Yup! Spring time in South Korea is a sign that festivals are coming! Last weekend a few of us went to Gwangali beach for the Fishermans festival. Busan is a town that started on the coast. Fishing is and was the lively hood of the town. Now that Busan is the second largest city in South Korea it is more of a port town, but still it celebrates it’s heritage and start. We arrived later in the day about 3ish. Most of the morning events were over and that was fine. We still watched live fish catching with hands (Don’t worry they were safe and gentle). We also watched the huge parade. That took an hour to watch, but well worth it to see all the costumes! We got some amazing chicken tenders and fries at HQ a nice expat bar and good place for American food. Finished the day off by watching some dance groups! They separated the groups by country/culture. So we saw American (Owl City when can we do this again), Indian, Peurto Rican, Island Nation (Wasn’t Hawaii but was similiar). We also saw a kids group to a korean song (SO CUTE), and then a traditional fan dance. We also watched a Taekwondo group do a ‘dance’ to their forms and that was neat.

 

There was kite flying, trying on traditional clothes and officer uniforms, food, drinks, and fun. There were shows for long net uses and and one on torch fishing. Being on the beach, theres always sand and dipping your feet and having fun. Over all a really good way to spend a number of hours on a Saturday.

Hey everyone! Sorry it’s been awhile since my last post. As the title is alluding to, I’ve been really sick. I’ve been to the doctor multiple times…I have to say the medical situation here is pretty fantastic. To see the doctor, get an antibiotic shot and get medications it usually takes about 30 minutes from entry to the office to leaving pharmacy. Oh, and it’s less than $10! Needless to say I’m much more comfortable about going to the doctor here in Korea. Anyway, apparently I caught one of the worst colds I’ve ever had. Been coughing stuff out, fatigue, massive throat pain, congestion, the works. Even got a nosebleed from the congestion yesterday. Anyway, it’s finally starting to lighten up and I feel more and more like myself each day.

That said, I’ve had friends still drag me out of my apartment while I’m not 100% because it’s Korea! I’m apparently not allowed to stay in my apartment all day and rest. So I’ll give you a bit of a run down on what I’ve done recently since I’ve been feeling good enough to go.

 

Busan Light festival. I went to Samwang Temple in Busan to see the lanterns. Wow guys. I only went for about 2 hours but it was beautiful.

We walked all around the temple and it was just beautiful. We took the bus back down and after a mistake of taking the wrong bus, got back near the subway. We ended up seeing the parade we thought we missed while on the bus! Talk about comfort lol. Anyway, it was a beautiful sight.

 

I went to the BISFF and managed to catch one of the screenings on a different day. Busan holds the international Film Festival as well as the Short Film Festival. held in Centum City (near Shinsegae, remember the spa?) it hosts a huge outdoors screen as well as plenty indoor ones. We ended up seeing the ‘Darker themes’ one expecting horror and getting…well not horror. It was interesting and again, a nice few hours. We did a small walk outside and got some killer dumplings as well.

 

Finally I spent a day in Daegu on one of my better days. Taking the train to Daegu is super easy and comfortable (But I did have flashes to Train to Busan, let me tell you! I made sure where the locks on the train doors were 😉 ). Once we got to Daegu we walked a little bit. Checked out Second Hand clothes and hand made shoes allies. We also went into the Modern History museum of Daegu. That was pretty neat but I’m a history nerd so I guess I was the only one that enjoyed it (Hey it was also air conditioned and free, what’s not to like?)

We went to Hillcrest following that and did the King Kong zipline courses. It hosts like 5 or 6 ziplines and a bunch of obstacles . Those that know me know I live for this, so it was no problem for me being 40+meters in the trees. My friends, not so much. I felt bad that they were frightened, but they got to see the shoe on the other foot when it came to the final challenge….jumping off a perfectly fine platform with just a rope to keep your fall straight. I hate free falls with a passion and the worker ended up pushing me off.

Anyway we left from there and went back to Daegu where we got some amazing Lamb for dinner and followed it with stuffed waffles for dessert. I also managed to find a Busan Giants Jersey that fits for $5! Score! Anyway, we took the train home (I napped) and crashed after that. Thanks to a bit of sunburn my cold resurged but I am doing much better today and hope to continue to do so. I still have some plans for the rest of the week and hope to update them.

 

Above is my 3rd graders practicing a script with characters from Pinnochio. A usual class, any grade, starts with wake up questions “How are you feeling? What is the date? How is the weather outside?” The students answer then go into review for what we’ve learned that chapter including key phrases and vocabulary. The students will usually drill or have a review game.

Following that is new material. We use the book for the most part on different things to do from stories to talking to writing. After the work with new material from the book there is usually one or two games. In the picture above the ‘game’ was getting to present their script to the class. The students really enjoy acting and have fun. My 5th graders this week got to play reading race, where they have to read sentences fast but accurately. They really enjoyed it and wanted to play against me! (I also found out I am very bad at Rock paper scissors these days!)

 

Ive been working on class for next week and the lesson is packed! Lots of talking practice and reading, and even speaking! We’ll be doing a diction game (one of my favorite games). Over all most of the classes are fun and the students try their best. Sometimes they get off track but thats ok! Theyre kids and honestly SHOULD get off track, especially in countries like Korea where they study so much. I really hope to make the classes as much fun as possible.

 

Anyway, just a quick run down of classes here =) Im hoping to get a video later this week of walking down the hallways!

So I’ve been in Korea, teaching for a month now. It’s been pretty great! Don’t get me wrong, theres up and downs of course with any major move. But I’ve had a lot of support both here and back home. I joke a tad, that I won the lottery here, and it’s very true honestly. I have a school I can walk to from my apartment. I have amazing co-teachers and faculty that I work with that make me feel welcome and assist me when I need it. I have friends and family back home that have supported me coming here and doing this. I have a nice apartment, I feel safe and the view is great.

Recently there’s been a few issues with the bank (all resolved, and the employee/junior that helps me has been fantastic) and bill issues (working on those. I was going to pay but apparently some were never paid and the school is making sure I don’t get charged for that. Thank you!) that are also getting fixed. I really can’t complain at all!

I get asked a lot, especially by students if I like the school. I really do! I love the students, I love the faculty, I enjoy it. Sure it’s a little cold, but that’s why we wear jackets. And come summer, I’ll be missing the cold. I get asked if I like Korea. I have had 0 problems were just asking for help or trying couldn’t fix it. Issue at the store? Ask and they help. Want to eat healthy? Well either find a place or learn to cook. Issues with a phone requiring Korean and a number? Ask! I am so grateful for the people here, and again especially my coteachers it’s crazy. Communication is a big thing here, especially while you try to settle in. Of course, it’s also about learning. I am doing my best to learn at least 1 korean word, letter, or phrase a day. I am working hard to learn how to do things (whether its trash, banking or other. ).

Things can be hard, especially when you aren’t used to them. As I’ve mentioned before and likely will again Banking and Trash is a lot different than back home. And in a lot of ways, more difficult. That doesn’t make them wrong! I’m not mad theyre that way. It just takes a bit of a curve. I’m lucky that I feel like I mostly have trash down and my online banking is all set up now.

So yes, the support is crazy helpful. I also have a handful of really awesome other EPIK teachers. J is back and that’s huge. She’s a major travel buddy. I need to hang out more with K (I feel bad that I haven’t. Anytime I get invited I’m busy or way lazy xD) And C as well though I’ve seen her recently.

Anyway, I’m currently teaching 3rd grade and 5th grade. Some of the 3rds have figured out where I live (uh oh! nah it’s fine). And all the kids really seem obsessed with Jeffery xD So cute! I also start my after school reading/book club on Friday with 17 second graders. Talk about cute!  Anyway. Ill upload the video and hope you all enjoy!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k70xBg8en-4

Jjimjilbang is a Korean Bath house, and at the top of the list for those is the most ‘outrageous’ one called Spa Land. It’s located right here in Busan South Korea and a measly 25 minute subway ride! of the 15+ people invited to go with our group, only 5 of us arrived at the meeting time, a 6th and 7th arriving and going to the bath house. So let’s start from the beginning and work our way through the day.

First, once you get into Shimsegae/Centium city mall you go to the first floor. There you head to the corner and will find Spa Land. It’s very much so tucked away as most bath houses are. Don’t let this fool you. Many families (children over 8) and couples, and singles too come to bath houses. You arrive and pay your entry fee (we went during the day on Sunday and paid 18000w. less than $18) for a 4 hour stay. You’ll take off your shoes and be given a number. Once you find a shoe locker, grab your key, insert your shoes and keep walking!

Rule of thumb, follow the Koreans! We did so and were given our bath house clothes (shirt and shorts that are very large but comfortable. They’re designed to keep in heat from the houses). Next youll take that key and go into your designated changing room. Be ready for Bare butts and more here! You’ll go in and locate your locker. Begin to place items in, take a deep breath, and do as the locals do. That is strip butt naked. It’s an awkward fee minutes as you watch to see where everyone is going and what to bring. Put your towels in a bucket and place it on a rack. Go inside and find a shower (sitting style on a stool other butts have been on or a standing shower). Get nice and clean! Seriously, its a no no to bring dirt into the baths. If you have long hair, use one of the towels to keep hair out of the water!

 

Choose your hot baths and soak for 30 minutes or so. C and I forgot to do that and signed up for our scrub first. Oops! Oh well. We signed up first and immediately were able to be seen. The Ajuumas (usually stern looking middle aged + woman with tight curly hair. Don’t make them mad but they can be quite lovely) wear black underwear and bras so you know they work there. You’ll lay on a washed down plastic wrapped table. And the fun begins! We got a facial mask( made from cucumber and seaweed) and the scrub began. It was…interesting. The mitts they wear do infact peel skin off. A lot of people say it hurts but it wasn’t that bad. It did take off layers though, so be prepared. She would tap the bed and tell me where to face. And she got up in there! They’ll go over you 2+ times and make sure they got all the top layers off. Once nice and clean and rinsed, go soak some more, especially the colder baths to close pores.  All done? Shower off again, grab your towel and head out!

Go back to the locker room. There you can change into your bath house clothes and begin to meet up in the co-ed meeting area. Theres massage chairs (3000W for 15 minutes or so), lounge cushie chairs, tvs and more. A snack bar is a great place for a pick me up. I recommend a vinegar drink! They’re apparently a pretty big spa ‘thing’ here (as well as smoked eggs but I don’t like eggs that much). I got the Pineapple Vinegar drink, C got Pomegranate. It tasted…interesting! The more you drank it the more you liked it but vinegar is something my stomach is not used to. We went into multiple rooms. My personal favorites were the pyramid room, w/ 45 degree walls that meet into a pyramid. Very warm and pleasant. The other was the Hammand room, based on Turkish bath houses. Again, very warm and the floor was heated. It was so nice another patron had fallen asleep and was snoring! We also did a dream wave room, a SEC room, charcoal room (also nice) 2 saunas of various temps, the out door footbaths (it was raining but very pleasant). The boys said the Ice room and Salt rooms smelled pretty badly so I forgo’d on those.

We ended up leaving a bit early. Since it was mid day on a weekend day it was rather busy and hard to find room in the saunas to stay in. I think an early morning or later evening would be a better choice. That said, it was a wonderful experience! Sure being white we had some stairs in our nakedness, but you got over it pretty quickly. And for the women, try the outside baths! It felt so good to have cold air and hot water.

 

This is something I wish everyone would try at least once, and really recommend it. My skin and back feel amazing after going and I would love to take family members!

No pictures this time! pretty frowned upon in the naked areas and the saunas aren’t a great place either. Just google spa land for you picture needs!

Unfortunately this weekend a friend I had made during orientation, an apartment mate in my building, is having to leave. I don’t know if it will be for good, or just temporary. But it brought a lot to me. After all, we spent over 6 months collecting documents, buying tickets, waiting…oh god the waiting. So much money…and we made it.

We got through the 15 hours of preorientation

We got through the 10 day orientation

We made it to Korea…over came the hurdles of living somewhere new. We’re comfortable shopping. We can go to restaurants and fake it enough to order. We can ride the subway and feel GOOD about it.

And now for her it might be over.

Her mother god sick. A rare condition has put her in critical condition, seeing a specialist for treatment. Her mother didn’t want her to know about it. Probably doesn’t want her to go home. And she is. Everything she planned for this year maybe gone.

 

And honestly…it could be any of us. Discussions with my own family made it very clear that in the event something happens they do not want me coming home. In the words of my mother “you coming home would likely be what killed me. I would be so sick if you gave up everything to come here. You stay there. You do what you need to “. And I don’t know if the situation had been mine if I could. I needed this position for my career….for getting out of financial debt (student loans). For my family to send money home. And honestly, to grow up. To spread my wings, be uncomfortable and figure stuff out. And EPIK has already started all of that. Granted, I’ve had it fairly easy compared to others that have come here. I have a fantastic apartment. I teach at 1 school that is very close to my apt. My co teachers are nice, good at speaking english, and have really taken care of me.

 

I am so grateful for how its been to me. And to think of it being taken away…makes me so sad. I skipped Holi Hai this weekend. She didn’t want me to. But I was raised to treat others like how I would want to be treated. I know shes got so much going through her head. I can’t imagine what she feels. And I’m so sad to have a friend, someone I was going to travel with…someone I shop with..someone I see almost every day that is going to be gone. I wanted to make sure she ate…that she could get what she needed done. Because I would need someone for me to do that.

 

And I just wish her the best. I’m going to really miss her. And I hope her mother is going to be okay, and honestly even more than that I hope shes going to be okay. To a better tomorrow.

One of my 6th grade classes signing people in my town. They really loved this song, and theyre such a good group of kids. I think theyre so cute. You can also see my class room, and see just a bit of my desk in the back. Anyway, the video doesn’t really do justice on how well they sing, but theyre pretty awesome!

 

 

So I’ve been a little behind on putting up some videos of life here in Korea. But I managed to get some done finally yay! So Here we go. First one is my apartment walkthrough. Sorry for the mess, but I hope you like it as much as I do.

 

 

Okay let’s talk about CELTA. Certificate in English Language Teaching Adults. I’m going to assume most of you know that CELTA is a form of TEFL/TESOL certification. Its a very intensive program, at least if you do the 4 week course.

I did this =b. Anyway, I applied to Phoenix to take my Celta, and it was cancelled! yay. So I got it transferred to take it in Playa del Carmen Mexico, about an hour south of Cancun. Holy crap was that the best thing for getting my CELTA.

“Now Sike, being on the beach surely you got tons of time to swim and drink!” No

“But you had to have gotten tan at least?” No

“but it was-” No.

Not to say I didn’t have fun or do things. But when you do CELTA your life is celta.

Early example of work needed

I got up at 6am every day. I stayed at the near by housing from International House. Very nice. A mix of hostel and hotel. I would walk to class, 10 minutes away. I would spend till 9am working on printing things (ALWAYS BRING YOUR OWN LAPTOP TO CELTA. There was only 3 computers. Usually only 1-2 worked. And 2 printers)  We would also go over our teaching plans with our instructors. After that, We had our teaching classes till noon. We taught the students. 2-3 teachers would teach a day. We had an hour lunch (IH also had an on site cook who made awesome food for very little). The afternoon was lectures till 5 or 6. I honestly don’t remember. We would also have our feedback sessions during this time.

After 6 we would have time to work on our 4 assignments and our teaching plans. I would eat dinner, sure, but usually worked on lesson plans till11pm/Midnight. The stress was intense alright.

In CELTA you can get 4 grades. Fail, Pass, Pass B, Pass A. At playa forget getting a Pass A. I think 2 people ever have gotten one, its extremely rare in general for CELTA to give one. Do not ever expect to get one, but always aim for one.

Pass B- You did better on more lessons that what was just required.
Pass – You may have had a few B’s, but you are at least a good teacher and will do well.
Fail- You dun fucked up. I word it this way because CELTA is expensive ($1,000-$3,500). To fail and not be allowed to retake and waste your money.

Yours truly scored a Pass. Now, thats not saying your average. Just getting a Pass is hardwork. Lots of people go “oh they want money so they pass anyone” No. No they dont. Theres applications, interviews, all kinds of stuff. Its hard work just to get in. Its worse doing it.

And the kicker? My group of teachers was the closest group they’ve ever seen come through. We busted butt and helped each other.

I couldn’t have gotten through it without those amazing people. And the teachers noticed, complimenting that while exhausted, at least our group never fell asleep during lectures during week 3! Quite the achievement.

The lecturers also really stepped up. Most CELTAs will assign your assignments in 1,2,3,4 order. Ours was assigned in 4, 2, 1, 3 order. And it helped a lot. What we were working on matched the assignments this way. They broke stuff down to work on a little at a time and it was really a huge help.

Fridays we all had dinner together, and Saturdays or Sundays people might take a day for themselves. (fitting in work as well)

For those of you considering CELTA for your future teaching, do it! It’s an incredible experience and I loved it. I highly recommend going to Playa del Carmen. And I highly recommend getting to know the students you are in class with. It’ll be some of the toughest 4 weeks of your life, but also memorable and amazing. Don’t miss out.  oh! And if you do go, check out the chicken places. Amazing good food!

 

Alright, so inbetween working on my backlog of posts, Ill still try to post new stuff here as well. Starting with….

The international market! Unfortunately the batteries in my camera died, and I was unable to take any amount of decent photos. Sad, I know. So let’s start off. First off, You have to find an atm in Korea that takes foreign cards. Everywhere else you travel it’s no big deal, but here in Korea it is a tad bit more difficult. Once you find one (such as large Gs25s, 711s, or large international banks) you can withdraw. That took us about….30 minutes today? We tried to take the bus and got on the wrong one. Thankfully it was still close to home and we fixed it.

 

Anyway, after that we got onto the subway! Now I haven’t really ridden anything like a subway except for when I traveled to England when I was in high school. That’s right, more than 10 years ago! I was nervous, but between myself and my friend, we made it alright. The subway was packed! I added a quick pick to show, and forgive my sick and covered face. I am getting over a cold I caught from my coteacher. Wearing a mask if you are sick or wanting to keep from being sick is a large thing here in Korea (and Asia in general) so just get your Korean face on and do it.

 

We got to the first part of the market at about 230, half hour after it started. We met up with another friend. We got drinks at the bar, and ordered food (Nacho’s and a Pastrami sandwich w/ fries). So good! And it felt like junk food from home. I ended up seeing a bunch more people from orientation and it was great to see them. I’m believing more and more that I really got the holy grail of schools and situations here.

 

Anyway. After good food I bought some brownies to go. We checked out all the various stalls and vendors, but I didn’t find anything that I found worthwhile. Maybe next time? Id like a package of brawts or pickles. (things that are difficult to find here).

 

Anyway, we got back home after an even FULLER subway car, and I’ve been crashed in bed taking it easy. Let me tell you, Minnesota may be the land of 10,000 lakes but South Korea is the land of 10,000 stairs!

You think I’m joking? I’ve lost over 20lbs since I’ve been gone the last month. Crazy right? And I eat a lot more food here! I think between stairs and Kimchi it’s working for me!