End of the Year Reflections

So here I am coming up on ten months here in Korea.  I really can’t believe it.  In some ways this has been the longest year of my life, and in other ways it has flown by faster than I care to think about.  So many things have happened this year.  I’m trying to find a way to sum it all up before I head home for a few weeks, and then come back to begin another year.

Teaching wasn’t at all what I thought it would be.  I had been warned before coming here to basically expect any situation as far as teaching went.  I was devastated when my co-teacher told me I would just be “helping” with phrases and pronunciation.  After she saw how bored I was week after week, I finally got to take a more active role in the classroom.  Then, I was able to teach my own summer camp.  I proved to them that I was capable of running a classroom, so for the second semester I got to plan and teach most of my own lessons.  My co-teachers help when I need them for discipline and translation, which is very helpful.  I really enjoyed my 5th grade students.  They are so adorable and willing to learn.  I was able to impact some of the special needs students that get ignored in Korean classrooms.  There’s one little boy (I posted before about him) that always goes out of his way to come say “Hello!” to me in the hallways and in the cafeteria.   My co-teacher made a comment about how he loves me.  They couldn’t figure out why he’d attached to me so positively, but to me it was obvious.  I give him the attention he deserves, and I provide him with opportunities to be successful in the classroom.  After I started doing that, I noticed my co-teacher begin to do the same.  The improvements are really astounding!

I’ve met a lot of great people, especially in the town where I live.  We have a great group of teachers here, and I’m so thankful that this is where I got placed.  On the weekends, we often get together and spend whole Saturdays together just walking around downtown Daegu, sitting in cafes having meaningful conversations, or having a few drinks at a bar.  Most of us have decided to renew another year, so I’m excited that I will have another year of this.  We have so many plans for events and trips for next year.

In Korea I got to travel multiple times to Seoul.  I really love that city, and as many times as I have been there I still have a lot to see and do.  I’ve also been to Busan a few times, which is another amazing city that I hope to explore more of.  There are still SO many places and events that I missed this year that I want to be sure to do next year.  The ease of transport here is incredible.  I can decide to go somewhere on a whim, and be there in just a couple hours for a reasonable price.  Outside of Korea, I traveled to The Philippines, and to Japan.  I never wrote about my Tokyo trip, but it was a great experience.  I really want to go back to both countries, but there are so many places to go that I get overwhelmed thinking about it. Lots more travelling next year!

These words I’ve typed don’t begin to scratch the surface of my experiences here.  I’ve had my ups and downs, and I’ve had some of the most difficult and frustrating times of my life here.  I’ve called home multiple times in hysterical tears.  It really hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t change anything.  I’ve learned so much about myself, Korea and it’s culture, and the world as a whole.  I do like it here, and am looking forward to another year.  But, I’m definitely more than ready for a break, so I can’t wait to go home for awhile!  I’ll be in Dallas from January 9th through the 31st.

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