A Day of Teaching in Korea

What does my day look like?

I was always really curious before I came to Korea what my day would look like. Of course, everyone has really different lifestyles but here is one EPIK teacher’s typical day:

7am: When I am supposed to get up but usually I sleep in and then make a mad rush for the door and barely catch the bus. It works and I still have then next 20 minutes-30 minutes to fully wake up before I get to school and start teaching. Many people walk to school which sounds nice to me (public transportation used to really scare/overwhelm me), but I have to catch a bus since all of my schools (I teach at three) are pretty far away. Living on island though definitely has its perks—the ride is absolutely gorgeous and has become something I really look forward to. IMG_6001.jpg

8am: I usually get to school around this time and wish all my co-workers a good morning, collect my materials for the day, drink tea, and check emails. My schedules are different at each school so class start time is different each day. I teach Elementary level and absolutely love all my adorable students.

IMG_5831.jpg12pm: Around this time I get to stop teaching and eat lunch which is always incredible. The schools provide large healthy meals which is another one of my favorite parts of the day. Lunch is a time to connect with the students or other teachers, practice Korean, try new foods, and learn what they are all called.

1:30: After break it’s back to teaching. I usually only have one afternoon class and many of the teachers I have spoken to don’t have any so after lunch it is just time to lesson plan. I peruse Waygook.com and the rest of the interwebs for game ideas and type up my schedule for the next day and usually try to get ahead or the next week as well to keep it less stressful for myself.

3pm: At this point I usually am done with lesson planning and start blogging or check emails or study Korean or talk with my co-teachers which is a nice relaxing way to end the afternoon.

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4pm: I leave different schools at different times but around 4 is when it’s time to start packing up. Time to trek to the bus stop… which is always lovely! I still have not gotten over how beautiful Korea is. Somedays I go with my co-teacher to play a game of volley ball or go out to dinner which is always a great way to mix up the daily routine and get to know my fellow teacher better.

5pm: After school it’s time for Korean class, coffee with one of my Korean friends while we practice each other’s language, volley ball club, a work out at the gym by my house, an adventurous dinner with another expat teacher, a movie night, or a mini hike before the sun goes down. There is never a dull moment! The city I live in is pretty small compared to a lot of places my friends ended up at so there isn’t as much to do really (no big official language exchanges or events) but I still feel like I have an overwhelming amount of options and try to do just enjoy every moment. I’m always trying new foods and really trying to learn the language.

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Playing around with the heavy bag!

??Pm: I get back home and pack my bags for the next day (which helps me when I make the mad dash the door the next morning. If I don’t pack the night before I will probably forget something). Due to the time difference my friends at home are usually just getting up at this point so sometimes I end up skyping them till late hours of the night. Then it’s time for a quick shower and bed to rest up for the next busy day.

So there you have it: a day in the life of an EPIK Teacher. I am so grateful for where I ended up at. It’s the perfect blend of city and natural beauty but, then again, much of Korea is like that. I am so grateful for all the new experiences I get on a daily basis. It really is incredible!

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Seven Things I’ve Learned Living Seven days in Korea

Ok, for those seven days I’m counting the days I have lived on Geoje Island. I was staying in Busan for about a week before that but a week ago today I moved in and really made Korea my home.

  1. I’ve learned just how beautiful Korea can be. Of course, a girl can dream of being a mermaid and living next to the sea but how often is it real life? How often to you lesson plan in your office with the wind rolling off the ocean and through your windows? How often do you eat lunch break looking at the glitter of the sea? How often do you get to ride the bus through sleepy towns half buried in the deep green of the mountains? Every day, is the answer. Every day when you live in Geoje.
  2. On a totally different note, I learned that I like squatter toilets as much as I thought I would which is not very much at all. I was told that they would be here but I was hoping I would be able to avoid them somehow. No such luck.
  3. I learned it’s ok not to use chopsticks sometimes. I’ve used chopsticks in America due to a partly Asian background, but I still was a little worried coming here and trying to eat with people who have used chopsticks daily their whole lives. My co-workers kindly put my worries by constantly being surprised at how I am “able to eat well” and “use chopsticks like a Korean.” Yay, I can eat food here!!! But watching everyone around me… I think I over compensate sometime and use chopsticks for things that don’t have to be. Next week, I will be that much better at really eating like a Korean.
  4. While we are on the topic of food, I have learned that Korean food is every bit as delicious as I hoped it would be. School lunches are like going out to eat every day. I think I’ve been very spoiled with my schools because the food is always delicious. I was a little sad that I didn’t take a picture of today’s meal which was Octopus-Tofu soup, Bibimbop (which is a massive pile of veggies, meat, and rice), kimchi, a kiwi, and caramelized-honey-drizzled sweet potatoes with walnuts. It was ridiculously delicious and I was stuffed afterwards. Should have taken a picture but when you’re starving and they give you a meal like that? It’s just time to dive right in.
  5. I’ve learned that Koreans actually do have amazing skin and hair. Seriously, you know how in movies even the random people walking down the street look great and it’s kind of hilarious because it’s not realistic? Korea is that type of hilarious. I love it!
  6. I learned that Koreans are very eco-friendly and it’s been a hard lesson. The first couple of days, I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the hot water or the stove because they like to use as little energy as possible and you have to turn those things on just before you are about to use them. I thought my apartment was broken but it took too much emotional energy to ask my co-workers about it when there so many other things that I didn’t understand and had to ask them about. But then some of my fellow teacher friends began venting about the struggle to figure it out and I began to wonder if I tried hard enough, if I could get it to work. Google to the rescue! And some Korean friends from my HelloTalk app. (A super handy app where you can talk with people from all over the world to practice languages! I’ve found a lot of Koreans in Geoje who want to practice English and have kindly helped me practice Korean!) They talked me through Korean ways which was super helpful! Koreans don’t just leave stuff like that on, the way we do in America. There are buttons to press and levers to turn so that you can shut it off afterwards and conserve energy.
  7. And, finally, I’ve learned a lesson that I think is learned whenever you travel, especially alone. You learn the goodness of mankind. I know that there are terrible people in the world but I feel that, judging from the stories that I’ve heard and the stories I’ve experienced, travel also shows us the kindness humanity still has around us. The kind ladies at the bus stop that point the direction to go. The amazing welcoming spirit of all my co-workers who know I can’t understand their language but still will reach out to include me. Sometimes the struggle and the hard moments are what it takes to find those good people and remember the kindness of strangers.

There you have it, seven of the things I’ve learned living here on the island. Can you believe that ten days ago, I had no idea that Geoje even existed? How does a place go from non-existent to deep-in-your-heart in the span of seven days? And its only been seven days, what adventures lie ahead?

Ok, and if you want to read more about Geoje Island, here is another blog post (with pictures!) which talked beautifully about it and gave me lots of great ideas of future things to see!

21 days till 21 years

There are 21 days till I’m 21 years old.

This is exciting!! So I have decided to describe my spring break in 21 words in celebration of this fact.

However, before I do that, I want to update everybody on my writing life. I am still editing Griffin Tamer. And I’m sick of it. I like to create words and exciting moments, not check grammar and plot like structure hour after hour. I will be so excited to finally publish it this May! Hard work will be rewarded and I will be able to focus my free time on creativity again:) But I’m learning a lot of great skills for writing so I can’t complain too much.

There’s the update. Here is my spring break in 21 words.

1. Sleep

2. Editing

3. Procrastinating

4. Panera

5. YA Fiction

6. Scones

7. Easter

8. Octave

9. Novena

10. Running

11. JillianMichaels

12. DanniAllen

13. OUAT

14. Sisters:)

15. Brother:)

16. PushingDaisies

17. Moments

18. Chocolate

19. More

20. Chocolate

21. Relaxation

 

Rejected!

I have submitted two stories to separate magazines…and got rejected twice! Darn it!

They have given me a tidbit of feedback:

“Thank you for submitting “Her Scarf, My Shield” to this magazine. It was well received here, but after some thought we have decided not to accept it for publication.”

and

“Thanks for submitting “Copper Eyes,” but I’m going to pass on it. It didn’t quite work for me, I’m afraid. Best of luck to you placing this one elsewhere, and thanks again for sending it my way.”

Slightly vague about what I’m doing wrong? I think yes! The feeling I’m getting is that I am almost good enough but don’t quite make the cut. Why? What can I learn from this?

1. Writing for magazines are like writing essays for college scholarships. It’s unlikely that you’ll actually get anything back but sometimes you do it anyways. The difference is that the actual writing process is rewarding when you are writing short stories and it isn’t as fun while writing essays.

2. I need to make sure that I read a few of the magazine’s stories first. If my story didn’t work for the editor, I probably have made the classic mistake of submitting to a magazine that I don’t read through first. Yikes! That’s pretty newbie, isn’t it? I’ll try not to make that mistake again!

3. I can learn how to accept rejection and move on. If I’m going to be a writer, I need to get tough right? It takes talent and a LOT of determination. I better start working on the determination part:)

Any other tips from writer who have done this sort of thing before would be HIGHLY appreciated!! Please comment:)

And back to writing!:)

Hey, That’s Not Fair!

Who gets sick in the middle of summer? Really?? Why life? Why? I work all day, I don’t want to be sniffling during that. And this is the end of my summer. I don’t want to be sniffling during the last days with my friends either.

And worst of all: what about my running?? I had such happy little goals and now life is throwing me a punch!

Why am I complaining??

This would be the part of the movie where I get out of bed in slow motion and run hard on the treadmill even though I’m sick. You’d see me at the very end of my work outs, tanned and sweating but going faster than I was at the beginning of the montage. Don’t you ever wish you could have the montage version of your own life? Because I have. Definitely. I’d like to skip those yucky in-between moments just like the directors of movies do and just get the results.

*sigh*

Forget about fair, it’s real life! Here’s to in-between moments!! The ones that suck   get you real results and build character.

“It’s not about what you can and can’t do, it’s about what you will and won’t do.” Kenichi

 

First Story Submission

I submitted my first story to Abyss and Apex magazine:) It was a flash fiction called “Her Scarf, My Shield” and is basically about a boy whose present from his girlfriend gets him in a lot of trouble but also may save his life. I got it under less then 1500 words which is great! Now I just have to wait three months *sigh* and then receive either $75 or rejection. One story down, four to go! Getting closer to summer goals already!

Also, I ran four miles the other day and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be…Score!!

Triple Decker Challenge!!:)

Are you a runner, writer, or reader?

I have  a challenge which you may want to read about or participate in:)

Here’s the main idea: Summer is waning fast and I want to make the most of the month I have. I have a three part challenge for August:

1. Running Challenge:

I hate to admit this but…I run really slowly! It takes me 40 minutes to run 3 miles! Erk:P My challenge is to be able to run 3 miles in less than 30 minutes by the end of August.

2. Writing Challenge:

August is the month when a lot of fantasy and science fiction magazines start to accept things so I am going to try to get 5 short stories sent out to various magazines by the end of August.

3. Reading Challenge:

This is a bonus challenge. I am not going to be quite as serious about this one but if I do get it done, that would be great! I want to read 5 substantial books by the end of the month. My problem is that I have about 13 books right now that I am reading simultaneously and I just don’t seem to read any one of them quite enough to actually finish. So I would like to try to finish at least 5 by the end of summer.

There you have it, my triple decker challenge:)

Thoughts? Challenges you have for the summer? Goals or struggles? Comment Below:)

Breathing Again

There is that horrible sound of the IV steadily releasing spurts of desperately needed antibiotics and fluids. My sister went 12 days with a ruptured before she went to the ER and the doctor almost didn’t even catch it then. Then we went through a week of her being in the hospital. That was also rough. I really should’t complain because I wasn’t the one with the pain but we are pretty close and it was agonizing to be constantly hearing updates about how much pain she was in and what kind of awful procedure was needed next.

Enough venting!! I just meant to give a slight background as to where I have been since the last time I blogged. Now, I am breathing again!:) My sister is finally home and feeling and much better!

And I have started thinking once again about my blogging and writing life. School is looming in the near future (sorry to make you think about that) and I only have a little summer left to get my serious writing done. So I’ve been thinking about a challenge to make for myself over the month of August to finish out the summer the way I want:) Are you a writer? What challenges did you set for yourself over the summer? Do you want to join me in my summer ending challenge?

Stay tuned!:D

My History (or lack thereof) with Pets

I’ve been busy with my stories lately and don’t really have any large writing updates but I have been thinking a lot about pets lately so I figured that I could share that with y’all:) With a mom who breaks out when a dog licks her, and brother who can’t go in a house where a hamster has been, and a sister whose throat closes when she goes into any place a that has a trace of fur or feather…our options for what pets to get has been…limited. I’m not that big of an animal person so that works out but I there are times I would really, really like a pet. When we were little we were obsessed with hermit crabs.

All five of my brothers and sisters got one and there were a bunch of happy little crabs in the house. But then something went wrong when they molted…basically the crabs become cannabalistic and rip each other apart because they are all soft. Lets just say really disgusting and for young children very upsetting! So we didn’t get hermit crabs for a little while. The memory was just too painful. We tried a fish.

We went with beta because they were apparently hearty creatures and we didn’t want it dying too soon. No one told us just how crazy beta fish were! It would actually just a few millimeters out of the water when we fed it. It was terrifying the first time and after that we just kept trying to get it to higher and higher. No joke! Once while we were cleaning the cage it actually jumped out of the cup we had it in. We called it fogel fish (fogel =bird in german).

And right now I have two dream pets which I will probably never get due financial reasons and because I’m so busy:

and

I know it’s a little crazy…what kind of pets do you have/would have if you could?

I love it when…

Here’s my “I love it when…” list for summer:)

1. I love it when you just got done with a long hot sticky run and you get to go through an refreshing sprinkler that supposed to be watering someone’s lawn and not a runner:)

2. I love it when you have to get up super early for some reason and you’re not even crabby because you get that “oh my gosh, I just realize that I’m on vacation feeling!”

3. I love that taste of a sweet dutch apple bagel melting in your mouth super early in the open morning air as you sit with a good friend that you haven’t seen in a long time and who is very dear to you!

4. I love that feeling of staying up till as late as you want because, ha! you don’t have school the next morning! (And let’s not forget how nice it is to wake up by the sun shining on your eyelids and not with an alarm clock.)

5. I love it when hot sand slides over your toes and the sun is warming your back. That feeling of running along the ocean beachside just cannot be beat!

6. I love it when a bird eats out of your hand, it’s tiny little beak brushes your fingers, and it looks up expectantly for more because it knows your are not trying to harm it.

7. I love it when someone reads a something that you’ve written whether it’s a post or a story and someone is really touched by it and then you’re so touched because they are so touched…

8. I love it when you have struggled on your bike to the top of the hill and see the downhill stretched out beneath you (especially when you’re riding along the coast of CA and the hill you are at the top of is overlooking the brilliant ocean, luscious green palm trees, and startling red flowers!)

9. I love it when you and a friend sit on some rocks and talk by the ocean while listening to waves powerful crashing. until late at night. The only time you can see the water really clearly is when the waves fold over and crash because the bacteria in the water gets agitated and lights up, and you watch the shinning white water as far as your eye can see as the wave rolls over along the entire coast and you can feet the ground shudder underneath your feet because the water is so powerful.

10. I love the moments of quiet when you read a good book and sit and pray and bask in the perfectly clean air of Colorado and are resting on the porch over looking the foothills of the mountains.

These have been some of my summer highlights so far:) What have been some of yours?