Teaching English in Daegu, South Korea!

Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Back in the Grind

Ahh. I am finally getting back to a normal schedule and settling into my apartment! I will add pictures of my new apartment once I actually decorate it. Currently, the only thing vibrant about it is the awesome wall paper of pink and purple hydrangeas. Anyways, as I sit here in my awesome new apartment I can’t help but still think about how great my trip back home was.

Its been almost a month since we’ve come back to Korea (Jeff and I.) Three weeks sounds like a long time but in reality- it felt so short! I will post some of the highlights from my trip-

We were greeted with signs : ) Thank you!!

First beer out with friends : )

Portlandia, Portland, Oregon.

A perfect day with friends at Sauvies Island.

Family Bowling Night.

Hiking with my sister at Multnomah Falls.

Ficken Family Fun Weekend/ Summer Olympics. Jeff and I came in 2nd place.

O'Connor Family BBQ. Fun and BABIES!

More O'Connors. ears...

Classic. ❤

It is hard to look back at these photos because it was just so fun. It was also hard to pick which pictures really capture the feeling of everything that I did. Sometimes there just isn’t even a picture to describe how awesome something was. After my trip back home and all of the love that I received, I knew I would be okay for another year abroad away from family and friends. I know that they love me! I am recharged for another year full of kimchi, English and last minute changes haha. I loved you Portland, you were good to me this summer! Thanks to everyone who made the trip so wonderful!


From 1:08:56 to 1:03:13.

I like running. Whoa, it feels weird to even type it, let alone say it aloud. Since moving to Korea one of my friends (Bridgette) somehow got me into running. Waaay back in November she proposed that we run the Daegu marathon together. I, naively agreed to this proposition. I didn’t even know how long a marathon was to be honest. I can tell you that when I did find out, I nearly pooped myself. So I settled on running the 10k. I had 5 months to train for a 10k- more than manageable. The only thing was that I hated running. Every time I got on that treadmill I was only thinking about WHEN I COULD GET OFF OF IT.

Daegu Marathon April 10, 2011.

The week prior to the Daegu Marathon I was a wreck, I was really doubting whether or not I could complete the 10k in under 1 hour and 30 minutes. Although, by this time I actually am enjoying running- I’m still a beginner! Luckily, Lana came to Daegu this weekend to support me and she kept me from going insane.

The day of the race I got really pumped up~ the vibe around the race was so exciting and it felt so good to be a part of it!

Daegu International Marathon. He is the Daegu man!

With a little help from my ipod and this little magical gel and all of the adrenaline from the cheerers on the sidelines I was feeling really good during the race.  I paced myself with my friend Bridgette who is a runner and we finished together!!!! 1 hour, 8 minutes and 56 seconds!

The short shorts girls leading stretches!

 After a group stretch led by girls in very short shorts we made our way to the race line. “The Daegu running crew” which consists of my friends Erin,  Bridgette,  Kristen,  Ann Marie and Jezebelle stood at the starting line for what felt like an eternity. (Although Kristen wasn’t participating because the day before she ran a FULL MARATHON, her spirit was with us!)

Deagu International Marathon.

Before the race...

My first 10k!

Bridge and I finishing the 10k together!

We got a medal!!!!!!!!!!

Seongju. Sunday, May 22, 2011.

In the time between the Daegu race and the Seongju race I hit the gym for realz. I was determined to beat my time. Seongju is where my friend Jez lives just outside of Deagu, so we all took a trip to run in her town! It was a beautiful, sunny day- perfect running conditions!

Seongju Chamoe Melon Festival,

Stretching before the race!


The Half Marathoners!

The 10kers.

Ann Marie finishing strong!

I wanted to stop running so bad.

Erin finishing with her friend she made along the way.

Kristen finishing with an impressive time.

Jez finishing her first half marathon with her friend she found along the way! haha


Seriously, the biggest difference from the Daegu race and the Seongju race was the LACK of people cheering for you!! It was so eerie, but we were the loudest people in the town haha. Cheer!!! Its a race!!


During the Seongju run I was able to shave off 5 minutes off of my time! I couldn’t be more proud and it only makes me want to keep improving and keep running!! : ) Next up, Jeju-do marathon.

2011-2012 School Year.

The new school year started sometime last week…I think. My first English class was last Friday but the details leading UP to the first day of teaching are equally as interesting my teaching.

It all started the week of Feb 21st. It was a week full of deskwarming and last minute changes and surprises. Tuesday I heard that there would be a meeting with the new teachers who would come to meet the staff AND everyone else would get their assignments. I was anticipating this because I was getting a new contract co teacher and possibly losing my main co teacher.

I met a few new teachers who looked so fresh and wide eyed- ACTUALLY excited! It was nice and refreshing. One of them speaks almost perfect English- score.  Random awards were given to certain people for reasons I have no idea about. Finally it came time for announcing who was teaching each grade along with their class lists.

First grade was called and 2 teachers go up to the principal and choose an envelope from her hand.

Second grade- the same thing.

3rd grade- 3 teachers went up and randomly picked between the three different envelopes.

4th, 5th, and 6th all went through the same process. Wait, what?…the class lists are completely random?

Pick a card, any card type of a magic trick.

During my student teaching last year I was involved in the placing of children to the next grade. It was a careful and thoughtful process. We considered things such as special needs, personality and  structure of the classroom.  It was really hard, but in the end we both felt like it was a good place for the students. Watching how all homeroom teachers and students are completely random was really weird for me.  I felt like it was another example of how students are never really thought of in the equation of their learning.

I realize that because of the way that Korean schools are structured its impossible to go through a process even close to how my teacher did last year. (Korean teachers get new assignments each year potentially. It is usually up to the Principal and Vice Principal what each teacher’s assignment will be for the year. -people don’t apply for a second grade position, most like A POSITION IN DAEGU, then they get a 5th grade job at my school. )

I wonder what their reasoning is? I think that it does have a positive- it is COMPLETELY objective and random. No favoritism is played.

Should I be shocked? Is it really that bad? I just worry about students involvement in their learning on a day to day basis. They are rarely considered.

Anyways, they are all in their new homerooms and they are cute as ever. I saw a lot of familiar faces. One face that I didn’t recognize stared at me in the lunch room then got up and introduced herself. What a brave soul. I don’t know where she came from but I am glad that she is here.


2 new, 1 same. One new English teacher came to my school and I feel really lucky to have her. She is nice and WILLING to let me teach. Interested in my ideas- so far. Easy going and doesn’t believe that she has to be a hard ass to gain their respect. Her English is great and she has traveled around the world- including the USA!

Other new English teacher is actually the head teacher of the school. She is the third in command to the Principal and Vice Principal. It is a little nerve racking but she likes me, so I just have to keep smiling.


The textbooks are ‘updated.’ They are just so silly. The characters however, don’t have Korean English accents. Nami can now say “Is Peter THEre?” I’m so proud of her. haha

Below are the new English books for 3rd and 4th grade. This year is the first year that each school had the responsibility of choosing the new books. As opposed to every other year where EVERY SCHOOL HAS THE SAME BOOK. Thus, www.waygook.org was created haha.

3rd and 4th grade textbooks. ©Camtu

I welcome this new year and hope that all the hard work I put in these past 6 months show for something in the next 6 months!

Lost Footage: My New Roommate-Moldy Molderton.

A few months after I moved into my apartment I began to feel really happy with it. Hanging pictures up, rearranging things to optimize my space. I started think “oh my, this apartment is so cute.”

One evening, back in October, Jeff and I were eating dinner and I was looking past his head and I saw a black mark on the wall. I assumed that I had bumped it with something that was black. I got up to take a closer look at it…

it was black…

it was fuzzy…

it was alive…

My first sighting of the mold.

Another view of the black mold growing on my wall.

There was mold growing on my wall. Before coming to Korea I was frightened by the prospect of mold growing in my apartment after reading about Jimmy and Rachel’s experience on their blog. (Strangelands.) They had a mold problem but theirs was more of a mystery about WHERE the mold was.

The black mold was cramping the style of my beautiful, flower wallpaper as you can see.

After my discovery, I was so shocked. I didn’t even know what to do next. It wasn’t even hot outside! How could there be mold growing on my wall? In an open area, really? I decided not to touch it or else it might want to release mold spores and get in my lungs to make them bleed! …thats worst case scenario… I also had to hurry to Korean class downtown so I couldn’t handle it just yet. During class all I could think about was what that mold was doing in my apartment. Was it throwing a party? Was it growing bigger,  bigger and BIGGER!? On my way home I picked up some clorox bleach and a few other gadgets to try to work some anti-mold magic.

The result of my purchase…


I tried to kill it with bleach but all I managed to do was find out that there was more underneath and ruin my wall paper.

Gah, I just felt more scared after splashing mold on it and trying to just ‘grab’ the mold. IT really didn’t work that way. I ended up doing anything I could to try to get rid of it. I have never really dealt with this type of a situation but I am sure that this was not right. To add another factor in- I have  an allergy to mold so I was really scared about my breathing. So, I did the only thing I think of. I used plastic.


My attempt to NOT breath in the toxic mold fumes was to put a piece of plastic around it and SEAL it off. Ultimately it became a really great breeding place for more mold.


Yeah, so I found more mold. Yeah, so it might not have been the brightest thing to do but  I was desperate.


Breeding ground.






I broke down after this, I called my coteacher. I might have sounded panicked and hysterical. (note to self don’t ever do that again.) She said that she would come to my house the next day.

The next day…

My coteacher seemed really short with me, and was kind of avoiding me.  She didn’t want to discuss the mold whatsoever. Actually, she thought it was very funny that I was reacting so strongly. I tried my best after that to be as calm as possible, but come on, it was my health. At the end of the day we headed to my apartment. After taking a look at it (through the plastic barrier) she went to get the landlord. The landlord came to look at it and didn’t really believe it was mold. She needed her husband to take a look at it, so he would try later that night or the next night. It was the next night.

The next night, I dropped my keys off to the landlord and headed for Korean class. I asked my co teacher to please explain HOW important it is to keep the plastic on. whether or not that plastic was doing anything, the placebo effect was working on me. After class I came home to the plastic on the floor along with little bits of mold. It was basically just ripped off and exposing itself to the rest of the apartment. Thanks. They were unable to do anything else until the next Monday so I stayed away from my place for the weekend.

Monday ( a week from the first sighting) the job was going to get done while I was at school. As it turned out, the prior tenant wanted to hang a picture up on his wall, thats fine. The only catch is that all of the walls are solid concrete. Oh, this didn’t stop him. He took a nail and a hammer and he hammered that nail in nice and good. So good in fact that it was rest in a water pipe. That puncture to the water pipe had grown bigger and water was running into the wall, causing mold to grow from under the wall paper.


The crack in the wall from the previous tenant who wanted to hang up a picture on a concrete wall with a nail.

After they 'patched' the leak in the pipes and re-cemented my wall.

Currently, over this giant patch of exposed concrete hangs a picture that Jeff and I painted together in Jinju at the light festival. Thats my Moldy Molderton tale, and I hope to never meet him again.

Busan. Remember when I thought I was moving to Busan?

In the months of October and November I thought it would be a good idea to travel and see stuff- in return feeling very poor and quite tired. I will stay in Daegu for a while (not including the KPOP concert this weekend.)

First off, Jeff and I headed to Busan to visit our friends we met at orientation (Stacey and Eddie– who have a blog too) They are a couple who is from Oregon! It was nice to talk with people who know where you come from. We skipped DEESC Korean Class (sorry Bridgette) and took the slow train to Busan. Did you know that you can buy a “standing seat” on the train? It gets quite awkward having people stare at you as you are sitting ever-so-comfortably in your reclining chair. I almost felt guilty.

Friday Night: Soju and delicious juice. Stacey and Eddie picked up from Busan Station and I was greeted with-

This fountain was playing "Gee" by Girls Generation and flashing beautiful lights at me. I knew it was going to a great weekend.

Saturday: Stacey and Eddie had things to do in the morning so J and I went to the beach that is nearest to them, Dadapoe Beach. Highlights include:

Jeff has over-pet the dogs and cats here because I can't : ( We found these two poochies!

Dadapoe Beach, Busan South Korea.

We left this tranquil beach and were swiftly swept up into chaos.

This is ONE exit from the subway. ONE EXIT. It was so extremely crowded. To Gwangalli Beach we go...

After over 2 hours in transit- we made it to the Fireworks Festival! Now the trick…to find a seat.

We found a seat...so did other people.

It got more crowded.


Actually, I did not know this little tid-bit about not going to the bathroom or going to get anything to eat or drink. Jeff and I went to the convenience store across the street and nearly were crushed to death on our way back. The beach had been capped- full capacity. Nobody could go into the beach. We tried to explain- we have a seat, we have a seat! The officers didn’t speak much English so it wasn’t very helpful to keep repeating myself. We waited patiently then all of the sudden the 4 or 5 officers that are barricading the crowd LINK arms and blow on their whistles profusely. I was smashed RIGHT up against one of the officers. His whistle blowing in my ear, a mom crying to the left of me because her small daughter was just trampled by an ajumma.   People in back of me pushing and crying to be let in, I couldn’t handle it I just started crying. Jeff was trying his best to keep people from smashing me but he was being forced by rows upon rows of people pushing forward. This terror lasted only a couple minutes until the officer pushing us through. It did take us about 20 minutes to make it back to our seats but I sure as hell wasn’t about to eat or drink anything until the show was over.

Once the show started it was all worth it!

I recommend the Busan Fireworks Festival to ANYONE wondering if it is worth it or not- I don’t even think fireworks are that cool, but I was not BORED at all. So fun!!!!

Running, running and running.

I am going to run in the Daegu Marathon in April. Daegu Marathon

Map of the race. I am doing the small blue one teehee.

It is called a ‘mini-marathon,’ 10k course. How did this happen? I wondered the same thing.

Last week, standing outside of Viniroo my friend Bridgette and I are talking about getting in shape. She recently joined a gym and has been doing a good job at making it there! She slips in the fact that she is training for the Daegu Marathon in April. She mentions that I should join and train with her. I am thinking; “yes! I need to be healthy and have a purpose.”

“How long is the marathon?”

“26.2 miles.”

oh shit.

I am all for it, and Bridgette is very supportive and took control of a training schedule. Her excitement is contagious!! Although, through the excitement when I looked at the training schedule everything hit me- 26.2 miles is a really long distance…I haven’t even ran 3 blocks in a year. I shouldn’t blame grad school, but I kind of do. Its the nature of the beast, you are so incredibly busy!!!! I should have found time to exercise but when would that have been? In between my hour and half commute home? I remember one week in grad school Lana and I ate licorice candy and coffee for dinner for a week. haha, so 26 miles seemed like too much for me. So I am feeling nervous about this distance then Jeff tells me about how the word marathon came to be. In ancient Greek or Roman (I can’t remember, sorry) a man named Marathon was sent with a message to deliver that was 26.2 miles away. He made it to his destination, relayed the message and then died. Great.

I researched and saw that there was a ‘mini- marathon.’ That made me feel better. I didn’t want to die. I called Bridgette a bit nervous to tell her that I can’t do the full race but I want to still train with her and do the shorter race. Fewf, now I feel much better.

TRAINING. (2 days so far…)

Jeff and I started training this week. 2 miles for 4 or 5 days a week and slowly increasing mileage.  He is not running the marathon, but wants to be healthy still. We are running at a school near my house. The first day there were 3 of my 5th grade boys playing baseball. They were shy at first then tried to run with us! It was very cute. The second night was a bit different. We went to the same school but there were a lot of my students. It was a bit distracting, I wanted to care for them but I also wanted to run. They wanted me to play baseball and whatnot!! I invited them to run, but they remembered how much they had hated it the day before. Not only were my kids there wanting to play there was this little girl, maybe 5 who wanted to talk. She stayed in one spot on the track and asked my different questions-

“What is your name?”

Next time around.

“Where are you from?”

Next time around, her and her dad grab my hand and run 2 laps with me!- the little girl held my hand not the dad, just to clear that up.-

On top of the students who want to play there are middle school boys who come out and want to practice their English. They were shouting “Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger!!!” at me. Evil.

2 days so far, and we have a big Korean final tonight. Wish my luck!

Happy Birthday to LanaLee!!

Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Pepero Day!


Work, work, work.

First work, then play.

Work has been a mad house these past few weeks. I have been so busy with work, Korean class and whatever commitment I made too far in advance. Last week my coteacher and I had our first Open Class where 2 other Native teachers came to watch and my supervisor. It went really well- but with this class it always does! The only hitch was that we were relocated! Usually we have all of our routines and a comfortable feeling our ‘English Zone.’ That day the principal decided (and did not tell us until 5 days before the open class,) that she had scheduled a meeting in the English Zone. She wanted it to be held in the “most beautiful room in the school.” Thanks a lot. So we had to move all of our materials for our routines to the students homeroom. This particular group of students is always behaved but they were EVEN more polite because their homeroom teacher stayed in the room! haha. Anyways, we were doing the lesson about “This is  bedroom.” I ‘introduced’ my house to the students and that is what their task was. Now I thought that this idea was neat, give them some markers or crayons or construction paper and make a house. No. My teacher instead printed off a lot of vocabulary about what belongs in a house and they were to pick the pictures and glue it in the right room. Fine, I can’t argue. At least we are not opening up that god forsaken book.  Once the lesson was over the supervisor pulled me and the two other NT’s aside. She continued to correct my teaching IN FRONT of these other people that I hadn’t even met yet. It was really embarrassing. We then met for a brief meeting ‘what went well,’ ‘what could change.’

THEN, after lunch it was another hiking trip with my school. This time we went to Apsan- front mountain. It is like 15 minutes away from my house! It was unbelievably beautiful. I wanted to take pictures every 3 steps. Tanpoong was in full swing (tanpoong: when the leaves change from green to red, orange, yellow.) I was very tired from all of the street of the open class that it took me a really long time to climb. Yun could not attend this meeting because she had an open class to see. Kyuong Ok and I went together. Open we reached a high peak we could see ALL OF DAEGU! She pointed out Camp Walker and how it takes up a large portion of the city haha. It looked so neat from up above. The countryside is so close to the city. After a quick snack at the tip top we RAN down the mountain. “Dinner will be served in 10 minutes.” We were at the top of the mountain!!! We ran as much as we could without breaking any ankles or falling off of a cliff. At dinner I got to know Kyuong Ok very well and her and I both went to the ‘after party.’ The ‘after party’ consisted of soju, raw shrimp from Jeju island and steamed shrimp. This is where I learned that more people speak English than they let me know. I poured Soju for my Vice Principal and convinced everyone it was TIME to go to a norebang. Of course, if you know me, I love singing and dancing and norebangs are somewhat of a ‘home’ to me. I attempted to sing two SHINee songs…wow…little did I know how much Korean was in those songs. I had made up my own English words haha.

*It was my first experience going to a norebang (singing room) with my co workers. I have to admit…it was slightly awkward. I do not want people to view me as anything but SHANNON and that I love teaching and my job. In the end it was okay, I honestly think that it brought me closer to my Vice Principal. He now says “Hello.” or “Good morning.” : )


View of Daegu from Apsan ^-^


Working in a foreign country comes with all kinds of unexpected speed bumps. I knew that the language barrier would be a huge isolating factor but on same days it feels so bad. It is no one person’s fault either, its just a feeling I have to know how to curb. Sometimes I just want to say a joke to a co-worker without it sounding really strange or make a pun to a student. I laugh a little because I can’t help myself but my oh my people just don’t get me sometimes. It goes both ways as well. Sometimes I just don’t get my coteacher. One period she is nice and is willing to help, the next period she is cutting me off and angry at me. I am afraid to suggest ideas because 100% of the time she says “maybe” which is Korean for “no.” Or she says “Yeah, you mean like …(change the entirety of what you said.) I think it would be better like this.” Of course you do. So that can be crushing. I feel like my Masters of Education goes to waste. Even after all of this frustration with my ideas being changed and my coteacher on my back about WHAT I AM GOING TO WEAR- she let me do a Halloween lesson.


Interactive Jack-0-Lantern carving on the touch screen!



Two Jack-0-Lanterns.



5th graders and their jack-0-lanterns. They were so happy to make them, my god.


From the photos you would have never known that I completely failed at teaching this lesson haha. The original lesson was to brainstorm ‘scary’ words. We had learned 6 from a song called ‘The Halloween Song.’ -Which they loved. I wanted to write a poem

1 word

3 words


:Using scary words and read it all spooky-like with the lights off. Instead….


What is SCARY????

Whats a jack-0-lantern?

*blank stare*

*almost in tears*

ahhh jack-o-lanterns creations were going to be the last thing and the students take them home and whatever but, I wanted there to be some English learning and writing. I was determined to show my coteacher that I could do it and so could they!!! I still believe that I could do it, even after that failure but I think that I need to SIMPLIFY and use some direct teaching and very clear expectations. A failure of a lesson but a lot of lessons learned for me. Even after 3 months of teaching these students I don’t know their levels!!! Repeat after me is NEVER a clear example of who can speak or understand English.

Work is starting to slow down and this week I get to go to an open class at a near by school and next week I get to see my friend Shelley teach at her open class for our CFG. haha (CFG= critical friends group.) DMOE set up a triad for NT’s to critique teaching. Sounds a little too familiar to a ‘Consultancy Group.’ I am suspicious…Barb…Nicole?

❤ Shay

p.s. I finished my pre orientation course!!! On October 31st at 10:00pm.