Browsing Category ESL

Busy, Busy, Busy


This week has been crazy. It’s not even because I’m working a lot as far as time goes (even with the 2 jobs I’m still only working about 30 hours a week, not even full time).


It’s the amount of preparation I have to do for these 30 hours of work that I have. Summer school was somewhat challenging this week because I’m getting used to the super high level students, but it uses the same book for the entire 6 weeks and I have the same students everyday who are lovely and listen and aren’t crazy children (thank god). But at my first job at the English center….PSSSSSSSSSSH. Let’s all just take a look at my crazy ass schedule shall we?

I teach 8 classes per week. No biggie. Three of them are 3 hours long, and the rest are 2 hours long. Still okay. The issue is this:

Wednesday: 17-27 year olds (mostly college students)
Thursday: 40-50 year old men (all work for the military and are like….JUST learning English)
Friday: 10-12 year olds (they are my worst class and I actually somewhat dread teaching them. sigh)
Saturday: 1st class – 6-7 year olds, 2nd class – 4 to 5 year olds
Sunday: 1st class: BARELY 4 year olds (like I swear some of them are 3), 2nd class: 8-10 year olds, 3rd class: 5-6 year olds.

Each of these classes uses a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BOOK. Each of these classes is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LEVEL. Each of these classes is a freaking COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AGE group. How do I go from teaching 50 year old men in the military to 4 year olds? I don’t know. But my brain hurts. I feel like all I do is plan lessons. Everyday. All day. Forever. It’s taking a toll on me, mentally. I’ve had to cut my yoga time to only 4 days a week because my schedule doesn’t allow me to go Wednesday-Friday. It really sucks because yoga is the one thing that’s been keeping me pretty level headed and calm. Sigh. I’ve been still making to-do lists every night, but most of the time it looks like this:

1. find a game for ____ class
2. find an activity sheet for ____ class
3. plan lesson on writing a topic sentence and find appropriate worksheets
4. plan TOEFL prep course

and on and on and on.

I’ve been neglecting both the blog and Glamtrotting, and I can’t let that happen, so I’m trying to figure some shit out this weekend to try and make better use of my time. I’m thinking that I’ll have to do lesson plans for the week on one or two days only, that way I have the rest of the week to work on MY things. Part of me wonders why I spend so much time working on lessons when a lot of people literally come in, open the book, print a worksheet, and that’s it. But I want to be a good teacher and have a good influence on my students and make it seem like I care. So…yeah.

I know going into next week the summer school job will be a bit easier because I know all of the kids, and the book is incredibly fun and easy to teach. It’s probably one of the few ESL books in the entire world that isn’t a steaming pile of crap. It’s a National Geographic one, so all of the topics are really interesting, the topics are relevant and modern (examples: longevity and happiness, start-ups and Silicon Valley, climate change, etc.), and the bookwork is challenging and stimulating. I’m actually learning from the book too!

So enough about work. I’m tired of talking about it, but I just had to get it all out there. I was supposed to receive a package from a while ago, but I still haven’t received it. I’ve heard that people often get their packages stolen here, so I’m hoping that’s not the case. SIGH. It was a very expensive su:m37 serum, so I’m a bit pissed. I need to go to the post office on Monday and get it all sorted out.

This weekend, I think Johnny and I are finally going to have some quality time together. I want to go exploring! There are a few restaurants I’ve been dying to try, and maybe we’ll get a couple of drinks too. Lord knows I need one (or a few).  Sunday, I have a lunch date with a friend. And next weekend, we’re going to the BEAAACCCCHHHH! YASSSS! It’s going to be our first mini vacation since coming here. We wanted to go to Singapore, but I think we’re going to wait until we both have more time to take off.

And before I go… what are some of your favorite toners? After what seems like FOREVER, I am all out of my Benton toner. I’m looking for something that provides a chemical exfoliation as well. Bonus points if I can actually find it in Vietnam, as I’ve lost all faith in the mail system here.

How have you been? Tell me some happy stories about puppies or traveling or something fun. Have a good weekend!


Life Lately – Teaching, Yoga, and Glamtrotting


Hi everyone!

I wanted to write a quick update on my super interesting (or not) life here in Vietnam. I’ve officially been in Vietnam for 3 months TODAY! YAAAAAY! I can’t believe time is passing so quickly though. Johnny and I initially planned to be here only 6 months, but now that I’m already 3 months in, I don’t know how I’m going to leave in just a few short months. We’ll see.

I’ve been teaching for a month now, and I can finally say with confidence I have the hang of things. I have my own classes now, and I teach about 16 hours a week. Sadly, most of these hours fall on the weekend. Word of advice, if you are planning on coming to teach in Vietnam and you work at one of the Vietnamese language schools, be prepared to most definitely work on the weekends. Thankfully, I have most of the week off. But Johnny works during the week, and since I work mostly on the weekends, we don’t see each other as often as we’d like. We’ve been carving out mid-day lunch dates, so we can actually sit and talk and not worry about one of us having to plan lessons or go to work. It’s nice!

I’m finally getting the hang of teaching the wee ones, and they are definitely becoming my favorite classes to teach. They are just so adorable! They aren’t moody or temperamental. They love EVERYTHING. And when they see me in the school outside of class, they all run up to me and grab my legs and say, “HELLO MISS SHERYLL!”. It’s so cute I could scream. I still have to take a nap after teaching Saturday and Sunday morning, but it’s worth it.

I also picked up a short 6 week summer school job at an international school! I’m super excited! It pays really well, and the school is gorgeous. They have a pool, a full 350 seat theatre, a gym, a soccer field, a huge library, a computer lab, the works. I start on Monday, so for 6 weeks I won’t have any days off, but thankfully the summer school job is just 3 hours in the morning so it’s not *too* bad. I’m definitely looking forward to the extra $$$ though. Dolla dolla bills ya’ll!

I started taking yoga classes 2 weeks ago and I am officially obsessed. I don’t know why I never practiced yoga before. Not only is it GREAT exercise, it’s improved my mood 30497234986230562357634x. I feel like I’m walking on clouds, especially right after a class. My mood has definitely improved tons since moving to Vietnam, but of course, I would still get into weird slumps. Not so much anymore. I feel like I can do anything! I’ve always wanted to work on my flexibility, since it’s basically non-existent, and I’m already making huge improvements. I’ve been going 6 days a week, and still going to the gym about 4 days a week now, and I can see myself slimming down. WOOP WOOP! And for some reason, yoga has really helped my appetite and cravings. I no longer want fatty fried foods, and instead find myself fixing a salad for lunch instead of something cheap and quick.

And yea, I know the K-beauty posts have been lacking, but my skin is just…really a mess and I’m not sure what to do. I keep getting these weird jawline/chin breakouts, and despite me going back to my failsafe products, it’s not clearing up. The same exact thing happened in the same exact spot last summer, so I’m not sure what the deal is. It’s like a weird summer breakout. I’m also probably exaggerating because most people are like, “what breakout?”, but it’s making me so self-conscious. Ugh.

Glamtrotting is coming along smoothly, and we’ve gathered an amazing team of writers and editors. I’m learning so many things as I go. It’s rewarding to teach myself about running a magazine, setting up guidelines, pitching it to people, setting up interviews. I feel like a professional! It’s still not too late to pitch your articles for our August launch, so if you want more information on how you can be a part of our team, send an email to!



My Weekend – Toddlers, Bikes, and Taylor Swift


I am tired. So very, very, tired.

I finally started my new job last week, Friday to be exact. From Friday to Sunday, I taught toddlers, teens, and small children. I don’t think my brain has had the time to fully process everything, but here’s a stab at it.

I don’t know how other schools work in Vietnam, but I work at a large academy type institution that offers English classes for adults and children of all ages. I found out my schedule Thursday and had to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And even though I was clear with the hiring staff that I’ve never taught young children, I am now teaching 5 classes with the wee ones. I was completely unprepared for my first toddler class, but after experiencing a class for the first time and some perusing through pinterest, I think I’ve got some idea of how it works. You’ve never felt exhaustion until you’ve had to teach a classroom of 20 3 and 4 year olds. And the classes are roughly 2 hours long with a 10 minute break. Yeah…keeping the attention span of a toddler for over an hour is a feat and I’m not exactly sure how I accomplished it, but I did. Thankfully, with the toddler classes I have 2 teaching assistants that help out, so it’s not *too* bad, but still exhausting.

I teach a 12/13 year old class Friday and Saturday nights. And newbie here gets one of the most notorious classes in the school. Apparently these kids have a reputation for not listening, talking, and just being a hot mess in general. One of the kids in the class even told me himself they were a bad class. Jesus take the wheel. I have also learned that Vietnamese kids LOVE LOVE LOVE Taylor Swift. Like, they are obsessed. She’s featured in a lot of advertisements here, but I never really put it all together until I asked them who their favorite music artist was and they screamed her name.

In between classes yesterday, I went and bought an electric bike!!! I’ve wanted to buy one for ages, but now that I work, I needed a way to get around since I don’t want to spend money on taxis all the time. Not only that, I drove it from Binh Tanh district, through District 1, and into Phu My Hung – roughly a 30 minute bike ride. Yes, I drove it through the insane and infamous Saigon traffic. I am miraculously still alive, and what’s more, is that is was SO much fun! My bike goes so fast! I feel much, much, safer riding an electric bike than an actual motorbike. And I’m not contributing to all the pollution here, so YAY for doing my part in saving the environment.

My new project is going to be announced very, very, soon. I finally got all the hosting set up for it and I’m working with a designer for the logo and branding. I’m so excited that everything is finally coming together! I also have a timeline for new Korean beauty reviews, as well as some other beauty related posts (I haven’t forgotten about the Sunday night pamper routine!).

How was your weekend? Let me know in the comments!


Ask Me Anything #2


Hey everyone! I’m back with 3 new questions, that again, I really enjoyed answering. I’m gonna keep it a bit shorter this time…I hope.

Terri asks: I love reading about your time in Korea, and I’ve also been considering moving there to teach or work (I’m from Canada), but I haven’t had the guts to yet. What were some of the things you were really curious about before moving to Korea? What kinds of things did you have to do to prepare for the big move?

This may sound crazy to some people, but my number one curiosity about Korea was how people here were going to perceive me. As a black woman, you hear all sorts of crazy stories: about how people try to rub your skin color off of you, how students may call you a dirty monkey, or any of the other dozens of crazy things you read about on the internet. I knew I was going to work at a middle school, so I had really bad anxiety that the kids were going to be supreme assholes. They weren’t. And to this day, no one has tried to rub me, or called me dirty or a monkey (although I’ve had people try to touch my hair and I check them fast as hell). I was also worried about bleaching my skin with Korean skincare products but as you can see…that’s definitely not something to be concerned about.

I was also curious about the food. I wasn’t the most (and I’m not really) the most adventurous eater, and I’d heard stories about how awful the school lunches are. Due to some dietary issues, I actually bring my own lunch everyday, but overall, they aren’t that bad!

To prepare for my move, I made sure to watch a lot of k-pop videos. I knew that I’d be teaching middle school, and I wanted to be able to relate to them. I found out the popular groups, learned the member names, what their new songs and albums were. I also kept up a bit on Korean dramas (although I don’t watch them), and of course, I tried to learn Hangeul before I left.  Also, I’d never been one to use chopsticks, so I actually bought a few to practice. I’m a pro now!

I’ve had a few people ask about how I learned Hangeul, and a really great resource is this comic by Ryan Estrada. I’m a very visual learner, so having the word associations with the Korean symbols really, really helped. It’s a very simple alphabet to learn, and pretty much a necessity from the moment you get off the plane.

Jennifer asks: You told us that you didn’t really care about skin care before you came to Korea. Sooo, how did you get started with it? Did some ads catch your interest? Were the stores too cute to not walk into and buy random things? I want to hear the story behind your skin care obsession!

I was one of the lucky ones to never have acne as a teenager, but then I ended up cursed with adult onset acne. It was AWFUL. I used retin-a for a while, and it really helped, but as soon as I stopped using it, the acne would come back. I just never really thought about skincare…I usually used a lot of makeup to cover up the imperfections. I was so naive.

I remember the exact moment when I knew I was going to be obsessed with Korean cosmetics. It was maybe my first full week in Korea, and I went to Gangnam to meet with a friend I knew from high school. We went to COEX Mall, where, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pink and white store princess-y looking store, filled with adorable lip glosses and nail polishes. It was Etude House. I gasped and grabbed my friend who was walking in the opposite direction. I remember telling her, “what is this place?! We need to go inside NOW!” And once I went inside, it was all over. That day, I didn’t end up buying any skincare, but I bought a gel liner, mascara, and some lip glosses.

I fell in love with Korean skincare when I went into a local SkinFood. At that time, my skin was still pretty awful, so my first purchases were the Parsley and Mandarin Trouble Skin toner and emulsion and the Black Sugar Scrub. The difference in my skin happened pretty freaking fast…I saw changes within 2 weeks! I remember being pissed because I had just spent a ton of money on the Murad acne line from Sephora, thinking that I wouldn’t find any skincare here. From Skinfood, I moved to Innisfree and Etude, and then it just became a full blown obsession.

Ola asks: this question doesn’t really relate to Korea, but more general in terms of teaching. Could you please talk about Vietnam, and how you found your next gig? I’m at a crossroad also, but I don’t want to commit another year, & 6 months is ideal.

Johnny and I had always planned on going to SE Asia after we finished working in Korea. But what we didn’t expect is that we weren’t going to save as much as we had hoped in Korea, so we decided to teach just a little bit longer in a different country. We threw out all sorts of ideas: Thailand, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Turkey, Mexico…the list goes on. My requirements were somewhere warm, and somewhere cheap with lots of fruits and vegetables. A place where I could focus on the next part of my life and career. Johnny wanted to move somewhere with an MMA scene and an opportunity to maybe do some acting. We finally settled on Vietnam, as the ESL life is booming there. There are hundreds of English academies, kindergartens, private schools, and a huge demand for teachers. Unlike in Korea, in Vietnam you can work multiple jobs, and a lot of them don’t require contracts. It used to be a place where wandering backpackers could crash for a few months and save a bit of cash, but they’ve had a crackdown and are really focusing on hiring experienced teachers. From what I’ve heard, Vietnam is like what Korea used to be, great pay, and an abundance of jobs.

The cost of living is insanely low, so I’m hoping to only work part time, and focus the rest of my energy on the blog and other areas. I found this blog post by 2 Nomands, 1 Experience extremely helpful when it came down to exactly how much one can expect to earn and save in Vietnam.

As of now, I don’t have a job. According to friends who have previously lived there, it’s a million times easier to get a job once you are on the ground in Vietnam. So….wish me luck that I find something relatively fast! I have a TEFL certification and 2 years of experience, so I don’t think it will be too difficult…I hope. But I guess that’s what life is about! I’m living on the edge. I plan on blogging about the whole experience, so definitely stick around!

Thanks again for asking me these really awesome questions. I have so much fun answering them! The last edition will be next week, unless this is something you’d like to see semi-regularly. Let me know!


The Countdown Begins: 31 Days

deskatschoolIn approximately 31 days, this desk and I shall be parting ways. Sort of surreal.

I can’t believe I’m leaving Korea. I know I’ve been counting down for awhile now, and I had always planned on staying 2 years, but it seems sort of weird. S. Korea is my home now. This is evident by the massive amount of things I have accumulated in just 2 short years. I opened my storage closet (aka the place where I just throw shit and pretend it doesn’t exist) this weekend and immediately shut it. Don’t want to deal. When did I get 2 heating fans? A yoga mat? A bag of forgotten cosmetics?! The world may never know.

Johnny is already finished with his contract, but he doesn’t leave for Vietnam until the 10th. Yeah, I’m the weird one with a contract that ends in April while everyone else was finished February 28th. I’m jealous he gets to sleep in while I drag myself to work for the next month.

Today, I didn’t have class, so I used my last day of desk-warming freedom to live tweet the Oscars and drink coffee. Tomorrow real life starts and I’ll have to start teaching again. It’s sort of weird the kids will have me around for a month and then no more native teacher for them. At least when I had a random month of work at the middle school, I already knew the kids so it wasn’t as awkward. I have a new co-teacher, and I know we’ll get along, but I’m not going to lie, I miss my old co-teacher. She was amazing and we got along really well. Tears. She’s still at the school though, just a homeroom teacher, so I can still go and hang out with her before I leave.

There are approximately one billion things I need to do before I go. These include: selling/getting rid of my things, updating my cover letter and resume, getting reference letters from my co-teachers, going to the pension office, going to the dentist, getting passport photos taken, get my visa on arrival letter, etc. etc. And of course I gotta make time to get my last minute shopping done (NARS matte multiple, I’m looking at you), see my friends, and make time for one last trip to the Hello Kitty cafe.

This post has no point, other than to make a note of the fact I have one month left in Korea. Never did I think I’d end up here..and now I’m leaving after 2 years. That shit is CRAY. I’ve been taking my camera everywhere with me and taking pictures of all the random things I don’t want to forget, like the inside of the buses and restaurant menus and graffti murals. I’m planning on a huge Korea photo essay before I go, so I wanted to take as many pictures as possible.

PS Did you watch the Oscars? What did you think of the beauty looks? I was obsessed with Lupita (DUH!), and Kerry Washington’s lipstick was amaaaazing. Overall, I really loved the toned down looks this year. Down with the heavy contour and piles of falsies! (although, Kim and Khloe SLAYED at the Oscar parties…omg)