Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another Update

Wow. Has it really been over a month since I've updated?? Sorry, folks... life and laziness are my excuses. Thanks to the parentals, who have been lately nudging me to hurry it up and post something.

Let's start off with a little list, just for fun.

Signs I am becoming Korean:
1. I frequently enjoy a supper (or breakfast...) of rice with seaweed, often there's a slice of melty "cheddar" (American with cheddar flavoring added (I assume), sold as cheddar here) and/or tuna mixed in for a 'fusion' twist and also to help balance the diet out.
2. Tonight, when I looked in my rice cooker (which is really cute, for a rice cooker), I thought that my rice looked "luscious."
3. I am able to somewhat follow certain Korean conversations (when I know the context and recognize a few key words).
4. I semi-automatically speak in Korean to ahjummas, and ahjusshis (Korean for older women and older men), basically anyone who looks to be 20-30+ years older than me.
5. I can almost read the lyrics well enough to sing along in Korean church (I may not know what I'm singing, but their songs have pretty solid lyrics, when I've seen the subtitles).
6. My Korean-accented English sounds pretty Korean... accented... (Don't worry, I only speak it on purpose!!)
7. I can spell some Korean words well enough to use my cell-phone dictionary to look up the English meaning after hearing the word (several times... and it still doesn't work sometimes...).
8. I'm getting pretty good at texting Korean words. (Still run into the spelling problem on occasion, but still...)
9. I am learning (and remembering!) new Korean words almost every day! (okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but then again, maybe not...)
10. I am coming to terms with the fact that (at least here) I am remarkably beautiful, and am even starting to take second glances in stride. (Is it because I'm white or because I'm beautiful that they look again? I don't know, I'll just chalk it up to being astonishingly pretty. :-D)

I began my 3rd month of teaching 2 Fridays ago, and this month is pretty grueling. Instead of teaching all the Kindergarten classes occasionally, I am now one of the primary teachers of the youngest Kindergarten class, called Harvard. (All the classes/classrooms are named after famous universities, so I have now taught at Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Brown, Oxford, Columbia, Berkley, and Duke. Pretty impressive-sounding, even if I do say it myself. I'm still waiting to be assigned a class in Cambridge. ^_^) Let me just say, teaching Kindergarten is not easy, especially when there is CCTV in every classroom, and it is on display for anyone in the lobby to watch, including my boss. Add to that the fact that the classroom is to look orderly and controlled, and you have about 10-15 minutes of every (40 min) class taken up with making sure that the children are sitting nicely and listening quietly and not playing across the table with their friends. Throw in an out of control kid with several who are willing to be distracted, and four little girls who have their own little clique and love to socialize as long as you allow when they're simply supposed to be getting a book from their backpack or cupboard, and you pretty much have my 10 Harvard kids. Some of them are really sweet and sometimes well-behaved, but they love to play more than they love to listen or behave really well. Oh, there's also a little boy who is very... touchy... it's a little creepy sometimes, I'm not gonna lie, but he really does not get the whole "Keep your hands to yourself" thing, and rarely does he pass up an opportunity for 'skinship' (an Asian term based in English, basically meaning skin contact...). It's not that he's cuddly, he's just... touchy. He's had a couple run-ins with the out of control boy, who is a whole 'nother writhing can of worms.

On the upside, I still get to teach science to two of the other classes, which makes for a nice break (even though it's in addition to, not instead of, my Harvard classes). Still, students from the other classes, (as in, non-Harvard students) will ask, "Madeline Teacher, why no art? or why no science?" (It's a habit I'm trying to help them out of, but they call their teachers "Madeline Teacher" or "Nick Teacher" or "Pink Teacher" (yes, that is the chosen English name of one of my co-workers... I'm thinking of gently nudging her to change it sometime... we're close, so it wouldn't be rude of me...), so I try to refer to my co-teachers as Miss Pink or Mr Nick. Hopefully it'll eventually rub off... It doesn't help that the other teachers use the "So-and-so Teacher" format, but one can hope...) So, anyway, I am at least missed by the other Kinder students, and I really miss the one class that I don't have at all anymore...

My afternoon and evening classes are going quite well, overall. My 'bad class' is improving with the promise/threat of wasabi peanuts - each boy starts with 5, and the number can go down, and if they're really good, it can go up. They love wasabi peanuts. There is also a new addition to the class, a quiet boy who is a real encouragement to me, in that he actually tries to do his work and answer questions.

My preschool boys have gotten even cuter and sweeter, and we now have a really good relationship. They love me like an extra mother or a little boy crush... not sure which, maybe both, but I love them both dearly.

I'm feeling more and more comfortable as a teacher and also as a resident of Korea. It was bunches of fun to have Mom and H here and show them around and introduce them to friends... and to tip them off about the sentinel robots disguised as apartment buildings which I can see through the office window (Mom took it much better than Heidi, who scoffed, but just watch! If someday they're missing, I'll KNOW something's about to happen.) I also have good reason to believe that they enjoyed their time here. ^_^

I visited China during my break from school - Chuseok, kind of a Korean Thanksgiving... except traditionally (and still today) Koreans thank their ancestors, not God... Anyway, I was able to visit China for a few days in late September, and really enjoyed my time there. I was glad to return to Korea, though. I'm exceedingly thankful that God has placed me here... and, I get to open my home to my sisters as a retreat from the pressures of living in China.

I can definitely see myself here for a long time. Not that I don't miss my family and friends, but I am content and comfortable here. (Not only that, but my skin is doing rather well and I'm losing weight here - I'm going to need my belts for several pairs of pants which used to fit snugly. ^_^)

Well, that's all for now.
Signing off,
Miss Chatters