Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Korea


Christmas Eve was very laid back this year. I had the day off however Fred had to work. After work he took a bus and a train to Suji. I had spent the day trying to book another vacation for us because we were not able to get on a later flight to Thailand. We are now leaving on Tuesday morning and are going to Tokyo. It should be a very fun, but expensive, trip over New Years!

On Christmas, we spent the morning Skyping with family at home. We made hot chocolate and opened our presents. In the afternoon we went to the grocery store (what an unreal Christmas Day experience) then relaxed at my apartment. We watched 'Home Alone' on TV before heading over my co-workers, Janice and James's, apartment for Christmas dinner. There were 7 of us, Fred and I, Janice and James, 2 other teachers from a different school and Janice's sister from Toronto, for dinner. We had cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, roasted potatoes and veggies, salmon, salad and apple pie, ice cream, caramel squares for dessert. When we left their apartment it was snowing! Not as white as it is at home, but we did have a white Christmas in Suji!

Opening presents

Opening presents

Walking back in the snow

Snow and Christmas lights

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Night in the Emergency Room

Over the past 4 weeks I have been battling bronchitis and a severe sinus infection. I have seen 2 doctors and taken many medications. On Monday morning I went back to the doctor for a check up. He said that my sinus infection had improved however my cough had not. He then sent me to another doctor for a chest x-ray. Once he saw the x-ray he was worried. I was then sent to a University hospital because he thought I might have TB or pneumonia.

After I spoke to a doctor at the hospital I was admitted. I was then hooked up to an IV and sent back to the waiting room. After hours was waiting I was told that I would need to stay in the hospital for 3-4 day or up to 7. I was in tears calling my boss and parents. I was then given a bed in the ER because all of the rooms were full. The bed was literally in a huge room with about 35 other patients with curtain dividers. I was shuttled around for x-rays, blood tests and a CT scan. The other teachers came to visit me on Monday after work. They had stopped on the way to buy masks to blend in with me. (I was the only patient in the ER that had to wear one!) They brought me tons of supplies, books, my phone charger, food and treats. The ER staff would only let one person come to visit me at a time but we bent the rule a little bit! It was so comforting to see them.

I tried to sleep during the night however there were many distractions with the language, bright lights, other patients and the EMT's rushing in the new patients. Many of the doctors and nurses appeared to be ignoring me and hurrying around. It was very overwhelming and shocking to be in a foreign hospital, alone all night.

On Tuesday morning one of the owners, Melanie, came to see me. She was very sweet and brought me food. At about 11am the doctors finally came to talk to me. They said that I have pneumonia and put me on a lot of medications. I was told that I would be released and called the school. One of the Korean staff members, Nathan, came to pick me up. We waited until almost 3:00pm before I was finally discharged.

View of the bed directly across from mine. Great place to spend more than 36 hours!

I have to go back to the hospital on Monday to get more blood tests and an x-ray. Fred and I are suppose to leave on Friday for Thailand. The doctors knew this and would only give one week on medication. We now have to try to change our flights to Monday evening. If not, we are either out a lot of money or I have to go with no medications.

As all of this was happening, I missed out on Santa coming to LCI and the entire Christmas party. I had bought my Kinder students presents and didn't even get to watch them open them. What bad timing to be in the hospital!

Today, we had a spelling bee for our afternoon classes. Jetty, from my 2:30 class, won his division. Ethan in my 4:00 class took 2nd and Anika in my 4:00 class took 3rd. I was a very proud teacher!!!

Spelling bee. My boys are the 4th, 5th and 6th ones in from the left (Chris, Jetty and Alex)

The winner Jetty

Ethan (2nd place), Rucy (1st place, not my student) and Anika (3rd place)

The frozen river running through Suji

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Song Competition

Here is my Kinder class singing our Christmas Song.

Christmas Day will soon be here and I can hardly wait!

Christmas Day will soon be here and I can hardly wait!

Santa will be coming. Soon he will be coming.

Christmas Day will soon be here and I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Daegu and Pohang

Last week flew by. My students were well behaved and excited about the material. I have been teaching my Kinder students opposites. They were excited to use examples in class. They have told me that I am old, a man, poor and fat. Oh, the important things that they learn!

We have art every Wednesday. Last week the students were to draw mermaids. As I was explaining this, Samuel jumped out of his seat bubbling with excitement. He ran up to me and told me the story of "The Little Mermaid." He told me, "London Teacher...Ariel is mermaid. She lives in ocean and there is a mean witch. Ariel love prince but she no legs. Witch gives her legs but then she NO VOICE!" It was absolutely hysterical. I was trying to hold back the tears as he was explaining this to me. He is a slow reader and has no focus however he speaks clearly and says the most entertaining things!

On Friday I took a train from Suwon, near Suji, to Daejeon. Then I took a KTX train to Daegu. These trains are the fastest ones in Korea. Once in Daegu, I met Fred and some of his friends. We had dinner and stayed the night in Daegu. On Saturday we headed to Pohang and spent the day relaxing before going out to dinner. On Sunday we walked around town and Fred bought a camera. I then had to come back to Suji.

Tomorrow we are having our Christmas song competition. I am hoping that my kids do well and do not freeze!

We only have 5.5 days of teaching left before break. Next week we have full days on Monday and Tuesday and a half day on Wednesday. On Tuesday night we are going to go out for our staff holiday party. Fred is going to come to Suji on the 24th and we leave for Thailand on the 25th!

Playing a game that is a cross between bowling and pool in Daegu

Jasmin, Chelcy and Jenny

Jenny and her hat. These animal hats are all the rage in Korea.

Louie and Sean

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weddings and Tattle Tales

Samuel and Weddings

Sean and tattle tales

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Celebrating Shauna's Birthday

This week was long at work. I went to the doctor about 2 weeks ago because I wasn't feeling well. I was told that I had bronchitis and given meds. As the days went on I was not feeling better. Finally, some of my supervisors recommended that I go see a specialist. I went on Friday before work. The doctor spoke perfect English and took x-rays of my head. It turns out that I have double sinus infections on both sides of my face. He said that they are really bad and lead to the bronchitis. Now I am on new meds and have to go back on Tuesday for another x-ray.

After work we, Gina, Britney, Shauna, Christine and I headed into Seoul for Shauna's late birthday celebration. We had great pitas for dinner before going to a few bars.

On Saturday I just stayed in Suji, grocery shopped and went to dinner. Today I have been feeling really sick and have just relaxed. I hope that these infections go away soon so that the pressure in my head goes away!!

We officially have 12.5 days of classes left before break! On the 23rd we only have elementary classes so we do not start work until 2:30pm. On the 25th Fred and I will be off to Thailand!!

This weekend I am going to Pohang again to see Fred. I hope this week goes well!!

Me, Gina and Shauna

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My students and I

Sean and I




My M-F 2:30 class (My FAVORITE!!!!)
Back row L-R: Chris, Jen, Jetty, Alex and Jaden
Front row: Tom, Ria and Julie

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Funerals in Korea

Last night we went to Lucy's (our head director) moms funeral. It was at this building attached to the hospital. When we walked in there was a huge screen with the persons name and what little room the service was in. When we got to her 'room' the hallway was covered in flowers. Once inside, we had to take off our shoes and go to the right side were her mom was. Her body was behind a white screen so we could not see her, luckily! In front of the screen there was an altar thing with her picture. We had to enter the area, take a white flower and set it in front of her picture. Lucy and her siblings were lining the wall next to the altar. We then had a moment of silence before bowing to the family. The women, only in the immediate family (such as Lucy), had on full white gowns, similar to our communion gowns. The brothers had black suits with a hemp arm band and a back ribbon. We did this ceremony sort of thing about 3 people at a time.

We then went into the left side of the room and had a meal. Each of the service rooms are half a kitchen and dining room. We had tons of traditional Korean food. It was a very weird experience and the 11 of us sure stood out.

This starts right after a person dies and goes for 3 days. There is no waiting period like at home. The immediate family also does not sleep so Lucy was in rough shape. This morning is the 3rd and final day. They will have our 'funeral' type service today before she is buried.

After, we all went out for a drink and darts because it was also Shauna's birthday!! What a day to have a birthday. I have recently become known as a dart shark. Apparently, I have this undiscovered talent for darts. Janice and I were on a roll last night and ended up playing 4 games. We are going to go for dinner and out in Seoul on Friday I think.

This week has gone slowly. My Kinder students have been really hard on me lately. They are more advanced then the others in their age group and the work is too easy for them. They have no problem completing the work without my help. This is good, however it leads to more fighting. Lately they have all been fighting. Last week, Lex and Daniel took their shoes off during play time and started hitting Jenny in the head with them. Each day they make me more stressed with their fights and their lack of listening skills. I have became the teacher that yells and takes away everything that is fun. I hope that their behavior improves soon!

All of the teachers left to right:
Alan, Christine, Blake, Gina, Michael, James, Britney, Shauna, Steve and Janice

Gina, Britney and I