Chuseok holiday and teaching

Trip Start Sep 01, 2009
Trip End Sep 22, 2010

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Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Friday, October 2, 2009

For anyone who would like to mail me anything, here is my address. It is actually the schools address, but this address is more reliable I guess.

Brianna Swaim
Daegususeong Branch
Goldtower Bldg., 198-2 Beomeo 4-dong, Suseong-gu,
Daegu, Korea 706-821

I haven't actually received anything so I hope it is reliable.

This weekend is the biggest national holiday in Korea. It is called Chuseok. It is referred to as Korean Thanksgiving in English. Chuseok this year is Oct. 3, but the day before and after are holidays as well. Of course, our school still worked today, but moved the classes to the morning. We are closed tomorrow though. I hear that it is common for Koreans to wear traditional clothing such as Hanbok. On Chuseok day, the moon appears larger than usual and is often orange in the Northern Hemisphere. It is what Westerners sometimes refer to as a "harvest moon." Almost all Koreans are going home or, for my students, their grandparent's houses.

From what I have read on the internet it is great time for foreigners to travel, but you have to make arrangements way in advance because everyone is going home. If I hadn't just found out about this holiday a week ago, I might have planned something. Or if I had anyone to go anywhere with I might, but I have neither. A lot of stores are closed on the holiday, but I hear there are special festivals. I tried to look up festivals for this year, but I only found one in New York City. Otherwise, I will be relaxing this weekend. It rain some a few days ago and I have had allergies since then so I am ready to just sleep. I know of some people just hanging out here so it should be nice. My school gave me some gifts, caramel popcorn and big can of chocolate.


This week three of my classes were canceled due to examinations again. I am not complaining. I will be teaching full time next week though. Today we taught from 9 am-3 pm. I only had one class so I only taught from 9 am - 12 pm. I showed up around 8:20 at the school. You're supposed to be there an hour early, I found out a few days ago. Chung Dahm says that you need to be there 20 minutes early, but our branch apparently requires you to be there an hour. No one has said anything to me though. I get there to find about four other teacher waiting outside the building. I wasn't sure if they were enjoying the nice weather or if the school was locked. The school was locked. 20 minutes went by and soon there was 15 foreign teachers and about 20 students standing around outside of the building. Office workers showed up and they seemed just as confused as us so they started making phone calls. Finally, an officer worker who has keys came and opened the outside doors to let us in the building. It was 10 minutes until class. The teachers got on the elevator and went up to the sixth floor, where school is, to find that the doors on the floor were still locked. Even the guy who had the keys to the outside door, did not have the keys to the inside doors. He started trying to us a credit card to open the lock, but it didn't work and he didn't want to risk breaking it. Finally, Sonia, the manager showed up and unlocked everything. Her and one other staff member are the only ones with keys to the building (on the inside sixth and seventh floor) and someone went to check on the other lady who was supposed to have been there to open the building. She had some accident is all we heard, not in her car or anything. I think that was code for "something happened that we won't mention, but she is ok."

I started class about the normal time. This class gave me a lot of problems last time and after today I remember why because the same people caused me problems. There is a group of girls in the back and they talk and pass notes. I would stop class and tell them to stop and they would continue. I called on them to answer questions when they were talking and they never knew the answer or where we were. I finally moved one of the girls and she seemed in shock that I moved her to the front of the classroom. She then kept looking back at friends still making distracting motions. I told her if she looked back one more time, she would have to stand up. After I said that she looked back so I told her to stand up. She said she was looking at the clock. I told her I don't know what she was looking at, but I had just told her the next time she looked back she would have to stand up so I made her stand up for five minutes. After the next break she automatically went back to her original seat. I noticed, but I thought I would see how it goes. About 10 minutes into class, the group was loud and I caught one passing a note back. I then made two of them move seats. I was going to make one move and sit in the same row as a boy. That is the worst punishment for students in the classroom. I have never seen a culture so divided as far as girls and boys. Growing up I remember there was a stage where boys had cooties, but even so, I can remember interacting with boys at all ages. I have no students that don't act like the opposite sex is the most awkward, evil, existence that they might be placed by. I'm sure there are other cultures that are worse. Maybe India was worse. I remember some villages we went to the men and women were divided. The women would be in the back and men in the front or vice versa. That was a village though, and this is a developed city. I imagine there is some easy explanation that maybe I will discover in time.

Teaching is still stressful. I get feedback everyday it feels like. It's beginning to be overwhelming. There is too much stuff to cover. In schools in America, it seems like if you don't finish the lesson one class, you can finish the next class period, but this academy is very structured. They expect you to go over everything in three hours. It's been very hard. I feel like by the time I get the hand of the writing classes, I have to switch back to the reading classes, and vice versa. Some things take longer to go over. I was skipping some exercises in the book that I didn't feel were as important since we were short on time, but I was told I have to do everything. I also have to go over a webzine. The students are supposed to do a webzine and so far about three classes have done a webzine. Even if they don't do one, I have to pull up a random one and use it as an example. I think after the head instructor told me that yesterday I wanted to explode. I barely manage to get everything in as it is and then to spend more time on an activity that they class obviously doesn't take seriously, is just ridiculously. My Thursday class likes the webzine. There is also people in my Saturday class that like to do the Webzine.  I like those classes and I also like my first class on Monday. You can tell some of the students have spent a good amount of time overseas, in the U.S or Canada because those students appear to me as geniuses for having such amazing language skills, like native, and then it makes since that they lived a year somewhere. A lot lived in California with a parent. At Memorial Road, there were many Korea women getting TEFL masters degree and they brought their kids with them. It really pays off for the kids and it makes the class more enjoyable to have those few who are comfortable speaking in English and actually rather enjoy it, opposed to the other students whose parents probably forced them to go to English school. Or in the older kids case, they have so much to do during the weeks it's overwhelming to get everything done. I feel sorry for them. They also complain about being hungry. I just got my first pay check so I think I will start bringing a snack or something for the late classes.

First paycheck! I am super excited to not feel so poor today. I bought a mop so I can clean my floor and a toaster oven. I bought some food that I am going to experiment with this weekend.

That's all for now! Take care!

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