Thursday, April 26, 2012

Be Prepared

Everyone in my school is sitting in their classrooms watching a video about natural disasters. A fellow TaLK scholar on Facebook mentioned something about a nationwide earthquake drill at 2 PM. It'll be that time in 30 minutes. The first graders are, in general, interested about this topic. Most of them are reacting to the video, but this video is possibly too long for their attention spans. It's also probably too exciting for them. They keep talking amongst themselves even though they're suppose to be paying attention to this video. I'm wondering if my afternoon 2 PM class will be cancelled. My mentor teacher hasn't really told me anything yet, but she did ask me who I'm teaching today and that's got me suspicious.

I remember watching these kinds of videos and doing natural disaster drills at all the schools I went to when I was their age.

*Peeks at the TV behind me* Oh, they're talking about CPR now. The dummy interested the kids, but they're definitely not going to remember the steps if they keep talking....

Ah, well now I'm interested in earthquakes again. I feel like watching a documentary or something. Actually, it's got me thinking about how many natural disasters I've lived through.... How many have you lived through?

Certainly, when most people think about natural disasters, they only consider those that have fatal results. However, natural disasters happen so often that it might be easy to feel jaded about their severity, or overlook ones own experience because it didn't make international news.

Well, it's certainly got me thinking....

...And now my mentor teacher is holding keys in her hand and talking to the students about something. I wonder what's going to happen on this windy day.

'Til next time,

A Second Homestay

It's that time of month again!

No.. not that time of month. Stay with me, please.

It's time to visit my mentor teacher's home again! After all, I agreed to come stay with her one weekend a month, and visit her church and the new friends I've made there. That weekend is this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes. Oh, but honestly, I'm a bit nervous about staying the entire weekend. It was easier to agree to the first time, but I wonder if there will be a lot of boring, awkward moments where they try to entertain me and I try to think of new conversations to start. I'm really not a big talker. I like to observe and listen. I also hope they won't feel bothered by the language barrier.  Oh, and food. I should probably not eat anything after dinner tonight. Last time, I was expected to eat WAY too much food. :)

Last weekend, I participated in a different kind of homestay. It wasn't officially a homestay; I was invited to stay at my friends house for the weekend. This friend is a Korean TaLK scholar (Korean co-teacher) whom I met at the second orienation. We were roommates during that time, and she was really eager to get to know me. It made me feel good because I now have someone to comfortably ask questions about Korea (and it's language). She lived in the U.S. as an exchange student for a short while, so her English is really good and it's easy to ask her questions that have to do with comparing the U.S. to Korea and vice versa. Also, she's just a really cool person, and my collection of Korean friends is dismally low.

I (and a friend) went to her town by train. She lives in Chungju so it's another plus to have a Korean friend live so close by! She met us at the train station and proceeded to share her family, town, food, and customs with us. There was a cherry blossom festival going on that weekend. It was complete with fireworks, food stalls, singing, and a small-town parade. Oh, let's not forget the cherry blossoms! The trees lined the river and towered above the stalls, lit up by colored lights. One of the highlights of the night involved many of the town's elementary school kids. They all recognized her and called for her attention like she was a celebrity. Oh, and she's walking around with two foreigners?! We must talk to her! They all wanted to know where my friend and I were from. It was automatically assumed that she was from the U.S. and I was from Africa. In fact, they were mindblown at hearing that she was from New Zealand and I was from the U.S. I try to let this go every time it happens. It'd take much to much time and Korean language skill to explain the reason why a person of my skin color can come from the U.S.

Apart from the festival, my Korean friend's house is amazing! As she described it, it's actually half-traditionally, half-modernly designed. The traditional side was so amazing, especially because the doors looked like secret doors. Ididn't notice them at first because they were covered by the same material as the wall, but when she pulled on the handle (which I also didn't notice), part of the wall came away and I realized the door had been there all along. A secret door! Many of them, actually! The child in me was thrilled, especially at having to bend down a bit to walk through it, like a secret cubby hole or passage way. I was thankful for the modern side of the house though because the toilet was not the kind that you squat over.  Well, this house had one of each.

The last day (Saturday) proved just as fun as the first. Despite the constant stream of rain, my friend took us to a high point in her neighborhood where a .. hmm... I'll call it a gazebo... a very colorful gazebo sat. It rested safely under many pine trees, so we got to enjoy the view without worrying too much about the rain. Because of the rain, my friend's original day plan for us was cancelled. Instead, we stayed inside watching English movies and making snacks to eat. In the late afternoon, we headed back into town for a late lunch that must have included 5 or 6 courses. Really, that lady server just kept bringing main dishes as soon as we finished one. I'm still not quite sure how much we ate that afternoon. The other two claimed to be on a diet....  It all worked out though because after the grand meal we walked through the festival grounds and up a tall hill to visit a really small aquarium and stuffed animal museum. (By stuffed animal, think of Cabella's .. or that Great Outdoors store in Texas with the polar bear, elephant, and ground hog display ... to name a few).

Before catching the bus back to the train station, my Korean friend's mom ran up to us and delivered a bag of corn from one of the food stalls. It's moments like these, and really the whole weekend experience, that I understand what being in Korea is all about.

'Til next time,


Sunday, April 22, 2012


It finally happened...

A friend of mine asked me what I thought of her eyes. I knew what she meant, what she was looking for in my answer. She told me that her mom brought up eye surgery. It's an (unfortunately) popular thing here in Korea. Girls (I don't know about boys) get a quick surgery on their eyelids to create a double eyelid. What's a double eyelid? The crease on your eyelid that appears when your eyes are open and disappears when you close your eyes. Most of you probably have this. Many Koreans see this as beautiful, and though their eyes do not come like this, they go through something as permanent as surgery to feel more beautiful.

I told my friend she has a beautiful face. She does not need the surgery. She tells me, thank you, but the more people suggest it to her, the more pressured she will feel to do it. I tell her (somewhat reluctantly) that the only reason she should do it is if SHE wants to, and not because others are telling her. Afterwards, I didn't know what else to say. Her eyes (just like many Asians I have come across) are something that I consider beautiful. Westerners create makeup techniques that give them the appearance of having Asian eyes. How come no one is satisfied with how they were made? How come people favor envying what others have... things that they themselves weren't meant to have? How come society is like this?

'Til next time,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Classroom Happenings

How many first graders does it to use a vacuum? 8. It takes 8. Two to navigate the hose, three to follow behind pushing the body, and three to handle the cord. Of course, by handle the cord I mean alternatively plug and unplug the cord and walk around the many objects that it has gotten wrapped around. Rather than lift the cord above the desktops, these kids would unplug the cord and walk through the aisles until there was enough slack to plug it back in again.

Though, they almost didn't do this. Earlier, as the cord was being stretched to its limits and threatening to fly out of the socket, I got up and tried telling them to lift the cord over the desk. My mentor teacher was sitting there, but I don't think she'd yet noticed the danger they were creating by being helpful lol. When she saw me jump up a second time to shout English words at them (Stop! Wait! Go this way! The cord!), she finally assessed the situation and told them to be careful with the cord. Actually, I'm not quite sure what she said to them, but after that, 3 of the 6 kids helping to push the body through the aisles moved over to the cord. Using their current methods, they continuously unplugged the vacuum everytime it went to far for the cord to reach, walked through and around the desks until the cord regained slack, and then plugged in the vacuum again. Although this eventually led to some arguments (I think the kids started fighting over when to unplug it, and who would do the job), I decided to leave them at it.

Recently, the classroom has become home to many potted plants.The kids take turns filling up watering cans and watering all the plants. There's almost always a puddle on the floor while this is happening, but I applaud their efforts.

Today, two or three kids practiced asking me for things. They always want the scrap paper on my desk for drawing or folding. While in the middle of folding a sheet of paper into a book, one girl walked up and asked me to show her how to do it. I showed her, trying to remember to speak simple words rather than just use actions or say too much. Others walked up during this time and either started copying or just watching. When it was time to use the scissors, she and some of the others repeated the word. After making the book, this girl and another girl repeatedly came up to my desk asking to borrow tape and scissors in English. After, they'd say "Thank You."  It made me happy to have them practice their English with me.

'Til next time,

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ah, This Feeling

I'm finally feeling a bit of loneliness. I'm not sure if it's been there all along in the background and just now surfacing, or if it's a genuinely new feeling.

You know that lonely feeling where you're surrounded by lots of people but still feel as if you're the only one there? It feels like that. ... I hope it's not too serious.

There's a reason I'm unsure if this feeling was in the background or newly surfacing. During orientation, I was overwhelmed with all the new friends I was encouraged to meet. 200-something other TaLK scholars from all around the world, and we were all encouraged to make connections and become close-knit with as many people as possible. There was a valid reason for this: those three-four weeks would be the only time we could see this new "family" every day of the week. Afterwards, we'd be split up and sent in all directions across the country. Of course, some people do live in the same town as other TaLK scholars, but others are the only ones in their towns. Many people made friends who got stationed in the opposite areas of the country. They are separated by more than a taxi ride.I managed to make lots of friends at the orientation, and some live in my town while others live several hours away by train or bus. The friends I became closest to are at least two hours away. I'm thankful for the TaLK scholars in my town, because we were still able to become friends long after the orientation.

I have a bit of a problem making friends. During my last high school years (and into college), it sometimes took an entire year to become really good friends with people. This felt really strange to me because my past required me to make friends quickly. (Being a military brat and moving around a lot meant that good friends would come and go in as little a space as one week). Perhaps, I didn't learn how to make long-term friendships. Hmm...

Anyways, this is probably why I feel lonely even though I've made friends here. I don't quite feel close to them, even though we hang out.

There are other things that have brought out feelings of loneliness though. Last week, my mentor teacher invited me to have a casual dinner with her and some of the other ladies working at the school. She made it clear that there was no pressure in coming, and that I was more than welcome to join. When we met up with the other ladies at a restaurant, they greeted me kindly and seemed more than ok that I'd joined them. ...But when we'd ordered our food, they got heavily into their own conversations. I know very little Korean when it comes to carrying on a conversation. I've learned enough random words to guess at some conversations, but I can't yet hope to speak to people comfortably in Korean. So when the other ladies stopped talking to me and gossiped about who knows what for the next two hours, I had no idea what to do except sit there, try to listen and attempt to be engaged. Two hours is a bit taxing.... It's easy enough to look preoccupied while food is in front of you, but once the food is gone, how do you appear to look like you're enjoying yourself?

As much as I want to become friends with Korean people, the language barrier is still too high. It's even more difficult when their English is extremely limited or nonexistent. This was the case at that dinner. Well, I think two of them know more English than they let on; they just feel nervous or lack the confidence to speak it. How do they think I feel? Do they think I'd make fun of them while they're trying to talk to me? No, I wouldn't. (There's also the problem of forgetting words when you try to speak another language. Conversing becomes painful when you're trying to complete a sentence and thinking of the right word to use.) I should mention that my mentor teacher did realize the big error after dinner and apologize to me many times. ...But what could I tell her (besides, "Ok I understand. It's ok.")? I felt really bad afterwards and the loneliness intensified.

I frequently run into Korean people who have kindly said hello to me or bow back when I say hello to them in Korean. There are so many people still who (are probably super nervous... I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt) don't like to make eye contact (but will stare if I'm not looking) or say hello in return. On the small chance that I run into people who live in my building, many of them don't seem to want to talk to me. Some rush off into rooms, but there have been two who have said hi to me. I feel just as nervous about talking to these people (my Korean is not up to par), but I'd still like to greet people and get to know them on a regular basis.

Time to study more Korean. Hopefully that will solve the problem.

'Til next time,

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Do Your Share...

The kids are sweeping around my desk as I sit here trying to learn how to draw a soccer ball. They're sweeping so diligently that a ginormous dust bunny has been given life. Dust motes are swarming the air around me, and I'm afraid that I might sneeze. ...Actually, I'm wondering why I haven't sneezed yet. Probably because my nose is running.

It's an interesting note that students often help clean the school. Just like doing house chores, the school is swept, mopped, and dusted by the kids. There does seem to be a cleaning lady here (and a grounds caretaker or two), but Korean (and probably other Asian) culture asks that students do much of the tidying. Everyday before and after lunch, I see the older kids cleaning up the hallways and teacher's lounge. At random moments of the day, my mentor teacher asks her first grade students to grab their mini "hand brooms" and dust pans and go around the classroom collecting whatever trash they find.

I think this is a great idea. You should should see the state of the classroom after each day! Anyways, the classroom isn't regularly cleaned without them. Occasionally, my mentor teacher and I will grab the vacuum,  straighten desks, pick up dropped writing utensils, and huge pieces of scrap paper (left over from a class activity). Actually, I wish kids in America would have the responsibility to clean classrooms. When you realize just how much mess you make, there's a possibility that that you'll make less of it (especially as you get older).

...Somehow I immediately refute that statement...

Anyways, my point is that it's pretty helpful for everyone, if everyone is collectively helping to keep an area looking nice. It also gives kids more responsibility. Imagine American high school kids cleaning their classrooms and hallways. There could still be janitors (especially for really serious cleaning jobs, like those requiring chemicals), and I don't think the janitors would mind if students helped by tidying up.

....Actually right now the kids are singing at the tops of their lungs, so I can't focus on what I'm writing here. I hope the point has gotten across.

'Til next time,


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

:Home Stay: Day 3

I should certainly mention this, because it DID happen.

Day three was a Sunday, and my mentor teacher took me to her church.

After waking up and having breakfast with the family, everyone got ready to head off to church. For some reason (I didn't get the explanation), my mentor teacher's kids would be travelling by bus and arriving later. I went with my mentor teacher and her husband in their car.

My mentor teacher (MT) explained to me that usually she is in charge of teaching/leading a small group of young kids in a lesson before the real church program begins.
--(...Ok, it's been a long time since I regularly attended church, so words are failing me. I'll try to describe everything the best I can.)--
When we arrived at the church, I was ushered in the building and up some stairs. Up there, in (probably) the only room on that floor, I encountered the first group of church-goers. They all squealed and jumped and whispered to their friends and family beside them as soon as they saw me. Most of the people here were children (girls) and their mothers. I was introduced to many of them, and then we sat down on the floor and the bible lesson began. It's interesting that we sat on the floor. For a very odd moment I thought, hey, they're in the habit of sitting on the floor so tables and chairs aren't a necessity. It felt kind of strange to me, sitting on the floor, because there was a small pulpit, and I had to look up much higher than I was used to.

I should say now that everything was said in Korean. I've been told that there are English services, but the services I participated in were all in Korean. My MT (I think she called in about it) didn't teach this class that day. Instead, a much older girl led the lesson.  After this lesson (or at least half of it.. I'm not really sure), my MT's daughter came down to get me. She took me upstairs to the main room. There was a stage, pews, instruments, etc. All the kinds of things you'd see in a church. A teen boy (I'm guessing) led the people in worship songs, and then pastor took over and began the service. I have to say, just being in that church and experiencing a Korean Christian church was an awesome experience. I am curious about what the English services are like though, because it'd be a bit hard on me to go to Korean services all the time and not know what everyone's saying.

Something that surprised me was that both of my MT's kids played the piano during the choir performances. I thought that was really cool. Also, as I was flipping through the hymn book, I noticed some familiar songs. They songs were in Korean, but the many had English titles and I recognized ones that I'd hear on the radio at home.

After service,  I joined the congregation for lunch on the first floor, went through several more introductions, and tried to speak to the children who sat with me. They wanted to speak to me but were either too shy to speak English, or didn't know the right words to say. I too wanted to speak to them, but the same reasons prevented me from doing so. I don't know what to do, besides learn as much Korean as I can before the next visit (my MT asked if I'd like to visit once a month). Sometimes I feel quite hopeless, wanting to use more than just survival phrases. Hopefully we'll be able to have better conversations with each other in the future. Honestly speaking, I want more Korean friends. I don't want them to be too shy to talk to me, or think it's too troublesome to get a point across. I have tons of patience for them, and I hope that they'll have tons of patience for me.

After church, my MT's husband drove me home. It felt kind of rushed. Maybe they had other things to do that day. The drive was quite far (they live in the next province). Either way, I'm thankful for that weekend, for all those experiences.

'Til next time,

-_- ... *sigh* Oh, Korea!

Curse you, uneven sidewalks!

I don't know how the Korean women do it!!! In their attempts to look their best, many of these young ladies strut the streets in crazy tall high heels. My issue with this: How are are they able to walk.... on the sidewalks? The sidewalks here are paved (or bricked) like rolling hills. The ground isn't usually leveled and dips are rampant. Unless walking at a leisurely pace, I spend most of my journey on foot looking at the ground. It's safer that way....

While we're on the subject of sidewalks, there's something I feel I have to mention. Korea sometimes looks dirty (it doesn't matter where you are). There's the beauty of natural scenery, of a fantastically designed building, and then there's the obvious drabness that you can't help but notice. It's easy to focus on one or the other, especially if you have an imaginative mind. On a trip down an alleyway, the buildings can either look dirty and grimy, or they can have a mysterious story behind them. They can be the secluded shortcut of a pensive young woman.... See?

Well, a lot of times- perhaps, because it's OK- it's easy to come across puke stains or spit. Spitting (loudly and with much effort)  is a popular occurrence. The puke is from the many drinkers who find themselves walking home after a good night at a restaurant. This is another reason why I watch the sidewalks as I walk.

Finally, I should mention the flyers. I noticed this a lot in Seoul, but I guess it happens all around Korea. There are people whose job it is to pass out flyers and advertisements to people on the street. I've seen people pass them out, drop them (in a sweeping manner) on the ground as they walk down the street, or throw them out of car windows as the car drives among the walking people. Needless to say, there are always flyers littering populated areas of town. Even though this happens, it's interesting to see nearby shop owners coming outside with their brooms to sweep up the mess. There are always people (not designated people, just people) cleaning up the area. It's kinda strange but nice.

'Til next time,


Friday, April 6, 2012


You know when irony and fate decide to join forces and laugh in your face? This is one of those mornings.

It's not even that big a deal, really, but I'm upset enough to write about it so here goes.

I lost my scarf. I just bought this scarf last weekend. It is amazing in that it goes with almost all my clothing, and will save me from many potential "wardrobe malfunctions." No, I'm not talking about people showing breasts; more like the area ranging from the collar bone to the beginning of cleavage.

In Korea, there is an interesting dress code for women at work. That area I mentioned above, it should not be shown. In a worst case scenario, it is the equivalent of dressing up in a sexy outfit and for a professional business meeting. Without fail, one can see women walking the streets with shirt collars that never dip below their shoulders... or else wearing scarves that will be kept on all day (unless, by chance, their dress code gives considerable leniency). It is looked down upon to bare so much chest. On the other hand, showing as much leg as you want (no matter what the temperature outside) is much more acceptable. If I find that comic that explains this perfectly, I'll add it to this post.

At my school, this rule is in effect. I have seen teachers wearing short(-ish) dresses (with stockings) but completely covering the space between chest and neck. I've successfully avoided any offensive dressing (I hope) by wearing this sleevless sweater over any shirt I have on. Oh... it's also more acceptable to have arms covered too... I'll talk about that another day.

There is nothing more discouraging than packing up for a long stay half way across the world, and being told this dress code during orientation lectures, and realizing that more than half the stuff you packed may be deemed too casual for work. I'm someone who doesn't really like wearing low-cut shirts anyways. This system doesn't upset me too much. Seriously though, I only have two turtleneck outfits. All the rest are shirts that, while  fancy and business-like, are probably unacceptable without a scarf or sweater.

I was getting dressed today, putting on one such shirt because, hey, I have that new scarf to cover up the slight dip in the collar. Then I was searching for this scarf, knowing that there are only so many hiding places for it in this small apartment. Nowhere to be found. Where could it be? Honestly, it could be on a bus, at school, or at that GS25 I went to yesterday. The bigger issue is will I ever see it again? Will I get it back? I dislike losing money so quickly.

The only other scarf I have is this thick, fluffy black boa... not like those obnoxious feathery ones you find at Claires, but still long and big enough to look ridiculous if I'm indoors without a coat on.

Time to go to school. -__-'    'Til next time,


Thursday, April 5, 2012


My mentor teacher's daughter, He Jin said she learned Taekgyeon. She and her brother tried explaining it to me. They said, unlike in Taekwondo, there are more flowing movements. I only just remembered the name today and looked it up. It looks quite interesting!

'Til next time,


Man, I forgot how embarrassing haircuts could be for people. I feel like I'm truly growing up with these kids. Already, a third boy has shown up with a haircut. The first time one of the first graders came to school with shorter hair, one of his classmates made fun of him. It didn't help that he was wearing a hat in an attempt to cover it up. It seems to be universal, showing up at school looking "drastically" different, and possibly getting teased. Luckily for the first graders, they will learn that it's perfectly normal and not so embarrassing because about half of their classmates will have to experience the same situation before the school year ends.

By now, you're wondering why I named this post "Exercise" when I'm talking about hair. Well, I had to mention the hair. Mission complete. Right now, I'm watching the first graders follow this exercise video. The music is very asian-like, and the moves are very martial arts-like.

( ...Oh, they just asked the teacher "One more time!" in English! Hahaha...!)

My mentor teacher plays this video about three times each day, this same video. I think by the end of next week, they should know it without looking at the video. Without adult supervision, about half the class does the moves the first time. The numbers dwindle significantly if the teacher isn't around, and the kids start running around the classroom and into the hallways, shouting things, sliding across the floor, and having a jolly good time.

Last week, I came into the classroom and the teacher wasn't there. I took the opportunity to follow the video with them. They got all excited, wondering why I was doing the dances, just how I was doing the moves, and either running up to exercise with me or show me the proper way to do things. I sat down after the first runthrough and recorded them the second and third time. I should record them next week, since they've gotten much better and remember more moves.

(Hahah, they're all working so hard at this exercise, shouting during the parts with kicks and punches. The ones who've done the exercise three times in a row quickly take off their coats and run back to join the others).

This week, my mentor teacher stayed in the classroom and exercised with them. This got them all super excited, and about 98% of the class participated in the dance. Yesterday I joined them all again for half a runthrough. I haven't asked yet, but I'm wondering why she's having them do this same exercise video three over and over each day. My suspicions include them performing in front of the school. This suspicion alone has me wary of learning the entire exercise video with them. I might be asked to perform with them! -_-'

While the kids are doing the exercise, there are some parts that they absolutely look forward to. It is during these parts (kicks, punches, chops) that you can easily find out who's taking taekwondo. In one part of the video there's a series of four kicks. These kids put their shoes on half way so they can send them flying across the room. It's so funny (and dangerous) to watch.

'Til next time,


Monday, April 2, 2012

Happy April + FBSU

Welcome April! Thank you, March.

In a few days, I will have been in Korea for three months. It feels amazing and a bit hard to believe. I'm supposed to be here for a year (minimum), and three months have just passed by. What have I accomplised? Well, in short, I've settled in. I have a place to live, a cellphone, my own washing machine. I've paid bills for the first time, and also received my first paycheck (Woot! I'm a millionaire!!! ok, not really. but the numbers used for currency are much larger in Korea). I completed two orientation/training sessions and made a ton of new friends/contacts. No matter how hopeless I feel some days, I have to admit to learning quite a bit of Korean since I've been here.

Right now I'm eating questionable ice cream...

FBSU: Ugh, this icecream. I'm not sure what this gray-blue flavor is, or why they put so few cookie bits in it. It's cookies and cream! More cookies! Also, I wish pianos weren't so inconvenient to travel with... miss my keyboard.

...contemplating eating some cookies, or maybe this Pocky (which is not called Pocky in Korea, but Pepero).  I've been blowing my nose all day. Since last week I've been battling a sinus cold that came with a slightly sore throat and pressure headaches. I not only blame it on the weather, but also the many people around me who like to cough and sneeze the way they do. I'll leave it at that.... I am feeling much better today. I think my body's finally overcoming all that it was battling in the last couple of days. I only hope I can stay healthy until warmer weather comes.

I'm also working on a lesson plan tomorrow. It's close to midnight, but I'm pretty wide awake. I've been listening to Air1 for last couple of hours via this lovely invention called the internet, and the music is pretty soothing. It's got me in the mood to plan for tomorrow, write this blog entry, and whatever else I decide to do in place of getting to sleep early.

It seems like all weekend plans for April have been made for me. I only recall hearing suggestions and saying yes or no. I don't recall thinking up suggestions of my own. I don't know what to think about this, except maybe that next month  I can make it the Seoul area for a trip of my own. I truly want to see all the other TaLK scholars that have been scattered around the country (especially those who have 6 month contracts), and I really want to see as much of cultural South Korea as I can while I'm here. I do, however, want a bit of "me" time. Perhaps it's time to make a schedule. Only, I don't want to end up with 3 months booked full of plans. Oh, it's kind of overwhelming.

Some things I'd like to do in the near future: Go to the gym ( I already paid, I just haven't had the time to go); find a piano I can play without buying (I have a keyboard at home. It was too big to bring with me); travel to the nearby mountains/lake that's somewhere outside my city (I've been told about it by locals, but haven't had the chance to go); ride that spinning ride in Cheongju at least once (I'll post the video link here as soon as I upload it).

The list will get pretty long, the more time I have to think about it. I just don't want to miss anything, but I also want to make sure I relax. It's nice to see and do everything, but I'd rather not be too burnt out to work. I do have a year, I do have a year.

Cheers to the rest of this year.

'Til next time,


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chinese Food

This is a bit of a random post.

Do any of you remember this song/video?

I've been reading a lot of Chinese restaurant signs around town, as well as the advertisements in the restaurant directories that get left on my door. I kept noticing the words "ban jum" in the names or titles. Without fail, this song would start playing in my head. Even before I had any good knowledge of Korea, I remember seeing this video and "memorizing" the words and dance. I had no idea what they were singing, even after looking up the translation on someone's website. ...But this week it finally clicked. Oh, they really ARE singing about a Chinese restaurant! Another small language barrier has been overcome! Yayyy!

Just imagine some rapper from Texas singing about Whataburger, and some foreigner who knows very little English loves this song but has no idea what Whataburger is.  Then, they somehow visit Texas and see Whataburger, and it all just clicks.

... Oh, maybe not the best example, but you understand now. I am forever amused. Ah, if only I knew how to order takeout. Then I could order and play this song while eating. XD

'Til next time


TV In The Classroom

"Teacher, Teacher.... let's watch 피니와 퍼브 (Pini wa Peobeu)"

My 5/6 grade class wanted to watch TV shows on Friday. Perfect! I wanted to show them TV shows in that day's lesson. We'd just gone over I/You/He,She, It, etc.  and the 5 Ws (who, what, where, etc. plus how) and what better way to have them practice the vocab and answer questions than by watching video clips? I'd actually planned to show them that Mr. Bean episode where he goes to the swimming pool, but I've been so Phineas and Ferb deprived that I quickly agreed to their request. Luckily, there's episodes on Youtube....

We watched part one of episode one (which I don't remember ever seeing before... the dialogue, it was so different from the other episodes). I thought they'd be taken aback by me playing it in English.. but they were so into it that when part one suddenly ended, there was a loud groan of sadness from the entire group.

"Teacher, Teacher... next, Pororo"

Hmm... I like Pororo. It's this Korean children's show that EVERYONE knows and loves... What could I compare it to in American TV? Hmm... I'm not sure, but it's super popular. There's even Pororo  posters in the phone shops that line the streets of towns. He's everywhere, advertising everything.

Ok, I showed Pororo in class. Two of them got excited and said, "Yes! Korean!" Ahah, I see what you did there, student. You just want to hear things in solid Korean, eh? Well... to fix that, I paused the video clip a bunch of times, asking them short questions. "Who? Who is this?" "What color is that?" It worked out pretty well, and they still got to hear Korean words. It was really helpful too because I think they now understand the word "how." I paused the clip shortly after Pororo and his friends grab a hockey stick and swing at a... a ball or fruit or something. "How?  Like this?" I imitated swinging a bat, rolling a bowling ball, tossing something in the air. They immediately understood and tried to explain the movement in the video clip. (Ah I love success moments!)

I don't remember the third show we watched, but there wasn't much time left. One kid kept listing shows to watch.... Oh, now I remember. He asked to watch One Piece next. I absolutely had to agree to this. There were only a few minutes in class left, so rather than search for episode clips, I searched for those videos of funny moments in the anime. I didn't ask any questions though because the video was in Japanese with French subtitles and somewhat crappy quality. Also, there were about 2 minutes left in class. I showed the students my Chopper key chain figurine and they said things like,  oooh, very good!

It was a nice ending to the day.

'Til next time,