Last week of semester...

Trip Start Dec 11, 2008
Trip End Dec 13, 2009

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

My first semester teaching English had absolutely raced by, and suddenly it was the last week - a chance to put the increasingly dull TOEFL test to one side, and have a bit of fun with the students who I'd grown fond of over the previous ten weeks.

There's no doubt that Wednesday was everybody's favourite day throughout the first semester, as it involved the students giving their presentations. I always showed them a few random video clips as well, and we often discussed music, with me trying to convince them that Oasis are better than the tenny-bopper stuff that most of them are accustomed to!

I'd promised them food in the last week, so I stocked up on popcorn and chocolate, and I enjoyed a couple of fun lessons with them. I'd downloaded some Oasis videos for them to watch, including my first ever gig at Maine Road, and we listened to some of their favourites, including Rain, Shinee and Big Bang!

I felt a little bit sad during those last few lessons, as it was the end of an era in some ways. The same students would be back again next semester, but I won't see them as often as I will mostly be teaching A-class who really are the cream of the crop.

Without exception, I liked every single one of my students during the first semester, but there were a few that stood out for me:

A very shy student, but he gradually opened up as time passed, probably due to our similar taste in music. In some ways, he reminded me of myself when I was a young teenager. I was touched when he wrote a comment at the bottom of his last essay, thanking me for improving his English and being a great teacher.

Tae hoon
A lively character who was always fun to have in class, due to his repetitive comments such as "oh teacher, too much homework!" Often he was the only student in his writing class, so we could relax and chat about other things as well. He wasn't pleased when he found out that he'd have a different teacher next semester!

Jung min
Along with her friend Hye min, created a really friendly atmosphere in the presentation class. Her presentations were always fun to watch, due to her giddiness and tendency to break out in fits of giggles when she couldn't get her words out! A lovely girl.

Each student had something unique about their personality, but all were politeness personified. There was Ki wan who preferred detention rather than doing his homework, Ji yea who always greeted the foreign teachers with a high five, Won jun who invented some obscure homework excuses, Jimin who designs cars in her spare time, Jim and his dry sense of humour...the list goes on.

To celebrate the end of the semester, I went out for a few (too many) beers with Hew and Juli. We went to the Albatross bar where the average age was about seventy-one, but it was fun getting drunk on soju and discussing work. It's clear that something needs to change in terms of the workload, as a lot of new students have signed up, meaning more essays to mark. Hew worked out that he'd have more than a hundred essays to mark each week with the current format!

Once again, I enjoyed a lovely Saturday with Eun ju exploring Seoul on what was a glorious day weatherwise. I'm always eager to get some fresh air at the weekend, as weekdays are either spent at work or marking in my apartment! We met up near Insadong and wandered around the souvenir shops. Eun ju always says that she feels really comfortable with me, and sometimes thinks of me as a Korean. This would explain why she always nudges me and excitedly whispers "Foreigner!!" whenever she sees a Western tourist!

We had a stroll to Gyeon-bok-gung afterwards as Eun ju had never been before, and I was happy to revisit as it is an impressive sight. We timed it so that we could witness the changing of the guard ceremony, a very colourful spectacle, before entering the palace. I was pleasantly surprised at how cheap tickets were, especially when compared to Japan which charges ridiculous amounts for entering shrines, temples etc.

All in all, it had been a thoroughly enjoyable week both at work and in private. I must admit to feeling a little nervous ahead of the new semester though, due to the new students and lack of familiar faces in the classroom. Still, I knew that within a couple of weeks the students and me would be well-acquainted, and there was the small matter of my 28th birthday to look forward to...
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