August 30, 2010

I’m sick.  I woke up this morning feeling like death couldn’t be bothered to warm itself over.

It is monsoon season, so we have had rain, and more rain and even more rain, and when it doesn’t rain the sky is gray and low.  Today the sun came out. But I don’t really care.

I have articles to write, and a post on being an immigrant that needs to be tweaked.  I have worksheets to grade and correct, and I ‘ve missed way too many Korean classes this month.  I’m not going to do any of the these things tonight. Tonight, I’m going to change into my PJs make some ginger tea, and curl up in my bed.


Its a festival!

August 27, 2010

It is Friday. Most of the time, that would be enough to celebrate. But this Friday was even more special.  It was our school’s festival. The 1st and 2nd year students put on a variety of shows, games and events. I was quite proud of them. The teachers that supervise the clubs gave technical advice, but the students themselves wrote, directed, performed, and created everything.

The first event I went to was the F.O.M club’s movies. Now, the students did the script writing, the direction, the camera work, the titles, the music, and the performances.  The subjects ranged from being “wanta” or outcast, bullying in the schools, a very effective ghost story that even had a comedy section in the middle, and a story about teen pregnancy. Although the short film about teen pregnancy had the best production values, the ghost story was my favorite.

After the movie club, I went to the performance. (there was a play as well, but I didn’t get a chance to see it)– The first act was a choir and I was quite impressed, their voices were beautiful, and the harmonies were spot on. To be honest, I my expectations were not that high. This is a high school after all.  After the choir, a guitarist played, then a violin duet, and then a quartet, and then the choir came back and sang an A cappella version of “I love coffee”  A song guaranteed to warm the cockles of my cold black heart.

After the singers the dancers came on the stage. They did all their own choreography, according to the dance teacher. Most of it was definitely  inspired by music videos, but they were so cute and so energetic. I was pretty impressed. In between the dancers sets the flag drill team showed their stuff.

After the singers, dancers, and flag drill team, the students put on a fashion show. Because they are high school students, and are not from the richest area of Seoul, they decided to show off the many ways to wear their school uniform in a fashionable way. They were adorable.

The students also had an art showing. We have some very talented kids in our school. They also had games and food.  The students in the book club put on a great event. They had made up a bunch of games with books as the theme. One game was to pull out a word from a bucket, then find that word in a group of books in one minute or less. Another game was to hit a question about a classic book with a dart, then answer the question.  For the travel with books set, they had a bunch of pictures from travel books, and excerpts from them, and you had to guess where the pictures came from. I won, and was awarded a heart sticker and a now and later candy for my efforts. I am the book quiz champion.

This is  a club after my own true heart:

Here are some more photos from the festival

A Critical Mass that never was, and a hop on an island

August 23, 2010

It has not been a relaxing quiet weekend. However, it has been a lot of fun, and a pretty nice adventure.

Friday night was bitter-sweet, in that two very cool ladies are leaving Korea.  They want to get “real” teaching certificates, and to be honest, I think they both will make awesome teachers. I am sad they are leaving, proud of them for their ambitions, and I am optimistic that I will see them again as we travel through life. You never really know how the road will twist and turn.

Saturday was supposed to be a Critical Mass. Critical Mass started as a protest in some cities, to gently let cars and buses and trucks and motorcycles that there are bicycles as well that would like to share the road.

I was excited, and hoped to meet some other cyclist that were like me.  I know I do take some long bike trips, so a lot of people think I am fit and athletic. This is not really true. I am old and fat, and I prefer a more leisurely pace. I’m really not that fit.  A friend from a smaller town also wanted to go. So I borrowed a bike from my co-teacher, and off we went to find critical mass.  Now, we could have cycled there, but she arrived a bit late for that, plus we wanted to save our energy for the event. So we took the subway.  Last year it was illegal to take a bicycle on the subway, but now it is OK on Sundays and Holidays. Fortunately this means it is also OK on Saturday.  I know this, because the subway agent/ helper/ officer type people watched us and said nothing. Plus the first and last cars all have the international bicycle sign.

Taking a bike on the subway is usually pretty easy, but my friend wanted to take the elevators the whole time, so sometimes it got to be rather maze like in the station looking for an elevator to the correct subway platform. Fortunately we are intrepid. So finally we get to Gwanghwamun, where the mass was supposed to start. We wandered around, only 5 minutes late (and really for an event like that, it shouldn’t be a big problem) we couldn’t find it. We met two other cyclist, and they were looking for the event as well. So we wandered around some more but couldn’t find anything remotely like a mass group of cyclists getting ready to share the road with a bunch of cars.  So we had to make a decision.

We decided to cycle along the Cheonggyecheon, until it goes into the Han. It was beautiful, and for the most part very easy with little traffic.  Only one area, near Dongdaemun, had a lot of traffic. One of the things I love about cycling in Seoul is that cars here give cyclists a lot of room, and tend to slow down when they pass you. They don’t seem particularly upset that you are there sharing the road with them.  In the U.S. some drivers seem downright offended that a bicycle is on the same road as they are.  So it was a really nice ride, and we made it home in time to shower and get dinner before we were off to Incheon.  We met some friends at the Seoul train station and then took the bus into Incheon.

The next morning we were up early and off to go to Sin, Si and Mo islands.  We took the subway to the end of the line, near the airport. Then hopped into a taxi, that actually cost less per person than the bus would have ( there were six of us total).   We then got to the ferry right on time and made it within a minute of it leaving.  Once we got on the island we rented some bikes and went to the set of two Korean TV shows, a beautiful beach, and a beach with one of the more interesting sculpture parks around.

When we got hungry we went in search of a meal, but the one restaurant we thought would be good was closed, so we asked around and found another. It was well worth the wait. We had a kind of noodle soup that included clams and they had one of the best potato salads I’ve ever had. ( it included corn and raisins, a combination I wouldn’t have thought could taste so good)– after our repast we cycled some more, then turned in our bikes. We caught the next to last ferry, and headed home.

I arrived back at my house quite late and very tired, but in a good way.  I was even able to wake up in time for our first day of the semester.

To celebrate my most excellent weekend, I decided to skip Korean class, and eat chocolate cookies for dinner. (don’t worry, I’ll eat something healthy tomorrow– maybe)

Happy whatever it is

August 20, 2010

Today marks one year. I have had this blog for exactly one year to the day.

Whoo whooo

I’ve had a lot of adventures, and learned a lot, lived a lot, and tried to share that with you.  At first this was only for friends and family, but I’ve noticed comments from people I’ve never met, and been asked to contribute to another website.

It has been fun. So I will continue.

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures in living and learning.

It isn’t that I forgot, but

August 17, 2010

I kinda didn’t want to jinx things until I’ve made a post. has asked me to post some articles on their website.  I’m so excited, that someone likes my writing enough to ask me to post on their website.  I have two posts up now, and plan on having many more.

the king in Korea

August 17, 2010

As you know, I’ve been using murder, mystery and crime as my theme for my summer English camp.  So far it has been a lot of fun, and I think the students had a good time and learned something as well.  At least I hope so.

One of the things I wanted to do was have some music as part of my class.  My justification was that music is a fun and interesting way to learn vocabulary in use.  The real reason, is it is summer, and the students should be out having fun. Instead they are in a classroom. I think the reason there are so many private academies and  after school programs, and summer and winter camps, is that they want to make sure the kids don’t have enough free time or energy to get into any trouble.  That is my theory.

So anyway, the students are not at the beach, not at the park, not getting in trouble, not just hanging out in the heat.  They are in my class.  To make life a bit more bearable, I’ve been playing mystery themed games, been murdered more times than is healthy, and introduced some good music.  I could have stuck with pop songs, but a) I wanted the mystery theme to extend even to the music section, and b) I wanted to introduce my students to some music they may not have heard before.

I’ve done songs from the musical Chicago, the theme from the Sopranos TV show, and some blues and country music.  I also went into the past and found Elvis Presley’s Jail House Rock.   I thought it would be kind of fun, but I didn’t expect the reaction I got.

Lots of High School girls bopping along, their feet tapping, they were smiling and laughing.  When I looked at them, they got all serious, paying attention to the lyrics, but out of the corner of my eye, I could see them starting to re-bop and they just couldn’t keep their feet still.  It made me happy.  Some of my “experiments” don’t always work. I’ve had some serious class room fail. But it is alway nice when it does work well.

you can read some other of my writings at


August 15, 2010

and the sun came out to play– finally.

This weekend I had plans to go to the Fringe festival in Hongdae. ( but on Saturday it rained. And rained. And rained some more.  So instead of going to Fringe on Saturday I decided to postpone till Sunday.  Saturday evening the rain had kind of stopped and some friends and I went down to Hongdae to at least get some dinner. We went to one of my favorite Indian restaurants, Yeti and ate some fantastic curry and watched some Bollywood movies on the wall.

When we left we were able to see some free music in the park. There was a blues band with a girl who did tap dance. She looked like she was having way to much fun to be working so hard. I couldn’t help but smile, her joy in movement was infectious. The band was pretty good too, with a bass solo that was better than many professional groups.

After listening for a while we wandered off to eat some crepes, and see if anything else was on.  Fortunately the crepes were awesome, unfortunately we didn’t find any more music.  We did enjoy wandering around the area, and found a couple of nice coffee shops before we wandered to the bus and subway stops to home.

So I was excited about the festival on Sunday.  The sun was shining, and after a fairly lazy morning I got out of the house and headed back to Hongdae.  I met up with a friend and we wandered back to the park, but the performances weren’t on yet. Apparently the Fringe Fest is an evening/night fest, and not an afternoon fest. The park had a free market, and lots of people selling their art and jewelry.  Most of the stuff was very creative and not the usual stuff you see on the streets and in the stores. Many of the sellers were artists and you could watch them making their crafts. So even though I didn’t get to see any more music this weekend, it was still a very interesting afternoon.

And I wasn’t even told off. As a matter of fact, I was invited to the Rendezvous. (along with everyone else on the street)