Monday, 29 June 2009
Thursday, 25 June 2009
1. Squid. I'm a disgrace to the name of my blog...but yes, I have tried it. Actually the first time I was deceived, because they were breaded squid rings on a plate of french fries. They looked an awful lot like onion rings. It's chewy and I avoid it the best I can...so maybe it's now "I'll get used to liking anything but the squid."
2. Kimchi. I can't get enough of it now. It's salty and spicy, and oh man...wrapped around a little ball of rice. Delicious. I've even gone back for seconds at lunch.
3. Goat. Yep. The school lunchroom introduces me to so many new meats I never considered...
4. Puffer fish. With my teachers out to dinner on Teacher's Day. They didn't tell me it was once a poisonous fish until after I ate it.
5. Cuttlefish jerky. It looked like the stripped off skin of a human finger with a knuckle in the middle. I can't say that I finished it. Scott did though.
6. Raw beef, raw egg, and pear. I was out with my school for drinks when I encountered this one. It was, I'm not joking, a big heaping plate of chopped up pieces of 100% raw slimy beef. To top it off: a cracked open raw egg, and some strips of pear. The whole thing was then mixed together, and everyone at the table was urged to dig in with their chopsticks. I'm still alive.
Sunday, 21 June 2009
The whole place is quite large, and has several smaller temples on the grounds as well as a large drum, a large bell, and an intricately wired speaker system hiding in the trees so that chanting or daily messages can be heard everywhere you go. This took us quite awhile to figure out- Scott and I were convinced the trees themselves were calling us to meditation. Even walking away, the temple no longer in sight, we could hear the low soothing tones of a man speaking with gentle recorded chimes and flute tones in the background.
And of course, the kimchi jars (traditionally, kimchi is created and stored in large jars buried underground- except for the covered top of it for easy access).
But these monks don't live like the American Amish, as I was inclined to consider at first. They may live in a traditional setting, with traditional vocations and rituals, but they are not without modern amenities. In addition to the speaker system, the first clue was the freshly paved street that lead up up to the temple (and the monk driving the fancy black car that passed us). They also have electric lighting, and at least three flat screen computers that I saw turned on through a screen door. So although they live very naturally and harmoniously in the traditional path of Buddhist life, they seem to have a nice balance with the modern world.
Friday, 19 June 2009
Me: Yes I do, like a pile of papers? a stack?
Shim: *points to butt* pile. Women have pile. Do you?
Me: Oh? I don't know. Maybe?
Shim: Number one for patients here.
*I type "pile" in a google search and scroll down*
Me: Oh...right. We usually call that "hemorrhoids" in America.
Shim: Hem-er-oids? Can you make a sentence?
Thursday, 18 June 2009
1. Plainly Stated in School
For the last day of the "what will you do this summer?" lesson, as part of the plan I had students write three sentences with accompanying illustration on a paper to show what they will do this summer (or this weekend, or after school). In one of my classes, I looked down on my usual rounds and saw a boy had written "Kill a person" on his paper, and was in the process of drawing a nicely detailed M16 underneath it. I asked him "Oh, in computer games?" and he responded with "No. Real life."
I told Taebun, but nothing came of it; the kid was probably just being funny. I, however, have been conditioned to feel horrified. I can only imagine how that would be handled differently in America (Interesting too, considering Scott's recent air soft gun incident). I'm glad nobody can own guns in this country.
2. Peter at the Airport
Peter was at an airport not long ago and shared this observation: Two military men dressed in army fatigues, each walking around with a large gun in each hand. I was shocked just to hear that, because I've not yet seen a real gun in this country although I have seen many military men. He then told us that their free hands were clasped together and "swinging back and forth like school girls." It's very common for men or boys to hold hands here, as friends or otherwise, but in uniform with their guns? that one's new. I think that image will stick with me for a long time.
Monday, 15 June 2009
The lesson was "What will you do this summer?" with an emphasis on the world "will" to express future planning. I actually wasn't worried about it at first. I love to teach these kids, and I always have a million ideas for making changes. Taebun suggested that we dismiss the book and completely revise the lesson, just keeping the same objectives.
The real worry came when Taebun showed up with a complete set of new materials that I suddenly had to fit in and keep track of for the lesson: puppets to use in demonstrations of speech, magnetic white boards for the students, 5 picture cards, and around 9 word cards and magnetic word cut-outs to make sentences with. All of these things were to have a specific order of placement. On top of these, and the fact that I'd only taught in my new English room a few times so far, I had to think up a game that would use more materials.
It's funny, I felt so over encumbered by so many new things, that I couldn't keep my head straight. They were great new resources, but to use all of them for the first time during an open class made me worry that my students would be struck clueless by sudden over stimulation. Taebun and I rehearsed the entire class about 4 times, so by then I felt a little more comfortable. That and I taped my scripts and direction cues to the back of my puppets' heads.
This is what we came up with, and how it panned out:
1. Warm-up/Greeting. Taebun asked the weather/day/date (on this he surprised me by turning to me and asking "is it right?" and I laughed and said "actually I don't know"...a good strong first words for all of the teachers. I did get some satisfaction though when he accidentally wrote "2008." We're a good team.)
2. Storytelling. Taebun and I put on a small puppet performance about "Mike" and his English teacher "Sara" discussing the upcoming summer vacation (to prep for the lesson theme). Although Sara said she would study Korean, Mike ran off when she asked if he would study English.
3. Statement of Objective. This was written down in briefly in Korean, so I'm not sure what it said. It was meant to help along those who might tune out because their English is low, so they need to know what it is they are meant to pay attention to in a completely English lesson.
I think the best part was when Taebun grabbed the magnetic sentence for the lesson title and read it aloud: "I will visit my uncle in London." I did my best not to giggle, but it didn't take long for him to realize that it was supposed to be the sentence that read "What will you do this summer?"
4. Look and Speak/ Listen and Repeat. We finally hit our stride after the few hiccups, and put on our second puppet performance with "Jinho" and "Peter" with the more direct summer planning dialogue. I questioned the class about what they heard, and we did it again. We then did a few repeat-after-me phrases for practice: "What will you do this summer?" "I will go hiking" "I will visit my grandmother"
5. Reading. Taebun asked me "What will you do this summer?" and I showed a picture card with a boy camping to the class, had them guess it, then had them guess each word in the sentence "[I] [will] [go] [camping]" and stuck it on the board.
6. Magnet board activity. Each group (tables of 4-5) had a magnetic white board and an envelope full of magnetic words. Taebun showed the students a picture card for a summer plan, stuck it to the board, and had them race to find the right words for the sentence. They had to hold it up and shout it out. They were "I will go swimming," "I will play soccer," "I will study English," and "I will visit my uncle in London." Taebun was very clever in his preparation on this one for the words, because he through in tricks like "visiting" and "playing." Many students got it pretty fast, but we did make sure all the groups had it before moving on.
7. KABOOM! I found a similar game for vocabulary review online awhile back, and decided to fit it for this lesson. I prepared cans (1 for each table) with sentences in it with about 12 different summer plans ("I will go to academy," "I will play the piano," etc). Mixed into the can were also papers that read "KABOOM!!!". I think I had it worked out to be 36 sentences and 10 Kabooms per can. I spoke, and we demonstrated (two times for clarity) that one at a time, each student would take a paper, read it, then hold on to it. If they pulled out a "Kaboom" everyone would have to shout it, and that person would have to put all of their papers back in the can. The first student to have 6 papers was the winner. It was great, because the more papers every student had the greater the chance it was of pulling out a Kaboom. Many groups started chanting "Kaboom! Kaboom!" when a person who was close to winner had their turn come up. Awesome.
9. Short test. We passed out test papers for review of basics. First I said few sentences and they had to mark the right picture, and second they were shown pictures and had to choose the right sentence. After collecting them, we said thank you and goodbye, and sent our students home.
There was a TEE meeting afterward with all the teachers to discuss the class, but it was all in Korean so I'm not 100% sure exactly how it went. They did point at Taebun who stood up to speak after about 10 minutes, then pointed to me and said "Sara?" I looked at Taebun who said "say something," so I laughed and asked "what did you say?" It maybe seemed obvious to them, but I couldn't tell if they wanted me to explain my ideas for the lesson, gratitude for everyone being there, how I felt the lesson went, or if I like ponies (I do.). At the end, they did open it up to the foreigners who generated some English discussion about our teaching experiences.
The biggest thing I took away from the open class was that my students actually can understand a whole class run in English. We even finished 10 minutes ahead of schedule because they picked it up so fast. Usually I'm faced with students with discipline or listening issues, who fight us and demand "Korean!" as they tune out when I speak and find themselves not understanding the game until someone says something to them in Korean. This time, the students were great listeners because they were surrounded by so many strangers watching them. Even the most obstinate students were like angels speaking English as a beautiful and natural chorus, and the more shy among them spoke up. A frightful sight to behold, indeed, because I didn't know how to act with such a well behaved assembly. It was an eye opener for me. Now, if only every class could be an open class.
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Foreigners are everywhere in Seoul. At least in the areas with the most nightlife and shopping. As a result, it's not necessary to speak Korean. We tried a few times at restaurants, but with us trying to speak Korean and them responding in English, it started to feel a little bit silly. You would be hard pressed to find difficulty in getting around, as there is English everywhere.
The restaurant options are also more diverse, and many bars are Western styled with most of the space for standing or dancing. Where we went in Shincheon, it was very strange to see that most of the people in the bars we went to were not Korean. And the Koreans I did encounter at these bars were very outgoing and spoke at a high level of English.
Another interesting thing I found was that the foreigners in Seoul act very differently to each other than they do in Andong. In Andong, if we see another foreigner we usually are very neighborly, because A) they probably also live here, or B) they are a tourist and might be disoriented in a more traditional town. In Seoul, foreigners are more like strangers on the street. the anonymity is almost unsettling after two months in my smaller city.
2. The Chair District
Apparently Seoul has large districts devoted to single items. Not knowing this at first, I was starting to grow suspicious after five blocks of chairs. As if that weren't strange enough, almost none of the thousands of chairs seemed to have a matching mate. There wasn't a single era, function, or style of chair missing representation. They were stacked and pushed together, sprawling from the inside of small shops to the street. It was almost impossible to tell where one shop stops and another starts; it all blends together.
There are so many different angles poking out amidst this giant mass of chairs. It would be impossible to choose one among the number of them, and almost a little wrong; like taking a distinct color or shape out of a cubist painting.
3. Dongdaemun's Clothing Market
While the guys (Scott, Andrew, and Peter) were at sauna, Katie and I took off for some shopping. We did actually find a popular shopping district near a women's college, but on a tip from Katie's co-teacher we set off for the Dongdaemun subway stop to find some sort of amazing shopping building. It took about an hour and a half to find the place, where we got lost in the sea of chairs and found a gigantic food market that almost turned me full blood vegetarian, but we finally found the place. It was right across from the old Dongdaemun gate, which is striking against its modern day backdrop.
What we discovered was the longest building possibly ever constructed. Standing at one end, it's impossible to see the end of it, as it runs parallel to a small section of river. Inside, what we found what was probably the wholesale shopping heaven for older women in Korea (pictured below is the one place I found a gap in people to take a picture, which was the most youthful of the sections). The clothes were mostly a little too petite and outside of our age group, but the place itself was remarkable.
It was divided into small booths in one endlessly long, windowless, hallway that stretched the entire length of the building. After 40 minutes of walking without getting a glimpse of an end, we did finally bail out. To walk the whole thing would end only in fatigue for those not fortified with an iron will for shopping. Perhaps with time and practice, I will be ready to try again.
Monday, 8 June 2009
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Because I've been drinking only light Korean beer since I've been here (Hite and Cass), we moved on to possibly the most expensive bar in in Andong: Wabar. The atmosphere is unmatched, and it has a ton of imported beers and mixed drinks (which are actually hard to come by here)...provided you're willing to pay the equivalent of $13 for a White Russian or $10 for the bottle of Guinness that, yes, Scott bought me. Oh Guinness.
Akdong (the "new downtown" district of Andong) was the next stop for the evening, which is about a 10 minute cab ride from the city center.
Everyone wanted Indys to play the birthday song for me, but they wanted to know where our cake was. Worried that only cake + birthday = song, Scott and Katie dashed off to find a new one (luckily, there are bakeries everywhere). While they were gone, we learned that Indys wasn't playing the song not because we didn't have a cake, but because they were busy preparing:
Cake #3 (and a sparkly party hat that I wore around for most of the night)
With two cakes before me, Indy's switched on the birthday song- which was in English. So far I've heard this song at three different bars since I've been here, and it's always in English. The lights turned off, crazy flashing lights turned on, and I stood up to dance around to the "Happy Birsday!" techno remix of the classic chant. Amazing.
Cake #3 was cut, and I was intent on passing out a piece to every booth in the bar. I made sure that a large piece went to the man responsible for the construction and thoughtfulness of my cake made of fruit. Unfortunately, I only made it to three booths before we decided it was too dangerous for me to make the deliveries. The first booth gave me a slice of pineapple and a glass of beer to "One shot!!" (and I have my pride), the second poured me a shot of soju, and the third poured a shot of soju into a glass of beer and again "happy birthday! one shot!" but after one small sip, Katie stepped in to save me from certain collapse. I one-shotted a slice of their watermelon instead.
Our final stop was a restaurant/bar that we discovered several weeks ago has the most amazing food (alas, I have no idea on the name). They also bring you a complimentary large serving bowl of broth that is so spicy that it will knock you out like a shot of soju if you don't sip it carefully.
Here I met 4-6 new friends, none of whom made Scott feel very happy. Two tables of Korean men wanted to take pictures of me with them, which I didn't know when I was tricked into going over there. When one found out Scott was my boyfriend, they sent him some Coca-cola as a peace offering.
And then, well, it wouldn't be a night out without...Nore Bang!
We decided to be finished at 2am after Aerosmith's "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing", which was really 4am because Andrew's watch was broken.
Sunday was relaxing, and took no recovery on my part- thank goodness. One of Scott's co-teachers, Mrs. Lee, invited us to her husband's art studio in a converted old school (Scott has already been there, on the day of my English camp at the middle school). I could curl up in a corner of this place and be happy forever.
On my way to work, I picked up:
I was so excited. After Mrs Lee's husband's studio, I really had an itch to paint again- but lacked the means. He couldn't have found me a more perfect gift. It also seemed to be a fitting end to the birthday journey. An empty canvas.
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
Oh! My English room is finished too! So expect more about that in the near future. I'm pumped.