it now. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Here in Korea, summer school isn't just for low level students needing to catch up. Summer school is a way for students to get ahead. So, a large number of students take summer classes! I was surprised at how many.  There are many different courses to take, and my classes have about 15 students in them.  Its a lot lower key than a regular class though. I tend to talk with my students a bit before class, and sit with them while we work through problems together.  We joke around a lot and play games after we do our required worksheets. 

I teach three classes a day, though one class is technically three hours long. My classes are technically a Summer Camp.  I'll also have to teach a longer winter camp in the winter.

The kids act how you'd expect them to act. Annoyed that they take summer camp! I think most of them do it because their parents make them. 

A lot of people complain that korean parents are too forceful when it comes to education and prefer the American system.  I feel somewhat in the middle.  While I agree that children should have time to be children and play, i also know that going through the american education system I didn't learn a thing.  There are korean children here I can have a full english conversation with.  While I don't think they should have to be in after school classes to night, I think I wouldn't mind an extra class for my kid to build up a strength they'd need later on.  English for example is a great extra class, since its the best way to communicate with anyone in the world.  I just felt in america I never lived up to my potential. I got great grades with little to no effort at all... even in college. I never was the type to study. Im definitely not saying i'm a genius or anything, just that our education system could use some help. I had too many teachers that just gave me the answers to the tests or I could always use me notebook.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Co-teachers

When I was planning on teaching in Korea, I was told that i'd have a co-teacher to guide me and to teach with.  Little did any of us know that it was possible to have more than one co-teacher. I seemed to hit the lottery and got 8! So, I teach with 8 different teachers. This is a mixed blessing at times.  I usually always teach the classes on my own and the coteacher watches from the back or gives out dicipline or helps translate.  With 8 teachers though its hard to coordinate teaching styles.  With some, i'm fine diciplining my students, with others, I feel embarrassed to dicipline kids so they go crazy.

My school has two foreign teachers, me and Annabel. Annabel is moving to another school so we had a goodbye dinner for her. (Two coteachers are missing from this picture, the two men, hahaha)

Left to right, Song Jin Yeong, Seong Ja Yeong, Lee AeLan, Yang MiLan, Kim Joohee, Annabel, Me, Park Jinsook.

More Students!

I was lucky enough to obtain some more pictures of my students this past week!

The students below are some of my best students, meaning that they listen to me! These two boys always listen to me, answer questions, and bow when they see me, very respectful! The girls are crazy but in a good way, they are always telling me how much they love me or playing games with me. I caught them at the bus stop and asked for a picture. They are 9th graders.

Below are some more of my 9th graders along with my my coteacher Seong JaYeong. This particular class is a crazy one, the kids run around and yell and don't listen half the time, but still one of my favorite classes.

In the above picture, the boy on the top right and I have an interesting relationship. He loves candy so I make him memorize a new sentence every week and if he can recall it the next week, i'll reward him.

In the picture above, the boy on the far right and I have an interesting relationship.  We met and got off on the wrong foot, but soon after, we became good friends and even have had arm wrestling fights.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My students

Getting pictures of my students is actually incredibly hard. They are at the age where they hate getting their pictures taken. I had taken my phone to my classes in hopes to get some good shots, but even when I snuck a photo the girls would flip and demand that I delete it! The thing about Korea is that all phones are equipped with a shutter sound on their camera that you can't turn off. It's a requirement now to prevent people from sneaking pictures. It's used mostly for perverts, but it seems to work well on teachers trying to sneak photos of their students as well...

I was able to get a few shots though:

The guy above is our basketball ace, grade 9.
My 9th graders trying to fix the computer

The photo below is a rare shot of a student who actually let me take her picture! A 7th grader.

Cat Cafe

So I've been to a dog cafe before and decided it was time to check out a cat cafe. The premise is the same, you pay about $8, get a free drink and play with cats as long as you want.  They were very friendly and the place was pleasantly clean. 

Engrish at it's best. (worst?)

This little guy had deformed legs wich made him short but incredibly cute.

My friend Chen trying her luck with the fierce tiger~

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Time in Korea... is different.  I guess more accurately, time is thought of differently here in Korea.  You don't do things in advance here.  You have to plan a field trip? You do it that day, in the morning. Everything here is last minute! And because of this, it drives me completely insane.  The first month was horrible.  I'd show up to class and no one would be there. Oh, it was cancelled last minute.  I show up to class, and I have double the students. Oh, they need to be combined today. We're going out to eat today? Okay, ill cancel my plans. An hour later, oh, we're not going now.  Even now, I start a summer camp next week and they haven't given me the schedule yet... It can be very frustrating.... but you have to learn to live with it.

People also tend to not be on time. When I first saw this is really annoyed me because I think its rude to show up late to a meeting. Then, as time when on, I started to realize why they were late. Public transportation. You can plan and plan, and still be late. It's happened to me several times. I'll plan to be there 15 minutes early and end up 5 minutes late.  Maybe there's traffic, or maybe your bus doesn't show up for another 15 minutes, or the subway car too. 

Don't get me wrong, the buses and subways aren't behind, its just hard to know when they come.  I've finally got an app on my phone that tells me their schedule, but before that id just have to wait and wait not knowing when they'd. (Max about ten minutes, but add that to ten minutes for a subway wait and thats 20 minutes behind already)


You probably think Americans love coffee a lot.. but that's nothing compared to Korea.  Coffee isn't just a morning thing here.  I never was a big coffee drinker in the US. It was a hassel to make for one, and I never really needed the caffine boost most people crave.

Korea... is a different story though.  Yes, they drink coffee every morning, but they also drink it at night too.  There are about three coffee shops or more on every street.  That's not an exagerration.  These cafe's are incredibly popular because when you go out anywhere in Korea, getting coffee in a cafe is always part of the plan.  Go see a movie? Grab coffee afterwards and chat about it.  Getting dinner? Grab coffee afterwards and let your food digest.  Going clubbing? Grab coffee before hand to give you energy. Oh, and coffee afterwards to keep you awake on your way home in the morning.  (When you go clubbing in Korea, you tend to stay out all night.  This is due to the fact that everyone uses public transportation, so you just stay out until the buses/subways start up again around 5am. You can take taxis but it can get expensive, but this is a whole different subject..)

Whenever I go out with friends, we always get coffee. So, yes, a lot of money goes down the drain, but its part of their social life here. That's how they talk to people, over coffee.  At first I resisted, then I started getting hot chocolates, and finally I broke down and started trying different things.  My current love is Vanilla cafe latte's.

When I study korean with my co-teacher, we always study over coffee. 

All of my coteachers at work have their own coffee hoards.  They have a variety of packets on their desks for quick use, and they also make their own drip coffee as well.  So typically i'd say my coteachers drink for 5-7 cups a day! So crazy.  When I first arrived they always offered me coffee and I'd take it just to be nice, but they also like their coffee black and I couldn't do it... So after suffering the first few weeks, I slowly backed away from it. Black coffee and me do not mix.. I need sugar and creme and everything else to make it taste delicious. 

Now I'm sure there are a lot of people in America just as addicted to coffee, but its not a culture thing like it is here. If you say you don't like coffee here... it just doesn't compute. All of my students drink coffee too, they'll get cans of it from the vending machines. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

School Testing/Levels

Korean Middle school is set up differently than America in many ways, but since my students are currently going through their first set of finals, I'll talk about that.  There are four normal testing periods (with random other ones spread throughout the semesters). First semester has mid terms and finals, and then they have those again second semester.  After first semester the classes and teachers get switched around. So, the systems basically like a college system I suppose.

Anyway, testing is taken very seriously here.  Every classroom during testing must have two teachers in it to prevent from cheating. I've had to watch many classes. Also, they turn the desks around on the students so they can't look inside to cheat.

To further prevent cheating, every test paper is checked by four different teachers and is stamped with their individual names. Their answer sheets are also stamped during class during these times as well. To further protection, any type of reflective surface is covered with paper.

To be honest, watching the testing kids can be quite boring, but I don't mind because it's just another one of my duties as a teacher. Also, during testing days, we have half days so we get to go home early.

The children here in Korea take testing VERY seriously. It affects them in many different ways. Not only do their scores help them get into better schools, but in my school it even determines what classes they are in! My school divides students by level so my A level class are my high level students while my D level classes are my low level students.  There are pros and cons to teaching different levels like this.  For example, its nice being able to do activities based on levels, like making easy games for the low level students and hard games for the high level.  However, this also means that all the low level trouble makers are put into classes together, and those classes... can be very difficult to teach.

Sticker Booths

There are sticker booths in america... but they certainly aren't as popular so they usually are plain stickers. I've always wanted to try one of these so Christine and I had some fun~

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Trick Eye Museum

Next on the list of places to go was the Trick Eye Museum in Hongdae. It's a unique museum that recreates famous works of art to make them look 3D, as if you are interacting with them. Went with my friends Christine and Trenton.

There's actually a lot more pictures, taken with Trenton's camera, but i'll post those when I get them.

Monday, July 2, 2012

My students and basketball

My middle school is actually quite famous for their basketball team.  When I first found out what school I was going to and looked it up, I saw many pictures of their team online and I was excited to teach at a school that loved the same sport I did.  This year they did exceptionally well, like usual.  They made it very far in a tournament, so far that we were excused from school this past Friday to go watch and cheer at the game. 

It was incredible to watch my students in action.  These are the students that are usually the wild ones in class, and to see them be serious and to play so well...

Our team is white~

I was lucky enough to have my phone with me this time so I got video as well as pictures:

Free throw shot

The female students doing a cheering dance

The male students doing their 'sexy' dance.

My student getting the ball stolen from them, then the other team scoring... yeah I caught a bad moment with this video...


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