Monday, May 13, 2013

Just livin'

Hey, what's up?

Life is cool...

I'm getting used to the way of life here: using chopsticks mainly, seeing only Korean faces, learning how to travel via public transportation (alone), words and phrases here and there (mo hai?)..I love it. One huge plus is that the cost of living is fairly inexpensive. I shop at grocery stores and get enough food for two weeks for around 80,000 won (80 USD). Given, my dormitory doesn't allow microwaves or fridges sooooooo...canned items such as tuna, fruits, drinks, and a college students meal of choice- NOODLES!

Here lately, I've traveled around Korea EVERY weekend. In recent weeks, I've been to Itaewon, Busan, Sangju, and Andong. Let me tell you a crazy story...

I decide to travel to Seoul alone for the very first time to watch my friend perform at a show. I take my time and translate the Korean on the website to buy a train ticket. After the strenuous effort, I arrive at the train station the next day ready to board the train ONLY to realize that I had a standing ticket. This means, I would have to stand the entire way to Seoul (which is about 3 hours by train). I passed on that offer and decided to take a later train (2 hours) and have a seat. It turns out, I boarded the wrong train, and it ended up taking around 5 hours to get to Seoul! This did not kill my vibe though, I was determined to have a great time despite a few setbacks. Arriving in Seoul, I realize my destination is in a place called Itaewon. I didn't imagine it being too far away, so I decided to walk there instead of taking my chances via public transportation. Using the GPS on my cell phone, I navigated to my destination by foot. I had no clue it would take 2 hours to get there BUT I had a great tour of the city :)

As I arrive to my destination, I bump into a guy and glance at him to say "Excuse me". Coincidently, I recognized him as my distant cousin who is also a teacher in Korea. What are the chances? I hung out with him the rest of the day and me, him and his GF went to my friend's show together. What a great night!

University classes are going well as predicted. As I've said, they are mainly discussion and given that I love to think about issues and debate them, it's right up my alley.

Teaching is going ok too. I'm getting better with each day. I absolutely love the kids and they are teaching me just as much as I am teaching them. I think it's so cool how kids are so blunt. If you ever want the truth about anything, hang around a kid.

Love you all, thanks for reading..

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Growing pains and Uni

It's late Sunday night and I'm relaxing after a long weekend.

Growing pains don't always have to be a bad thing. Growing is the essence of life, without growth, there is death. Pain follows the same path; without pain we wouldn't know pleasure. The fact that I best describe my current state as 'growing pains' is actually one of my purposes for coming to Korea: to develop as a person.

I'm learning more and more everyday that effort released to its fullest potential brings rewards, small and big. Effort opens the door for random happenings which can benefit you. I've given effort to becoming a better teacher but I do not see the fruits of my labor ..Yet. Maybe the fact that I have 'growing pains' is my reward in disguise: becoming a better Eric. One that is more patient, one that gives more, one that works hard.

It is becoming harder and harder to manage the classroom. I will not give up though, I just have to be more creative. Outside the classroom, my students are fine. I think them hearing a foreign teacher speak a weird language for 40 minutes is overwhelming, on top of structured classes all day. I gotta give em a break huh? Lol.

Anyway, university life is school. I love my classes. As I may have mentioned in previous posts, my classes are mainly discussion. I'm getting an entirely new perspective about America. I honestly feel like I've learned more about my home country here than when I actually lived there. Crazy right? But yea, uni is cool, the folks are cool, the food is cool, life is cool.

I'm out. Till next time.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Past weeks in Korea

It's been a while since I've posted. Sorry about that..
This post is a summary of the past 3 weeks. It will not be detailed.
As far as teaching, it's an adventure EVERYDAY. I'm learning to keep an open mind when it comes to running the classroom. Even though I  spend a lot of time making a "perfect" lesson plan, chances remain high that things will not go exactly as I imagine them. My students are students, and if their minds have an opportunity to wander for a split second then I lose the classroom, especially if it's the alpha male who gets bored. There's usually one kid who the rest of the students look up to. If this kid is quiet, everyone else is quiet and vice versa. I must focus on keeping that one student on task which is very difficult. The language barrier is a lot harder than I expected even though I have a Korean assistant teacher.I love my students though, inside and outside of class. They like to ask me basic questions like, "Teacher, girlfriend?", "Teacher, married?", "Teacher, you are very handsome. "
Open class is the day my mentor teacher, principle, vice principle, and representatives from the TaLK education office observe me as I teach. It was not as bad as I thought. Thankfully they came during my 6th grade class-they are well behaved.
Life outside of teaching is well also. I am always doing something, whether it's university classes, lesson planning, or out with friends. I also joined the baseball club. (YES!)
Basically, it's a lot of meeting new people and drinking, to be honest.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mountains, Teaching, University Classes, Partying...Living life..

I conclude this week on a cold Sunday morning in my dorm room...Oh how eventful it was..

Instead of boring you with words, I'll show pictures, beginning with last weekend's trip to the mountains..

 We are chillin' (literally) waiting for the bus to arrive. Mountains here we come!

Personal space did not exist on this 1 hour bus trip.  It consisted of standing, carrying a backpack, and cute old ladies stepping on my shoes.

We came about 30 students deep! The climb was so steep. It was very hard to keep, my breath. If I fall       from this mountain, death. I felt like I hiked at a 90 degree angle!

  "The fruits of my labor, I enjoy em' while they're still ripe"- Lil Wayne..
   It was hard work climbing the mountain, but the view put my aching legs at ease.

    Good ol' Eric, in need of a haircut (at the time) feeling victorious.


   Everyone did prayers and bows to....

  THIS GUY! I want to say Buddha but I'm not 100% sure about it. Make a wish, it comes true.

   This little fellow kept me hydrated, and gave me a couple of laughs as I glanced at the bottle..

 My university classes started. They seem to be very interesting. I am taking Global Economic Issues, International Relations and Diplomacy, and Communication and Culture in Southeast Asia. **Note I was quite embarrassed at the lack of information I know about American History...tssk tssk..

  Then, life during my free time this week...

                                                              Movie night- Warm Bodies...

 The movie theater was huge. And the gun..relax folks, it's a pellet gun I used to shoot targets while waiting for the movie to start.


     I met these cool teachers at English Club Round 2..

     St. Patrick's Day Beer..

    Met my friends (also TaLK Scholars) in Daegu

     The first time I've ever seen a BMW 760 in person. You know I had to do it..

 Waiting in line for the club, this guy loved my look with the glasses: So, why not share some love?

   What my last 2 nights/mornings consisted of..

This week has been a great one. I love and miss everyone back home.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Teaching: First Week

Kids are kids..

Wednesday was my second day of teaching. I felt confident teaching these classes today as these children were older and behaved a bit better.  I had a 6th grade, a 5th grade, then a mixture of 4th and 5th grade.
I'm learning to be a bit quick on my feet and hopefully it will develop more over time. I expected to be teaching different students in each class but one of my classes contained students from a previous class. I didn't want to bore them with the same lesson, so I improvised by playing a game with information from their previous lesson with me.

Friday concluded my first week of teaching. This day was very difficult. I had two 1st grade classes(one all girls, the latter all boys), and a 3rd grade class. My girls were adorable and listened very well. They were also very smart, as they knew their ABC's, shapes, and could write them. My boys were, well, my boys. I didn't get too much teaching done here. This class consisted of attempting to get them to chill, they were bouncing off of the walls, literally. One student began to cry because he missed his mother, and another bumped his head while running under tables. It's safe to say that me and my coteacher's patience was running thin! During the time between classes, I met another English teacher. He gave us some advice on how to manage a class: Smile less, have rules, and be firm. My 3rd grade class was my final one of the day. Being worn out from the previous classes, I was determined not to have a repeat. I think I caught myself smiling once or twice. As I say, kids will be kids. After studying all day at school, then extra activities such as studying at a hagwon after school, Tae Kwon Do, and piano lessons, these kids barely have time to play.

I hope to find a way to allow them to have fun learning English.

Proud moment: I rode the bus alone to my elementary school on Friday. My Yeungnam University Buddy translated the bus route into English for me and wrote it in both English and Korean. *Shoutout to Jeongheon Heo. I felt like a little kid carrying a note home from the teacher. If I got confused on where to go, I would ask a Korean at the bus stop. Everyone was so understanding and eagerly helped me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

First day of teaching at Namsan Elementary..

Today was interesting..

Since I did not have university classes today and did not have to teach until 1, I slept in. I woke around 9 and tried to prepare myself for the day ahead. Many thoughts ran through my mind as I attempted to iron my clothes in our dormitory lounge. The iron would not get hot! I basically went to teach with wrinkly clothing lol. It wasn't too too bad though..

I met my coteacher at the international center to ride the bus to Namsan elementary. I am still unable to ride the bus alone as the bus system can be a bit complicating.

 We were both hungry so at a bus stop, we decided to grab bread at Paris Baguette. After doing this, we continued our journey to the elementary school. I could barely eat my bread because I was so nervous. Bus 399 stopped at Namsan and we made our way into the school..

"Obama, Obama!"..Who is this?
This is your new English teacher..
"Oooh, handsome!! Teacher handsome!"

Way to start my adventure as I entered the elementary school. Upon entry, I was given a stylish pair of slippers to wear around the school

I met my principal today. In a nutshell, principles are kings in Korea. We walked into his office and I bowed at least 3 times upon entry. I didn't catch his name, but he was a sweet, gentle fellow. He spoke little English but managed to pronounce my name correctly. Afterward, it was all Korean speaking, and I did as I was instructed-smiled LOL. I gave him tea as a present and he gave me 2 cases of Korean Red Ginseng Drink which is a very healthy drink. My coteacher translated the conversation, saying the he hopes that I love their school and Korea. He will also give me a bike to ride from my dormitory to the bus stop. PAUSE...

Thank you Mr. Principal, as I love exercising but the 20 minute trek in dress pants and loafers isn't the most pleasant in 35 degree weather :)

Press PLAY: after meeting the principal, it was showtime- teaching.

I had two 2nd grade classes and one 4th grade class today. One was all boys, one all was all girls, and the latter was a mixture. In a nutshell, KIDS are KIDS! They were very energetic, excited to see a new teacher, and a bit hostile towards each other, at first. They fought a bit, threw shoes and pencil sharpeners, but SOMEHOW I remained cool, calm, and collect. I was told to only play games and get to know the children these first two weeks so you can guess what our lesson was about: Eric Teacher. It was all in all a fantastic day, as the experience was not as bad as it seems through my writing.  We will see what tomorrow holds..

I have gained much greater respect for all teachers. You are amazing and should all be paid salaries like athletes..

Here is my coteacher and I after our first day: BOTH EXHAUSTED..

Monday, March 4, 2013

Anxiety before the first day of teaching...

It was once said that life begins outside of your comfort zone..

I must be living right now because outside of my comfort zone is my new residence. I teach three classes tomorrow: Two second grade classes and a fourth grade class. I do not think there is a word that has been created to express the feeling I have right now. Nervousness, anxiety, afraid, I do not know exactly. I've never had the feeling in my life. It's time to grow..

I will look back at this post one day and laugh my pants off but for now, pray for me folks.