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Yes Oui Si - Ye --> Dui
No Photos 25th Mar 2008 - 1st Apr 2008 - EPIK South Korea
The BIG news

It's been a week since we decided, and I'm sure many of you have already heard the news - We're coming home!!!!

It took us a long time and many many stressful discussions to decide to give notice (and we chickened out last monday), but last Tuesday, we told our schools that Thanks, It's been fun, but we're leaving. They're being very understanding, despite asking at least once a day if we would stay (and the person asking changes each time). Makes us feel appreciated.

So you're probably asking why. Well, those of you who read the journal regularly know that we've had more than our fair share of frustrations and difficulties here - and keep in mind thatI try to keep the journal fairly diplomatic. Between miscommunication problems, being ill-informed, frequently sick, constantly tired (me, who can sleep through a fire alarm, can't sleep through Korea), and finally, Rod's poor treatment at his school, we decided that we were ready to come home. We've really been ready since we got here, but we did manage to stick it out this long.

The big clincher though was how Rod's middle school received him when he returned from his bereavement leave in Canada. Each of us EPIK teachers have a main co-teacher who helps us with paperwork and translating and day-to-day activities. So while Rod was home, his co-teacher moved to a Daegu school, and he was assigned a new one - Ms Choi. However, this lady is either insane or on some bizzare power trip, because she decided to make Rod's life miserable when he got back. As soon as he walked in the school doors, she attacked him with a string of Korean, and then "why don't you understand Korean!" Fair enough, we should have learned more in the past 7 months. But then she accused him of embarassing the school by "not showing up" during the first 2 weeks of school (although we had talked to 3 different people before and during his trip - including her! and the provincial board of education knew about Rod being away..) and then made him sign a confession of guilt that he had not provided 15 days notice before returning home to his father's funeral. Next came a formal apology to the principal and vice principal (who again knew that Rod would be away). This was already too much, but then came the 'punishments'. Rod's desk was moved to a back corner of the office, and with the monitor, computer and Ms Choi's books on the desk, Rod had barely enough room for the keyboard. To make matters worse, one of the office phones was also on the desk, so he would come back from class to discover somebody else occupying his seat. And, he had no network connection - so no internet or printer access.

To get around this obstacle, Rod spent his free time in the library - where he could be online and get his lessons planned... but Ms Choi didn't like this either. She told Rod that when he wasn't teaching, he must be in the office - at his computer with no internet or printer. And what's more, that when he arrived at school he should sign in the time, and when he left school he should sign out the time. All of these things supposedly were from the administration. And that's just a few of the problems.

To nobody's surprise, this was making Rod miserable, stressed, and hate the school.  We tried to get him transferred either to a new school or to his part-time school (a wicked brand new high school that definitely appreciates him). No luck. We were told that since the semester had already started, a transfer would be impossible. The only thing that did happen was that ms Choi was fired as his co-teacher, and another English teacher took her place. But Rod still has to work with her in 5 of his 9 classes!

When we phoned the city education supervisor to let her know that we had decided to leave, we both felt so much relief. It's amazing how much stress builds up without you realizing it - I had weight off my shoulders that I didn't even know was weighing me down! Just seeing how much happier we both are to be heading home, and how excited we are (May 1st!!!) makes me totally convinced that this was the right decision. It's time to head home, decompress and get started on a new life.

There's lots of things that we'll miss about Korea though. Besides the people (who have been, and still are amazingly generous to us), there's a lot to the culture that we love. Take the markets, for example. We'll miss getting to walk down the street, bugging old ladies for the prices of strawberries and huge baskets of garlic, and filling our hands with black bags of fresh produce. We've recently discovered the joys of street meat vendors - little booths with meat on a stick doused in different sauces for cheap cheap. And we've grown to love our little neighbourhood (but not the noise) and going to our local bakery for bread, the chinese restaurant where they know and recognize us and will deliver to our door without having to tell them our address, and of course the Mexican restaurant where all the local foreigners gather for some home food of a sort.

In the meantime though, it's busy times. We have evening classes to teach wed, thurs and friday, and a list of things to see before we go. As well, we're trying to thank our teachers for all of the kindness we've recieved by taking them to dinners / seeing them outside of work. Plus, we have an entire apartment of stuff to empty out, and furniture to sell! Not to mention paperwork, banking and of course all the little details that have not yet occurred to us. Wow.

Some great news though is that Mom and Dad are still coming on their visit - so in 2 weeks, we'll have some visitors to show around the country. We'll pretty much only see them for the weekend though, since they have a few days in Seoul and a few days on Jeju island as well. We'll see how much we can fit into our limited time though! And we'll see them the week after they leave - we'll be following them home!

So for all of you still in Korea, good luck and hope you've had a great experience so far. And for those of you back home - see you soon!

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