Badger Blogging Blitz: Day 1

Daily Questions: 

All of the Badger Bloggers answer the same 2 questions each day. 

{Emily GaynorKeith KempDavid KlugMatthew MarxZach McLeod/Liz WansleySoren Nieminen}

1. What has been your most surreal experience in Korea so far? I don’t know how to type this without sounding like an uber social media geek (maybe I should start by not using the word “uber”), but the day that Lonely Planet “retweeted” one of my tweets promoting a blog post could be described as surreal. Not only did I acquire over 2,000 hits that day and attract hundreds of new blog/Twitter followers, I also came to understand the power of social media. Just one teensy nudge from the number one travel site in the world, and I had more eyeballs viewing my meager little page of puns than I ever could’ve imagined! It was pretty surreal to see that effect in action, and the effect it had for a few weeks after as well. I spent all this time at UW learning about the media, and now I’m actually seeing it in action. And hey, I’m not gonna lie…it made me feel pretty fucking awesome.

2. What would you tell yourself before you got on the plane in Chicago, given your experience so far? There are so many more differences than you’re prepared for, in ways you can’t even imagine. 

For my very first Blogging Blitz post, I’m going to chronicle my Monday at school, from the moment my curtainless windows wake me up to my speedy evacuation from Sejong High School.

6:44 Alarm. Ugh. They still blow halfway across the world.

Cherry Blossoms on my riverside walk to school.

7:30 Leave for school.

7:33 Arrive at school. I live directly behind my school. While this makes my lack of a commute quite pleasant, it generally sucks that I can’t ever leave my apartment with seeing at least one of my students, all recognizable by their Burberry uniforms.

Today on my way into school, I ran into one of the English teachers with whom I co-teach, Ms. Song. I don’t know her full name. I’ve read it several times, but Korean names are so hard to remember, lots of foreign teachers just know people by Mr. Park or Mr. [insert typical Korean last name]. We talked about our weekends, smiled, and parted ways. To be a little too brutally honest, most of the English teachers here speak very basic English, given the fact that they majored in English education. The simple fact is that English isn’t taught as a language here. It’s just another subject to memorize for a test.

7:45 – 8:20 Morning Class with 2-1. These girls are a low-level class of 2nd graders, which is 11th Grade in the US. I teach this class alone, without a co-teacher, which adds a significant challenge to my mornings. However, there’s something liberating about teaching a class totally on my own. With the help of my iPhone translator, anything is possible!

This week’s lesson (I do the same lesson for all of my classes but change it up a bit based on level) is “Stars & Journalists.” I made a series of laminated cards with various Korean and western celebs, and then another series of cards for “journalists” who must find specific celebs to interview and ask a set of questions.  It was a lot less challenging than I thought it would be, and I think they really got into it because they love anything having to do with pop culture. But they are all SO DAMN SHY! Covering their faces with hair, covering mouths, laughing at every other word. Drives. Me. Crazy.

Purple Nails. Normal.

8:20 – 11:20 Deskwarming. Today I booked a flight to Tokyo! I’ll be going the weekend of Buddha’s Birthday, a 3-day-weekend in March. My parents and Japanophone sister will be there, so I’m extremely excited. Here are some articles I read during today’s three hour stretch:

A Group of South Koreans Beg God to Strike Down Evil Lady Gaga I’m going to her show this FRIDAY in Seoul, first stop on her tour. This just makes me that much more excited.

Lonely Planet’s Online Guide to Tokyo (I like their books much better. Must locate one ASAP.)

“The Kids Are Alright” from PsychologyToday.com – a series of articles about Millenials (my generation has a name now) and how narcissistic and lazy we all are.

Travel Fish’s info on Thailand – one of my favorite SE Asia Travel Sites. I’ve booked a trip to Thailand in July/August with my boyfriend Ollie, and I love ogling over photos of the beaches and food and temples we’ll be experiencing.

11:30 – 12:20 4th Period. Class 1-5. One of my favorite classes, incredibly bright and outgoing. Although this class is the prime example of gregarious boys and very shy girls. We played the interview activity and they loved it. One of my favorite students is named Dong Ki – he told me his previous teachers called him “Donkey” and he loves it. He also told me he likes Radiohead today! Instant bonus for this kid.

12:25 – 13:45 Lunch. Oh lunch. No matter where I am in life or the world, I think I’ll always love lunch. Something to look forward to all day long, no matter what variety of kimchi is being served up that day or how alive the fish still appears to be. I usually sit with other teachers, we talk about pretty basic things (the weekend, how old are your parents, you know…usual questions) but I always wonder what they talk about with each other. Are politics taboo in Korean schools the way they are here? What constitutes small-talk in Korea? I will forever wonder.

14:20 – 15:10 5th Period. 1-2 Class. Another favorite class. They loved the interview game. One of my students in this class has a hilarious nickname: Stone.

With some of the 1-2 girlies!

15:20 – 16:10 6th Period. 1-1 Class. They’re pretty funny. Except, one of the students playing Barak Obama was asked, “What is your biggest challenge?” To which he replied, “I want to be white.” The class roared in laughter. Xenophobia, with a touch of racism, is still very much alive in South Korea.

16:10 – 3:45 Deskwarming. Blogging. Freedom!

Now I’m off to play soccer with the Yeoju Crew!

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