Tag Archives: school

the life of a Korean student…

Every month at school, we do what we call “Writing Event,” where the two native English-speaking teachers choose some random-ish topic for all the classes to write about. In months past, my students have written about their dream jobs; if they could build a house out of candy; what they would do if they could go to space; and what their super power would be if they were a super hero.

Of course, every year at Christmas, everyone writes to Santa whether they’re a believer or not. (Most of them aren’t, but I demand that they pretend to be for the 40 minutes I have them in class.)

The other native teacher and I read through our respective students’ responses and choose the best from the bunch; then together, choose the top 3 for every level. Some submissions are hilarious. Once, a kid wrote that he was thankful for his family because they take him to buffets. (That kid won that month. Because that’s stinkin’ funny.)

Most are less creative than I would hope… Korean kids don’t seem to have the same kind of creativity that Western kids have. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s due to this: they’re not really allowed to be kids.

I’ll come back to that thought in a moment. For now, let me tell you about the most recent “Writing Event.”

In October, we decided to keep with the Halloween theme and ask students to write about their “biggest fear.” Not surprisingly, we got many “ghosts,” “the dark,” and various animal-related fear responses. Some said they feared my KBFF, which I reinforce because someone at school has to be scary. And then, in what seemed to be funny, some of them said they feared their parents.

We laughed in class with the students who offered these suggestions. Some of them were very lively and silly when explaining why they feared their parent(s). One of my more odd and good-for-a-laugh students was quite animated explaining how his mom is “scary.”

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the class we loved to hate: the horror that is Sex Ed…

I’m not sure how it happened, but I recently stumbled across the amazingness that is Last Week Tonight. John Oliver, a British comedian, hosts his own show on HBO covering news stories from the past seven days.

In just two days, Oliver has taught me more about how the United States is effed up than I ever learned in all my years of school combined. And to add to it, he’s my kind of funny.

Now, I’m an American. I live “abroad,” if you will. I consider myself to be somewhat “with the times” and I try to keep up with the happenings in the Americas (and the world), including (but not limited to) presidential race candidates (kind of) and school shooting atrocities. While this is true, I was also totally unaware of many other things happening in my home country.

I had no idea that Washington D.C. has no real representation in our capital; that Syrian and other refugees are streaming into European countries, some of which are greeting them with what can be described as nothing less than disgusting refusals to accept them; about how broken the bail and public defenders systems are in America; or about the truly sickening behavior of many televangelists (I knew a little, but not this much. And I’m NOT saying all televangelists are like this, but sadly, many are.).

Needless to say, John’s given me a bit of an education. And I’m obsessed. So imagine my glee when I came across a video discussing the state of Sex Education in the great U.S. of A.

That’s right. I was stoked. I love to talk about sex and if you’ve been reading for a while, you’re probably familiar with my rant on how I believe parents should talk more openly with their kids about sex. I realize that no one wants to talk with their kids about the birds and the bees; but trust me, as a former child, no kid wants to talk with their parents about sex. But that’s kind of not the point.

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a little bit brave… and uncertain

Reader, I’m so excited to share the next installment of the “A Little Bit Brave” series.

Each month, I’ll be posting an article by another blogger who took a leap and moved themselves away from everything that was familiar to find the next “right” step in her life. You can read more of the series here.

So, without further ado, here’s a little bit brave… and uncertain. Enjoy. :)

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At 27 years old, I had finally decided it was time to test my wings. Like a free-spirited bird, I jumped from my nest with hopeful abandon. I spread my wings wide to the open sky and embraced the tickle of the wind in my feathers. And then I plummeted straight to earth.

At 26, life had been pretty comfy-cozy. I thought I had finally made it. I had the job, the car, the downtown apartment, and the professional wardrobe of my poor girl dreams. I had the PTO and the 401(k) and the HSA. I had the friends and the family and the kind of coworkers you actually look forward to seeing every day. I thought I had it all.

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So why did I feel like I was suffocating in a glass coffin every night as I lay in bed? Why did I want to scream and pound my fists against those imaginary walls as I tried not to cry myself to sleep? Why did I feel like everyone was skipping around outside my prison while I lay buried alive?

Perhaps I needed therapy, but all the psychobabble in the world wouldn’t have been able to tell me more than I already knew. I was simply afraid. It was fear that put me to bed every night and lingered with me as I went to work every morning. It was fear that made me dread waking up thirty years later only to realize I was still going to work every morning. It was fear that kept me wondering if I would hit retirement only to regret all the years I had worked to save for it.

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a little bit brave… in Taiwan

Reader, I’m so excited to share the next installment of my series, “A Little Bit Brave.”

Each month, I’ll be posting an article by another blogger who took a leap and moved themselves away from everything that was familiar to find the next “right” step in their life. Next up: Celeste Banks. Celeste is a family friend of mine from childhood and is living (as you guessed from the title) a little bit brave in Taiwan.

If you missed it, several weeks ago, I completed a project outlining the story of how I was a little bit brave and came to Korea. (You can read them all here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4…) In an attempt to share with you how others have been a little bit braveI decided to start asking some friends to share their stories with you as guest bloggers on this site. You can read the first installment by my friend Anna, who was living in the Philippines, here.

To read more of her awesome stuff, check out Celeste’s blog, From Kansas to Taiwan.

So, without further ado, here’s a little bit brave… in Taiwan. Enjoy. :)

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I was sobbing and hyperventilating, sitting at my kitchen table in my college apartment on April 14th, 2014.

I compulsively checked my phone’s email for months. Like any good senior in college knows how, I nervously evaded the consistent, droning,  “What are you doing next year???” I celebrated for all my other friends after every acceptance and job offer came in, all the while feeling so nervous!

I was talking to my sister on the phone, but squealed out, “I HAVE TO GO!” when I saw the email.  I had won a Fulbright grant. To move to Taiwan. For a year. I called my mother, screeching into her ear, “I GOT THE FULBRIGHT GRANT! I HAVE TO CALL DAD!”

A year before, a friend of mine suggested I look into Fulbright. I met with the head of National Scholarships at Emory, where I went to university, and started pestering professors about writing me recommendations. I spent 2-3 hours a week the entire summer working on the damned essays. Then I turned in my application to Emory and awaited my interview time.

In September I met with a panel of professors from Emory to explain to them why I wanted a Fulbright grant. I showed up in my brand-new $40 black blazer from Target and practiced power posing before hand. They asked me tons of questions, from “Why haven’t you studied abroad?” to “What do you want to do post-Fulbright?”

After a few days, the interviewer let me know that Emory would be recommending me for a Fulbright, so I officially sent in my application in October. I heard back in January that I was a finalist. Three and half months of Mardi Gras, spring break, sorority and frat formals flew by, and then I was at my kitchen table reading an email that said, somehow, I had been accepted to this program; and I was hyperventilating.


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what to expect when you’re expecting… to move to Korea… Part 4

*This is the final installment, Part 4, of my series chronicling my journey to South Korea.

If’ you’re late to this party, you can catch up by reading Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 if you’re interested.

Two years ago today, Reader, I hopped on two separate planes to make my way to Korea. How appropriate, then, that we will finish chronicling my journey here today!

Last week, we left off with me hearing from the Korean consulate office in Chicago that they would be sending me back my passport. I emailed my recruiter to let her know about the new update in information.

My recruiter called me and said that she had received word from my school, and they wanted to know if I would be willing to drive myself to Chicago to pick up my completed passport – in person – in order to ensure I could leave for Korea on time. 

I said no way.

I didn’t have car insurance anymore; I had cancelled my policy two weeks before and hadn’t driven since. Chicago was a four-hour drive away, one way. It would have been eight hours of driving there and back. Not to mention, who was going to pay for the gas to complete this arduous mission?

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