Wednesday, January 2, 2013

In other news

I realise that I don't often do general posts about what's been up lately - I usually only post when something I think is interesting happens. But today I've decided to let my fingers do the talking and type whatever comes to mind. This could get messy :)

So school officially ended on Friday. The kids went off on vacation, the teachers took a deep breath of relief and looked at me with pity as they said "you no vacation, aw" and left for their time away. Things aren't as clean cut as they are back home though. During vacation time, certain teachers still come in every few days to be in the office. My Vice-Principal hangs around too as do the teachers who run the Edu-Care classes. The kids will also come in for certain programs like my English Camp, or a ski trip, or by the looks of our office - badminton?! So it's not a months solid vacation for everyone. I get brought to school by whoever is the unlucky teacher on duty for the day. A lot of other foreign teachers will get to leave early, or leave after their camps etc during the vacation. But as expected, not with me. I am at school from 8.30 till 4.30 and all the snow we've had means I only end up getting home after 5. So it's fairly tedious but I plan on watching a bunch of series and movies once my camps are done. I'm running a 5 senses English camp at both my schools for a week each. That will help pass the time but no one could tell me how many students are coming so I hope I end up with enough to run the damn thing. It's quite sad to have my real classes all finished -  I doubt I'll teach my kids properly again before I leave, and just hope I'll get to say goodbye to them all. They really have found a special place in my heart and are often the reason I have made it through the day (although they are also responsible for any gray hairs I may have picked up). It's just testament to how quickly this year has actually gone: when I first arrived I remember thinking that January was going to be the worst because you're stuck desk-warming and are really just waiting to come home. But now I'm here, and am not all that sure how it came so quickly.

A lot of people mistake my excitement for going home as a sign that I haven't enjoyed my year here. There is sympathy in some messages/comments I get that I don't always understand. Let me set the record straight - although I am beyond excited to be going home, I have had the most incredible year of my life here and it's not easy to give this up. There are many things I'll miss (a post to come later) and many things I'm not looking forward to about going home (being broke is one of them, although my parents say they will happily embrace unemployed Bron...for now anyway haha). I know my situations are often used as examples of how tough things in Korea can be and we laugh at my misfortunes but I think that's what has made this experience for me. If I was unhappy I would have left Korea long ago. I don't know why but I really felt the need to clear that up.

I've learned a lot about my co-teacher over the past few weeks. I have bitched and ranted about her, she has made me cry tears of frustration and has pushed me to breaking point on a number of occasions. But I think this is where my biggest lesson this year has been hidden, and is something I need to try and communicate to the next GET should they have her too. Yes, she can be useless. I cannot always make excuses for her. But the number of times something has happened that has made me flip my lid, only to discover later that there was a miscommunication and all is well, outnumber the times she has genuinely just screwed me over. A lot of times, she tries to tell me things (like should there be a snowfall, I need to find my own way to school which is a MISSION because the other teachers think it's dangerous and all I can think is 'oh so you'll sacrifice the foreign teacher but not you') but because of her low English ability, it comes out a lot worse than maybe intended. Also, sometimes the news doesn't come from her. I had to fight to take my leave early and my school was being totally unreasonable but once I sat down and played some pictionary with her to explain the situation, I saw she was in my corner. I have been a huge source of stress for her I'm sure and although I'd be lying if I said I didn't resent her in some ways, I have also accepted that she isn't always the bad person trying to make my life difficult. I know I've said it before but I really think many GETs come here expecting some kind of special treatment due to their foreigner card and in many ways we do get that. But we also need to step down from our pedestal to realise that these teachers don't always ask to be our babysitters. It is SO difficult not to compare experiences in Korea...the friend who I came over with was placed in Daejeon and we might as well have spent the year in different countries - that's how different our experiences have been. And it took me sucking it up to embrace my situation instead of coveting every other teachers position. I guess I just want other teachers coming to remember that you never know what you're going to get - you need to be ready for it but also give your co-teacher a chance - there's often a lot more going on than we can ever imagine. I can't say that I think my co-teacher is going to be particularly sad when I leave but then she tends to surprise me so who knows. I'm just grateful for her in a weird way as she has taught me to stand on my own two feet and get on with it.

The weather here is frightfully cold. You know you're in the middle of a Korean Winter when you see the low for the day is -18 and you think that's normal. We've had a lot of snow over the past few days, and the roads can be a nightmare to try and walk on, let alone drive on. But it doesn't stop the Korean women from wearing them heels - they really are something else. I take my hat off to the super powers they must possess to keep up their appearances through rain and snow. I seem to be getting more and more like the Michelin man with all my layers as it gets colder but my coworkers look no puffier. I'm hoping to do some sledding and experience a snow festival in the next few weeks. When in Rome and all that. But really the cold is making me want to retreat deep into the depths of my bed and never have to leave. I still prefer it to the extreme Summer heat though.

So I can say I'm going home next month. I have 5 odd weeks left, and I know they are going to fly by. It's all pretty surreal and I'm just trying to soak up as much of Korea as I can before I have to leave. It's not somewhere I ever see myself coming back to for vacation so need to make the most of it. As for what lies ahead of me this year - who knows. I'd love to travel some more, and really want to do some NGO volunteering/interning in South Africa and maybe Kenya but at this point I'm content with a nice long holiday when I get home, and seeing where the wind takes me from there. If I sound blase it's because I'm trying to...inside I'm freaking out a tad ;) It's exciting though, knowing that anything can happen. I doubt I'll keep posting on this blog when I leave but maybe I'll start a new one for my new adventures :)

I think that's all really...hope you didn't suffer any whiplash from my subject changes. I'm really just procrastinating but should start finalising my plans for my camp next week. Seems no matter what I do or how much I grow up, procrastination will forever be my downfall.

Until next time... :)

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