Trip to Busan

For Seollal, my friend and I went to Busan! It was amazing! We arrived Thursday, and left Sunday.

Thursday:

I left my apartment at 8:45ish, and took a taxi to the express bus terminal. Because the Olympics are going on, I decided I would take a bus to Seoul and from there take the KTX down to Busan (really wanted to make a Train to Busan joke here). By doing this I could avoid all the Olympic traffic in Gangneung (for those who don’t know, all the ice events are in Gangneung not Pyeongchang).

I took a 9AM bus to Seoul, and arrived around 12:45PM. From the Bus terminal I took the ITX to the KTX station, and found out that all of the KTX stations go to different places, and I had gone to the wrong station. I arrived at the correct KTX station at 13:30, and was horrified by the huge line for the counter. I saw a way to skip the line since I had a domestic card, and tried to use the machine. I’m assuming it was because of Seollal that  most trains were sold out. I ended up buying a Korail ticket instead of a KTX ticket, and that train left at 17:40. I had to wait for a few hours at the station before I could leave, and then because it was Korail instead of a KTX I didn’t arrive in Busan until 23:15ish.

When I got to Busan, I followed the directions the Korail attendant gave me to get to the right part of Busan to find my hostel. I got to the hostel at 00:05, talked with my friend for a while and went to sleep probably around 1am.

Friday: 

Because of Seollal, most places were closed, so my friend and I went to the Haedong Yonggung Temple in the morning. This place was beautiful!! (Pictures can be found on Instagram: world.member) It is a Buddhist Temple beside the sea. We also ate Hotteok for the first time, and I love it! So tasty!!

We then walked around Haeundae a bit to look around and eat lunch. Most places were closed, but the beach was gorgeous, and we found an Indian restaurant to eat at. I was so excited for Indian food since I hadn’t had Indian food since I left home.

That night, the hostel owner organized an event for everyone staying at the hostel to eat out together. We ate at a Korean Barbecue place, went to an expat bar, and then went to Noraebang.

This is my first time at a hostel, so it was really cool! I got to hear new peoples stories from traveling and why they are in Korea, and made new friends.

It was also my first time at an expat bar because I try to avoid them, but it was a new experience. I’m glad I went with a group, but I will continue to avoid the expat bars as much as I can.

Noraebang was a lot of fun! We had the big group, and when the time ended, half the group left and half of us stayed for another hour. We had someone from Argentina, and he wanted to dance which was a lot of fun doing a different type of dance!

Saturday:

This is what I wanted to go to Busan for. The Gamcheon Culture Village. AHHHHH I was so excited! It was so cool to see all the colorful houses and the random bits of art around the village. We walked around there for a bit and then on the way back to the subway we stopped and went up a hill where we could see all of Busan. This was not planned, we did not know it was there, but it was an amazing view.

busan

We then took the subway one stop over, walked around a fish market, ate lunch at Mr. Pizza’s and ended up near Lotte Market where we explored a huge shopping district. After the person we were waiting for arrived, we went through Lotte Market and got surprised by a water show that was happening inside the building. When we finished window shopping, we went and saw Black Panther before going back to the Hostel.

We dropped our stuff off at the hostel and headed towards the beach to drink at a bar. I thought we’d just do a couple drinks, but then the group of Korean guys next to us invited us to play darts with them. It was 3 vs 3, and we lost lol we all talked for a bit, which was fun, but then it was a bit of an abrupt ending to the conversation and we went back to our individual groups.

I told my friends I’d be right back, and I went to go to the bathroom, where I saw a really drunk Korean girl about to go into the men’s bathroom, so I pulled her away to avoid a mishap. She was really surprised to see a foreigner, and started talking to me. This led to a really long conversation, and she wanted our groups of friends to drink together. She was really nice, and also really drunk lol She ended up sitting with my table for a little bit while her friends tried to take her away (they seemed pretty embarrassed). Before they took her away, she put her number in my phone, and called her phone so she could have my number too. We left soon after, and it was a good night overall, at the very least it was entertaining.

Sunday:

Sunday morning, I saw a missed call from the girl from the bar, and being a bit concerned I messaged to make sure she got home okay. After that she texted for a bit, apologizing, but since she remember the whole night, she asked if she could keep my number, so next time I’m in Busan we can hang out. I agreed since she seems really nice, and would like to hang out with her when she’s sober.

11 o’clock was the checkout time for the Hostel, and a few of us were checking out at the same time, so we were all talking with the owner of the hostel who is incredibly kind before checking out. At the time, my plan was to go to Daejeon and spend a night there, but it later changed.  My friend and I went to the Korail/KTX station, and since all the tickets were pretty much sold out, I ended up taking a train to Daegu instead. I said goodbye to my friend, and went on my train. On the way to Daegu, a different friend messaged, and we ended up making plans to hang out in Chuncheon. Instead of spending a night in Daejeon, I stayed in Chuncheon before coming back home.

Pro-Tips:

Buying tickets in advance is usually a good idea. However, if you make mistakes like going to a wrong station, or if something happens like a change of plans, this can easily backfire.

Watch out for events that could affect travel plans! For this trip, it was the Olympics, but there are a lot of Festivals/Events around Korea that could also affect your plans.

With big holidays where families travel to see each other, keep an eye on tickets to see if they are selling out.

Know how to get where you need to go from various cities, so have backup plans. When I was trying to buy a ticket from Busan, I asked for a few different cities that I knew I could get home from because so many were sold out.

 

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Learning KPOP Dancing in Korea

Why I Started:

As the weather got colder, it became harder to leave my apartment. I was getting bored, and a teeny bit homesick. When winter vacation started, I had more free time and didn’t know what to do with it. The less busy I became the more I started thinking of home. Something needed to change. I needed to be doing stuff!

I decided I would start exercising. I got the band app to try and find a club to join. Originally my idea was to find a soccer team or something, but when I couldn’t find any girl teams I thought “I’m in Korea, I should do something I can’t do at home!”

Image result for an infinity later

Journey it took to take Classes:

So I found myself at a dance hagwon.

This took me almost a month to work up the courage to go lol

In America, I did a semester of ballet, and a semester of ballroom dancing, but this was different. On the door in Korean it said “Hip Hop, Broadcasting dance, Jazz, Urban, and Zumba” along with the times. Unfortunately, when I first went, it was closed, but I found out when it would be open!

The next Friday, I went. But the teacher wasn’t there so the students said to come back on Tuesday. They then said Wednesday, but I wasn’t listening as to why they said Wednesday instead (you should always listen when people change their minds lol). So I went on Tuesday. The Hagwon was again closed. . . This time for winter break, but it would be open the next day . . . Wednesday. (See, this is why I should have listened). So I went back on Wednesday.

On Wednesday I was finally able to talk to the teacher. She was really nice, but doesn’t know English so when I couldn’t understand certain words she used Papago to translate. Unfortunately, I went at 7PM which was the teen dance class so she asked me to come back at 8pm to watch the adult class. Since I had already made plans, I instead came back the next day.

On Thursday I went to watch the dance class, but what she really meant was I would participate in the dance class lol talk about not being prepared. So I tried to join in, and it was really fun. Super awkward, but fun. After class, she explained how the classes throughout the week work, and asked what I thought. I loved it, and told her I’d like to start on Monday.

The First Week Kpop Dancing:

Monday was interesting. No one talked to me since I’m a foreigner and they don’t expect me to know Korean. So I introduced myself to the girl next to me and asked her what her name was. I made small talk with her before the class started. When the teacher came in, people were still talking, some were talking about me, but I’m used to it so I just ignored it. The teacher was not having it. She stared them down, told the whole class “she’s American, she knows some Korean” and then made them be quiet. Awkward . . .

For this week’s class we were doing the dance to Roller Coaster by 청하.

Here is the official dance practice:

Now I don’t know how to dance like this (Ballet/Ballroom) so I was incredibly slow at learning the dance, but I had bits and pieces down. I had also never heard the song before so while everyone else knew the rhythm I was going one step slower trying to keep up, but it was still really fun! At the end of class, I got the song name from the teacher, and as I was leaving, I asked a different girl for her name, and introduced myself to her too. When I got home, I looked up the song, and found the dance rehearsal to practice some more.

Tuesday, I practiced like crazy since I knew I was so bad at the dance on Monday. Since this week is the Lunar New Year, we actually only have 3 days instead of 5 to get the dance down, so I really needed this practice.

At class, I think the practice showed because I was keeping up with the others. I didn’t have to watch them as we were doing the dance moves since I knew the moves now. Rather than having 50 minutes of the class like Monday, we had about 30 minutes to review 2 times from Mondays class, and learn the rest of the choreography. Once this was done we were split into teams, and with out teams we had to add or change certain choreography pieces for the recording.

This means that we learned a choreography, and then changed it for the next day. So some pieces that I learned and had down, I instead had to do different moves. This was a nice touch so that we could get creative, but I honestly still didn’t have the original down yet lol

Wednesday, was the most social day for me. My team was getting ready in the room, and one girl started asking me questions in English, and then everyone got super excited when I was answering in Korean. Together we all got ready and helped each other with the wardrobe malfunctions.

We got 15 minutes to change our clothes and do our hair and makeup, and then we had 20 minutes to rehearse, and then each team had 2 takes to record their dance. It was really fun watching the other teams to see how different each team made the dance. Now I’m excited to see the recording~ We also got Spicy Kimbap that we all shared and ate together.

A breakdown: 1 Day is actually just 50 minutes, I said Day because I basically used the whole day to practice in my Apartment.

1 1/2 Days learning 1 dance

1/2 day to remake the dance

1/4 day to Rehearse 2 tries to record the dance.

Dancing

Dance Outfit: All Black with a button-up jacket.

Overall:

Although it was definitely awkward at first, once I stopped caring about what I looked like dancing, and just focused on dancing it became really fun. I also think when my Korean gets better, I’ll be able to participate more in the conversations with everyone which I really look forward to~

The Olympics and The Two Koreas

With the Olympics here, North and South Korea have appeared to be finding ways to talk and negotiate.

Disclaimer** This will be opinions based on what I’ve read and heard while living in Korea. 

What I’ve read (the gist from different articles):

The two Koreas getting closer means a problem for the “maximum pressure” the US is trying to put on North Korea.

People in S. Korea are against having Kim Jong-Un’s sister Kim Yo-Jong in Korea.

Compared to the 1988 Olympics in S. Korea, N. Korea is not only attending, but participating with S. Korea as a Unified Korea.

Sports have helped the two Koreas get closer multiple times in the past.

President Moon has been invited to Pyeongyang by Kim Yo-Jong. He didn’t accept or refuse the offer.

Getting close to S. Korea is a way to begin talks with the US.

And from CBS, the title was enough. North Korea slams U.N. sanctions days after attempted Olympics charm offensive.

What I’ve heard in Korea:

This is a a really good thing.

Maybe this is a step towards Unification. Not soon, but maybe it’s possible.

What I’ve seen from Social Cites:

People making jokes about North Korea.

Articles admiring N. Korea’s performances at the Olympics.

People being upset about any compliments towards N. Korea.

My Opinions:

Are the Olympics being used as a political tool? Obviously. Sports have a way of bringing people together. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak the same language, as long as you know the game it can create a bond. It would be a waste to not use a major event like the Olympics to try to smooth some things over with N. Korea.

Unification under the same flag in the Olympics is a major step that just 30 years ago was impossible. This is amazing.

How could people compliment or show the good side of a horrible dictatorship?! Yeah Politically N. Korea hasn’t been the best… or even good… frankly it’s pretty bad. BUUUT these people performing aren’t politicians. They’re N. Korean citizens. Why are we not allowed to acknowledge that they had a pretty incredible performance? Just because the government sucks doesn’t mean the people who live there should be portrayed as awful human beings.

(Remember the thing going around saying “We are not our President” in regards to racism, sexism etc? Yeah same idea. They are not their dictatorship.)

People making jokes about N. Korean athletes honestly is upsetting for me. There are memes of the bobsled team on a nuclear missile instead of the bobsled. These people managed to survive in a horrible environment, they worked hard to learn a sport and practiced like crazy to be able to go to the Olympics, and what do they get? Made fun of for the country they were born in. As if they had a choice to be born there.

Finally, the CNN article North Korea slams U.N. sanctions days after attempted Olympics charm offensive. . .

Seriously? Here is the first sentence of the article.

“After a fleeting thawing of tensions between North and South Korea at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, North Korea’s U.N. mission on Monday lashed out against what it called “despicable” and “criminal” U.N. sanctions enacted with the intention “of suffocating” individuals’ livelihood and public health.” CNN Pamela Falk

What I got from this article overall is that N. and S. Korea getting closer was a short lived act by N. Korea. Which from an outside perspective would really look like the case. If I didn’t live here, I might actually believe everything I read on News Articles. Here’s the thing, New’s Articles abroad vs inside S. Korea tend to disagree.

Outside Korea, they like to cherry pick stories to make stuff sound bad. In 2017 with the high tensions, they made it look way worse that it was. It was bad yeah, but not bad enough for people to actually move out of Korea, or be scared in their daily lives. Now with the Olympics, they make it sound like this will do nothing while historically sports has in fact brought the two Koreas closer multiple times. Why would it not work again?

Of course N. Korea is upset about the sanctions. That’s why we have the sanctions, to make them upset and reflect on their missile program. They’re clearly upset, now we need to know if they are reflecting.

In the Korean Herald, Yonhap wrote that “Kim Jong-un pledged efforts to continue the reconciliatory mood with South Korea” and that talks with the US may come soon. Clearly one media is misinforming people, and honestly I’m going to say it’s the western media.

These are my opinions, if you have thoughts on them or information I don’t have feel free to comment or share links in the comment section!

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Korea Winter Olympics

On my birthday I went to the Winter Olympics with my school, and it was amazing. I was told to be there by 10 o’clock, we would eat Galbi-tang for lunch, and we’d also eat dinner together. Here is a breakdown of the day.

At the school:

I got to the school at around 9:50, the same time the buses pulled in. Some students were already at the school, and most people were still arriving. This is when one of the teachers told me the bus doesn’t actually leave until 10:30, and I could wait inside one of the offices.

Around 10:15 the teachers gathered to take attendance, and to call students who weren’t there yet to make sure they were coming. Since school had been out for a month, I hadn’t seen a lot of the students and they seemed excited to see me, especially the 3rd graders who had recently graduated from middle school. One of which came up to me, and before even saying hello, said my name and “I love you.” to which I responded “Hello” because I was not expecting that from this student lol I actually got that a lot from certain students, but when I’m not expecting it, it’s hard to keep a straight face lol

When everyone was accounted for, we started getting the students on the buses, and during this time one student tapped my back to tell me they were going to the bathroom. This is fine, but I’m the English teacher and they said it in Korean. The Korean English teacher next to me realized what happened and was dying laughing. He thought I was a Korean teacher. From the back this actually happens a lot. Koreans think I’m Korean when they don’t see my face.

The bus ride to the restaurant:

On the way to the restaurant I sat with the other two teachers on a third grade bus and we mostly talked with each other. I showed one teacher my flash cards since I’m studying Korean, and she helped me study a little. This bus ride was pretty quiet.

At the restaurant:

I could not use the chopsticks to save my life. Had it really been so long since I last used chopsticks??? For those who don’t know, at my school, I’m considered one of the best teachers with using chopsticks. This is being compared with native Korean teachers as well, but it was just not happening lol

The bus ride to Pyeongchang:

The boys started singing which we found hilarious, because they couldn’t seem to agree on a song so it was a mixture of songs, and their voices would crack all the time. This helped the time pass quickly as we were laughing most of the time.

We also stopped at a rest stop, and the boys had a chance to buy snacks. For some reason they decided to be really kind, and a lot of the boys shared their snacks with me. When we first arrived one boy yelled my name and said hello which doesn’t seem like a big deal until I realized that they totally stopped calling my title lol it used to be “Miss ____ Teacher” or “Teacher ______” or sometimes “Nabiya” which means Butterfly because it sounds like my name. But now, it’s just my name with no title, or they will call me saem which is slang for teacher in Korean. WHYYY??? I honestly think they view me more as their noona sometimes.

After this crashing realization, we finished our bus ride to Pyeongchang, and took a shuttle to the Olympic Park!

Shuttle Conversation with stranger in Korean:

  • “Where are you from?”
  • “America.” awkward silence
  • “Where in America?”
  • “_____”
  • “You came all the way for the Olympics?!?”
  • “No.”
  • “Why did you come?”
  • “I’m a teacher.”
  • “Ahhh” awkward silence “Where/What do you teach?”
  • “I teach in _____ at a boys middle school.”
  • “Their school?” points at boys
  • “Yes.”
  • “Must be hard.”
  • “It’s actually really fun.”
  • “Oh Good.” awkward silence rest of trip 

At the Olympics:
We watched about an hour and a half of the Cross Country Skiing, which was fantastic! for the first half hour  It was also Freezing!!! I legit thought my toes would get frostbite~ I took a lot of pictures, and students painted their faces for Korea! (Pictures on insta: world.member)We then went to the souvenir shop where I got a doll for about 10000 won before going to a shuttle to get back to our bus.

Dinner:

Dinner was a buffet, and these boys ate so many plates it was ridiculous. One of the taller stacks was at 25 plates for one table of boys. They proceeded to keep eating after I counted.

When it came to cleaning up, they played rock paper scissors, or rather scissors paper rock to see who had to put the plates/bowls back.

Overall it was the best birthday I could have asked for~~ I love my school~~~

When Technology Fails

I’ve been teaching in Korea for about 6 months now, and I use a Projector and a PPT in nearly all of my classes. 

Why?

It’s what I’m trained to do. I’m about to be 22, and in nearly all of my classes going through school/university, I needed to do a PPT presentation at some point in the semester. When it’s time to teach a topic from the book to the class in groups, every group uses a PPT. It’s easy and reliable. Until it’s not.

Thankfully, I don’t use a PPT the way a lot of people do. I like to give each slide a title and a picture. For teaching, the title is the new vocab word, and the picture is an image to help show what the word means. This means I’m not relying on the PPT to remember what to say. This also is proven to encourage listeners to actually listen rather than read what’s on the slide.

How it failed me.

This week is my 3rd week of Winter Camp, and the projectors warning light is on. I need to replace the lamp, but no one at the school knows what to do, so I’m left with no projector.

Why it matters.

In my winter camp, I have a Harry Potter Role Playing Game that I split up to help take up time, and to use as a brain rest. Unfortunately, my students have to be able to see the pictures to be able to answer some of the questions. Without this game, I lose a lot of the “Harry Potter” winter camp vibe, and I’m all about the vibe.

I also have a potions class, where the students watch a bunch of science experiments, and predict what will happen next. Now they can’t watch the video.

On my game day, one of the classes is supposed to have a Harry Potter Bomb Game which takes up the entire class period.

On the last day of camp it’s supposed to be movie day. This will no longer work which is an entire day I have to plan out.

What to do.

Instead of complaining about this issue, I looked on the bright side. I can still look at the PPT on my own. This allows me to be flexible on what I want the students to do.

Things I cut out before due to time constrictions, I can now add back in.

We can play more interaction games.

Things that I thought I needed the projector for, I can just draw out on the board. It may lose some of the vibe, but if the students still enjoy it then it’s fine.

I still have sound effects! I can make listening exercises instead of just reading what is being said.

Since the students can’t see the translation for some of the new words, I can ask them to guess what it means, and then tell them the translation.

What I’ve learned.

Having had experience with and without a projector made me realize the vibe of the class is totally changed by what I thought was a natural part of class, and honestly I think it changes it for the better when there is no projector. The students seem more active, and more willing to participate. The atmosphere is brighter, and in a literal sense, it makes the room brighter too since I don’t have to turn off any lights.

I want to try teaching without using the Projector next year. I still have my PPTs that I can look at, but I want to avoid turning on the Projector other than for computer game days.

Maybe use it for introducing new vocabulary with pictures, but that’s it.

Harry Potter Winter English Camp Week 2

Week 2 with a Different Group of Students!

Day 1:
Today 6 out of 8 kids came. This is a new group, they seem more talkative, and I changed how I started so it would be more upbeat.

The first period I went over the same material, but I made it into a game so when they answered correctly they got to throw a ball into the Quidditch hoop. The students liked standing up and moving around which kept the flow of the class going well.

Second period, I started with the competition to see who could write the most vocab words in 1 sentence. I corrected the sentences individually so as not to call out any student on a mistake. They enjoyed getting their Wizarding money, and I skipped the boring piece of Diagon Alley, and went straight to the talking and haggling for school supplies. This was also a competition, and the person in each team that got the most points individually got to throw the ball into the Quidditch hoop. Because we skipped the boring piece, we also finished the whole days’ worth of camp in 2 classes instead of 3.

Third period I made up on the fly since we finished everything early. I could have moved into day 2 material, but since we were missing 2 students I opted for a non-consequential game instead. We played fish bowl, and I got to find out what my students are interested in.

Fish Bowl: This is a 3 part game. I ripped 14 pieces of paper, and had my students write a job they wanted to do when they were younger on one paper, and a job they want to do now on another paper. I also did this. We then put the papers into a bag. For each round I gave students one minute to do as many papers as possible. The round is over when we go through all the papers. We then put them back in the bag for the next round.

Round 1: The students describe the word on the paper without saying it.

Round 2 Students give a 1 word hint.

Round 3: Students act out the job.

At the end I chose to act them out as well, and gave the person who answered the most the prize.

Day 2:

Today 7 out of 8 students came. Because my goal was to learn their names in one day, I told them to hide their name cards today, and if I messed up their names I would put 0.25 on the board and go up to 8.00. If I hit 8.00, I will buy them Pizza on Friday. Today I got up to 1.00 L.

First period we did the sorting hat game and found out the houses they were in. This group was mostly Slytherin, we had 1 Gryffindor, and a couple Hufflepuffs, but there were no Ravenclaws.

Second period we made our wands, and did Riddles, and the class actually voted to skip their break and do more riddles. Since making wands is mainly them focusing on painting, I asked if they wanted to meet my sister over a facetime call. They said yes, and seemed excited, and when I called her, they went dead quiet… They greeted her and showed her their wands they were making, and after I hung up, they seemed excited again. I was very confused.

Third period we did the Magical Creatures lesson, and they really liked the reading dictation race activity. At the end we played wink murder which they didn’t understand at first so I did a round with me as the “Basilisk” so they knew what to do. After that round they loved it and we stayed a little over so they could all be the Basilisk.

At the end I asked if I could take a group picture with them holding the wands they made, and got a good picture of them that will hopefully go into the school festival.

Day 3:

Today, 7 out of 8 students came I’m assuming the other one just won’t come this week. The name mistakes came out to 2 since I keep mixing their names together. I know their names, I just say them wrong.

First period, I had them write down 2 talents they have so we could play Fishbowl later.  We then did 2 parts of the RPG game, and this group seems to enjoy the game more than the last group. I then introduced what a potion is, and had them make their own potion, but told them to keep it secret so we could do a game later.

During their 10 minute break, I had one student help me carry the ice to the classroom, and I set up the ice cream supplies. I double bagged the big and little bag this time, and I put tables together and covered them with towels to keep the mess to a minimum.

Second Period, we made ice cream. I had the students read the recipe aloud before I had them put their ice cream together.  This time, the only piece I did for them, was put the ice and salt in their big bags, and put either Nutella or strawberry jam in their little bags. They did everything else. This class was also more determined to finish their ice cream without putting it in the freezer, so they enjoyed the ice cream they worked hard on. I also took pictures for their school festival.

I used their break to have them carry the bags of ice to the office and dump the ice in the sink, we then did a volcano outside with vinegar and baking soda, it was not impressive. Will not do that again lol

Third period, I had them take out their potion paper they completed earlier, and we played Pictionary with the potions. We then took their talents they wrote down at the beginning of class, and we played Fish Bowl. They seem to enjoy that game. At the end I had them talk about their talents, and I asked questions about others. Since I wrote, Backbend and Rapping, the boys asked me to show them so I did it for fun. We only had a couple minutes left so I gave them a snack and let them go a couple minutes early.

 Day 4:

Today 7 out of 8 students came.

First period, we finished the RPG game, but instead of doing Quidditch on the PPT, I used the Quidditch Paper Toss Game against the wall which seemed to have a better reaction with the students. We then did the Defense against the Dark Arts bit on the PPT, and the students added up their total scores to find the winner. That student will get a snack prize for the movie day tomorrow.

After finishing the game, we moved on to the Defense against the Dark Arts class. I taught them the Unforgivable Curses, and Protego. The students then did a wand battle. Rather than 1 vs 1, I had them go in teams, and each member could only use 1 Protego/Skip. I had 5 rounds and we did 2 regular rounds and a speed round where they only had 10 seconds to come up with a word. The categories were Emotions/Feelings, Jobs, and Sickness/Ailments. We ended up skipping the first break and moving right into second period. Because I had to call their names individually throughout this whole activity, they ended up getting the score for pizza so I will owe them pizza tomorrow.

Second Period we did the Harry Potter bomb game that I made, and they really liked it especially when they would have to give points to the other team. This was a review on the whole week, so they had to think back to what they learned. After the game was over, I asked if they wanted to keep going or take a break, and they voted to keep going.

Third period was Transfiguration. I did this like heads up with two rounds. The first they could use yes/no questions to find out what they are. The second round their teammates had to use their body language to get them to guess what magical creature they are. We then played One Night Ultimate Werewolf which they really liked. They did get too into it, and I had to remind them several times to use English. I finally joined the game which forced them to use English.  Some wanted to play more, but some had to go home, so I ended the game and had them choose which movie to watch.

Day 5:

Today 7 out of 8 came. I had them haggle with each other for their snacks, and then we started the movie. They watched the 3rd Harry Potter movie, and they got to see a lot of what they learned during the week in the movie. The movie ended right when the pizza arrived, so I put on music while they ate pizza. After they ate, I had them clean the room and they went home. The students said they had fun in camp this week. ^^ After they left I rearranged the room for next weeks camp.

English Winter Camp in Korea! Harry Potter Themed

Since this was my first English camp I’ve ever done, I decided to keep a log of how each day went from my perspective. I’m planning to do this for the other two weeks of camp as well, and hopefully I’ll remember to take pictures for those logs!

While I did heavily edit the material, and add in my own ideas throughout the camp, I do not take credit for all of the camp ideas. I found a Harry Potter RPG game on Waygook, and I got the book format from another teacher in Gangwon-do. I know a lot of teachers in Korea, and we share ideas, some of which I used in my camp. If anyone wants to use these ideas, just remember to edit it to fit your students English level. I also edited my plans based on how talkative my students were in each period as that changes how an activity will turn out.

Day 1 of Winter Camp:

Ahh I was so nervous the students wouldn’t like what I made! I don’t know why, I used my winter camp for the extra lessons with 3rd grade and they liked it~

8 out of 9 students came, and they were so quiet the first period I was worried it would be a looong winter camp lol

First period I introduced what we would be doing, and I asked them what they knew about Harry Potter. They made name cards, and we went over muggle terms.

Second period we went over things you can do at Gringotts Bank, and had a competition to see who could use the most vocab words in one sentence. Then students got their vault key and got their Wizarding Money.

Third period we went over places in Diagon Alley where they can go shopping. We went over their school supply list, and students acted out as Shop Owners, and Customers. They had to haggle with each other to try to get more money. The students seemed to like this activity the most.

Day 2 of Winter Camp:

Today 7 out of 9 students came, the students seemed pretty quiet, but they ended up voting to stay and extra 15 minutes to play extra rounds of the game Wink Murder.

First period we did the Role Playing Game and students were sorted into houses. All of the students guessed they would be in either Gryffindor or Slytherin. But 2 were in Hufflepuff and 5 were in Ravenclaw lol

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Second period students got to make and paint their wands. While they worked on their wands, I played music on the computer, and we did riddles after a couple of students finished. I did this so they would stay occupied. I cut out the Herbology class in favor of Magical Creatures, so we only did the RPG for Herbology instead.

Third Period we did Magical Creatures, and did a reading dictation race for Basilisks. Students then guessed what the new words meant, and at the end I asked what they learned about Basilisks. We then played Wink Murder because a Basilisk kills by making eye contact and I thought this game worked perfectly. This seemed to be the students’ favorite activity, and when it was time to leave I told them they could play another round, or go home. They voted to play another round. I forgot to do the RPG for Magical Creatures . . .

Day 3 of Winter Camp:

Today 8 out of 9 students came, and they seemed to have a lot of fun today. I changed the schedule around because I noticed the students tend to be quieter in the morning.

First period, I did the RPG that I forgot to do on Day 2. I then opted to do the video experiments first, this way the students could watch a video and start thinking by writing their ideas on the whiteboards. The students seemed to enjoy the video, and they got to practice writing future tense.

Second period I introduced with the RPG. I also changed the main point of the lesson so that we could do a game with the English activity. I introduced a couple potions, and then made students make their own potion. They had to give it a name, write down what it does, and why we need it. Afterwards, students had to act out what their potion does, and guess what other people’s potion does in a game of Charades.

Third period students got to make Ice Cream in a bag. This started out fun, but then water started leaking out of the bags, I didn’t have enough bags for everyone to double bag it, so we put the bags in the freezer rather than doing it all by hand (this was supposed to take the whole period). While we waited for the ice cream to freeze, I gave the students a choice between 3 games. Wink Murder, Telephone Pictionary, and Charades. The students chose Wink Murder which we played for a half hour before getting the ice cream out of the freezer. We got the ice cream, and students ate it in the classroom and hung out an extra half hour before leaving.

The student who was absent on Day 2 painted his wand for Day 4’s activity after eating his ice cream.

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Today seemed to be the most fun so far.

 Day 4 of Winter Camp:

8 of 9 students came, and I believe today was the most fun they’ve had this week.

First Period, we finished the RPG and the winner got a snack prize. We then did Defense Against the Dark Arts, and they had wand duels. It was 1vs1 and they had to come up with the most words related to the topic I gave them. Each student got 1 skip by saying Protego. The winner got a snack, the loser lost 5 sickles.

Second Period, we played the Harry Potter Bomb Game, and then students started playing the Transfiguration game. Students have to ask yes/no questions to figure out what magical creature they are. Then we switched it so students play heads up the Act it Out option.

Creatures that I used for Heads Up:

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Third Period, we played Werewolf, and the only requirement was that they use English while they argue. They opted to play multiple games of Werewolf, and we stayed 30 minutes over since the students kept wanting to play more.

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Day 5 of Winter Camp:

Today was the last day of camp with this group.

8 out of 9 came, and we watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Why this movie? I couldn’t find Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, so I had students vote. Actually, the students voted for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but when I opened the dvd case, the dvd was missing, so the students had to re-vote.

Before the movie started, I had the students haggle with each other for snacks, and then I collected the fake money by selling them cups for water. At the end of the movie, the students swept the floor, and put their desks into a U formation for the next camp group.

Today was a simple day, but I don’t know how I feel about watching a movie on the last day of camp as it didn’t seem to be a highlight of the week. I might switch the movie day for the next camp so we end on a better and more fun note.

I’m hoping the students fill out an evaluation so I can see what they liked and didn’t like in camp. Hopefully I get the evaluation before the next camp group so I can make edits!

Overall, I feel like the camp went well, and I know which pieces I want to change, but I will wait to see what the students thought before I make the edits as the students tend to surprise me.

First Semester Teaching in Korea

The school is year coming to an end with only 3 days left! In the semester that I’ve been teaching I’ve had a few funny stories and encounters with my students. These are the ones that stood out.

My first day in school I had students make name cards in Hangul, and I read their names when they finished. One kid changed his name to 유두. . . I found out the word for nipple very quickly.

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S: “Teacher, say 뵈류!”                                                                                                                         T: “Why?”                                                                                                                                              S: “Just say it!”                                                                                                                                        T: “What does it mean?”                                                                                                                     S: “It means hello!”                                                                                                                              T: Distrusting after the name incident. . . looks it up on the projector to be safe. . . students laugh at how many times it took me to spell it correctly . . . it means hello. “뵈류?”  Students freak out. They now say it to me every day.

It’s Thanksgiving, so I’m asking students what they are thankful for.                                 “Myself”, “My parents” (aw) “my English teacher” (aw x2), “My sex bod” as he lifts up his shirt in class.

Asking for volunteers to read what they wrote. A student who never volunteers is going “ME! 샘! Me!”, so naturally I’m excited “Go for it!!”. . . “This summer vacation, I want to go to a nude beach in America, so I can see naked girls!”                                                                                                                              Image result for facepalm

I had a class that was obsessed with Dubai for some reason. . . It was a travel lesson, so they made every answer related to Dubai. “Where can you go with a submarine?” “Dubai”.

T: “Can I get a volunteer?”                                                                                                                Without missing a beat                                                                                                                       S: “Can we get candy?”                                                                                                                      T: “hahaha, no” . . . Volunteers anyways.

First grade students kept yelling “It’s a me!” in the middle of class, I got annoyed and called back “It’s a you!” Students went crazy, they now do it whenever they see me in the hallways. . . I now find it kind of funny.

When I walk in the hallway with the other Native English Teacher and see my students. To me, “샘, 안녕하세요”, but to the other NET who is NOT their teacher, “Hello teacher”.                                                     why.gif

Student barges into my office calling “샘!! 샘!!!” Grabs a teacher and leaves.                            3 Students come into the office and face the wall (This means they are in trouble). Another student comes into the office covered in milk, trying to wipe it off his sweater while his head is dripping milk. . . He didn’t want to share, so they squeezed his milk container.

The school just put flower pots all over the building. We hear a loud crash and a student screaming for a teacher. Another student slams into the office “샘!! 샘!!!” All the teachers assume a flower pot was broken. WRONG! The first graders literally shattered a window. Not in the typical goofing off and they hit it with a ball way, but one of them leaned on it, it popped out of place, hit the ground, and shattered. How?!?!?!

 

Happy New Years from Korea!

Wow! My New Years in Korea was crazy! Instead of staying in my town that I live in, I went out to Gangnam for a party at the Imperial Palace. Let me just say, this place was amazing! This is a 5 star hotel, and it had unlimited wine all night, and unlimited cocktails for the first hour. Over 2000 people went, and online tickets even sold out. The party was from 9PM-2AM and then there was an after party at a club nearby.

Finding events in Korea:

There are several Facebook pages, and people can easily find events online, but for me, I mainly go by word of mouth. For this event, I heard about it from a friend who was going. At the time, I was thinking about going to Seoul the day before New Years, but wasn’t planning on staying in Seoul for New Years.

By the time I could have made a decision, tickets were sold out. The problem with finding stuff online, is that the events could have already passed, it may have been for a different year, or maybe the tickets already sold out, but the website you find it on doesn’t tell you.

For this event, my friend happened to know someone with an extra ticket, and I would just have to give her the cash for it. This was an easy decision, so I grabbed that ticket!

Who’s that foreigner?!

This event was crazy! Why? because there were so many foreigners!! I mean yes, Seoul has a lot of foreigners, just look in Hongdae or Itaewon, but where I live, I usually know all the foreigners! If I don’t know them, they are usually in the tourist areas. However, at this party, there were foreigners from all over Korea! Also, the party had a bunch of Koreans too! I may have noticed more foreigners just because it was so shocking to me.

It was honestly a bit disconcerting how much English I heard at this event. Don’t get me wrong, I hear English a lot, but usually with Korean mixed it, or with some type of accent, but at this event it was just pure English.

Get Ready to Party!

Before I left my apartment, I talked to my friend about what she was wearing, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to wear. I made my best guess, packed it, and got the express bus to Seoul. About 3 hours later, while I am in Seoul, the day of the party, I see a notification on Facebook saying how to dress. It said Formal. Now, seeing as the after party was at a club, I was not expecting formal. Maybe semi-formal, but not formal.

I went shopping. I went to the Coex, where to my surprise there was a giant family event. I walked around for a bit, didn’t see anything for this type of event, and went back to the subway. Inside the Gangnam subway, I looked around the shops for cute outfits, and I got some make up while I was at it. Unfortunately, the shirt I got gave off more of a posh vibe than a formal party vibe, and when I added the new shoes, it didn’t match, so I was back to the drawing board.

I love meeting other foreign people in Korea, because they can be super friendly! One of the girls I met for about 10 minutes, lent me her extra shirt. I now had an outfit! All I needed was something to cover my shoulders! She was a lifesaver. We then left to go to the event.

The Event:

At the Imperial Palace, we waited in line for the elevator, and then we waited in line for ticketing. The way they did it all was purely based on trust. They check your online ticket without scanning it which we were shocked by, but hey we’re in Korea so whatever. Then we got to go into the ballrooms. One ballroom had white wine, one had red.

It was nice to be hanging out with someone I knew before going to Korea, and it was nice to be out of my Korean hometown for a party. (I love my Korean hometown, but I see students everywhere! Not the best for a party.) There was a dj in the red wine room, and a live musician in the white wine room.

The party at the Imperial Palace was fun! It’s been a while since I dressed up and tried to look nice for a night out which made it more fun than if it wasn’t formal, and the people I was with definitely made it a good night out.

2-Cha The After Party: 

This place was a normal club, just in Korea. The biggest difference from other places was the price! It was about 10,000 won for 1 drink! Looking at the price literally made you need to drink!

Dancing there was fun, but one of the girls got sick and my friend took her back to the hotel, leaving me with people I’d just met, but hey we’d hung out for at least 2 hours beforehand so whatever, just go with it right? I can say I feel like the best wing-girl out there though!

Winging it: 

The girl who lent me her shirt was dancing with me, and she mentioned she thought one of the guys next to us was cute, but he was Korean, and she doesn’t really speak Korean. This led me to ask him if he and his friend wanted to dance with us. Surprise, surprise, he could speak English. (Almost everyone I’ve met speaks some English here it’s amazing).

We start dancing, and they actually had another friend with them from South Africa! They ask if we wanted to go outside for a bit, so naturally we said sure!

3-Cha:

Next to the club we were at, there was a little restaurant, so the 5 of us went inside and ordered some food and soju. We stayed here until about 8AM eating and having fun, and then decided we needed to go back since we were dead tired.

The guys dropped off their friend from South Africa at the subway, and came to help us get back to the hotel. They were super sweet, and my friend got the guys phone number! (Hence me being a great Wing-girl!) Trying to find the hotel was ridiculous, and by the time we got there, it was almost check out time. I got 30 minutes of sleep.

Going home:

From the hotel, I walked to Gangnam Station, and got my ticket for 11AM, and I got to sleep 3 hours on the bus back to my Korean Hometown to work the next day.

새해 복 많이 바드세요! Happy New Years!

Becoming a Teacher in South Korea

Wow, just writing that title was a crazy thought. Something I’ve worked towards for so long becoming reality is just amazing. However, the transition was a little bumpy. As I’ve mentioned before, I teach at an all boys middle school. I am the first foreign female teacher they’ve had. So here is why it was a bumpy transition.

Orientation vs Reality.

In orientation, they gear it towards elementary school teachers. Since nobody knows what level they are going to teach, everything said in orientation is taken in like it is the end all be all. However, teaching at a middle school, one of the biggest differences I’ve noticed is the disciplinary actions. When I first arrived, I let my co-teachers do all the disciplining because “the students expect foreigners to be energetic and happy all the time, give them what they expect”. But it’s honestly not realistic in a middle school. I can be energetic and happy, but I also need to be strict and if I lose in the discipline, the students will think they can do anything.

After I’ve started getting on students for small things, and enforcing rules myself, a lot of classroom activities have started going more smoothly because there is more respect for the rules in place.

I had to move past what I was taught in orientation, and just do what works for me and my students.

School years are different.

In Korea the school year starts in March and ends in December/January. This means people who finish university in the Spring semester and apply to teach in Korea will be starting in August, the middle of the school year. While this may not be a big deal for some people, this means I have less time to get to learn my students names before the new school year. This also means that I have to figure out what the teacher before me already taught so that I don’t reteach it by accident, which has happened oops.

For myself, figuring out what the teacher before me taught was a little bit difficult. The previous teacher left me a book to help me learn Korean, they left me notes on the school and the students, and they left me their contact information. All of this was left in my apartment before I moved in. This was lovely of them. The problem, was that the school had a cleaning crew go to my apartment to make sure it was clean. The cleaning crew didn’t know to leave the notes or book for me, and so they threw it away oops.

The day comes where I’m trying to figure everything out, and I’m hearing how these other teachers got stuff from their previous teachers, and I’m left thinking “wow, this person didn’t leave me anything”  I only found out after I met the previous teacher what had happened.

*Not everyone meets the previous teacher this is probably pretty rare.

Teaching Materials.

For a curricular course, it is common to have a book or some sort of material so you know what you are supposed to teach. When I first got to my school, I had nothing. I asked about it to a couple people and I was told I didn’t have one. This was good and bad. I got the freedom to teach what I wanted to teach, what I thought the students would enjoy. However, I had no idea if they already learned what I was teaching. I had no idea if what I was teaching was too easy or too hard, and a lot of the time, it was too easy.

I didn’t receive books until 3 months after I started teaching. Even with the books, I struggle because I don’t know what they learned in elementary school, but it is nice to have a guide of what they should be learning now.

While the beginning was a bit of a struggle, I feel like with the new school year, I will be able to adapt my lessons, and figure out what works well for the students. Now my biggest question is what grades will I be teaching next year. Will I be starting from scratch?