Category: Jungwon university

Sleep is optional

If I simply survive this summer – and the upcoming year, for that matter – I will be ecstatic.  If I actually complete everything to my own satisfaction, as well as that of my teachers and students, I will truly have something to be proud of.  I have never had so much asked and expected of me in my entire life.  Not when I enrolled in college at the age of 15.  Not when I went to Costa Rica to teach English for a summer.  Not when I started living on my own at the age of 17.  Not when I worked as a technician and analyst of the help desk of the largest carpet company in the world after having worked with technology for only a few months.  Not even when I was hired to research…are you ready for this?…fiscal federalism as a means of preserving the cohesiveness of ethnically fractured decentralized nations. 

This is far and above the most intense schedule I have ever experienced.  Our mornings start at 8 with breakfast, but I’ve been getting up around 5:30 or 6:00 to do my Bible study and stretch and workout.  I’m really trying to start this year off well and establish good habits that will hopefully carry on into my life back in the States.  Then at nine we have Korean language classes – for 4 straight hours.  We get an hour for lunch, and then we’re back in class at 2:00 for teaching workshops.  They cover all sorts of topics – gender biases, classroom management, staying healthy in Korea, handling issues with your host families… – but the one thing they all have in common is that they last allll afternoon – usually until around 5.  I have half an hour to squeeze some studying in, and then it’s off to Taekwondo every day from 5:30-6:30.

I get half an hour for dinner, and then I’m off again.  Monday nights I have Calligraphy class from 7:00-9:00, and Tuesdays and Thursdays I’ve got GLEE club, the foreign exchange club – a great way to meet Korean friends!!  Wednesdays and Fridays I have off after dinner, but then it’s time to hit the books – 4 hours of class every day equates to a heck of a lot of studying. Plus we have tests every Monday, and more workshops and classes on the weekends, so I’ve got to get a head start on my homework early in the week. 

Next week it gets even tougher!  I have to start creating and submitting lesson plans for an English immersion camp that we’ll be teaching the week after as a part of our orientation training.  I’ll have 3 lesson plans to prepare and give on my own – yikes!!  I seriously have no idea when I’ll have time to make my lessons.  I’m so busy, sleep is already on the verge of becoming optional.  But I suppose it’s good – it keeps me busy and distracted, so I can try to forget how much I miss home sometimes.

The food doesn’t help really help me forget.  It’s very tasty, but man, what I wouldn’t give for lasagna and breadsticks!!  It’s astonishing to me that Koreans can eat the same thing – white rice and kimchi – over and over and over and over again, and not get tired of it.  There are some variations , especially with the kimchi, and they add different side dishes (I had squid and anchovies today!), but it’s basically the same thing every single day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  But hey, I’ve gotten really good at using chopsticks!!  I’ve been forcing myself to use them at every meal, and the hand cramps have finally started to go away.  Now I can finally eat again without having to think!

Well anyway, I’ve got to get up tomorrow at oh-dark-hundred – we’re going to different schools around the region to shadow teachers in Korean classrooms, so we can kinda get a feel for it before we get there.  I’m super excited, but bed is calling me right now.  I’ll try to write again as soon as I can.  I love you!!

Adjusting to my new life

Hey, everyone!  So I’m finally starting to recover from jet lag (I can’t BELIEVE I’ve only been here 2 days!!), so hopefully this blog will have a little more details that I know so many of you love :).  Well, my new home is beautiful – I feel like I’m in a resort! – but my new schedule is absolutely grueling.  If I ever complain about being bored, please slap me.  The pace here is absolutely killing me.

Apparently yesterday I was still pretty jet-lagged.  I started off the morning by frying my alarm clock – it wasn’t until I smelled smoke and the screen went blank that I realized that portable alarm clocks are probably not equipped with voltage adapters.  Then at breakfast I got three chopsticks, and went out with a bang when I knocked over a huge bowl of dirty bowls.  My goal today is to not do anything stupid….

But anyway, yesterday was a crazy day – and it wasn’t even a full schedule!  We had a Korean review session in the morning, and then a placement test immediately after.  That was followed by lunch, three hours of classes, a photo scavenger hunt in Goesan, dinner, and a foreign exchange club “mixer” party. During the mixer, our orientation leaders surprised us with bottle rockets and sparklers – our version of a 4th of July celebration.  Happy Independence Day!! 🙂

The Fulbright program is one of the premier English teaching programs in the world, and Fulbright Korea is considered the gold standard of the Fulbright programs.  One of the main reasons for this is because of their orientation – it’s very intense, very thorough, and very very good.  I absolutely LOVE the students I’m here with.  They are of a caliber that I’ve never experienced before in my entire life.  Every single one of them is soooo smart, and they all have such fascinating, diverse backgrounds.  There are students that have backpacked through Europe, gone to boarding school in Thailand, volunteered in Africa, worked in South America, and everything in between.  I can sit down with any one of them and have a thoroughly engaging conversation for as long as I want to have it…in a group of 88 students, that’s saying quite a bit.  

So anyway, speaking of intense, today my “normal” schedule starts.  I’ve got 4 hours of Korean class in the morning, lunch, 4 hours of teaching workshops in the afternoon, and a foreign exchange club where I get to meet and socialize with Korean students in the evening.  Tomorrow I’ll also start on the extracurricular activities.  They offer optional things that you can do in the evenings to supplement your orientation experience in Korea, like learning how to perform a traditional tea ceremony and a traditional cooking class.  I signed up for TaeKwonDoe (which meets 4 days a weeks), Calligraphy, GLEE club (the foreign exchange program), and archery.  I’m excited :).

Well, I’ve got to go start my day….right around the time when you guys are ending yours! 🙂  Check out a few pictures below that I’ve taken so far….for the full album online, click on this link.  Sending all my love from the other side of the world!!!

Fulbright Orientation, Jungwon University, Goesan, Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea – my home for the next 6 weeks
First picture of me in South Korea!!

My room and my roommate 🙂

Part of our photo scavenger hunt in Goesan

We had to make a B in front of the B&B.  We decided to make a Korean B 🙂

It’s really hard to find a picture of Koreans without at least one of them making the peace sign

I was supposed to be hugging it.  It looks like he’s eating me 🙂

Day 1

This evening I had the ability to talk to a marine friend online who is stationed in Japan, and he said “Welcome to Asia!”  Hearing that still has an aura of unbelievability to me.  It is true that I can’t read anything, and the money’s different, and the food is weird, and people speak in funny gibberish….but somehow, it still feels like I’m not too far from home.  Perhaps it is my sleep-deprived exhaustion-addled brain that is simply trying to confuse me…

I left for Seoul around 5:30 in the afternoon on Friday.  My flight was uneventful, and three flights, 2 airlines, 24 hours, and 7500 miles later, I landed at Incheon International Airport, around 5:30 in the morning on Sunday.  We’ve been going nonstop ever since then.  There was a 2 hour bus ride from the airport to the orientation site – Jungwon University, in Goesan.

Once we got there, they dove us right into orientation.  We had about 45 minutes to unpack, then it was lunch (I couldn’t BELIEVE it wasn’t even afternoon yet!!!), opening orientation talk (3+ hours), icebreakers, campus tour, etc.  I had to skip dinner because the jet-lag induced fatigue was simply too great.

The university we’re staying at is beautiful – they call it the marble mansion – the scenery exquisite, and the people very friendly.  I’ll try to post pictures as soon as I can.  The food is going to take some getting used to, and I’m already missing not being able to talk with everyone I see, but I suppose with time I’ll adjust to that, too.  I won’t find out where I’ll be teaching for a few weeks still, but from what I’ve seen, I’d have to say that the orientation, at least, will be a pretty cool experience.  That’s all for now….my bed is calling.