Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Recently in Seoul

I feel like I should write a blog tonight. Not about anything specific. I just felt like it was the right night for it. I have been putting off blogging for a few reasons. Mostly, I have been having a great few months and I weirdly don't want to share my happiness with the world. Might sound selfish, but this blog is completely public and sometimes you just want to keep those happy memories to yourself and those closest to you. I want to keep them treasured in my heart, rather than out on the open blogosphere for all to see and read. But, life has been interesting lately so I should probably share a bit...
Firstly, it's open class season. Sounds like "open season" and it almost feels like it too. At my school, we have an open class for each of our "SAP" classes (which is like the intensive classes). Teaching 3 of those (2, 4, and 5SAP), I have three open classes. They are spread out a bit, so things haven't been too terribly stressful. But, a marked increase from the norm. Since around my 6 month mark, I have hit my stride here at SLP. I have mastered the art of report cards, and feel on top of all my classes. So, adding open class preparations wasn't too difficult.

I had my first open class last week. It was my 5SAP class, the students are all in 5th/6th grade. They have been at SLP for around 7 years (since they were in kindergarten). The parents have been to oodles of open classes, so there is kind of an elevated pressure on those classes. It went okay, but probably not my best class with those kids. Open class is so hard. The idea is that the  parents can see what happens on a daily basis in class, but because there is so much pressure, we completely change what we do in a "normal" day to try to impress them. The kids are worried, teacher is worried, so it is just not that great. This was one of those cases. My 5SAP class is quite creative and expressive (if not the most grammatically accurate), but for open class, it was pretty mediocre. After it was over, Jackie patted my shoulder and said "Good job", though. My jaw about hit the floor, because I'm not sure I've ever heard those words, especially without a qualifier following it up immediately.

Tomorrow is going to be my second open class, 4SAP. This is my largest SAP class, but I've been with them the longest and feel the most comfortable with the students. They are awesome! That is the class that I feel most like a real teacher. However, Jackie always makes comments that the kids are behind and sound like a 2SAP class rather than where they should be. I think she is hypercritical, because I teach a 2SAP class and these kids rock compared to them. But, all their parents will attend (and I have 11, so 22 parents in my class = YIKES!) I've done my best with preparing and the kids seem ready, so I'm hoping for the best.

And really, I figure, I've only got 3 months left. They're not going to fire me. Even if I stink it up completely, my worst is still NOT BAD. So, I'm trying not to stress.

In other news, I bought a bicycle! Don't get too excited, though. It is an old, mostly rusty piece of you-know-what. BUT, it runs. I bought it from a friend-of-a-friend for 20,000W, and that's about all it was worth! Ha! Since it rained yesterday (I got it Monday night), I didn't ride it. But, today was sunny so I took it out to head to work. However, after getting about 1/3 of the way to work, I realized the tire was quite low. So, I locked it up with some other bikes and walked the rest of the way to school. I picked it up after work and I will try to patch the leak this weekend.

Continuing in chronological order, my dad will be here in less than 1 week! He arrives on Tuesday, July 9, which is only 6 days away! I can't believe it! I am getting so excited. I not seen him in 11 months. In the time that I have been gone, he has completed his doctoral work and is now Dr. Snyder, EdD. I am very proud! So, this is his little post-graduation vacation. We will go to the DMZ on Saturday, tour the War Memorial Museum (my favorite in Seoul), and do other traditional Korean things. Mostly, we will eat. I have grown to love Korean food (who would have thought 10 months ago!?), and he is quite an adventurous eater! I think he will be proud of me once he tries some of the things I like to eat now. :D

With my dad comes something else I am quite excited about (and no, it isn't the box of Velveeta Mac-n-Cheese he is bringing). I ordered a new camera from Sony a few weeks ago and my dad is going to deliver it to me. It is a NEX 5R with 2 lenses (18-55mm, and a 50mm f/1.8). I am SO EXCITED to get it in-hand and start learning how to shoot with it. It is a mirrorless camera, which is kind of like a middle step between a point-and-shoot and a DSLR.

Moving on, I have signed up for a 5K! It isn't anything hardcore, but I am excited because I have been looking for a race to do in Korea since I started running in April. This is the first one I've found. I guess there aren't a whole lot of runners in Korea! That's not surprising since on my run in the mornings I see on average about 2 other people running (about 80% of the people I see are old people chatting or meandering, 10% moms walking their strollers, 9% bikers and 1% runners). And my path is quite nice and seems popular. Anyway, it is the Color Me Rad race, and it's the first one they're doing in Asia! I am super excited! It is actually a super casual race (they don't even time you! at all! there's NO CLOCK!), but I am planning to time myself regardless. I have made improvements since starting again, and I want to hit this milestone and be proud of myself! Plus, they pelt you with "color bombs" so it should be interesting!

Further in time, I have planned my summer vacation! I will be heading to Jeju Island. It is a very famous island just south of the peninsula. It is officially Korean, but they have their own kind of dialect and some unique parts of their culture. I have decided to couchsurf to make my trip a little more unique and memorable. I booked my flights and while it is expensive for that particular flight (right in the middle of high season), it is still cheap compared to the other exotic destinations I could choose. My flight was around $150 for round trip (it is possible to go for about $60 round trip in the off season). But I will save money by couchsurfing and I don't plan to do anything that is costly. I mostly want to lay on the beach, see some waterfalls, take photos, maybe hike a little (the biggest mountain in S.Korea is on Jeju Island), and relax! I am getting pretty run down at work, and this vacation is MUCH NEEDED!

Finally, I have officially decided to stay at SLP one month longer than my contract initially specified. This is mainly to ensure I've got 365 working days registered with the government since I'm applying for public schools next year. So, that means I am in Korea until the end of September. And, I am buying my plane ticket next week. I will be going from Seoul --> Frankfurt, Germany, then 6 weeks later I will go Frankfurt --> NYC for about 4-5 days, then finally on to Houston right before Thanksgiving! I know it's a lot later than many of you expected me home, but it's an amazing opportunity to go spend some time traveling Europe so I must take advantage of it!

Anyway, I guess that's most of my news for tonight. It's not much, no photos, and nothing too exciting for you readers, but, alas, such is my life.   :)

Well, I guess I'll throw in one photo. This was taken mid-May by my coworker's visiting friend/photographer. He actually helped me pick out my new camera, and he just posted this photo. So, here's a little somethin'! :)
Credit: Joey Rumore.

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