May 31, 2013

One thing I will miss about Korea

I ordered this egg mcmuffin online ten minutes ago. And now I'm eating it. Ten minutes. 

May 28, 2013

Plastic Surgery in Korea

I'd like to direct your attention to a excellent piece of writing by my friend Maggie of Maggie Moo Does Korea. It's about the cult of beauty and obsession with plastic surgery in Korea. I've wanted to touch upon this issue myself, but Maggie's piece sums it up better than I ever could. Also, her blog is excellent in general and I suggest you check the rest of it out.

Maggie Moo Does Plastic Surgery in Korea: The Malibu Nose

May 26, 2013

Student of the Day: Katie

As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to do a little "Student of the Day" series to document some of the faces that have become so familiar to me over the last few months.

This is Katie. Her Korean name is 승아.  She's in 6th grade and wants to be a science teacher when she grows up. She's one of my star students! I was so proud when she had a conversation with my father during his visit. Katie likes to come hang out in my classroom during lunch hour. She never stays for very long, but I always look forward to our little chats.  She also uses my classroom as a hiding spot from her friends and, more recently, some of her male classmates. Ahh, young love.

This isn't the best picture, but it says "I want to be a middle school science teacher because I like to teach middle school students and study science."

She wants to teach middle school students. I wanted to ask her if she's ever MET any middle school students. She's a braver soul than I am.

May 22, 2013

Smells Like Preteen Spirit

Spring is in the air. So are hormones.

Seemingly overnight, my 6th graders have transformed from hilarious, intelligent, focused young boys and girls into.. dun dun dun.. PRETEENS.  There are hormones everywhere. Oh god, the hormones. I swear I'm going to start breaking out just from being in their presence.

Today is a perfect example. I made the 6th graders a new seating chart (at their request, I might add) and implemented it today. I know them well enough to be able to seat them by ability, putting the strongest students next to a weaker student so the weaker gets help and the stronger gets to reenforce his/her knowledge through teaching. I also always sit them boy-girl, because after the initial awkwardness it usually serves to balance the room out and keep anybody from getting into too much trouble.

The key word in that sentence is usually. When it goes wrong, it goes very, very wrong. I'm still not even sure what happened today. I was calling out seating assignments and getting the usual amount of grumbling and giggling, but then I called out two names and all hell broke loose.


Oh. My god.

I wasn't about to let some 6th grade drama interfere with my perfectly balanced and calibrated (read: done in 10 minutes after lunch) seating chart, so I laid the smackdown on the class and told them to sit down. But it didn't stop there. The girl, Katie, was so mortified to be sitting next to this particular boy that she actually moved her desk several feet away from his. The desks are put together in pairs, so she was a little desk island in a sea of doubles. She remained this way throughout the class. You would think this was the end of it, right? Wrong. The class continued to taunt them until she was reduced to tears and I had to go full-on Serious Teacher on them.  We had to have a class talk about the word "respect" and how we need to be nice to our teacher and be nice to our friends. We (I) talked about how yes, English class is fun and yes, Megan Teacher is fun, but this is still learning time and we need to respect each other.

Shit got real.

This wasn't even the only hormone-fueled incident in class today. I had another pair in the front row who also refused to sit near each other, despite the fact that they were perfectly friendly last week and I see them talking in the hallway all the time. I told them calm down, you're not going to die. Eventually they settled down enough to get some work done, but we barely made it through the lesson and I had to sneakily slip Katie some tissues during the video clip because she was still crying. Now I have to talk to her tomorrow and ask if she really does want to change seats, and if so, figure out a way to do it without causing a big scene and just exasperating the issue.

Oh, the life of a teacher.

It actually occurred to me today that for all that I document about my life here, a surprisingly small amount is dedicated to the people I spent more time with than anybody else: my students.

Because my school is so small, I actually have the chance to be a part of my students' lives and get to know them. They all have English names for English class, but I know a fair number of their real names as well. I have the group of giggling 6th grade girls, Hannah, Alexa, Rachel, and Gina, who come hang out in my classroom after school every so often and challenge me to games on their phones.

I have the 4th grade boy, Trevor, who likes to run in one door, sprint along the far wall, and dart out the other door with a quick "hello teacher!"

 I have the 2nd grader, Brandon, who is a sweetheart in the hallways but disruptive in class because he's very bright and grasps things quickly.

I have another 4th grade boy, Andy,  who comes and gives me two-handed high fives continuously while we talk.

I have the girl (and the unfortunate subject of today's events), Katie, who likes to duck into my room when she's hiding from her friends (or, increasingly, her male classmates).

All these little faces are such a part of my daily life, and yet there's almost no documentation of them on here. I'm going to start trying to do a few little student profiles each week so that you can get a glimpse of them. It's also partly selfish. When I'm looking back on this year, I want to be able to remember the miniature people who were such a big part of it.

May 19, 2013


I have a lot of feelings today.

First off: Big news. Huge.

I just bought my ticket back to America.


I'll be flying into LAX on August 27th, at which point I will spent somewhere between one and two weeks with the parental units. After that, I'll be returning to Boston. Date TBA. So that's threatening to set off a small panic attack.

Moreover, today marks my 9-month anniversary in Korea. I am officially 3-quarters of the way through my year here. So that's stirring up a lot of mixed emotions.

On top of that, El Padre visited me this weekend and left this morning. It was the first time I'd seen him in almost 10 months, and I loved getting to show him my life here. We had a wonderful time and had some great father-daughter life chats. I had to say goodbye to him at the subway stop this morning before I went to school. So that was emotional.

In other feelings news, I watched the very last episode ever of The Office last week. Sniffle. Also, yesterday I watched the season finale of Doctor Who.


May 18, 2013

New Friends!

I made a new friend on the subway today. He was legitimately snoring. Note the epic drool rope. 

May 15, 2013

A picture is worth a thousand words

And now I have lots of them!

Check out my new page dedicated to photos from my various adventures. They even include (gasp) the long-awaited, eagerly-anticipated photos from Bali!

Click on Photos at the top of the page, or just click here. Enjoy!

May 14, 2013

Beach Bumming in Busan

So, I decided to go to Busan. Pneumonia be damned. To be fair, my infection was 99% cleared up by the time I left. I just had some residual coughing and general fatigue.

That being said, I would like to move to Busan. Please and thank you. It was all shiny and beachy and pretty. Even the architecture was lovely! Seoul has many nice things, but architecture is not one of them.

I also got to ride the KTX, which is the Korean bullet train. As you will see from a few of these pictures, it's hard to photograph rice paddies at 190mph. So it goes.

May 7, 2013

Being sick sucks, no matter what country you're living in.

Update: the bronchitis has evolved into what my doctor called "mild pneumonia." Sure doesn't feel mild to me. You know what does feel mild? These Korean drugs. I'm telling you, medicine is just weaker here.  MY KINDGOM FOR SOME NYQUIL!

On a semi-related note, I have some thoughts about Korea's attitude towards sickness and work, but they'll have to wait for when I can form a complete thought without having to cough in the middle.

Peet out.

May 1, 2013

Yay Korea: Health Care (again)!

I've already waxed poetic about the medical care in Korea, but it just gets me every time.

After about a week of wallowing in a pseudo-cold, things took a turn for the worst on Tuesday. Today I caved and went to the doctor. They were able to fit me in right away.

I got an examination, chest X-ray, and 4 prescriptions. All for less than $35 USD-- including the cost of the medication. The X-ray itself only cost about 17 bucks. Woo!

Downside: I have bronchitis.