Ms. Morrow's Life as a Teacher in Korea



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Log 7: I'm living in a marble palace in the mountains....

Posted by Samantha Morrow on July 15, 2010 at 7:33 PM Comments comments (0)

...but I'm about to leave it for a Buddhist temple. I'm about forty-five minutes away from leaving for Haesina Temple. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site. Learn more about it here.


Although I wanted to do an update before leaving, my schedule has kept me too busy to blog regularly. That should give some indication of what a wonderful time I'm having here in Jungwon University in Goesan. On a side note, the university's buildings are made almost completely out of granite and marble. The clean lines and edges juxtapose nicely with the green mountains that surround the massive structure. The summer humidity softens everything in a little bit of haze that makes the environment seem even more surreal.



Goodbye until Sunday! Haesina awaits!

Log 6 [Stateside]: Countdown

Posted by Samantha Morrow on June 30, 2010 at 2:23 PM Comments comments (0)

It's Wednesday, and even though my flight doesn't depart until Saturday, I'm in a mad rush to finish my packing in a few short hours before I leave for Neva's wedding. I'll be leaving a list of to-do items for my parents to complete while I'm gone, such as copying my passport/visa and backing up my compter. They generously volunteered to do whatever I needed. They've been wonderful about helping me prepare. I'm going to miss all of my family so much; it doesn't seem real that I'll be leaving them again for so many months.


I have to get back to packing. Even though I'm stressed now, I'm hoping that the next few days at Neva's will be a good way for me to relax before I leave the country. We'll be seeing Eclipse tonight (a few of my A.E. Wright students might remember running into me at the Commons to see New Moon the day it came out!), and Thursday will be spent helping Neva prepared before the wedding rehearsal and dinner. Friday is the big day that will blend into the Saturday that sees me leaving. So much to do, so little time!

Log 5 [Stateside]: So MUCH

Posted by Samantha Morrow on June 25, 2010 at 2:34 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm not even out of the country yet, and I'm behind on my blogging, but here's a quick list of some of the things I've been up to regarding Korea:


• Received the 56 page IIE Orientation Manual and the 86 page Korea ETA Handbook. Read both. Great info!

• Applied for, and received, my A-3 Korea visa. It looks pretty cool in my passport.

• Spent two hours on the orientation survey that was supposed to take 15-20 minutes. I can't but help be meticulous with all of my answers.

• Got poked with three different needles for vaccines and blood tests in one day

• Started taking an oral typhoid vaccine, but

• Stopped taking it because of reactions from the other vaccines, including a red swelling that took over most of my upper arm and a fever of 103.5 (yikes!)

• Recovered from my vaccinations

• Sent off a box of educational materials (books, posters, stickers, magazines) via military mail to use in Korea

• Continued to study my Korean. I'm feeling pretty solid on the alphabet, but I'll keep reviewing until the plane lands in Inch'on!

• Received, changed, and confirmed my flight itinerary: I depart from San Francisco at 1:35pm on Saturday and fly straight to Korea. The wedding is Friday night, so after it I'll drive the 3.5 hours back home, crash for a few hours, and then head to the airport. I'll arrive 12 hours after all of the other ETAs, so I'll stay with the Fulbright coordinator and then catch a bus to the orientation site the next morning.

• Joined the Fulbright message boards and posted my Self-Introduction to the rest of the ETAs. They're a pretty impressive (read: intimidating) group, which makes me even more excited to meet them. Not many from California, which makes me realize just how much of a California girl I am.

• Gone on plenty of coffeedates and gotten friends to pray for me as I embark on this adventure!

• Starting sending off e-mails to former students who expressed interest in corresponding with a Korean pen pal. I'm so excited at the potential for staying in touch with them all. I worked with some truly wonderful young people.


I'm sure there's been more to the last few weeks, but as my time in the States is drawing quickly to a close, those should be sufficient highlights.


P.S. For those who are interested, my "random fact" about myself for the Fulbright survey caused me a lot of grief as I tried to think of something memorable and fitting to share. The executives in charge of the program and the principals of the schools we'd be working with would read these, but I think I came up with a good one: "Even though we're both right-handed, my father taught me how to play street hockey left-handed; this resulted in capable switch-hitting for softball and general confusion for lacrosse." All true.

Log 4 [Stateside]: Visa Works

Posted by Samantha Morrow on May 19, 2010 at 1:22 PM Comments comments (0)

Let the logistics and visa work begin! I woke up to find this e-mail the other day (excerpted for your reading convenience):


Dear 2010-2011 ETAs,

안녕하세요? (Annyeonghaseyo?/Hello!) Greetings from Seoul! Thank you all for your patience in waiting for information regarding the ETA Program.

[Plenty of useful information, concluded with:]


And now, it's recap time! Please remember to:

- Reply to this email to confirm that you have received and read it by Sunday, May 23

- Fill out your visa application, but wait on sending it in until you have received approval from our office

- Don't forget to include your passport, copy of your KAEC award letter, and a self-addressed stamped envelope (secure mail)

- Contact PANA Travel to confirm your flight itinerary

- Get your medical clearance forms and graduation certification sent in to IIE if you have not done so already!

- Send me any questions you have (but try to hold off on questions that will be covered in the ETA Handbook unless it's urgent!)

- Enjoy your remaining time in America with friends and family

- Eat as much Mexican food as humanly possible (it's unfortunately just not the same here...)


For some reason, the whole thing won't be real for me until I have the visa in my passport; until then, I'm just waiting to hear back from the IIE telling me that I didn't have sufficient medical clearance, thus dashing all of my hopes. However, I am determined that my paranoia will only serve my by galvanizing me into action; I think I'll go send the confirmation e-mail now.

Nonetheless, it is rather exciting to get a new sticker (not merely a stamp, but a sticker!) in one's passport.


Also note that I'll be updating the links section soon; the ETA e-mail included several websites for the ETAs to peruse to help us familiarize ourselves with Korean language and culture. Take a look!


Log 3 [Stateside]: Bad Dreams and Good News

Posted by Samantha Morrow on May 11, 2010 at 6:52 PM Comments comments (1)

I mailed off my authorization forms to the Korean American Educational Commission in Seoul and the Institute of International Education in New York yesterday. It's really happening! Even though I've had no complaints about the recent perfect spring weather, yesterday's drizzle was no less delightful. After visiting one of my town's oldest post offices (formerly a city hall), I crossed the street to the library to check out two books on basic Korean. Time to study up!


This morning, I woke up in a cold sweat after a bad dream that I had forgotten to fill in one of the fields on my authorization forms. Even though I'd read them over dozens of times, I still went to go check my copy to make sure there wasn't anything I missed. I was fine, obviously, and my day got better when I checked my e-mail. I found this:


Also, I'm happy to inform you that I spoke to our Executive Director today, and she approved your wedding request, as long as you can arrange to take the soonest flight possible over after the event is over. I will be sending out information about making travel arrangements later this week, as well as information on applying for your visa and other logistics.


Hooray! I can be in my best friend's wedding and still catch a flight to Korea. More updates to come soon as I start the thrilling rounds of visa applications.

Log 2 [Stateside]: Home and Hangul

Posted by Samantha Morrow on May 8, 2010 at 2:18 PM Comments comments (0)

Relaxing at home and reveling in perfect weather has been wonderful, but the to-do list for Korea is constantly in the back of my mind. Here are some of my tasks:


1) Finish filling in the authorization forms for Fulbright Korea and the International Institute of Education. Given my questions about my departure date, I've been in touch with the ETA program coordinator and am awaiting her instructions regarding what to sign and when to send them.

2) Keep up with the blog of Julie, a current Pepperdine alumna who's an ETA in Korea. She recommended buying a book on adjusting from American culture to Korean culture, but Barnes & Noble wasn't very helpful. Now on to

3) Find out what homestay is like. From what I've read of Julie's blog, it sounds as though adjusting to a Korean homestay has been one of her biggest challenges. Earlier this week, I had a coffeedate with a Pepperdine student from my alma mater (high school) who spent his year living in Buenos Aires, Argentina with a homestay program. As we chatted, I asked for advice on what he did to make his living situation a positive one for both him and his homestay family.

4) Familiarize myself with Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Alameda County and Hayward City Library, here I come! I'm also trying to see if has any helpful sets of flashcards to help me learn the characters of the alphabet.

5) Update my Homepage with links and explanations to other parts of the site. An FAQ page would probably be helpful. Look for it in the next couple days!


Less than sixty days until I emark to Korea!

Log 1 [Stateside]: Numbers and Graduation

Posted by Samantha Morrow on May 2, 2010 at 6:08 AM Comments comments (1)

The past few days have been rather epic: I found out my expected date of departure for Korea on Friday and I graduated today. My time at Pepperdine is very suddenly over.


I am expected to depart for Korea on the evening of July 2nd to start my training July 4th. Exciting as this is, I am supposed to be a bridesmaid in my roommate's wedding July 2nd. I'm going to see what I can do about leaving on the 3rd. Fingers crossed that something works out!