Thursday, July 26, 2012

My First Detention (aka "Mandatory Office Hours")

Who would have thought that my first detention I have ever had to serve would be in Korea?  Well technically it is not detention, but rather a mandatory study hall that I must attend since my Korean grade isn't up to snuff.  It's not really even a punishment per se but just a way to make sure that I will stay on the right track to graduate Korean class with a passing grade.  We have had two quizzes thus far and I earned a 12 out of 20 on the first and a 7 out of 20 on the second.  You need a 14 average to be passing.  Oops.

It isn't even that I am not studying, but it is more 1.) I am not studying the right things; I focused more on writing than vocab and the quiz was very vocab heavy, and 2.) I have discovered that I am awful at rote memorization, hence I am struggling with vocabulary.  Also, I am having some difficulties reading.  I can read it, but sometimes mistake similar looking letters and I read at a pretty slow pace compared to most of my classmates.  I suspect that some of these troubles stem from a lack of foreign language studies (I haven't studied a language since junior year of high school since I miraculously tested out of German at Walsh) and the fact that I haven't really had a need for rote memorization as a history/education.  My assignments were more project-based or writing research papers instead of cramming for tests.  I am really going to buckle down on studying this weekend and go to more office hours than required.  I will be sure to report back my next quiz score which I will receive next Tuesday....

On a more positive note, I went to a traditional Korean tea ceremony tonight.  It was a lot more fun than I anticipated it to be.  As many of you know, I am not really the best at sitting still for long periods of time, but it was more active than I thought it would be.  It was almost like the choreography of a dance with the moves you had to make with brewing the tea, pouring it, and then cleaning it up.  We were able to have two teas, a green tea and a fruit-based tea.  I preferred the fruit tea as it was much sweeter (naturally! No sugar added!) but the green tea was good too.  The facilitator of the ceremony was telling us that we should be able to taste 4 or 5 different flavors in the green tea, like bitter, salty, sweet, and something else that our ETA coordinator couldn't translate, but it just tasted like regular unsweetened tea to me.  She said that it takes about 6 months of drinking 5-10 cups of tea a day to really refine your tea palate.  That sounds like a lot but the cups are only three gulps of tea so it isn't an exorbitant amount.  Another interesting thing that she said was that the ideal temp. for tea was about 70 degrees or so and that you should only brew it for 2-3 minutes max.  A lot of people were taking pics and I forgot my camera so when I see some, I will post some for you all to see because it was actually pretty nifty.

So tonight, I have to submit my placement form (due in fifty minutes) and write six more questions in Korean using numbers in the question or answer (due tomorrow in class).  For the placement, I am still pretty unsure of what I want.  I am probably going to put "no preference" for most of it because it is honestly true.  I don't really know enough about Korea to know exactly what I want and even if I did, I would not want too high of expectations for my school and city.  So I think I'm pretty much going to wing it.  All that I know is that I don't really want an urban school because I want to be more involved with the community and this is harder to do in a city of millions.  So I am going to shoot for suburban or rural.  Interestingly enough, the school populations are often opposite of America's in how the urban schools are often better than schools in suburbs or rural settings because they have more access to resources and they are more appealing to live in, which is good for high-performing teachers and parents with money.  Also, the public schools tend to be better than private schools as the teachers and administrators in public schools have to undergo rigorous testing and they have to rotate around schools every 3 to 5 years.  That means in a public school, the most senior staff member will only have 5 years at that school.  This spreads the high-performing teachers and administrators all over the districts.  Another benefit for public schools is that they get much more funding than a private school would.  But anyways, the differences between the Korean educational system and the American one are vast and I am sure that I will be able to discuss them in a more intellectual and informed manner once I actually get to the schools so I'll stop before you leave the page with a headache.

That's about it for now.  I'm teaching my lesson on love tomorrow haha.  I'm actually doing an old school dating game show type format where I have some wonderful ETA friends coming in to be contestants that are interviewing the students.  I think it is going to be pretty fun.  And we have a mostly free weekend!  I am most likely going to be staying in Goesan playing catch-up and working with the camp, but I'm sure I'll sneak some fun in here and there.

Until next time!

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