I haven’t been blogging as much as I’d like to because I’ve actually been pretty busy lately, which has taken me by surprise because I thought November was going to be my “slow and chill” month. Turns out, that hasn’t been the case at all. Here is what has been going on:
I attended a lantern festival in Seoul this past Sunday night. I wish I could tell you why this particular festival occurs every year and the significance behind it, but honestly, I don’t know; I just went because a friend of mine told me about it and it sounded like something cheap and fun to do, and it was: Essentially, my friend and I walked up and down the sides of a small river while we oooh’d and awww’d at a lot of gorgeous lantern displays. I think what I liked most about the festival was that it felt like I was looking at Korean-style Christmas lights.
Work is the main reason why I’ve been so busy. I mentioned in a previous Wine and Love post that I was super stressed about my open class/national competition entry and that I couldn’t wait to get it over with. Well, I got it over with a week ago, and I am pleased to report that my open class went swimmingly, and I even received accolades from my principle and vice principle. (Woo hoo!)
I thought once my open class was over, I’d finally have some down time at work, but again, that hasn’t been the case: This week I’ve been busy preparing for and judging an English contest at my school. I’ve judged these kinds of contests before and I really hate it: I hate feeling like I have to rank my students from “You kick ass at English” to “You suck”; it really breaks my heart because they work so hard and it means so much to them and they’re so cute and and and I JUST WANT THEM ALL TO WIN FIRST PLACE, DAMNIT. But, sadly, these contests don’t work that way, and neither does life: Even though I know that not winning first place for most of my students will break their little hearts, I also know that it’s going to teach them that they’re not going to get everything they want in life, like acceptance into certain schools or certain jobs, but that they should keep going after their goals and never give up.
In regards to another aspect of work, I’ve been working on becoming a better teacher. A month ago, I posted about some of the
frustrations challenges I’ve had with my job. One of the challenges I mentioned was how I wanted to improve my classroom management skills, and I have: my students have been showing more respect for me lately and have been treating me like I’m one of their actual teachers, not just an assistant teacher or the foreign teacher whom they can play dumb with. This change in attitude from my students has made my classes easier to handle and my job pleasant again.
Along with being more stern with my students when they misbehave, I’ve also gotten harder on them when it comes to what we do in class. Unfortunately, my 5th graders didn’t do so well on the writing section of their midterms, so it’s apparent that they need extra attention in that area; therefore, I have designated every other Thursday “Writing Day” (I see them every Thursday) where we play writing-related games and have mini-spelling bees. My 5th graders aren’t too happy about this idea because they HATE writing activities (it’s hard to like something you’re not good at), but I don’t care; they’re having a hard time with spelling, punctuation, and use of capital letters, so as their teacher, it’s my job help them understand these areas. They may find the writing and spelling activities difficult at first, but I’m confident that it’s going to help them improve. And who knows? They might even thank me later.
In general, life is busy here and it’s making time move really fast; it feels like time has been moving fast ever since my sixth month mark hit: The first six months were slow-moving because it took some time to get fully adjusted to life here, plus I was homesick; now that living here feels completely normal, every day moves by quickly just like it did when I lived in Sacramento. Next weekend will mark eight months here in Korea and one more month until Chris comes to visit. Once Chris’ four-week-long visit is over, I’ll only have two more months left here, and then it’s back home! Since I only have about four months left, I am making plans for things I want to do before I leave: visit Busan (Korea’s beach town), visit Thailand, see the DMZ, go swing dancing more often, and continue learning more Hangul and about Korean culture. I guess it’s true what they say: Time really does fly when you’re having fun.