Teaching English in Daegu, South Korea!

Archive for the ‘EPIK 2010’ Category

Back in Korea but…

Ah. Blogging? What’s that…? Whoops.

I recently got back from a long and very beautiful vacation back home in Portland, Oregon. (Will blog about this later because I am sorting my pictures.) I have been back in Korea now for about 8 days and it didn’t take long to readjust and to have things go back to the way they were before I left. There is a catch, not exactly the way they were before I left. Over the past year I had made a lot of good friends; some of which who are not staying in Korea for another year. So upon my arrival of feeling refreshed and ready to welcome another year in Korea, I was quickly reminded that it would be the last time I saw a lot of the people that I met here.

The day I got back I had to say goodbye to three great friends. That was the most in one day! After a night of sangria and talks of reunification in Ireland, in a barn, I felt much better about our futures!

Da Girlz.

The going away parties didn’t end there-

Camtu's going away brunch.

Goodbye everyone, good luck and I’m so glad that I met you here! Daegu will always welcome us all back! haha

Despite saying all my good byes, I feel really great about this year to come! It will be different, but it will allow me to grow. In my new apartment, with a new attitude and a new appreciation for all things in my life~ I do believe it’s going to be a great year.


Buying Make-Up at Homeplus

Early one morning I was getting ready for school and I noticed that my mascara was in need of replacement so I thought; “I’ll head to Homeplus.” At Homeplus I went to the make isle. I was taking my time scoping out what they had and the prices attached as I started to notice that there is a woman who is looking over my shoulder. I got a little uncomfortable and turned around- saw that she was wearing a uniform- a Homeplus uniform. “Oh, she works here,” I thought. I found the mascara that I wanted but couldn’t find it anywhere. I just had the sample in my hand searching. Not a moment too soon the woman with the Homeplus uniform came and…said something in Korean and grabbed a different mascara. I just simply agreed out of convience for me- sure why not I’ll take it. She reaches into the drawers below the make up- ‘oh of course!’ Then she proceeded to grab a giant box and LOCK the mascara away in it!


Inside of the box is what I want to buy. She added in some wipes- that was nice.



Side view and the giant lock.



Bottom view.


I don’t know why I was so fascinated about this, but really I think it is a little strange. So different from running down to Rite Aid to pick up some mascara! I would have never guessed.

For those of you who don’t know what HomePlus is- I am sorry for your loss. HomePlus is like an amusement park. It is very similar to E-Mart but more giant. Go to this girls blog http://seoulsarang.blogspot.com/2009/03/homeplus.html – if you have any interest or further inquires about HomePlus. She does a whole post showcasing what you could get and honestly, how fun it is haha.

In other news, it only took the IRS from late July until now to send me my residency certificate for a total of around 70 days. My oh my. Jeff got a letter from them around the same time I got my certificate that said that he had information missing!!! It took 2 and a half months for them to tell him he had information MISSING! ahh.

*Cross your fingers that I get added to the Korean Blog List ^_^ Also, congrats to Lana for being on the list!!!! That is so cool!!!! I can remember when her and I were checking EVERY. SINGLE. BLOG. on the list to find out anything we could about teaching here 🙂


P.S.S. THANKS EPIK for pushing the date to October 31st to finish the online courses! Originally they were due by January and now I must actually work and learn “how to group students.” I went to school for this already!!! Today I learned that- “Before you come to Korea- you should try Korean food. Have you ever had Korean food before? Bibimbap is a traditional Korean food that is not spicy.” First of all, I have had bibimbap and I have had spicy bibimbap as well!!! True EPIK fashion they are making things more confusing than they need to be. Thanks EPIK,

love, shannon

It’s Only Thursday.

It’s only Thursday and I feel like I need a weekend. Jeff and I have been very busy this week. We started our Intensive Korean Language class on Monday- it was a lot at once but luckily it was kind of a review for me. I am nervous to get into the stuff I haven’t even started to think about yet!

Our text books for our YMCA Korean class- different from our other Korean class at the DEESC. ahh!

To accredit these Korean classes and the good study partner that I have- I got these two baskets from a 3rd grade student for class and I could read the Korean on it!!!!

Teem. Team!

In other news- Remember my air conditioner smelling? Well I had 4 Korean women in my apartment last night and I decided to ask them about filters in the air con. They proceeded to open it and pull out two filters. Later, I cleaned them and they were so disgusting.

The air con.

Just one side.

The other side.

2 of the 4 women who came over for dinner at my apartment!

The above picture is funny because I didn’t even know that my co teacher (woman on the left) had invited people over for dinner! How funny at 4:30 as I am excited to go home after a boring day of no students and my stomach turning from too much food that I find out that I am getting a ride home with Kyong Ok along with Hyun and Jong Mi. I sort of panicked. Do I even have enough room for that many people in my apartment? haha Apparently I did. It was a good time : )


One last thing- this weekend I made Jeff ddukbokki. : ) It was so spicy that I was crying a little bit.

THe ddukbokki I made!!!

I love you all!!!!

“Tomorrow you should bring your hiking shoes.”

Yes, “Tomorrow you should bring your hiking shoes.” I was told this as I left school on Tuesday, for Wednesday because as a school (the staff) we were heading to Hwawangsan Mountain- about an hour outside of Daegu in a town called Changnyeong-gun, for bonding time together over hiking.http://www.san.go.kr/english/info/gyeongsang_hawangsan.jsp I love hiking, and haven’t gotten around to it so far living here so I was very excited. This day ended up being not so warm…actually cold, I of course have been so used to sweating my ass off everyday that I didn’t bring my jacket. So in the 30 minutes I had to spare before we would leave I ran home and got my jacket and returned with a few minutes to spare.

We left at about 1:30…. and got back at 8:30…so tired.

Yun and Jong Mi before boarding the bus.

My Co Teacher and I, Yun. She is so cute : )

The map of the trails. This is where there was a park ranger type person who told us where to go. Yep, he sent us on the advanced hikers trail.

Yun looking at how much we had already climbed up. Then she looks the other way and realizes that we are not close!

We needed a break. 5th grade, my co teacher and the practical course teacher.

Awesome. This part of the trek you had to cover your face and walk through grass that was taller than us.

Group photo! Not everyone, but most of the people who made it to the top. Then we ate ice cream hehe.

I made it : )

The hike itself was somewhat laughable. It wasn’t hiking to me, it was mountain climbing! You needed to hold onto to ropes and would walking on cliffs. There were a few points where I felt really uneasy about the trail and like I might fall down the mountain. At another point we were lost : ( We weren’t sure whether to go left or right so they asked me to use my loud voice to call out to the group that was about 20 minutes in front of us. They didn’t hear us though…Once we met up with everyone at the top of the mountain, naturally, there was an ice cream and coffee vendor. The main teacher who puts these events together bought everyone ice cream. We started our descend. My legs were so tired they were shaking and then OF COURSE…I trip and fall. If they all weren’t already worrying about me for some reason or another NOW they were haha. It was highly embarrassing. At the bottom we ate Bee Bim Bop- yummy. It was good even though for lunch we had bee bim bop as well. I’ll eat it anytime. The van ride home felt long. I wanted to sleep but someone wanted to watch baseball VERY loud on the TV. One of my co teacher gave me a coupon to go to a spa. I thought yes, of course! Then I remembered that they are all nude- I want to go to one of those spas but maybe not the first time with my co teachers? I don’t think we are at the right stage in our relationship to be naked around each other haha. It was such an eventful day!!!

That hike really tested me, it came at a perfect time since Jeff and I have made a plan of attack on how to be healthy. We will be exercising every night together or apart in our apartments. We are also limiting the amount of times that we go out and eat greasy or fried food. Also, no street food : ( I somehow found a way around that! I went out for kimbap with my teacher and Jong Mi and we had ddukbokki- spicy dduk.

Ddukbokki, spicy dduk and usually has fish patty in it as well. So delicious!!!

Work is going well, I only struggle with the 6th graders because their curriculum is inappropriate for them and then they misbehave. I can’t blame them- its so terrible and boring. I’m tired of listening and repeating and seeing the end result that they aren’t learning anything. Its hard to put a lot of effort into something that you know isn’t working and is just wasting time…

In other news, my blog got 90 hits the other day! This is very exciting because I thought that I only had a few people who cared what was happening in South Korea, hopefully my experiences can shine some light on what its like to be a public school teacher in South Korea.  I do have to give some credit to Jimmy from Strange Lands though- he linked my blog on his blog!! Thank you!!!

NEXT- really, I will go through our trip to Seoul!!

More than an Accent

My breakfast, lunch and dinner recently...I need to buy more food.

I am beginning to understand Korean school culture a little more with each day. It is drastically different but so much the same as American school culture. Teachers are still closed off and too busy to focus on anything other than their one track mind- surviving and teaching their homeroom students everyday. That poses a problem for me then you see because, classes come to my classroom to learn English and there are times when I don’t even know what is going to happen in class because the teacher didn’t meet with me during our scheduled meeting time. I work with 5 coteachers. One of which is my main co teacher and we spend all day together anyway- so we haven’t had a problem. There are 3 co teacher thats I work with once a week only for 40 minutes and I don’t think its high up on their priority list to let me in on the goods for their class. I had to repeatedly say- I like to plan things for class. I would love to help with the planning, the stuff that happens before class AND while in class. I kept pushing and pushing until one day I just said “I can’t only do Listen & Repeat, I will go crazy.” It is embarrassing to me. I can be a good teacher if they’d let me.I know that I must stay positive and know that its not that bad. Things aren’t that bad! I just think that maybe, just maybe having a degree in teaching- studying ways that people learn and knowing what makes someone learn something is counting against me. So maybe for future EPIK teachers if you have a teaching degree maybe S. Korea isn’t the best place to come and teach. On the bright side though, I am getting a new perspective on how to do things within a school system and how to treat your teachers. Korea does something right about this. Okay, for teachers it is mandatory to stay until 4:30 everyday but that forces people to use their prep time for hopefully good things. I don’t know how I feel about handing in lesson plans and having the vice and principal sign off on what you do…but I think that giving teachers time during the school day is a brilliant idea. The teachers at my school get 1 hour for lunch- 1 HOUR. That means that the kids play for 1 hour as well. Oh, did I mention that the kids play unsupervised and are able to go wherever they want around the school property. Yeah, and its harmonious. Crazy right? They go to play soccer and tag and hang in the bleachers with their friends if they want. I asked about this though- “Don’t students get into tiffs or get into trouble?” The answer was “these students are always fighting but nothing serious has ever happened.” She was right, Korean students FIGHT ALL THE TIME. Its irritating they are constantly slapping each other, pinching. The slaps are not soft AT ALL either, and they are exchanged from girl to boy, boy to girl, boy to boy and girl to girl(although this is more rare). Another aspect of Korean school culture is the bureaucracy, hierarchy part. You have to make sure that when handing something in, getting a signature or approval you go through the right tier levels. For me to leave an hour early to go get my internet and cable hooked up.

Now, don’t get me wrong- the people I work with are really caring and I love my students. I mean, on Friday one student came into the English room and said “I have a gift for you,” I think she was practicing that phrase all day. Then continued to pull out of her bag a pencil holder! I really am having a good time, adjusting is my life and I think feeling a certain level of being uncomfortable all of the time can take a toll on you.

I made a slide show of what I have been up to recently. I tried smilebox slideshow but its not that good. If anyone has any other suggestions I am looking for a better one!!!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
This free digital slideshow customized with Smilebox

PS: Koreans don’t eat the skin of the grapes…

Grapes with the skin off. Oh, its okay to spit them out on the plate too- you don't have to be dainty about it.


I finally have internet…now that I have internet I just want to be on facebook and do useless things with my time haha. I know that I must keep this blog up!!! I have to let the people I know and love back home know I am alright (thats you Grandma!!)

Over the past week I have been very busy. I am starting to know some students names, but it will take me time because there are A LOT of students. So far, I have a made a 1st grade friend…she speaks fluent English haha. In her family they speak Korean and English.


Since I am the first Native English teacher in this school I don’t think that they really know what to do with me. They also don’t want to give up control of their class. They are thinking; well this ‘teacher’ has an American accent and we want our kids to as well so lets make her just repeat things. I just want them to know that I love planning, I love teaching and I will waste away if I can’t really do that. That is all I will say for now. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

*Last week I had the opening dinner with my school. I was feeling really sick that day- the “air con” was really getting to me and I had a cold. I couldn’t control my sneezing and runny nose. We went to eat sam gup sal- yeah…I am nervous to even say what it is but it was freakin delicious. I have been thinking about it ever since. At the dinner, it was very formal and it was a chance for me to put all of my Korean etiquette to the test!

  1. Turn your head away from your superior while drinking an alcoholic beverage.
  2. Hold the cup with two hands while you are being poured a drink by a superior.
  3. Take things and give things with only your right hand if not both. If only one, you must must must have your left underneath your right hand. (You will notice that EVERYONE does this everywhere- I learned it from a Family Mart ^_^)

I may of offended some people though because I was feeling so sick and I declined the invite to go sing at a Norebong. I know I know…but seriously- I couldn’t do it. I went home and slept from 8:00 to 7:00 am the next day. It is exhausting listening to Korean all day ahha. Seriously, don’t under estimate the power of confusion that drains you at the end of the day.

  • A couple of the young teachers came with my co teacher and I downtown this weekend. It was really fun, they are so nice to me! They text me and want to hang out. I feel really lucky to have really nice teachers at my school- really welcoming and so flattering. My face is not so small but thanks for saying it anyways : ) teehee Thanks to Hyuny and Jamie who have taken me under their wing and want to make me happy and comfortable!

The English Classroom is a sight to see. The Korean education department really has put a lot of effort into English in the schools. This year Daegu is the only city that made sure that EVERY school has a native English teacher. That explains why half of the orientation was going to Daegu haha.

English Zone. Yep, its a touch, LCD screen. No biggie...



Upon moving here Jeff and I were hopeful that we would be close. It is true we could further away from each other…but it is interesting how close all of the other couples are- but not us. “Within a 5 minute walk,” other couples say. We say “40 minute walk.” We need to get bikes because a 3,000 won taxi ride will add up. I love my apartment now, I had some issues over the weekend with some..err…plumbing but it is fixed now and I am okay. I am attempting to find places around me that I will frequent. Lana will understand- that I want to become a regular somewhere!!! Coffee shops don’t open until later because Koreans drink coffee at night? Its totally strange to me that I can’t go on my way to work to get coffee.

Front of my apartment building.

Me in front of my apartment building!!

It’s been a good time since we have gotten to Korea. Is it sad that already after 2 weeks I have had some moments where I am thinking- “what the hell did I sign up for?” Jeff is being really positive and reminding me that its not Phyllis’s classroom with those 2nd graders who no one could ever replace. *sigh* He is right. I have met some great kids here…but I can’t tell you how depressing it is to not talk with them. I can’t carry a conversation with anyone because we don’t speak a common language 😦

We went out to dinner with friends this weekend at a nice family establishment! haha Chicken upon chicken upon chicken.


I took the subway a lot this weekend…its insane. It is a mall- not like little shops, its a freakin mall inside a lot of these subway stations! Like I need to buy some nicer clothes because Korean women are always dressed up and I look like a scrub so i might as well just take a subway to a subway station and shop haha. Who needs to go above ground?

Disco Ball and everything!!

Until next time know that the typhoon is headed for Busan and passing through Daegu…tonight and all day it has been very rainy : )

Jeff and I happy because we got to wear our rain gear...I know I know Jeff has an umbrella...we had to slightly fit in.


I think I am in Dalseo-gu. Yes, it may seem silly to say think but I am being very honest. I just have the attitude that I will be okay and I will find out more and more as I continue on with my process. Sure, I may not know where I am right now but soon I will know where I am and where things are in relation to me. Like…I know that Jeff is about a 40 minute walk from my apartment to his. His school is much closer to me than him.

Anyway, I got to Daegu on Thursday in the late afternoon. I was very tired from listening to drunk people at Jeonju all night long so I slept on the bus. We met our co teachers at the Daegu English Support Center- I think thats what it is. I met my coteacher and another administrator from my school. My coteacher (Yun) is the sweetest most nicest person. As we are driving to the school I find something out.

I am the first Native English teacher to teach at this elementary school. My oh my. That is a lot of pressure.

My school:

It looks quite big (compared to the schools I taught at in the US.) It is 3 buildings each 4 stories high. Around 300 students. I kept telling her that it was a big school and I was so amazed. Then I talked to Jeff whose school has over 1000 students. Holy moly. It has a great energy about it though, the staff has been welcoming. So welcoming that one of the office staff gave me Korean work books to learn the language haha. I don’t have any pictures of my school just yet :/

My  MAIN co teacher:

She is great. AMAZING! She really thinks about what I might be needing or wanting and helps me get to a point where I am not uncomfortable anymore. She really wants my Korean to get better too haha. She has done such a great job at introducing me to the staff and involving me in meetings. I think that it is good that she saw that I have a Masters in Education because she just finished her Masters degree as well- so she knows what I am capable of. I am very thankful to have her and hope that her and I can have a healthy relationship.

My other co teachers:

Grade 3 teachers




Grade 4

All my OTHER main co teacher





Grade 5:

My main coteacher.

Grade 6:

My main coteacher.

Soo…I have quite a few.

My Teaching:

I teach Monday through Friday from 9-12 and then Wednesday and Friday 3:00-3:40.

I teach 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade and 6th grade. Oh did I forget to mention that twice a week I teach English to the TEACHERS IN THE SCHOOL? What??? I am so nervous about that. I know how to teach children but not adults- perfect example is Shouka..he didn’t really learn anything from me haha. Monday morning I will be on the morning announcements, yep, they have a TV broadcasting system that will go to every room in the school and I will introduce myself. My co teacher told me “just look cute, see you Monday!”

My Apartment:

When I first moved in, I was horrified. My co teacher said that in Korea when you move out you don’t clean it- it is the person who moves in, its their job. SO it was my job to clean up after this nasty guy. I wore flip flops around my apartment the first day. The next day I got some cleaning supplies and 5 or 6 hours later I was prancing around my apartment barefoot. I am very happy in there now…now if only it was near ANYTHING at all…

Entrance way with the shoe cupboard.

The apartment.



My Sanity:

I am slowly gaining it back, so I think I will be okay. Wish me luck in finding Youri and Blake tonight downtown.