Friday, June 11, 2010

South Korea: Here I come...#1

I've never done a blog, but I figured, "what the hey?" If Julie and Julia can do it, so can I. I'm hoping you all know who I am so I don't have to really introduce myself...or else it would be weird for you to just randomly follow me. But I mean, what ever floats your boat, I guess.

Anyway, as you should know my name is Jackie. I am from USA and am currently a teacher in South Korea teaching English. This blog, well, it's about my experiences, my thoughts, my crazy antics and most importantly it's about how the Lord is going to work in and through me in my complete weakness.

After 17 grueling hours on a flight, I arrived in Busan on Monday night. Myself and the other teacher, Nick, were picked up by Avalon's assistant manager Kevin. Kevin is a treat. Kevin is 24 and due to his four year stint in New York, will commonly throw in phrases such as, "let's bounce" into his daily vocabulary. In fact, when you call Kevin, you can "bounce" to Jay Z's song "Empire State of Mind"- (side note: I totally had to just google that..i know, they should really take away my citizenship for not knowing that off hand.)

Moving on, Kevin took us to eat Korean barbecue, which was culture shock and delightful all at once. This was the moment I met "kimchi". "Kimchi" is basically fremented cabbage with red pepper paste, in all actuality, it doesn't taste as terrible as it sounds. Although "kimchi" wasn't half bad, I quickly learned that much of Korean food is SPICY. I know that my Minnesotan hotdish background has sufficiently helped me in preparing for this time...err, wait? :)

Speaking of hotdish, as we northern folk like to call it, I got to my apartment and I have no oven. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO MAKE MY TATOR TOT HOTDISH? A whole year without hotdishes..hmm, please pray for my survival. Ha, just kidding but seriously, no oven, no microwave at this time and two burner stove. Priding myself on being such a great cook in the states, I decided to make some rice. After not paying attention for about 10 minutes while trying to learn the Korean alphabet on YouTube, I suddenly smelled burning...yes, I was never meant to be a Korean, my rice has burnt and so has my only pot. No worries, I will not be defeated. I went out and bought myself more rice and will battle once again, hoping this time to achieve victory.

On the subject of rice, let's talk about teaching. I had no way to transition, so that will have to do. There are a few things I have already learned about Korean culture- one is to be very flexible. For example, Kevin says, "Jackie, be at school at 2 o'clock in the afternoon". I am there by 1:50PM, when does my homie, Kevin, arrive? At around 3:15PM. Next example:

Kevin: "Jackie, we are moving you in a week"
Jackie: "Okay, do you know when?"
Kevin: " I'll let you know"
....days have past, Jackie continues to ask each day. Same conversation occurs until one day...
Jackie: "Kevin. When am I moving?"
Kevin: "Oh! You are moving tomorrow."
Jackie: "What time?"
Kevin: "Oh, I don't know..." day...
Jackie: "Kevin, what time am I moving today?"
Kevin: "Oh, Jackie you are moving next thursday now."

Kevin. I wish you were my homie and I wish you knew more about when or if I will ever move.

Things you must know to teach.
1. You must know how to spell correctly. I feel like every day I am teaching, I'm at a spelling bee competition. You see if I don't know how to spell a word for the little kids, I can play it off saying.."umm, this is a different way to spell it?", but the older students will make sure to point it out. My favorite happened to be the day I was not paying attention while talking to my class and I spelt Canada as Canda. One of my students said, "Teacher? Can-da? Where is that?"
2. Have absolutely no shame in looking like a fool. There's no example for that, that's just who I am on a regular basis. Anyone who has seen me dance in broad daylight or heard me bust out in random song or accent should know that.
3. Have more confidence in yourself than your students do. Ha, this is so clique, but absolutely true. God gave you this job, have confidence that if you can't physically, emotionally or even socially do it, He will. He's our ultimate Teacher.

Well, this is very long start to my first blog. Hmm, we'll see how long I'll do this. Blogging world, don't be upset if I don't love this enough to continue on. I will leave on this note: I am completely and utterly out of my comfort zone. Though there are days I hate it, at the same time it's a great way for the Lord to teach me more about Himself and to refine me into the woman He desires me to be. It is because of Him and only Him that I will survive this. He will sustain me through this and hopefully through it all, I'll gain some eternal perspective.



  1. dear english teacher.... "its because Him and only Him that i will..." it seems to me, that if you read this you may be missing an "of". just saying, jackie!