Today I got to combine my love of travel with my other two loves: education and English. It was a GOOD day.
I got to visit Max’s school today, and it was awesome to hang out in his office with the other foreign teachers (because we’re foreigners, which is something I’ve never really been before. Weird.) He works with three women – one American, one from Australia, and one from England. We got to chat about the education systems in our respective countries and in Korea, and I was about bursting with excitement about this conversation. Usually people’s eyes glaze over when I try to talk about international education, but these people actually WANTED to talk about it! Ahhhh! MY PEOPLE! I also got to help Max plan some lessons for his English class, so that was sweet. Two of the teachers (including Max) were scheduled for testing today, so I couldn’t observe their classrooms. Dana, the Australian, offered to let me sit in on her classes, which was very kind. It was awesome to watch the Korean education system at work.
One of Dana’s classes was working on presentations they will be giving next week, and her handout outlining good presentation skills had a very familiar cartoon drawing on it. I asked, “Umm…excuse me…is that President Obama?” Yes. It was. Because, said Dana, “He is a very good public speaker!” No arguments there – he totally is – but I thought it was really funny to watch an Australian teach Koreans how to speak by telling them to be like an American president. Is he really the best speaker in the entire world??
Fun fact about Korean schools (or at least Max’s school). All of the teachers are called by their first name and then the word “teacher.” So, instead of being called Mr. Koopsen, Max is called “Max Teacher.” And Dana was “Dana Teacher.” And I was just plain old “Christine,” because I’m not a teacher there. It was weird to have students calling me by my first name since I’m so used to “Mrs. Webb.” The students were really friendly but also kind of shy. They’re also very quiet. Dana was constantly telling them to speak up, and she said, “Students, there is no such thing as being too loud! Speak as loudly as you can!”
HAHAHAHA CLEARLY she has not met some of my students back in Kalamazoo. There definitely is such thing as a “too loud” student. But maybe that’s just in America.
Did you know that students in Korea go to school from 8-3 like American students, but then they also go to “Hogwons” from 4-10 to get extra studies in English and Math? WHAAAAT? And then they have to go home at 10, do their homework, and then start the whole thing over the next day. Max says that Korea has one of the highest adolescent suicide rates because of the high pressure educational environment. The students are under tremendous pressure to perform well, and also they have basically no life because they’re always in school. So that’s not great.
I can see your eyes glazing over because you’re not that interested in international education. How about I show you some pictures instead?
There are a lot of free outdoor exercise equipment stations for people to use in Seoul. It is very strange. I tried out a bunch of them because…why not? There was one that seemed to stretch my back in weird ways – I’m going to have to ask Rex if I was doing that one right. Exercise equipment can be tricky.
We walked along this river.
This is a cool gazebo. I’m not sure what else to say about that.
Max and I went for brunch at a place called the “Ugly Oven,” which I thought was a very weird name. He teaches at a Hogwon, so we didn’t have to be at work until 3:00. This brunch place was AWESOME. Max says it’s the only place in town where he could find a normal breakfast with eggs and such. I’m glad we went there. It was delicious. He said we’ll go somewhere more authentically Korean for dinner. *nervous glace* Eating out is fun. I get the idea that Max doesn’t cook much, judging from the fifteen pizza boxes currently in his apartment (yes, I counted). He’s not a slob or anything; it just looks like he’s collecting neatly stacked pizza boxes. But I don’t think he actually is collecting them. What bachelor pad would be complete without some pizza boxes?
This pink chandelier was at the Ugly Oven.
This is the Ugly Oven, but it’s a terrible picture and doesn’t do the place justice. I’m sad that you can’t see the real thing.
Cool art in Max’s neighborhood.
This is where Max gets his “coffee Americano” every day before work (or, well, today at least. But he acted like he goes there a lot).
These are the foreign teachers at Max’s Hogwon. From closest to farthest, it’s Dana (Australia), Sasha (England), Hailey (USA – Portland, Oregon), and Max.
English textbook page that made me laugh.
Another funny page.
Now Nookie (the dog) and I are waiting for Max to get home from finishing up testing at school. If you look in the reflection of the window, you can kind of see my loft (which I’ve taken to calling my “sniper’s nest.”)
Perfect timing! Max just got home. I have to go do more exciting things. Talk to you later!