Well, it's been far too long since I updated my blog, I know! No need to shout and throw things!
The rest of December was wonderful. Classes were sporadic at best with final exams, school festivals, school tours and Christmas interrupting things. I taught my students Christmas Carols and played "The Snowman" for them. The student were so exhausted from studying from finals, you almost felt bad for expecting them to keep their eyes open for cartoon in class! "The Snowman" actually went over really really well, only a 20% mortality rate (on avg. 8 of 40 students asleep by the end of it). And I heard the most hilarious rendition of the 12 days of Christmas ever thanks to an enthusiastic student who without pitch or rythym yelled out the words at the top of her lungs and threw everybody else off. I couldn`t keep a staight face no matter how hard I tried.
About two weeks before Christmas I recieved two amazing parcels from home filled with Christmas decorations, goodies and presents. Christmas spirit exploded onto my desk when I opened them. So I couldn`t help but spread it around a little. I held movie nights at my apartment to watch `A Muppet Chistmas Carol`(my favourite!) and also a non-denominational Christmas carol singing night where we also read the Nativity story from the Bible. My students were confused at my excitement. In Korea, Christmas is a Christian holiday or a day to give your BF/GF a gift, much like valentine's day in North America. It's not a big family affair unless you're Christian and even then. It made no sense to them for me to be so excited when I didn't have a boyfriend. December 22nd and 23rd was my schools "Festival" which was two days of dancing and singing by the students, much like Christmas concerts at schools in Canada except for the concert stage lighting, sound system and flame canons. (yeah you read that right!)
On Christmas Eve I invited 3 other Canadian girls living in Shidae to stay over at my apartment. We went carolling to other foreigners in Shidae (and frightened a few of the Koreans who bumped into us)then settled in to our PJ`s, sipped hot cocoa, watched Home Alone and told stories of our favourite Christmas memories. We had bought stocking stuffers for eachother, so in the morning we opened our stockings together before splitting off to talk to our families.
It was really neat to have two Christmas mornings as it was still Christmas Eve when I called home to Dryden at 11 am.
Dean and Mandy (the suncheon Co-ordinator for foreign teachers and his wife) very generously invited us to their apartment for Christmas brunch and served us such a amazing things as eggs benedict, bagels and salmon, crepes with fruit, and huge assortment of cookies, pies and other desserts. And if that wasn`t enough, in the afternoon we went to a Turkey pot-luck dinner at Elvis Bar with 50 other foreigners for a meal of Turkey, Stuffing, gravy, porogies, salad, veggies, potatoes of every variety and buffet of desserts.
At around 4 pm I came home totally stuffed and had a blissful Christmas nap. I called home again at 10pm and was able to open my presents with my family via webcam and watch the Christmas morning excitement in Canada. It snowed here just a little that day. However, I was a bitter girl going back to work on Boxing Day - my body knows after 25 Christmasses in Canada that it is supposed to sleep until noon and laze around in pajamas the day after Christmas, and it could not be fooled despite how much I tried to tell it to be energetic at work.
My last class was on December 31st, and my students had as much enthusiasm for the "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" as bread dough rising. Me too, kids, me too. I spent new years Eve at Jodie and Stephen's with about a dozen awesome ex-pats (I am actually in love with the term "ex-pat", it makes me feel I dunno...European?)eating great food and goofing around. I didn't stay out too late, I think I went home around 1AM, and was greeted by thick, lazily falling snow.
It feels so good to be in a new year with a fresh 12 months ahead of me. When I checked out of 2008, I happily left my baggage behind. The month of January has gone by very quickly, as often happens when the days are lazy and unstructured. My only semblence of productivity is found in the online teaching pilot program I have been participating in Monday - Friday from 9-11AM. The program is testing a new Microsoft program that creates a virtual classroom for students who live in remote areas and islands and don't have access to English education with a Native English speaker. I have a Korean co-teacher and five students, though only 4 have been reliably able to connect to the classroom environment in the last week. It's been a learning experience for me: using a new program, learning how to make power point presentations, teaching 8 years olds with very little english, following a curriculum (I make my own for the HS students), etc etc etc. I might mention I am also being paid very well for being part of the pilot project on top of my monthly salary (yeah I'm bragging alittle bit, sorry...). And now that the school board has announced that they are launching the program in March for all 5 school boards, it means that I can significantly increase my monthly income and pay off my debt even faster!
On January 31st taking my 26 days of official vacation to travel to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam with 4 other ex-pats (hehehe!). I've never travelled abroad before (Korea being my first time on another continent) so it really feels like the trip of a life time. For the first week I am volunteering at an Elephant Sanctuary in northern Thailand near Chiang Mai city. The rest of the trip is mostly unstructured. We are planning to travel south to Bangkok, spend a few days on the beach, make our way to Cambodia and see Angkor Wat/Siem Reap/Phnom Penh and then head to Vietnam for about a week for more beach time and sight seeing around Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) before flying back to Korea on the 26th. I will do my best to update this blog throughout the month as we stop in internet cafe's in Southeast Asia!