Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Intrigued with a dash of Grammar Nazi

There are 2 things in this world, which I find I know a lot more about than I initially thought. Those are: technology and grammar.

When you grow up around technology, are older than the Internet (It's true) and take a hand-full of classes that require you to use computers on a regular basis, it sort of creeps up on you. You know how to navigate computers and the Internet fairly well, and when it comes to the continuing growth of technology you tend to pick up on the new basics faster.

But, this post is not about technology. It is about grammar.

I am not an expert on grammar. I know that there are many things that I still do not have memorized. Half the time, I can't even remember the proper names. The more and more I read things online, however, the more I am aware that my level of grammar skills are actually quite good. And, unfortunately, there are a number of English teachers abroad who have grammatical errors up to their ears, and you wonder what they are teaching those foreign kiddies.

They probably have great luck when it comes to conversation English, most definitely. When it comes to writing... not so much. I have seen apostrophes where they ought not be and misused words, my grammar-aware friends. I have even seen an English teacher write a sentence that went along the lines of: "I was talking to this girl, who's English is quite well."

Now, I'm not a Grammar Nazi. I don't have the qualifications to be one. However, if I see a sentence like this I'm going to think, "This is very, very off." Then, I'm going to write about it in my blog. :)

First of all -- the apostrophe. From what I've seen of their posts, they seem to be under the impression that apostrophes must be used as much as possible. This is incorrect. Use them rarely.

Second of all -- "English is quite well." It sounds awkward, like you're saying that a guy named English is doing well, thanks for asking.

In the end, it should have been something more like this: "I was talking to this girl, whose English is quite good."

I'm not trying to be mean. I didn't furiously begin typing up this blog post, trying to convey my anger and annoyance to the world. I just want to point out something I've noticed over the last month or so while browsing the Internet for information on South Korean English teaching. I get punctuation wrong all the time. ALL THE TIME. I'm just not the worst offender out there... thank goodness.

Let's hope that this means I have an even better chance at a job.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

How does an Arizonan survive in South Korea?

I'm an Arizona girl -- not Flagstaff, Arizona, but in the center of the inferno Phoenix area Arizona. This means I am not accustom to cold weather, and as sure as the frosty tuber nose of a snowman I am not used to snow. Snow doesn't really happen here. When it does, it doesn't survive. We once had a hail storm that left piles of marble-sized ice in our backyard, and my sisters and I played in it like it was snow. A hail-man is just not the same as a snowman, however.

What am I, a girl who has never owned a winter coat or hat in her life, supposed to do about surviving South Korea's winter?

I decided to first google "winter in South Korea", to see what I was getting myself into. I encountered a number of images such as this:

From Zimbio

and this:

From Zimbio

Well... that has really made me feel better. Seriously... 

Moving on, I decided to simply browse the Internet for winter wear. At this point, however, I was still oblivious to how much winter wear there really is in this world. Silly desert-dwelling girl. Don't you know that you need long-johns, thick socks, ear muffs, hats, scarves, gloves, sweaters, coats and enough layers to look like the Michelin Man? 

Okay, I probably don't need that much. It's very likely that I will be wearing a lot more layers than those used to the snowy weather, though. I'll probably be identified as a Waygookin (foreigner) from afar simply from the amount of layers. That, or I might just slowly turn into a human ice sculpture from sheer stubbornness, not wanting to look like I can't handle the cold like everyone else. 

Either way, I'm getting a whole new wardrobe. I do like new clothes, and I like the fact that I'll actually be able to wear modest clothing without melting into a pile of goo. I just hope I get things that will actually keep me warm. 

Any tips from winter savvy people?

(If you would like to help keep me from freezing to death, feel free to make a donation at my gofundme page or buy something from Etsy!)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fingerprinting Is NOT Fun

I went to my local UPS store to get my fingerprints for the FBI background check request. Immediately, I grew nervous when I discovered that there would be little guidance and that there is a very small margin for error. I was under the impression that they literally guided your hand. That didn't happen until the very last finger, and only because I'd had to do it over and over again.

Fingerprinting is hard.

Fingerprinting is not fun.

Fingerprinting sucks.

I went through about 3 fingerprinting cards and a pile of white stickers before the UPS worker said it looked like it might work. Might work? Might? What if that might is a might 'bit too much on the "might not" side.

Around this point, with my fingers covered in black ink like I'd just decided it would be a good idea to dig into the wound of an orc, just to see what happened, the finger-scanning option was looking very nice.

It would have cost a little more, but it's faster, less messy and tends to be more accurate. Also, a local company that does the electronic fingerprinting offers a re-scan for free if things go wrong.

I was nearly done, though -- I had all my paperwork with me and was ready to mail everything out. I just had those two pesky fingers that refused to roll and press my fingerprints just right to pass inspection from the UPS worker and his superior. I was going to do it even if I felt like just sitting down on the spot, and crossing my arms as a signal of surrender and frustration (not a good idea, since I still had ink on my hands).

So, I stuck through it, getting a little edgy as I went along, but I pulled through. There will be plenty more stressful moments ahead of me but, I have to say, this one was probably the most frustrating because it seemed so simple until I found myself covered in orc's blood ink.

I got my paperwork mailed out at least. Let's just hope that I didn't mess up, which would mean starting the whole process over again...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Funding, background checks and paperwork -- oh my!

Image courtesy of 

Gualberto107 /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I feel like my head is ready to burst at the moment and the first thing that came to my head was, "Hey, I should write!" The second was that I should go play this zombie trailer park game I like for when I need a break (I have that open in another tab).

I have been collecting information for my teaching abroad adventure. I have watched soooo many videos and read so many blog posts in the last couple days. Kimchi Teaching has been really helpful, and the information I gleaned from a number of random videos have made me feel a little less stressed about getting all my ducks in a row.

What I have done so far:

- Recommendation letter requests
- Ordered official transcript (I'm gonna need at least 2, apparently...)
- Started my gofundme page
- Gotten 1/2 my needed vaccination doses

Right now, it's a bit of a waiting game. I have 2 promised recommendation letters, which I will be receiving as soon as they are written. I've met some wonderful people, both academically and professionally, who are fully willing to help me with my next big adventure (Yay!).

Which brings me to another topic -- I was wavering with my decision to teach abroad for a while before I decided to do it. I've been considering the possibility for over a year now, but if I'd actually made this decision back then I wouldn't have had one of the recommendations I have now. I'm grateful for what hesitations can bring me and also grateful that I finally made the decision.

Now, these are the things I want to do and might have done within a few weeks or so:

- Get my passport renewed
- Send out background check request (need, need, need, to get the FBI seal and the signature of a division official on that)
- Notarize copy of diploma (need to get that apostilled, but I'm probably going to wait a bit)
- Decide whether I'm going through an agency or not

I occasionally go into panic mode, thinking about all the things that I need to get done. I have to remind myself that worrying won't make the process go any faster. I have to just start from the beginning and work my way down the line. There's no use worrying about or thinking too much about things I can't even do right now.


In the meantime, I'm spending my time collecting paperwork and information. I'm also working (You know, 'cause I kind of need the money. At least I'm doing some interesting work right now.) and developing new products for my Etsy shop.

I'll keep you posted on any mishaps and/or great successes in the next week or so.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Go Fund Me.... please?

Guess what everyone? I started a GoFundMe page to raise money for my crazy dream! I'm going to make a short video to add to it soon, but for now I have some written details on the page, which you can visit here.

I need all the help I can get. Part of the reason I'm doing this -- other than the personal self fulfillment, getting to teach little munchkins and experiencing/sharing a culture -- is that I have no money. I'm hardly making enough money to pay my loans at the moment, and I really want to do more with my life (and paycheck) than pay off loans.

I also have a widget to the side of this blog that will be there even when this post has been pushed out by a new one. Just click on the gofundme widget and you can donate through there. I would like to ask that, instead of gifts for Christmas this year (far way off, I know) from family and friends, a donation through GoFundMe is all I'm asking for. Any amount you can give would be fantastic. Also, you can check out my Etsy Page, where I'm selling polymer clay figurines. Thank You!

Monday, August 12, 2013

When Life Changes

Someone said something recently that I want to share with those reading this. I was talking about how I planned to go to South Korea for a year, and they brought up the number of differences I was going to encounter. Different customs, different food, different everything.

I was aware that I would be encountering things like these, but I wasn't AWARE. As they talked to me, it just suddenly hit me like it hadn't before when they used two words -- BIG CHANGE.

My life is changing. Holy cow.

I've had a good life up 'til now. Great family, friends, mentors and experiences. But this... it's a big change for me, and I got more than a little emotional about it (I may have been emotional before that, whole other story). I can't think of any changes in my life as dramatic as this one, or where I haven't had my family by my side for the majority of the process, if not all of it.

Then the person I was talking to brought up one more thing, which I hope I'm remembering correctly, though I am definitely paraphrasing:

Big changes open us up to greater growth. 

There's a chance that things might not turn out the way I plan or the way I hope, but they could also exceed my expectations and introduce me to new wonders. I'm not going to find out unless I go for it and make the change.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm Going On An Adventure!

Bilbo and I have a few things in common. We're both short in stature, we both enjoy food and we've both been content to just sit in our comfortable homes until someone or something came along to remind us that we're adventurers at heart. I've dreamed of traveling, but most of my trips have been short and far between. A while back, however, I decided that I was going to do something a bit crazy -- go to South Korea and teach English for a year.

Yes, a year.

I may not be facing goblins, orcs, giant spiders (let's REALLY hope there won't be any giant spiders) or dragons, but I will be facing culture shock, a language I can barely understand and children who speak said language I can't understand.   And, let's not forget co-workers who I may or may not understand either.

There are a number of reasons why I decided to do this. First, I want to see more of the world and its cultures. Travel Channel can only show me so much. Second, I want to share my own culture with others. In order to better understand another language, understanding its culture is required, after all. Third, South Korea is intriguing. I'm not just talking about Kdramas and Kpop, here. There are symbols, customs and foods I'm itching to experience.  

I could probably keep listing reasons, but this post would get exceptionally long...

So, what have I done so far?

  • Researched agencies
  • Researched TEFL courses
  • Registered for a TEFL course 
  • Started to get up-to-date on vaccinations (Can I just say -- Ow!)
  • Started passport renewal process

The TEFL course is through International TEFL Academy (ITA) and takes 3 months to finish. They have job guidance and the admissions advisor has been pretty helpful in answering my questions. She even helped set up an installment payment plan so that I could register now and simply pay in 3 installments.

I'll be starting my course in about 2 months. It's an exciting and nerve-wrecking experience. Meanwhile, I have a few things to attend to, like funding and getting paperwork together. Anyone who is willing to help me out, I'm coming up with some fundraising ideas right now.

I'll keep you posted.