Monday, March 15, 2010

here is a little bonus update for you...2 in 3 days - wow!

i wanted to write a bit about the korean school culture. the way i see it, american students are living the dream! korean students undergo serious standardized testing, beginning at a very young age, which is stressed as being one of the most important things ever. the tests are important the whole way through grade school, but start to be really prominent in middle school, when your test scores decide which high school you will go to. each school has a different level of prestige, so the higher your test score, the better school you will attend. it's like taking the ACT for college, only when you're a 6th grader! i could barely handle that pressure as a high school senior, so i'm sure i would buckle as an middle schooler. korean students are under alot of pressure to study hard and get the best grades they possibly can. this is partially highlighted by their saturday school attendance. yep, koreans attend school every other saturday, in addition to their 5 day week. i can't imagine the uproar that would occur in the states if we tried to make our kids go to school on a saturday.

as far as english is specifically concerned, parents put a lot of pressure on their kids. many students attend public school for a regular school day until about 3 in the afternoon, then go to their hogwan, or private institution, until later at night...sometimes 11pm! after hogwan, they do their homework and sleep for a few hours before starting all over again. this is seriously crazy to me. alot of the kids are working so hard so they are constantly exhausted. you can really see it on their faces when they are in your classroom...i feel so bad for them! but learning english is pretty highly emphasized in today's korean culture...i suppose i should be thankful for this, since that's the reason i'm able to be here now.

the kids are so sweet, and as i mentioned before, must really respect their teachers and superiors. i still can't get used to having students bowing to me all the's so strange! now that the kids are starting to get to know me more, they are gaining bravery in coming up to talk to me. they love a chance to practice the english that they are being forced to study so diligently. i constantly have kids running up to me, and lately, bringing me all sorts of candy. i'm gonna blow up like a balloon here! but they are so happy to be able to give you something...they always say "teacher! here! for you!"

i met a new korean friend this past week - her english name is miranda. she is an english major at KNU, so naturally, she loves a chance to practice the language. her goal is to become fluent enough to be a korean/english! she is well on her way, though. i was very impressed by her english level. we were able to have tea together this weekend and she is so sweet. her family lives on jeju island, which is sometimes referred to as "korea's hawaii." she asked me to come home with her this summer so we could go to the beach together. needless to say, it didn't take much convincing. hahaha. as long as our breaks coincide, i will be spending sometime there in a few months...woohoo! miranda also asked if she could give me a korean name. she chose 보영 or bo-yeong. i'm not really sure why, or what it means. hahaha. but she said it was cute, so it should be my name. there you have it.

one of the first questions a foreigner will get from koreans is - "do you like korean food?" they are always amazed when you answer with an affirmative! they get really excited and always ask, "isn't it too spicy?" then "what is your favorite food?" when i first came to korea, eun-sol, pastor's wife, asked me about my favorite food and i told her it was rabokki. she apparently has the world's best memory, because yesterday after service, she said, "whitney! i made rabokki just for you!" she brought me out a huge bowl of it, and i was so excited. hahaha. i ate the whole thing, and i must was some of the best rabokki korea has ever seen. afterwards, one of the other ladies in church invited me to her house in april to cook korean food with her. i'm pumped!

time to go help out with one of my 6th grade classes...
have a great week, everyone!


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