Archive for October, 2008


The other day one of my students hocked a lougie into my motorcycle helmet at some point during the day.

Sometimes they test me, they really test me.


Lunch today was spam.




Mondays are my hardest day.  Everyone is tired and grouchy, and my worst class (the students that broke the windows in retribution for being punished) is my first period of the day.  The three classes which follow it are better, but still quite difficult to control, in comparison to the students I have at my other two schools.  Part of that, I’m sure, is that due to the disrespect the students here treat me with in general, I am not very friendly to them in return, whereas at the other schools, my students like me and come and chat with me at my desk, etc, and so thus I am friendly back.  If I can make it through my Mondays, the week feels in a way like it’s already winding down.  It makes the time go much faster.

I have also noticed that staying at home on the weekends has made my time go by faster as well.  When I travel on the weekends, I leave Friday afternoon or evening, and return Sunday evening, and am busy all weekend.  Even though it’s leisure, I end up wondering where the weekend went.  When I stick around Jindo, I feel no pressure to do anything, and that, combined with my half-day on Fridays, tends to make the weekend seem decently long.

I do, however, need to remember on Monday to ask the school that is in charge of my paychecks to show me my pay receipts.  In looking at my bank account, I seem to be being paid around $400 under what I should be getting, which is a significant amount.  Korean schools are notorious for cheating their foreign teachers out of parts of their paycheck, and I really hope it’s just a mistake, rather than that.  However, it would give me an excuse to request that my employer be switched from this school to one of the others, which would be nice.  My co-teacher here does relatively little and has absolutely no interest in being around me more than she has to, outside of school, and the school itself seems to rather dislike me, unlike my other two, which love me.  Ah well, life is life, and you learn to deal.

Here, have one of my photos from my lung-cancer-inducing photo walk the other day:

Another one bites the dust…

So, it has now been a week since Lisa, one of the other foreigners on the island, left.  Other than Erin, who vaguely doesn’t count as she is married to a Korean and will be living here for a few years to come, at least, Lisa was the person who had been here the longest (well, of those still here), and so it was weird to see her leave.  She was sort of my mentor for my first month or so here, and she helped me through some pretty tough and/or aggravating situations, and I really owe a lot to her.  Without her advice, I probably would have left back in June or July, and then I would have been up shit creek without a paddle.

In my final week of college, people had already started packing up and going home.  When the first person on my hall (we were all friends, and had chosen to live together) came by my door to say she was leaving (though returning the next year, as she was a 2nd year), I had a weird moment in which I realized that in all likelihood, I would never see that person again, along with many people on the campus who I knew and considered at least acquaintances, if not friends.  It was very surreal, and when she said “Have a good summer!” I awkwardly replied with “Have a nice….life?”, because really, I felt that was the most appropriate answer.  Over the next year, I did go back to campus several times, as I spent the year wandering around the east coast, staying on friends’ couches and in my car, but I only saw a small selection of people.  Truly, in waving goodbye to those people as they moved out of their dorm rooms, I was waving goodbye to someone I wouldn’t ever see again, and even though I have moved around quite a bit in my life (I currently stand at 17 times in 7 years), that felt pretty weird.

So, when I waved goodbye to Lisa as I watched her be driven off to the bus station, I had that same feeling.  She mentioned that she may come back to Korea, but it wouldn’t be for probably a year, and definitely not until I will already be back in the states.  In theory, I could see her again if I were to go to Nova Scotia again, as I think she and her boyfriend will be living in Halifax, but it’s probably unlikely, especially given gas prices.  In fact, in all likelihood, I will never see *any* of the people I meet here again, once I leave, and that’s very weird to think about.  Sarah, one of the other Jindo foreigners, astutely said the other day that when you’re an expat, you get very used to saying goodbye to people, and that really couldn’t be more true.

So, here’s some photos from her going-away party (she’s the one in red).  Enjoy.

Lisa, if you’re reading this, we miss you!

A Glimpse at my Week

My life has definitely calmed down now that I am only teaching at 3 schools instead of 7 and have been able to thus develop a routine.  I was told by many, many people that after the first 3-4 months, which seem interminably slow, that time really speeds up.  I was skeptical about this, due to the snail’s pace at which my life seemed to crawl for awhile there, but it is definitely proving to be true.  It feels like I go from Monday to Friday in about 3 days, which is good, because right now I’m just counting the days until I go back to the states for my month+ long winter vacation.  For those curious, here’s how I generally look at my work-week:

Monday:  My first two classes of the day are also my worst-behaved of the week.  So, if I can make it through those two without getting too angry, things are good.  Plus, at that school (which I will call GS), the teacher has decided that she doesn’t like my lessons, and so I’m basically a pronunciation monkey for her.  Makes my life easy, so I don’t complain.  Mondays I teach 4-5 classes, and I am usually done teaching by 2 or 3, and my remaining hours (until 5) are spent anxiously awaiting someone to upload the week’s new episode of True Blood, and then downloading it.  That evening, I go home and treat myself to one of my Belgian or German beers that I hoard when I find them.

Tuesday:  On Tuesday I am at my favourite school (which I will call US), and the students there love me and come to my desk to try and practice their English with me, which 90% of the time is cute, and nottoo annoying the other 10% of the time.  The students there are generally actually interested in learning English, and their pronunciation is the best on the island, in my opinion, so my job there is relatively easy.  Plus, the teachers there are generally happy, so the environment is nice.  The best part about Tuesdays, though, is that by 1:00 or so (and I only teach 2-3 classes), I get to head home, because that school is sane and releases me after I’m finished teaching, rather than making me sit uselessly at my desk until 5.  Tuesday evenings I spend either in front of my computer or out walking, or both.

Wednesday:  Wednesday I am back at GS, which is rarely pleasant as the teachers always seem very angry and stressed.  The students are my worst-behaved and their English is the worst, so my job there can be relatively stressful sometimes.  But, my afternoons I have no classes, so I spend that time working on my various websites, or on editing photos, etc.  Plus, after that day is done, I only have two days left in the week.  I theoretically have a workshop for the middle school teachers that day in the afternoon, but it only happens about half the time.  I teach 3-4 classes on Wednesday, plus the occasional workshop.  Wednesdays are cooking days, so my evening is usually a mix of cooking and cleaning.

Thursday:  Thursdays I am at GN, which is a decent school.  I love my co-teacher there, and like US, the teachers and students are generally in a pretty positive mood, so it’s a comfortable environment.  Some of my students there are good, some are bad, though the ones that are good are really good, so that’s nice.  I usually teach 3-4 classes on Thursday, and they’re almost aways all in a row, which can be hard, but I’m usually done by 2:30 at the latest, and then I go home.  I teach a workshop for elementary school teachers at 4pm at another school, and so I go home and surf un-censored internet for an hour or two before I have to head out again.  The teachers in that workshop are pretty low-level, which is a challenge, but all my previous experience has been with teaching adults, and the teachers are nice, so it’s usually fun.  Thursdays I almost invariably eat at the street-stand sandwich place in town, where they know me so well they start making my sandwich as I walk up to the counter.

Friday:  Friday is, well, Friday, so it’s almost always a good day.  Fridays I am back at US, and I usually only teach 2 classes, so I’m done by 11:30.  I usually stick around until lunch at 12:30, as a free meal is welcomed, and US has the best food of the three schools, but if I need to head out earlier to catch a bus or something, I can.  Because I am finished so early, and my days at US are so easy, Fridays almost don’t feel like a work day, which results in my weekends feeling almost like a three day weekend.

So, in short, Monday sucks, but then Tuesday goes by like a bullet train, Wednesdays suck but then Thursdays are okay and I spend them looking forward to Friday, then Friday is almost a non-workday.  So, really, it makes things go by rather quickly.  I have mostly been sticking around on the weekends, though I was going to head up to the province north of here to check out the foliage this weekend, until the weather called for rain and clouds there.  Maybe next weekend.  Sometime in November I need to make a trip up to Seoul to hit the expat store and an expat bar or two (I now have a ring I wear to fiddle with in class, and if I go to a bar by myself, I just switch which finger it’s on and the men mostly leave me alone – haha), but in general, I’m trying to stick around town more, since with the economy the way it is, I need to save my money.  I am still going to do the Trans-Siberian on the way home, but I may cut my time in Europe a little shorter than I originally planned, unless the economy rebounds.

Anyway, this entry is long enough, so I’ll stop now.

Linguistic Paranoia

Now, I know for a fact that two of my three schools absolutely love me, but the third…I am not sure.  Sometimes they are friendly, sometimes apathetic, sometimes I think I hear my name mentioned in an angry-sounding conversation.  It makes me paranoid.

This particular school has a rather negative feel, in general.  All the teachers hate the new principal, and everybody seems unhappy and angry.  This trickles down to the students, who end up disliking the stressed teachers, and this sometimes results in them having anger-management problems.

They have group discussions here in the office every day, and they never sound happy.  They always sound angry, or though there occasional moments of neutral-ness.  I always worry that they are talking about me, even though I don’t really have anything to worry about.  It’s hard to get teachers for rural areas like this, and 2 of my 3 schools like me, so the opinion of this one, even though it’s the one that pays me, would get overridden.  The fact that there’s a Korean word that sounds similar to my name (they say my name “Kelshee” and there’s a word that sounds like “Kayshee”) doesn’t exactly help with my paranoia.

Bleh.  Most of the time the language barrier doesn’t really bother me, but this is definitely one time that it does.  I hate not knowing if people are talking about me or not, and if they are, what about.  One of the schools I used to teach at used to talk about me all the time (though they tried to hide it by referring to me as “the American”, because they didn’t realize I know that word), and it drove me insane, because when I would ask what they were saying, they’d deny it.  Very frustrating, and just a little bit immature.

Two things…

For now, just a photo:



By the way, I have a “general life” blog up these days, which you can find at this link.

October 2008
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