More Random Pictures

I’m just making a quick DnD stop before my “big hill” climbing for the day. Mostly because I’ve got a random assortment of pictures that are all really unrelated, but I want to share anyway, and they won’t fit with the pictures I’ll be taking soon. I’ve also got my next three blogs pretty much planned out. Lots of pictures, so I’ll have to split them up to make it readable. One post for the “big hill”, one for the soccer game, and one for South Korean currency. I’ve finally finished collecting all the different bills and coins so I can photograph them and research a little about them.

If you can’t read the cursive at the bottom: Maple Sugar for U. hey! welcome to our space. we love you. can you love us?

This was in a package of index cards I bought to make flashcards for Korean. This was the only one that had English. The rest were in French, go figure. I have zero skill in French, so I couldn’t tell, but I’m sure it was really horrible French. This isn’t bad, but just hilariously South Korean and kitschy.

This is what I do before work. Practice conjugating Korean verbs.

Recently, Mr. Lee has been asking me to help him revise some of his textbooks. It doesn’t take terribly long and it keeps me busy at night so I don’t mind. Then he said that he’d pay me extra money when I get paid, so I mind it even less.

Thursday, a couple of my students all had balloon swords. I asked them where they got them thinking there was some kind of fair or festival or some such nearby. One of them pulled a bag of balloons out of his book bag and made me this dog. Pretty sweet. I learned how to make a dog once, but not this well and I’ve completely forgotten it now. I’ve always been too nervous about popping the balloon to man-handle them much.

Let’s play I Spy. I spy something red and white!

It’s not the restaurant sign. It’s not the tape around the garden. It’s not a tail light on a car. Give up?

It’s a swastika!

Now, before you go thinking that Nazism is still alive and strong in South Korea, there’s something you should know. The swastika is actually an ancient symbol that has been traced as far back as 6000 BC. I was used occasionally in ancient Western societies, but after World War II it became extremely stigmatized in Western society, for obvious reasons. In Germany, it’s illegal to display the swastika. In America, you might see it, but you’d immediately think it was distasteful and extremely racist. Here in South Korea, it’s simply a common sign for a Buddhist temple.

Some foreigners I’ve met, talked to, or read their blogs have expressed some displeasure over seeing the swastika here in South Korea. They think that it’s still racially insensitive to display swastikas here. However, considering South Korea is made up of about 99.5% South Koreans, there’s almost literally no one to offend. To them, the swastika is just a Buddhist symbol for Nirvana and heavenly balance.

Teaching this week was all right. The first three days were really boring for the kids. Just reading the stories they already know by heart. I switched it up Wednesday and just typed some of the sentences from the stories in Word out of order to see if they could actually, actually read or were just associating phrases with pictures in the story. Most of them did very well. Thursday, literally all I did was play Bingo. Or, at least, attempt to. I spent all of my first grade class on Thursday just trying to get them to understand how to make a Bingo sheet. A couple caught on quick, but most were clueless. So I assigned it for homework. Friday, nearly none of them brought it to class, and none of them finished it anyway, so we just read. The older classes understood perfectly, though.

My habit of speaking an extremely tiny bit of Korean in school is coming back to bite me in the ass. One of my students, Diane, in E class (third best of the day) almost completely refuses to speak to me in English. I like her a lot. She’s a fun kid, and she reminds me of someone I’ve seen before, but I just can’t place it. Still, it’s annoying that she will ramble on in rapid South Korean to me. Friday, she was trying to explain the word for “cousin” to me, but she kept saying it in Korean. When I didn’t understand, she just said it slower and louder. So I loudly and slowly responded “I. Don’t. Speak. Korean.” At least the kids got a laugh out of it.

Also, Jessica who I mentioned a couple times before, has dropped out of the E class. Her father has apparently got her going to five hagwons now, so she’s got literally no time for English. I don’t think it’s normal for kids to have that many hagwons. She’s just one of the craziest busy kids. It’s a shame because she’s one of the few kids that actually really, really tried to speak in English first, and usually found a way to express herself without resorting to Korean.

The only other notable thing is the sense of entitlement a lot of kids have. In my G class, last and “best” of the day, I have lots of trouble. The boys are extremely loud and hard to control. And while I’m getting a handle on them, the girls end up just drawing in notebooks. Thursday I took a couple notebooks away from girls so they’d pay attention to me, and one of them got extremely pissed at me. Her name is Kelly, and she’s one of my favorites in the class. She’s just not a fan of me right now. Friday I said she couldn’t go get a drink of water, but I wasn’t letting anyone, because I knew they were just asking so they could waste some class time.

She just sat down and looked daggers at me. At the end of class, I told them to write ten sentences starting with “I want to…”. Fridays are usually speaking practice about that the kids want to do on the weekend. This Friday I spent all day explaining to each class the grammar of the “I want to…” phrase. Kelly just wrote “I WANT TO GO HOME” in big letters that took up an entire page and showed it to me. I just said “Ten” and she got more mad. Haha. Man, being a kid here is tough. The bottom line: Kids here can get really pissy if you offend their delicate sense. Usually the grudges don’t last too long, but sometimes they do.

Last thing: Last night I had dinner at Chang-ki’s apartment. Got to meet his wife. When he invited me, he said there would be “no delicious food”, just rice. I agreed anyway, and brought some of the ojineo I’d bought before and some kim that Mr. Lee bought for me. When we got there, his wife was cooking keoredeopbap — curry covered rice. It’s not nearly as spicy as Indian curry. Actually, it’s not spicy at all, but it has the great curry flavor. It was a really good meal, and we had some of my kim and ojineo with dinner.

Afterward, I went to E-mart with Mr. Lee. He insisted on buying me some groceries. So, I got eggs, cooking oil, a pack of Ramen, a couple slices of beef, and frozen dumplings. He tried to buy me more, including some clothes, but I refused. I’ve tried explaining that I don’t like people paying for things for me, but he doesn’t get it. I figured out that here my shoe size is 305. They measure it in millimeters here. The largest size at E-mart was 275. It was possible to squeeze my foot in, but it was as tight as a vice and really uncomfortable. I might be able to shave off a couple millimeters since my Chucks are a little bigger than they have to be, but 275 just won’t cut it.

I caught up with Lawrence and Dave and had a pitcher of beer, but then went home. I got some soju and watched a Korean comedy. It’s titled Nangman Jagaek — Romantic Warriors/Assassins. There’s nothing really romantic about the movie. It’s just a story about five assassins that are completely incompetent that piss off some ghosts, so they have to avenge the ghosts to pay them back. I think even without subtitles it’d be hilarious. A lot of very physical comedy. It’s also very low-brow. Some of it is actually censored (extreme language and frontal male nudity). It’s an absolute riot. If you’re interested, drop me a line and I can send you the necessaries to download it.

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