Sunday, January 27, 2013

Paint Today ~ Work Tomorrow

I go back to work tomorrow. I will be teaching for about 2 and half weeks before heading into about seven days off before I hop on the plane. Maybe it's because I feel like I am caught up on what I need to do to leave, or the cold weather outside kept me in. But I took the painting bug I was feeling yesterday and extended it to today.

I found a scene of a pavilion next to a large tree with a rice field behind it. A man was resting on the pavilion and it looked like a very nice scene. This is my attempt to render it artistically. I'm not finished with it, but not sure if I will complete it. I think there were too many parts to keep me focused and worry about.

However I like the way the tree is going and could see myself sprucing up the rice field a bit more. We'll see ~

Excited to Attend Seattle University

About a year ago people would ask me if I was going to stay in Korea for the rest of my life. My typical response was something like, "Unless I can figure something out to do back home, Korea is my home for now." I really didn't think about going back home and heading to graduate school. But as we all know my mind changed and I'm heading to be a student again.

I thought I would spend some time talking about the program I am heading into. Located within the Education department I will be working on getting my M.A. E.d. TESOL (Masters of Arts in Education with emphasis in TESOL. When I was picking which school to attend I mostly focused on the West in areas in California, so that I would be close to family. What I found was that most programs were situated in the English or Linguistics department and had a strong emphasis on the technical aspects of the degree. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this but as I looked at SU's program I began to see that it fit me better. 

As I did the research I liked that the program prepares, "...teachers of ESOL who will be successful classroom teachers in a wide variety of institutional settings and cultural contexts." I was also impressed by the information available online and how organized it all was. In the courses section, they didn't just list them but provided what kind of work will be expected from students. 

In addition to this I liked hearing that most classes were offered in the evenings, no more than 25 students per class and that they have internship opportunities. One catch was that they are on the quarter system, which I am not familiar with. So I will need to get use to doing my work faster than before and having shorter breaks. But the prospect of a new city and an enticing program are what finalized my decision to attend SU. 

Am I ready to be a graduate student?
I'm not really sure what I could do to prepare myself to go back to school, other than take interest in articles and media related to my field of study. I'm definitely mentally preparing myself for the challenge and considering the hard work ahead. 

But mostly I'm excited to be a student again and to head back to the classroom where ideas and discussions will be fervent. I have found that by attending the Seoul KOTESOL workshops I enjoy learning and discussing about topics in TESOL. Also, I feel I have a lot to say and add to the conversation. Mostly, I'm looking forward to turning my five years of work in the field into something professional. 

Why not stay in Korea, keep your job and take an Online course?
A few years ago I took an online TEFL certificate and worked really hard at it. I didn't have classes to meet up with online, but did most of it on my own time. However, that experience taught me that I missed the classroom. I'm not entirely sure how Online courses function, and from what I hear there are interactive sessions. But I really just couldn't see myself working full time hours then coming home to do my homework. I think I function better in the classroom then from a distance. Sure economically it makes sense to do your degree Online while keeping a salary at the same time. However, I do intend to find part-time, internships or volunteer work in the field to keep my teaching skills sharp. 

I hope all of that sums up what my program is about and also why I chose it. If you are thinking of taking your teaching gig to the next step professionally, I hope this gives you some insight into that. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Needed Some Green in My Life

I'm not one for winter, especially living in an urban city. I would rather enjoy winter back home in my dad's small town. Generally, I have been missing seeing green leaves on trees. What happens in Seoul in the winter is that the various shades of concrete on the sidewalk and the stoney grey on the buildings stand out. Ok, it's not that dreary! But in retrospect summer and spring are probably more scenic in Korea, than winter.

So I headed online to a street view website and traveled virtually around the countryside of Korea seeking inspiration. I found this rice paddy field with a dirt road in the corner. I have to say painting a green scene definitely helped perk up my winter blues.

Friday, January 25, 2013

New phone, maybe a new car....future

I'm not really a materialistic person. If you know me you will see I don't have a fashionable and expensive purse dangling from my arm, or the latest handphone clutched in my palm. However, that doesn't mean I don't desire material things. My return to America is pointing me in the direction of building up a new life. I have the opportunity to get a new phone and contract, along with furniture for my rented room.

However, bigger options are starting to cross my path. Like the possibility of leasing or owning a car. The last time I owned a car was a few years before I moved to Korea. It was a used Toyota Cressida that was nearly as old as myself (at the time). That car served me well during my early college years, but later on the poor thing overheated a lot. I ended up donating it to a radio station.

So I've never owned a new car, or at the least a slightly new car. The thought of getting one has me all excited but also a bit nervous on finances. With a car comes more monthly bills to pay, but heck it also gives you a lot of freedom! Road-trips!

Also I think I would use my car to help people in my community. As I was perusing through one of Seattle's websites I found that there is a volunteer service you can join. They help drive seniors to the grocery store. Basically, when you need to go to the store you go pick up a senior, help them and you're done. You get rebates on your car insurance and help out with gas. I thought that was a clever idea.

Yet, I'm not too sure I should really dive into such a financial commitment right away. The place I got isn't too far from the campus, just a 15 or 20 min bus ride away. Near my home is a grocery store and pharmacy. So I am kind of going back and forth on this. Then I lean towards "yes" because I know I want to take up internships or volunteer work within the ESL field, and a car might really help with that.

So in essence returning to America has me buzzed about so many things. I've really enjoyed living in Seoul where having a car is impractical. But maybe it's time to hit the road. ;)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Nominated for the Liebster Award - thing

I'm not really sure how this works but The Nomad Cooks nominated me for one and I figured why not play along.

I need to answer questions posted by the person who nominated me then give out 11 of my own to blogs I will nominate. In the end I guess it is just a fun thing to do.

1. What's the scariest, as in uncomfortable thing you have ever done?
Went to a gynecologist in Korea.

2. Do you know a celebrity or ever had a semi-personal experience with a celebrity?
A student at my school is a daughter of a celebrity and he comes often to see her do stuff. Otherwise I know people ....who know people..

3. How often do you clean your house?

4. What's your funniest / most embarrassing bathroom moment?
Realizing there is no tissue in the stall.

5. Do you have an embarrassing intoxicated story?

6. What's your favorite book?
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami

7. What's the craziest thing you have ever eaten?
A moldy bagel, I didn't know was moldy.

8. How honestly do you care about the news and world events?
I care very deeply since it impacts my life and future.

9. What's your secret meal when you have the house to yourself?
I always have the house to myself!

10. Who hates you?
Contact me if you really need to know.

11. If all fears were dissolved, what would be the biggest change you would make in your life?
I'm already moving to America after five years living in Korea, so that is a big change.


Now for my nominees:
1. Maggie Moo Does Korea
2. Anya's Musings
3. The View From Over Here
4. Jennipal (she already did it, but ah well)

If you want to participate let me know!

My 11 questions for my nominees:

1. Do you ever put on mismatching socks?
2. Why did you eat that?
3. Are you materialistic or not?
4. What's your fondest memory as a child?
5. Who calls you the most?
6. Where could you go, if you could go there?
7. Anime or KDrama?
8. Best movie snack?
9. Gloves or mittens?
10. Where have you been that filled you with inspiration and a new passion for life?
11. Honestly, what were you thinking?

Good luck with that!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

One Last Stroll Through Insadong

It's the center of Seoul, and the place where you will likely make your first memories in Korea. When I first came here it was indeed one of the very first tourist areas I walked into. I am talking about Insadong, the tourist trap of Seoul. Despite this nickname, Insadong delivers souvenirs, art and traditional food. It was once an area known for it's art galleries and secret alley ways. Nowadays it has let make-up shops and typical cafes move in. 

But I needed some souvenirs before leaving, and also wanted to have a last look at Gwanghwamun Square. Upon my first arrival in Korea, the golden Sejong statue wasn't there and the gate in the background was a wall. Things were more under repair when I came here in 2008, and since then the area has blossomed.

On my way to Insadong I stopped at the Kyobo bookstore to find the right journal. I really enjoy Korea's way of designing the simplest of items, such as notebooks. I didn't find the exact one I was looking for but took away one I felt would do the job.

 To get to Insadong I meandered through some alley ways admiring the silly sights along the way. Plus it was good to get off the main (noisy) road. I liked the following sign advertising fish soup, cause I figured someone worked hard to paint that picture.

At one point I saw someone had these chipmunks in a cage nearby their shop. They were too cute to pass by. Then as I popped out now and then onto the main road I caught a glimpse of a bum making a fire to warm his hands. That was the first time in Korea I ever saw something like that.

A bar named "Seattle" was spotted, which was a sign ...right?

As for Insadong itself not much has changed since the last time I was there. However the street certainly has changed since 2008. I admired the trinkets for sale and various street carts with their random bites to eat.

Ssamzigil is still the same spiral staircase it always has been. I hope that place never changes and brings in more spunky fun.

 It's amazing how places shrink after you see them over and over. When I first stepped into Insadong it felt like an endless road of people and shops. This was when I was at YBM and had my training days just with the first week of arriving. I'll never forget the feeling of wanting to explore it more.

For lunch I had some bulgolgi at a typical restaurant you can find in the area.

I managed to get everything I came for and some extra, of course! Revisiting Insadong for the last time obviously reminded me of times past, but it also made me think of other parts of Seoul that I might want to say goodbye to before I go. Time is quickly falling through the hour glass and soon enough all of this will be out of reach. However, I think with all the amount of exploring I have done over the past five years I think I've made enough lasting memories. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cards of Good Luck

In addition to the video I made for my students I am planning to give each one a personalized card with a treat. In each card is a personal written note that touches on my experience with them and wishes for their future. I've also stepped it up a notch by glueing in a small picture of myself into the card. I figured a percentage will throw it out, but there might be a bunch that hold on to it.

For the girls I got them a card with a red heart and yellow frame on it. Inside it says, "I love you" around it so I figured the girls won't freak out as much, as say the boys would.

The boys get the "Good luck" card with a four leaf-clover image and a present box on the inside flap.

I still have to glue in my picture to the rest of the cards before I'm finished. I was hoping to make a little candy gift for them, but things were getting too expensive. I got the cards off of Gmarket (Korea's Each card was about .50 cents and there are 134 students, so you can do the math. Plus I got them nice candy, instead of the cheap kind. So I kind of calculated all the presents I have given them over the past two years and figured they had gotten enough.

This is the first time I have ever made goodbye presents for students, but since this is a "real" goodbye I wanted to make it special. Besides I have been teaching these kids for the past two years. I think it is also a good idea to give your graduating students a present. But I know most teacher's don't bother because they might feel it doesn't matter. In this case, I felt it really mattered and hope it does make a difference.

I guess I will find out on the last days of class. All I know is that if I were a little kid in one of the many English classes I had here and got a little present from a teacher, I would feel good. :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Goodbye Video to my Students

As part of a package of things I will be giving to my students to say goodbye to them, I made this video. It's a collection of photos and videos from our various field trips over the past two years. There was a lot I could put in but I narrowed it down to the following that you will see. I'm not looking forward to my last class time with the kids, because they really gave me the strength and inspiration to be a teacher. But I hope this video and my other gifts will leave a lasting memory in their hearts.

Enjoy ~

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Flying Tom Update

I've pretty much got it down what I need to do to get Tom out of Korea. I'll be heading back to the Vet about a week before we fly to get his final documents in order. I've got his carrier all ready to go, although I'm not sure whether to add a frozen cup of water for him in there.

Then I started to think about what's going to happen once I land in Seattle. After browsing endlessly on the Seattle International Airport website I wasn't finding the right answers. If you have ever traveled internationally you know that there are several steps to going from the plane to the sidewalk, at the airport. After some investigation I found the procedure at Seattle's airport to be much different from the experience I have had flying into San Francisco International Airport. What they do is have you first go through immigration, then you pick up your luggage and go through customs. After this you put your luggage back on a conveyor belt that will spit it out at the main terminal where you can exit. Where in that process do I pick up and show the papers for Tom?

I called the airline (KoreanAir) to see if they had the answer, since on the Seattle airport website it said, "Call your airline for further information" about picking up pets. After calling twice the answer I got was to get the cat via customs. Well where was the customs office or what did that mean? Their response was mostly that I meet up with my cat in the main terminal. But that didn't make much sense considering I go through customs before getting to the main terminal where you pick up your luggage. I finally found the number for the customs office at the airport and gave them a ring. Keep in mind I'm on Korean time and America was going to sleep (around 1am). Thankfully a nice gentleman answered the phone and told me the whole procedure.

I get Tom during the Customs process after I get off the plane. I'll have to give up my luggage a second time so it can go to the main terminal, but I'll be able to keep a hold of my pet after that. A few concerns I have is that they better have carts available during that middle process of picking up your luggage then letting it go. Otherwise little me is going to have a tough time hauling 2 large suitcases, a carry on and Tom through Customs and out again. I'm also concerned Tom might have done his business in the crate and things will be smelly at the airport. They have relief areas for dogs outside, but something tells me cats wouldn't do well in that space. I would buy those "pee pads" but you can't just buy one, the sell them in large packs. Maybe some paper towels stuffed inside would do?

After I get my luggage and can go on my way, my plan is to get a taxi and make it to my new home. Taxis allow pets right? I'll give an extra tip if it really is such an ordeal.

If you asked me whether I was starting to get nervous about the trip, I would tell you that it's a little bit. I think I'll mostly be on edge wondering if Tom is okay under the cabin and when I will see him when I get out. But many people do this all the time and so I'll have to trust the system. I just hope Tom has a good ride and doesn't come out too traumatized by this whole thing.

Tom, you can do it!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Launch of "American-Joy"

Even though I will be leaving Korea my ambition to blog about my life isn't going to stop. It was mulling around my head for a while and I finally got down to it. I have created a blog for my new life back in America.

It's called, "American-Joy" and you can click the name for the link. Like this blog I intend to fill you in on my adventures and thoughts. Also I hope to pepper things with posts about being a graduate student and learning in the field of TESOL.

So head on over there and become a "follower" or whatever you need to do to keep up with my posts. I'll still post on this blog until I leave.

Thanks so much to all my readers and hope you enjoy the new blog!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Winter Camp Week 1: Wrap Up

Those last five days of winter camp went really fast! Thankfully I had prepared enough before camp to jump into it without that dreaded feeling of, "What do I do?" At my school camp is from 8:50 - 12:10, with various breaks in between. Most of what we teach is academic, like Science and Reading, but there are also fun stuff like a Drama unit and Museum unit.

I try to engage the students as much as possible with questions, and I also found setting up the material works well. Before we get into the book I brainstorm with them about the topic and play a short video for them to get the connections visually. This really helped when we were going to make a craft based upon cavemen wall paintings. The video showed the wall paintings from Lascaux in France, and the students were quite impressed.

I admit I miss the days of designing the whole camp and having "cooking" and other themes that were more hands on fun. But you make due with what you got!

For the next week of camp the students will practice their short drama and enjoy making a wooly mammoth out of recycled materials. I look forward to more time with the kids, but as the days swiftly pass by I'm reminded of how little time I have left. Thankfully we have a week off after camp so I can see about squaring everything away. Mostly just need to sell off my stuff. Ok see ya!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Varying Incarnations of Foreign/er

If you have read my blog for some time, you would know that I often change the picture header-image on the top. Over the years this amounts to several different headers and schemes for the layout of this blog. Since this blog is heading towards it's end I thought I would celebrate all the different incarnations the header came into being over the years.

Please feel free to comment on which was your favorite and not-so loved header. I'll definitely miss finding the right picture, tweaking it in Photoshop and updating this blog.

(In no real order...)

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