It’s been awhile!!

Hey all!!

I know it’s been some time since my last post. I have been super busy!! It’s weird how busy I am now in comparison to my life just four months ago. There were days filled with thumb twiddling. Now my days are long with barely any sitting time. I like it though. I don’t like sitting idly by, watching as life rushes past. Here I feel like I’m doing something.
I also got a personal trainer and am glad to report I’m 11 pounds lighter which is about 5 kilos. I actually like working out now. It’s a definite stress reliever. There is an abundance of stress to be relieved of!!
Culture shock has hit me hard this past week. I thought I had experienced it prior to this but I had not. Koreans are very different in the workplace. They do things differently than those back in the states. Approach is the biggest. I was sad to hear that my performance has not been up to par for my supervisor. I thought I was doing great but apparently I fell short. Her key point was I needed to be more organized. This is true and I could always stand to be more prepared. Her way of saying so however was not as gently put. I left our meeting wanting to cry from anger and with hurt feelings. I got over it however and realized I’m doing far better than I would have thought. Improvement and mistakes are meant to be made. I’ve already made mistakes, so improvements are next ;)
My three day weekend in the beach city of Busan was also helpful. Here are some pictures of me eating bong dangy…bugs :)

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Strange but true

So I recently heard that South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. I’ve tried to get an exact ranking, but I have seen a few different answers. It is anywhere between thirteenth and third in the world. Either way, it is up there on the rankings for such a small country (although heavily populated).

Keeping this in mind, I was teaching a class today, and had just guided my students back in to class after a speech contest. Our school is on the 5th floor of an office building. We have a decent view of the surrounding buildings, which allowed us to see a man on the roof of one of the buildings. The kids instantly noticed him, and asked what he was doing. The first thought that ran through my head was “Oh shit…we have a jumper and the kids (and myself) will be forever traumatized from seeing this.” In a panic I asked the kids to sit down, and kept saying “He’s just cleaning or something.” And thank goodness he was.

I just think it is nuts that I instantly thought he was going to kill himself because he was walking around on the roof. I feel like the kids might have thought something similar; call me crazy, but I could tell they were just as on edge as I was when they saw him on top of the building and they are only eight years old.

Suicide in Korea is more prevalent among the youth and I frequently hear from the elementary school teachers that it is joked about among the older children. South Korea is a beautiful country as is their culture, but the pressure to succeed and be perfect is overwhelming so I cannot imagine growing up here. I don’t proclaim to know anything about Korean culture, this is merely and observation.

Just wanted to share this gem of an experience, and how relieved I am that man did not jump 

“You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!”
— The Doctor, Season 2, Episode 2

I absolutely love this song. Met some ride or dies this song goes out to, for sure :) 

You know it’s creepy when…

Someone quotes the byline of your Tumblr to you while lying in bed…I shouldn’t have made it visible on Facebook…dammit.

Anyways, I am officially a townie of Uijeongbu. I go to a bar where the bartender lets me drink Jaeger straight from the machine. It is also where I met the bloke who later dropped a line from my blog. It completely caught me off guard. I didn’t think anyone actually read what I was writing besides my nearest and dearest. I was slightly embarrassed; when I write I am always very critical of it, no matter the context. I didn’t feel prepared. Much like my days at the hogwon.

I am considering the first three months training, and anything that goes wrong after that just goes to show I am not a good teacher. I don’t respond well to micro management, which is I feel I have been managed this last month. I guess I would do the same thing if I were in the schools place. I, like the children, am an investment. I’ll eventually get the hang of the routines and preparation. It is all about time management, and anyone who knows me in the slightest knows it is not my strong point. It is definitely a skill and one that I do not possess. I can however, develop it and focus on the positive outcome. 

I can just see those little heathens answering in complete (grammatically correct) sentences. Heathens may be a little strong. Mongrels maybe? The kids aren’t bad to be honest. As cute and loving as they are, they can be so mean to one another. I hate it. Classroom management is another thing I will have to hone in. The kids know that I think they are precious and they use it to their advantage. They are creepily aware of that. Manipulative little buggers. Let the mind games begin.

Aside from school, I love being here. Although I was once again faced with the question of why I truly came here. I didn’t think I was running from anything, until the same issues followed me. A place and its people can be completely different than what you’re used to, but the feelings you have towards something or someone won’t change so easily.

I was definitely running from anything relationship-wise. I always seem to run that ship into an iceberg. Subconsciously I have been searching for someone to fill a void that could never be filled by a lover. I thought moving to a different country would make me forget about it, but I just think about it more. Not in a bad way though. I feel like I have clarity on the topic and can think more logically here as opposed to being home when I am surrounded by lovely distractions.

I’ve also neglected taking care of myself for such a long time, holding off for that right moment. Well, no moment will ever be “just right.” The timing forever seems off to get in shape. It is just one of those things you have to do. In Korean culture, or this sublet of Korean culture, that I have experienced has never made me feel so slovenly. Koreans do take pride in their looks and are very aware (which is strange, because they don’t seem too aware of their surroundings when they are running into you on the street or won’t move aside on the sidewalk) of how they appear in public, something I thought I didn’t care about. Well I do and it is definitely time to crack down.

I did decide to put exercising off for just a smidgen longer though. I have a really good excuse this time though. I had an awesome tattoo put on my side and I don’t want to irritate it by sweating all over it. Maggie means Catfish in Korean, so why not get it permanently embedded in my skin?! 

Sweet huh?

Overall, I am having a fantastic time while making some fantastic friends. I couldn’t ask for more in my life right  now.

On that note, I will try and come up with some other crazy things to do over the next year :) I’ll keep you posted, as always.

TGI(fucking)F!

So my first week at school was slightly hectic. The first day sucked ass. For real. Let me start by saying that I looked absolutely crazy. I had know idea that I would presented to all the parents of our new students, so I wore something I thought the kids would like: Lion King leggings with a striped gray and blue sweater…All of the other teachers, and I mean all, wore black and looked really nice. I was thinking ‘please shoot me.’

That is how the day started. It ended with a little boy literally sticking his finger in my butt when I was bent over. The director of our school happened to witness this atrocity and chastised my little demon. His mother who walked out of a meeting right after he did this, just laughed.

I went home thinking ‘tomorrow is bound to be better.’ It was worse. Of course. I was completely unprepared with the lessons. I didn’t get in trouble or anything, but the kids were unruly and I forgot my lesson plan in the teachers room, which we aren’t allowed to go to during preschool hours unless we are on a break. So I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. My adviser saw this and asked if I would go over my routine with here which helped immensely. I was so thankful for it. She told me she liked how positive and social I was, but needed to focus more on my lesson planning. Story of my life :) I went home again thinking ‘tomorrow is bound to be better’, and you know what? It was. 

It seriously gets better everyday. I have only really taught for four days and it is amazing to see the progress kids have made in this short week. I love building relationships and am looking forward to seeing all the progress my students have made by the end of the year.

I’ve learned who I need to be tyrant-like with and who I can be more lenient with. It’s definitely a challenge, and I like that. Challenge accepted. 

On a lighter note. I love, love, love the fact that our bosses take us out for drinks and food. Apparently this is done once a month which is freaking awesome. Some of the other foreign teachers are bothered by this, but I say bring it on :) I’m not bothered one bit by drinking with supervisors. I think it should be done at more companies, as a matter of fact.

Last thing, I love how awesome the younger Korean generation is. They are so accepting and willing to have a good time and language swap. I thought meeting people would be somewhat difficult, but it has been the exact opposite. We are actually going out with some of our new friends in Seoul tomorrow night and I think it will be a night worth remembering. Hopefully its only a brown-out kind of night and not a black-out night. Koreans can drink…and drink and drink, Love it

Peace out cub scouts. I’ll write more soon :) 

xoxo

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Right of Way does not exist

I have officially been in South Korea one week, and there are some important things I have already learned. I will include the top 5, but it is endless really; I learn something new about the country and its culture everyday. It’s pretty awesome. But I digress. Top 5 things learned this week:

1. Right of Way does not exist- Pedestrians are not given ANY leeway when it comes to walking. There are no crosswalk buttons. The signals are automated based on traffic, but if one is brave enough,one could dart across the street. Mopeds are frequently seen on the sidewalks and main roads. The drivers kindly honk their horns to notify surrounding cars and pedestrians that they better move out of the way, which leads me to…

2. When driving, red lights mean nothing- I have yet to drive a motor vehicle, nor do I want to while I am here. Traffic rules don’t mean too much here. Of course, the majority of drivers in Uijeongbu (my current city) are law abiding citizens but it is not uncommon to see cars running red lights, or mopeds making their way onto sidewalks to bypass traffic. 

3. Showers are crazy- Since my apartment is not available until Sunday, my school has placed me in what the Koreans call a “love motel” (i’ll explain that one next). I am not sure if this is just in the motel, or across the nation, but the concept of a shower curtain is obsolete. Water just gets all over the place, which I am told I better get used to because in my apartment there is only a detachable shower head that you can hang on the back of the door. There no real shower, but a drain is conveniently placed under the sink so the water can drain out. Should be fun :)

4. The meaning of “Love Motels”- As the name suggest, they’re made for loving. There doesn’t seem to be too much privacy in a traditional Korean Household. If you’re married it is more than likely that your in-laws either live with you or vice versa. A room at a love motel can be purchased by the hour; it is not uncommon for young couples to take a few of those hours and utilize their time. But just like it is in the states, the use of love motels is not solely designated to those within a marriage. Another reason could possibly be the illegality of porn in Korea. Love motels have rights to show porn though, oddly enough. So you might be wondering if I’ve watched this porn…Of course! And it is horrible. Nothing is really shown except boobs and who hasn’t seen a pair of those? It is more like tease porn if you ask me. I’d rather watch a Brazilian Fart Fetish porn, which is saying a lot… The girls just kind of dead fish while the men go at it. Talk about sexual repression… On that note, on to the next one.

5. The drinking culture here is insane…ly awesome!!!! I fit right in. I didn’t earn the nickname “can’t stop, won’t stop” for jump roping. The bars stay open until 7 in the morning on weekends, 4 on weekdays, and 3 on Sundays (early right?). My new friends and coworkers try not to go out before military curfew (2300) to avoid the stupidity. We did however meet some pretty cool American Soldiers who broke the mold. Before they arrived at Tom’s Vill (the bar we started at) though, my friend and I received many free drinks from the bartender. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. It was pretty amazing. 

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yeah…it was pretty sweeeet. I fit in better than I thought I would!

The sexcapades continue to continue…

-Maggie

Leaving on a Jet Plane…

Plane Ride:

This plane ride has been the most enjoyable by far. T minus 5 hours until my final destination and I could not be more excited. If this plane ride is any indication of what life in South Korea will be like, I think will be very happy. In the eight hours that I have been in transit I have been given wonderful food, lovely slippers, and an endless supply of great movies. I have watched four so far, so it is getting a little boring but get this: the airline comes equipped with a gaming console. It isn’t of the modern variety that most are used to, but it is even better: Nintendo. I don’t know why I was so shocked by this; being on an Asian airline I feel I should have expected it. So aside from the food and movies, the fact that I can play Street Fighter makes this flight even better.

I have had a few moments throughout the day when I realize what I am doing and where I am going. I cannot contain my smile when the realization strikes so clearly. It doesn’t feel real yet. The change I have waited so long for is finally here and it couldn’t be more surreal. There are quite a few people that I have met today that will be teaching all over South Korea; I could not be more happy and proud of us all. Hard work goes a long way when you want something bad enough, and I think we are all proof of that.

The past few days before leaving were a little bit hectic, and I was having mixed emotions about my travels. In retrospect, I was characteristically dramatic. It is what I do. After speaking with a friend last night, he said I acted as if one of us were dying. And although my feelings are nowhere near those of the morbidity of death, I do feel some sadness in leaving my loved ones behind. But I am trying to live my life and be the best person that I can be. My loved ones thankfully understand this, and I am forever grateful.

I am so excited to see my apartment! Only four more hours until we reach our destination. I might not have internet for a few days but I will try and keep everyone posted on what is going on! Until then my sweets. Oh and I forgot to mention the awesome toiletries Asiana Airlines has in their restrooms. I want to clepto a certain skin toner in the restroom that has done wonders for my skin in the few short hours we have been in the air. The name of this said miracle cream? “Skin Toner.” Simplicity at its best!

Landing:

I could not have been more happy to be out of the air. Even though the plane was awesome, I started getting really anxious. At one point I considered opening the hatch and that ‘ah, better not.’ 

The cab ride was unusually quiet due to my minimal Korean and his minimal English. I actually really enjoyed it though. I didn’t have to go into the whole spiel of what I was doing in Korea and blah, blah, blah.

I met my boss looking pretty ratchet. She said I didn’t look tired at all, and I said I guess I was good at faking looking awake. I failed to mention I have had years of practice with that one. 

I meet with the director tomorrow at 1, which is perfect for me. I’ll close out for now. Leave questions of comments if you have them. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Always,

Maggie