So on July 2nd, I sliced my hand open while slicing a bagel and had to get four stitches. I was supposed to get the stitches out today and well........that didn't happen. The doctor took one look at my hand and said "come back on Thursday." Dammit I must have really fucked up my hand real bad! To be honest it didn't look like it was completely healed. As long as this shit is healed up and the stitches be taken out by July 21st, I will cool as school. July 22nd, I'm going back to the States for my vacation, and yeah...enough said.
Also pissed of because due to me slicing my hand open...i can't exercise or do weights. My friends told me "just go on a run." Did that...got sweaty....dressing almost fell off...no good. Can't get that dressing wet which is what happened. I feel like a slob for not exercising since last Wednesday(I attempted to exercise from last Monday up until last Wednesday and two out of those three days yeah the dressing almost fell off). I feel like a fat shit for real. Sometimes I feel like I'm using this as an excuse not to exercise, but when I try to, what I mentioned previously happens!!!!!
So a lot of shit has gone down South Korea. Not for me...but for the country. I'm actually doing pretty good recently. Anyhow, time to spill what's going on in the land of kimchi if you don't know.
1. Ex-president Roh killed himself. He was accused of accepting 6 million dollars in bribes. He couldn't take the heat, so he decided to jump off a cliff and kill himself. Now given our western train of thought, this is considered a selfish act(and well that's what I believe). Hats off to Bernie Madoff who stole 60 BILLION dollars yet did not kill himself. But in the East, it's not like that. It's considered the last thing to do to clear your name. Despite the high number of suicides that has happened here which kind of numbs you and me knowing that bit of knowledge, I am no closer to accepting it. Roh's family still has to face the charges. Are they going to drop the charges against his family because of that? I think not. But instead of people blaming HIM for killing himself(you would think people would given well he is the reason for his death), people are blaming president Lee Myung Bak for his death. They said the prosecution was too tough on the ex-president. Roh's suicide might result in copy-cat suicides...either his own family members will off themselves or some members of the prosecution would off themselves since they feel "guilty" about his death. This was the case for the famous actress who killed herself. Other actors who was having it rough thought, "well if she can kill herself like that, well so can we!" It doesn't help that the South Korean media sensationalizes it. Even though suicide is more "accepted" here, doesn't mean it is a good thing. That ain't cool when suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in your country. This is a big wake up call for Korea to improve it's mental health services which is quite substandard. Also the recent death of one actress should be a wake-up call about how dirty Korea's entertainment industry is....far far more dirtier than in the states.
2. So some foreigners who have just came to Korea are being quarantined because apparently some teachers tested positive for the swine flu. I don't mind them taking the precautions for they are doing their job, but some schools telling their foreign teachers to stay away from foreigners.....how stupid. Another example of how xenophobia can make you look like a complete idiot. Actually the first case of swine flu came from a KOREAN who traveled to Mexico. Sometimes I feel like countries like Korea and Japan want these type of things to happen to justify why they shouldn't have foreigners in their countries. One day this will blow up in their face...mark my words. You can't continue to have such stupid behavior forever without it biting you in the ass. Japan will learn this eventually with their "let's pay Japanese-Brazilian factory workers to go back home but then ban them from Japan for life" policy.
3. And number 3.....North Korea....oh the wonderful People's Democratic Republic of Korea. People in the US and so on are concerned...but do people care in South Korea? Hmm...they could give a flying fuck. North Korea is like a woman on PMS...annoying and full of hot air. South Korea knows this and is not freaking out about the situation...but they are taking precautions. Good job, South Korea. North Korea can test nuclear missiles coming out of their ASS but they would NEVER attack South Korea unless directly attacked. They are doing this because A: Have you seen Kim Jong Il? He looks like a bag of bones...like a sick person that is going to kick the bucket in the next few years. B: They too are pissed about Roh's death given he was the most progressive president when it came with dealing with North Korea. He was the first president to cross the DMZ to go to North Korea AND his Sunshine policy was to be commended as well. So of course they are going to set off missiles and blow up shit out of anger over this. They are sad over his death too. And who do they blame for his death? Lee Myung Bak. C: They obviously haven't found a successor yet because his 9000 kids are well...not in North Korea. Because hell even HE secretly knows his country isn't all that...but he's a power hungry person so he's not going to show that. Asians are all about "face." That's why they like to fire nuclear weapons and missiles. His one son who they say is the successor is what....in Sweden or Germany living the life? Apparently there is some parent/child squabbling there. I wouldn't want to come back and take over a famine stricken country either. D: If they declare war and ACTUALLY invade South Korea...China would drop them like a bad habit. China is even getting sick of their bullshit. China is doing relatively well compared to other countries during this time of economic turmoil. They have good relations with the US, Japan, South Korea, and so on. Would they give up their relationship for a crackpot country who is still living in the 1950s? I think not.
And if they do decide to really go on the deep end and invade South Korea...that would just be a lose-lose situation. That would piss off Japan and they would feel the need to immediately re militarize(which there is already some talk of dropping article 9 due to North Korea's shenanigans). Hell, they already have the second biggest navy in the world so they are already ahead of that game. Japan+US forces+South Korean forces > North Korean forces. China wouldn't back up them up this time around. Russia...nope. AUTOMATIC FAIL.
So people in the US, do not worry about South Korea being wiped out by a famine stricken, full of hot air North Korea. It ain't gonna happen. Too much geopolitical bullshit that is NOT in North Korea's favor to have that happen anytime soon. They know that. If they were SURE they could do some major damage, they would have done something by now. They are not the brightest crayons in the box and their behavior is predictable. This does not mean to completely IGNORE North Korea because you must keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Attention whores will stop at nothing to get attention, so if we completely ignore them, they might just do some stupid shit.
Well that's my opinion and I'm not worried...I am worried about this shit air quality cutting years off of my life though. Anyways I'm going to bed. I have an open class(teachers from other schools in the city watch me put on an act) tomorrow and need to be all rested. A lot of teachers are coming to this...hopefully I will not crash and burn on site.
I am thinking of applying to PhD programs for 2010-2011. There's pros and cons to that and I have to figure out what to do:
1. The job market sucks....that'll give me something to do.
2. I could do some internships and build up some professional connections.
3. Higher degree.
1. Going back to the grind of reading books and pushing papers out of my ass.
2. Dealing with an academic elitist crowd.
3. Being overqualified with the possibility of being stuck in the academy.
Right now I'm 50/50, but I know two things for sure. I don't want to be sitting on my ass at my mom's house once I finish my second contract with my school which will be 2010. Also, I want a government job. Some days I feel like applying for Phd and other times I don't. Good thing I still have time to decide that. Maybe I will just sit my ass at home and find a job until something comes up...I've been busy with various crap since I can remember and need to chillax for a while.
While overall I am enjoying my stay in Korea...I have had a high occurrence of BS that has happened these two weeks. Let's just say I am sick of being treated like some type of pet or animal in this country just because of my magical ability to speak English and my foreignness. This ability can be exciting to some and scary to others. I can take things like what happened at the farewell lunch for the transferring teachers on Thursday. Two teachers told me to sit next to them and two other teachers got kind of anxious and said in Korean "Oh no! I don't know English!" The teacher who told me to sit by them along with the teacher next to her were quick to snap at them to say "Hey don't say that, she's learning Korean blah blah blah." Okay I can take that type of treatment as annoying as it can be. I've had people at stores argue who was going to help me because neither of them wanted too. Funny enough, they did not realize that I understood what they were doing. It's funny how people are not aware of their own actions. Same with people on the subway who will fight with their friends because their friends will tell them to sit down at the empty seat next to me but that particular person throws a fucking hissy fit and acts all cute and stupid(it's always the girls). But I digress.
But this is one type of behavior I cannot take. Being constantly harassed and stalked. Last week, on the way to the subway station, I ran into this guy who was slap happy that he found a native speaker of English. He taught at a cram school for elementary school kids. He was like "what's your number?" and I didn't want to give him my number so I said e-mail will do. But he said "why not your number?" He kept on harassing me(of course he's too stupid to realize this) and I finally gave him my number. AND he checked to see if it was right! Then he asked me where I live which I told him I lived next to some obscure place and he didn't know. Then he said "our class does instruction partially through teleconference with some speaker from the Philippines. Sometimes I don't understand what she says, so I will call you when that happens!!" Then he said that he would "pay for my dinner sometimes" and this and that. On top of that he whispered to me "I like black people. I have many black friends." I was thinking GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!! And then he tried to set me up with some friend of his who just happened to be black...he wanted me to have his number and I was like "no." First of all, did I say I was okay with him doing all that stuff? NO. But he didn't even think of that because of course I'm some type of English speaking pet! A rare species in the city of Siheung. So that was incident #1. Incident #2 regarded me and a friend being stalked by some guy who claimed he was from California but didn't sound like it at all. And he kept on changing the city he was from.
This behavior makes me sick.I hate hate hate this behavior for well it's no point in retelling the story, but my homestay family in Japan was like this too and living with them sucked. I know I am a native speaker of English/not Korean but for heavens sake, I am not an animal or some pet that needs to be taken care of. I understand that there's not a lot of foreigners in this area, but that does not merit this type of behavior. I might not be a Korean, but I am a human being too. Not all Koreans are like this, but the few who are just happen to be annoying the hell out of me recently!!!!!!!!!!! I try to be nice, but I might just have to turn on my "bitch switch" the next time it happens.
Just because I'm in Korea doesn't mean that I'm not going to be celebrating Thanksgiving. I went to Costco(yes, you read that right) and bought two rotisserie chickens. I'm bringing them over to a friend's Thanksgiving dinner on the far east side of Seoul. She lives quite far from me to be honest, but as long as I get on the subway by 10:30-11pm, I will be fine. I get out of school by 4 and I will have to go home to heat up/get the chickens. I will try to leave there at 5 and then hopefully be there around 6:30-7ish. I swear, half of my time in Korea has been spent on the train. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I leave home at 7:30am and don't get back until 10-11:30pm due to Korean classes. Then on Saturday I am gone half of the day because of some more Korean classes. It takes about an hour to get to Seoul on the train. Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday are the only days I am in my own town in the evenings. I don't even bother to cook anymore because it's not worth it. It sucks that I'm so far from everything, but all else is good. Also it only cost a buck or two bucks per subway ride, and that's not bad at all.
On the other hand...if it wasn't for those Korean classes, I would probably be bored out of my mind. It's not like my town is the most HAPPENING place...
So I have come up with a few nicknames for the kids in my Monday classes.
Firstname: "I Love Spelling!" Lastname: "Don't Give Up." He earned this nickname today when he repeatedly said "I Love Spelling" during one of my games and successfully spelled 80% of the words he tried out. I increased the point values for each right answer and he earned his last name by saying "Don't Give Up."
No nicknames yet
Nickname: "Guy Who Went to the Philippines." I think this is self-explanatory. A group of kids went on a 3 week homestay with our sister school in the Philippines. Hopefully I will be able to go on this trip next semester. One day the kids had to do a presentation before the first class and he had the funniest pictures out of the trip.
No nicknames yet
Class 2-5 is the worse class I have out of the week, but there are 3-5 kids who are redeemable.
Nickname: "Tony" Tony became Tony because the former Native English Teacher deemed it so.
A nickname for a second boy is in the works. He always comes up with good questions and deserves a nickname for such a thing(which 95% of the students do not even come up with questions).
More nicknames are to follow and also nicknames will be added on a need to know base. Today was really good despite being the Official Worse Day Of The Week(biggest class load/baddest and/or loudest classes). I was laughing my ass off all day...especially at "I Love Spelling." Even the kids in class 2-5 cracked me up. I played UNO with them for the last 5 minutes and he-who-needs-a-nickname refused to Draw 4 when Tony put down the card. Tony...a vicious player he is.
The last foreign teacher had a student who gave herself the nickname of "Britney Spears." I've met Britney Spears before too, but I don't remember which class she is in.
First off, before I go into my "crossroads" talk, I just want to say that the school I'm working for is good. I like the Korean co-teachers that I teach with...even the ones that don't show up! The principal and vice-principal and ESPECIALLY my boss are EXTREMELY good people. The kids are good too...out of class that is.
In class, many of them can be little shits. They either sleep or talk in my class. Last week I let it pass, but then this week I started to be more stern. I woke up the kids who slept and then kept on telling kids to be quiet. I even put two kids in time out. I got tired of yelling so I just kept the kids after class for 1-2 minutes. If they talk more, that's one extra minute. That was the only time in which they truly shut up...I swear it was never that quiet DURING class. And yes, I do work at a high school. So today, I got quite stressed out...I had this lesson in which the kids were to make their own classroom rules and well hell most of them didn't! So that lesson is going to be scrapped along with 2400 worksheets(I teach 500-800 kids a week...I meet 21 classes of around 40 kids in a week). So my boss checked up on me twice and we had some small talk. The first time he checked up on me he could see that I was stressed out and he told me that I need to just come up with the rules and be strict. He also said that many of these kids don't like learning English...the only reason they learn it is because it is required on the college entrance exams and that ends up pissing off/discouraging a lot of kids.
A few days ago, I talked to the last foreign teacher who was there and he said that you can do all the disciplinary stuff in the world and they still won't give a shit. I should just teach the people who want to be taught and screw the rest of them. He also said that a sleeping kid is better than a loud kid because they're not making noise. This problem of kids not behaving in the foreign teacher's class is nothing new in the world of teaching English abroad. Countless number of teachers have had the same issues. As one of my co-teachers said, the biggest problem is that these classes are not graded so the kids just think it's goof off time.
Soooooooo.........I am at a crossroads. I can:
A: Be a strict disciplinarian. Have rules and consequences and once a kid acts up punish them. This week I "firmed" up and made many of my classes stay after classtime and punishing them. Same with waking up kids who were sleeping and whatnot. The thing is I feel that they don't give a fuck. And that would mean essentially constantly punishing a class of 40 kids over and over again until they "get it." And I don't know if they will ever "get it." It was such a pain in the ass to keep on constantly getting these kids to do shit.
B: Just play it by ear and don't give a fuck if kids chatter in class at a manageable level. If the kids sleep...then hell just let them sleep. I could just teach the kids that want to be taught and the hell with the rest of them. Because usually the kids who want to be taught sit in front of the class anyway. Just let them get all the prizes and candy and don't give it to the others. That's what the last teacher did and he was there for two years. But I would feel kind of bad of doing this route. Not because only the good kids will get all the loot, but because I feel like I have failed. But yet I feel like I am already in a failed situation.
Well tomorrow 3 of the 4 teachers assigned to teach with me will show up. I have the first of many "geography" lessons lined up, so I will see how that goes. One of the kids did say that he wanted to learn more about American culture. So I will start from the general and go to the specific. And I'll have lots of games and crap too. No more "make your own rules" stuff.
Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day. Because it goes against physics that today was worse than yesterday. Yesterday is ALWAYS supposed to be the roughest day. On the these shitty days I will just remember the good kids. I remember a few days ago I needed to meet some of my fellow foreign English teachers at a particular place in town...I had no idea where to go, so I asked my students. Two of them personally showed me the way. We met one of my friends on the way and he was even impressed on how those students did that for me. Sometimes it's the small things that end up making a big impact on you.
If I was running for president...I would say something like this. Well the equivalent.