Three Weeks Later

It’s been three weeks since I left Korea. I’m very happy to be home in New Jersey and able to see my mom and friends. It’s nice to have access to familiar things, as well, such as the lake I like walking around, the boardwalk at Point Pleasant, and even my favorite restaurants. Pizza and bagels were sorely missed.

I just got a job at a restaurant near my house. I won’t have to spend a lot of money on gas and I think I’ll be able to do some saving. In the meantime, I plan on getting certified to teach ESL in public schools here. There are a few tests I have to take, including math, but some friends have offered to tutor me. I’m really grateful for that. The other tests are for oral and written proficiency, which I’m not worried about.

Even though I was only in Korea for six months, it’s admittedly been a little strange getting reacclimated to life at home. It took quite some time to get over the jet lag, and all my days seemed to get mushed together. I got so used to using Facebook messenger or Skype to talk to my friends at home (the only person I texted or called in Korea through my actual phone plan was Hannah), but now I can communicate with them without needing the internet. I also don’t have to bow at people or handle money like a Korean (which I found myself doing for a while right after I got back). I’m also thrilled to have my car again and not have to rely on public transportation when I need to go somewhere.

Anyway, I’m still getting back into the groove of things, and it’s really nice to have found a job so quickly. I hate sitting at home with nothing to do!

I’m also thinking of changing the name of my blog. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

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A Broken Contract and a Midnight Run

I’ve been back in New Jersey for twelve days. I was debating over whether or not I should write about why I chose to leave Korea, and I’ve finally decided that I would.

Working in Korea was making me very unhappy. Not the kids or being in the classroom, but my superiors and their actions. I felt anxious all the time, to the point that there was a constant knot in my stomach. For those that don’t know, many hagwons use CCTV to watch students and teachers. Whenever I tried to do something fun in class, my boss would pull me aside after and tell me “no games, we must promote more study.” I’m sorry, but how are you supposed to teach a nine year old without the use of games or activities?

I was also getting very tired of seeing other teachers hit and discipline students so harshly. That’s something I’m not used to seeing in America and, by sitting quietly on the sideline, it made me feel like I was condoning child abuse, which I most certainly was not.

Additionally, the Korean teachers at my hagwon kept to themselves and there was very little communication. Often, I would walk in and find papers or new schedules on my desk with no explanation of what they were or what I was supposed to do with them. Sometimes, I would be given about five minutes notice that I was supposed to administer a test to a class. If I got courageous enough to ask someone for help or clarification, I mostly got blank looks. And, of course, still no explanation.

My breaking point came after two events. First, I was given a new class with very little notice and was expected to come to work about an hour earlier than I had been coming in all year. There were also no materials and the other foreign teacher and I were supposed to find time to make some from scratch (we had no knowledge of the level of the students, either). Second, (I will not go into this in great detail because it is not my tale to tell) one of my coworkers was berated and belittled in front of the office for standing her ground on a matter that affected her personally. In response, she was called names and was denied the things she asked for.

For me, this was absolutely a toxic environment and I had to remove myself from it. I packed up all my belongings and left without telling anyone at work.

Eating All The Things in Daegu

Wow, I’ve been really lazy about posting recently! Time to get caught up.

March 1st was Independence Movement Day, which is a national holiday, so everyone had off from work. Hannah and I decided to meet up in Daegu.

I decided to cut down my travel time and take the KTX. We were supposed to meet up at noon, but I got there much earlier than expected (like always because I’m obviously crazy about ever being late).

I took the subway straight to Banwoldang Stating to wait for Hannah. There is a lot of underground shopping there, so I decided to treat myself to some new cosmetics. When Hannah arrived, we did some more shopping before deciding we were starving and went off to find some lunch.

Hannah had heard about an all-you-can-eat barbecue place for 10,000 won per person. That sounded amazing, so we took the subway to find it. After walking around for a while, we found the restaurant, only to discover that it was closed! So disappointing. And this always seems to happen to us. Last time we were in Daegu together, it was the Hello Kitty Cafe that was shut down. A little upset, we went back to downtown Daegu to try and find something else.

Then, we saw it. Another all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurant for 9,900 won per person! It was called Mr. Pig and we rushed in. There was a line practically out the door. When we were finally seated, we were ready to go help ourselves.

Oh. My. God. It was beautiful! There was unlimited rice and noodles, Chinese-style chicken, fried mandu, french fries, soup, and tteokbokki. Then, the good stuff. There was an assortment of both pork and beef to pile onto plates and cook yourself. Also, lots of veggies to wrap your meat in. We had some serious eyes bigger than stomach syndrome going on. I’m not sure how much we ate, but it was a lot. And it was worth every bite.

After we paid, we walked around some more and hit up ArtBox (one of our favorite stores).

When we had finally digested our amazing lunch, we had to have dessert, of course! We found a cute dessert cafe and each got a caramel macchiato and an order of cinnamon caramel honey bread to share. Delicious. We spent a lot of time just hanging out and talking.

After a slight snafu over train times (Hannah had missed the last one back to Sangju), her boyfriend said he would come pick her up and she came with me to the KTX station. Overall, it was a great day in Daegu!