Resolutions 2015 Update: August Edition

It’s August 4th. The year is more than halfway completed. I have 5 months to make these resolutions happen. I am so pleased to update this post. There have been some seriously good improvements, and some others that still need improvement. But hey.. ce la vie right?

1. I want to lose weight.

Resolution: Lose 15lbs.

May UPDATE- – – I think I have lost some weight. The heaviest I was at was 75kg (about 165lbs). My average is about 73 kg (about 160lbs). The last time I weighed myself I was at 70.6kg (about 155lbs). When I wrote this, I was thinking of how much to lose, not really a goal weight. I’m changing it to goal weight now. I want to be no more than 140lbs (About 63.5 kg). I have a ways to go, but I will not allow myself to get back up to 165 again. The last time I weighed myself was on my birthday – – I will go find a scale today and see again.
AUGUST UPDATE – – – I HAVE DEFINITELY LOST WEIGHT!! I recently weighed in at 66.7kg (147lbs). I don’t know how I did it. I kind of want to give credit to Mirena, but I also now live on a hill and maybe that has helped a bit?

2. Get laid.
Resolution: get laid at least 20 times – it counts even if it’s with the same person. No need being a slut about it. I’m 28, not 22.
May UPDATE – – – Yes. This is a much better year than last year. Numbers aren’t needed.
AUGUST UPDATE – – – 😉 😉 :* :* I should say mission accomplished, but far from over!

3. Travel
Resolution: Visit 2 new countries again! I would still like to visit Taiwan this year, my goal is Malaysia.
May UPDATE – – – 1 down, 1 to go!! Malaysia was visited in February. I am going to Japan again this weekend with my mother, but it’s still early enough to visit another country!!
AUGUST UPDATE – – – I have visited Malaysia, Japan, and Jeju (and island in Korea). Still have another country to try and visit!

4. VISIT GARY in KL!! (gary – this WILL happen)
May UPDATE – – it did happen! GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!
AUGUST UPDATE – – – Gary is coming to Seoul! for like.. a day ish. But still!!

5. Save 10K – something that is not as easy to do in the US. It’s pretty simple for people working in Korea. When my flight and housing are paid for, I get a pension, and hopefully make a few $ on the side by selling food and what not… this should be easy.
May UPDATE — it’s not as easy. I had two medical procedures this year already that has cost me nearly $1,000 USD. I also missed a market (which makes me a few hundred extra) and haven’t done any massages. My side business is seriously lacking. Hopefully I can start massages again soon though and make that dough!! On the bright side, I found out I have 3kUSD already saved thanks to that pension plan!!
AUGUST UPDATE – – – Failing. After the whole medical procedures thing, I was let go from my job and have new employment. (Details about that in another post coming soon.) So ..yea… not really doing well on the savings resolution. I have been doing massages and voiceovers again, but they haven’t quite added up to a savings bundle. However, it seems that I am at least doing the other stuff right!

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

This is a scary thought:

 

For the first time since high school (ten years!) I will be staying at a job for longer than a year. The last job that I stayed at (that was actual 30+hours/week) for longer than a year was … working at a country club? I think. I may not have even actually been there for a full year, come to think of it. It’s not that I don’t like commitment, it’s just that I like to move to new places. I spent a year working in Orlando in my senior year of high school. Lived in Tallahassee for a year and worked at two different places during that time. Moved to Gainesville for a year for massage school and worked at another country club. After that I was in Orlando for about a year (working at a couple of different restaurants in the Disney area) before moving to Hawai’i. I worked at another restaurant for close to a year before transferring to their sister restaurant. When I came back from traveling I started working for a massage place. Within a year from that I moved back to Florida. I worked for a chiropractor for a few hellish months, worked for an off-property massage company, switched to on-property company. Soon, I quit that shit and moved to Tampa to work for a casino. After about 9 months there I moved to Thailand for a year. Then back to Florida for a few months, then out to Korea. And here I am.. signing another year with the same school!! 

Thanks to my friend Ben (whom I’ve known since kindergarten) I came to work for Wharton. The staff has been very friendly, the foreigner teachers have been pretty good, and the students are fairly smart. This new contract though came with a lot of changes. And I hope I don’t regret my decision to stay. I started by teaching 4th graders through middle school. After 6 months I was promoted to Head Teacher for Foreign staff (aka – she does what we ask in a super timely manner) and moved to the advanced floor teaching 7 classes: 2 5th grades, 2 6th grades, and 3 middle school classes. They were advanced. Seriously. We were discussing stuff like “What’s more detrimental: an oilspill or the declining population of honeybees?” WHAT?! Amazing – super great classes. They wrote creative stories on what would happen if they were the last people on Earth. They wrote mystery stories. They wrote intellectual-ish essays on the Syrian war and Korean education. 

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 The new semester started 4 days ago. I was switched….downgraded…punished? I now teach 2nd grade – 6th grade. Not advanced.  Before, we could post our homework during the class or toward the end. Now, we have to post our homework before class starts. ((how the heck do I know what they should have for homework already!?)) Before, I could ask the students to prepare a debate on whether elementary school students should have cell phones. Now, I ask “What is this? It’s a pencil.” Before, I was improving grammar. Now, I’m teaching it. With books that have so many errors in it. (ie: I have ever been to Jeju many times. – – oO)    Before, I got to school at 3pm to start class at 4:10. Now, I get to school at 1:30 and hope to be ready by 2:30pm. Before, I had 3-4 ‘prep’ periods lasting 40 minutes each. Now I teach from 2:30-7:38p with about allegedly 10 minutes break every other class. But the students come in and want to copy their homework down and want me to check their homework. ON THE BREAK!?  My ‘long’ break has been reduced to about 35 minutes. I don’t even have time to pee. 

Yes, I’m whining and complaining about getting paid well enough to save with an apartment that’s paid for in a country that has a lower cost of living than back home while teachers back in the US pay for their own supplies and bring their work home and grade essays during dinner. But I’m not a US teacher. I never will be and I never want to be. 

Yup. I’m done complaining. I’ve been stressed about this change. Mentally and emotionally. This vacation to Boracay is welcome. 😉

They like me! They ACTUALLY Like me!

I can’t believe how different it is teaching at Wharton now than it was when I first started. In the beginning I was questioning myself as a teacher: Was I too strict? Did I give unfair homework? Should I allow the students youtube time?
I was a nervous wreck. Students were quitting my class and complaining that I was too strict. But then, they started to come around. They did their homework, they tried harder to speak in English, and students were saying Hi to me outside of the classroom. When the semester was ending, my manager informed me that the majority of my students were requesting to have me teach them again.

A few of them got their wish, but with my promotion, I was brought upstairs to the Scholars (slightly more advanced) program. I saw some old faces (some of my favorites) and many new faces. Some had heard of me and some were unfortunate enough to have NEVER heard of me.

I have been revamping the Guru (library) program and helping the school director develop a new literature class. In Korea, middle school students may miss up to a month of class due to exams (similar to SATs… it helps them get into HIGH SCHOOL!? whoa). This past week, two of my students (favorites, ahem ahem) came in. I jokingly said ‘Oh I missed you boys!’ and they responded ‘We are so happy to be back, Teacher!’ ‘Yea! We missed you too! There’s much to talk about!’ I was shocked. ‘Really?’ I asked. ‘You actually missed me?’ They nodded and responded ‘Of course!’  — Wow. I was floored. So we sat and caught up a bit on the few weeks they missed. And since only two (of 5) showed up, we started to plan our monthly essay topic. This particular class offers incredible insight to controversial topics (see Alex’s essay). After a few minutes of topic ideas, we decided to write about a major event that occurred recently in Korea: the sinking of the Sewol ship. If you’re unsure of this news story, please consider moving out from your rock… google it – it’s a seriously horrible tragedy. —Topic: Following the tragic sinking of the Sewol ship, many Korean festivals and activities were cancelled out of respect for those who lost their lives. Do you think, two weeks later, plans should still be cancelled or postponed (out of respect)? Support your opinion with reasons, details, and examples. ***Example, a Korean government worker was asked to cancel his family vacation two days before his departure (and two weeks after the sinking) to show the people of Korea that the government is paying respect to those lost*** — This is a serious topic and I only trust this class to handle the seriousness of it. I’m excited to read what they have to say.

Anyway – this week, my manager informed me that I would be taking over another middle school Scholars class. When I asked why, she replied that several students wanted to transfer into my class but couldn’t due to scheduling. Therefore, I get the entire class. Students are actually ASKING to be in my class? This is still flooring me.

And to boot – tomorrow is Teacher’s Day and one of my students just walked in and handed me a gift. 😀 I suspect this year ‘Teacher’s Day’ in Korea will be nothing like Wai Kru day (Teacher Respect day) in Thailand – where the students crawl on their hands and knees to present me with flowers.

I guess they like me here.

The Battle Of Teaching Hill

Some say it began in the spring of 2012. Others say it wasn’t until late fall of 2013. In my opinion, The Battle of Teaching Hill began in May 2012. It was a year of struggling through the local children of Surat Thani, Thailand. Like any battle, there were bad days and worse days. It wasn’t always peaches and cream… oh wait, there were no peaches or cream in Thailand. But the battle wasn’t always Teacher vs Student. It was often just Teacher vs Teacher. The students are kids. They want to have fun, they want to play, and they definitely don’t want to learn English. They want hugs and smiles. But I’m not that kind of person. I don’t give in to their germs and tears. I may have been affectionate once, but since I started teaching (and probably long before that) I lost it.

Fast forward to 2015. I’m on year 3 of teaching (year 1 – Thailand, year 2 – Korea, year 2 – Korea). . and I have still very little affection for these kids. I have so little patience. I thought that by becoming a teacher, I would learn the valuable skill and art of patience. But alas, I have not. My patience excels in some areas, but when it comes to children learning English – – for some reason, it flees.

The Battle of Teaching Hill is an internal struggle. Unfortunately for the students, it occasionally ends up involving them. I know better. I truly do. I know I need to smile more and laugh. I know I need to breathe and just continue the lesson. But I lose it sometimes. Yesterday I got so mad at a student who didn’t do his homework because he had 15 minutes before and during class to do it and he just sat there. And it was easy homework. REALLY REALLY easy. Literally – it was a maze. I threw my red pen down and kicked it until it came apart. Obviously there are some anger issues. Perhaps I was just really tired from a week of cooking non-stop. Maybe it’s also my built up frustration of this student behaving like this several times a month.

Whatever it is, it’s not meant to be in a classroom. I need to get over it. But I’m not doing a great job of that. Am I good teacher? I don’t know. The students learn a lot from me because I don’t sit here playing Bingo every day.. but does it matter? Will it make a difference? I don’t know. I don’t think so. This is my last year teaching kids. If I decide to teach again, it will have to be adults and I will need to leave Asia. This is my Declaration of InterPatience.

I have 7 more months of fighting this Battle. Let’s hope I don’t wave the white flag or get shot.

A Tender Age to Consider

Last year I taught primary level students in Thailand. I had an hour of kids 4-6yo; a few hours of 7-9 yo; and the occasional 10-12 yo.

 

This year the age (and the bar) has been raised. My youngest students are 10-11 and the oldest are 15 going on 30. The younger students are dreams. They do their work, they are excited to be there, they laugh at all the cheesy jokes I make… ❤ them.

 

But the older students can be a bit… what’s a good word for it? SHITHEADY. Some of them are quiet and do their thing. They do the homework, never participate in class, but write nice essays. Others don’t do their homework, talk sporadically in class, and write bad-to-average essays. But with this age group I realized there’s more to these kids’ lives than their speaking or writing ability. They’re growing up in front of my eyes…..

I prefer my students to leave their bags on the floor so I know they’re not playing with their phones or cards or doing other homework or whatever. One day I noticed a kid (14-15 years old?) with his bag in his lap. For some reason, I didn’t bother asking him to remove it. I was regularly distracted by his bag on his lap though. And then something popped into my head.

This is a boy. He’s hitting puberty. He’s in a class with a bunch of girls. Oh snap. Noooo way. Was I really about to experience an adolescent having an awkward moment in class?!! I had to check without being gross. So I asked him to bring me his test paper. He stood up with the bag on his lap and his hand over his bag over his crotch.

Yup. There was nothing to see, I wasn’t looking for anything specific. I just needed to confirm that this was the likely scenario. How horrible of a teacher would I have been to ask him to put his bag on the floor or off his lap in general? How much more awkward could I make being a teenager be for this kid? I had a good pondering about it after school on my way home. This was something I didn’t have to deal with before. Hopefully I won’t have to deal with it ever. But I’m really glad that I stopped for once and considered the situation.

I hadn’t thought about it when I accepted the job to teach middle school students. I mean, who WOULD think about that, right?? Well, this is definitely a lesson. I’ll have to be a bit more observant without observing anything in regards to my older students. :/

Pre-departure

Rather than start an entirely new blog, I have decided to add my thoughts and experiences from South Korea onto WittyLMT.

The Pre-Departure:

In April/May ish, my friend Ben mentioned to me that if I was interested, I could take his teaching position in South Korea. He had been there for two years and was ready to see his family again. He sent me the necessary steps for receiving a visa and I followed it. I got my fingerprints taken and sent them off for an apostilled copy of my FBI background check. I got my degree notarized and apostilled also. The degree took about a week. The FBI check took a few months. I interviewed with Wharton Masters via phone in mid-June and was officially offered the position. They asked if I could be in Korea by August 26th and I said ‘Yes!’

And so the waiting game started. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting for my paperwork to come back. At mid-July all the paperwork returned. I sent it off to the school in South Korea. They sent it off with my signed copy of the contract to apply for a visa issuance number. ((You need the visa issuance number to apply for an E2 visa.)) Round 2 of waiting game. I checked my email every 30 minutes for about 2-3 weeks. In the second week of August I checked my email and saw the words “VISA ISSUANCE NUMBER!!” Holy macaroons. It’s starting… I sent off my application and paperwork to the Consulate of the Republic of South Korea in Atlanta, GA and started packing up my room. Ben told me that once the visa arrived, they would book my ticket and I would be showing up in Korea.

Another 4 days of constantly checking the tracking number of my visa. Then it was there. Arrival date expected. And before I knew it, the USPS delivery lady handed me the envelope. And within it: my visa issued passport. Amazing. Then I went into an even faster and more desperate packing mode. Packing my room so it wasn’t a mess for my mom. Packing my suitcases for seasons I have never experienced (winter? fall? i dont understand). My poor mother was on a cruise but knew that there was a possibility that I wouldn’t be there when she returned. I barely slept that night. But when I finally woke up, I saw the email with ‘Flight information’. It was Thursday morning and my flight wasn’t until Monday. MONDAY!? I wouldn’t get to Korea until Wednesday. Only 2 days of ‘prep’ and settling in before I start teaching? I was a littttttle bit disappointed. I sent the flight info to my family members. They rejoiced that I had a few extra days. I sulked a little.
Ruh-roh. I received an email from the company that booked the flight asking for the credit card and license to be uploaded with a signature. Hmm sounds sketchy. I notified Ben and he said ‘screw that! cancel that sh*t!’ So I did. And I told him he could always book a little bit earlier. So Ben and I sat on Skype for a few hours scouring over flights. We found a few for departure on Sat, arrival sunday night. But they wouldn’t book through for some reason. So we tried again for departure Friday and arrival Sat night. And it went through. WHat!?! It’s thursday late morning/afternoon and my new departure time was 8am from Orlando on Friday morning. Holy shit. This REALLY was happening. I notified the family and they all scattered around frantically trying to wrap their heads around this less than 24 hour notice of leaving. But I was ready. My younger brother and dad came up from Sarasota that night. I visited my uncle who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. My dad, brother, and I had sushi for dinner. But there was one little problem. I didn’t have the flight information yet. Yes, it was confirmed, but Ben hadn’t sent me the information. If my flight is at 8:00am… I need to be awake by 5:00am. So I waited for Ben to wake up. And waited. Around midnight, Ben sent me the email. I had my confirmation number and I checked in. My dad cried a bit, my younger brother smiled. My older brother barely realized I was leaving. I made sure I had what I needed and called my dog to sleep with me in the bed (oh was she excited). I slept.

I woke up. I snuggled with my dog and shed a tear because I was leaving my best friend. And she wasn’t as aware as she was last time. When we woke up, she barely knew what was happening. I gave her my hug and kiss. I gave my cat a hug and kiss (although he didn’t really care). I grabbed my bags and was in the car. My dad took the longest way to the airport possible. Even taking a toll road when he didn’t have the epass. I got to the airport around 6:30am. Said bye to my family. Security. Snacks. Plane. I’m on my way.

As I nodded off with the comfort of knowing I had everythi-. Shit. Shit. Shit. SHIT. I forgot a lot of shit!! I forgot my headphones! I forgot my cardigan. I forgot my international driving permit. I forgot my spices. I forgot my stock of 5hour energy drinks! I forgot my birth control!! ($400 worth!))  Smack my head. Landed in Dallas with an email from lil bro telling me what I forgot. Yea I know…. but guess who is getting a very early care package? I ate a pizza for breakfast. Half of it was buffalo chicken with bleu cheese, the other half tri-mushroom truffle with goat cheese. DAMN good. With a glass of wine. At 11am. Why not? I had a 15 hour flight ahead of me.

I got on the plane. With a row alll to my self! For about 4 minutes. Then a guy moved from the middle aisle to my row. Bastard. I slept a bit. I watched a few movies. I slept a bit more. I ate a bit. I farted a lot. (not the stinky kind.) I slept some more. I climbed over a passenger several times to walk around and use the toilet. Korean air.

And then I was in Seoul. I hit up the immigration line and watched the other lines going so fast. I counted 17 people going ahead of me. And there was only one person in front of me. It took 5 minutes for him to understand that the customs lady asked him to remove his glasses. Another 5 to find his visa information. Another 10 of the lady checking his stuff. It was torture. But I was in Korea. I had one more flight to catch. I made it to an express bus and sat next to an American guy headed to the other airport also. We had a few laughs and story exchanges. He showed me his family pictures. I showed him my Vine videos. We parted. I was on my last flight to Ulsan.

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