Friday, December 18, 2009

Well, that was fun.

2009 was a big year. It was my 25th year. Here are a few favorite moments from the year of ups, downs, and adventure.
























I wish he could have been here to see the end of it too.
Here's to health, happiness and joy in 2010.
currently listening to: Times They Are a Changin', Bob Dylan.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I've got a Nikon camera...

As I settle into a routine, it is easy to forget how amazing it is to be here. All those things that seemed so amazing the first time I saw them have become part of my daily norm. However, there are the little things that keep that element of surprise alive. Sometimes it is the little market we pass on our way to school, blasting American music (today was "Hey Ricki"), that reminds me to be present and appreciate the things around me.

Christmas break is coming soon and I can hardly wait. We're heading to Seoul and intend to get into as much stuff as we can in three days. I can't wait to put my camera to work and see something amazing. We plan to head to the DMZ and take the tour. That alone will make the trip, the rest is just frosting. Not only do I need the break from school and kids, I need to travel. The wanderlust is acting up once again.


Oragami cranes for my Christmas tree.

currently listening to: Kodachrome, Simon and Garfunkel

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You are here ->

Korea is an interesting place. The people place high importance on families and value moral choices. I read that it is because of a heavy Confucian influence that the Koreans are just good people. I haven't had a single moment that I felt scared or unsafe because of the people around me. People are helpful even though they don't speak the same language, they go out of their way to help you.

We had a moment last weekend where I was confused about which bus to take to Seomun market. Turns out we had been on the right bus, just the wrong direction. We rode all the way to the last stop. The bus driver started talking to us and obviously neither of us knew what the hell the other was saying. However, he did seem to catch something he understood, and he escorted us to the other bus that was waiting. They didn't make us pay, and the bus drivers exchanged some information about our situation. The second bus driver seemed to know exactly where we wanted to go, so we were relieved because we were very far from our apartments.

After a few stops on our new bus, the bus driver came to a stop and began saying something to us and motioning for us to get off. We knew it wasn't where we wanted to go, but he seemed very happy he could help us. So, we got off the bus in the middle of some neighborhood. We were able to catch a taxi to Seomun, and it wasn't too far. It could have been a disaster.

I was thankful for our kind bus drivers who so happily attempted to assist us silly-English-speaking-only girls, even if it didn't take us where we wanted.

currently listening to: Dixie Chicks

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My apartment

Here is the grand tour of my humble home.
(click the picture to watch it)


From Korea



Its cute.

currently listening to: Government Mule

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

keep it comin!

These are some pictures from a traditional Korean lunch we had with our coworkers. Our director took us all out after a school open house on a Saturday afternoon (which was incredibly generous and we are very lucky). They put so many plates on the table, it was almost funny after after a while. It seemed like the food was never going to end. While most of the food was really amazing, there were a few strange looking dishes that I was not open to experiencing that day.


So many dishes to do!


All of our awesome staff!


Maureen and Corinne


Me and our director, Michelle

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Koi and rice cakes

Being in Korea has brought so many amazing and different moments. There have been the moments where I think "I'm on the next plane out of here..." and there have been the moments that have been named the "We love South Korea" moments. In all of these, I have been slowly discovering what it means to be alive and dive into the unknown.

This video of of people feeding rice cakes to enormous Koi in a pond at Duryu Park here in Daegu. It was such a fun experience watching these kids and adults feeding the fish. It was so relaxing and we quickly became involved when a little girl and her dad offered us a rice cake to feed the fish. It was relaxing and amazing. It was a beautiful day and definately a "We love South Korea" moment.

video

currently listen to: SHINee, Ring Ding Dong (K pop!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

observations part 1

Here are a few observations I have made in my short time here so far-

1. Traffic is out of control and I would never dare to drive here.
2. Traffic laws apparently do not apply to those who drive scooters.
3. The kids here go to bed at 12:00AM and wake up around 7:00AM (I would have died at my desk by third grade).
4. The Koreans love cell phones. Not only is there a cell phone store on every block, I have seen children as young as seven with a cell phone.
5. The favorite method of selling things is using a loud speaker/megaphone of some type to make sure everyone knows what you are selling and that you are selling it.
6. Everything advertised on TV involves some type of song and dance and lots of sex appeal.
7. There is rarely soap in the restrooms and if there is, it is bar soap. However, there is hand sanitizer everywhere, so clearly that makes everything better.
8. It is not rude to stare at people who look different (for example, us).
9. If you see something at E Mart that you want, you better buy it because it won't be in the same place next time, or it may just be gone (popcorn!).
10. You just put your garbage out by a light pole in front of your building and garbage bags are apparently an expensive luxury.

Surely I will have a hundred more lists, but this is a decent start.

currently listening to: Lots of Fiona Apple.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Korean food coma

It's funny how quickly you can adjust to something new. While we have only been here about four weeks, I feel like a seasoned pro. However, there are still thousands of things to be seen and to do. My goal for the next few weeks is to explore all of what Daegu has to offer. There are amazing mountains with beautiful trails, temples, and views that overlook the entire city. There are parts of the city that have bike trails, a lake, and amazing restaurants (so we hear anyway). A weekend is not enough time to do hardly anything it seems. While we have been getting a late start most Saturdays, it is time to make our quick weekends count. I feel like getting on a bus and seeing where it takes us.

This weekend was mostly eaten up by an open house at our school. However, our director did treat us to a traditional Korean lunch afterwards. It was amazing and I have never seen so much food in my life. The entire table was covered with a hundred tiny dishes and each was filled with little tidbits of something different. From fried fish and blue crabs to tiny peppers and bean sprouts, there was so much to try. The bulgogi was hot and amazing, and we had perfect purple rice that was made into a soup in a hot stone pot. We sat on the floor with all of our coworkers and enjoyed an awesome meal and definitely had a little bonding time. It was a real treat and I look forward to more meals like that.

Everything is communal on a Korean table, so you don't have your own plate. It seems that in a country paralyzed by fear of the swine flu it wouldn't be that way, but it is. You just stick your chopsticks into each dish, grabbing a bite of everything. That takes some time to adjust to, but you get over it pretty quickly. It is a great way to eat, it encourages quite a bit of conversation. I love Korean food and it is so filling I typically fall into a "Korean food coma" afterwards. I have learned to appreciate a good food coma, it soothes the soul.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Miles away

So, living in Daegu has been surprisingly easy so far. Exploring our neighborhood was cake. And, with a little help from our fellow teachers, heading downtown on the bus was a skill we mastered after one trip. Corinne and I have taken to walking the streets and just taking crazy turns and walking down random streets, only to end up knowing exactly where we are still. We are careful to make note of landmarks and pay lots of attention to the direction we are headed. So with that approach, we have headed out face first into Daegu. Of course, I wouldn't recommend this much exploring for the directionally challenged, or in other Korean cities which may not be as easy to navigate. So I would use your best judgment if exploring Korea!

Waiting to get the internet in our apartments has felt like decades. Without the internet on my laptop, I feel completely disconnected from the world. I have no idea what is going on in the news or what the weather is like back home. While we have time at school to check Facebook on the little kids’ computers, it isn’t enough time to catch up on all the gossip and my favorite TV shows (which I am miserably behind on). In order to have the internet and a bank account here, you have to be a resident alien. That requires a medical exam. The medical exam was definitely an experience I won’t soon forget.

There are so many things that happen everyday that I want to tell everyone. From the littlest things like how cute all the little cars are that speed around, to huge things like the fact I ate a silkworm last night (probably won't do that again...) and the fact that we are planning a Christmas trip to Jeju Island. I am trying to settle into teaching, and it isn't easy by any means. Not that I ever thought for a minute that teaching was an easy job, it is just not the type of job I am used to. There is no immediate gratification, or any solid proof of the work you have done. So I feel like I am running uphill all day, screaming through a blue medical mask that makes me sound like the teachers from Charlie Brown. However, the kids are adorable, and I mean adorable.

They say the funniest things and put the most hilarious sentences together and draw adorable pictures of stuff. Today I asked the youngest kids if they liked ketchup; they said yes, but that they liked chocolate ketchup the best (referring to chocolate syrup but they assumed that ketchup was the consistency, not the name of the product). So those times are priceless.


Currently listening to: Where the Streets Have No Name, U2.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Not all who wander are lost

I am in Korea. I can't describe the feeling I had waking up that first morning. I looked around at my surroundings which were so different from everything I have ever known. It is hard to summarize our trip here so I'll do my best.

We flew to Seattle on one of the most turbulent flights I have ever been on. Once in Seattle, we had a six hour layover. We enjoyed our last moments on American soil before boarding the magnificent Korean Air 777. I can't explain how comfortable this flight was. The attendants were so efficent and nice. It was a 12 hour flight that felt like it went by in no time. We had our little tv screens with games, movies, music (you could make your own playlist!), and a map of where we were on the globe. We had good food, free wine (saving grace for the first few hours), and hot towels!

Our plane in Seattle


The moment we landed in Seoul (Incheon) I was in shock. That was a big moment. The airport was almost devoid of people so we quickly passed through immigration and the H1N1 checkpoint. We gathered our bags, threw them on a cart, and walked out into South Korea. We made some quick calls and emails to family and headed to buy bus tickets to Taegu. We bought them with ten minutes to get to the bus and call our school. Needless to say, we had to get on the bus without call the school first and Corinne had to call from the bus on her cell phone (not sure what that will run...). The five hour bus ride was a blur because I immediatley fell asleep.

So we made it to our apartments and we were promptly informed that we would be taken to the school at 9:30; mind you it was after midnight when we got in. No rest for us! The next day was a blur of giggling kids, instructions, lesson plans, and exhaustion. Our school is just a ten minute walk and we are already familar with it both during the day and at night. We can get to a few places, but this weekend is for exploring a few more blocks. We have picked up only a tiny bit of neccessary Korean and I hope to learn much more.

I will post many pictures and videos in the next few weeks!

annyonghi kyeseyo!
(Goodbye!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane

Next Tuesday, we will be on our way to Seoul. It has been down to the wire of course. Our visa process didn't go smoothly. After Corinne and I each submitted two videos and had a various number of issues with those videos, they have cleared and our visas are being mailed tomorrow. So, like everything else, we will get our passports back barely in time to fly out. Hopefully...

So this week, there is lots to do. Lots. We have to make sure we pack all the things we are going to need. I will have to make some choices because of the weight and size limits on our luggage. We can only have two checked bags that have to be 62" or less in total size (width+length+height)and 50 lbs or less. Our carry on bags have to be less than 45" and less than 25 lbs. Packing for four seasons is likely going to be the biggest challenge yet. Bringing things like sheets, towels, coats, boots, shoes, work outfits, casual stuff, outdoor clothing and a hundred other things is going to be daunting. So all week Corinne and I are going to check with each other and plan things out to make sure we remind each other of the things we might be forgetting.

On another note, we had a little going away party with our friends. So many people came out which was amazing to me. We had a hat theme and everybody looked adorable. It was tough to think that it was going to be the last time I would see some of those who came for a year. However, the well wishes and the excitement for our trip were reassuring to hear. It is never easy to take a blind leap into something new, but I hope that we inspire others to do the same thing. While I can think of a thousand reasons to stay here in Montana, around everything and everyone I know, I can think of one reason not to for now. I need something else. Something bigger in my life that I get to learn from, grow with, and experience. I want to have exciting stories of world travels that I can share with others.



Elizabeth and I at the hat party :)

So my next entry will likely be from Daegu, South Korea. Wow.


Currently listening to: Leaving on a Jet Plane; Peter, Paul and Mary.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

tick tock

I swear that yesterday was May and I was just beginning this process. I can't believe how quickly the time has passed, and how little time left there is. While it seemed like it was forever away, it is only a matter of days. This being said, we are still waiting on the Consulate in Seattle. I have sent them my video interview (which nobody will ever see except myself and the Consulate. It was embarassing). So we still have no exact departure date/time. This makes me a little nervous seeing as our friends and family really want to know!

With time going so quickly, it makes me wonder if time will pass this quickly once I leave. I assume that some days will fly, and others will drag. There will amazing days where I'm excited and ready for anything. There will also be days where I will probably just want to jump on the next plane out. Or I simply have no idea what to anticipate and the way I feel could be a total surprise. It is probably going to be the latter.

I am trying to enjoy my last weeks in Montana for a whole year. It is so bittersweet of course, which makes it hard to enjoy sometimes. There have been moments that I never wanted to end. The snow makes it that much harder because it is so beautiful and makes everything look perfect. All I know for sure is that I have an amazing place to return to, and that makes me feel so much better.

Sacajawea Peak, Bridger, Montana.


Currently Listening to: George Winston, Goodbye Montana,Part 2

Friday, September 25, 2009

What if?

So, there are basically four-ish weeks left before our swift departure. As these weeks draw quickly to a close, I have begun to think. A lot. About everything and anything past, present, and especially future. While I have the next year planned out, everything beyond that is a mystery. The one constant thought is "What if...". What if I get scared? Sad? Homesick? What if I love it? What if I hate it?

What if I regret it?

That has to be the scariest question that I have. I constantly remind myself to regret nothing, but to appreciate each experience. Bad or good, every experience in my life has made me who I am. I have to have this experience not just to prove to myself I can do it, but also because it is going to fill a huge void in my spirit. I have been incessantly restless for longer than I care to remember. So as soon as I begin to think "What if I just stayed here and settled down?" I have to remember that without this life experience, I'll never be able to settle. I will always be longing for that missing piece.

On a different note, all our paperwork is with the Korean Consulate in Seattle. This is truly the last step in what seemed to be a never ending flow of paperwork, emails, phone calls and costs that have added up. Once we recieve our visas, we will have a departure date. We had our vaccinations done today, and my arm is quite sore, as is my wallet...but it is totally worth it of course!


Currently listening to: Gravity, Alison Krauss and Union Station

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Do you not IMPORT things here?

As I wind down my first experience as a manager with World Market, I have encountered many, many interesting situations. Some have been hilarious, some have been beyond awful, and all were a huge learning experience. There have been times that I wondered what human could possibly subject themselves to this job for a lifetime. However, the positive experiences have made all the disasters, failures, and confusion worth it.

People never fail to amaze me, even when I think I have heard everything, there is a new and more insane person who comes along. I have had people yell and swear in my face because we didn't have enough of the dining chairs they wanted. One lady had three carts of stuff and walked out on all of it because we had the wrong color of directors chairs in stock. Then there was the customer looking for some wacky German food and preceeded to say "Do you not import things here?". As if I personally send requests all over the world for this coveted merchandise.

There have been the nice people of course. These however seem to be far and few between. It is always difficult to remember a positive experience because it doesn't have the same effect on the brain as anger or stress. I am glad to have this experience on my resume, but I am glad to see it go. On to the next big learning experience!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lattes, typing, and roadtrips.

I have reached a point in the process of getting to Korea where I am moderately terrified. There has been so much hustle and bustle to get to the end. In all the noise, I didn't spend much time thinking about what the end would auctually feel like. Giving my notice at work is going to feel so final. All this time anticipating the moment, and now, tomorrow, it is here. My four weeks notice. I have a feeling it is going to be fairly shocking and may not go over well. However, I'm going to mentally prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Corinne and I have spent the last two nights trying to finalize all our paperwork to send to Korea. We have been typing cover letters, letters of resignation, and of course a little Facebooking along the way. We will mail our packets out in the morning via FedEx express mail. Among our lattes and incessant chatter about which sentence sounds better, I think we have successfully completed every step in this process. Now we just have to wait. The Korean consulate will hopefully issue our visas quickly and not require too much else. However, we have been prepared for whatever they may want from us (like really lame interview videos!).

Leading up to all this work, we of course took a four day mini roadtrip vacation which went as follows:
Bozeman (amazing. loved it. for so many reasons.). Missoula (Hooters). Helena (state capitol). Beautiful backroad back to Bozeman (see below). Bozeman again (briefly for dinner with siblings). Back to Billings (mildly disappointing).

In doing a little discovering of our home state, Corinne and I both came up with many ideas for the future during our various long drives. These of course ranged from fantasy weddings in Big Sky to having large amounts of property in the middle of the prarie, as well as reflecting on past experiences that have made us who we are today.

Needless to say, while I may be moderately terrified, I believe in myself. I believe in who I have become and who I want to be. Dear South Korea, It's on.



Wheat Montana fields (somewhere between Helena and Three Forks).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wide open spaces







I love my camera and I love Montana. Short post for now :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happenstance

Listening to an excessive amount of Rachel Yamagata has me thinking about happenstance and what it has done in my life. It is defined as follows-

Noun 1. Happenstance - an event that might have been arranged although it was really accidental.
-coincidence
-chance event, fortuity, accident, stroke - anything that happens suddenly or by chance without an apparent cause.

While my desire to see the world has always driven me to explore opportunities, I can hardly believe somedays how close I am to auctually doing it. It is easy to forget that in a few short weeks, I will be boarding a plane and not returning for a full year. I have always believed in accomplishing goals that I seriously set my mind on. While I have had many goals and ideas, few have flourished the way this Korea plan has. I feel the word "happenstance" fits my situation perfectly. Everything has fallen into place so perfectly, yet it has been completely random and a complete surprise most days.

My summer here has been an amazing blessing. While most days I'm stuck drudging through work, there are the few days I have had that make everything else worth it.

Currently listening to: Elephants...Teeth Sinking into Heart. Rachel Yamagata.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kimchi in Montana

We went to a Korean restaurant in Bozeman and ordered an assortment of fabulous things. However, I didn't love the kimchi fried rice that Corinne ordered. That worried me! What if I hate kimchi?! I thought I liked it. So maybe I just didn't like that kimchi...Either way Bozeman has the best little Korean BBQ in Montana (I assume it is the only one). While we specifically went to Bozeman to eat at I-Ho's, the day turned into something way cooler and involved floating the river on what was a beautiful Montana summer day.

I-Ho's in Bozeman

Thursday, July 30, 2009

12ish weeks

Time is flying and Corinne pointed out that we have "12ish weeks" left. Yikes!! I still feel like we have so much to do. While most of our paperwork stuff is done, we are still trying to finalize our E2 work visas. Now our focus has to shift to getting everything prepared. We have to gather all the things we are going to need and eliminate all the things we might want, but don't need. We can only check two bags and we can have a modest carry on. So preparing for a year with only two suit cases seems daunting, but I think it might be a great experience too. Simplify, simplify, simplify. That is a concept I have always wanted to live by, but it always slips away from me. I love having stuff, and usually lots of it.

So, in the time that I have left here this summer, I intend to spend as much time enjoying the Montana summers I have missed for so long. My amazing new camera will be my constant companion. Here are a few pictures of my sister I took last week. She is wearing Yellowbird shirts, my friends clothing line she will be selling on Etsy! It was a blast taking these photos for 5 hours in the heat, with horrible light, and constant attention from people passing by.




Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Digital darkroom






While I adore film and everything it entails...I have made the digital switch. Say hola! to my Nikon D5000. I am still in love with black and white processing (and I intend to hit it full force someday with my own darkroom), digital is going to make my life so much easier once we are in Korea! Plus this camera does HD movies with sound. It basically does everything but laundry. I broke it in this weekend at Corinne's house. I was able to get few awesome shots of our friend Joanna's son Kameron.




I still have so much to learn on this camera and I have barely been able to put it down. Here are some of my first shots.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Butterflies and popsicle sticks

Part of our process to get visas is to get criminal background checks. Corinne and I went to the courthouse where we approached a desk and the lady had no idea how to help us. After freaking out over how young we look, she finally went to her computer and came back with us papers certifying we had no felonies in Yellowstone county. Helpful. But not what we need. Also, she never asked for our ID's, she just had us write down our names and birthdays. We could have been anybody. So, that was fun.

Then we went to the police station where they gave us the appropriate information for a full background check (which has to be sent to the state) and we get to have fingerprinting done (at the county jail)! So we'll see how long that all takes but we just have to focus on getting it finished. Maybe we can go to the jail tomorrow...awesome.

After all of our legal stuff was through, we visited Starbucks for a little pick me up, and then headed back to the center Corinne works in. I decided to spend some time every week in her classroom volunteering my time. Not only will I have a blast hangin with the kids, it will help me get used to interacting with them again. Plus it always looks good on my resume.

So today we woke up from nap, ate Rice Krispie treats, had wild free time where I made the kids butterflies out of construction paper and Corinne stapled them to popsicle sticks, I had the little girls babysitting my baby (who was a monkey) named Pearl Antoinette (that will be my real baby's name someday), and then we rocked out to a Kidz Bop Jonas Brothers cover.

Could you ask for a cooler afternoon? I think not.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Processes of all sorts

I called the Korean Consulate in Seattle today. The menu was in Korean and for some reason I continued to stay on the line hoping for some English. Finally there was "For English, press 7". That was a relief. Until the lady who answered in Korean that is...but then she introduced herself in English. How exhausting answering the phone in both languages every time it rings!

We have to do a personal interview at the Consulate with a Consul. Since we are a fair distance away from them, they said we could send them DVDs of ourselves. Awkward. So, while a road trip to Seattle would be a blast, it would be expensive. So now we are directors of our own ten minute films. This should be interesting.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Relief and Confidence

Hello Hello!

Among a disastrous situation at my current job, I have found solace in the fact that it is temporary and that bigger and way better things are on the horizon!

We received a contract from the St. Louis school and upon initial review we were a little confused by it. After much discussion amongst ourselves, and with anybody else who was willing to read it, we came up with a list of questions. We sent the questions to the school as well as Dan at Teach ESL Korea (he has been our guide through this process). We had thirteen questions and we felt confident that our questions were fair and easy to understand. Shortly after, Dan emailed us and said that it was the most thorough set of questions he has seen and that we may "scare off the school"!! I was startled by the thought of that. So I immediately felt bad about asking so many questions, but then I realized that I needed them answered before I would dedicate myself to such an extreme lifestyle change.

So, after sulking over it for a bit, thinking we totally messed up, Barry sent an email. It was in response to our questions and I was terrified to open it, thinking it would say "sorry, we have offered the job to other applicants"....but this was not the case! Instead, it was a full response to each of our questions, answered better than I could have hoped for. No loose ends, no diluted statements, just straight answers. So, needless to say, I'm more than confident in this situation and I have posted the Q & A below. There are also some interesting links included for those who are interested.

Hi all,
Hopefully these answers will help Corinne and Alexandra! I havewritten the answers under the questions to hopefully keep things clear.

> 1. In your logo on the top left corner, why is international spelled without> an "a?"
A long time ago when the logo was designed, the second 'a' was missed,and now that everything has been set up using this logo, and there isa certain symmetry to the text, adding an extra letter will mess thisup!

> 2. When will we know our exact date of departure/arrival to Korea.
We will be able to arrange this after all the documents are processed.
During the interview process I told Alexandra that the school likesnew teachers to come over a few days before starting their first fullday. A provisional first full working date would be Monday November2nd. Ideally you would arrive in Korea on the previous Thursday,observe the school on the Friday, have the weekend to relax and startwork on Monday morning.Therefore, a provisional arrival date would be Thursday the 29th ofOctober. Your departure date depends on how long it will take you tofly from your closest international airport to Seoul.
If the visa process takes longer than normal, for whatever reason,these dates me be postponed. We won't be able to make a final decisionuntil all the documents have been processed.

> 3. How much will the resident tax be ( the income tax was mentioned)?
This is included in the income tax.

> 4. How close will the apartments be to the school?
As I said in the email with the apartment pictures, the school doesnot know what is going to happen regarding the acquisition of a newapartment at the end of October, so I don't know how far from theschool any new apartments will be. Currently, the apartments are a 15minute walk from the school and any new apartments will be the same or closer.

> 5. Do you know an average cost of utilities per month?
How long is a piece of string?!!!The cost of utilities is very dependent on the type of person you areand the season. In summer, the electricity bill is more because youwill probably use your AC unit. In winter, the gas bill is morebecause the under floor heating and water heater are gas powered. The more you use, the more expensive it is. However, they are probablymuch cheaper than what you would pay in The U.S.A.
A general consensus from other teachers is that an electricity billshould be about 10,000 won, while a gas bill should be about 35,000.You would also have a cell phone bill, dependent on how much you use it, and possibly internet, which could be 30,000 to 50,000 dependingon the service.

> 6. How much is our monthly premium for medical insurance, what does it> cover, and who is the provider?
The health insurance is a national scheme, and the best source ofinformation is the website
http://www.nhic.or.kr/eng/
The total health insurance contribution is 5.08% of your monthlysalary, we pay 2.54% and the school pays the 2.54%.

> 7. How much is the monthly pension contribution?
The pension contribution is 9% of your monthly salary, the school pays4.5%, we pay 4.5%,

> 8. If it is possible, we would like a copy of the "Code of Conduct for> Teachers."
Of course - it is attached!!

> 9. We were wondering if this is a copy of the translated Korean version of> the contract and will we be required to sign a Korean version upon arrival?
Nope, the English contract is the final and legally binding version.

> 10. Could we possibly get a list of the current textbooks being used to> teach English, so as to become familiar with the content beforehand.
There are a lot of different books being used in the school at themoment, and some books are only used periodically depending on thelevels of classes. The books listed below are for the most commonlyused books, and series that you would probably be using if you took the job.

LA: McGraw/Hill Treasures series, levels 1 to 3
Science: Scholastic Science, Macmillan/McGraw-Hill (New and oldseries) levels 1-3, Top Readers, Scott Foresmann Series 1-3
Conversation: Super Tots 1a-3b, Super Kids 1-4, Let's Go 1-6, Time forKids 1-4,
Reading: Boost Reading 1-3, Reading Juice 1-3, Bricks Reading 1-3.Chant and Read: Jack and Jill series 1-1 to 1-8
Writing: Writing Starter levels 1-2, My Writing Starter levels 1-2,Boost Writing levels 1-3. Sentences to Paragraphs levels 1-3, I CanWrite English levels 1-3
Math: Foresmann/Wesley Red and Green
Phonics: Modern Curriculum Press levels A and K. Happy House Phonics levels 1-4

> 11. How long has the school been open?
Michelle, the current boss took over from her sister in law a fewyears back. So, under its current management, about 4 years. Theschool started in January 2002.

> 12. Do you have any brochures or a website about the school we could look at> and share with our families?
Unfortunately the only brochure/website is the school's Korean website, http://www.stlouis.co.kr

> 13. Is there a way to contact the current native teacher?
There is no problem contacting any of the other native English speakers at the school.
If you are on facebook I can direct you to the pictures posted by teachers of field trips, birthday parties and school events.
Hopefully this gives you enough information. If you need anythingclarified or if you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

Best wishes,
Barry

Saturday, June 13, 2009

This is it.

A few significant things have happened in the last week. Last Tuesday I had a phone interview with Barry from the St. Louis school in Taegu, South Korea (It is sometimes spelled as Daegu). He called me at 9:20pm Tuesday my time, which was 1:20 pm Wednesday for him. He asked me several questions regarding my resume, experience with children, my views on discipline, how I handle stress and what my thoughts were on culture shock. While it was a very formal interview, I was still at home sitting on my bed, so it was kind of weird.

There were a few questions that I felt like I stumbled though, searching for the perfect words. The hardest one was "Do you think a teacher ever knows more about a child than the parent does?" This is a loaded question. I don't have any formal teaching experience, so I had no idea how to answer. My final response was some combination of "a teacher sees a child in a focused environment so they may know more about their strengths and weaknesses"...I figured I was done after that.

After the formal questions were over with, I asked Barry a few questions which he had plenty of answers to. It ended and he said he would be in touch, but I was feeling like they weren't going to be interested in me without any teaching experience. I went over some of the questions with Corinne and she reassured me that I probably did well, I was still doubtful. So we talked about the next steps, like if one of us was offered the job or if neither of us were. We had decided that we would be willing to work at different schools as long as we were in the same city.

Well, it turns out that all of our "worst-case-scenario" planning wasn't necessary. Today, we received emails offering the positions to us in Taegu with contracts attached. I could hardly believe it. So, the next step is to review the contract, ask questions, and see if there are any changes we would like to make. Hopefully, we can accept the contract by the end of the week. Once that is signed, the process really shifts gears and a whole slew of new paperwork and documentation will have to be worked through. So this is it. The first and also a sort of last step in my little plan to see the world and turn everything I know upside down. Hooray!!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Moving forward!

I attended my sister's high school graduation today, and it felt like my own had not been that long ago...Ok, it was seven years ago, but it does sit fresh in my mind. The excitement, confusion, anxiety, and the need to break free from everything I knew. So, reflecting on all those feelings I came to a conclusion. I think that the Alex walking across that stage seven years ago would be pretty pleased with Alex today. My plans to teach in Korea are in full swing. One of the few things I ever had my mind set on was to travel the world. Even during my senior year I obsessed over planning an impossible trip to Thailand. While that trip never came to be, it is something I never lost sight of and now I am confident in my decision to make it happen.

I have been informed that my application has been sent to a school in Daegu (Taegu), South Korea. I am expecting an email this week from Barry at the St. Louis Academy to set up a time for a phone interview. Corinne and I have had our passport pictures taken and I will submit the paperwork later this week after payday (the passport runs about $100). From there I have to gather several sets of sealed transcripts, criminal background checks, health records, and probably a hundred other things I haven't even thought about yet.

While preparation for the trip seems overwhelming, there are other things that add to any anxiety. Like North Korea for example. The recent breakdown in political communication seems to be the worst yet and it could lead to some serious situations. While the entire Korean peninsula has been in an official state of war since the 50's, there has been fairly effective dialogue that has maintained a state of peace. So, where am I going with all this info? The point is of course I'm slightly nervous, but I refuse to let it deter me from making what could be the most amazing decision of my life. I have decided to take each day in at a time and not to worry about what may happen. It is important to be prepared and I have already taken in much information from this helpful link -http://seoul.usembassy.gov/emergency_evacuation.html

And that's that.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

First blog ever

As my first offical blog, I must admit I'm nervous. Everybody will be reading what I write, mistakes and all. However, I expect it will get easier with time. So, to offically document my steps towards teaching in South Korea, I will attempt to keep this as up to date as possible!

Corinne and I have offically applied through www.teacheslkorea.com and have already been contacted by our teacher rep, Dan Henrickson. We spent almost two hours on the applications, trying to pick the perfect pictures, write the perfect little blurbs about ourselves, etc. While the process is still very long and we have much to do, it felt amazing to do that first step. After much discussion, we decided to put our arrival date in October. I initially wanted to leave right away but October feels perfect now. We'll enjoy the summer and spend lots of time with friends and family, many of whom still need some convincing that Korea is a good idea!

I am so excited and ready for this experience I can hardly stand it!