It is Wednesday March 26th, 2013 and I am SO excited to be able to tell you a little bit about all of my adventures since my trip to Daegu. I am so sorry for the lapse in time, but I think it is important to know that the time means that I am having a wonderful time in Korea, and becoming happier and more grateful for the decisions that got me here everyday. The new question is, where do we even begin? The last week has been so jam packed, but it is also hard to believe that 18 weeks from today, I will be on a airplane back home. Only 18 more weeks of this crazy adventure. Only 18 more weeks of changing lives by teaching a language that native speakers don't even always appreciate. What a an incredible opportunity and experience.
Now, let's get to the good stuff!
First, I'll talk on school and move to other stuff. Since my first priority in Korea is to Teach, I am so happy that I have been blessed with the best school in all of Korea. Napo Elementary is so great. I love all of the children, and I have such a great time eating lunch everyday with the teachers. I have a great community there, and I cannot believe the blessings Napo hs already brought to my experience.
Last week, things were moving at a pretty nice pace. The teachers at Napo taught me a traditional Korean game called, 윶 (uch). It is a traditional Korean game, almost like "Sorry!" in the United States. However, it is completely handmade. The game pieces were coke bottle lids and pieces of rubber. All of the teachers at Napo got really into the game, it was such a great time! You can see the board below, and the small game pieces. These pictures are really calm-looking but don't be fooled. About three seconds later, there was some serious yelling and laughing going on. Oh, Korea!
I also have great students. These photos are my second graders, who had just given me a bracelet. Our verbal exchange went something like this:
Adorable Second Graders (ASG): Hello Teacher!
Me: Hello Girls! How are you today?
ASG: I am happy! *said by all six of them, which I totally enjoy.
Me: That's great!
ASG: Teacher, earrings? *I point to my earrings and say, "Yes, earrings!"*
ASG: Teacher, necklace? *I point to one of the little girls, and say, "Yes, this is a necklace!"*
They then point down to my wrist, and say "Teacher, what called?"
Now, I am thinking along the lines of an EFL teacher. You wouldn't believe how incredible these kids are at giving you the hints they need to find a new word. It is unbelieveable.
Me: Wrist? Bracelet?
ASG: Yes Teacher! Bracelet! For Kiyana Teacher!!!
See? Definitely my favorite gift, ever. Love my sweet girls! Here is my bracelet, and here are my great girls!
Also, another great thing at school, is that they have boards with everyone's names on it! So, they have a board of all of the students at Napo and one of all the teachers. Why is this beneficial? Being able to read Korean names is one thing, but remembering them in an entirely new story. Luckily, I have taken photos of the boards, so in my break times, I can memorize names! It's been a process, but I think it's going to work!
Anyway, I walk into school last week, and guess who is on the teacher board? ME! Have I mentioned how much I love my school? They go out of their way to always make sure I am comfortable, and taken care of, and that is something I will never forget.
See? There I am, top right! So cool!
Teaching is also going so well. I think if I learn nothing else from Korea (which is highly unlikely) I at least have the knowledge that I am made to be a teacher. I think that only teachers will understand, but there is such a large amount joy and satisfaction I feel when a child just gets it. It's almost as if you can see ideas click, and then it's truly like a light bulb turns on. To know I have been a part of that, in any child's world, is enough for me. I am so glad that this place, as difficult as it may sometimes be, had solidified the career path I am choosing for the rest of my life. I am so excited to get on that track, and to be able to experience the joy of children "getting it" for the rest of my life.
Next, onto the second part of my time in Korea, life.
As my time in Korea comes and goes, I realize I am developing such a life here. Sometimes, it feels almost as though I am living in two worlds. One, in Korea, where I am seen as a professional, have my own apartment, pay my own bills, etc. Then, there is America, where I am a college kid, just trying to figure it all out. That's the funny thing about living somewhere else. I had never thought about the possibility of life being so different. But it is, and it is a great thing. Before I left, people always told me that my life would be drastically changed by being somewhere else for so long, and that I was so brave to make such a big decision. I never really understood what they meant. Now, though, I know that I am changing drastically here. Everyday is a new adventure, and usually it is one that I cannot wait to dig my hands into. Last weekend, we traveled to meet some friends in Jeonju. We had such a great time! We hung out, found a park, traveled through a palace, saw a Korean wedding, and so much more! Here are the photos from my adventures in Jeonju.
We had such a great time, with some of the FUNNEST friends! Cannot wait to be reunited with them all so, so soon.
Of course, a Kiyana in Korea blog post would not be complete without a Kiyana in Korea story. So, Virginia and I are the only ones who went to Jeonju this weekend. Of course, she lives over by the Uni and I live closer to LotteMart. What does that mean? It means we take different buses to get home from the bus terminal. After such a long weekend, I was so exhausted and so glad to be finally home. I tell Virginia that I can ride buses 1-8 to LotteMart and get off there. She is the bus master, so she tells me that 8 is on it's way to a near by bus stop and that her bus stops there as well. Great! I think. I will be home in no time! I get on bus 8 and it begins to head east. My error? I have never been on bus 8 before, so I just figured it takes a very different route than 1-7 which I ride quite frequently. (Totally, totally wrong on that one.) Well, before too long, I realize we are still heading east, and I look up to find myself of the very rural part of Gunsan. As I continue to sit, wanting to cry, I keep riding the bus. I didn't know where another bus was, and all buses turn around eventually, right? Well, wrong again. I ride the bus for close to an hour and a half, all the way to the Yellow Sea. (So, this was not so fun. But I also think I may have seen China, so that was something!) All of the sudden, the bus stops. In the middle of nowhere. Me? I am of course the only person on the bus. The bus driver turns and looks at me with a "get off the bus motion". I am now in about 85% freak-out mode. I don't have a phone, I don't even have a building nearby. What do I do? So of couse, I ask the bus driver, in my best Korean, "Bus-uh Terminal ju sey yo?" Which literally means, "I want to go to the bus terminal." The bus driver then points to another bus 8, one about 100 feet away. I tell him, in my best Korean, thank you so much! I get off and run to the other bus. Yes, I did look like the crazy foreigner, but I didn't care. I get on the bus, and we begin back on our hour long trek back to the city. I am sad to say this, but I held it together so well until I got off the bus. I then ran to Laura's (again looking like the crazy foreigner) and sobbed into her arms for about the next half hour. I can safely say, I laughed about it after. Anyway, of course I was going to take a photo of my empty bus experience. This is one I never wanted to forget!
After that nice break-down, and recovery Laura, Kyla and I decided to go grab some dinner and head to a movie. We ate Popeye's and watched Warm Bodies which we all agreed felt so so similar to our lives in Korea. If you haven't seen it, it's a must watch for sure.
This week has been almost too good to be true. It is Wednesday, and there is already so many great things!
I was able to visit the Gunsan Museum of Modern History with my mentor teacher, and get a cell phone! Ialso got paid and got my first package from home yesterday, complete with the greatest things. I am so, so blessed!
What a great adventure this experience has meant to me. On the agenda this week? Trip to Seoul to meet up with our great friends, Hoa and Alex who live on a small island just below Korea. We have missed them so much, it will be so great to see them again! Kyla also has a friend coming in from Hong Kong, so it will be so nice to have him here for a few days!
I cannot wait to see all of my friends this weekend, and further more I cannot wait to see what else life for me has in store in Korea. As always, thank you so much for all of the words of encouragement, and love I constantly feel in my time here. It is the biggest blessing.
Until next time, America!
Kiyana In Korea