Thursday, March 29, 2012

You've Got Mail! A Snack To Be Exact!

Omo...  I think this is the Korean equivalent of "oh my".

Today, as soon as I walked into the classroom and over to my desk, my mentor teacher says, "This is for you. It's from Woo Jin. He told me to do/say it exactly like that," and she hands me this packet of cookies. Wow, I thought. I got cookies! *Kermit the frog "yay"* At his desk, Woo Jin was looking carefully at me and my mentor teacher. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to but I kept looking at him, and whispered a small thank you. The other kids weren't really paying attention anyways. It reminded me of those days in elementary school where you ask someone to be your messenger and pass notes and things to people you're too shy to speak to in public. Actually, I'm not sure why he wanted his teacher to hand me the cookies. Maybe because then the other kids wouldn't notice him giving food to a teacher, or maybe so that it would appear that the teacher was handing me snacks. Either way, I'm definitely thankful for these cookies. I just ate them and might I say they were delicious. I haven't been feeling to well this week. My throat's feeling a bit tight and sore today, and my head hurts slightly (but I will attribute that to having my hair pulled back too tightly). I hope that I can fend off any sickness.

'Til next time,

Facebook Status Updates(FBSU) With Commentary

The bus is late and I'm thinking I missed it even thought I was 10 mins early, thinking stupid bus. Stupid Bus. STUPID BUS! but I keep waiting. About 15 mins later, the bus appears on the horizon, and I can already see from that distance just how packed it is. Oh, that's why it was late.... stupid bus. I love you anways for stopping to let me on.

Lately, the bus has been arriving at different times. It's frustrating, but one positive note is that I get to learn to be early rather than on time. Such a situation is one I usually dream of rather than live. In the past week, the bus has been coming at random early times, but yesterday was the first time I caught the bus later than it was suppose to arrive.

Note, my friend Gabbi suggested that I collect my Facebook statuses into a journal. Instead of creating a new one, I'll post them here under that lovely new title!

'Til next time,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

:Home Stay: Day 2

Saturday was a great day. Mostly I remember the food, because there was sooo much food.

Saturday morning we all woke up and had a lovely Korean-style breakfast (bowl of rice, soup, side dishes and all). Then we got dressed and set sail. What was the agenda for this day? First, go shopping for groceries. Second, go to the movies. Third, eat my mentor teacher's version of home-made pizza. Fourth, relax and enjoy the rest of the day in each other's company.

We got in the car, father, mother, daughter, and I. I thought it was odd that the daughter had a backpack on and stupidly ignored it, thinking she was coming shopping with us. When we pulled over suddenly, and she waved good bye to me before getting out, I finally asked where she was going. The answer: to school. Yes, school on a Saturday. We then drove off to E-mart. E-mart is a huge store, kinda like Walmart maybe, with several floors (complete with elevated moving sidewalks for your convenience) and a food court. In fact, in between filling the cart and paying for the groceries, we stopped in the food court to eat. I had jjajangmyeon which is totally delicious but super thick. The sauce that comes plopped on top of the noodles is thick, perpetuates the stickiness of the noodles, and makes them heavy and difficult to pick up with chopsticks. Even so, you mix it all up and dig in! My mentor teacher and her husband watched me eat it and ended up "coaching" me on the how to eat it. After eating, we went up a floor, payed for everything, and headed home.

At home, the groceries were dropped off and put away. The son was handed a bag and drink from McDonalds (back at the food court we stopped to buy food for him. I think he was studying at home... His parents are so thoughtful). --I think I need to mention that drinks-to-go are placed in small plastic bags rather than cardboard cases like in the States.-- From home, we headed to the movies! Aw yeah, the movies! First time going to a Korean movie theater! I wanted so badly to take pictures of the cinema, but I had my camcorder and every time I reached for it I could only imagine them seeing me walk into the movie theater with it and kicking me out or confiscating it. So, my camera remained (sadly) in my pocket. What'd we see? JOHN CARTER. Oh yeah. So, I have to admit that I didn't know much about the movie besides it's name. My mentor teacher's son told me it was Star Wars mixed with Avatar. I kinda have to agree, but more on that later.

At this point, I've eaten a nicely sized breakfast and jjajangmyeon (oh and some orange juice) in less than a few hours. At the movies, (I don't know why I agreed to this, but) I had most of the box of popcorn. I wanted to share, but they handed me the box with some finality less than halfway into the movie. After the movies, they had to run a few errands. At E-mart I had made the mistake of telling them I liked donuts, so guess where one of our stops was? Krispy Kreme (the Korean version) has some amazing donuts. Maybe you should take this moment to Google some pictures. We walked in and I was given a free donut, which tasted sooo good. While I was in a heavenly state with my free donut, I did not notice my mentor teacher buying 12 donuts.  Oh, I thought. Maybe the family really likes donuts. We headed home. Let me go ahead and tell you that I ate more donuts than any of the others, and there were still several left by the time I had to leave. It was a sad day in donut history, not being eaten.

Back at home, my mentor teacher made her pizza, made several of her pizzas. Oh, my stomach was about to explode, but they kept urging me to eat. I was only able to eat a couple small slices of that delicious pizza.   That evening, I sat with the kids in the living room and we watched 2 hours of comedy sketches, one StarCraft match on the game channel, and some k-pop performances. During this time, we talked a lot. They made an effort to talk to me about music, the games, and even explain the jokes in the different comedy skits. Of course, they used their phones a lot, looking up translations several times, but I'm grateful to them for talking to me even if it was difficult for them to do so.

Late at night, I tried to eat some more donuts, but only managed one. Soon, it was off to bed.

More later,


:Home Stay: Day 1

Last weekend, I stayed at my mentor teacher's house. I think it's best to tell you about it now before all the details start to slip away. :D Let's begin!

After school on Friday, I got into the car with my mentor teacher and we drove about 10 mins down the road to pick up her husband. Her husband works at the same school that my friend Lein (another TaLK scholar) works at, so though I've heard about him from her, this was my first time meeting him. He was waiting (I'm not sure how long) outside a building in the cold when we pulled up. I'd like to note that my mentor teacher sped down the rolling, bumping road.... It was fun.

Upon arrival to this unknown building, she got out of the car and let him sit in the driver's seat. (I secretly wondered if this had anything to do with Korean culture, or if she just wanted to let him to drive). After a quick hello we all drove off into the mountains, weaving up, down, and around them for about 40 minutes. By this time, we were in the next province, and quickly approaching Wonju, the destination city. During the car trip there was a lot of talk and excitement about eating fried chicken (no not because of me, because of them. Korea has a big thing for fried chicken). As we entered the outskirts of the city (I assume), my mentor teacher's husband pointed out their church. He said the church's name and his name were the same and wasn't it funny? I thought so, especially after hearing that they went in search of a church they felt most comfortable with. They assured me that the name was purely coincidence.

My mentor teacher informed me that we'd go eat dinner before going to their home. Then she made lots of phone calls to her children (and maybe other people) and the next thing I know we have arrived outside the walls of a huge block of apartment complexes. Her children (a boy and girl) appeared out of nowhere (I wasn't paying attention. The husband was trying to take my bag and put it in the trunk). They got in and we sped off again. I wanted to be friendly and open in case they decided to talk to me. I think they were worrying over what to say (or how to say it). With much urging from their mom, the conversation came to life. We talked a bit in the car, and at dinner things went silent again.

At dinner we ate.. well it was kind of like samgyeopsal, but with beef and some very spicy fish. It's not important. What's important is that it was delicious! The lady who served us was very friendly but did stare at me (in a smiling way... which is way better than some of the other stares I've gotten) for awhile. She said something to my mentor teacher and her husband, which they relayed to me: She'd like to speak to me but doesn't know much English. Oh, that made me smile. That is sometimes the last thing I imagine random Korean people thinking when they're staring at me. But she finally said "hello" and I replied and she seemed satisfied and happy. My mentor teacher told me that the people she's met at these restaurants have always been kind and pleasant. During the entire meal, my mentor teacher seemed to be putting things on my plate and doing all the cooking. I think this was because she may've thought I'd never experienced this kind of meal before. ...Or, she was just acting normal and doing what she was supposed to do.

We left the restaurant. Haha, crossing the street was funny. My mentor teacher actually felt guilty not wanting to use the crosswalk in front of me. After cutting through a line of cars and rushing across the street to safetly, her son laughed and said to me, she's making us do something illegal. I promptly shushed him and told him not to speak about it so loudly, because we didn't do it, which made him and my mentor teacher laugh. We got back into the car and drove off... made a stop somewhere. I'm not sure, it was dark outside, but both parents left and I was alone with the kids. These kids are 16 and 14, by the way. Well, the radio was on so there wasn't complete silence, but the boy did finally start a conversation and we all talked until the parents came back. He said it was funny that he, the youngest, could speak more English than his older sister. He got glared at for saying this, but it did make her try to talk more. He then told me that she was just shy, and stated that his English was actually really bad.

At their home ... ok let me first say that I see... pass by... these huge, enormous, gigantically tall apartment buildings every day (or where ever I travel in Korea) and I have ALWAYS wondered what it looked like inside one of the rooms. These buildings are always at least 15 stories. Now I know that they have parking garages below them and mysterious rooms at the very top where the roof is located. So my mentor teacher and her family live in one of these buildings. OMG their home was soooooooooooo nice! You enter through the apartment's main door, walk a few steps down a hallway, walk through a second door, and are finally inside the actual home. There is a rise in the ground several steps away so you know you have to take off your shoes here. Their home had 4 bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, at least 1 bathroom (not sure if the parent's room had a separate bathroom), and "balconies" on three sides of the apartment. I wasn't expecting all this space to be behind one apartment door.

Everyone got settled in, tidied up, comfortable, and I was introduced to the grandmother living with them. She didn't say anything to me the entire time I was there, but smiled in a friendly way, and occasionally asked questions about me through the other family members.

We all gathered in the living room and talked more. I learned more about the kid's lifestyles and we all struggled to ask each other questions. If my mentor teacher was not around, they always pulled out their cellphones and looked up translations. It was actually a bit difficult for me to talk to them because I'm usually one who listens to people talk. This time I had to think of things to say so that they could in turn think of things to say to me. Later on that night, around 10 or 11, my mentor teacher's husband came in the room, excited and chanting, "Chicken! Chicken!" He was serious about us eating fried chicken today. He called his favorite chicken shop and soon all of us were chowing down on delicious Korean fried chicken.

We watched a bit of TV (oh, I hadn't seen any TV in ages), and then prepared for bed. The next day was only a few hours away.

To be continued.....


Friday, March 23, 2012

Rain, Rain, Rain pt. 2

Why was I waiting in the rain? Ok:

I woke up early to go buy a small gift for my mentor teacher and her family. I planned to go buy the gift (and an umbrella if the rain got to hard) a.s.a.p. and then head over to the bus stop. Trouble! I decided to write a blog post here and left 15 mins later than originally planned. No problem. I know the bus's route. I can walk in that direction and get picked up at one of the other bus stops. Woot, problem solved, back on track! Oh, but the store I wanted to go to (Lotte Mart) wasn't open yet. Well, that's poo. I need it to be open now so that I can get to the bus stop on time. Hmmm, what to do....? Oh, maybe I can run around the other side of this block and meet the bus before it reaches that last stop! Ok!.... Ok, maybe not. I've never done this before, and gambling with time on a workday is probably not the best idea. Hmmm. Aww, forget it. I'll go buy an umbrella and hope that Family Mart has more than just individual chocolates.

*Walking through the mud puddles, passing people with umbrellas who stare at me until I catch them staring.* Success! Family Mart has all of what I need! Why couldn't I have just done this last night?! Why am I plotting ways to beat a bus to its stop? I could be on the bus already? Oh, well, anyways. Look at the time. It should be arriving in this area soon.

Crap, I'm waiting on the wrong street! It's the next one over! Oh, but there's still time. It should be at my original bus stop right now. Guess I should run just in case.

Yes, this is the right street. I remember those exercise thingies in that park-looking place. Where is the bus? Where is the bus? Oh, look! A bus!

Not my bus. .... Not my bus either. That one's going in the wrong direction. Hmmm.

...The bus is not coming. It should be passing my school right now. I should be on that bus, but it never came. Le sigh. Taxi!

Oh, but the taxi is a story within itself. This taxi driver didn't know where my school was located. He drove around asking people if he was going the right way, using my phone to call people for directions. I didn't know how to tell him "It's ok. I can get out. Don't worry about it." I didn't know how to tell him, "Oh well it's just down this street. Just go straight forever and turn here at the fork in the road." Actually, I have learned some of the words in those sentences, but to say them casually in a sentence is beyond me. Plus, I'd have to worry about when he replies with a question of his own. Eventually, this taxi driver did drop me off near my school. He apologized and I tried to reassure and thank him. He even gave me a super discount since he spent most of the trip driving in circles. I did make it to school on time, and I'm glad he made an effort to get me to my destination. He could have kicked me out and asked me to find another taxi. Or maybe he couldn't ....

'Til next time,


Rain, Rain, Rain pt.1

I really don't know where my umbrella went. Maybe I left it in one of those umbrella stands in a restaurant. (They're very considerate, the Korean buildings here... ok not the buildings being considerate, but the people working in them... the businesses... you get it? I can stop? Ok.) A lot of businesses have little umbrella... "boxes" where you can put your wet umbrella, go do what you need to do, and not have to worry about it being stolen. (I don't think umbrella "boxes" are very common in the U.S.). I think mine is waiting for me at some forgotten spot in this city. It will have to wait a little longer. I really thought it made it home with me. After a week of not needing it, I began to wonder why it never appeared when I cleaned my room. I looked at the weather forecast last night. Rain. Cold. Lots of it this weekend. Braving the rain in a coat alone is fine until the wind picks up or drops in bucketfuls.

I ended up buying an umbrella from Family Mart (a convenience store) this morning. Walking around in the rain, looking for a place to buy a small chocolate gift made it necessary. I have decided that this new umbrella is the sibling of my first umbrella. Nope, I have not lost hope. Hopefully, I will come across the old one and we will have a short, tearful reunion and I will carry it home in my arms where it can meet its new brother/sister umbrella. I hope that the old umbrella will not think unkindly of me for buying a sibling umbrella in order to stay nice and dry. (It REALLY came in handy. After buying choco, I stood out in the rain for at least 30 mins waiting for a bus that never came). I hope that the old and new umbrella can get along and fight over who gets to rest at home while the other has to go to work.

To be continued,



A couple weeks ago, my mentor teacher asked if I'd like to stay at her house over the weekend. Well, this is that weekend!

I am up especially early so that I can go buy a small gift to bring. It is customary for people to bring gifts to someone's house, especially when visiting for the first time.  I'm not sure if I'm obligated to bring anything, but better safe than sorry. I just hope it's not raining too hard outside. I don't know where my umbrella's run off to.

What can I expect this weekend???  To tell you the truth, I have no idea what to expect. All I know is that my mentor teacher lives with her husband, son, daughter, and mother-in-law. What will their home look like? Will the rest of the family be kind or unkind? What will the expect of me :o ?? Will I have to eat super spicy food all weekend? Will my mentor teacher remember that she wanted us to have donuts and pizza this weekend? Will I put on the spot to talk about my past travels, and nervously bring up living in Japan (I'll save that for another post... If you can't wait, just research Korea's historical relationship with Japan)? Aaahh, SO. MANY. UNCERTAINTIES!

Of course, there's really no need to worry. I suppose the scary bit is being at their house for more than a few hours. Also, we are suppose to go to church on Sunday (which I'm fine with), but she mentioned something about me meeting lots of children.... and I'm not exactly sure what that means. I envisioned my time in the church to be a distressful event. I'm already prepared to be stared at by the entire congregation.

Oh, look at the time. I'm kind of late getting started, but I wanted to write this for you because I'll be gone almost all weekend. I'll let you know how it goes!

'Til next time,


Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Aww crud.

Today was kind of rough. The ending, I mean. Those pesky fourth graders....

One kid, the boy in this class who always answers my questions, thought I was being unfair about a game and walked out of class.  I was so confused during the ordeal, and I eventually just cancelled the game and dismissed everyone (half of team one walked out with him anyways). What happened? My mentor teacher briefly said, "miscommunication" before going back to whatever was on her screen.

The girls explained it to her, and she explained it to me. Maybe he thought I was unfair for calling on the girls two times in a row during the game. Truth be told, they DID raise their hands first, and when I asked the next question hardly anyone was listening to me anyway (Bad teacher, shannon... yeah yeah save it for later).

I told them at the beginning that we could play a game, but by the last 10 mins of class, decided that playing the game might be the only way the lesson would stick in their heads. I fought for their attention the entire class period. I moved one kid to a different spot. All the students kept talking to each other, hitting, throwing things, and forgetting to respond to my questions.

So, when it came time to play this game. They perked up a bit and tuned in. Two teams, I said. Boys and girls, one kid suggested. I agreed. Then I began to explain the game and the listening audience became 2/9 again. ...Sometimes it's just best to jump into the game and correct mistakes as you go along. I tried this. I asked the question. People shouted answers. I said, raise your hand! and had them start over again. The girls raised their hands first. They got the point. Second question. Oh, and the girls raise their hands first again, only a second faster than the one boy who was listening. Sorry boy, but unfortunately, I will have to call on the girls for this question. Maybe they'll get it wrong and you can answer it? Either way, you'll surely be the fastest on another question. Oh, but he did not agree.

This is when he went back to conversing with his friends. Then he shot up, grabbed his bag and left the classroom.

So, I was unfair because I did not call on him for the second question. Forgive me. How rude of me.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bank Adventures

Yay! I am happily typing from my desk at school. The internet is working, and there is sound. I can play songs and videos now~~~ woot!

I actually got internet yesterday afternoon, but there wasn't much time to fiddle with it. I just finished teaching for the day and am currently sitting here, waiting for the next bus to arrive. It's weird, teaching. Sometimes I think I will have a bad day and it turns out good, and other times I feel more prepared but the kids are too noisy to make a difference. (I must hurry up and make those candy coupons...).

Yesterday was the first time in several weeks that I've been able to go exchange money at a bank.  When I realized I would be able to make it into town before the bank closed, I rushed out of school as soon as I was allowed.

Digression: On one of the bus rides, I heard this song called "Sunny" playing on the radio. It's one thing to recognize your favorite k-pop song in a store or on the bus, but I first learned about this song from the movie CJ7.  (If you haven't watched it you should probably check it out. ;p ) Anyways, I don't think I ever noticed the radio playing until that moment. When I recognized the song, it made me unnecessarily happy for the rest of the bus ride.
End digression.

Banks close at 4:30 PM in Korea and open around 9 AM. It'd be a big gamble to try visiting the bank before work. I expect things to take longer (seeing as I'm a foreigner), and I had already forgotten the limited Korean bank vocabulary I'd picked up when going to the bank wasn't a huge chore. The bus brought me to the bank at 4 PM. I walked in, took a number, sat down, and waited. Sure enough, it did take a long time.

Exchanging dollar bills isn't so difficult. Even with limited Korean, just showing them the money and saying "exchange" is enough to get the job done. I didn't just bring dollars though, I brought travelers checks. Travelers checks require the bank clerk to stare for long periods of time at the paper wondering how to begin; consulting the person(s) next door, or higher in rank; making long phone calls; and finally knowing what to do: handing you the check, making you sign it in front of them, cashing in the check.

Even with all of this difficulty, I'm really thankful for them. It was already 4:30 when they made the phone call, and another 10 minutes passed by before everything was taken care of. They didn't give up or tell me to  come back the next day. I was one of two customers left in the slowly darkening room (the security guard was going around turning off lights).

All in all, it was a successful day at the bank. I learned the Korean word for exchange (which I will have to tell you later...I wrote it down somewhere). I am no longer carrying around large amounts of money on my person. It is stored somewhere uber-safe: the bank!

Ah, what have we here? It looks like it's time to go home.

'Til next time,


Monday, March 19, 2012

Famous People At School

Lee Min Ho goes to my school!!!

My fangirl friend would be soooo jealous....  Maybe....

Ok, ok. Not this Lee Min Ho.

Another one.

Last Friday, I was pleasantly surprised to meet Lee  Min Ho.  He is a student at my elementary school, and I will assume that he is very friendly.  He didn't seem to hate me for bringing up Boys Over Flowers. I was in the teacher's lounge making copies when many of the upper-grade students started coming back from lunch.  The "entry wall" of the teacher's lounge is such that there is a door, and several face-level windows that can slide open. If they noticed me in the room, they would group around one window and say English things to me. One such person was this student, Lee Min Ho.  He (and his friends) would open the window and shout, "HELLO!" Then, they'd close the window, think of something else to say, and open it again to shout the new message.  He told (shouted) me his name, which I repeated back in a question. He said (shouted) yes, and then his friends took their turn saying English things to me.  It took quite a while to dawn on me the significance of his name.  After making copies, I walked down the hallways and asked some of the other students where he was.They helped me find him, and I tried my best to tell him that his name was like the guy who played in the Korean drama.  I tried this in English.  It was hard.  Luckily, a group of girls had joined the conversation, and a lightbulb went off in their heads. They conveyed the message to him in Korean, and then all the nearby students started talking about the famous Lee's hottness, etc.

I'm not sure if I embarrassed him; I didn't mean to, but you see, now, I will certainly remember his name.  I hope he will not stop talking to me. ><    XD

'Til next time,


Sunday, March 18, 2012


한국어, the Korean language.  It's been quite interesting trying to learn this language. My Japanese friends told me that already studying Japanese would make Korean a bit easier to understand. It's true. I already accept (without questioning or wondering why) the order of sentences, the titles given to people of different age groups, and pronunciation. I even notice some similarities in words, like how "time" in Korean is shigan, and jikan in Japanese.

.... You don't see the similarity? That's ok. For me, it not only rhymes, but is very easy to remember.

About a month before leaving the States, I began learning Korean from this website called Talk To Me In Korean. (This website is amazing, by the way. I love all the people and their dedication to teaching the Korean language in a fun way). I was successfully able to learn numbers and a few important verbs and conjugation rules, but there was just so much to prepare for that I didn't get to study as much as I'd wanted. I figured once I arrived in Korea, I'd be able to get in a few lessons a day.

WRONG! Oh, how wrong I was.

I knew vaguely of the schedule they'd put us on. Lectures and field trips would be abundant during the three week orientation I was about to begin. I did not, however, anticipate being so exhausted after lectures that I just wanted to send emails and go to sleep.

It wasn't that bad. I suppose with a bit more effort I could've made time to learn one lesson a day, but the orientation's schedule (which I can talk about later) did keep us all quite busy.

Oh, but I DID study. I did learn new phrases and words on my own, from new friends, from Korean friends and strangers that I met along the way, and (of course) from labels and signs.

Thanks to breakfast time in the cafeteria, I learned words like milk (우유) and napkin (냅킨).  Thanks to doing laundry in the dorm building's basement, I can recognized the regular washing cycle (표춘).  Thanks to taking walks around town, I added train station (city name followed by 역), bank (은행), and noraebang... karaoke rooms (노래방) to my vocabulary.

Thanks to a four year old boy named Optimus Prime, I learned airplane (비행기), and thanks to his mother (the nurse who helped us all greatly during orientation), I have a lot of phrases written down in Korean, "just in case."

Now,things have settled down a tiny bit, and I have more time to stop and read all the signs. I have time to frequent a coffee shop and say, "hot chocolate 주세요!" I have time to ask old ladies for help reading bus stop signs. I have a bit more time to ask the worker at the supermarket where the cough drops are located. In time, I should be striking up random conversations with Korean people my age and saying more than hello, "안녕하세요," to  the other teachers and staff at school.  All in good time.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Train Rides ^_^ (tales from the past)

Taking the train to Cheongju made me realize an important purpose for train travel.  Taking a train might be the best way to see the land around you. It may even be better than car travel, because there's always one person (the driver) who can't peer out at the surrounding world for more than a few seconds at a time.  As Lein and I rested in our seats, the train took a trail that winded through the mountains, over rivers, and zoomed past towns.  The tracks cut underneath huge mountains, and it made me think of those murder mysteries where the train lights go out just as the train enters the tunnel.  Our lights didn't go out; in fact, they stayed on the entire trip.

I certainly wouldn't want to experience a train murder mystery. Too much to do today anyways.

Note: One fascinating thing about the train is how the ticket masters (that is what I've decided to call them. They walk about the train cars assisting people and checking tickets) bow slightly before exiting the car.  When Lein and I first saw this we questioned our eyes.

"Did he just bow?"  "I don't know... I think so."  "Hmmm. Interesting."

Sure enough, as the train made its usual stops, the ticket master entered from one end, out the other, and before exiting, gave a slight bow to the car passengers. Lein and I looked at each other and smiled. Such a nice gesture that leaves you feeling honored to ride the train.

At Work, Inspecting the Desktop (tales from the past)

It's interesting just how many games and social network-related things are on theis desktop computer.  The monitor is so old-looking but it can supposedly handle League of Legends. I hope to play it in my free time. This week, and perhaps the next will probably be too busy for any fun.

Cellphone! Pt. 1 (tales from the past)

Living without a cellphone wouldn't be nearly as bad if I didn't actually need one right now.  I wasn't part of the generation that started live with cellphones in their hands; I know what it's like to not be perpetually connected.

My situation, it's on the verge of being necessary for survival. Having internet is a blessing, but a very small one.  A lot of what I need answers for is in or will be in Korean, and I just don't know enough to have peace of mind at night. The only, and maybe, best way I can contact my mentor teacher right now is by calling her. I have neither cellphone nor home phone for this task. Why not get a phone, you ask?  Since it's the first month of my time here, and the first month of work, I must pay for any bills I incur with money from my own pocket (until the first paycheck comes in). No problem, you might say, but I'd rather not set up a ton of new accounts when I am already expecting utility bills, etc. with unknown charges at the end of the month.

It really isn't so bad, being without a cellphone.  What's bugging me is that I risk doing things, daily things, wrong (possibly multiple times) because I can't simply call someone up when i don't know or can't find the answer myself.

Why not just ask someone near you, or online?  Two issues with that: First, I cannot count the number of times the leaders and speakers at orientation instructed us to ask our mentor teacher first.  You already see the problem with that.  Second, many of the questions I have are town-specific. For example, what bus would I take to get to and from school, and where are their respective bus stops???? Even if I find someone (another foreigner) in my town, chances are super high that he/she wouldn't know how to get to my school (update: this has been confirmed on several occasions).  Here, most of the information one remembers pertains strictly to his/her lifestyle, and its not like I'm asking how to get to the nearest grocery store.

All in all, I can't wait to get a cellphone.  Once one is in my hand, I will, undoubtedly, proceed to bombard my mentor teacher (and a few others) with new questions of the day.

Cellphone! Pt. 2 (tales from the past)

Another reason I can't wait to get a phone is for obvious reasons.  I want to talk to my friends!!! ... And not just my same-age peers, but people like Nurse Linda from orientation, who was probably the first Korean friend I made in Korea.  Not only would I like to speak to her again, but she most likely would give me great advice for settlying into my apartment, neighborhood, and city.  I need that support.

The Youngest Talker & a Bus Ride (tales from the past)

My first graders have cellphones!  Why do they have cellphones?!?!

Day 2 of taking the bus to school. Yesterday was a major fail getting to and from school, even though I managed to get back home by bus. Today's journey included only the smallest excusable fail because even though I missed the bus I was planning on taking, I DID arrive at school on time.

Today's journey included a very helpful ajumma (아줌마) who not only told me (in full Korean) what buses I should take, but also pushed the "stop the bus" button for me when my stop drew near.  While on the bus, two high school (?) boys saw me and overheard my conversation with the older lady. I guess they were determined or brave because one prodded the other into talking to me. I'm not sure what the lady thought of this, but she decided to include herself in the conversation and explained to them that I was a teacher at so'n'so elementary school. Then, they confirmed this by asking me in English. One of the boys asked me if I knew any Korean (I said "no," because I keep forgetting the phrase for "I know a little Korean.") and then they kind of gave up (maybe at the limits of their English?) and talked quickly among themselves.

They Like to Sing (tales from the past)

My first grade students like to break out in song. Today's tune was a tearful ballad compared to the catchy and cheerful song they sang yesterday. Some students tried an operatic voice while others whispered quietly. Usually after singing the impromptu tune three times in a row, they break off into their own gossipy conversations. I'm assuming all of what they're singing and saying because, actually, I haven't the faintest idea what they're chattering on about.

Shannon 선생님 (tales from the past)

Yesterday, I thought I heard my name being called a lot. Sure enough, the first graders had remembered my name from Friday (they might've even asked Teacher Nam where I was on Monday... a story for later)! They would tell each other my name and title... Shannon  선생님 (seonsaengnim ...teacher)....  repeating it to themselves and trying out the syllables and pronunciation. Today, they confidently shout my name... well, those who are brave enough to speak to me. The rest just stare and smile, waving more than one time once they have caught my eye.

It Lives!!!!!

Aahh, happiness.

My ebook reader is alive and well. There was a hiccup (hiccough?) with it disconnecting from the computer properly, but there was also the simplicity of it running out of battery. In short, my posts will increase by 8 today. When I post them, I will post them on the day that they were written. I will also mark the titles like this:

(tales from the past)

Thanks for your patience! Here goes! Oh, and the days that this applies to are:
March 4 '12
March 6 '12
March 7 '12
March 12 '12
March 16 '12

......Ahh, hungry, so hungry...

**Update: Ah so my ereader did not save the original date. Instead, it changes the date to the most recent one everytime I open up the file. Oh wells!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The First Graders...

They are a hyper-active, friendly bunch. They like to be loud and think everything should be done with lots of vivid movements.

They have cellphones.

Why, oh why, do some of them have cellphones? To talk to their parents if they don't come home right away? Sure. To take silly pictures of their friends during free time?  Occasionally. To listen to music and play games after school? Definitely.

It's just funny seeing FIRST GRADERS with cellphones. I now fully understand that statistic (that I'm vaguely quoting) about >97% of Korea being "connected" via cellphone.

What else about them. Hmmm....

Oh! They like to break out in song. Yes, at least once every day. You see, I sit in the first grade class each day because (1) that is where my desk is, and (2) my mentor teacher teaches these kids all day. >>Side note: At my school, there is one class per grade.<<

More later. 'Til next time,



Ah, it's good to be back here *stretches out fingers*.  Well, how are you?

Yeah? Hmm, well, let me tell you how I am right now:

When I realized there would be little or no time to come here and post my daily adventures, I started jotting down thoughts on paper. I'm pretty good at keeping up with random pieces of paper (I like to write whenever an idea hits me), but then I noticed another piece of technology at my disposal.

My Next7P e-book reader.


I installed a notepad on it and began typing away while at school or waiting somewhere. It was easy to pull out and I didn't need to have a flat surface or a writing utensil in order to spew a paragraph or two onto the page. It totally worked out. Plus, I knew I would just transfer the text to my computer and c/p it all here so you that could read it!!! Thoughtful and smart, eh!?


Today, I plugged my e-book reader into the computer at school. It started freezing (a rare occurrence until now), and I tried to restart/shutdown/disconnect ... you name it... I wanted to put away the Next7p.

What I should not have done was press the "disconnect" button on the e-book reader before it truly disconnected from the computer. The screen flipped out and delayed... and then it went off. ... and then when I tried to turn it on, it wouldn't.

I told my students, "Today, I am sad. My... *holds up the device, spends 3 mins trying to explain what it is*.. it's broken." They briefly shared my sadness, and then we began with the lesson.

Well, it's sitting in my backpack. I want to plug it in and see if anything happens. I hope that SOMETHING will happen. Because that's better than it being completely fried. I hope it works.... I'll let you know.

And all those short blog posts I created, well, I hope they can be saved. Or that I can remember all that I typed.

'Til next time,