Planet Moron Round 2

Remember this guy?

Well, it appears that I have been served up a second serving of him, and it tastes just as foul as I remember.  My school  A) doesn’t care about the English its students are learning and B) travels to planet Moron to retrieve specimens of idiot to throw into a classroom with me and see how well I can tolerate their just.standing.there.doing.nothing.  I AM NOT HAPPY. Especially when I had finally been graced with a young, lovely, SMART, new co-teacher who had a strong enough grasp of the English language and a spectacular eagerness to learn more. Hong-Eon was my new little dream boat and she was snatched away before I could even say “Thank you”.  Good thing I didn’t get a chance to.

A homeroom teacher in the 3rd grade had to go and get pregnant (the nerve!!!….totally jk) and the school decided that since Hong-Eon is young and new she could be moved easily, so that’s what they did.  The Vice Principal actually asked her if she knew anyone looking for a job and could fill in for a month and a half, regardless of their ability to speak English, just so they could finish out the semester, and a new English co-teacher would be hired at the new semester in September.  She and I were both severely annoyed by that.  The school ended up posting the job opening somewhere, and that’s where they got this guy.  Thankfully he’s only here for a month and a half, but still.

When I met him, my principal actually told me (thru Jin), to learn Korean so that I can help him out since his English is really poor.  Excuse me, but I am here to teach English to the students, not do my job AND his job for him.  During the upcoming year I’ll probably finally get my ass into gear and  take some Korean classes, but I’m definitely not going to say anything to the school, especially after they said this.  I was so irritated by that comment.  What nerve! Hire someone who is qualified for the job they are applying to work, not just to have a body fill a space.

I know I have come into this situation with preconceived notions about the whole arrangement, but so far it’s shaping up just as it did last year with Mr. Jang…  Me leading all of my 3rd and 6th grade classes with a man who literally stands in front of the classroom leaning against the white board not paying attention to the lesson or the kids in the class.  Not picking up on cues to their lack of understanding and need of translation.  Him not disciplining them at all, even while he’s standing directly in front of them and they have not responded to my scolding in English. And me jumping around like a monkey between touchscreen and handing out points because he doesn’t help out AT ALL, even after I’ve asked him to multiple times. Worthless!!!

I have also picked up on some of his mannerisms at lunch, and I just think he hates kids. He makes weird faces whenever they’re messing around and doing things kids do with each other, and it annoys me. Maybe that’s just one of my weird neuroses, but it does.

I’m trying to breathe and bare with the fact that I only have about a month-ish left with him.  I’m just crossing my heart and hope to die that my school pulls through and hires someone like Hong-Eon or Jin for the coming semester.  It makes a world of difference teaching with someone you have a rapport with, and someone who even if they can’t speak perfect English, they are willing and eager to learn from you and work together. 

PRETTY PLEASE WITH A CHERRY ON TOP!

Lucky Number 3?

Remember this post?  Well, scratch that.

Here’s a sentence I never envisioned myself uttering during those tear-fest drives to LAX on August 16, 2011 and January 25, 2013: “Year 3 in Korea is happening.”

Yep. I have renewed for one more year, and the 3 letters W-T-F are still swimming thru my brain.

I knew by going home in January I’d ramp up my anxiety a bit about the future.  I live a rather anxiety-free life, especially in Korea, except when money or big changes are happening, which I think is fairly normal.  However, when it kicks in, it kicks into full blown I’m-not-slowing-down-to-even-let-you-sleep mode.  The past 1.5 years in Korea have been completely void of this feeling, which is the most wonderful thing ever.  That is, until recently. Dun dun dun.

Up until 2, maybe 2.5 weeks ago, I was completely 110% set on the fact that I would be leaving Korea by September 2013 at the very latest.  I had started thinking I’d go to another country in Asia (maybe Hong Kong, Taiwan or China) for a new experience after traveling India and going home for a bit.  Then shit started getting more real.  There’s only 4 months of our current contract left, and I realized I’m almost 30 and need to have a more stable plan in order for that return home, and then the jumping off point after to go off without a hitch. I know myself, and if I were to go home with just the money I’d leave Korea with (which would be a pretty penny after 2 years!) I’d sit and stew at home about my next move, blow that cash in the process, and my anxiety would be left even worse.

So, in the long run, a year is only a year, and for my own sanity it’ll be easier for me to get my ducks in a row this year abroad than it would be to do the same thing at home in the crazy Schaeff abode. Not to mention, I’ll basically be doubling the money that I’m going to be leaving Korea with.  I never thought I’d be here for 3 years, and I thought I’d have my shit together, but turns out that even though this year has been awesome, I feel like I didn’t do anything remotely proactive to make that happen.  So big girl pants must be worn this year.  And I plan to write a lot in the process.

I know my mom is not happy about it, per our 10 minute phone call resulting in a swift click of End Call, and Sista wants me home for her and the pups.  But, after talking to some pretty unbiased close friends who have their heads tightly screwed on straight, my dad, and lots of introspective Seoul searching, accompanied by a very trusty dusty Pros/Cons list, I feel that I’ve made the adult, mature, responsible decision.  Even though my heart is running rampant and can’t flutter straight, my head is the only thing that feels remotely clear, so I’m ultimately happy with my decision, albeit the massive pit in my stomach.  Plus, that means more travel adventures para mi, and there ain’t NOTHIN wrong with that! 🙂

Oh, and I will also be looking into finding a new apartamento in a more central locale, because home girl can’t hang in the boonies of North Korea (not really) for one more year.  And word on the street is that a good handful of my loves will still be around, so that is easing me just a skotch.

So folks, you’ve got 16 more months to find a way to make me even more popular than I already have been in the visitor department. August 2014 will be my OFFICIAL OFFICIAL departure date from South Korea.  You’ve got my word 🙂

And one last OH! I’m going to look into flights home for August.  I know, twice in one year…CRAY! But, this is in order to make Mama Schaeff and Sista a little happier, and to ease my probably forthcoming anxiety if I were to come home in January.  I may try to come to NYC as well, so I will keep all you fine lovelies abreast 🙂

Healing The World Thru MJ & ESL

There have been a couple times in my life when I quite vividly remember Michael Jackson songs leaving a feeling with me that so permanently stuck.  I’ll start with the second story first because it isn’t as applicable to this post as the first is. 

This was during my junior year of college during Fiesta weekend.  I drank too much of a bucket at Sharkeez, however I wasn’t even drunk, but felt absolutely sick so I was sitting down moping in the corner while everyone was dancing and having a great time.  BUT, the second “Billie Jean” came on, a fire was lit under my ass and I lept up and to the dance floor I went for a good 4 minutes of hardcore dancing….ultimately retiring to my nauseafest in the corner once the song concluded.  If only for those 4 minutes, thanks to the great MJ, my night was quite complete.  Ever since then, I cannot sit down during “Billie Jean.” IT IS MY JAM.

Now on to the first story.  When I was in 5th grade, the music teacher would come around to our classroom and  teach us songs once a week.  This one week we happened to learn “Heal the World.”  I instantly FELL IN LOVE with the song and all I remember trying to do that whole period was steal the lyric sheet that the teacher handed out to us.  Then when goody-two-shoes-ol-me was too scared to steal it, I began frantically trying to write down all the lyrics.  When that got to be too much, I finally ended up stealing the sheet.  Phew!  I was determined to learn that song! Essentially, I thought the song was so beautiful and fell in love with the power behind the words at such a young age, and it is a memory of a song I will never ever forget. 

Well, this past chapter with my 5th graders, Jin and I were teaching about “What a wonderful……”  She had taught them the song “What a Wonderful World” and thought it would also be really great to teach them about the differences the world over.  The poverty, the obesity, the riches, the diseases, the fighting, the different ethnicities, the different religions and skin colors, all co-exiting together.  This is so important, especially since Korea is such a homogenous society and many will never have the chance to leave, or may never choose to leave.  It was also really special to me to have the chance to teach it to them with Jin since I had first learned the song when I was their age and it had such a lasting impact on me. After watching the video with Korean translation, one of my students ran up to me asking if she could please have a lyrics sheet.  I instantly gave her a hug and it brought me right back to when I was her age scrambling to keep those lyrics for my own.  Major heart swell.

The irony in all this is that while teaching these children about healing the world, and while I was making this video, our neighbors up above are all consumed with blowing the world up.  Anyways, below is a video of the song project that they did. Hope you enjoy 🙂

 

And just for fun, because I’ve had a week FILLED will Michael Jackson love, here’s another video of two of my little nerds singing, and completely GETTIN DOWN with their bad selves, to “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5. 

With the 6th Graders we were learning “I will….” so we learned this song as a dictation exercise.  I caught the little guy on the right totally gettin all soulful in his seat all the way in the back, so I jokingly asked him if he wanted to come to the stage up front and perform for the class, and he gladly accepted my invitation!  John, on the left, is my favorite, super nerdy, computer programmer boyfriend. I love him more than words can say. Enjoy the comedy.  This has definitely been one of my teaching English in Korea highlights 🙂

 

Nothin like a lil MJ to unite the freakin world.

WaWa & SchaeffSchaeff in KoKo

I just had my 9 month Korean anniversary last Thursday, May 17th. Holy shit! In the 9 months that I could have been with child, I have had 5 visitors, 4 of which hail from the Orient.  Damn I’m popular, especially amongst the Eastern folk. The last most amazing friend in the world to trek their ass across the world for me with a bag full of cheese and other American delicacies was my lil WAWA!!! Her 10 day visit definitely warrants a posting.

I was so freakin excited to see Wawa! I haven’t seen her since I think my birthday last year (I think), but of course we have kept up to speed on all the juicy gossip that’s gone on in our lives in between.  But, I was especially excited for 10 days of good old fashion girl talk, rehashing past relationships, current whatevers, what went wrong and adding further insight to the past, that we’ve since gained in our old age. Oh, and play tour guide of this country that is now my home away from home.  I was a little nervous to play tour guide because the pressure’s on, but it was probably the closest to relaxing yet jam-packed trip possible. Twas awesome.

Wawa and about 10 pounds of candy came to school with me 2 days of the week, so she helped teach and squeeze the cheeks of my 3rd and 4th graders with me and Jin.  My classroom is also on the 6th grade floor, and since she didn’t come to class on days I taught them or 5th graders, they could only get candy if they asked Wanda a question.  Most of them asked the same shit, “What’s your name?” “How old are you?” “Where are you from?” and just dug their dirty hands into the bag of candy, but then they had to actually ask her good questions.  Especially the smart ones. I made them. Some were actually good “Who’s your favorite Hollywood star?” and of course “Do you have a boyfriend? No? Why not?” Our favorite question EVER. Both days that she was here this is what it looked like just outside my classroom.  I had to play zookeeper to a bunch of candy crack babies  a couple times. That was fun.

Wawa is also no longer “solo.” I knew she’d come to Korea and find a boyfriend ASAP. This is her and her new boyfriend Julian. They even dress like a kouple.

Our absolute most favorite day of her trip was our “Day of Culture.”  That day we went shopping in Insadong where we got down to tradition and cried of laughter as we posed in Hanbok. We went to Gyeongbokgung Palace and got a taste of celebrity when some middle schoolers asked to have their picture taken with us, saw the King Sajong statue, ate some bomb tofu and pajeon (Korean seafood “pizza”), drank tea at a lovely little tea house, and went shopping for a fish and live octopus to eat at the Noryangjin fish market. I ate live octopus for my 2nd time. Jesus.

Here’s a video of us eating that octopus.

We also had some very ladylike evenings.  We caught a jazz show at  my favorite location in Seoul, Jazz Story, in Hyehwa, and had a night of vagina at Vato’s Tacos followed by some vagina pops at a Vagina Monologues show.

We went to Gangnam and did what you do in Gangnam. Take glamour shots and hang out with very sophisticated men.

We also hiked, or rather walked 50 million flights of stairs, up to Namsan Tower to lock up our love (next to mine and sista’s) to forever overlook the smoggy sky of Seoul, and found our first epic Geocache.

All in all, it was soooo much fun having my lil Wa here! I’m so happy she came and it’s always nice to have visitors because it gives me a chance to feel like a tourist once again 🙂 Here are a couple other highlights of her trip.

Our new Vietnamese family.

Eating fried potatoes with some new male suitors.

Eating a hot dog wrapped in a pancake.

Swapping manicure secrets.

Shopping with ajummas, her new favorite breed of people.

Schaeff Schaeff loves you WaWa! Now come back soon! Mwah!

Storytime Baby Voices!

I had my first go at story time with my 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders in afterschool class last week, and it went quite swimmingly.  The lessen consisted of reading them a story called “What is That?  Said the Cat,” playing a game of flip cup where they had to read one sentence from the story, flip the cup and then read another sentence (minus the beer of course). This game proved a wee bit harder with the little ones.  Mostly because they just couldn’t flip the darn cups with just the right amount of spring in their flip. Oh well. Last, they had to illustrate the story.  I recorded each of them reading their sentences and then put it all together in this video for my morning broadcast today. Tell me these baby voices trying to speak English aren’t the cutest things you’ve ever heard!

 

Hoonervous?

Friday was the first day of school and yesterday was the first official day of subject classes, and my first day teaching with my new co-teacher, who I will now call Hoon. He’s super nervous and I’m super nervous having to teach with him, mostly because he’s awkward and super nervous.  Did I already say that? But he’s nice, so I guess that’s something. My classes are good, and I’m finding myself putting my foot down more which I guess is a good thing since it’s the start of the year.  I’m leading these intro classes with him because he’s never done it before, so again, more pressure on me. But all went well so far.  Luckily I am a chatter box so I talk enough for the both of us. We teach 3rd and 6th together so it should be interesting.  It’s just frustrating when I have to tell him to translate something into Korean for them, especially the 3rd graders who are just beginning to learn the language.  He’ll learn.  I just keep telling myself, “think how you were 6 months ago and how Leni and Jin probably felt.”

I’m also a bit nervous because he is my head co-teacher now since Leni is no more 😦 Basically, he is my go-to for everything regarding life (apartment, school stuff, etc). I was originally told it would be Jin, which would make more sense, but nope, Hoon is.  Today he accidentally told me 2nd period was cancelled and we didn’t have Leni’s 6th graders.  He was wrong, and had to come running back to my class.  Eeeep.

Last night the school went out for bbq and soju (obv) to welcome the 4 new teachers at my school. Hoon and another guy, who’s name I’m unsure of, but he helps the special ed kids, have started sitting with us at lunch and dinner because Hoon needs to hardcore work on his English. Hoon gets drunk and then starts talking more to me, so I guess that is the secret. But I have noticed that a lot more teachers are starting to come up to me and talk the little English they may know. Especially when they get some of that liquid courage in them. I was really excited to get to catch up with Leni at dinner last night and made her sit next to me.  She sat down and after a few minutes looked over at Hoon at another table and was like “do you think I should switch with him?” I told her probably, but i don’t want her to.  So she stayed and we played catch up.  She was like “he’ll get drunk and then he’ll come over.  That is good.” lol. I love her. She also told Jin that her hair grew a lot over vacation.  She told me that according to Koreans, if your hair grows a lot very quickly it means you are thinking of sex before you go to bed, and very often. Once again, I LOVE HER.

The rest of the night was lovely.  We all abruptly left from dinner, as is the usual with Koreans.  I never know when we’re leaving until everyone stands up and puts their coats on. This part I thought was funny. We all start walking out and the principal starts putting his arm around Leni and then other random people telling them to come and walk to the bar we are supposedly going to. I didn’t feel like going because I wanted to go home and read the last book in the Hunger Games, Jin didn’t want to, another teacher Jiyeun didn’t want to and neither did Leni and a couple other girls. Instead, we all follow the men because they’re all too nice to say I just wanna go home. So we follow.  And then proceed to stand out in the rain under our umbrellas for like 10 minutes while the others are all inside and they decide what we should do.  I had no idea what they were saying so I’m just like doo-dee-doooo. Then I turn to Jin and ask her and she says “none of us want to go but don’t know if it’s nice.  So we are not decisive.” This is also why I think Asians get the bad-driver rep.  Slow and indecisive.

We ended up going in.  They also gave me the menu to pick what we should order at the bar for food.  I of course chose pizza. The pizza came, one had freakin honey on the side and the other was a saucy aight pizza. They all took pieces and put them in the bowls we were given and kinda picked at it. I of course had like 3 pieces.  Leave it to the fatass waygook. I also inhaled the bowl of rice ring things that they put on the table with your drinks.My vice principal also pointed out to the whole table of teachers that I am older than Hoon.  Everyone started giggling thinking they were probably trying to make a match out of us.  Awkward!

One last thing that brightened my day yesterday. Leni had her class write who their favorite teacher has been so far at Nowon Elementary.  She said many students wrote their last year homeroom teacher, but my little peach of a Jinho (on the left below) wrote that me and Jin are his favorite teachers. I knew I loved him for a reason 🙂

 

 

The End of The Beginning & The Beginning Of The End

Today is the first day of school, and I wore my new vintage blue plaid blazer because you’re supposed to look your best on the first day of school, right? I also wore my new Koreanized spectacles which my amazing-not-anymore-co-teacher told me look very expensive. I’m fancy.

Since it’s the first day of school and I never wrote about winter camp or the end of the school year, I’m just gonna kill 2 birds with one stone.

Winter Camp came and went, thank god.  2 weeks for 3rd & 4th graders, 1 week of 5th & 6th grade little shits. We did Hollywood Week and it went fine.  I think the highlight for me was teaching myself iMovie and making them these music videos which I showed on the final day…A Day at the Academy Awards.  I taught them a song, they illustrated, I threw these together.

Weeks 1 & 2 / 3rd &4th graders: Hot ‘N Cold by Katy Perry.  Taught them oppositessss.

Week 3 / 5th & 6th graders: Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus. Taught them about LA…and gerunds (-ing words).

Korea’s weird in that we had winter vacation end of December to beginning of February, then came back for a couple weeks, the 6th graders graduated (cue waterworks…and I did), and then we had  spring break for a couple weeks and now we’re back a grade older.

I’m a bit nervous to be honest. My amazing co-teacher Leni is now a 6th grade homeroom teacher, so we won’t be teaching together anymore 😦 Jin and I will still be teaching together, thank god, and I have a new co-teacher, Mr. Jang, who I taught English camp with. I’m nervous about that because his Englishee is pretty bad and he giggles whenever I say hello to him…uh oh

This is our last lunch as a 3some because Leni now eats lunch with her students in her classroom. Sad face.

Thought I’d post some of the photos from the 6th grade graduation, because I freakin love those kids. I think I’m the only one who loved their 6th graders. I actually cried at their graduation.  Who cries at a 6th grade graduation? A loser cries at a 6th grade graduation. If I’m like this watching kids I’ve known for 6 months graduate elementary school, I’m embarrassed for my own future children.

Billy on the right was my favorite 6th grade boy.  He is so f’ing smart. and Jessi, on the desk (who spells his name like a girl) is a little rascal. Here they were writing their pen pal letters to Kendra’s class in LA!

Heartbreakers

I’m impressed that they’re not covering their faces!

Money & his lil bro Rainbow ❤

Zidane. Oh how I love him. So smart and slightly cocky, but with a little heart of gold.

Billy & Ben

Sweet lil thang was crying!

The lil peach on the right is Sally.  My fave 6th grade girl 🙂

So yea, new school year has begun, the frigid cold has dissipated and spring is upon us.  Ciao ciao winter coat! I will leave you with another disgusting thing that I have tried.  This is that ugly ass fish I like to call the penis fish.  To be politically correct, it’s actually called gaebul, but penis fish is more suiting.  I tried it with Leni when the whole school went on an overnight trip to Gyewah about 3 hours out of Seoul. Wasn’t too bad, but won’t do it again.  As you can see, I’m also a wiz with chopsticks. When in Korea!