Monday, February 7, 2011

Desk Potato Syndrome

December ushers in the time every schoolboy and girl years for: Winter Break. The beginning of my break was marked by a lovely Christmas with my mom in both Korean and Japan. I returned to the peninsula in time to celebrate New Year's in Busan and then it was back to home sweet home in Daegu. As many children were spending their time off likely playing computer games and attending English academy, this and many other a waygook teacher were making last minute preparations for Winter English Camp. My cards were favorable and I only taught a week of English camp (some were stuck with 4 weeks of camp while others enjoyed a more substantial sabbatical from teaching). I really loved it and my 1st-4th graders seemed to have a fantastic time as well (English camp plan to be posted soon). We played games, sang songs, danced around, and crafted the first week of January away.

As the last day of English camp rolled by, most teachers would have a few weeks of "deskwarming" to put it (time spent at school with nothing to do - we have to be here and have no job to perform). I, however, was lucky enough to snag a position with the Daegu Ministry of Education to teach conversation classes to secondary school teachers at a training center up in Mount Palgong (it is far away and much colder than Daegu proper). Though this seems a rather dreary position, it was a brilliant time. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time chatting with my "students" and fellow native English teachers. This lovely gig saved me from 3 solid weeks of deskwarming time and led straight up to vacation.

I returned from vacation a few days ago, the night before I was due back at school. Needless to say, the next morning was a rough one after the 20 hours of traveling via multiple planes, buses, and taxis. As I walked through the gateway to the Daesung Elementary yard I realized I had no idea if I was supposed to teach that day. Such is life in Korea. Luckily, after sitting down at my desk and fighting with my horribly outdated computer to turn on, my coteacher informed me that "We have nothing to do!" This was certainly a relief, as this tired-looking teacher was certainly in no condition to conduct a cogent class. Well, turns out I do have a few classes to teach late in the week (I am having them write comics, simple lesson with minimal planning and one I hope to be great fun). However, I am still stuck with a wealth of time in which my time has really no restrictions except that I have to stay at school. Seems easy enough.

There are myriad things I could do with my time at school, you know, be productive with it. I could read a book (it is likely I will do this, as I want to finish Dune and move on to Ender's Game), brush up on my Spanish, learn more Korean, write more (I am doing this! See!), re-organize my classroom, and lesson plan for the upcoming semester. To my intellectual side's chagrin, I've found myself desiring only to catch-up on TV shows I've missed over vacation. A couple episodes of Big Bang Theory, HIMYM, Glee, 30 Rock, Community, Family Guy, and (unfortunately) V later, I had an epiphany: I watch a lot of TV in Korea. After polishing off the catch-up episodes I found myself frantically searching for new series to watch! Which spurred me to write this post.

Throngs of deskwarming waygooks are faced with the dilemma of how to properly spend 40 hours a week stuck at an empty school. Most of us turn to that ever-faithful Internet friend, Facebook. But after a couple hours of chatting with friends and refreshing status updates on the minute every minute, we realize not much has changed; at least this girl has. I must stop being such a desk potato and discontinue relegating myself to watching really crappy TV when my time freezing my fingers away could be better spent reading or doing something productive. With an hour left in my day, I hope to put a serious dent toward the end of my current book (only 100 pages left!). From this day forward, I vow to spend much less time on my bum staring at my computer screen hoping to get a new email or see a funny status update to comment on or settle on watching terrible new TV series. Let's see how long this lasts. But first I'll need to check my email just *one* more time.

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