Sunday, July 24, 2011


Things are really starting to come together for me here in Bucheon.  I'm enjoying myself and meeting more and more people each week.  Definitely comfortable in my surroundings now.  The job is pretty easy now that I've been in it for almost two months, which means one thing of course:  time to start traveling!  Let's start with a mud festival, what else?...

We look deceivingly clean here, but since we're in the "prison" we're constantly being splashed with buckets of mud from behind.  

 About a week ago, the continuous rain of the monsoon season finally ceased, and luckily, it stopped in the middle of the day on Saturday while I was in Boryeong.  It's about a 2 hour drive south of Seoul, and for nine days in the summer it's home to largest mud festival in the world.  I went on a trip organized by Rhythm and Booze, the local expat bar that's about a block from where I live.  We had a full busload of people, so about 40, including several teachers from my school and lots of other foreigners that lived around Bucheon.  We left Friday night at 11pm (have to wait until all of us get out of work) and we got into Boryeong at about 2am.  The hotel was called Drama hotel and was right on the beach.  The name could of predicted some of the events that would later unfold that night, mainly one person in the room who had too much soju (a Korean liquor, think vodka without as much of a bite to it) and decided the floor of the hotel was a good place to get sick.  But aside from that, it was a fun weekend.  We went to the rooftop of the hotel when we got there on Friday night, and had a Korean BBQ with plenty of drinks to go around.  Korean BBQ is basically fat pieces of pork that are grilled on top of a charcoal grill.  You take the piece of meat after it's cooked, dip into some hot sauces, then throw it, rice and maybe some kimchi (korean dish, kinda like cabbage) and roll it up inside some lettuce.  It's pretty damn tasty!  Of course hell would break lose at each table as eventually the grease would catch on fire, creating an inferno that occasionally would catch the wooden picnic tables on fire as well.  But anyways, we all survived.  At around 5am we figured we might as well stay up and watch the sun rise, only to realize at 6am that it was still really overcast, and that the sun was out already and it was just another dreary, sky full of clouds kind of day.
Improvised dance party on the beach to wash off the mud.
Korean kids getting their mud on at the stations.  And yes, it did come out of all my clothes luckily.

The next day we headed down to the main part of the festival, which had stations where you'd begin to cover yourself in the mud.  From there you'd go into the main part that had a lot of inflatable rides that become 10x more fun once the ride and yourself is covered in mud.  The had mud pits with everyone wrestling and such, and pools to clean off in or just make a mess.  In the pool we caught the attention of many by racing from one side to another (it was maybe 2 and half or 3 feet deep).  Unfortunately for all the photographers who decided to get a picture of us running towards the end, we all we diving for the edge of the pool areas to win the race, and ended up covering several nice looking cameras with water.  Stupid foreigners! ha.  The whole festival started in the 90's to promote the mud that's found by the coast of Boryeong, and used for its natural benefits in a bunch of different cosmetics.  Anyways, they have a few stages with bands playing, and a beautiful beach right which the festival is set up along.  The rain stopped mid Saturday afternoon, which allowed us to be able to watch the fireworks for the opening weekend on the beach, and sit and drink on the beach all evening.  I have to say it's pretty funny but I've definitely seen more sunrises in Korea than sun sets.  Monday to Friday I'm at the school teaching during sunset, and when the bars never close and the nightlife is never ends hear, I constantly find myself getting back to my apartment at 6 or 7am after a night out...and I really have no complaints about it!
Some of the group in front of one of the many inflatables.
A little different but just like the parks in the city, Koreans will bring tents and set them up for the day right on the beach..

It was so good to get out of the city and get in the ocean there.  The water felt great once you dived in, and the fresh sea breeze was refreshing all weekend.  Now that I got out I want to keep exploring Korea, the drive back on Sunday showed me how beautiful the country side is.  This weekend is my summer vacation (yep, I have Friday July 29th off until Tuesday August 2nd, some summer break!).  On Saturday and Sunday I'm heading to Gangwon-Do and the Taebaek mountain area with a tour company that takes foreigners (mainly English teachers) on trips around Korea.  The other days I might find some touristy things to do and continue to explore Seoul.  Hoping to have a lot of fun, meet a lot of people, and to share the experience with all of you.  Here's a picture of Taebaek mountain area that I found online:

Very excited for this indeed!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Reading Town Honor's Ville (my school's name)

Sorry about taking so long to post, I'm going to try and do a better job of it! I wanted to tell you about my school and teaching now that I'm a month into it.  I'm an English teacher a hogwon, which is a private academy that teaches English courses to students, with the intention of making them fluent readers and speakers of the language.  I teach students that are about 8-13 years old.  Most of them start at the regular Reading Town which is on the floor above my school.  The teacher 4-8 year olds.  After my school, they go to the floor below us, called Avalon Glide, where the continue to study the language, and start studying science and math in English as well.  It's a huge industry in South Korea, proven in that South Korea is one of the largest investors in private education.  The kids at my school with take 2 or 3 classes in the afternoon or evening.  A class period lasts 45 minutes with a 5 minutes break.  This is in addition to the regular schools they go to earlier in the day.  We have 5 native teachers (including me) and right now 5 korean teachers, but I know they are looking for 2 more korean teachers!

There's three type of classes I teach.  Book reading, comprehension, and speech/essay:

1) Book reading is where we take a month in class to read book.  I assign reading, we discuss it, and they also have workbooks to go through.  It's a lot of repetition to make sure EVERY student has a strong grasp of the book, its vocabulary, what it means, etc.  We meet 3 times a week, and one of those days we go to Learning Gate (the library).  Here, they each pick 2 smaller books to read on their own and write a "Mini-Book Report".  I then pick a big book to read, and they have to read then write a "Big Book Report" on the book that I grade, and they also have an online test they do at home on the big book.  Every week we go to the library and get new books and such.  Most of my classes are book reading classes.

2)Comprehension is for some of the older students, and its just what it sounds like.  They read articles in a book, and then we talk about what it means and such.  Each unit has an articles and a workbook area associated with it, we do one unit a class and after 6 classes, we take a test on the previous units.

3) Essay/Speech is where the students practice their writing skills, correctly building complete sentences and such.  There's an emphasis on the kids reading out loud and writing their own essays and giving presentations. A lot of the instruction is on useful expressions and such to make a continuously flowing and long responses.

So those are my classes!  I have about 32 lessons a week right now,  and I see the same students MWF and different students TR.  Here's some pictures of my school of one of my classes!

I get to school at 1pm, and my first class of the day starts at 3:40.  These are the youngest kids I teach, and luckily I only have 5.  It's also one of my favorite classes, but I'll admit, they behave much better than some of the other young classes the other teachers have (lucky me!).

The lone boy in the class Hayden didn't want his picture taken.  He's always hyper and having fun, but he crosses the line too much, so I have to yell at him.  This was right after he got yelled at, so he was sulking in the corner.  Irechez is on the left, she's really smart but new to the program, but she is getting confident and always has the right answer for me!  Jamie is in the back, she likes to answer questions or explain things by getting up and demonstrating, which hopefully will gradually turn into her using English to answer questions!  Kayla is second from the left, and is quite smart too but like to take control of the class sometimes.  Cindy is on the right, and if Hayden isn't being the class clown, she is.  Let's just say she doesn't like rules, and I'm guessing learning English isn't her favorite past time!
This is the face Irechez always makes when I ask who wants to read first?!  The young ones love reading, and the always want to be the one to start first haha.

I took this video of them was the day after they took a test on their previous book, and they knew I was making them read this book just because we had nothing to do, since the their semester was finishing that day too.  So needless to say, they weren't very cooperative!

So here's my school!  This is the entrance area where the front desk is.

Here's a classroom and the hallways through the area.  We have about 12 or 15 classrooms?  One of the is a lot larger, and wired for presentations and movies and such.

Here's the faculty work area.  All of our desk areas are on each wall, and the middle table will have food for us on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, since none of us have a break during dinner time to go out a buy something on the street.
And here is my desk area!:
Nothing spectacular, but its works well!
I hope every has a great weekend and I'll post sooner than I did this time.  I have some fun things coming up that I will definitely share on this blog.