A Change of Plans

Last weekend, I had made plans to spend this weekend in Daegu with Roxy and Aisling. I was really looking forward to it. Too bad the universe laughed at me and said “no.”

After work on Friday, I took a local bus to the KTX station, about 30 minutes away. I went to the window to buy a ticket only to be told I miss the last bus to Daegu (by minutes). Tears. Panic. I messaged Roxy to tell her and we figured I would just come the next morning.

Then, I went outside to take the bus home. Unfortunately, the last bus back to my neighborhood stopped running, too. More tears. More panic. I called Hannah to freak out. Looks like I would be taking a taxi. Which I really didn’t want to do. Because I’m cheap.

In a split second, I made the executive decision to go downtown to Cima Bar instead of going home. I don’t usually go out by myself, but I was really upset. When I got to Cima, it was pretty empty. Al, the bartender, was there with several other customers. I told him about my tails of woe and he poured me a strong drink: cranberry and vodka. I also found out the one of the other guys there was from Bergen County! It was really cool to talk to someone else from Jersey.

There was more talking, and drinking, and playing Youtube videos on the bar computer. Dorian and Steve showed up at some point, too. I also may or may not have danced to a handful of RuPaul tunes.

The bar was ready to close at I don’t even know what time it was, and Dorian and I took a cab together because we live in the same neighborhood. We also sat outside of a 7/11 and chatted for a really long time. It was nice.

Then today, Sunday, I met my friend Lily for coffee and a Korean lesson. It was a beautiful sunny day and surprisingly warm out, so we got frozen drinks. We practiced some verbs, simple sentences, and my “homework” is to practice numbers/counting. I feel like I’m getting better at reading in Korean, even though I still ready very slowly. It’s really great to have a Korean friend to hang out and practice with.

 

Conflicted

Today, I was required to teach a lesson on abortion to one of my classes of 6th graders. Not only was it uncomfortable trying to explain what abortion was to a group of children who don’t speak your native tongue, but it only got worse and worse the more we discussed it. I had to go over words like “pregnancy,” “termination,” “fetus,” “miscarriage,” and others. I did not want any part of it.

For one of the activities, the students had to make a web of reasons a woman might want to have an abortion. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt that this was much too advanced for the group I was teaching. Most of them were confused and said things like “not enough money” or “woman can’t grow baby.”

Then, we moved on to talking about alternatives for abortion. The answer I was looking for was adoption. I had one kid raise his hand and say “mother kill herself.” I just started saying “no” over and over and over again. It was unbearable. However, my school is very strict about making sure all the work is completed in the textbooks. The Korean teachers check. The students’ parents also check and complain if they see that things have been skipped over.

I’m just concerned that these students are not learning what they should be. Many of them have pretty low literacy from what I’ve seen. They need more instruction on grammar, writing, and speaking. Not discussing concepts like abortion.

While most days are good, it’s days like this that get me upset. I know that private English academies are a huge business in Korea, but I feel like students aren’t truly learning English. Parents are shelling out cash for what seems to be something of a status symbol. “Oh yes, my child goes to a private English school!” Unfortunately, very few of my students can actually have a conversation with me or write a coherent essay.

It’s frustrating.

First SkimaTalk Lesson

I was very pleasantly surprised with my first SkimaTalk lesson tonight. My student was an older gentleman from Japan. We started out with some technical difficulties on my end which were quickly resolved.

After making our introductions, we jumped right into conversation! My student noticed on my profile that I studied art history, so we talked about Surrealism – including Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, and Gustave Moreau (an artist I wasn’t familiar with). We moved onto to movies and television and discussed The Lord of the Rings, The Big Bang Theory, The Walking Dead, and Once Upon a Time.

It was a really fun way to spend my first lesson and I hope this student books with me again!