Q/A #4

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted a response sooner!

Question:

I’m currently doing 100hr ittt course too. Ive done all 20 units and just reading through them now. I need to set a date for ma exam so I have motivation to prepare for it. Desipte reading through them, I dont think im absorbing the content right. I did not take 5 hours for each topic when I did them, but through worksheets and practice I understood. However, im stuck on how to prepare for it. Like you, I struggle/dislike grammar part, and since I never quite understood in at school I have a difficult grasping it now too, specially all the different tenses and their forms and usages.
Would u suggest to prepare before hand? If so, how? Or should I just go for the exam?

Answer:

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been over two years when I was in your shoes! Brings back lots of memories. 🙂

I’d say that first and foremost, take notice of where you can find certain pieces of information. I read the material and jotted down notes in the margins, but also on the table of contents. The test is mostly about finding the answer in the material that was already given to you and then applying ESL activity ideas. The test is time consuming, not impossible or incredibly hard. The best way to prepare to become familiar with the material, look up definitions if you don’t know them and try to put them in your own words, and take your time! Huge plus if you have someone willing to help you brainstorm ideas for the lesson plan portion of the test.

Good Luck!!

 

Links to questions I’ve answered to other visitors relating to teaching abroad!

Q/A #1

Q/A #2

Q/A #3

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7 months

Technically I’m in limbo right now as vacation season kicks in for all the teachers this weekend since our English camps will be ending this week. I will be in and out of the country till the new academic semester starts in March! I’m blessed to have an opportunity and the means to continue my travel adventures. I went to Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan last year. This time around, I will be going to China (Beijing), Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I’m a lucky girl for sure. 🙂

However, there are also a lot of thoughts weighing me down. My mentality has changed a lot in the past weeks after realizing that I could count number of months on my teaching contract with a few fingers and I know time is just going to fly by once school starts again. There is definitely some fear about my future and a lot of debate going through my head whenever I have a moment to think (which is very often). I’ve also been having a hard time falling asleep and it’s probably subconsciously related to all the worrying I’ve been doing.

The hardest part for me is finding the confidence in choosing the direction I want to take my life. I can probably name two..maybe three major points of transition in my life where I spent weeks/months stressing out on this same exact problem. Where do I want to go and what do I want to do? Damn you uncertainty and my indecisive nature! Haha.

I am starting to do everything I can to start preparing myself for what lies after Korea. I may not be sure of what I want to do just yet, but I’ll be ready. My plan is to start eating better, spending better, saving better, and researching the crap out of several programs I’m interested in. I’m also starting to focus on improving my Korean and making more money on the side. Another thing is that for the first time ever, I’m slowly warming up to the idea of creating a 5 year plan. That doesn’t mean I want to dictate everything I am going to do at this moment, but I do want a rough outline of different things I expect myself to achieve by the age of 30.

Ugh, why is 30 so close…

Cheers! xxox

Guess Who?!

Guess who passed away today? If you are like most people connected to the interwebz, I’m sure you were surprised as I to hear North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il died. Although he was pronounced dead two days ago, the official word as released today around lunch time in South Korea. As a teacher in Seoul, as well as a Korean-American, it was a really interesting day to say the least.

Honestly, the very first thing that popped into my mind was how much my parents would worry. Then I remembered where I was and how I felt when the Kim Il-Sung (his father) passed away. He died in 1994 (holy crap!) — which would make me 8 at the time? I was in the living room and watching TV that morning. There was some sort of special bulletin on the screen and just hearing about Korea on the news made me want to ask my parents about it. I said, “Mom, some Korean guy died? Kim something??”. My mom screamed for my dad and I distinctly remember my dad running out of his room with a broken tooth brush in his hand, with a  mouth full of foam, and still in his pajamas. He was so surprised at the news that he literally snapped his toothbrush in half while brushing his teeth. So, there I am, just standing there, confused and dazed as my parents are scrambling for the phone to call our relatives in Korea. That’s when I really started to understand that there were larger things at work in the world.

I thought about all of this on my way to lunch and I got a text message from my mom about how it as urgent that I call her. Over the phone she told me to do three things:

1. Always carry your passport

2. Always have your phone on you and call her every single day.

3. Have some money so you can bribe your way out of Korea and enough to buy a one way ticket out of there.

Haha, my mom is the best! I guess you can’t be too safe, but I am hoping that nothing drastic happens over here. There are a lot of sarcastic/comedic comments being made about Kim Jong-Il’s death, but the fact is that his death is a start of a new era in North Korea and we should all pay attention to what will happen in the next few weeks. I’ve been reading up a lot on some theories of how the country will progress with the new son in power and I hope you will too.

With that said, here’s a video for you!

I also remember watching this way back in the day. (My mom’s store only had PBS when I would go there after school M-F)

Buzz Buzz

There’s a lot of buzz going around about the new budget cuts for the education programs in Seoul and more specifically about the positions for Native English Teachers (NET) in Korea. There are a lot of arguments being made between the NETs and Korean teachers about the pros/cons of having a foreign teacher in the public schools here. I wanted to add links to blogs that talk about the issue in case my fellow teachers or anyone interested in teaching for EPIK/SMOE was interested.

Blog Entry #1 from http://briandeutsch.blogspot.com

Blog Entry #2 from http://www.rjkoehler.com

Blog Entry #2 form http://www.alienteachers.com

English News Article from http://english.chosun.com

The gist is that the South Korean government plans to slowly weed out the NET positions from the Korean public school system starting next year and completely by 2014. Needless to say, many NETs in my program are very worried about the future of their own positions. With that said, I am extremely annoyed at some of the NETs freaking out and ranting all over facebook/forums/blogs. Personally, I don’t think South Korea owes you anything and that we are well aware that a job overseas like this one is pretty much going to be a year to year (at best) type of life style. I have had enough first hand experiences, like many other teachers, to know that things happen and decisions are made without much notice or with very little explanation in Korea. When I read the articles a few days ago, I was pretty much like okay, it’s happening and it’s time to look for other opportunities. I was really surprised at the outcry and well … all the bitching that a good amount of NETs were having online. Is this a nice job to have? Well, yes. Was it a job that came with a long term opportunity and security? No. Never have and it never will.

Do what you can now and prepare what you can for tomorrow. Good luck everyone! Lucky for me, I made a decision to leave after my current contract and so the idea of being boosted out of my job in Korea hasn’t really weighed heavily on my mind. There’s always something else. 🙂

Review: Soondae

I absolutely love Soondae! It’s the infamous Korean blood sausage that is steamed and usually stuffed with glass noodles. I actually have a deep appreciation for mystery meat (spam lover right here!). I’ve been eating soondae for years and it always reminds me of my mother + grandmother because we always got it as a snack at the local Korean market in Atlanta. There was a lady in the corner that would give out free samples. It was my favorite thing to do when we went shopping on Sundays and pretty soon it became part of our Sunday grocery shopping routine.

Once in a while there would be this older woman sitting in the back of her truck and selling soondae outside of my school. I pass her every now and then on my way home. I’m always cursing at myself because I don’t have cash on me or I had already made dinner plans and didn’t want to ruin my appetite when she happens to be outside. One day I got tired of making excuses and I stopped by. 🙂

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I’ve never had the white looking kind before! It’s a little more rubbery, but the stuffing is so good! It has chives or something mixed in it. I actually had to stop her from giving me more and now I wish I hadn’t. It was so yummy. I had a nice chat with her about where I was from and America and all that. lol

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Whenever you get soondae, they’ll ask you if you want all the trimmings with it. It’s usually liver or some sort of cartilage. They also usually give you a salt pack that you can dip your soondae as well as this small cup of tiny salted shrimp thing. She didn’t have one though.

If you’ve never tried it, you should!

Fajitas

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I’m starting to cook more at home. I tend to cook meals when I feel unproductive. I like the fact that you have all these ingredients and pretty soon you’ll be able to put them together to make something new. Now, fajitas ain’t no big deal, but I thought I’d snap a picture of what I did anyways. SO. GOOD.

One thing I miss are avocados. God, I could go for some guac right now! Haha.

I had to scour around my area for tortillas and could only find them at the Hyundai Department Store. They have this really expensive grocery store down on the bottom floor at Cheonho (Exit 3). You can find an assortment of dry/packaged/canned goods there. The tortillas are around 4,000won for 12 of them.  I definitely suggest you check out Emart first. Each Emart has a section of dry/canned/packaged imported goods as well and wayyyyy cheaper.

Oh, and they call bell peppers = paprika. Don’t ask.

16th Pre-Historic Culture Festival of Gangdong (강동 선사문화축제)

SMOE sends NETs (Native English Teachers) to a couple of teaching seminars/workshops while you are under their contract. It’s usually once or twice a semester and pretty much about the same thing — how to co-teach, how to improve, how to lesson plan, blah blah.

I got sent to one last Friday and it was supposed to be from 8:30am to 5:00pm. However, we found out later that we would be taking a field trip! Haha. Well, technically we all groaned at the thought of taking a trip with all 60 of us until we realized that this actually meant we could run away. I was personally very excited since the field trip would take place in AMSA! Dun dun dunnnn. Seriously, I just got a personal bus ride from Kunkuk to where I live since it’s a few blocks from the Pre-Historic Site in Amsa-dong, Seoul. Holler!

Where the eff did we go?

Amsa-dong Prehistoric Settlement is a historic settlement dating back to 7,000 B.C – 10,000 B.C (Neolithic period). The settlement site which is located near the Hangang river was first discovered in 1925. The Hangang river flooded the area and washed away the soil. After the area dried up, foundations from an old settlement and artifacts were discovered. (ExploringKorea.com)

You can find these straw huts everywhere. The Pre-Historic Settlement is a huge enclosed circle of cave people replicas, straw huts, and wooden animal sculptures.

You can actually go in one of the huts and see something like this.

Sexy legs!

If you were ever wondering how these people lived .. well, here you are!

There’s also a pretty big museum as well. You can see the artifacts they found and learn how the pottery, huts, and such were made. I was told that these crater type of models were molded on top of the actual settlement? I’m not sure though.

A lot of people thought this place was boring and yes, it’s not the most exciting place for sure. However, I’d like to think it’s worth visiting … especially during FESTIVAL time! If there is one thing that the Koreans love, it’s festivals. You name something Korean — they have a festival dedicated to it somewhere in this country.

Why do I like festivals? It’s because it is a guaranteed grand ol’ time of street food vendors, colorful flowers, live music, free admission, various arts and crafts booths, and most importantly … encouraged afternoon boozing. Yes. Yes. Yes!

Dude, I could watch this guy make noodles for hours.

This is my third festival I’ve been to. I went to the Green Tea Festival in Boseong and the Firefly Festival in Muju. Each one is a blast and it really gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself into the culture. Check it out!

Directions to the Amsa Pre-Historic Site: Walk out of Exit 1 or 4 and go straight for like 8 blocks. It’s on the left-hand side and you definitely can’t miss it. However, it’s a pretty far walk so take a taxi (they all know where it is) or you can get on the 02 local gangdong bus right out of Exit 1 and it will drop you off halfway there at 선사 사거리.

Note that the Pre-Historic Culture Festival happens once a year in the fall and lasts for three days. If I went again, I would go on the last day (Sunday) because that is when all the celebrities come out to perform and they have a huge end of the festival fireworks show!

Here is also a link of a great blog entry about the festival/site: http://smileyjkl.blogspot.com

Review: Cafe Reason 카페 이유

Welcome to Cafe Reason (이유) in Amsa-dong, Seoul! I stumbled upon this place while I was walking through the back streets of Amsa from the school that I teach to the subway station. It’s really in a random area of Amsa. I finally had a chance to go check it out and I’ve been there three times now. It’s so cute!

This is the only sign you can see from the street.

 What would catch most people’s eyes is the car that is parked next to the cafe. I made my friend pose with the car. Hehe.

This cafe advertises hand-dripped coffee and has a pretty small menu, but with everything you need. They sell the popular coffee drinks (like my new fav — caramel macchiato) to lemon/orange-ades and icecream. The same guy works there every evening and I even saw him roasting coffee beans yesterday.

Most drinks are around 4,500 – 5,000 won.

Once we sat around forever and he came up to offer us free Americanos (black coffee). Holler!

I love all the little accents of this cafe. There are so many little figurines, paintings, and gadgets to look at. My favorite has to be the up-side-down plants hanging form the ceiling. Oh, and the old school Mac computer (that still works and is pink!).

My cup of caramel macchiato — SO GOOD! He always gives us a side of pretzels as well as various foam patterns in our drinks. ㅋㅋ

Directions for those who want to venture out to Amsa: Go out of Exit 1 and go straight four blocks. You will be at a four-way stop called 선사 사거리. There will be a giant GS gas station ahead of you, but instead of crossing the street to get to it, you will take a right. (So, the GS will now be on your left-hand side). Go straight for two blocks (there will be a Tous Les Jours bakery on left-hand side now) and take another right. The cafe is on your right down this street.

I wrote directions for like that longest way possible, but its because the side streets are hard to identify and this is probably the easiest way until you know your way around Amsa. Haha. Enjoy!

Review: Mandoo Gol 만두골

Sabrina and I went to try this new restaurant in my lovely neighborhood — AMSA! We would be eating dumplings from the looks of it, but other than that, I had no idea what to order. Fortunately this place only sells one menu item because it’s a dumpling jeon-gol (전골).

What is that?

전골 Jeon-gohl;  large spicy stew generally for two persons minimum due to extensive assortment of ingredients; spicy stew prepared with spicy broth in large paella pan-like stew pot; served hot on the table on portable stove (koreanmenus.blogspot.com)

Let’s EAT!

This restaurants requires you to take off your shoes (welcome to Asia) and put your pair on one of those shelves. Walk your way over to any table you desire.

So, we sit down and like I said, I had no idea what to order. The lady seemed to understand this and just asked how many people would be eating. I raised two of my fingers and she scurried away to bring this to our table. Dinner for two! In this pot are assorted veggies (napa cabbage, mushrooms, squash), ricecakes, and six huge dumplings. OMG so good. There is also a dollop of a red pepper mixture in the middle in order to make the soup a bit spicier.

They also give you four dumplings on the side for you to cook in later (total of 10 dumplings — 5 a person). The noodles are for the very end of the meal. *It’s okay and expected for you to ask for more broth later on in the meal — so don’t be afraid. 😛

Cook and ready for consumption! Yummmm. 😉 Just pick out your dumpling with whatever veggies you want and add some soysauce.

The best part about this place was that they gave you a free sample of their dongdong-ju (동동주). It’s another type of rice wine and pretty easy to swallow. Wait, what?

Anywho, I’m pretty sure not all of you will make your way down to Amsa, but I’m sure there are plenty of mando-jeongol’s out there. Now that you know what it is, seek and devour!

Directions: Exit 4 out of Amsa and go straight for 4 blocks. It’s on your left and on the corner of 선사 사거리 (four-way stop).