This past week I found myself feeling a tad jealous of my friends and family back home in New England soaking in the unseasonably warm weather. As if missing the HUNGER GAMES PREMIERE wasn’t enough (I have to wait until next month)!!! I felt the most resentment when I was running against fiercely cold wind and the sky began to spit snow on Saturday. I’m not a fan of the cold or snow, so I was very lucky to have such a mild winter. My months in NH before Korea were snow-less, except of course for a freak small snow storm on Halloween weekend. Since arriving in Korea I have experienced a few cold days, but nothing extreme. The weather has been pretty predictable spring weather…what the weather should be in NE. I guess I will just have to deal with all the annoying Facebook statuses for now: “BBQ and drinks outside!”, “I just got a sunburn during my lunch break!” and “Heading to the beach!”. I did discover that my apartment building has a great roof-deck this weekend – I am pumped to soak in the sun as soon as possible. Enjoy your short-lived tans New Englanders!!
I received my ARC (Alien Registration Card) this week – so I am OFFICIAL! It’s nice to have an ID to carry around. Most of my friends from training had to wait until they got their ARCs to set up a bank account or purchase a cell phone. I was lucky and was able to do both of these things without one.
I finished my 4th week of teaching on Friday and completed mini report cards for each student I teach. My time in the classroom has flown by, but it was interesting to look back and realize how much we have accomplished in the past few weeks. Many of my students have become much more confident in their English abilities. A few were so shy and it was a struggle to get them to utter a few words of English in week 1. Now they are raising their hands and are so eager to read or answer questions out-loud in class. Of course it didn’t hurt that I encouraged the “points” system. During class I have all of the student names on the white board and each time they earn a point for doing something fantastic I mark it next to their name. If they earn a certain amount of points during class they can collect official paper points from me at the end of class. They can use the points to buy snacks and candy from the school. It is amazing how much these students value their points. If someone acts up during class I simply erase one of their points on the board and the student quickly ceases any disruptive behavior.
I went into Seoul on Saturday with a new friend I met in Uijeongbu. We met up with 2 of my college friends for dinner and then headed back home early around 11pm to avoid the subway shut-down. If you go out in Seoul you have to either head home early at 11pm or stay out until 5:30am when the subway re-opens (or pay for an expensive cab). Every time I venture into Seoul I gain a bit more confidence in my subway navigation skills. It’s great to know if I want to I can get myself into Seoul and home again no problem. I have also mastered a few of the buses in my town. I can get from my apartment to downtown Uijeongbu or to the subway station. I still have a lot to learn of course…
Lastly, here is an excerpt from an article about Obama’s trip to the DMZ today. He was in my backyard (kind of):
CAMP BONIFAS, South Korea (Reuters) – President Barack Obama peered across South Korea’s tense border with the North on Sunday in a show of solidarity with U.S. ally Seoul and a message of resolve to Pyongyang’s new young ruler in his country’s nuclear standoff with the West.
Arriving on the eve of a global summit on nuclear security hosted by South Korea, Obama flew by helicopter to a U.S. base on the edge of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) as a solemn North Korea came to a halt to mark the 100th day after “dear leader” Kim Jong-il’s death.
“You guys are at freedom’s frontier,” Obama told about 50 troops crammed into the Camp Bonifas mess at one of the world’s most heavily fortified frontiers.
“The contrast between South Korea and North Korea could not be clearer, could not be starker, both in terms of freedom and in terms of prosperity.”
He spent about 10 minutes on a viewing platform at the DMZ, talking with some of the soldiers on guard as the flags of the United States, South Korea and the United Nations flapped loudly in the brisk, cold wind.