Change is Inevitable… except from a vending machine.

Yesterday was my first day of the second term. During my time here in Seoul, I will teach four terms; so after this one, I will be halfway through my CDI experience. That is not to say that I have been “counting down” my time here at all, but I am simply amazed at how seems to fly by. I feel as if Halloween was just yesterday and not one month ago. I have been doing a lot of thinking about my Korean citizenship here. Though I arrived thinking that I would be here for more than a year (Sorry Mom, Sorry Dad if I didn’t tell you that), I have been considering that one year would be enough time to accomplish what I would like to.

With that said, I am resetting my goals for my time here. I have felt pretty lazy lately, so I need some goals:

  1. Learn enough Korean for a basic conversation with a stranger. Last night, I was locked out of my apartment building. It was 3:30 A.M. and I had just walked a while from my friend Theresa’s place. I had arrived to my building much later (or earlier) than this before and NEVER has the door been locked. So I literally waited around until a couple came up to the door and called the phone number on the keypad to the building. I was never issued a password to get into the building or anything and seemingly neither was this couple. So I waited with them as they dialed a myriad of phone numbers (one of them being the landlord?) and I stood and talked to the man. “Home?” he asked, pointing to the building. “Home,” I said. Thirty minutes or so later, some guy walked down the steps inside the building and unlocked it; it seems as if some drunk/stupid person thought it would be funny to lock the only entrance to the building from the inside.
  2. Write a little each day. I have been very disappointing in the writing department. I admit, lately I have been very inspired to write and have done so, but it’s mainly to recall how I felt when I first got to South Korea. I remember the words of my fiction writing workshop professor: “Megan, it’s going to be very important for you to have a contact back at home to correspond with. You definitely need to make writing your main job and everything else more insignificant.” I wish that I would have followed his advice, or really, taken it more seriously. He was trying to tell me that teaching was most likely going to take up more of my time, but don’t let writing fade away or sit on the backburner. So here I am, with a dozen half-written short stories, nothing finished.
  3. Stop worrying about relationships. This really should be number one I guess because I always let my thoughts travel to this. It’s tough to feel okay with being single in a foreign country (esp. when it seems that everyone around you has someone), but really, I have been doing all right. I just need to stop worrying about it.
  4. Exercise more. This really could be one of my main causes of lethargy. On my days off, I rarely leave my apartment anymore. Instead of sight-seeing and attempting to converse with people, I succumb to watching internet television and eating.
  5. Read more. This is easy to say, but reading recreationally is conducive to writing. I won’t have much time this term to read for fun, but I should make it a point.

Okay, I think that this is a good start. I had my first day with a new class and it went much better than my very first class at CDI. I would have usually only had one class on Tuesdays, but I was called in to sub for someone’s class at 4:00. In hindsight I am glad that I did it (extra money, looks good at the end of the term) but I wasn’t fully prepped for the material. Confidence and enthusiasm goes a long way when you have no clue what you are saying sometimes. So, I momentarily had a feeling of “Oh my God, am I taking on too much work for myself?” but then I was fine when I got into the classroom – cake. My day was nothing that two White Russians and a game of darts with a good friend couldn’t cure. As well as goals for my personal life, I have many goals for my new classes, which I will not bore you with here.

Here is a picture from my Memory class, which I won’t be teaching this term. The students were great (I saw many of them yesterday… and they were happy to see me!), but I didn’t think that I wanted to do the class again:

Aren’t they cute!?

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I’m Getting Good…

this whole writing thing is beginning to work out for me.  I figure that I might as well write now, that is, while I still have the time.

I am very amped about my new classes, but I am learning that my schedule is a bit intimidating.  Telling other instructors my class line-up for next week has garnered a myriad of responses: amazement, confusion, laughter: mostly wide eyes and the like.  I believe that I can handle it, but the next term will be a huge departure from what I have gotten used to these last few months.

My confidence grew immensely when I found out the book list for my Literature class:  “Woman Warrior,” “The Awakening,” and “A Room of One’s Own” (!)  I know that I’m lame for being excited, but I delved into and fell in love with the writings of Kate Chopin and Virginia Woolf at Miami.  It’s thrilling to be able to read these works again and think about relaying the material to students who are actually interested.  The class is also still so new, so my lesson plans can be far more flexible than what I have to work with for my current classes.  This class won’t begin for another week, but I am already wanting to crack open “Woman Warrior” so that I may refresh my memory.

So, it’s started to snow.  It happened today during my second class.  I’ve never really been ecstatic to see snow (I’m used to it), but my students think it’s funny that I act as if I hate it.  I’m really just not ready for it.  I don’t want to have to worry about breaking my coccyx every time I step out of my apartment building or while crossing the street.  I don’t think that they salt the streets here, so it might get pretty icy around these parts.

Well, with new classes come workshops to prepare for the new classes.  I have my first one tomorrow, which should be a breeze, but I have to prepare for my last week of my current classes.

Changes on the Horizon

Hello all. I apologize for the sporadic, unfinished, curt postings lately. As you might have guessed, I will probably never finish that short story about CostCo that I started, um, more than a month ago. Oops.

I’ve started a lot of things here without any real intention to finish them: stories, reading books, even food. It seems like when I feel the urge to cook or make something to eat, I put the leftovers in the fridge to become unearthly stale. I tend to go out to eat very often in order to avoid encountering any monstrosities growing on the shelves of my fridge; I expect to come back to the apartment one night to find that Zooey has discovered how to open the fridge and whatever has mutated from that old head of lettuce consumed him.

Zooey’s good. He is still very bitey and scratchy. He’s been sneezing spontaneously, which is quite cute. I’ve mapped out all of the nearest animal clinics just in case anything should get out of control with him – there are surprisingly many English-speaking clinics around my area.

Speaking of leftovers earlier, CDI had its very own Thanksgiving lunch last Wednesday. It was my day off, as well as Greg’s, so everyone met between 12:30 and 2:30 in the afternoon to grub. (I should have worn my sweatpants)

There were six or seven turkeys, tons of stuffing, many pumpkin pies (perfectly spiced), mashed potatoes, gravy, etc. Each year, a catering company from the U.S. Army base in Seoul brings all of this stuff in and everyone is encouraged to bring Tupperware, which I gladly did. Afterwards, me and Greg met up with Ji-Soon, a friend of a friend who just moved to Seoul from Washington D.C. We spent the rest of the afternoon, bellies full of turkey meat and pumpkin pie, throwing around a frisbee near the Han River. Though it has been frigid and near freezing lately, the day was perfect jacket weather and awesome for being outdoors as well. I have to say, it really felt like Thanksgiving: I forgot to mention that our bosses played the “Friends” DVD on a projector screen during Thanksgiving lunch. So the food, plus “Friends,” and then frisbee-tossing reminded me of the quintessential Thanksgiving day.

Oh yeah, the changes that I referenced in my title. My first term ends this week. Starting November 26th, I will be teaching new classes with new students. I received my Winter term schedule yesterday and I am very pleased. The schedule isn’t as great as this term, but the classes sound fun, as well as challenging:

  • Monday: OFF!
  • Tuesday: Listening and Speaking Eagle
  • Wednesday: OFF!
  • Thursday: Listening and Speaking Par and Eagle
  • Friday: Listening and Speaking Par
  • Saturday: L & S Eagle and Masters Reading: Writings by American Minorities
  • Sunday: Report and Essay Writing (REW) and Listening and Speaking Eagle

So, I only have two days off, but I have only one class on Tuesdays and Fridays. Par, Eagle, and Albatross are levels of Listening and Speaking; I taught Par and Birdie this term and it was pretty good. They are just levels of English comprehension, Par being the lowest. I am more than excited about the Masters Reading and REW… finally, some hands-on stuff that I can apply my college degree to! They are older students and the material should be much more engaging for me, as well as my students. My Head Instructor told me that she recommended me and a couple of other people put in some good words for me – I cannot wait to be challenged! (You know, not mentally-challenged, but given a goal… well, you get it)

This term has been fun, but I’ve had to pick up some extra work to make up for the canceled classes a couple of months ago. I’ve had to distribute fliers for CDI’s launch of a new internet tutoring program and then last week, I agreed to be a “model” for CDI. CDI Holdings is publishing a textbook to help students to prepare for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and they needed “English speakers” (i.e. white people) to pose as students and teachers for some photos for the textbook. I will probably never get to see these pictures, but it did help to get paid to stand around and ask “Ok, so what’s my motivation? Am I supposed to be a stern teacher or sympathetic one?”

 

It’s been real and it’s been fun, but bring on the next term… I am ready for it!

 

Yay!  I just got my package from Mom!  Words cannot explain how happy I am.

For a while, I have been expressing my grievances against the Korean culture and their aversion to manufacturing decent shoes with females with bigger feet and Mom said that she would sent me a couple of pairs.  Not only did she send me shoes, but a myriad of awesome stuff that I missed from the States:

And it gets better…

Oh the awesomeness!

My SPIN magazines and an issue of City Beat; I almost cried.

I never thought that I would miss these kinds of things, but it is especially heart-warming to see familiar objects that can only be found at Home, where I am from.  I feel like applying Cover Girl make-up and reading SPIN all day in my apartment, but I won’t be that creepy. 😉

I love you Mom!