Well another month has flown by and I am yet another month closer to coming back home.
This month has been pretty quiet overall and the weather generally miserable, meaning weekend excursions have been less appealing. To be honest, if it hadn't been for the last week or so this would be the shortest blog I have ever written, however the last part of the month has been quite interesting!
The month started with me getting my first cold in months. I guess I shouldn't complain after getting a cold every two weeks (or so it seemed) after I arrived, but still I was not 100% so decided to explore closer to home the first weekend of March and so I chose to head into Uijeongbu (about 25 minutes from Deokjeong on the subway).
I have to say I was quite unimpressed - perhaps I didn't got to the right areas, but it just didn't seem like there was much to see or do - after walking a relatively short distance from the subway it felt quite deserted and there weren't really any good shops around.
A little disappointed, I headed to the one place I love in Uijeongbu - the little coffee shop near the subway, with its comfy sofa's you can sit and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and read a book - which is exactly what I did that afternoon!
March also saw the students all going back to school after their seemingly endless winter/spring (who knows!) vacation. This meant the end of my 7pm finishes (sad face), but a new timetable (happy face) which I was excited about as I have had a variant of the same timetable for about the last 6 months.
I admit, no new timetable is going to be vastly different from the old one - it's still going to be the same classes and its going to be the same 2 - 8pm hours, but the mix of classes on a day can make a difference and the new timetable has turned out to be a good one!
Fridays are my favorite day for 2 reasons now - obviously its the last day of the week, but also I only have 3 1/2 teaching hours!! Even though I still work 2 - 8pm I get an hour off during the day and then they have given me an hour to study Korean with Jin Sun, so in that 6 hour period I have 2 hours of breaks plus the initial half hour at the start of the day for prep etc!! It almost makes it feel like a 4 day week - ALMOST!
I'M LEAVING ON A JET PLANE - NOW I KNOW WHEN I'LL BE BACK AGAIN!:
OK, so I left on the jet plan close to 9 months ago, but this month I spoke to Jong Sool about leaving in July. I was quite nervous about it - I was never too sure why, as it's not as if they have never had a teacher leave before, but I still felt quite bad about telling him I only planned to stay 1 year. I love it here - I love the people at school, the kids are really great, I love teaching and I love being able to explore Seoul, but I miss my family and I miss my friends, and thats what I told him and it was fine (never needed to worry one bit!).
After talking to him about it I got my flights changed and I am flying out of Seoul on 8th July, arriving back in sunny England (it had better be sunny!) on 9th July!!
TRIPS TO THE BANK AND POST OFFICE:
This month I also made another trip to the bank in Deokgye to send home my money and yet again managed to successfully get the taxi driver to wait for me while I transferred my money and then take me back home again - I am becoming an expert at sign language, or maybe my Korean is improving - nah, it's got to be the sign language!!
I also took a trip to the post office to try and send home a parcel by surface post - so easy - I think the Korean post office is amazing, everything is so easy and the people so helpful. I had the lady from behind the counter come and help me make up my box, then a nice man decided to help me pack my box and then sealed it up nicely for me, while I completed the customs form! I guess the proof however will be whether or not the parcel arrives in 2 months time!!
KOREAN CLASSES AND TEST!:
As I mentioned above, I have been studying for an hour a week with Jin Sun on Friday's since the new timetable and Jin Sun even gave me a Korean test on the first 10 chapters of what we had been covering! It turned out to be a good thing really as it really made me study hard that week - the thought of being unprepared for a test is not a good one with me, even for something like this.
The result of my test - to quote my students - I'M GENIUS!! Yes, I got a perfect 100% - Yay to me!
I will confess that I am already dreading the next test which can't be too far off, as the last few chapters have got rather more complicated, so I may not be reporting such a good score next month!
This month there have been a few things to note on the school front.
The first of these is that we have a new student in Sunny's class (who was the student I had one-on-one). Jong Sool asked me to come in early one day to test Olivia (the new student) to see if she was at the same level as Sunny as that was the class she wanted to go into. So, I tested her on grammar, reading and speaking and agreed that she was of a similar level to Sunny. I was a little nervous about how Sunny would react to this though as we have had 9 months of one-on-one classes and I didn't think she would like much to lose that. I had planned to speak to Sunny about this in the next class, but it turned out that Olivia was starting straight away, so I had no chance! As expected we started off a little shaky with the two of them, but Sunny seemed to realise that Olivia wasn't the enemy and in fact they might become friends and things then started to go much better. Last week was the first week of proper lessons with the two of them and it's going to be a great class!
Jong Sool also asked me to test both Ryan and Grace (who are in the Zenith class, the one below Sunny/Olivia) to see if they could also go into that class. Immediately I knew the answer was no, but I agreed to test them. I then raised my concerns with Jong Sool after testing them and let him make the decision, and he made the right one in deciding to leave that class alone! After these short tests, we were rewarded with pizza which he had bought for the class, so by the time we had finished eating there was only about 10 minutes left - result!
I also have a new student in the Zenith class (at least on Tuedays and on my Fridays) - Jin Sun has started to come to class. She decided to try one class after studying Korean with me at 6pm one Friday (Zenith is at 7pm) and she really enjoyed it and has been coming ever since on the days she is at the Academy. It has given a bit more energy to the class, which is a lot of fun but often quite quiet.
I also got given some cookies from one of my students the other week at school. Getting food gifts from the students is not uncommon, in fact the opposite, but this was different as the cookies came with a little note from the student which explained that she had made the cookies for me herself - such a nice little gift, and they were delicious!
I also got my favorite quote of the year so far the other week from one of my students in the New WeWiz class, Robin. When I walked into class he immediately said to me "Teacher, today are you a volcano?". In the previous class, after one of those days when all the kids seemed to be crazy, I had asked them to please be good in class otherwise my head may explode - hence where the volcano seemed to come from. He was therefore checking if that day was the same - which I think it became obvious it wasn't since I burst out laughing at his question, at which point they all joined in!
CHICKEN AND BEER ANYONE?:
Fairly early into March, and as a result (I guess) of the successful adults only dinner we had out at the end of February, Jong Sool suggested going out for Chicken and Beer. That was exactly how he phrased it too. Usually its, let go for dinner, but nope, this was lets go for chicken and beer! I actually got the most notice ever too, as I was told on the Tuesday and we were going out on the Friday!
Anyway on the Friday we went to the chicken place pretty much next door to the school with Jong Sool, Jin Sun, her brother, Sarah and the girls and had some very delicious chicken and beer! We had a really nice evening, made particularly amusing by them trying to get to grips with St Patricks Day (I had invited Jin Sun to go to the St Patricks Day festival that day), which they had somehow confused with Easter, which Jin Sun's brother then seemed to confuse with Christmas - oh well, we did all laugh!
I think of the four weekends this month I managed to spend 2 of them at the bookstore! I do love the bookstores, but there were reasons both times for the necessary trips to the bookstore!
The first was just before Grace's birthday and I went to get her a present of a sketchpad, crayons and pencils, which thankfully she loved!
The second time was to buy a book to replace the reading book I had previously been using with Sunny. The book I had been using was alright for the odd time we did some reading in class, but now there were two in class I wanted a good, interesting book for reading to use every week. Seems I chose a good one, as they really liked it - a first I think!
Of course both trips to the bookstore included a trip to starbucks for a cup of coffee and a relaxing hour or so reading a book. In fact in one trip I went to two coffee shops and even did some studying while I was there!
ST PATRICKS DAY FESTIVAL:
I found out about a week before St Patrick's Day that there is an annual event in Seoul to celebrate St Patrick's Day on the Saturday closest to the actual holiday (in this case the Saturday after). I thought this would be a lot of fun and invited Jin Sun to come with me. It also turned out that Jill was coming up that weekend, but she had a hair appointment so would miss the festivities and just meet us for dinner.
The festival consisted of about 5 hours of live music (including the Korean U2) and dancing, some Irish and some not. There was also a parade that was not overly impressive, but I guess not bad for what it was. Jin Sun was working until 2pm (the event started around 12pm) and so wouldn't be there until about 3pm, so I watched the beginning of the performances and the parade on my own (although there were plenty of people around and a lot of the fellow foreigners) - and I bought myself a flashing shamrock hat, just so I could at least pretend to be Irish for day!
About 3pm I met with Jin Sun and a friend of hers Jina, who spoke very good English after spending 18 months in Canada. We had a great afternoon, singing along and joining in the dancing (in our own special way) as did most of the people there. It was really a great day out!
After the festivities finished we headed to Itaewon to meet Jill and we all went to Gecko's for a Western pub dinner. Before that, however, I introduced Jin Sun and Jina to the amazing pie shop, Tartine, which they were thrilled about! Dinner at Gecko's, as with last time when I went with Jill, was really good and the atmosphere was great as it was really busy, being a Saturday evening. Jin Sun and Jina also seemed to really enjoy a taste of England too, which was great!
This month saw me tell Jong Sool I would be leaving in July, and it also saw the interview for the new teacher. Jong Sool came and spoke to me about this and asked for my help to speak to him after he had finished the 'interview'. Of course I agreed - I was happy to help, and I knew how strange the 'interview' was to me, so I thought it would be good to speak to the new teacher afterwards - something I didn't get the chance to do.
That was all fine and the new teacher sounds nice, so I think everyone is happy - it just seems strange to know that someone else will be teaching my classes in a few months time - it makes it seem all more real that I am leaving!
ERM, I THINK I MAY HAVE FLOODED THE BATHROOM:
I may or may not have mentioned in a previous blog about the drainage here, basically its rubbish - or so I thought after being told when I first arrived that the bathroom flooding when emptying the bath in one go was normal! Well, to cut a long story short, one day the flood didn't drain - not one bit, and I came home from school to find the bathroom still under an inch of water!
I called Jong Sool and he said he would come over the next morning, which he did, and ever the handy man he got it all fixed. Turns out it was never normal and that was just rubbish as now the drainage is perfect! I honestly think the bathroom flooding was one of the best things that has happened as I now don't have to spend forever draining the sink or bathtub!
Well, thats all for March, who knows what April will bring - hopefully better weather and some beautiful cherry blossoms!
Oh, and as I am posting this on Easter weekend (at least back home - no extra days off here), HAPPY EASTER!