- got to visit family and friends Stateside
- challenged and stretched my teaching by moving to an elementary school, and finally began to feel competent and confident in this new situation
- met up with my bestest friend Tanner, his wife Nancy and good ol' Ginny in China for TB's wedding festivities
- sang Karaoke in Tokyo, ate Kobe beef in Kobe and survived the poisonous fugu blowfish in Japan
- read 35 pleasure-reading books in 2012, most of them good
- said sad 'Goodbyes' to seven (too many!) friends, but happily welcomed back three that had gone away
- also visited Taipei, spent time in Thailand with good pal Kevin, and went to the Yeosu World's Fair
- started back at the gym on a regular basis
- found a new hangout in my neighborhood called "Beerking"
3) Wed., Thur., and Fri. during the last two weeks, I have been "desk-warming", my only experience with this phenomenon in my 4+ years in Korea. At my old school (a high school), this was seen as unnecessary, since as a professional, I could manage my duties and responsibilities myself.
When I arrive and log on to 'CoolMessenger', I am one of two or at most three faculty members at the school. (I should point out that firing up the computer automatically logs you on to CoolMessenger. It is how the school takes faculty attendance, I am told.)
My 'handler', Ms Kang, pointed out that the vice-principal was kind enough to let me leave at lunchtime. Which is one way of looking at it.
4) My apartment was without hot water for two days this week, and I literally heated water on the stove in the morning to take a 'cat-bath'. So, why is cold water not a problem, but hot water is? Happily, there were minions working away in the utility alcove on my hallway to fix the problem, but the management has posted a notice in the elevator to let hot water drip to prevent pipes freezing. Really? This is a modern building, certainly 21st century, and that's the best they can do?
5) There is no #5.
6) Still, Korea is not without the comforts of home, and I would like to introduce those who are not aware of it to a little kiosk called "Ben's Cookies". It's located in the Food Court sub-basement of D-Cube City, near Burt's Bees. Apparently a British firm, Ben's sells giant, soft, chocolaty cookies that will bust any diet. But they're awesome, sold by wright, and have no equal I've seen here:
7) No decision yet on whether the funding will come through for another year of my Public Speaking and Debate class, but the current incarnation will continue on MWF until Mon., Jan. 21, the evening I leave for my Vietnam trip. Curiously, this class had the best first set of debates ever (though I disagreed with the student vote tallies) but followed up with a really mixed grab bag of informative speeches two days later. Three awesome speeches (about the norm), but most of the rest were fairly mediocre, and one was the worst ever. Not just ever in the format of this course, but I have adjudicated speech nights, debate leagues, etc., numerously in my career, and I think it was the worst ever!
I still think this is the best group we've had--smart, good English speakers, motivated--and I think it is a shame that politics will (may) take away this opportunity for students. What's happening is that the anti-English/pro-austerity people cultivated by Kwak have taken over the budget process and it will take time for the ship to right itself, even under the new management.
The decision has not been made, and when it is, I wonder what I would do if they came back and said, "Fine, keep going, but we'll only pay you 60,000 per hour." On the one hand, that's a significant--and insulting--pay cut; on the other hand, I really like the opportunity to deal with these high-caliber students. But on the first hand, the money pays for my winter vacation (albeit with a pay cut, not so much). But on the other hand, I like teaching a class of sharp kids. etc, etc...
8) So, 2013 begins... And I hope 2013 is a better year for you, whatever your fortunes, than 2012 was!