Now we’re finished.

Today, June 10, is the beginning of the end. Today signifies the initiation of the speeding downward-slope of the end of my grant year. Ladies and gentlemen, I was around 32 days left in Korea and it’s not without some bitterness. I also say it’s the end because for the next three weeks, I am conducting speaking exams. After the three weeks, I have two weeks, one of which is consumed by exams. Essentially, I have one week left to teach my students and then be on my way.

For example, this morning I realized I was finally, completely at ease in Korea. It took over 10 months, but I woke up and realized that it’s no longer a strange place to be. I guess that’s what happens when you live abroad. I ate my bagel with cream cheese and jam, and realized that strangely enough, I was home. Sure, I’ll be jetting out of Korea in a little over a month, but for now I am home.

I have also struggled with a teaching slump. For you teachers out there, you probably know what I’m talking about: the inability to plan a lesson, the constant distraction of the Internet or something that isn’t lesson planning. You know that tug. During my teacher slump, I started evaluating myself. I realized that I was in the slump because I was stressed and afraid. Afraid I wasn’t making a difference, stressed that my students probably don’t care about English as much as I do.

Then, my mother, in her infinite wisdom, helped solve my funk.

In a roundabout way, she said “Sarah, you can’t make all the difference. You’re just planting the seed and other teachers in the future will water it.”

I then realized that it’s not all on me to change the scope of my students’ lives. Sure, I’m an important part, but I’m not the gardener and the harvester. I should probably not be as hard on myself. So, thankfully, I can report that I’m climbing out of the teacher slump. Hooray!

In the meantime, allow me to participate in some shameless plugging. I love blogging, and I’ve already launched my post-Korea blog. Of course, I won’t be posting until after I leave Korea, but if you don’t mind, can you check it out (and maybe even subscribe)? You can check out Runaway Sister here.

geon bae!

Sarah

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Priorities.

Annyeong haseyo, 

During orientation yesterday our groups talked about making priorities in our teaching career and with our homestay families. Priorities are important. They help us organize what we need to do and help us recognize what needs to be done. Though we’re not even a week through orientation, it’s still an excellent time to begin thinking about year-long priorities: both professional and personal.

Preliminary Professional Goals:

  1. Connect with my students. Take time to get to know my students outside of class and learn their interests. Sometimes, seeing a teacher outside of class can make a world of difference for a student.
  2. Create extracurricular activities for my students. I would like to set aside time in the morning for my students so they can come and practice their English or just receive extra help. A little help goes a long way.
  3. Create positive relationships with my co-teachers. These teachers will be the ones that will assist me throughout my year in South Korea and getting to know these individuals, and even other non-English teacher, will be highly beneficial.
  4. Get brave. During my student teaching experience at Georgetown College, I was uber timid. I played by the rules (a good thing!), but I was afraid to take risks. I want to take acceptable risks in the classroom and help my students.

Preliminary Personal Goals:

  1. Photography. Today, a professional photographer presented us his photographs of Seoul. Though I do not have professional photography equipment, I can still take photographs with a purpose. I might start a series of photos focusing on the lives of Korean women or something similar of that nature.
  2. Language Lessons. Korean is classified by the U.S. Government as a “Level 4” language. Diplomats to Korea are given two

    Language lessons. Priority.

    years of full-time language training before diplomatic service. The language has no articles (“the” and “a”), and uses a complex honorific system (different forms for different people). I would like to take lessons during my time here so I can communicate with my Korean friends and family. I believe that is a courtesy that I can provide during my stay here.

  3. Travel. I want to travel throughout Asia this year, especially Japan. Through domestic airlines such as Busan Air, I can acquire tickets for a relatively cheap price to some Asian countries. Even if it’s just for a few days, I would love to visit a handful of other countries.
  4. Taekwondo. My taekwondo lessons for orientation begin on Monday, but I’d like to continue my taekwondo career at my homestay. We’ll see how this turns out.

In other news…

Today we walked into the town of Goesan on a scavenger hunt. If you’re from the great Commonwealth of Kentucky, Goesan is like a typical small town in Eastern Kentucky only with tons of shops compacted into one place and with neon lights. Goesan is a Neon Kentucky. There’s a Lotteria (Korea’s answer to McDonald;s, delicious ice cream BTW), an outdoor mall, two Family Marts, a D-Mart, and just about anything else. However, the town is compacted into a tiny space that probably doesn’t exceed the one end of my home town to the other. Friends, that’s tiny.

Tomorrow (July 8th) will be a lighter day with a visit to an all-girls high school on Monday. I’m beginning to get into the full swing of activities and I’m sleeping well. That’s always a good thing.

geon bae!

Sarah