Whew, according to my stats, I haven’t posted an update since around Valentine’s Day. So what’s been up with me?
Finishing my TESOL certifcation
You hear people talking about doing these things and what a pain they are–they’re right. Grammar exercises, lesson planning for classes that don’t exist, several hundred pages of reading, essays… mine took me nearly the maximum amount of time (6 months). There’s nothing quite like teaching English all day to make you not want to come home and think some more about teaching English.
All in all, I’m really glad I did one though. It opens up new job opportunities in Korea and different countries, it taught me terminology to express my frustrations and students’ abilities succinctly, and I got a lot of ideas for my one-to-one and small group classes.
David’s Visit Home
Visit is an understatement. He’s gone for FIVE MONTHS. We’re doing a good job of Skypeing a few times a week, e-mailing each other, and staying involved in the other’s life, but as anyone whose ever been in a long distance relationship can tell you, it’s hard. Obviously, in the time leading up to his March 2nd departure, we were trying to spend as much time together as possible.
There’s a lot of romanticizing of international love and living in foreign countries, but in reality it’s a lot of timing visas and paperwork, figuring out time differences and budgeting to afford plane tickets. David going home for the summer while I stayed here to finish out my contract was what ultimately worked best for us (some factors out of our control prevented some of our previous plans).
The fun stuff: we both have July 26th plane tickets to Richmond International Airport! Even though we’re flying from different countries, we managed to time things so we arrive within a few hours of one another. Right now we’re both looking for jobs close to each other or through a joint application with GEPIK, a government program for placing public school teachers in the Gyeonggi-do province (Seoul).
This is my eternal excuse for not taking time to write, but the amount of energy and planning that goes into teaching (not to mention the administrative stuff like grading, progress reports, syllabi, etc.) sucks the life out of me most weeks. It’s becoming one of those things, like working in a restaurant, that I think everyone should do just to get some perspective. TEACHING IS HARD. It’s rewarding, but often thankless, and never ending in its to-dos.
I’ve spoken about this before, but when you work in a hagwon, there are no substitute teachers. If you’re sick or need some time for a personal reason, you know that your fellow teachers are going to get hammered picking up your classes. At my school, Korean teachers are paid per class taught while foreigners are on a salaried contract. If you teach over 26.5 hours in a week (that’s 41 classes), you can get overtime, but there’s loopholes. Guess which group it’s more economical to make cover classes?
We had a teacher at my school become really unreliable in the last part of her contract and everyone covered A LOT of extra classes for her. It was a really negative situation with tons of emotional/workplace politics layers I can’t even begin to explain here. But I can say that it was exhausting.
I think everything is more or less in place now. My contract is over July 25th and I leave Korea for around 3 weeks the next day. I can’t wait to go home and to have a break. Things are still stirring at work with bad administrative decisions, but I do love my students and classroom time is the best part of the job. Right now there’s more time for me, for friends, and hopefully for the blog.