Sunday, August 28, 2011

Remembering July 2009

I have come a long way since first arriving in Korea. When I left Minnesota in the middle of July 2009 I was so scared. Arriving in Korea was a very shocking experience for me. I was rushed around, from Incheon to Suji, with a man who spoke no English and I was alone. I was then dropped off at a Korean Love Motel and recieved a letter from the school director. I had NO idea where I was, what I was suppose to do or when I would meet the other teachers. I had a very hard time adjusting to Suji while being by myself for the first 2.5 days. Finally, after a very long weekend, I arrived at the school. The other teachers had no idea that I had arrived but I was glad to finally feel like I belonged somewhere. I wanted to leave Suji as soon as I had arrived. Being stuck in an unfamiliar place, with no one that you know, in a dirty love motel is a very hard experience to go through. Looking back, I can still remember how terrifying Suji seemed. Now, I cannot imagine being here for less than 2 years. I have loved living in Suji.

My time at LCI has also had its ups and downs. My first class was a 6-1 class and I really loved teaching them. They had already been studying English for six months so my adjustment was easy. After 6 months with them, I had to say goodbye as they moved onto a new teacher. At the time I thought that I would never love a class more. I was wrong. My next class was the 6-2 class. They were entering their second full year of English. I taught this class for an entire year and loved them times a million. We were so bonded and I loved teaching this class everyday. This is the class that I CANNOT imagine saying goodbye too. I will miss them so much! After teaching them for a year, I again had to change classes. I got my current class, a class of seven year olds who knew no English. I had a very hard time adjusting between the classes. My old class was able to speak to me in English, in full sentences. My new class knew nothing. Not hello, not goodbye. Looking back on my first weeks with them I remember how hard it was to get my point to them. I had to get all of their books, backpacks and pencils. I had to remove all of their shoes and put on all of their jackets. Now these same kids can read numerous sentences at a time. They can read long words and speak in sentences. As hard as it was in the beginning, it has made the end all the more special. I have seen them take huge leaps in English and I know that is because of me. Teaching Korea has been hard, exciting, terrifying and memorable. I wouldn't change these last two years for anything.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

August Field Trip

My class and the actors

Fred's class

Last Thursday Fred and I went on our last field trip with LCI. We arrived at school and jumped on a LCI bus. I was assigned the bus that has 6 of my 9 students! It was a loud and social ride to our destination. After a short 15 minute ride, we arrived in Migeum. We went to see a play, "The Emperors New Clothes." As the play started the actors told us all to turn off our cell phones and to not take pictures. As this was all in Korean, Hailey translated it all for me. She was so concerned that I understood all of the rules! She is the class mother. The play lasted for about an hour. Most of the kids enjoyed it but a few got bored. After the show we all took pictures and then headed back to LCI. Overall it was a great day but it was sad to think that it was our last field trip. It is always great to get away from LCI and to have a fun day with our students!

Claire and Dana

Zion and Olivia

Daniel and Brian

My old class: Young, Cheny and Audrey

Fred and Chris

Fred's class: John, Sean and Julianna

Fred's class: Jamie, Jasmin and Jessica

Fred's class: Ray, Vicky and Elizabeth

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Last Two Weeks at LCI

Today marked our final two weeks at LCI. As we are preparing to leave LCI, and Korea, we are filled with a lot of emotions. Although we have faced a lot of hard times and challenges in Korea, it has been our home for 2 years. It is very hard to pack up and leave this place that we have loved. We enjoyed our time in Pohang and in Suji and cannot believe that it is time to say goodbye. Looking back to July 2009, we can't believe how fast time has flown by. It seems like just a few weeks ago we were terrified and leaving MN on a plane for Korea. We were scared, excited and full of questions. Now, once again, we are scared, excited and full of questions. We are thrilled to be moving on our with our lives and to travel around Asia and South America but wonder what will happen once we leave Korea. How can you say goodbye to a city, co-workers and students that you have loved for two years? These next two week are going to fly by and we hope that we can take advantage of our last weeks in Korea.

Patti and I in the staff room. She is usually looking off into the distance.

My favorite Brian. I ask him everyday if he will come to America with me. I have yet to get a 'yes' from him.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Last Weekend

Last weekend we decided to lay low in Suji. On Friday night we went to dinner at a great restaurant near our work, European Kitchen, and then headed to Batman with friends. A lot of people in Suji were out for the night. It was a great chance to hang out as one big group. On Saturday we met up with Ann, David, Colin and a few of his friends and headed to a LG Twins baseball game. We even met up with Fred's friend Travis who lives in Pohang. Fred replaced Travis at LCI when he first arrived in Korea. After a slow game, and a loss, we all headed back to Suji. Sunday was just spent relaxing around the apartment and going to Lotte Mart. In the evening we went to Tristan's house for a pot luck dinner. It was a great way to end a relaxing weekend.

Fred and I

LG Twins vs. Hanwha Eagles baseball game

K. Garcia who once played for the Yankees. He has punched umpires here.

Travis, Colin and Fred

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011: Third and Final

Last week LCI had summer vacation. Fred and I decided that we were going to stay in Korea. We would have loved to travel abroad but since we are leaving in a month we decided to stay. Once school ended on Friday, most teachers went home to prepare for Saturday morning flights. Ann rushed to the airport for a Friday night flight. Fred and I met a few of our friends from another school and went to dinner. Most of our friends from In2 school also did not leave Korea. We had dinner with Drea, Dan, Colin, John and Brad. After dinner we headed to Batman for drinks. On Saturday we had lunch with Joo and Yumi before relaxing all night. On Sunday we left our apartment and headed to Seoul at 8:30am. We took a 10:30am KTX bullet train to Busan, South Korea. We have been to Busan many times and even spent our first summer vacation, 2009, there. We arrived at 1pm and checked into our hotel. After a stop at E-Mart to gather food supplies we found dinner then relaxed in the hotel and enjoyed the English TV (Hello Discovery Channel and CNN).

On Monday we woke up and headed to the bus terminal. We took an hour long bus ride to Pohang, the city that Fred lived in last year. We went straight to our favorite Korean place for lunch and then went to the Pohang LCI. We knew that the school was also on vacation but we were hoping to see someone. We didn't find anyone but had a good time remembering Fred's first year in Korea. Next we headed to the POSCO Steel Art Museum. We found out that it was closed so we couldn't venture inside. From there we went straight to the beach. We walked around and tried to find some of Fred's old students. No luck. We then spent the afternoon on the beach and playing cards by the water. For dinner we went to our FAVORITE restaurant in Korea, clams on the beach. It was wonderful! We then took a bus back to Busan and got to the hotel around 10:30pm.

Pohang Beach

Clams on the beach

On Tuesday we spent the day relaxing. We simply walked around Busan and enjoyed being out of Suji. We went to a Busan Lotte Giants baseball game in the afternoon. We got seats in the second row, first baseline. They were great seats! The best part is that they only cost 15,000 won, about $12.00. Also, you are able to carry in WHATEVER you want from beer, to fried chicken to whole pizzas. What a great night!

First Giants game of 2011 in Busan (Showing off our Giants style rally caps)

On Wednesday we had horrible weather. This was the day that Korea was affected by major flooding and landslides (see my previous post). Even though Busan was not heavily affected, it was still stormy and rainy all day. We ventured to the beach but spent the day in a coffee shop reading and playing cards. We tried to go the another Giants game but it was rained out. Instead we headed back to the main beach in Busan, Haeundae. We had dinner and then went out for drinks. We even found a bar with online darts so were able to play our friends Drea and David in Suji. It ended up being a very fun night.

On Thursday it had finally stopped raining. We headed back to Haeundae. We laid on the beach and swam. After a while we were very red so we found some food and went back to our hotel. We quickly changed and headed to another Giants game. This time the Giants won so it was a much more exciting game!

Haeundae Beach

Second Giants Game

On Friday we had lunch then took a KTX train back to Seoul. We then bused to Suji and got home around 7pm. Overall it was a great vacation. We are now on our one month countdown! It is hard to believe that after two years it is now almost time to leave Korea. I am excited for the next adventure to begin but not yet ready to say goodbye to this country that we have called home.