7.30.2008

NOTICE: no human beings were hurt in this dream

I've been having some recurring dreams for a while now. They are strange, yet not as terrifying as I have had in the past. I've always been an active dreamer. Sometimes I wake up laughing at the details and the creativity wrapped up in the dreams. Other times I wake up thinking "What the heck does that mean???" I know that sometimes our dreams are filled with nonsense. But I do believe that sometimes our dreams reflect things that we are feeling and in some ways, I find them to be constructive.

So lately I have been dreaming about plane crashes. They aren't violent terrifying plane crashes. They are almost like roller coaster rides. When I am on the plane, it usually bounces and flips around before it finally crashes. But people don't get hurt. Things just explode. Sometimes I am on the plane, and sometimes I watch the planes crash in the distance. I've never seen people dying in these dreams, but usually the plane crash does extensive damage to the city, or the surrounding area. Last night I had a dream that I was on a beach in Chicago and I was watching a plane crash above the city. The entire Chicago skyline was destroyed all around me and I was left standing there in fear. I remember a distinct feeling at the sight. It was a feeling of horror at the destruction, and a feeling of helplessness to save it. But again, no people were hurt.

I've been doing a little online research (which is limited and sketchy) and I've come to learn that these types of dreams often reflect a feeling of fear. They suggest that I am nervous about something, that I don't feel like I'm qualified to do a certain work, and that deep down I'm afraid that everything will come crashing to destruction.

Hmm...I can't imagine that this would be the case in my life at all can you??? (note the sarcasm there)

So perhaps these dreams will fade away as I begin to feel more comfortable as a teacher in this foreign place. I am learning so many things these days. When you learn how to teach, you learn so much about your own self. I'm learning how to be stern and nice at the same time. I'm learning how to explain things, but also how to act like I am all knowing. Sometimes I feel like a fraud. Will these kids ever notice that I really don't have a clue? And there's always the fear of failure. What happens if my school gives up on me? What happens if the students keep failing their tests? How can I make boring material seem interesting and exciting?

It's strange to see how my dreams connect to my present experiences. Often times I'm so busy living my life that I don't make the connections between my feelings and my experiences. I mean, yes I know that I'm a little stressed out or nervous, but I might not realize right away that it's affecting me to such a great extent. What am I saying? I guess I just think it's cool that my dreams can communicate in such detail to me. If I listen carefully, it's almost like constructive guidance. My dreams are saying "April, it's going to be okay. Your world is not going to come crashing down. You can do this. I know you're nervous, but just keep trying..."

I guess it's a good thing I like to take naps. It's like extra time in the counselor's office. It's like extra time to reflect on what's going on in my life. It's silly, but true!

7.29.2008

just a slight confusion

During an in-class workshop the kids had to create a story. At one point, the main character gets kidnapped by none other than the terrible "Obama Bin Ladden".

7.27.2008

seoul by tour

One of my best friends called Kevin has finally arrived. When I met him for lunch on Friday I held back tears. He has no idea that my heart was racing the whole morning in anticipation. 6 weeks I have been here in Seoul. For 6 weeks I have been stretching myself in multiple directions in order to become acquainted with this big city. I think the one thing I have missed the most are my close friends. Kevin touched that void this weekend.

Being caught up in the excitement, I left my camera behind. You'll have to use your imagination as I tell you about the weekend.

Kevin has been in Seoul for quite a while so he gets around like a pro. He had a complete itinerary for me. We walked along the Cheonggyecheon Stream, he took me to Kyobo Books which happens to be the largest bookstore in some dimension (Asia? The world? Not sure.) and then we went to the 33rd floor of the Samsung Tower to visit the coolest bathrooms ever! I'd say they might possibly be the coolest bathrooms in the world! Then we walked to Insadong which has stolen my heart. Finally a place where traditional Korean culture is embraced.

It was a grand tour filled with exciting sights but also endearing conversation. I think I may have talked his ear off, but I think we're still friends.

If all goes as planned, I should be spending time with Kevin for the next few weekends. There are so many more places to see and I have the best tour guide ever!

In the mean time, I'm finally learning the language, at least the basics. I am learning to read it, and some basic vocabulary. We'll see what happens after that. But 6 weeks into this adventure and I'm finally inspired to learn a few more things.

Well, I'm sitting at Caribou Coffee, prepping for my classes tomorrow, and sipping a delightful taste of home.

Bye for now!

7.23.2008

the ride

Sometimes life spins you around blindfolded and then opens your eyes to a place more foreign than you could ever imagine. Even when it was your idea to play the game.
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And life speeds past, keeping you on course even when you don't know where you're going.
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You just have to hold on, keep your eyes open, and search for hidden clues.
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Before long, you realize it's the next best adventure of your life.
And you're not so alone after all.
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While teaching a class this week I caught myself with a huge smile on my face. You know what? I really love what I'm doing.
I don't think work has ever been this fulfilling.

Summer classes have started. I'm teaching double time. But it's more like double dutch. It's more difficult, it takes a lot of effot, but it's twice the fun!

Am I tired? Sometimes.
Am I learning a ton. Hell yeah!
Do I miss you all? Of course.

7.20.2008

HEY GUYS!!! LOOK WHAT I FOUND!!!

This blog post is dedicated to my family (Dustin included) first, and then to all of the people who know me well.


Wait, what's that? Are you serious? You're kidding me...
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Yes, yes it's true.
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I think I need a moment to kiss the ground.
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me at caribou
And it all happened on a Sunday, the Lord's day.
I was even wearing appropriate clothing.
Jesus really does love me.

7.18.2008

my little friends

Every week my students have to complete their online homework. They are given a question and they have to answer the question and give 2 supporting reasons. We review the recordings together in class and critique sentence structure, use of vocabulary words, and I give points out to the most creative ideas.

I thought it would be fun to share one of them with you. This one makes me smile. Just listening to her voice makes me laugh. I'm really proud of these kids. They work hard and they get super excited when they use a new vocabulary word successfully. Listen to this girl's voice when she uses the word "delicious".

This week's question: If you had a part-time job during vacation, what would it be?

video

And then there are the boys...

...Need I say more?

7.17.2008

enjoyable chaos

Highlights from today's class:

John, where's your homework?
Sorry April Teacher, I didn't do it.
(So John watches as I draw an F by his name)
Oh no!!! Teacher, please don't give me an F!!!
What am I supposed to give you?
Teacher, please give me an N/A, please don't give me an F!
But you didn't do your homework. I can't give you a grade.
But Teacher, please! I will become a Christian and I will always do my homework from now on...



Another kid was sitting at his desk suspiciously holding his backpack up on his shoulder.

Umm, what are you doing?
Nothing Teacher.
Really? What is in your bag?
Nothing Teacher, I'm just holding it here because I am exercising.
Really? Why are you wearing headphones?
(I take the bag away from the kid.)
What's this? Listening to music?
Ummm...no response.


Today I confiscated a comic book, a handful of pogs, a drawing journal, an iPod, a package of dry noodles, a paper airplane, a rubber ball and a cheat sheet. All of these things were at random during the same class. I finally said "Do you think I'm stupid???!!!"

And yet, they make me laugh. They are Jr. Highers. They are old enough to want to cheat, but they are not smart enough to be smooth. They want to be cool, but it's practically impossible for them. One kid brings hand weights to class every week and does his exercises while I'm lecturing. Mind you, they are hot pink. I keep imagining him with a nice hot pink sweatband around his head to make the outfit complete.

When I first took this class 2 week ago, I couldn't get them to speak. They were mute. I had to force them to answer questions, force them to even say "here" when I took attendance. And now, they crack me up. They are funny, awkward, full of hormones, and stubborn. They are starting to see that I'm a bit weird myself and it makes them laugh. Today I told them we were going to have a dance competition at the end of class. You should have seen the looks of fear on their faces as they actually believed me. Imagine a room full of Jr. High boys and just 2 girls. It was pretty funny.

Here's to another unpredictable day of teaching! Cheers!

7.15.2008

what do i say today?

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Well, this blog post is simple. I'm even going to bullet point it for you.

  • I've been here for a month. Can you believe that?!

  • I miss my family and friends. I'm also missing fresh produce. It's almost non-existent here.

  • I'm exhausted. School has been busy. While summer is here and kids are finished with school, their learning doesn't take a break. Now they go to Summer Instensives (English Camp) for a month. That means extra work for them, and extra work for me.

  • The food here continues to be delightful, surprising me with wonderful flavors.

  • I'm feeling much more comfortable with the culture here. The awkwardness is fading away and it's feeling a little more like a home.

  • I'm sorry for the lack of exciting news. It's been a crazy busy week. I haven't taken a single picture since my hiking trip last week. Stay tuned, there is more to come soon.

  • Oh, and I love you all!

7.09.2008

i'm sorry, i'm drunk!

No, not me!



But I have a story to tell you.



So I went hiking today (which you can read about below) and after the long and HOT hike I bought another bottle of water from this roadside stand. And somehow between there and the subway (pretty much through a parking lot) I managed to drop my wallet. It was nowhere to be found. I only lost about $30.00, but I also lost my credit card. And that didn't worry me as much as the fact that my subway card was depleted and I was going to recharge it on my way home. So I didn't have any money to get home.



Frustrated, and playing many exhausting games of charades trying to explain to people what had happened and also asking if they had seen it, I gave up. It was gone. I returned to the little roadside stand where I bought the water, sat down, and I think I looked kind of glum.



So there were these 3 men sitting across from me. The one man said "Hey, where you from?" and the conversation continued like this:



Chicago.

Oh? What bad? You no happy?

I lost my wallet.

???

I drop money. Gone. No money. (playing another game of charades.)

Oh. I'm sorry! I'm drunk!

That's okay.

NO, I'M SORRY!!!! I'm drunk!!!

Yes. Okay.

I'M SORRY!!!! You say prayer to that God up there. I'm drunk.



So he stood up and pulled out 1,000 won. (1 dollar)



Here. I'm drunk. I'm not rich.

That's okay

No, HERE! Take!!!!

Thank you. gamsahamnida. Thank you.

You go, subway. Go. I'm SORRY!!!



So I stood up to leave. 1,000 won was exactly what I needed to catch the subway home. I was so grateful. I said a quick prayer of thanks to God in my head and started to walk towards the subway.



Hey. Wait. I'm confused. Wait! I'm DRUNK, I'm not rich!

Okay.



And through much chaos, he got the attention of an entire crowd of people and asked for money to give me. I kept saying "No, that's okay, this is fine. Thank you but no I'm okay. This is all I need...."

And the man got frustrated. He said "NO. Sometimes...things are different."

So he kept saying things in Korean to all of these people and gathered a handful of money and gave it to me, shook my hand, and said. "Here you go. I'm drunk."



And I had no choice but to wave timidly at all of the people, thank them, and thank God. I made it home. I cancelled my credit card. And there wasn't anything else in my wallet so I'm good. Just a minor inconvenience I guess. But definitely one I won't forget!



So here are some pictures from my hike today. I climbed Mount Achasan, hiked over to Mount Yangmasan, and then hiked down. It was HOT! It's about 95 degrees today with 100% humidity. Am I crazy? Oh well. It was a beautiful day.


This wasn't even anywhere close to the top. I stopped taking pictures once I got up to the top. It was a tough hike.
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Here is the trailhead to Mount Achasan.
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They give you some rules right away. It's very nice of them to give some illustrations for a foreigner like me!
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But tell me, what does this mean?
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After hiking for a while, I came upon this sign. So I had no idea where I was going, but I knew I was going in the right direction!
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For a brief moment I thought this was a climbing tower.
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Have I not learned ANYTHING from my father?
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Here is a view of Seoul from somewhere on Mount Achasan.
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And another one.
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And this is where I took a nice long rest.
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7.05.2008

hiking

Today I climbed Mount Yongmasan. I think this has been my favorite day in Seoul so far. I was so overjoyed while I was hiking that I had to force myself to concentrate. A few times I almost fell off the side of the mountain just because I was so distracted. Haha, that would have been great!

So here I am at the beginning of the hike.
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And here you can see Seoul. This is my home. It's definitely something to look at isn't it?
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About an hour later...

"Are we there yet???"
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"You want me to climb what???"
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Victorious! I made it. Hooray! There was a man at the top selling popsicles. I wanted to kiss him! But I didn't.
I was enjoying my melon popsicle and then people starting hollering at me. I had climbed all that way and I still hadn't stood on the official top! So I climbed the last bit and a kind man took my picture.
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And then they pointed out that although I was standing at the official top of the mountain, this rock was actually higher. So I had to move over to the rock so that I could really truly say I made it to the top of Mount Yongmasan.
My legs were shaking.
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Here is the breathtaking view from the top. It's such a change from what I see every day. This moment, this view changed my heart a little. Seoul became more beautiful at that moment. It's strange to think that this mountain is right here in Seoul. Walking the streets around town you would never guess it.
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And then I started hiking down. Down was more difficult than up.
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This was a neat pavillion about half way up the mountain.
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Down, down, down...
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And here ladies and gents...is a smile of accomplishment!
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7.03.2008

food

Went shopping. There were so many good things, it was hard to make decisions. But, since I'm sort of on a budget, I decided against the octopus. Maybe next time.