Still Alive

October 30, 2009

And a new post soon.



Do you want the easy way?

October 23, 2009

Or do you want the exciting way?”

” Its ok, you can do the easy way”

“No, teacher. You want the exciting way!”

“Ok, please tell me the exciting way”

My students are learning directions.  We have a map, and they have to tell me how to get from one place to another.  I tried to make it easy, but some of my students love a challenge.

I love my students

And how was your week?

October 17, 2009

Mine was actually pretty good.  Last Saturday I was able to get blue balls while dancing with the gaysains on homo hill, and that was a pretty good night.

Sunday was a lazy day watching movies on line, and Tuesday and Wednesday my students had a national test, so I got to be pretty lazy at school too.

photo 2Thursday was fun, the first year went to the war memorial. I really enjoyed being with the students outside of the classroom.   It was agreed that they are pretty good kids, even if they don’t like to study very much.  The war memorial itself was very interesting, mostly because it wasn’t just about the Korean war. There was a lot about the founding of Korea, General Yi’s turtle boat defence of the coast from the Japanese, some about the colonization by the Japanese in the 20th century and a lot of cheesy animatronics displays.  However they were updating with some very cool holographic displays that could speak English, Korean, Japanese and Chinese.  It was pretty cool.

the play

the play

Before we went to the museum, we saw a musical.  I couldn’t understand most of it, because it was all in Korean, but I did get that it wasn’t about any war, and it seemed to me to be a typical Korean drama.  Boy meets Girl, Girl loves Boy, Boy dies very slowly before the first kiss.  I know Americans have a similar trope in our dramas, but the Koreans take it to a new level.  I talked to my co-teacher who said it was more about euthanasia. At lunch I found out that my interpretation is not an outlier. There was quite the debate.

all the countries that participated in the Korean War

all the countries that participated in the Korean War

The museum advertised on its brochure that it is a place of “rest and quiet” in the heart of downtown Seoul.  I thought that was a bit ironic.  But the outdoor area had a beautiful water garden.  I think it was sad to see the list of names of all the soldiers who had died in the war.  Yet I couldn’t help but notice that in the children’s play ground area there were warplanes and a GI Joe parachuting down over them.  But I think that as humans we will always feel a bit torn about war. We love the narrative and mourn the victims.

Because of the field trip and testing I decided that this week would be game day for the few classes I did have.  Now I do think games have a place in the classroom, but I’m not a game class kinda girl.  However I didn’t want to have to keep track of two lessons one for the students who had my class canceled for the test and one for the students who didn’t.  So it was game day all week long.  It went really well.  Mostly.  Friday I have two classes — (on Friday!) that are kinda terrible.

The first class has 4 girls I call the gang of 4, I know so imaginative of me. Anyway I put the class into groups of 4. I knew they wouldn’t work very hard to play the game, but if they had just goofed off quietly, I could ignore it. But no. They had to play clapping games — on the desks.  I would laugh, but as the teacher you really can’t.  I made them do lines.

The last class on Friday does make me cry, because every class at least one student causes a problem. This Friday it was over a cell phone. I asked for the cell phone. She tried the blank look.  I said “ha, don’t try it, just give me the phone. ” I had my co-teacher translate that I would return it at the end of the class. (it is my policy that if they give it up I give it back) — she just kept looking at me as if she didn’t understand – my co-teacher said it again.  I said it again.   I felt like I couldn’t really back down, because I would lose a bit of authority, at the same time I thought the whole thing was so stupid.  I made her leave the classroom while the rest of us played the game, and then made her stay after, writing an apology letter.

God I hate being THAT teacher.  And on a Friday too! —

blue balls for allOh well,  tonight I might just increase the vodka to juice ratio.  That usually makes things better.

More photos for your enjoyment

definition of organized chaos

definition of organized chaos

The turtle boat

The turtle boat

the rest area

the rest area

They look like such nice people

October 8, 2009

They look like nice people don’t they?  Well, these are the people who hand me my butt every Thursday night

They actually are pretty nice people

They actually are pretty nice people

I like dancing, even though I have two left feet and an extra appendage that is determined to trip both of them.  Thursday night I go to Gwahwamun and from 6:30 to 8:30 I pretend I have two regular feet.

The class is mostly older teachers, and they are very kind, even though most of them are excellent dancers they are always willing to help me out with the moves.  Actually, one of the best dancers isn’t in the picture.  He is Mr. Ahn, and he usually sits right behind me in my teacher’s lounge.  When he busts a move, it is an awesome sight.

My co-teacher is also a very good dancer. She has a lot of natural rhythm and grace.  I really enjoy watching her dance.

Here she is showing some other students the moves

Here are some more pictures for your enjoyment.

Here is the gang

Here is the gang

and here they are cha cha-ing away

and here they are cha cha-ing away

Sometimes life is good.

Picnics in the park

October 4, 2009
The gang at Olympic park

The gang at Olympic parkSo we all met at Olympic Park for an all girls picnic.  It was kind of hard to find a great place, as the picnic idea was not unique to a bunch of foreigners. There were a ton of people. They were goofing off, working out, cycling, riding the tram, picnicking, skating, and flying kites.  I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the kites because they were way up high, and kind of small.

the gang's all here, about to enjoy some good food
the gang’s all here, about to enjoy some good food

We finally found a nice shady place to lay down our mat, and everyone brought some food, some drinks and we proceeded to while away the afternoon in a lazy and relaxed way.  Afterwards we drank coffee and headed home, as the weather was getting quite chill as the sun began to set.  The perfectly unexciting yet satisfying Saturday afternoon.

Sunday I went to my first writer’s workshop, and now I’ve got two projects to procrastinate on.  Hey, that is what a blog is for, right?
After the workshop, I decided to treat myself, so I went down to get a book at the one used book store in Itaewon, but didn’t find anything that really caught my fancy.  I had an overpriced hamburger and fries at one of the sidewalk cafes, and headed home.  The subway was very crowded with a bunch of mountain hikers.  Only in Korea is mountain hiking an occasion to make a fashion statement.  The hikers had, down to the last detail, the most put together outfits.  The shoelaces matched the stripe on the pants, that matched the shirt, that matched the cute little baseball style hats.  Even the little backpacks and scarves matched.  I felt downright dowdy in comparison.
One of the things I love about Korea, and Seoul is how much everyone really enjoys the urban spaces and parks. It is very nice.
I’ll leave you with a couple more photos from this weekend.
Goofing around in a traditional hanbok
Goofing around in a traditional hanbok
Modern buildings surround a traditional bell
Modern buildings surround a traditional bell

Happy Chusok Everyone

October 2, 2009

To those of you not living in Korea or aware of Korean tradition,  Chusok is one of the big holidays.  Koreans are going to their hometowns, and meeting up with their families to have traditional foods, go to the gravesites of their ancestors and make a prayer, and take a break.  Everyone will be taking a break  except the adult women who will be cooking the traditional foods, serving the traditional foods and cleaning up.  Not that driving in the total hell that all the highways and freeways will be won’t be hard work.   That was the main source of conversation fodder at the teacher’s office the last few days.

The day before Chusok is not the day to pick up a few things at E-mart.  I went to pick up a few things for a picnic tomorrow, and wow. Just wow.

I’m a bit disappointed in myself today though.  I was going to try to ride my bike along the stream bike trail all the way to the Han river. It doesn’t look like it would be very far, but……  However the ride along the stream (it isn’t big enough to be a river, especially next to the Han) was gorgeous.  And everyone was out, people were fishing along the banks, a few young men were playing a game that can only be described as an unholy meeting of volleyball and soccer, and a horde of bicyclists.  I almost fell of my bike when I saw one cyclist.  He had on the aerodynamically correct helmet, the requisite supper tight cycling outfit, a mask that made him look like a bank robber, and — I kid you not– a TV.  It was one of the small ones you see people carrying everywhere, but. Yes, strapped to his handlebars was a TV, and as he was cycling, and passing pathetic me, he was watching some kind of drama.

Also.  I didn’t finish the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) worksheet. It isn’t due until Monday, but still I wanted to finish it.