A Travellerspoint blog

the stapler initiative

113 days til america~

29 °F

hey everyone...just a quick update from me...i joined a choir that meets in seoul every saturday, and on december 19th we are performing händel's messiah. i follow this blog and he mentioned something in one of his posts about being in a choir...so i wrote him an email and he told me about it and i checked it out and joined immediately! i am really excited about the performance because we have awesome singers and just all around great people with great talent. i feel like i fit in somewhere again! i'm dragging keri, eleanor, and june to the performance...i don't think they're very choir concert going people, and they complain that i'm making them go...but they're good friends for going anyway!

things have been pretty hectic at work lately for two reasons. the first is that, in december, we are going to do some merging and rearranging and basically instead of just teaching my regular kids, i'm going to have five new levels of stuff to teach. this sucks. why? because i can barely keep up with the workload i have now...how am i going to survive when i have more classes? plus, since i'm head teacher again, i'm in charge of it all...and making sure it runs smoothly. some time before i leave, i have to teach dain (the new teacher) how to do my job >_< when mike leaves, we will get another teacher, and another one in addition to that. training, organizing, running around like a chicken with my head cut off...GOODY! i love my kids and i don't wanna teach anyone else!!! the second reason things have been so hectic is because i've been preparing my students for their foreign language high school exams. there are many ways to get into FLH (grades, language ability, etc.), so i teach a special class for kids who speak better english than they do korean. we study writing essays and how to interview...it's pretty intense...my students this semester worked so unbelievably hard. i'm just hoping and praying they get in to the schools they applied to.

to tell you a little more about foreign language high schools...they are high schools that kids can go to to study a foreign language ^^* they're very difficult to get into because all the korean kids are very competitive and a lot of kids in korea apply for a few positions. the most popular school is HAFS. once they get in, they can choose from english, japanese, chinese, french, or german and it is basically their major. they study this for three years and then take another test to get into college. a lot of these kids go on to ivy league colleges in america, or the top universities in korea.

last week was a test called suneung (in english, the college scholastic aptitude test). it's the test that korean high schoolers take to get into college. about 670,000 high school students took this test on thursday. this test is so important that korea changed flight plans and times so there would be no airplane noise when students were taking the listening portion of the test. there's no school for middle schoolers, and basically everyone in the country makes sure that these students get to their testing sites on time and prepared. here's an interesting article about the test day from last year: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122644964013219173.html

few updates on the things that go on in korea so you guys can get a feel for where i live...

the korean media tend to exaggerate things, just like the american media, except there are more people here who believe it. i think in america it's about 50/50; here it's like 90/10. if the media say that something is true or awful, the koreans overreact to the news. for example, swine flu..i mean, h1n1. because the cdc said pandemic, the koreans translated it into OMFG WE'RE ALL GONNA DIEEEEE (not to say that a lot of other people didn't do that as well, though). in order to prevent h1n1 from spreading, we should cover our mouths when we cough, wash our hands frequently, especially wash them after we go to the bathroom, and we shouldn't sneeze on people. koreans were seemingly not taught this etiquette when they were children. they cough and sneeze all over people, and are known for not washing their hands after they use the restroom. the younger generation is a little better, but a lot of them just don't do it, and that's how diseases spread. also, it's just disgusting for someone to cough on you. anyway, here's what i'm trying to say: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2009/10/198_52608.html take a second and read it. you'll see what i mean.

the flu thing is kind of like the fan death thing and the mad cow disease thing. the media report that someone died from it and everyone says ok and refuses to ask questions or believe anything else. because of this constant feeling of being lied to, i have now come to not believe anything i hear about in korea...it's like an overreaction to being lied to that results in gross disbelief in everything. if you don't know what fan death thing i'm talking about, read about it here: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1245/will-sleeping-in-a-closed-room-with-an-electric-fan-cause-death and here: http://www.snopes.com/medical/freakish/fandeath.asp if you don't know what mad cow disease thing i'm talking about, read about it here: http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200805/200805020019.html and here: http://survivingourselves.wordpress.com/2008/07/07/mad-korean-disease-vs-mad-cow-disease/

korea is womenifying seoul and trying to make it more friendly for women. read more here: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/special/2009/11/242_45305.html everything about this project is great, except for the pink parking spaces...i think that might be a little overboard. i actually saw one of the parking spots a couple weeks ago in hongdae. i wonder, though, who monitors them...

and here are some other interesting articles about korea:

unwed mothers: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/world/asia/08mothers.html?_r=3&hpw

korean culture: http://blog.educationusa.or.kr/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/korean-culture-essays-hhunderwood.pdf

racism: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/09/117_51866.html

anti-english: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/11/117_55532.html

hiring indian english teachers (haha): http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2912403

health checks: http://chrisinsouthkorea.blogspot.com/2009/09/life-in-korea-health-checks-for-all.html

that's all folks!


Posted by flaminko 22:26

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.