Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Career choices!!!

On Wednesday of last week my supervisor observed my Communication class. At the end of the class she said "that was awesome". Yesterday I sat down with her to go over the observation report that will be signed off by the ELS director and placed in my file. She said I did well and couldn't provide me with with any ways to improve my class. It felt great to get positive feedback considering the troubles I'm having with some students in my Grammar and Writing class.

My job will end December 2. Then I have a series of meetings to attend - admn stuff and the like (what I refer to as the 'me no likie' part of my job).

I had a meeting with the ESL director about job possibilities in the future. There is no doubt that I was lucky to squeeze into this position. She hinted at that, I know that. Although I did well with the teaching part of the job, as evident by my class reviews, I'm lacking in the credentials part of the job (which I realize is as equally important). So it's up to me what to do next.

I have two options:

1) take classes to work towards a Masters
2) take an on-line distance learning Canadian recognized CERTESL program

Both of these options will require time and money. I know I do better learning in a classroom environment so I'm reluctant to take the distance learning courses. Another thing that I need to consider is that work as a sessional lecturer is NEVER guaranteed. So even if I do further my education in this field, the possibility of working in the ESL department at the university is increased significantly, but never for certain. That's just the nature of working at a university. Getting a permanent position is next to impossible. And meeting with my former Women's Studies/ Sociology/ Crime & Justice professor for lunch last week just further conformed that. She's been a sessional lecturer at the university for her whole career as a professor.

Another option for me is to pursue the Criminal/ Law aspect of my degree --although quite different than Education, it is what I actually majored in. Law school? Social work? Social Policy?

And then this morning I was plesantly greeted with a message from my boss in the Blue House telling me that I should come back to Korea so that I can work for them again. That's tempting!

SOOOOOO, the options are there. I'm lucky to have so many choices. It's up to me to decide which path to take. Always by far the hardest part.

Suggestions are certainly welcome. I'm also taking applications for people who are interested in becoming my life coach. (kidding. sort of)!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Because I care

Sometimes it is hard to detach from my students. I try hard to do the best I can everyday at my job. When I have an awesome class it caries me through the entire day. It's like a natural high. And then, days like today, there are times when I give my students some extra time to do in-class writing and they abuse this privilege by talking with their partner while I circulate the room checking their writing outlines for a test the following day. Instead of sitting at the front of the class having students come up to me with their outlines while I approved or disapproved of them, I went to each student individually at their table and sat with them while I discussed what could be changed and how their writing could be improved. I did this because I care that they do well on their exam. So while I was counselling them individually I couldn't, at the same time, police them.

But to be honest, I shouldn't have to. They are adult learners and have to take responsibility for their own learning. I provide them with the tools to write and then it's up to them to take the initiative. If they want to sit around all class and not work, then it's up to them.

I recon this is something that mothers (and fathers) have to deal with when learning to give up control of their children. They see them making mistakes and want to help but know it's in their best interest to let them learn the hard way.

I care about them and want them to do well, but I can't baby them and constantly be on their back to stay focused and complete their assignments on time. And letting go and giving them that freedom is the hardest part for me.

Because I know 'learning the hard way' in my class will result in a FAIL!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Korea Re-visited!

These days my diet and Korean studies sit side-by-side (keeping each other company) on my back burner. I had high hopes of studying Korean by myself in Canada. HAH! Who am I kidding? I NEVER was an independent studier. Even in university I had to have a study group for EVERY SINGLE CLASS. Usually I would make friends with students who were more reserved and our study sessions would include me 'teaching' them the material -- it's how I learned best. Even when I was in my first semester of Korean studies I took pride in teaching things I already knew to the students who did know.

Anyways, this post is dedicated to my AWESOME Korean teachers at Sogang. These pictures were taken the last day of school about a week before I left Korea.
Our super cute and extra kind level 2 speaking teacher who will be leaving shortly to study English in America
The best writing teacher EVER! I hope she never stops teaching! She does an amazing job!
My level 1 speaking teacher. She's one hip momma of three who looks younger than me!
My reading and listening teacher. MY LEAST FAV. CLASS BTW (not because I didn't like my teacher, but because I always struggled with this class the most). After graduation she gave me a stack of homework for all the classes I missed during the semester. I missed a lot due to work. I wasn't very happy to have homework AFTER the semester was done. She told me I had to mail it to her! hehe

I never did take my level 2 Korean final exam even though I rocked the mid-term. The level 2B books were difficult for me to get through. I couldn't balance school with work when all the Korean material was new to me. I certainly don't regret not taking my final exam though since my intention of taking classes wasn't to get a certificate but to be able to communicate better with my Korea M.I.L.

I would like to walk across the Sogang stage one day and receive my level 6 graduation certificate. That's ONE of my goals in life ;)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Life goals

I just had an interesting conversation with a Korean adult student of mine tonight.

It started with a game of "'what ifs".

The first question was 'what if you were only given 24 hours to live, what would you do?'

Two hours later we were into a pretty deep conversation about life, death, goals, and the future. It was an awesome discussion. We talked about getting caught up in the 'money-making must have more' world we live in. I'll admit that I browse Facebook looking at pictures of people with big houses and good jobs and feel a pang of envy. I want a nice house. I want a steady full-time job with benefits and every second Friday off. I want, I want, I want......

One of the biggest complements I received while I was in Korea trying to decide if I should make the big move back to Canada came in the form of an email from someone (who I'll keep anonymous) who I know (although not nearly enough) from Canada. I was forever great full to see this at the end of the message:

...I think everyone has this idea that people who travel should stop and live in "the real world" as in, get a good job (in canada) buy a house, settle down. Even though I am doing that right now sometimes I think "is this the real world.....a boring job and a mortgage?" yeah, i can get my teeth cleaned for free because I have benefits......but there has to be more to life than that!
Anyway, that is my rant for the day haha.. meant to inspire, but sounds a bit depressing! Just know that I read your blog with a twinge of envy because it really seems that you are in the real world!

It was really refreshing to read this and at times when I think I don't have enough I flip through the pages of the good ole' blog and look back at all the adventures I've had. Damn I'm lucky I think, but then soon after I get all caught up in the work, make money to buy things mentality. I don't do nearly enough volunteer work. I work in the evenings instead of spending time doing things I enjoy.......because, get this, I kinda forgot what it is that I do enjoy. I don't have any hobbies. I've completely stopped studying Korean for fun. I don't make my health a priority when that above all things should come before work and money.

I get all caught up. I'm young enough to make a change (and so are you dad!). I'm smart enough to know what to do. Am I brave enough to do it?

I don't suspect I'll be lying on my death bed thinking 'why didn't I make enough money to buy a bigger house'?

So I've got some life choices to make. I've got to detail my goals and plans for the next few years and get on track because once I do that I know I can be successful. My biggest problem is not having a plan. Sung Hyun and I had planned everything about our lives up until Canada. And now that we are here we are both looking at each other wondering what is next.

So now the only question for you, my dear readers, is how do I get started? Because, honestly speaking, I'm fucking scared!

p.s. Thank you for writing that. You know who you are ;)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blue House Boys

Probably the coolest job I had in Korea was working for the President. Two times a week, along with an armed guard, I had to pass through 3 security check points and turn over my cell phone, keys and ID card so that I could enter the gates of Chunghwadae. I taught directly across from where the President resided. Once inside the grounds the routine walk to the building where I taugh became exactly that, a routine. There was nothing particularly special about it -- except one day when I got to pass by the President (who was in the distance I should add).

For the most part it was just another part-time job. I didn't treat it any different or put any more (or less) effort into it. I prepared my lesson, taught the students that came to class and sometimes if I was lucky I would get a glimpse into what kind of job they (the bodyguards I taught) really had. Other times my boss would ask me to go over legal documents with him and write letters to other head of states. I certainly wasn't qualified to be doing that (but neither was he). The most memorable experience I had was meeting and sitting beside the Director of Security (the big boss) while we watched and critiqued G20 security seminars. It was only until later when I saw him being whisked away by his own team of body guards, who led him to his own vehicle with driver, that I realized how important he truly was. Huh? The presidents body guards need body guards?

I remember one day since it was raining, I took at taxi to the main gate instead of walking. The taxi driver didn't believe me that I wanted to go Chunghwadae. Just take to me Chunghwadae I pleaded. He thought I was interested in taking a tour around the grounds so it wasn't until I showed him the name cards of some of the students that he quickly turned around. His next question was 'how much do you get paid?' AH! That little bugger (I never did tell him btw).

This job was amazing while it lasted. I was sad to have left Korean when things (work wise) were really working for me - haha. I was lucky to have had that opportunity. I got to see two very different sides of Korea because of that job -- the rich and powerful vs. the poor and powerless. I had guards hand me their name cards telling me that if I was in any trouble I wouldn't have to worry. But in all honesty, it was quite humbling to return back home at the end of the day, kick off my high-heel shoes, and snuggle up beside my Korean mom and hold her hand while we slept together on the same floor mat. If they only knew.

While looking at G20 summit photos on the internet, Sung Hyun paused at this photo and asked if I knew these men.

AHHHHHHHHH! Yes I know these men. Together we've talked about everything from their dating life, to being married, to the difficulties in their job and life in Korea in general. We've laughed together and have even shared a beer or .............. well one too many beers. RIGHT DONATA?

Actually the man in the glasses was always bugging me to set me up with one of my friends. So ladies any takers?

Photo credit to this site.

Remembrance Day!

To all those who fought for our freedom, I am thankful ;)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

FATTIE FILES November 7th, 2010

Sunday was filled with lesson planning, quiz writing, and chores. It's my least favourite day of the week since I often procrastinate and leave all my work for Sunday night. I did get outside today though since it was plus 17. Sung Hyun and I walked to the school park to play catch. I hope the weather can stay like this for a bit longer.
11:30 - breakfast was an egg (and 2 egg whites) with spinach and red peppers. I always add a little scope of crushed garlic to my eggs and it makes all the difference (if you like garlic) -- TRY IT! I also had a smoothie with 1 cup of almond milk, 1/2 banana, handful of blueberries and 1.5 cups of organic spinach.
2:00 - apple with cinnamon and strawberries
2 corn thins with peanut butter and the other half of my banana with a handful of veggies
4:00 - I made rice krispie squares for my students tomorrow. I ate the leftover from the bottom of the bowl -- the best part ;)
5:45 - Sunday dinner was roast chicken with potatoes, stuffing and some greens
6:30 - for dessert I ate a small blueberry banana muffin ;)


Saturday, November 06, 2010

My husband shovels metal for a living.....

Sung Hyun is such a trooper when it comes to work. I suspect it is because he comes from a hardworking family. After his dad died of cancer when he was 10, his mom became the sole breadwinner for 6 children. That's a lot of mouths to feed. She worked in manual labour, since she was never schooled due to financial distress after the Korean war. Sung Hyun was the only male in the house and as such learned quickly that it was his duty was to take care of his mom. So he did just that. He dropped out of school in grade 10. He worked for his brother-in-law. He begged the army to let him service the mandatory 2 years (and 2 months) since he hadn't completed high school. At a time in life when most adolescent boys try to find ways to avoid doing military service, Sung Hyun was writing letters to officials asking to be granted permission to serve his country. The hard work and discipline that he learned was applied to his life. It became his motto. He's most know around his workplace for just being 'happy'. My friends compliment him on his sense of humour a happy demeanour.

Nothing in Sung Hyun's life came easy for him; except for his FREE RIDE TO CANADA -- a common expression made by some Koreans that have told me exactly that. Mostly Koreans who study English their whole lives hoping for some kind of opportunity to live abroad. If they are wealthy or come from higher class families then they are often awarded this privilege. And then here is this guy whose English mark was 8% in high school given the opportunity to live this dream. BAHAHAHAHA! NOT! I laugh at the notion that I'm his prince charming sweeping him away into a fairly tale world. Are you kidding me? I would never want to say good-bye to my family, to everything I've known my whole life to live in a foreign country forever (not to say we won't go back, but we are prepared for the long haul). A country with -50 degree winters to boot;)

No one paid for him to go to school (a privilege that I take for granted), no one gave him money to spend when he was growing up. The money he earned was very well earned. Even when he did favours for friends and they would slip him some green bills he still insisted on writing a receipt and turning the money over to the company he worked for.

When we came to Canada he told me "I'm ready to work hard in Canada. I'm ready to clean toilets" He's been at his job for 6 weeks now. He applied for 6 or 7 welding jobs but didn't get a single bite. So instead he accepted the first job he was offered. That job being at a metal scrap yard. For the first half of the day he shovels metal. For the second half of the day, if he's lucky, he cuts metal with a blow torch. He works outside.

Two weeks ago on Friday his boss asked him to do some welding. He got asked to come in on Saturday to work some overtime to continue with the welding job. After watching Sung Hyun work, a man from a private welding company that was working along side him that day asked him "what the hell are you doing here?" Sung Hyun, not knowing it was a compliment, replied: "I'm working here. I shovel metal. It's my job." The man laughed and continued to watch him work. He complimented him on his skills. Sung Hyun came home beaming that day!

Earlier that week after Sung Hyun had completed all the shovelling in the morning he went to the other side of the junk yard to find his cutting boss (a.k.a. another employee) to get his next assignment. After walking around the junk yard for 10 minutes looking for this guy he decided to go to the office to find him there. One the way to the office he found him alright. He found him sleeping in a pipe. He laughed and shook his head. And smiled!

Yesterday when Sung Hyun got home he told me he was fired. I knew he was kidding and something had to be up. He showed me his paycheck. After a month of work for this company he surpassed the probationary period and was given a $3 an hour pay raise -- obviously out of recognition and appreciation for his hard work.

So here's to my husband. A man who works hard but doesn't expect a thing in return!!

I'm too hard on him and don't give him enough credit for his awesomeness ;)


p.s. Sung Hyun did go back to school to finish his high school after a couple years into our relationship. And he got over 80% in most classes. Now, if only I could get him to be more serious about studying English <----- see I am hard on him ;)

FATTIE FILES November 4th, 2010

On Friday I helped my friend Jennifer prepare for an engineering job interview so we headed to a coffee shop for some eats to go over some interview questions. I slept in since I didn't have to work at the university this Friday. YAH for that! It was a much needed break. I did however have some private English lessons in the early afternoon.
10:30 - a handful of nuts to tide me over until lunch
12:00 - THE LUCKY BOWL - tofu with brown rice and peanut sauce (at the bottom of the bowl) with organic veggies on top.
The restaurant we ate at was called the 13th ave. coffee house and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is in the city. And if you can't make it to this restaurant then try making it at home. This was one of the most delicious meals I have ever had. And after tip and tax it was only $11. I have a feeling I'll be visiting this place more often.

And then when my day couldn't be any better, my student cancelled his lesson 40 minutes before class so I enjoyed a full day off not working (which I haven't done in 3 weeks). For some reason I feel guilty when I take time off work. Anyone else?
6:00 - dinner was baked salmon with a mix of brown/ wild rice and spinach and cranberry salad with some Asian dressing. The salad was simple and delicious. I'm still trying to convince myself to like salmon. I ended up not eating the dill sauce since it reminded me of chip dip. But that simple salad will certainly be making an appearance more often.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Ahhhh I keep forgetting my camera so I haven't been as diligent with taking pictures as I was in Korea. I took my camera with me EVERYWHERE in Korea. I should get into the habit of doing it again. My friend Jennifer told me that there are interesting things I'm doing in Canada that I just haven't been documenting (Halloween parties/ kids trick-or-treating for instance)

Anyways, life is slowing down a bit. Which means I can start preparing some of my own meals. Usually I just eat whatever my mom cooks for dinner (which is good b/c I don't have time to prepare my own and it's included in the cost of rent.......and b/c they are some of my Western favourites). I will try to keep up my FATTIE FILES Canada style project for a little bit longer before I get bored.

In other news, it snowed last week. But thankfully the sun has cleared up most of it because it was NOT FUN!
Last weekend I spent 16 hours marking (and double marking with another teacher) student mid-term exams. I didn't even have time to hand out candies to the little kiddies. But thankfully this little dinosaur stopped by to say hi and "offer me a hand with marking".....haha!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

FATTIE FILES November 2nd, 2010

In terms of work, today was a repeat of yesterday.
10 am (1/2 cup of oatmeal cooked in 1 cup of almond milk) topped with nuts and dried cranberries
11:30 - 2 slices of meat and veggie pizza
2:15 - blueberry banana muffin with orange and Nestea
4:00 - grapes and rice krispie treat
5:00 2 mini chocolate bars
6:00 - chicken breast on whole wheat and small black coffee from Tim Horton's
10 pm - small helping of baked spaghetti (random embarrassing fact: I like ketchup with my spaghetti)

So not so healthy, but I was starving!

Thank goodness I'm done subbing at Regina Open Door Society for the time being. Now I can resume my somewhat normal life.

Monday, November 01, 2010

FATTIE FILES!!! November 1st

Knowing that I would be eating pizza for dinner was the only thing that powered me through my 10 hour work day!
9 am- Special K with almond milk, 1/2 cup of coffee and small apple
11:30 - ham, cheese lettuce & ranch dressing wrap
2:30 - banana
4:30 - wrap #2 same as above, rice krispie square
5:00 puffed wheat square
6:30 - handful of cranberries + orange juice
10 pm - 3 slices of pizza! YUM YUM!

Today I worked ALL day.

10 -11 private English class with Korean store owner (stayed late - 11:30)
12:30 - 4:30 teach 2 classes at university
4:30 - 5:30 tally and enter mid-term marks into the computer
6 - 9:30 work at Regina Open Door Society
Is it really only Monday?