Thursday, September 20, 2012

The week in pictures

 Typhoon cleanup
 I love a clean classroom
 Itty bitty kindergarten shoes
 ...with gourds
 Crowded bus
 English love. I think it's a cherry on top of a cat on top of a bowl of ice cream.
 Principal's pepper plant
 The view from my desk 
 A fisherman and some ships
Enormous leaf

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stuff Neo says

Neo is one of my favorite students. He's the smallest 6th grader, he speaks English very well, he yells at the other kids when they talk during my class, and he's so well-behaved. I don't think he's ever been n trouble. He wants to be a comedian when he grows up, and I think there's a good chance of that happening. He's funny in English, so I can only imagine what he's like in Korean.

Occasionally I do this activity where I show the kids pictures and they each have to say a sentence about them. Here's what Neo came up with today:
 This is my store. I'm rich. I'm Bill Gates.
 Let's go swimming after school!
 That girl is Alice (another student). She will be a balloon seller when she grows up.
 Scarf lizard is my manager.
I am the black guy. I'm so strong. I might die.

Stuff like this makes my day. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Korea A-Z (minus a few)

A is for ajumma. When you see a 60 year old woman walking down the street wearing zebra pants, a sparkly floral shirt, and a darth vadar visor, while carrying a bag of vegetables and elbowing people out of the way, you have seen an ajumma. Or more likely, you have been pushed into the road so she can get to the bus stop before you. They are surprisingly strong.
B - Bathrooms bring a sense of adventure and uncertainty. Will there be toilet paper in the stall, or on the wall somewhere? Will it be a toilet or a squatter? Will there be soap? If there is soap, will it be on a stick attached to the wall?
D - Doctor visits are so cheap. An appointment and prescription generally costs less than $10. Lasik surgery is half the price, so I'll be coming back to America with 20/20 vision.
F is for festival.There is a festival for everything. I've been to a whale festival, cherry blossom festival, sand festival, rose festival, English festival, and a lantern festival.
G - Gamjatang is my favorite Korean meal. It's spicy potato and pork spine soup.
H - Home Plus is the Target of Korea. It's a 10 minute walk from my apartment and I think I'm there at least 2 times every week. Occasionally the Home Plus theme song will come on over the loudspeaker and all the employees have to stop what they're doing to sing and dance.
I - The internet is my lifeline. Every day I check my email, facebook, the news, and a few blogs. And thank goodness for Skype.
J is for Japan. Korean does not like Japan. They used to be under Japanese rule, a lot of bad stuff happened, and they're still upset. Sometimes we talk about other countries in English class, and whenever Japan comes up at least a few kids will tell me "Teacha, Japan is bad country."
K is for Kpop. Imagine the boy/girl bands of the 90s with the technology of today. They also have really cool names like Super Junior, Beast, Girl's Generation, and Tiara. Watch out for a girl band called 2NE1 (twenty-one). They just did a song with Will.I.Am. And I'm sure you've all heard "Gangnam Style" by now, unless you've been living under a rock. In that case, youtube it immediately.
L is for last minute changes. I can't even count how many times class has been cancelled, changed, or added minutes before I was supposed to teach. Often I will be told something in the morning, and by lunch they'll be telling me something different. I've learned not to plan too far in advance because those plans almost always get thrown out the window.
M - Maxim packs are instant "coffee." There's always a box full in the teacher's room, and that's the only coffee we have at work. You heat up water in a little kettle and add it to your cup of dried coffee bits and sugar. I drink them even though they're not the best. When my mom was here she thought they were good.
N is for new normal. There are a lot of these by now: sitting on the floor, not tipping in restaurants, being too big for all the clothes, vehicles on sidewalks, and probably a lot more that I've forgotten used to be weird.
O is for one room, which is what I live in. There's a door between the kitchen and the living room/bedroom, and a seperate bathroom. I can walk from one wall to the other in 12 steps.
Packages are so exciting! They always come filled with food and presents from home. The food usually lasts about a week, but it's such a happy week.
S is for seafood, something I've never liked. Unfortunately I moved to a city very near the ocean, with an abundance of seafood. I've eaten just about everything at least once. I'm getting better, I'll eat a fish if it's given to me but I'd never order it. I can even cut it pretty well with my chopsticks.
T is for train. I don't think I'd ever been on a train before I came to Korea, and now I take them all the time. You can get to Seoul in less than 3 hours, and I go to Busan almost every weekend on the train. It's almost always delayed "due to certain circumstances at the train." So vague.
Umbrellas are a must-have. During rainy season (which seems to be most of the year) I carry one in my purse at all times.
Waygook is the Korean word for foreigner. Whenever I hear it I know I'm being talked about.
Y is for yellow dust. During spring/summer a bunch of pollution blows over from China in the form of yellow dust. Literally. It coats the cars and sidewalks, and on bad days people wear Michael Jackson masks so they don't breathe it all in.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I'm jealous of my kids

It is typhooooooning in Korea! Very heavy rain, very strong wind. CNN says this is the worst one of the year, and they say that for almost every typhoon, but this time I believe them.

So this morning when I got ready I didn't even bother drying my hair. I put on my trenchcoat, rain boots, and umbrella. I stepped outside and almost immediately my umbrella turned inside out. Awesome. There is nothing to do in that situation except run to the bus stop, and run I did. By the time I made it to school my hair was dripping, and the section of jeans between my boots and my coat was soaked. I'm sitting in front of a fan right now trying to dry off.

And where are the kids? At home, probably playing video games, watching tv, drinking hot chocolate, and loving life. It is too dangerous for them to go outside today. Where are the teachers? At school. Adults have special tyhpoon-resistant superpowers, obviously. It is also extremely important for us to "be diligent" and "work hard." My version of that includes watching Sunday night football, reading, and facebook chatting with all the other English teachers who are working oh so hard today. Happy typhoon day everyone!