Thursday, August 2, 2012

Making it to the Middle

As I sit in Mr. Breeze's coffee cafe, listening to Busca Busca, and sipping on a smoothie that taste like a mix between citric acid and bleach, it has dawned on me... today marks a significant day for me in Korea.  It is August 3, the last day of my two week summer camp, and the beginning of my two week summer vacation.  My first semester as "Rachel Teachaaaa" at Yeon Ji Elementary has come to a close. "Incredible," I think to myself as I sit here reflecting back on the past six months.  Six months? Really... six months? I have taught an entire semester and in two weeks, I'll have lived in Korea for six months. Time really does fly by.  It's almost unbelievable that I'm halfway through and as I sit here, a mixture of emotions leaves me unsure of whether I feel happy, robbed, nervous, anxious, or disheartened. I feel happy to be closer to seeing my family and friends at home, robbed of a my time, nervous about being home in six months, anxious to be home in six months, anxious to see what the next six months will bring, and disheartened that six amazing months have come and gone so fast... here's to hoping the the next six will linger!

When I first got to Korea, I felt like time was going by so fast, and then suddenly, when I began to miss my family, it seemed to be passing slowly.  Now, I just feel like it's moving in intervals... some weeks go by fast and others drag.   Looking back on my past six months, I have made so many good memories in the short time that I have been here. I have met some really incredible people, made good friends, gotten to know people completely different from myself, lived in a city,  ran into an ocean fully clothed, developed a new scar,  tried incredibly strange foods, climbed to the top of the highest mountains, learned a decent amount of a new language, and formed good relationships in my school with both my coworkers and my students.  I feel as though the past six months have been a real success for me.  Coming to Korea was a journey of self discovery for me... a way to stand on my own. I have surely learned how to be on my own, how to be myself, how to be patient, how to take risks, and live a bit more spontaneously.  Every day is an adventure for me, and whether the day is good or bad, I seem to learn something regardless.  I appreciate the differences across humanity more now, and almost crave more interactions with people completely different from myself.  I have come to realize how the people of the world are so different yet so alike in many ways.  We all give and receive love the same way.  Our cores are built from the same thing, as we all have the same basic needs, but we flourish differently due to our surroundings.  It really is a beautiful thing when I think about it.

The last two weeks I conducted the Yeon Ji Summer English camp, with one of my coworkers, Eunhee.  Our theme was "Around the World in Ten Days." Our students created passports with their pictures and information inside.  Every day we "visited" a new country by learning about the culture and making something, singing, dancing, or eating. We taught them key expressions that they would need while traveling.   We made hot dogs, learned the macarena, made pinatas and broke them open on the last day, built the Eiffel Tower from popsicle sticks, watched videos about the Great Barrier Reef/Serengeti/Spanish bull fighting, had mini Olympic games, and created a country of our own. I had an absolute blast! I feel like I learned just as much as my students did.  Today, as they left my classroom, I felt relieved to have no more planning for two weeks but also unsure of what to do with myself without them!

Playing with balloons before our mini Olympic games.
 My sixth graders with their Sydney Opera House models.
The cutest little creatureeee ever! He was creating a flag for his country!

 Benedict... one of my sixth grade twins, rocking his hat like no one's business!
 James coloring the European flags... one of my best sixth graders, so intelligent and hard working!
 My goofy sixth grade boys! Gotta love them!

 Chris, ONE of my class clowns.
 My sixth grade boys, and Rebecca, the lone girl in the back!
 Ria making her pinata! Love that smile :)
Making pinatas

Working together to build the Eiffel Tower

For the two weeks ahead, I have no big plans.  I plan on relaxing, getting back into a exercise routine, and visiting different parts of the city each day that I have yet to experience.  There's a good chance my camera will be worn out by the time school starts again.  As for today, my plan is to finish this God awful smoothie, go home, clean, and start off vacation the right way... girls night in the city! :) Until next time... cheers to half a year!

Here are some photo updates from the past few weeks...
 A small cafe that we came across during a night time adventure... couldn't resist the picture! Perfect!
 The Makgoli Man! Makgoli is rice wine... this guy cruises the streets of hongdae selling big bottles for 3,000 won out of his rickshaw... the only English he know is " I LOVEEEUHHH YOU!!!"
 SUCCESS... won a teddy bear on the street in Hongdae! Aggie Gome!
 Kimberly and I decided to have a nice girl date one night... we took ourselves to this awesome (and reasonably priced) restaurant... the floor was hot pink light up... we order a bottle of wine, had steak, pasta, and good converstation... a nice change for a Friday night!

 Also, chopped my hair off! Here is a picture of me from me and Kim's date night!
 After dinner we went to a newly openned bar where we sat at a high top window seat and ordered martinis on an IPAD! LEGIT.... with an AWESOME view!

 Me and Kimber at Virgine Bar :)
 Kim and I also went to our first Korean baseball game! Doosan Bears are a Seoul team! We also saw the Olympic Stadium there! GO DOOSAN!
 Olympic Stadium
 Jamsil Sports Complex
Korean baseball games are SO MUCH fun.... way more spirit than at home in the states!