Sunday, March 13, 2011

Good Bye Sanity, Good Bye Friends!

1) Sunday lunch… tears of joy
2) Last hurrah (Molly, Krish, Dominique)
3) Arts and Crafts… that's Bruce (well… his parents recently changed his name to Luigi). How perfect… the kid finally knows himself as Bruce now he's a 1980's game character
4) Japan's aftermath

Seven months to the day… I can not believe I have lived here that long! Seven months sounds like such a long time but really, I feel like I just got here. These last five to six months are going to really fly.

So, I am sure most of you heard about the terrible earthquake that shook Japan. An 8.9 on the richter scale seems like it might as well knock the Earth off its axis, just slightly. This quake was the worst Japan had seen in over 100 years. The worst part of it all was the tsunami that came later. On Friday night I stayed up reading story after story, watching numerous videos just flabbergasted by the heart ache that Japan is now suffering. I recently read that the death toll was in the thousands. Wow, my heart goes out to all those people who were disturbed by this terrifying natural disaster. If you look at a map, you will see that Korea is not that far from Japan. It's a pretty simple ferry ride away actually. I am perfectly safe though… the earthquake hit Japan on the East coast, I live on the West coast of Korea- so really, it's no where near Korea. The threats were way worse for areas off the East… Indonesia, Hawaii, etc.

This week… work… god. I have been working SO hard and trying to stay so positive. I've always had a pretty strong work ethic so when I am given a task, it has to be perfect… no less! This is by far one of the most challenging jobs I've had. Most of you who know me well are saying… "well, Emilie, you haven't really had many jobs!?" I realize this you guys but there is something in me saying.. I don't think it's supposed to be this hard all the time. Part of me really loves this challenge because I know it's making me a stronger, more appreciative person. This struggle that stresses me out is basically the culture difference… language barriers that are all wrapped around so many issues/tasks. The teaching, like I've always said, is so rewarding. Of course, it's always a little exhausting but I adore my students. Those precious faces and the constant progress is so worth my hard work. I don't think anyone really understands how taxing ESL really is until your the teacher of 3 and 4 year olds who hardly speak a lick of English. Just the simple things are so far from simple… example- when it's time to do math, I can't say to them, "okay, it's time for math, everyone take out your math book and turn to page 10." I have to show them the math book… explain with motioning how to get out the math book. Once everyone has their math book on the desk. I have to turn each of their books to page _____ … 5 minutes later it's time for the real test, teaching what's on the pages. I love when they are actually getting what I am teaching, it makes me feel like the best teacher in the world. I often stand back and take a big, long sigh/breath when I finish a page.

I was really surprised with myself this week. I got poked in the eye with a pencil (on accident of course)… the point of a pencil shot straight up poking me under the eye and then stabbing me right in the crevice of my eyeball. The pencil actually broke the skin under my eye causing bruising and a broken blood vessel. I'm fine, I promise! A few tears later and I was hardly phased. Poor Suri, she had no idea what she did. You can be sure I showed them how to hold a pencil, after that. If that wasn't bad enough in the beginning of the week… Thursday came around and I got pooped on. Not just poop you guys, diarrhea. And… on my freshly dry cleaned sweater. Now, that is me being selfish as hell. In midst of it all I felt terrible for poor Jen. Bless her heart, she was a little under the weather and just couldn't hold it. She soiled a pair of pants, straight through to her teacher who was holding her. These far from joyous moments are all part of teaching… it's pretty much inevitable that this kind of stuff will happen on a regular basis. I just got a little unlucky this week, thats all.

So.. I didn't think I could mess things up with my older students but I did. I try SO hard to be perfect at what I do that I get on a roll and then, just when I start to de-stress, it all crumbles down. When it comes to the lesson plan, you've got to follow it precisely. Any teacher will tell you that your lesson can and should stray from it's original but NOT in Korea. When you create your lesson, it goes on the TNE website via Excel (by the way, I've mastered the excel program… something I never thought I'd do). Parents go online and look at each day to see what is done. Some parents even sit in the parents room and watch the TV- cameras to make sure your teaching the right book.. the right page at the exact time you said you would teach it (talk about pressure, right!?). One day, I taught the wrong pages in the grammar book. A parent called and threatened to quit TNE because the lesson plan said I was going to teach pages 6-9 in the grammar book but I taught 6-14 (god forbid I move on in the book when the material is too simple- woops, I should have known better). It's a huge chain reaction when this happens. The parents call management then management calls me to their office to discuss the issue then I freak out because, OH NO… do they dislike me now. Are they going to make my life hell? I kiss SOOOOO much ass it's not even funny - you can't over do it around here. Sometimes I think they like me more on days when I look really cute. The black eye I had goin on for a few days definitely didn't benefit me.

I am very, very sad! One of my good friends, Dominique is leaving Korea to go home to Canada. I've got such an ache in my stomach because I can't bear leaving the friends I've made here. Dom is the first close friend to leave. On Saturday night, a big group of us went out for one last hurrah with Dom. When I left America, I knew when I would see my family and friends again but it's different here. When friends leave and when I later leave… I don't really know when I will see them again. It's all very bitter sweet! As excited I am to come home… I will be absolutely crushed to leave my friends. Luckily, a lot of them live in America but some live in other countries.

After a night of drinking, we took our hungover selves back downtown for a sunday lunch. I swear to you, our food was drugged. 10 minutes after eating, we were all acting like fools. Felicity would tell you we turned into a group of muppets. We laughed so hard we were crying- I can't tell you the last time I did that! We moseyed through the streets of downtown like slugs… giggling and making no sense at all. When I finally made it home, I passed out which was around 7. I am just now waking up (1 am)and feeling like my normal self- what the hell was in that food?

Korean Facts/ Randomness:

-When kids loose their baby teeth, they don't pull them out themselves. Once a child has a loose tooth, they go to the dentist to get it pulled. They still believe in the tooth fairy so once the dentist pulls a tooth, he gives it to the child.
-Dental care if very expensive… you will often see people with really messed up teeth. Braces are not as common here.
- I'm so grossed out by this… very often you will see men peeing on the side of the street. A lot of times, they don't even go behind something.. they simply turn the other way and hope no one is looking. I can't tell you how many times during the day I see a man peeing- ugh! These are not grimy men either, they are men in their business suits.
- I know fully understand why you can not wear your shoes inside.
- Notice the ascot that Bruce/Luigi is wearing in the picture above. You wouldn't believe how many kids wear these (girls and boys). It's the hot trend for kids in Korea. I think it's hilarious!

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