The year is almost up!

Trip Start May 18, 2006
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22
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Trip End May 30, 2007


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Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Monday, April 23, 2007

Hi everyone,

This is Nicole. It has been a while since we checked in with everyone so here goes. We might get to see some of you soon, because our year is up and we are coming back at the end of MAY !!!!!!! For a while we thought we would stay an extra 6mths, but we have itchy feet and just want to move on (the best time to change is when things are going great!). So, we have submitted our resignation. Our schools gave us HUGE guilt trips including; "the future of Gangjin English education is doomed if you leave, please stay"...etc. I tired to reassure them eg. "you will get another teacher", but we must have made a good impression because they said "we don't want anyone else!".

This was really flattering in a way, I feel that we have made a substantial contribution here, but the reality is we can't stay here forever. I will be very sad to say goodbye to my students, I haven't told them yet... and the Korean teachers I have become friends with.

We have it so well off here, I think sometimes it is difficult for them to understand that we have another life on the other side of the world, with family and friends close by, which is really good too.

The decision was difficult (ie. whether to stay or leave), and they just keep throwing more money at us, but we will return to Australia for about 2 weeks, via Taiwan for a week, then start our BIG trip. At this stage SE asia is the only definate destination and we will see where we go from there. Our original plan was to stay here a year, save money for travel and then embark on the trip. We have done that comfortably, plus seen Japan, China and now on our way home we will see Taiwan to boot.

So what else has been happening?

After such a long holiday it was a little difficult to go back to work. However, our schools eased us into things, and it wasn't until about the 3rd week back that we had a "full schedule". My schedule was pretty similar to last year, I went from 4 schools back to 3, which was nice. I also now teach Kindergarden which is really cute. "Heads, shoulders, knees and toes....." etc.

Matt's schedule this year was much less, just 9 classes a week. His school got a new principal and the entire English dept. got a shake up. The new principal wanted the Korean teachers to take over some of Matt's old classes, much to their dislike. At first he was excited about this, but after the realisation this meant a lot of time sitting around doing nothing, it didn't seem so great instead rather boring.

We also had a 2 more foreingers departure from our small town, Rob and Chris. So we had a couple of going away parties to attend. These days, Gangjin has been rather quiet, we have been filling our time at the new gym which recently opened and that has been nice.

After we got back from China, the weather was really cold and we had a few more snowy days. Lately, the weather has been really nice, it's spring, the cherry blossoms came out and then went away about 2 weeks ago. They were really pretty, we went hiking and got some pictures. As the Korean's say, that was one good outcome of the Japanese occupation.

Last weekend we climbed Wholcholsan Mountain. It is 809m and it was a 5 hr hike ! It was pretty taxing and very steep, we were scrambling over rocks and using the ropes to pull ourselves up and sort of absail down rock faces. So we finally got to the peak, and I was expecting an "easy" walk down, but we found going down was really hard on our knees and almost as tough as going up! There was also an amazing suspension bridge we crossed, I was very proud of Matt going over without too much hestiation considering his fear of heights. My legs are still aching and I was sure to tell the students today about my efforts, they seemed very proud and then understood why I was walking funny. "Teacher's legs very sick?", so that lead into teaching them to say "sore and ache" rather than sick.

Umm, what else.

I am applying for my Irish Radiography registration. I want to have it in back up when we start travelling, because that is something we have thought of doing. Matt has Italian/EU citizenship so he can work there, maybe para-legal work, and we think it would be nice for a few months.

This week I am going on a School excursion with the 6th grade students to Seoul and Korea's version of Disneyland (Everland). Which should be exciting! Except the 5 hr bus ride with all the kids :(

We have only a few weekends left in Korea, and still a couple of things we want to do, so our weekends are filling up fast.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as I can. The weekend of 2/3 JUNE I will be in Brissy.

Bye for now
Nicole

UPDATE:
I had a wonderful time on the school trip believe it or not !!!! 188 students, 8 teachers (myself included), and 7 bus drivers. 3 days and 2 nights. Daejeon, Seoul, Palace, Parliment, Everland (theme park), Summer retreat and the Independance Memorial we the notable sites we hit. Korean organisation, that is lack of it and last minutness was my concern, however, things seemed to run smoothly. I was astounded at the 1st dinner, 188 kids in, feed and out all in the space of about 20mins tops.


Highlights:


* Karaoke on the bus was a blast, the kids are really good and made the time pass quickly.
* For the kids: eating as many icecreams in one day as possible, any time of the day i swear, the same kid would have a different icecream shoved in this gob.
* Going to the Independance Memorial with the kids, now it depicts some of the awful things the Japanese did during their occupation and having the kids acting out "DIE JAPANESE !" "I HATE THE JAPANESE". Point: there wasn't much emphasis given to reconciliation and forgiveness at this particular memorial.
* motel room to myself, while they jammed the kids like sardines into the rooms. I was impressed we stayed at Motels. Korean style the kids slept on "yos" on the floor.
* finding out the Korean teachers i work with everyday who pretend they don't speak any english, have more English than I will ever have Korean and they did their best to test it out on me. I always knew what was going on - well sort of.
* my kids running up to foreigners at the BIG touristy places in Seoul testing out the English that I have taught them :) Then me going over to "save" the poor people, who had probably been asked if they like kimchi at least 50 times that day, by dragging the kids away.

Lowlights:
* counting/checking the kids over and over again
* always thinking I, myself, might get left behind, loose my school etc. Or even worse we would loose a student.
* "misplacing" 5 students at Everland - we eventually found them
* arriving at the motel to discover 1 student was missing.......CRISIS >>>>>>> another check of the bus found her sound asleep and safe thankfully.
* grabbing kids from other schools, thinking they were mine, to come and get on our bus. (give me a break they all dress similarly and have the same colour hair). Luckily, it didn't get too far and i didn't end up on the news, imagine the headline.
* rice at EVERY MEAL. I couldn't go to the 2nd breakfast, the thought of rice was sickening me.
* the dried squid man boarding our bus to sell it to the kids
* thinking that we were stranded when our bus went to pick up the kids from another bus that broke down, but all turned out well.
* Always rushing, the schedule was a little bit much, eg. the second day we were up at 6am and didn't arrive at the place we were staying that night until midnight.


So, we made it back in one piece ( 2 hrs late), with all the students. I was exhausted, but it was definitely worth it.
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