Monday, March 22, 2010

Tell Me Those ARE Bugs?!

Yes, I said that.
My friends Choi and Jonathan, and I decided to go eat eel one night. Well, of course being Korea, you get about 10 other little side dishes along with it. My first reaction when I saw the little bowl, was what are these?! Tell me they are bugs?!
I just found it so interesting and grotesque at the same time. Cultures are just soo different, and yet a lot alike.
Well, I asked my Korean friend Choi if she ever ate them and what they were?! They were Silk Worm Larvae.. and she hadn't eaten them since she was a little kid. WELL, Jonathan refused to try it with me.. so I convinced Choi to, and here we go.....

I know, I know. Beetle Juice. Beetle Juice.

Down the hole!


Out the whole!

At Least Backless Hospital Gowns Aren't Popular!

Get this.. in Korea.. the hospitalized run free.
And they say that America is JUST NOW turning Socialist because of the new healthcare reform?!
Try leaving a hospital when you've been checked and roam the streets.. or go to the store with an IV wheeling beside you.. just TRY it!! And see what happens! You would have guards jumping you just to drag you back in and probably submit you to the psych ward!

I live next to 4 hospitals in Jinju.. I probably walk past more than that on the way to work. I would say every day I see at least 5 people roaming the streets in hospital outfits/gown things. Its absolutely crazy! And just yesterday I walked past this little tiny store and saw an IV sitting outside of it.. and the man was inside hooked up buying cigarettes or something! It was hilarious. I just love it, and it makes me giggle everytime!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

They Call Me Teacher...Paula-Teacher!

Well technically, it is Cola-Teacha... but who is really noticing?

I love my job for the most part! I have good days, bad days, good classes, bad classes, brats, angels, shyness, loudness, and so-on and so-on.

My schedule is pretty abnormal for a teacher here in Korea, I teach Kindergarten in the morning and at a hagwon (private school) in the afternoon. I signed my contract with the Hagwon, Oxford English Academy, however they are kind of 'subcontracting' me, I guess you could call it, out to a Kinder. Everything here is about business, so the hopes are that when the kids are old enough to leave the Kinder, their parents will be pleased with what they have learned in English so far and will want them to go to Oxford.

Something of importance to note, children in Korea are worked HARD. They may not be working in sweat shops, but they are going to their public school during the day, and then going to one or two hagwons at night. Most Hagwon teachers are not finished with school until 9:30 at night... so obviously, kids are being forced to be in school until that late a lot of the time. Now, it is normally only the older kids that are in school that late, and the younger kids are out around 6:30... and possibly heading to another hagwon such as a math, piano, violin, or dance hagwon there after.
This is probably why back in the states Asians are always deemed so smart, the work ethic is impeccable! I can't imagine being in America and having to go to that much school, I would go crazy!!
But on a sad note, I HAVE heard that the suicide rate is very high in Korea/Jinju.. Jinju is considered an Education City, and the standards are extremely high!

I have amazing kids for the most part. However, some get into hitting/punching fights with the 'Korean Teacher' and don't stop until they probably have bruises all over them. OK STORY TIME! There were once two boys in the 6 year old (5 in USA) kinder class, the 2 boys would not stop hitting each other, after trying to move them, trying to stop them, trying to get them to behave, and then he pinched me, I decided 'You know what, screw you, I'm going to get the 'Korean Teacher' (they're normally terrified) but these kids just wouldn't stop hitting each other. Well, the Korean teacher came in, and one of the kids hit her, and then she hit back (hard!) and so on and so on, while all of the rest of the kids keep singing the song that is playing.. anyways, it turns into punching, he punches her, she punches him on the leg (hard!).. but this is all totally allowed in Korea.. by KOREAN teachers! Anyways, he finally started balling and gave up. When she escorted him out of the room, I couldn't help but turn around and smile. NEVER in my life!

THIS is the culprit.. in the bow tie!!

I teach from western age 3-12 year olds... the 3 year olds have rarely ever seen a white person/foreigner in their entire life... so lets just say, I scare some of them sometimes. It is actually quite funny.. but becomes quite annoying! I can walk into the room to start teaching, and this one little girl will just start BALLING, while a couple of the kids look at me and just laugh non-stop. It is such a mix of emotions, so weird, but it is my job!!

These kids make me want to adopt/have a 1/2 korean baby Sooooo bad, how precious are they?!

No matter the headache, it is worth it in the end! I truly do love my job!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The F's A's and Q's of Why I'm a Teacher..for now!

Here are some answers for tha haters! :)

Why did I choose to teach abroad? Well... my plans for my future changed in October 2009. I had been planning on moving up to DC, landing a sweet government job/anything I could get :) And so on and so on. But the plan changed, I decided that I no longer am ready to move to Washington and I want to live my life to the fullest. If you know me, you know that I am extremely anal about money and my future. I worked hard through school, graduated early because I am paying for it and boy is it not cheap, and I wanted to start an amazing life for myself and have a family.
Umm... hello?!? I am only 21. The main question I asked myself that aided in my decision was. "Paula, when you're 25 do you want to say you've done the same thing for the past 4 years.. working in an office?!" and my answer was HECK NO, I LOVE to travel, I don't want to be stuck in a tall building slaving away to barely be able to afford a rinkydink apartment.
So, I did my research on the internet, and decided why not travel and live in a country and be paid while doing it. And teaching was the best thing I found. I wish I could say it is because I absolutely adore kids.. but!! Negative! I mean, I love the kids I teach.. I didn't think that would be a big issue, but I haven't had experience teaching kids.. only adults!

Why did I choose Korea? Oooooh Korea. Well, honestly? It was the easiest. They are hiring like mad. I applied in November and had signed a contract by December. I'm not a fan of the Japanese, China seemed too communist, I couldn't find a good recruiter for the more exotic countries, and Latin America was out of the question because you get paid jack squat! SO, long story short. Korea offered the most money, I knew next to nothing about it besides that my grandfather was in the Korean war, and the recruiter I used (Adventure Teaching) had the best looking website... YES I do go by website appearance for quality standards of an agency :)

How did I find the job? Adventure Teaching is a recruitment company that deals with ONLY Korea. This made me feel better, because if I had used a recruitment agency that dealt with a bunch of countries.. where is the quality assurance?! They also had an office in Korea AND in Washington State back in the states. I did not have to pay them anything, I believe the schools pay them $1,000 when a teacher shows up to teach. THey were extremely helpful. I asked tons of questions to different agencys throughout October 09, applied to AT in November 09, had a phone interview and got accepted the same month, I was then shown the job description for my current job and decided it was the one for me! I had a phone interview and a week later got the job! It took about a month for all of the paperwork and VISA, but it all worked out. And I arrived in February!
It was a very stressful time in my life when I decided to take the job that was offered. I was worrying about passing Statistics at JMU and worrying about graduation. However, while waitressing I made plenty of pros and cons lists. When I received the offer, I had to close my eyes, pray, and compose an email that said, I'LL TAKE IT. KOREA HERE I COME! I had only talked to a current teacher and the director of Oxford, so I really just had to go with my gut! I am very happy I did!

What are the stats? I teach 5 days a week. I have an unusual schedule, and teach an array of ages. Monday through Friday I work 10:20AM-12:30PM at a Kindergarten which is really 4-7 years old (Western ages are THREE to 6 year olds). I teach 2-30min. classes 4 days a week and 3-30min. classes once a week (about 6-12 students in each class). Then I eat lunch for FREE at kinder, it is homemade Korean (<3 it!). And I have a short break and work 2:30PM-6:20PM at Oxford English Academy (a hagwon.. private school). Here, I teach 3-45min. classes and have 45 minutes of office hours. Yes.. I only work 6 hours a day, not even teaching the full time. At Oxford, we have 200 students total, however I do not see all of them. I see each student 1-2 times a week, the class size is around 10 people.
I get paid once a month at 2.3million Korean Won. I get 3% taxes taken out, and my employer pays half my health insurance (its CHEAP too!). My plane tickets each way are paid for, my apartment is paid for, I only have to pay the water/electric/cell phone bills. Food is rather cheap here, and it is SUPER yummy, so I am spending a lot of money on that!
I have 2-1 week paid vacations, one week at the end of July and one at the end of December. I also have about 14 days of paid national holidays!
My goal is to live life, try not to spend too much money, but hopefully come back with more than $10,000 American to help pay for a car/the expenses of expensive life in America!

How long am I staying here? I signed a one year contract. I began in February 2009 and will end in February 2010. I believe I will be coming home after!