I have been in Korea for more than two weeks now, yet I can’t decide if it feels like I left yesterday from the states or have been here forever. Nevertheless, each day I am reminded that I am still adjusting, with a mix of struggles (predominately food and language) and fulfilling surprises.
The past week was a week of firsts: it was my first language quiz, my first night out in Goesan, my first taekwondo lesson, and my first time writing a lesson plan. Each experience was unique, but the common core was I becoming increasingly more exciting for the start of my official placement and teaching.
1. The language quiz – I was so glad to have it over with. There was such a escalating pressure and underlying fear of what ifs that once it was finished all of us were able to take a deep breath and remind ourselves it was about the learning and not the grade that mattered. Still waiting to get my score though …
2. First night out – We finished classes for the week on Wednesday (day of the quiz) and I had one goal in mind. I wanted to celebrate. And for me that meant go into town and find a good dessert. So a group of us walked into town excited to have honey bread at supposedly the best spot. I opened the door enthusiastically and move towards the counter bowing slightly and greeting the woman with 안녕하세요 (hello – pronounced annyeonghaseyo, but I still say it with a childish slur so each time it sounds a little different). I say honey bread in a questioning tone. She looks at me for a moment and begins speaking Korean quickly. I looked towards the group. Thankfully there are a handful of people with a Korean background and can already navigate some of the language. In short, I learned that the lady said she is out of honey bread. Sad day, but we decide to keep walking to another dessert spot in town, but they were out too (it was conspiracy) – so no honey bread, but I did settle for some Patbingsu which is always a solid choice. Eating the Patbingsu and hanging out was just what I wanted. I was happy. As everyone finished up with their desserts conversation started about next location. At first I was going to just head back, but in good spirits I decided to let the adventures continue. I was glad I did. The night was filled with some good laughs. We hung around outside a corner convenient store where I tried soju and rice wine for the first time. We ended the night, jamming at Noraebang (Korean Karaoke).
3. Taekwondo lesson – We all know I am not coordinated or graceful, but I thought trying Taekwondo would be fun. I was right. We practiced stretching, punching and kicking. We moved our bodies to the rhythm of the instructors voice. Well we were suppose too. I was often moving my left arm when I was suppose to be using my right arm and finding myself feeling that the instructor was staring at me every time he said we need to try this again. Tomorrow we receive our uniforms and I am quite excited about that. I decided it will make me feel official and then comes my awesome unlocked talent. Think Kong Fu Panda style.
4. Lesson plan – All my teacher friends know these things all too well. But for me this document asked for me to plan ahead and be organized, two things that don’t come natural to me. This lesson plan was for the start of Camp Fulbright, a two week summer session for Korean students to practice their English and an awesome opportunity for the new ETAs to practice teaching. The camp is organized and facilitated by current fulbrighters who are renewing and a group of U.S. and Korean high school students. (**If you know any high school students this is an awesome opportunity and would definitely encourage anyone to apply**). During the camp I will be teaching two lessons. The lesson plan I wrote was for the theme I Breathe which incorporates stress management, feelings, and cooping skills as a vessel to teach and practice English. I will be teaching this Wednesday so wish me luck!
Lastly, in response to our busy week our coordinator team planned an awesome weekend in Donghae for us to relax and have fun! I just got back on Sunday and it was beautiful and great. My next post will cover my stories of hiking and relaxing at the beach.