2013년 7월 25일 목요일

Goodbye Gunsan Naun Elementary

My first teaching job came to a close earlier today and I can't believe it's over. I had such a good time, even with the bad days mixed in. It's funny to look back to the first couple of difficult weeks and think about the kids who almost had me in tears a few times and realize that they're some of my favorites now. I'll miss all those little babies, as well as everyone else I've met here in Korea! It's been an awesome six months and I'm so happy I got this opportunity. I commend those who have taken this journey alone. I was really fortunate to have several good friends by my side from the the moment we started taking Korean class together last August!

I received more hugs today than I have possibly ever in my life. I even got an awkward handshake/bow/hug from the vice principal, so that was interesting! I also got paid on time for the first time since being here, so I can close out my bank account now!! Mark that off the very long list of things to do!

Today just further confirmed that the younger elementary children are who I want to teach. Second grade accounted for over half of my hugs. The older grades are in that "too cool to hug my teacher who's moving back to America on Wednesday" stage, so I got a few hugs, but nothing compared to the second graders. 

Remember the little ladies that I've mentioned several times on here that are always across from my school and that I've become friends with? Well finally you can put a face with a story because...drum roll please.....HERE THEY ARE!!


Aren't they adorable?! There is usually between four and six of them but today there was only two, so I was a little sad, but the one in the yellow shirt is always the most friendly so I was so glad she was there! Every time I wear the necklace that I was ironically wearing today, she makes me come really close and she grabs it and says 'beautiful' in Korean over and over and over! Today was no exception. She also always makes sure to tell me that I'm beautiful. What a sweet lady. It was also her that awkwardly made me get in her face one of the first few times we met and take off my sunglasses to see my eyes! I had my kids teach me the phrase, "I'm going to America on Wednesday" in Korean one day last week so I could say it to these little ladies. Unfortunately when I got there this afternoon, I couldn't remember the Wednesday part so I just told them the other part and they did a big heart and fake tears and said 'I love you' in Korean over and over, so I think they got the message! 

I made a Goodbye PowerPoint for my kids with pictures I've taken the last couple of months, so we did that, ate cookies, and played with balloons and cards! It was a good last day!

2nd graders distracted by cookies and pictures of themselves. 

Mom's BFF, Dana! Of course, she ran straight to me when she saw I had my camera out and made me take a picture of her! 

...and then had to jump in this one as well. Oh Dana, I'll miss you, wild child! 

Sweet, sweet  Mary!
It was just me and the kids today, so I had to split the pictures up by boys and girls so I would have a photographer. In case you were wondering, this is what 2nd grade Korean photographers take pictures like!

Not too bad...except the boy in the yellow shirt who almost got in on the bottom right corner...

Op! After one picture, Stia (on the far left) is already bored and on her fancy phone, plus wild boys are photo bombing us! 

Ah ha! There we go...a little better... haha 
 Now for the wild boys....
Take one.... and I'm the only one paying attention! 

Take two....At least 4 out of 6 are looking this time. Progress! (No, he didn't really punch that kid, I promise!)

And three....I give up! hahah Such wild little balls of energy! 

Now, on to what I could possibly call my favorite class! These first couple of pictures are of two boys (who used to be part of a bigger group until the others stopped coming to English class thank goodness) who used to make me want to cry almost daily. The little black haired one would mock every.single.word I said for almost the whole 40 minutes. I'm talking full on awful voice, terrible face mocking. He did this for about a week. I'm assuming he finally realized how cool of a teacher I was going to be and decided to back off he was getting a lot of English practice by mocking an English speaking person for 40 minutes straight, 4 days a week and decided it wasn't cool to practice English that much. Needless to say, they both eventually ended up really liking me, and vice versa. Some of my favorites for sure! Funny, smart, loud, wild little boys. Take a look for yourself. The pictures describe them to a T. 
They picked up the balloons and automatically decided they wanted to put them in their shirts and be pregnant. Meet James (little mocking boy, on the left) and Zack (his partner in crime)

Take two... James is, in fact, giving birth in the middle of my classroom. 

"Here teacher, baby!" So here we are, take three, and all three of us are having balloon babies. hahaha Such funny little boys! 

Sweet, sweet 4th grade girls! 

So calm and sweet! 

Little angels! 
Luckily, my mentor teacher accidentally came in during our photo sesh so we got one group photo! 
On to 5th/6th grade. They're all way too cool, so they weren't really feeling the picture thing today, but they totally like me when there isn't a camera around.
They're not too cool for balloons though! booya!  
"We're way too cool for this. You're embarrassing us."

They also look very unimpressed. I swear they're happier in class than in this picture. This group of girls also really likes me, contrary to the vibes you're getting from these pictures. lol 

Oh! There we go! A little bit of emotion! I promise they like me. In fact, they're the best at English and enjoy it the most! 
Along with saying goodbye to my students and staff, I've already said goodbye to my co-teacher and her sweet family, and my bartender friends at TLC. It's becoming more and more real that I'm almost finished but it's so sad to say goodbye to all of these wonderful people! I'm so fortunate for the people God has placed in my life the last 6 months.

This could possibly be the last blog of my Korean adventure. I am going to Seoul tomorrow through Sunday, then checking more things off the to do list on Monday and Tuesday while anxiously awaiting the big day on Wednesday!!! Thank you all so much for reading and for the kind words and prayers. Being 6000 miles from almost everyone and everything you know and love can be tough at times, but thanks to you little angels, my spirits stayed high! See you all in 6 days!!!!


2013년 7월 21일 일요일

Mom in Korea: Part III

I know, I know! This is starting to feel like those terrible Twilight movies and you're wondering when it's going to end. Luckily for you, this is part three of this little series, which means this is the last update! lol Hopefully you've found much more interest in mom's time in Korea than you did in those sparkly little vampires! haha Okay, I'm just kidding about all of that except the fact that this is the last part of mom's trip! (And I really do think Twilight is awful, but that's beside the point.)

So where were we? Oh yes, Thursday July 4th! Independence Day!!! Spoiler alert: It rained so we couldn't even do fireworks :(

I used two vacation days while mom was here so we could go on a mini vacation while she was visiting Korea. I decided the beach would be a good spot, so we headed to Busan. I had been there once before for Buddha's birthday weekend, but I didn't get to do anything on my list that I wanted so this was a good opportunity to take my mom somewhere I was somewhat familiar with but that I hadn't already seen several times! We got on the bus early Thursday morning for our 4.5 hour bus ride. The weather ended up being terrible the whole time so we didn't get in any actual beach time, but we went to two different ones just to look around. We did a lot of walking and sight seeing in Busan. We went to a big mall, with a giant water fountain show and a rooftop zoo, of course! We went to the Jagalchi Fish Market, one of the most popular ones. We went to Gwangali Beach and saw the pretty bridge all lit up at night. We also went to a really famous temple on the ocean! The on the last day, we met up with one of my friends I've made since being here. Her name is Hoa and she's from California, but she got put in Jeju for her teaching position. Jeju is an island off the southern tip of South Korea, so since she has to take a plane to get to the mainland, she doesn't get to visit often. I'm so happy we got to meet up with her and my mom got to meet one of my good friends I've made since being here!
The rest of this is just pictures of what we did with little side stories when necessary! I had a long weekend at the Mud Festival and my brain is too tired to think of everything we did! haha

This was on top of a mall we went to. Korea always throws in little surprises and I'm glad mom got to experience that. This was a 12 story mall (I think...) and so we headed to the top because I read online you could eat up there. Much to our surprise, there was a mini zoo that consisted of a horse (I know..how did they get a horse on the roof of a mall?!?!), huge parrots, rabbits galore, a baby deer, some hedgehogs, and a couple of other small animals like that. Of course all of those animals would be on the rooftop of a mall. Oh, Korea!  There were also observatory decks, but no food, so eventually we headed back down to the actual food court for some delicious Korean food!

View from the rooftop of the mall. That's an observatory tower that would have been cool on a nice day, but clearly the weather sucked. 

Jagalchi Fish Market
Fish Market! One of my favorite parts of Korea! 

Two little sharks :( 

Gwangali Beach/Bridge
Gwangali Bridge! It's a two story bridge and lights up really pretty at night, but again the sky looked a little scary so it takes away the beauty a little .

 This is a funny story. So mom was pretty awful at keeping up with her umbrella the whole trip. The first time we got on the bus here in Gunsan, I think it was the second or third day mom was in Korea, she left her umbrella on the bus. So after lunch we went to Diaso, basically a dollar store, and bought a new one. We carried them everywhere because it always looked like it was going to rain. So when we were in Busan, we went to the bridge to see it lit up but we were too early, so we sat right there where those little ladies are sitting and just waited for it to start. After about twenty minutes of sitting mom got cold so we went into a bar and grabbed a drink while we waited for the lights to turn on. We got a window seat so we could see when the lights came on, but we were also at a prime location for people watching. About half way through our drinks we noticed everyone had their umbrellas out, and that's when it clicked. Mom left her umbrella down where we were sitting!!! So we finished our drinks and headed down there only to find this old lady using mom's umbrella!!! Ironically enough, I assured her that people don't really steal here so it would be there. So here we are just standing behind these ladies and mom is telling me to go tell this lady that it's her umbrella! Well as we've covered before, I don't speak Korean so we just laughed and waited for an idea to come. Finally she laid it down and mom went up behind her and grabbed it! It was so funny! Maybe you had to be there, but those ladies were so surprised we took it from them. So funny!

In our hostel! Beautiful view! 

At the temple. 

Nicole and Hoa 

Beautiful colors of the temple! So pretty! 

Big 'ol gold Buddha. Such a happy looking fellow. 

View of the temple from up high!

We're not really that orange, I promise! I had my vivid colors setting turned on. lol

Those little pigs look so happy, which is exactly what Hoa and I will look like when we get back to America and finally get to shop at Target again! hahaha I think that's why we like each other so much, we have that deep Target bond! 

Ignore the older Korean couple to the left of me and mom throwing up gang signs! hahaha This one is kind of like a game... Where is Waldo  Jana and Kyla?!

So that's was basically mom's whole trip here! I am so glad she got to come, but I'm a little disappointed in myself that I didn't show her the more traditional parts of Korea. It's all so modern and industrialized these days, that that's the parts I frequent so after I showed her all of my favorite things in those places, we were out of time! 

I have three days of school this week, then I'm finished! It's unreal how quickly it has passed. I'm down to single digits tomorrow...the big number 9!!! I can't believe it at all! I'm so excited to be back to America. Korea is an awesome place and I've met some awesome people and made some really good friends, but I'll be excited to start back to school and get that over with! See you all soon! :) Thanks for reading my novel about mom's trip! 


2013년 7월 15일 월요일

Mom in Korea: Part II

Back by popular demand, the highly anticipated sequel to Mom in Korea: Part I. 

Monday July 1st:
I had to teach on Monday and Tuesday, so I invited mom to go with me because I knew my kids would love to meet her. They were so amazed that we looked alike and they all said, "Same, same!" or "Same face!" Let's back track a little though. Remember my old lady friends that are outside and talk to me sometimes? Well on the walk to school I was telling mom how sad I was that she wasn't going to get to meet them because they're only outside on Thursday and Fridays. Just about the time I point to where they normally sit, I see them sitting there!!! So we walk over to them and I use my limited Korean to say Oma, and point to my mom. They all just start talking like we know what they're saying (but I can assume they were saying we look just alike by the hand gestures and laughing they were doing), so that carried on for a second, then off we went. They laughed and clapped their hands and all talked at once, which is similar to how my students acted, except these little ladies were WAY more excited than my students. haha They're too funny! Mom brought candy for my students, so we did a little lesson on fruits and taste and then let them eat the candy. After school was over, we met some of the Oklahoma girls for dinner for our favorite Korean meal, dak kalbi! It's so good and probably going to be the food I miss the most when I go home. It was also mom's favorite! I also took her to our huge Walmart type store that day, Lotte Mart. This sounds like a lame activity but it's cool to see in person.

Korean Walmart...Lotte Mart
Mom was trying to give the little boy in the gray an English name. Yes, that says Batman and Superman and he still wasn't happy! This is why I've have him for 5.5 months and he still doesn't have an English name! They got a kick out of it though! 

Mom quizzing my 5th grade girls about my family members  My mom and her sisters look identical so that got tricky for the girls! haha
Tuesday July 2nd: 
Similar to the previous day, school and dinner with the girls, but this time we tried to take her to our favorite Chinese food place. After we made it all the way there, it was closed! We were so sad, but I had a good back up plan. I had intended on taking her to my favorite pizza place on Wednesday for spicy bulgogi pizza, so we just moved that to Tuesday since Chinese fell through. Well, silly me just assumed bulgogi pizza came spicy, so when I ordered bulgogi pizza, she just made us regular bulgogi instead of spicy. I was so sad again! That day was just a let down for food. Spicy bulgogi pizza is so good, and I ruined it for everyone!

Wednesday July 3rd:
I never teach on Wednesdays, so we hung out in Gunsan all day while the other girls had to work. I took mom to the oldest bakery in Korea, Lee Sung Dang Bakery! We had a delicious breakfast pastry there, then headed over to the old town center, Young Dong, for some browsing. I wanted to show mom all the funny English shirts that Korea makes. They're so ridiculous and random, and rarely make any sense at all. After our morning there, we had bapburgers for lunch! Bap is the Korean word for rice, so this is a rice burger. Sounds totally weird, but they're so good. You substitute the buns for rice, and the patty for a delicious filling of spicy chicken and sauce or bulgogi and there you have it! Bapburgers! I also took her to a park behind my house called Wolmyeong Park. I was so disappointed at the amount of change that took place from merely a month ago. The first time I visited Womlyeong Park was on my birthday, exactly one month and one day before! The lake was full of water, beautiful lily pads and lilies, beautiful, bright coy fish and there were flowers everywhere. When mom and I got there, the lake was SO low, there were no coy fish, most of the lilies were dead, and there were no more flowers. I was sad she didn't get to see how beautiful this park was a few short weeks before. After all of those things, we came home and showered and got ready for dinner with the girls again before going to our favorite Wednesday night hangout, TLC! This is our favorite bar because the bartenders are so nice and have become our friends over the last couple of months. I've been telling them about my mom coming basically since I found out, so our friend Billy said he would do a free fire shot for her, and our friend Don, the magician, said he was going to practice new tricks for her!! Such sweet boys! They followed through with all of those things and made my mom have a really good time at TLC. They're just so funny and had us laughing the whole time! I'm so glad mom got to meet some of the Korean friends I have made since being here!

Mom at the oldest bakery in Korea, right here in my own city! 

The lily pads and lilies that were so much prettier a month before this picture! :(

Mom's Korean Won on the ceiling of TLC! 

Mom, me and Laura at TLC!

My 2nd graders LOVED my mom! If Korea had class clowns, one of my cute little 2nd grade girls, Dana, would be the ultimate. Unfortunately for her, talents involving being loud and funny aren't looked upon highly here in Korea. She wants to be the center of attention at all times and isn't afraid of anything. She's definitely one of the ones I want to bring back to America with me, and in America she can be recognized for her class clown attributes and get her photo in the yearbook in High School.
Really, all the funny things that happened in class were had-to-be-there moments I think, so I'll just post a couple of pictures. And as I said before, mom has the majority of the school pictures on her cell phone, so when she uploads them I'll add them to this post!
One of the first things the kids asked was what my mom's name was and how to spell it, so one little girl runs to the board and wrote JANA, and you could just see little Dana's face light up! She ran over there and wrote her name right under it and was telling us that it's almost the same. She was SO excited! So then she would write Jana and then erase the J and replace it with a D, over and over. There were several that were very impressed by this little letter trick. They also started this little thing where they chanted "JANA, JANA, JANA" for a minute, so that was adorable. If you ever want to feel like a celebrity, come to a Korean classroom or lunch room and you'll get your 15 minutes of fame!

 This picture was actually taken the first Monday back after my mom left. Dana ran straight into class and wrote this on the board and said, "KYLA TEACHER!!!" So I looked, and what do you know...Jana and Dana! haha
Mom's biggest fan and sort of name twin, Dana! 

Mom's other group of biggest fans, Dana included! She's the little yellow sun dress one! 

Playing with alphabet stickers! Little cutie Jake! :) 

Cutie 2nd graders. Notice Dana in the front and center (of course) in the yellow Angry Birds outfit, so cute! 

5th grade girls! Such smart little girls!

That's all for now. Believe it or not, there is a part 3 coming shortly, so stay tuned! haha It has a lot more sight seeing pictures of Busan! T-minus 16 days until America!!!!!