Currently…May 2017

What a whirlwind couple of weeks we’ve had! I was so fortunate to have my mom come visit us here in Hanoi. It was her first time in Asia and we absolutely loved showing her Vietnam. We took some time off work and managed to visit Hoi An and Halong Bay with her. I’ll be writing about our time in both of those places hopefully sooner rather than later.

Other than that, we’ve also started looking for a new apartment. We love our current apartment but we’ve found that we aren’t saving as much as we were hoping to. We’ve been looking at places that are about $400 cheaper than our current place and are still really beautiful! Just the other day we looked at a one bedroom apartment in an old French building with a balcony looking right over the lake. We are going to look at some more tomorrow and are definitely excited to find our new place!

I’ve also been researching Masters programs and I think I’ve found the program that I want, the best part is that it offers a chance to get a teaching license after the completing the Masters program.

We found a swimming pool with a view near our apartment so I have a feeling that we’ll be spending a lot of time there as the weather gets hotter.

Willy had to have a minor surgery recently. He’s had a cyst for over a year that we had gotten checked before but while my mom was visiting it grew huge in a few days so we had to get it removed. But he did great and is back to his normal self again.

Work has been going good…busy but good. I’ve been learning so much in my role as a senior teacher. In the five months that I’ve been senior teacher I’ve had a chance to train new teachers, observe current teachers, write blog posts for the company website and create and deliver an academic workshop. I’m hopeful that I’ll continue learning even more as time goes on.

That’s about it for now, but I’m really hoping to get better at writing more frequently in the future!

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I’m Back!

After taking nearly a year off from blogging for various reasons, I’m finally back and so excited to continue writing about my adventures. A lot has changed since I last wrote and it would probably take more than one blog post to explain everything.

But basically, I now live in Vietnam!
I absolutely loved Colorado, seriously, it was the best place ever! Unfortunately, the job market there, not so much. I struggled so much with trying to find a decent job, which I never actually did find. This led to me feeling depressed and worthless. I was stuck in a job that I didn’t like and earning terrible money. It was the first time in my life that I started regretting all of the amazing experiences that I’ve had. But, myself and Jason also volunteered at a local college in Denver to help refugees and immigrants learn English. This was an incredible experience and it made me realize that I enjoy teaching and since I have so much experience in teaching ESL, maybe I should focus on getting the qualifications related to this.

We also realized that it would be near impossible to get Masters in Colorado with the jobs that we were in and not rack up a huge amount of debt, so this led to us looking for work abroad again.

It was so hard leaving Colorado, the sunshine, mountains, beer, Denver, mountain towns, friends etc. but we have been in Vietnam for about 6 months now and are enjoying our time here. We are also researching Masters programs which is exciting and if all goes well, I will be starting mine next year.img_20160815_211359

 

I will still write about all of the fun things that we did in Colorado and of course write about our time in Vietnam. I’m so happy to be back!!!

English Market Day

wpid-fotor_143876330762642.jpgIt was that time of year again, the tests were all finished, the books for this semester were completed and there was still a week left in school.

Usually at this time of year it allows us to do things that we didn’t have time to do during the year. One of those things is a market day.wpid-fotor_143876289705623.jpg

Market days are a great idea because you can reward students with “dollars” for good behaviour long before the market day.wpid-fotor_143876340484033.jpg

On the market day itself, we decided to get all of the students to bring in toys and stationary and anything else that they wanted to sell. The kids that brought in more items ended up with more dollars to buy other things.wpid-fotor_143876311730398.jpg

It was a great success, that morning there was a buzz around the school as the students checked what the others had brought for market day.It was so wonderful for us teachers to see that nearly every single kid had brought something in for market day.wpid-fotor_14387628523503.jpg

Before they sold their stuff, we taught them about “reduce, reuse, recycle” (since they would be recycling their old toys that day) and we taught them basic phrases to use when buying and selling.

Then, they were finally allowed to sell their stuff. There was so much buzz in the classroom with the kids running around trying to buy the best toys.wpid-fotor_143876335214687.jpg

There were a few toys that were in high demand so we decided to have an auction for those ones (making the owners of those toys very rich!)wpid-fotor_143876305719257.jpg

Once all of the buying and selling was complete, the students counted how many dollars they had left and we kept a note of it for the next market day…unfortunately I won’t be a part of that one 😦wpid-fotor_143876293745091.jpg

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Currently…July

I haven’t been blogging much recently, the time for packing/selling and getting rid of all of our belongings has come so we have been really busy with the apartment recently. I also haven’t been taking many adventures recently either, it has become very hot and humid here in Korea so I fear that the days of being able to camp enjoyably are over for now. I only realized this yesterday when at midnight, I was woken up sweating to find that our fan wasn’t working. We quickly realized that all of our power was out. Looking out the window I see people everywhere below us with torches, there were also fire brigades and ambulances. Apparently someone crashed in to our complexes power supply and it shut off the power in the entire complex! That’s thousands of people without electricity right there!

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A terrible photo I know. But this was the scene outside our apartment the other night.

We had an awful sleep because our apartment felt like a sauna. Things got worse the next day when with the power still off, the water was shut off too! It meant we couldn’t even have a cold shower to cool off. The government had sent out text messages that day too warning people about the heat! We could’t believe that we didn’t have any a/c or fans on the hottest day of the year. Both myself and Jason spent the day realizing how lucky we are that we do have a plentiful supply to water and electricity usually…something many people in the world don’t have. Our power came back on last night and we are all very happy!

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Another terrible photo, but myself and Willy found that the bathroom was the coolest room in the apartment so we just sat there in the dark for a while.

 

We have also just started pet-sitting our friends dog Mio. She is such a beautiful well-behaved dog who actually manages to keep Willy calm too so we love having her around!
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Other than that, the school semester is officially finished. I have a 3 day camp in both of my schools, one finishes tomorrow and the other one is on in a couple of weeks, luckily both camps have the same theme. I usually do elaborate camp themes (past ones include Harry Potter and Pirates) but this year my co-teacher and I decided to do a storybook theme camp combined with lots of reviewing of what they learned in the first semester. So far it’s been going well and the students seem to like the activities and games that I’ve prepared… to review the lesson “Please, Help Yourself” we will be making waffles tomorrow which we are all excited about!

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The kids had to finish the story in one of our storybooks.

 

Once camps are finished, I’ll only have 4 more days left in school, it’s crazy how fast it’s all going by! My final visa interview is on Monday, I have been a bag of nerves lately with the fear that I will forget to bring a document or that I’ve completed a document wrong. So fingers crossed that it will all work out!

The realization that I’m moving to America is also hitting me, I am feeling so scared and nervous! But i guess that’s completely normal!

I can’t wait to share my camp details with all of you and hopefully start going on a few more adventures now that we are on our school holidays!
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My Favourite ESL Board Game

wpid-fotor_143753847704931.jpgI love playing board games or card games with my after school students. They have just completed an entire day of school, so by the time they come to me they are tired. For my after school program, I have the freedom to do whatever I want with the students so I usually try to make it fun for them.wpid-fotor_143787488203962.jpg

This year, we ordered some new board games and one of them definitely outshone the rest. That was the game, Word On The Street.

I love this board game because it can be used for all different levels (I use it with beginners, learning their ABC’s, right up to my smart 6th grade students).

So how do you play it?

Well you have two teams (they can be as big or as small as you want) I usually play 2 or 3 on a team because my classes are small.

You must then set up the board, putting the ABC markers on the road.wpid-fotor_143753855755160.jpg

You then choose a card for a team. The cards can vary a lot. Some of the cards say “a color” or “an ice cream flavor”. Others say “something that runs fast” or “something a baby uses”. Some cards are too difficult for my students but would be perfect for middle or high school students.wpid-fotor_14378748315001.jpg

For my lower level students I then take some time for them to name some answers for me. My higher classes, I start the timer straight away.

The students must then spell words and move the letters towards them. I spell the words for my lower level students and focus on them trying to find the letters on the board. For my higher level, I just moderate to make sure their spelling is correct.wpid-fotor_143787627784269.jpg

Once the timer finishes, you change team. If a team moves a letter three spaces towards them then they keep the letter and it’s a point. But if a letter is closer to the other team, a team can try to spell words with that letter in it to move it away from the other team.

My kids absolutely love this game and it’s great for their reading and spelling too.

5 Things That I’ll Miss About Korea

 

Since I recently wrote a post about the five reasons I’m excited to move to America here, I thought it would be nice to write about five things that I’ll miss about the place that has been my home for the last 5 years.

There is definitely more than five things that I’ll miss but I’ll try to narrow it down to five. I’m sure there’ll be so many more once I actually leave the country.

So here it goes:

1. The Food

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Oh man, I feel like my body knows that I’m leaving soon because I’m having constant cravings for Korean food! I think my diet has gone out the window while I try to enjoy as much of my favorite Korean foods before we leave.

2. My Studentswpid-img_20150125_120636.jpg

I’m an emotional person and no matter how strong I’ll try to be, I know that I’ll be a blubbering mess on my last day of school. I’ve had some hard times in Korea but no matter what, I go to school and my kids make me feel better. They make me laugh so much each day, I’ll miss being greeted by their smiling faces and making it my mission to make them laugh.

3. The Easy LifeFotor_142942395046659

Yes, life can get stressful when living in a foreign country but having such a fun easy going job definitely makes up for that. I get to work shorter hours, have longer vacations and better benefits than I’ve ever had in my life (and probably ever will). I have never had to live pay check to pay check while living here which is something that I’m very grateful for.

4. The Mountains5bd8a-img_0346

They are everywhere here! Korea is about 70% mountains so you are probably never more than 30 minutes away from a mountain here. I have a mountain directly across from my apartment and a few more in every other direction. I’ll miss the beautiful layers upon layers of mountains that Korea has. Luckily, I’ll hopefully be moving to Colorado which is famous for their Rocky Mountains.

5.The MemoriesIMG_0439

Okay, this is a strange one. I met and fell in love with Jason here in Korea, all of our firsts are here in Korea and this is where he proposed to me. I also met my adorable puppy here too.

I’ll miss the fact that we’ll never get to go to any of our first places once we leave here. I have so many beautiful memories from Korea and I’m hoping that I’ll remember them forever.

 

How about you?

Is there anything that you’d add to this list?

Teaching English…Let’s Talk Money

Well, today is my 5 year anniversary of living in Korea. I can’t believe I have been here that long. Some days it seems like only yesterday that I arrived here, scared out of my mind of what the future would hold. Other days, I forget the way we say things back in Ireland and it seems like forever since I lived there.

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One of my first weeks in Korea

 

But something that Korea has afforded me to do is to live a comfortable life never having to worry about money.

I was recently chatting to Jason feeling a bit panicked that we mightn’t have as much savings leaving here as I had hoped. Luckily we sat down and wrote down our finances and worked out that we may be only $1,000 short of what we had hoped for.

One of the questions that I usually get asked when people are considering moving to Korea is about money. Because let’s face it…it’s what draws most people to teach English here in Korea.

So let me break down what 5 years in Korea has afforded me to do…

Myself and Jason got to pay off over $15,000 worth of debt in about 3 months (we had both payed off about $8,000 in our first few years in Korea.)

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The night that we became debt free we bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

We got married and had an amazing honeymoon in Bali.grainnefb-56

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I got to visit Ireland and my family 4 times in 5 years.486737_496040363747367_1584591532_n

 

I got to visit Jason’s family in America once for a month.396203_372672622750809_1854014088_n

We got to do a 4 month Asian adventure together travelling to Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal and India.Agra and the Taj Mahal.

We have also gotten to travel to China, Japan (twice), Amsterdam, Malaysia and Borneo. Jason also went to the Philippines.

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cb61f-malaysia058We were able to get our dog, Willy, 2 complicated operations on his legs which cost us just under $2,000 (a bargain for what was involved!). In America, each leg would have cost about $10,000!imagewilly

We have travelled throughout Korea together.206423_208115522539854_6647442_n

229550_1841185080856_1820334_nWe have never lived pay check to pay check.

and we are hoping to leave Korea with just under $30,000

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Not bad for 5 years!

You can probably now understand why we stayed here for as long as we did. We know life in America will be incredibly different but we are definitely excited for that next challenge!

So if you are considering moving to Korea to teach English, please do! It’s a great way to have fun while saving money or paying back your student loans (I have one friend who has paid back over $40,000 in student loans over 3 years!)

If you have any questions about moving to Korea or about teaching English, just let me know.

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