Saturday, February 27, 2010

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night...

I have no more classes left. (At Sherlock Academy, anyway.)

The last two days I spent pigging out on snacks with my kids to celebrate my imminent return to the States. I also was nicely surprised by my coworkers as well. Mmm, Paris Baguette cake!

Snack party:

Lily (above) has kind of a 'tude but she's so adorable that it never really bothers me. If I sing or talk to myself in class (it happens), she will mimic what I say like a parrot. She's funny and smart as a whip.

These are among the oldest of my students, Nicole and Isabel. Also really adorable.

Kate is definitely not a student.

My last class of the day I always assumed hated me (or at least that one girl in particular did and that everyone else was neutral), but they all pooled their money to buy a box of brownies and build an impromptu "cake," complete with candles. Holy crap!

After getting good and tweaked out on sugar, Team Sherlock and some friends from the 'bu went out for my favorite dinner: cheesy dak galbi.

Will I be able to eat this in the states? No, probably not. I don't think Kim's Kitchen has the proper setup for cheesy dak galbi, even if I'll be able to get my jjigae and kimchi fix. I'll have to go to Koreatown in Philadelphia for old school, sit-on-the-floor-and-cook-it-at-your-table style dining. On the plus side, I am returning to the land of pierogies and penne vodka.

Now, for a moment of reflection:

For a while, I was a bit miserable here in Korea. Not to say it was Korea per se that made me miserable—that would be a lie. I took to Korea and Korean culture fairly easily, and never felt so totally alienated or homesick that I wanted to go home. But I had very frustrating classes and, to be quite blunt, I had no idea what to do with them or how to run them. For a while, I was looking into adult hagwons down in Seoul, figuring that the physical toll of working a split shift would be worth it if I got to stay away from kids.

Some things you only learn by doing. Classroom management is one of them. When my second round of classes started in December (the classes changed in the middle of the month), I had a chance to apply all that I had learned from my previous failures and do it right. Maybe I just had better students. Whatever the case, I looked back on some private blog entires six weeks into teaching in the spring, and compared them with six weeks into teaching in January, after the new semester. Across the board, I was far more comfortable and stress-free in January than I was in the spring, so I guess I got at least a little bit better. No longer did I dread coming to work, and things quickly returned to their initial state of relatively blissful "this is hardly like work" atmosphere. Just in time to go home. D'oh!

This is all to say that I'm 90% certain that I will return to Korea in 2011, so this blog isn't officially retired quite yet. I'm still going home after this contract is finished, no worries (as if you were worried!). I'm going to take the time to get CELTA/CELTYL certified, which will not only mean an increase in salary in Korea for me, but an easier time getting a TEFL position anywhere in the world. I could go anywhere in the world, of course, but I'd still like to come back to Korea after I finish that; there's much in Korea I didn't get to see (Jeju, Dokdo, Busan) or do (temple stay, MudFest, the rock festival) or eat (live octopus, silkworm larvae) and I'd like to get one more chance at it. Even though many of my fellow weigukin friends will have traipsed back home by that point, some others will hopefully be around, and my Korean friends won't be going anywhere any time soon.

That's still a year away, though. So until then:

Goodbye, Korea. :C

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