Thursday, 3 December 2009

My Schedule

Now might be a good time to talk a bit more about my schedule lately.

A few of the things I mention are in an article Bonnie (another fellow teacher and friend) and I wrote for Andong in the EPIK Newsletter. You can find it here (click on "Gyeongbuk" and Scroll down to "Andong Teacher's Give Back"):
Unfortunately, they forgot to put Bonnie's name on the article, so it only has my name listed. She wrote the first part about the teacher's class, and I wrote about Korean class and martial arts.

Outside of school, which I'm at from 8:40-4:40, I have acquired a very active schedule in the evenings. Here is the breakdown:

Hapkido: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

(Above photo by Andrew, with Helen in the background and our Hapkido master on the left. Usually everyone's in uniform, but this was from a pretty laid back, small class day.)

Depending on what other things I have going on, I go from 6:45-7:45 or 8-9. It costs us 80,000 won a month (around $75). Scott and I joined up soon after our friends Andrew and Helen mentioned going about two months ago, though Andrew's knee incident put him on a month long hiatus. Hapkido is a form of martial arts that is sometimes referred to as kickboxing, developed in Korea (although they're most well known for Taekwondo). I love it, and it fills the empty hole that horseback riding filled in my weekly exercise routine. It's helping a lot more with my flexibility, which is nice after spending the second half of school cramped in a chair.

Our Hapkido studio is about a 10 minute bus ride from our home, and although we learned later there was one near my school, we wouldn't dream of switching. Not that it wouldn't be fun to spar with my students, but I would hate for a 4th grader to take me down. Plus, our Hapkido master is quite possibly one of the friendliest people in the country. He doesn't speak very much English, but it doesn't make a difference. As with most things in the country, we understand through body language, and this is the best example of that. We mimic him, and when we misunderstand a certain kick or take down move, he steps in and holds our leg or arm in the proper position, or shows us exactly which pressure point or sensitive area or the arm or leg we are aiming for. No further explanation needed. Ouch. A lot of the things that we do are in a line (rolls, flips, pad kicks, etc), so as long as we don't start, it's pretty easy to pick up on.

Poker: Wednesday, 8:30-12am.

Another hobby I picked up since I've been in Korea is poker. Ironic, considering how it's illegal for Koreans to gamble and I should choose to learn how to do it in their country. (picture taken on my phone- a bit blurry and dark)

After Hapkido we all meet up downtown and head to Andrew's apartment. He has a little side room, like a sun room with wall-sized windows, which is the perfect size for a table and chairs. We call our poker game "The Golden Pig" because we have a sparkly golden piggy bank that we all throw a 500 won coin into before each game. If anyone gets a royal flush, they win the pig. We don't have a backup plan for it when that inevitably never happens.

The usual group is Me, Scott (whose arm is pictured dealing), Andrew (on the right), Dave (on the left), and Helen (between them), although Alice and Katie come by sometimes if they don't go to their Taekwondo class. Katie is dangerous. We play with a 10,000 won buy in, winner takes all except second place, who gets their money back. Katie has never failed to get first or second whenever she comes. It's amazing. Recently we have picked up another two maybe-regulars, Miz, an Aussie from a nearby small down that scooters in to Andong, and Andre, another EPIKer from the September group with Helen. It's great to look forward to something in the middle of the week and be able to wind down and reconnect with my friends if I get too busy to see them otherwise.

Teacher's Class: Mondays at 6:15, once a month.

A big group of the EPIK teachers got together to teach a volunteer class on rotation every week, Monday and Wednesday. It turned out that so many people responded to help teach the class, that Scott and I only do it once every four weeks on Mondays. Because the classes change teachers every week, we took to using the schedule for "Survival English" on It is very well planned, and we could use similar handouts and easily review the prior lessons to keep the whole class from falling into disorganized chaos.

Korean Class: Tuesday, 6:30-8:30

We tried a Korean class during the spring semester, but it wasn't a conversation class; there were about 8 Korean instructors to sit down with us and go over a textbook, but essentially no structure and a little tedious. Although it did give me practice in writing characters and their sounds, which has been invaluable. This new class has been much better suited to my personal learning style, with one instructor who talks with us. He asks us questions and we learn how to give answers based on our personal lives. What we learn is more from the impulse of the moment, which is fantastic.

Therefore, I leave every morning at 8:15 and get home at 7:45 on Monday (unless we teach the class, then 9), 9 on Tuesday, midnight on Wednesday, 5 on Thursday, and 7:45 on Friday. It's been harder for Scott, who teaches a 2 hour class after school on Wednesdays and Thursdays in addition to everything else.

In the rest of my free time I am constantly reading on my Kindle (I stopped biking so I could allocate the 20 minute walk to work each morning as reading time, in case I don't have time later on), hanging out with Scott and Po, playing some WoW here and there, or keeping up with my social life. Sometimes we'll meet up with our friends after Hapkido during the week, or since Thursday is the only day left unscheduled, we'll nominate that as a movie night (when a good English film comes through. Good meaning above 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, because we cant' be too picky).

All of it's fun and optional, of course, but sometimes I'm left feeling a little drained from it all. Monday morning always feels a little bit daunting.


  1. Reading about our schedule makes me tired, let alone living it. But at least we are active, well-rounded people!

    I'd say 30% is a bit of an exageration. We rarely get a movie that good here. We've definitely seen several this year below 15%. Hello--Transformers 2? GAMER?!

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  3. I think a busy life can be more exhilarating at times than exhausting. I'm glad you're trying so many new things. Taking advantage of all Korea has to offer is better than sitting in a small apartment at night. Po must get pretty lonely. But then, cats don't seem to notice much difference between a human or a scratching post.

  4. Sara: Wonderful post! When you get back you can help me polish my poker skills. Leslee and I are really going to miss you and Scott at Xmas. I just told Scott that at exactly your age I spent my first Xmas in Germany with a German Family. That was also a wonderful experience. Larry

  5. Crazy!! It'll keep you young :-)

  6. Keep you young? Sounds like it'll wear you out! Nah, not when it's fun =D

    You should play furc...just sayin'...yeah ;) I could arrange a time and place for us to meet online but the first couple of days I'd have to chat you up and we'd get no RP done. more WoW. Furcadia <3

  7. While I only check in every other week, I certainly do love reading about all your adventures be they learning new things, seeing new things, or sharing new sites. How wonderful to be young.