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Contract Renewal

Here in Korea, about 3-4 months before a teacher’s contract is finished, the school will go to the teacher and ask them if they think they want to renew. That’s a reasonable amount of time, as they have now spent 8-9 months here, and probably have a good idea of whether or not they want to stay.

However, yesterday my co-teacher informed me that they want an answer now, after only 6.5 months here.  Barring a breakup with Marc, I will be going home, but I don’t really want to close the door here just yet, not until I get back from winter vacation.  

I was told in the morning to make a decision by the end of the day, but since I had to judge an English competition in the afternoon, and then hold a meeting about the teachers’ workshop that I teach, I didn’t remember to email her back about it.  I did, however, receive an email from the provincial office saying that some schools may be asking early this year, but that we did not need to give them a decision until December 29th.  So, I figured that was that, and that I would give myself a couple days.

Well, I got a call at 7:30am this morning (thankfully I was already awake due to my internal clock being set on “Dali” these days), asking for my decision.  I explained that the provincial office said that I had until the 29th.  My co-teacher insisted that no, she needs an answer today, and that Tuesday or Wednesday will not do.

I told her to mark me down as “No”, but that that could change sometime in the future, potentially.  Really, though, it’s highly unlikely.  My school seems to exist in an alternate universe to the one that the provincial office exists in, and that really bothers me.  Even if I were to stay in Korea, I do think I would switch schools.  I like Jindo, but I think that this area has some major kinks to work out, and as an experienced teacher, I can be put to better use elsewhere, at a school that knows how to actually use their foreigners.

I’ve been feeling better about things here lately, but today’s early morning phone call, combined with the gray weather I’m staring at right now, has put me in a bit of a sour mood.

 

[Originially posted over at Teh Blog]

Sorry about that!

I have been enjoying the increased flexibility over at my self-hosted and all-inclusive blog lately, and have been forgetting to cross-post my entries over here.  In the interests of posting here in any sort of timely fashion, I am for the moment opting to just link to you the Korea-related entries over at my main blog, for now.  In the future, hopefully I will be better about actually cross-posting, rather than just lazy-linking, like this.  But, here you go, here’s my last week or so’s worth of Korea posts.  Enjoy:

Une Vache Coréen

stuff-1-10

Photos taken about 300 yards from my apartment.

Frustrations in Korean Education

Most of the time here in Korea, I am not exactly happy, but not really actively hateful; grouchy is a good term.  I even have some happy days.  But, I do have what I call “hate Korea” days an awful lot.  Today was one of those, and I’m so glad my school let me go early, because I was seriously stressing out while fuming at my desk, and my shoulders were quickly turning into bricks.  

You see, Koreans often have trouble with the process of planning ahead.  They don’t do it.  They also are not the world’s most logical thinkers, especially when it comes to critical thinking.  It’s not their fault, it’s just a product of their education system, and, to a degree, the culture.

Public schools in Korea typically offer winter camps and summer camps for students who want to work on a particular subject.  English is popular (though the kids usually are there only because their parents make them), and so most of us ESL teachers get roped into teaching said camps during the holidays.  That, in itself, is not a problem.

What bugs me is when my school waits until TWO WEEKS before the winter holidays start to begin preliminary planning for said camps.  They don’t even know when exactly they are going to happen, or how many kids there will be, etc.  Not only that, but everyone is in the middle of exams right now, so teachers are busy with all that, instead of being able to plan for these camps, because nothing was done beforehand.

What this means for me is that this afternoon, my co-teacher/minder came to my desk and told me that I have to make 20 hours of lesson plans by Monday morning.  Not only that, but the lesson plans all should ideally be along a theme, and they should all be of such a sort that will work well consecutively, since I am seeing the same students every day for four hours.  Yes, you read that right, they expect that middle school students will be able to pay attention in a foreign language class for four hours.  Even in the immigrant classes I taught in the US, our longest classes were 3 hours, and even with those, which were comprised of adults who really, honestly, enthusiastically wanted to learn the language, by about the 2.5 hour mark, keeping their attention and energy level up was a constant battle.

I have tried to explain this to my co-teacher, and have requested that rather than one class of, say, 30, they will get far, far better results with two classes of 15, even if each class has me for half the time they would have otherwise gotten.  Koreans tend to have difficulty with the concepts of quality vs. quantity and of diminishing returns, and this is truly a prime example.  Argue as I might, she wouldn’t give in, and insisted that forcing 30 kids to try and pay attention for 4 hours is far, far better than giving 15 kids more personal attention for 2 hours.

I miss my friends back home, and my boyfriend Marc, but the times that I really think about coming home are the days like today.  I miss folks dearly, but if I were ever to “pull a runner” (leave in the middle of the night), it would not be (primarily) because I want to go back home, it will be because this country has finally driven me to my breaking point.

Freedom

My bike, at the top of one of the nearby “hills” at sunset:

stuff-6

One of the major advantages of having my “scootercycle” (as I call it, as it’s 100cc) is that I can drive around the island to get my photos pretty easily.  I have a tendency to just wander around on the little one-lane roads that form a spiderweb between the rice paddies and meander up the mountains.  I like the freedom of being able to stop at a crossroads and think “Hm… I wonder what’s up over on the other side of that hill…” and then actually go and find out.  My sense of personal freedom is very important to me, and I think I would have gone a little crazy by this point if I didn’t have my bike, and the ability to just “go” that it provides and represents.  I have lived in cities, and I have lived in the countryside, and I prefer the countryside, but what I did not initially take into account in my choice of Jindo as my location here in Korea was transportation.  When I have lived in rural areas in the past, I have always had my own car.  Here, the beauty in the surrounding countryside that I saw from the windows of buses was tempting me, but I couldn’t explore.  Thankfully, someone informed me that for $400, I could own one of the little motorcycles/scooters that all the farmers ride here.  It’s a bit of a POS, but it has taken quite a beating from me and it still runs quite well, considering.  The important thing, though, is that it’s mine, and it allows me to see what’s over the next hill, around the next turn, or at the end of the road.  If only it were so easy to do that with your life, eh?

Public Service Announcement

At the request of a few folks, I have created a new blog, hosted on my own server, which integrates posts from a few of my blogs, and this is one of them.

Basically, I have several separate wordpress blogs because many people are only interested in one aspect of my life (teachers read my teaching blog for lesson plans, other Korean expats read my Korea blog, and various people read my personal blog, etc, etc).  It makes it easy for folks who don’t want to have to scroll past a post about my own life, etc.

However, some people *are* interested in all aspects, or at least more than one, and so I have made a new blog on which I post my entries from the most relevant/popular of my other blogs.  The default view is to see everything, but if you want, the categories at the top sift the blog into only posts from a particular wordpress blog.

You are welcome to continue reading this blog, but if you are also interested in getting a broader picture of my life, I would recommend checking out the new one instead, as it will contain not only my posts from here, but from a few other of my blogs as well.

The new blog is HERE.

*shiver*

Know how I keep mentioning that despite the fact that it’s not really much colder here than Massachusetts is, that it feels MUCH colder?

Well, I finally found a weather forecast for Jindo, and now I know I’m not just being wimpy.

  • Actual Temperature (as of right now, 6pm):  24˚F (-4˚C)
  • “Real Feel” Temperature:  -4˚F (-20˚C)

It’s the same temperature now that it was when I drove to work this morning.  Yes, I drove my motorcycle, for 20 minutes, in a perceived temperature of -4 (-20C), and that’s WITHOUT the windchill of being on a motorcycle at 45mph (70kmh).

This country is officially cold, and I am officially nuts.

By the time I go out to dinner tonight, the predicted temp is 8˚F (-13˚C), with a “real feel” of -22˚F (-30˚C).

The up-side is that if I feel warm in my German WWII parka in this (which I do, with a sweater on underneath), I will be *fine* at the reenactment in Pennsylvania in February.


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