Sunday, July 27, 2014

Seven on Sunday

My time in Korea is winding down. I cannot believe that I've been here for over 11 months. I simply can't believe it. A part of my heart will always remain in Korea.

It's been a while since my last post. I've been busy, busy, busy. To give you a rundown of my last few weeks, here's seven things....

1. Of course this would happen. Right before I leave Korea a new little restaurant opens up in my neighborhood. And it has the best Thai food. I've eaten there 3 times already. They know me now and give me a free Sprite when I come in. I mean how many curly-haired blondes are there in my neck of the woods?


2. A few weeks ago, I volunteered at the orphanage one last time. We had a water day...water balloons, bubbles, etc. The kids loved it. Oh how I wish I could adopt one of these precious babies.





This kid is an absolute hoot. Seriously. Climbs on anything he can. Screams. Laughs. Etc. He has such a loud personality.



3. Life with my co-teacher has not been all that pleasant. At all. She told me that I didn't have to make lesson plans for summer camp, that she would do them. Then 2 days before they due she told me that I had to make them because it was my job. I had to walk away from the conversation so A I wouldn't cry in front of her and B I wouldn't say something I would regret. Oh, and that was on top of all the materials she still wanted me to make. Yeah, I was not a happy camper.

On another note, however, our last couple of days of school were good. She wanted to do a cooking class with the kids in our middle school class, and they LOVED it. We had fried eggs, sliced tomatoes, cheese, ham, bread, and ketchup (yeah, I know....gross). One of the boys was shoving it in so quickly that you would have thought he hadn't eaten in a week!


Then we played Jenga in our high school class. As you can see, they loved it. Grown adults nonetheless!


And we also played with play dough. They loved that too!

We had a ceremony to signify the ending of the school semester. I had no idea what they saying. I just stood when they stood and sat when they sat.





4. I have been hanging out with Katie a lot in Euhaengdong, which is my favorite spot in Daejeon. Katie and I are almost 20 years apart in age, but somehow that doesn't even affect our friendship. She is a fellow Christian, a great friend, and I just adore her. We always have so much fun together....whether we are shopping, eating, paying Nertz, singing at a norebang, or people watching. I am going to miss her terribly. Here I am in my favorite spot.


Last night, Katie and I went there to hang out, and we had THE absolute best time! We had originally decided to shop in the underground (it's the best place for Konglish shirts), eat dinner, and then have Oreo bingsu for dessert. It's THE best dessert in Korea.


After dessert, we decided to keep wandering and ended up finding a "new" spot in Eunhaengdong that we had never found before. It was like the fun nightlife of Eunhaengdong. It was awesome! We decided that we were in the singing mood so found a norebang. This norebang was awesome because it had songs that we hadn't found at any other norebang like "Marry You", "What Makes You Beautiful", and the ever-amazing "Let It Go". There was a lot of belting out, tambourines, and dancing involved. Then we kept wandering because we weren't tired yet. Found a great 3-man band that was performing on the street and stayed to listen. They were so good. If they had had a CD for sale, I would have totally bought it. They sang some Korean songs and some English ones. We also people watched of course. Some of our favorites that we were looking for: skinny men with bad mustaches (Korean men do NOT look good with mustaches....I'm just sayin'), Korean men with good butts (not very common actually), bad Konglish shirts, and couples with cute/annoying PDA. We were also hit on by 3 Korean men. We finally decided to go home around 2:00pm.

5. I leave for Bali in less than 2 weeks!!!! I have decided to splurge on my last 2 nights in Bali. Staying at a swanky, luxury, romantic resort. Very popular for honeymoons. Romantic vacation for one...coming right up! Have I mentioned just how much I am looking forward to this? Or can you tell?

6. I am starting to pack up boxes to ship home and sell stuff in my apartment. It's getting real. Wow. You don't think that you've accumulated that much stuff until it's time to pack.

7. Summer camp started on Wednesday. In the morning I have two elementary classes, with one of the classes consisting of two young brothers. They are both blind and have severe intellectual disabilities. One doesn't even talk. They LOVE music, so we sing a lot of BINGO and Old McDonald and songs like that. I tried play dough the other day, but they didn't like that. They did like building things with the big Legos. I taught them push and pull with the Legos.

In my afternoon classes (I have them for 2 classes in a row), I have 3 men, including my male co-teacher, and 2 middle school boys. One of the boys is extremely low, so my lessons have to reflect that. We play games, practice speaking limited English, and are learning "A Whole New World".

Some friends and I were talking yesterday about my school. It's not really a blind school. It's more like a special education school. The students may be blind or visually impaired, but they have special needs that drive my teaching. For example, in a class of 8 students, I might have 2 higher students who are not on grade level but can follow along pretty well and speak/read English. However, I also have students in that same class who can't read English at all. And another student who can barely speak at all. So my lessons have to be low enough for everyone to be able to participate which is sad because the higher students get bored and are left behind instead of being pushed on. I have some students that would benefit more by being in a regular school where they could be pushed, but they go to the blind school because they are blind or visually impaired. And they are in the same grade and classes with students who can't read. 

However, the regular public school in Korea has its own problems. They push the students so hard that students don't get to be kids. To explain what I mean, check out this article where they let Korean middle school students get their feelings down on paper.

http://iamkoream.com/what-south-korean-students-really-think-about-their-education-system/


It's been a challenging year teaching wise, but I do feel like I have learned a lot in how to teach students with special needs. I feel like I will definitely be more prepared in having students with special needs in my classroom and be able to differentiate lessons for them.

My flight to Bali is booked. My tour in Bali is booked. My flight home is booked. My suitcases are getting packed. Boxes are being packed and shipped home. 

In less than one month, I will say good-bye to Korea. I will come back to Texas and see all my friends and family (including my dogs) again. 

And I will be looking for a job. I know several of you have asked if I have found a job yet back home. The answer is no. I haven't even had any interviews. I am not coming home until Tuesday, August 26th, which is the day AFTER school starts. That makes it difficult to find a job. Schools always reevaluate their numbers the 2nd or 3rd week of school, so I'll probably get a job then. That will give me time to decompress and ease back into living in the states. I have heard that reverse culture shock is a lot harder than most people think. We shall see!

Can't wait to touch Texas soil!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

An Awesome Weekend in Seoul

Yeah. I know. It's been over 2 weeks since I've updated the blog. At school I am constantly making materials for my co-teacher. It seems never-ending.

A couple of weekends ago, we had a long weekend, so some friends and I went up to Seoul. This trip to Seoul was absolutely magnificent. Seriously. It almost made me want to move to Seoul. Great food. A lot more diversity than in Daejeon. Great places to visit.

We stayed at this great hostel that the other girls had found. The best part about this hostel was the restaurant right near it. It was SO good. Like SO good. Better than IHOP and Denney's. The owner had all of his employees actually spent a couple of weeks in America to learn how to make American breakfasts. Well it worked.



I got the same thing every morning. I ordered it the first morning, and it was so good that I just continued to get it. Eggs, bacon, hash browns, and a Belgian waffle.



Check out everyone on their cell phones. Except the old dude in the middle who is asleep.


I was trying to be nonchalant while taking a picture of this girl in her bandages who had just plastic surgery. She's the one in the hat reading the paper.


But it didn't work. So I just took a regular picture. We saw several people with bandages such as these. Plastic surgery is very common in South Korea, particularly in Seoul. One person told me it was as much as 50% of all people get plastic surgery, with getting more Western eyelids being the most popular.


Selfies on the subway. You just have to when you're in Korea!


 Awesome. Socks with sandals.


Check out this boy's hair. He got a perm. Boys and men get perms here. And to me it just looks funny.


We went to the Seoul Arts Center museum to see this famous artist's collection.




You don't need to get a stroller for your kid. Just get a Mini Cooper!



We started to wait in this line to go inside one of the big bubbles.


And met these adorable girls who spoke perfect English.



We enjoyed talking to them. Aren't they adorable?








I LOVED these dogs!


While taking pictures, I met this little guy and his parents. I love meeting little kids here. I love to see them wave and smile at me.




These are two typical Koreans. Doesn't get any better than this.


Heading into the dot room. We had to take off our shoes to enter.


These are my 3 dots that I get to place in the room.


Check out the dot rooms. SO. MANY. DOTS. They had it set up like an apartment with a dining room table, a desk, a couch, and a TV.


The black light room.


The bathroom signs. I thought they were quite cute.






A really cool bridge near the museum.


Hey look! A Texas Rangers hat! Koreans love the Texas Rangers because there is a South Korean playing for the team, Shin-Soo Choo. A lot of times when I say I'm from Texas, they say, "Oh, Texas Rangers!"


Check out the swanky Plastic Surgery Center. Many of them looked like fancy hotels.


Walking around town and going shopping.




An ad for plastic surgery


Couple shirts. Actually couple outfits.


So, there haven't been many Korean men that I have found attractive. Just being honest. So when I see a Korean man that I find attractive, I take note. I saw this guy on the subway and immediately took note. I told the girls to check him out, and we were all oogling. Yep. Oogling. So I just ha to take a picture. Btw...it's the guy at the far end in the gray t-shirt, black shorts, and a black backpack. He's also tall, which is not very common here.


There was this cafe near our hostel. If you were there by yourself, you could have a teddy bear eat with you so you wouldn't have to be alone. Is that cute or what?


Now off to the princess cafe. We had read about it on a blog and just had to go.




The princess cafe is a little cafe where you can rent and wear a traditional Korean hanbok or a wedding dress for an hour and take pictures. These girls are from Singapore.


The bookstore of accessories.


 Look at those fancy wedding dresses.




While choosing what to wear, we drank our awesome shakes. The oreo cookie one was so good.


Rachel and Amber chose to wear hanboks.
While we were there, there were 2 other Korean couples that were dressed up in their wedding attire. What a fun date that would be!




Since I had already gotten dressed up in a hanbok, I chose a wedding dress like Saree.

Saree had to be corseted in this dress and was almost not able to breathe.



Yeah, I think she loved it.




We even had the throwing of the bouquet. We practiced it several times to get some good pictures.




Forget the veil. Just wear a Minnie Mouse headband!





 This is the second couple. Aren't they adorable?


The girls who work there. One of them admitted to me that she loved her job. Who wouldn't?


Walking around the Hongdae area at night





At the Travel Maker restaurant at breakfast the next day, we met this sweet couple from Oregon who have lived in Seoul for 6 years. She told us about this secret place to buy purses wholesale. Um, yes please!





I bought a purse from a lady and look what she was playing on her phone....Candy Crush!



She was so sweet. She even gave me a Mango juice box.

Rachel and Amber left us to go get tickets for their big K-Pop concert that night, so Saree and I explored Seoul on our own.

We found this unexpected beautiful chandelier in the underground.





We went to this outdoor shopping area to chill and relax for the afternoon.








For dinner, we called our Oregon friends and asked for a recommendation for dinner. They ended up meeting us and going out with us. We had THE best time with them!


I saw this and just knew it was the norebang that they went to on the Bachelor last season.




Praha (Prague) Castle





People was freaking out because apparently there was a famous Korean celebrity eating dinner there.


The big white dog (his dad is the owner of a shop nearby) meets a new little friend. They were so cute!





Our Oregon friends...


In Korea, you find older men and women collecting recycling and either carrying it, putting it on their bicycle, or putting it on their cart. I think they turn it in for money, but I'm not sure.





Saree and I were on the subway sitting down. I looked up to see this. Now what do YOU notice in this picture?


Notice the outside glass doors? Our Oregon friends told us that there used to be a great number of student suicides in Korea. The pressure on students is tremendous here. Students would jump on the tracks in front of the trains. So so sad.



 Now let's see....would you like to use a Western toilet or a squat toilet? So not a hard question.


The "vending" machine outside the toilets in the subway


Saree and I go to the OEM church in Daejeon. So when in Seoul, we decided to visit the main OEM service in Seoul. Wow. What a big difference.


So many more people. MUCH better music. Like phenomenal music actually. A great sermon (who just happened to be a visiting pastor from Indiana who was here to lead their retreat). And diversity of people.


We definitely don't see tall buildings like this in Daejeon.



I just love the look of this subway station.


 Like seriously love it. I don't know why but I do.


Forgive me for all the pictures, but you know me. You know that I take a lot of pictures. Hope you enjoyed my awesome weekend in Seoul!