Saturday, July 27, 2013

Home Again

I am back in America.  Honestly, I have missed it quite a bit, but I never really had too much homesickness while I was in Korea since I always knew this was a temporary stint and that I would return.  And I have. 

I am still adjusting to life back in Ohio.  It's strange to do the normal every day tasks and think, wow I haven't done this in over one year.  Just the simple things like eating real pizza (sorry Korea, but American pizza is like 1000x better), texting from my American non-smart phone, turning on the TV and understanding everything, or even driving my beloved manual '95 Civic.  It's a little strange sometimes, but I'm enjoying it. 

It's good to see all of my American friends again and there are many I have yet to see.  I haven't really started to miss Korea yet since I'm still adjusting, but I can guarentee that the thing I will miss the most are the people and friends I have made while I was over there, particularly my friends from CrossFit and Pusan National University.  But luckily we have facebook, kakao (when I get my smart phone!), and all sorts of other lovely technology.  Still, it is going to be a very long time before I can return to Korea and even when I do, I know it won't be quite the same, especially at the rate this country is developing at.

A lot of people are asking if I am happy that I went.  I tell them yes.  It was the opportunity of a lifetime and I am so glad I was able to take advantage of it.  I've never really been one to follow the crowd or do things in the traditional manner that most others do so really it seemed almost natural that I would do something like this.  I've always wanted to go abroad and I was able to for a very short time prior to this, but nothing like my year in Korea.  I stayed in that country for exactly one year and nine days straight, never leaving it and I have no regrets about it.

I suppose this is the end of the blog then since my Fulbright adventure has been officially wrapped up (after I finally send in the IIE report that I started a while ago and need to submit by the end of the month).

On to the next adventure.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A few goodbyes from students

So this week we are doing last lessons as I will return to America on Sunday.  So we are playing "Benjamin Trivia" which is bascially a rather narcissistic version of Jeopardy but it's fun.  After about 30 minutes of that, we spend 20 minutes writing goodbye post-its to me.  I thought I'd share some of the more memorable ones.  The only thing changed is names which are just initials and I put which class they were a student in at the end.

"Hi I am SH. When I met first met you I feel frustrated. because I don't know what to say but now I'm okay." 1-3A

"Benjamin teacher!  Thanks for teaching us.  I never forget all the time.  Whenever I hard, I think your favor.  I hope you are always happy!  Goodbye teacher~" 1-3A

"Good bye benjamin ㅠㅠ I miss you so much~ I like you. you are so beautiful and so handsome!" 2-1

"good luck benJamin while your life. I will remember you, Although I don't speak very well I Feel your Passion. I hope your dream come true - Gwang Yang High School 2-1 SJJ" 2-1

"Hi 벤자민 ! [Korean for Benjamin] I don't speek English! Ha Ha Ha Ha bye bye um...maybe. I miss you from JH" 1-3B

"Hi Mr. benjamin maybe you can't remember me but I will see you later in busan. goodbye" 1-3B

"I will remember you when I sad or bore your class was enteres to and excited to me I remember you benJamin.  One bad student GSS" 2-2

"Benjamin is very funny  Fasion is great  I'll miss you teacher!  America going happy I hope you  Good Bay" 2-2

"I want to leave in korea. I want to go America. Korea is bad contury  Made in U.S.A. gift send me signature "Jony dep." please.  Good bye  You are a good teacher.  From -THK- 'Dokdo is Korea'" 1-5B

"Thank you for Benjamin  push up 200 try [In the game we played I said I can do 100 pushups] I hope happy to Benjamin Dear JH" 1-5B

"Benjamin teacher~ First, I'm so sorry about our impolite manner. I think you are little bit hard in our school day.  But I hope You are little bit happy in our school day and our country too.  Umm....Thank you for teaching me about cursive and bravery.  You are very good, stylish and handsome, kind teacher.  See you later GIS the future Korean teacher and poet" 2-3

"Hi Benjamin  I'm your best student.  I will miss you.  You will have been returned to Gwangyang.  I will buy Ice Cream.  I Benjamin. LJH" 2-3

"Good Bye! Your class is my break time!  You will be best in your life! Bye" 2-4

"Thank you~~! I've never miss you.  Class is very funny.  air plane go America. Be care full. You don't me miss.  Bye...  GwangYang High School -SJL  [Back] BenJamin From....  in Korea 2013.7.10 whether: sunny" 2-4

"to Benzamin  Hi. Benzamin teacher.  'I'll pray for your Good Luck' see you later." 1-8C

"We have a good time with you We never forget you  time is so fast but you must go  I miss you teacher  Don't miss our school" 1-8C

"My name is LIJ.  English camp is cooking  very delicious  Good Bye" 2-5

"To BenJamin  If you like play League of legend, you must be play the game when you reach in America.  I'll creat N.A. account tomorro So when you reach in america send a message to my naver mail" 2-5

"Thank you for your teaching.  I was happy iwth you.  your yellow hair is charming.  I love you.  I will miss you.  Goodbye.  See you later." 1-7A

to. Benjamin  When you start LOL [League of Legends], add me '_____'  I'm good at Draven!  and, I always though that your fashion is so handsome!  from HJ" 1-1A

hey ben teacher. Dear.  I love you  please marry with me ♥ ~ Don't forget us." 1-1B

"bye teacher  teacher your good boy  See you next time.  I'm real teacher love   teacher bye bye bye ㅜㅜ" 1-6C

"Sorry to sleep  I did not sleep last night.  Thank you for teaching us.  We will miss you.  you was great teacher." 2-6

Anyways, you probably get the idea!  It was pretty cool to see.  I'll def miss them all.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The List Revisited

Okay so wayyyy back in time (last June) I made a list of goals that I wanted to achieve in Korea.  Well I am going to revisit these goals and grade myself on how well I did.  Might be a bit scary but I'll go ahead and do it.  So here it goes:

Goal 1:  Become a better teacher
Grade: A

Yay!  Okay I really do feel like I have become a better teacher.  I am more comfortable than ever standing in front of a classroom (or teachers for that matter) and leading and teaching them.  I have learned to roll with the many, many punches that come at teachers here in Korea and have learned how to adapt my lesson and incorporate last minute changes as needed.  I have also been able to meett difficult challenges (namely non-English speakers and huge class sizes) that teachers encounter and, in my opinion, thrive.  Overall, I am very pleased with how I have developed at a teacher here in Korea.

Goal 2:  Ready for this?  Learn Korean
Grade: D

Alright, well I will be the first to admit that this was pretty much a bomb.  Not completely since I did learn to read Korean and my listening is okay, but I am not able to "hold a semi-intelligent conversation" as I had hoped, unless you count introductions.  But I am not upset about this because I was able to experience Korean culture and life in many, many other ways.

Goal 3:  Learn to cook Korean food
Grade: C

Very sad as I would have loved to learn, but I ended up getting involved in other things and it just slipped out.  I did do some cooking classes which was great, but not the extent at which I wanted.  However, I gave myself a few points because rather than learning to cook Korean food, I taught Koreans how to cook American food!  I was still able to have a great cultural exchange using food and the students that I taught really enjoyed making and eating these dishes.

Goal 4: Practice/Regain long lost photography skills
Grade: C-ish

Alright well it's an ish because my digital cam was a bit kaputt for a while (haven't checked it in a while so maybe it's resurrected?)  I did use my film cam for a little bit, but I haven't developed the photos -__-  I do however, have a significant of photos on my phone that has never seen the light of this blog so that counts for something too!

Goal 5: Go climbing on real rocks
Grade: B

Okay well I didn't do the type of climbing I was hoping for, I did do some climbing of mountains and such so that counts! :)

Goal 6: Be as open to as many adventures and opportunities as I can
Grade: A

Yes!  Complete and utter success here.  Love it!  Where to start?  First off coming to Korea, bungee jumping, eating dog soup, moving to Busan without knowing what to expect (ended up being the best decision of my grant year!), basically never saying no to my host fam and their outings, doing CrossFit, getting haircuts alone, traveling alone, missing my bus in Mokpo and not freaking out, going to saunas, and so many other fantastic adventures that I have shared with you on this blog and facebook.

Goal 7: Live a healthier and more active lifestyle
Grade: A

Again, another huge victory!  Whoo!  I joined CrossFit Suncheon and CrossFit Busan later on during winter break, and I LOVED it!!  I am actually going to the gym (which was probably a huge shock to people at was to me haha!) and kind of naturally eating better and it's great!  Huge A for this goal.

Goal 8: Be more neat and tidy
Grade D-

Yeah about that.  Maybe slightly better than America, but not much.  Actually at school I am definitely more tidy and neat (still organized even if I wasn't!).  Oh well.  I'll try again next year!

Overall I guess I did pretty well.  I completely succeeded in the catergories that are most important like teaching and being open to adventures but of course I floundered in a few others.  And even though I didn't necessairly accomplish all the goals I wanted to coming in, I achieved so much more as I did things that I didn't even think about when making this list like becoming more independent, becoming more open-minded, learning a ridiculous amount about Korea (though there are still many, many things I have yet to learn), becoming more tech-savy, and a ton of other stuff.

So I would say it was a successful year.

Wrapping Up

I can't believe this whole adventure is coming to a close soon!  I remember coming into the airport, wandering aimlessly and wondering how the heck I got myself into this whole situation.  Officially have about one week left! 

My students had their exams this week so I had Wednesday - Friday off.  On Wednesday, I was in Suncheon the whole time.  I was lucky enough to meet up with my former co-teacher, Ms. Choi, her daughter, and the previous Fulbright ETA teacher at my school, Ryan.  It was great to see them all again before I headed back to the USA. 

And, of course, I had to go back to Busan before I left!  It really became my second home during the grant year.  If you ever have the chance to go to this city, please do!  In my humble opinion, it is much better than Seoul as it is significantly smaller (though still an extremely large city with ~3 million people), the sidewalks cleaner, the people are friendlier (though there are always exceptions), the weather warmer, the shopping cheaper, and just a wonderful place.  If I would have stayed in Korea, I certainly would have gone to teach in Busan. 

Anyways, I got to Busan and checked into a motel in Seomyeon.  It was actually the first time I have stayed overnight in a city alone and it felt great!  Anyways, I had one last shopping spree at H&M and got several fantastic deals as usual.  I will definitely miss Korean clothes so I had to load up before I left, right?  Afterwards, I met a Fulbright friend and a PNU student for dinner which was great!  There was a slight problem, but luckily, my fantastic Korean friend, Jung Hwan resolved it brilliantly (Note: If you are a new ETA, teacher, or just random person checking out Korea, make some Korean friends.  They can basically do anything and make some serious magic happen). 

But yeah, we got dinner and ran into some Fulbrights which was totally random, but awesome!  So we all hung out with each other and it was great!!  Went and got some coffee and chatted for a couple of hours.  It was a wonderful last night in Busan.

In the morning, I slept in and met two of my other PNU students for lunch.  Again, it was awesome to see them!!!  And they are incredibly easy to talk to as their English is ridic good and we are all of a similar age.  We had some Shabu Shabu and then went to a cafe afterwards.  Again, Korean friends are awesome because you can really open up and have a great cultural exchange.  I feel like I have gotten a glimpse inside the culture that can be somewhat difficult to see, especially if you are like me and have poor language skills.  Those goodbyes were probably the hardest of all of them so far, but we are connected through facebook, kakao, etc. so I guess it isn't really a goodbye.

Now I am just sitting around my homestay typing this up.  Although the homestay has definitely been the hardest part of my grant year, I really do like them all and I will miss them (as Young Chan is screaming in the background haha).  I feel very lucky that they were willing to open up their home to me (which is like realllly unusual in Korean culture). 

Alrighty.  I guess that's it for now.  I do have some new developments career-wise, but I'd prefer not share until I have made final decisions and I know for sure what I will be doing and where I will be going.  I will say that I will probably be able to discuss it next week or the week after.  Sorry to keep you in suspense haha.

Okay, until next time!  Only a couple more posts probably.  Crazyyy haha.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Last Two Weeks



So I guess I will actually update for real this time.  The main reason being that the internet at my school is down so I can’t really do my work and I’m not just going to sit at my desk doing nothing sooooo here I am being slightly productive haha. 


So I only have like 13 days left in Korea.  Nuts!  Here’s a few things I have been up to lately:


l  I went to Seoul this past weekend.  We had our final Fulbright dinner.  It was bittersweet to say goodbye to everyone, but we all knew this day would come and it was great to see everyone.  I’m sure I’ll stumble into some of the ones when I go to America.  I don’t really know where I will end up being when I return to the States, but we are literally scattered all over the country from Hawaii to Maine so we’re bound to stumble into each other sometime!

l  Anyways, the dinner was pretty good.  Some ETAs complained about the food, but hey it was free and it was fairly tasty.  Yeah it wasn’t as good as past dinners, but I left feeling full and happy.  We had like a ton of speeches and presentations to sit through before we ate though and that was a little rough since the only thing I at prior to dinner was some ddeokboki.  Maybe I was just so hungry I didn’t notice about the food haha.

l  After dinner, I set off and hung out with some of the other ETAs.  We went to this bar/restaurant place (where we accidentally found some 3rd year ETAs which was cool).  There were like 7-8 of us and then we split up to do Norebang/Karaoke which is always very fun.  All of the people in this group are very, very good at Korean so they were all singing all these K-pop songs.  I was pretty impressed.  I did a few numbers, but they were English songs haha.

l  On Sunday, I slept in with my fellow Fulbrighters in our hostel and we eventually rose from our slumbers and headed out to meet some others for lunch.  We had Mexican!  It was actually the first time I had Mexican in about 1 year.  It’s like the number 1 food a lot of people miss, but I haven’t really.  I mean it’s good, but there’s a ton of other foods I would rather have.  But it was pretty tasty.  Got a pork burrito.  After lunch, I said my final goodbyes to some of my ETAs and I headed out back to Suncheon.


So that was last weekend.  I have a few other plans for the rest of my time here.  This week is exams so we don’t have a lot to do.  Most teachers are just letting students do self-study, but I’m not really all about that since all the other teachers do it.  So we are going to play speed quiz instead!  Yay!  And the native Chinese teacher is coming to class.  She only teaches like 4 hours a week, but she must be there 9-5 every day.  So she’s super bored.  I just learned this Friday so I invited her to come to my classes and she said she’d love to!  She’s really good at English so she’ll understand everything easily.  Should be fun!


Since it’s finals, I do not have class Wed-Fri.  Therefore, I am going to my favorite city, Busan, one last time on Thursday and Friday.  I’m really excited!  I’m going to try to meet up with all of my friends one more time there and then go do some last minute shopping too. 


Okay, internet is back.  I have to finish doing all of the speaking test scores.  I’ll update at least another time before I head back to America.  See you soon!