Archive for July, 2010

A Recap of Vacation

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2010 by kingcal

Friday, July 23rd: For Joel’s birthday, a group of us wanted to go clubbing. The original club turned out to be “Korean only” so we decided on a club in Yawoori called Club Sizi. Initially they didn’t want to let us in either, but after a second try, we got in, and were literally the only ones in the giant warehouse of a club for almost an hour. Everyone was dancing, but I refused. Not that I don’t dance. Later in the night, I did. I just have to be really trashed to even consider it. I stayed for awhile, but I started getting a headache, so I put down some money and went to the Banana Bar. The English guy Steve was there, and he’s always good conversation.

Met some Korean guy I see in there and an Indian guy, too. We left for awhile to see if any other bars were more entertaining, but they weren’t, so we went back to Banana Bar. More people came in the meantime, and it ended up being a pretty fun night. Closed down the bar and went to dinner afterward. Up until then, I was pretty drunk, but the soju with dinner is what really did me in. I don’t strictly remember going home. I don’t really like the term “black out”. I prefer “time travel”.

Saturday, July 24th: Woke up at the crack of noon, slowly backed and had lunch, then made my way to the bus station. Almost all of the day was spent traveling. I got to Seoul around 5 PM, then caught a bus to the small city of Sokcho, which arrived just after 9 PM. Right after I got off the bus, I started looking for a place to stay, and ran into three foreigners sitting on the sidewalk outside a convenience store drinking. They recommended a place called a minbak to stay for cheap, then gave me their number so we could meet up later. Minbaks are basically places that rent out one room apartments like hotels for pretty cheap. For $25, I got a room with a bed, TV, fan and a private bathroom, though it had no hot water.

After I dropped off my stuff, grabbed dinner, etc… I called them and spent maybe an hour trying to track them down. Finding strangers in a strange city is pretty tough. Especially when the guy giving directions blows. Finally managed it, and we spent the night drinking on Sokcho Beach. Group of foreigners and some Korean guys and girls. It was a good time. The last thing I remember it was getting light on the beach. Time travel to next morning…

Sunday, July 25th: Woke up quite suddenly, and the first thing I thought was “where the fuck am I?” Thankfully, in my state, I’d still managed to make it back to my minbak with all my possessions. I got ready and caught a bus to Seoraksan National Park. Spent all afternoon hiking trails, then came back to Sokcho, played some pool at a club and read a little then went to bed early because I was tired and wanted to get an early start on Seoraksan again the next day.

Monday, July 26th: Got up super early, maybe 6:30 AM and headed to the park. Hiked up Ulsanbawi. Ulsanbawi has an interesting legend around it. When the creator of everything wanted to sculpt Korea’s most beautiful mountain, he called for every city in Korea to send a rock to be used in the mountain. Ulsanbawi (Ulsan Rock) was too large and slow, so it couldn’t reach the place on time to be used in the mountain. On its way back to Ulsan, it fell in love with Seoraksan’s beauty and decided to stay. Anyway, I spent all morning hiking, had an absolutely tough time getting to the top, but it was breath-taking up there. Afterward, I went back to Sokcho, took a nap, then woke up early in the evening and bummed around Sokcho. I went to the beach once it was dark and drank a bit by myself. I just looked at the ocean and drank, and after awhile, this policeman came up to me and asked me why I was drinking alone.

He was a really young guy, actually a year  younger than me. As part of his mandatory two year army service, he had to serve on the police force. He wasn’t usually stationed in Sokcho, but during the busy beach season, they sent him to help out. He studied English in college, so his English was pretty good. We chatted for maybe an hour or so, then he got off work. I kind of wanted to hang out more, but when I asked what he did after work, he was just like “Oh, I go back to the station and read and sleep”, so I didn’t bother asking.

Tuesday, July 27th: Got up early again and got on the first bus for Daegu, which was a five and a half hour ride. Once I was in Daegu, I immediately caught a bus to Haeinsa, one of the most culturally important temples in Korea. It’s known for housing 81,000 wood blocks that compose the entirety of some Chinese Buddhist text. I spent all afternoon at the temple. The tiny village I stayed in there was awful though. Everything was either a motel or a restaurant. There was also a bus depot, a police station, and a bank/convenience store. Yes, it was both.

The food there sucked, too. Overpriced as hell and not good. I almost got into an argument with a restaurantess, and would have if my Korean was better. I wanted to order something, but she wouldn’t let me. As far as I could guess, she wouldn’t let me because I was alone and it was a two person course. My train of thought reasoned if I paid for it, it didn’t matter if I could finish it or not, but I guess she didn’t agree. At one point I kind of raised my voice and said “WHY?” in Korean, which I think offended her, and I ended up leaving. Anyway, the rest of my time there I spend reading in my room and eating milk and cookies from the convenience store bank.

Wednesday, July 28th: I had planned on staying in the village half a day more to do some hiking, but it was pouring when I woke up. It just gave me an excuse to leave the awful place earlier, so I took it. Went back to Daegu, then transferred to Gyeongju. It was still raining when I got there, but I spent all afternoon checking out the multitude of various ancient cultural stuff in Gyeongju. Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient Silla dynasty. The Silla dynasty was one of the longest Asian dynasties, beginning in 57 BC, uniting the other two kingdoms of Korea in 668 AD, and continuing to rule a completely unified Korea until 935 AD.

In the evening, it stopped raining and I met some guys at the hostel I was staying at. An American and a Norwegian. We spent all night drinking on the roof of the hostel and just bullshitting as men will do. Pretty decent time.

Thursday, July 29th: Woke up early and headed to Bulguksa, another one of the most important temples in Korea, known for its pagodas and the Seokuram Grotto, which houses a rather large carving of Buddha. Spent all afternoon at the temple, grotto, and hiked a mountain in the area. Met the American again back on the way back to the hostel. He lives and teaches in Busan, and wanted to head home, so I decided to leave with him, as he could show me around Busan.

Got into Busan around 5:30 PM, hopped on the subway and made my way to another hostel. Got settled, then met up with the American again at 9 PM. Had dinner, then went to some bars. At the second bar, I met this Korean guy who was the lead singer for a local punk rock band. He told me his name, but then said his nickname was Molla — Korean for “I don’t know”. Ended up staying out all night with the American, Korean punk singer, and his brother, drinking. The Korean guys were quite amazed and pleased that I was into Bob Dylan. Molla also mentioned that my fingernail biting was “cute” because it’s something only young people do in Korea.

I time traveled a bit, and found myself in a taxi with a Korean friend of the American. We went to some area for him, then he told the taxi driver to take me back to the area my hostel was in. I got out and was pretty much lost. I got in several more cabs and told them where I wanted to go, and they kept telling me yeogi — “here!”, but I didn’t recognize anything. Eventually, I got into another and told him a specific hotel near my hostel, and he figured it out. Made it home all right.

Friday, July 30th: Slept in a little, then went to Haeundae Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Korea. It was really nice. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any clothes with me to change into, so I couldn’t go swimming, though I really wanted to. I’ve discovered how much I like the ocean since I’ve come to Korea. I walked along the beach and a little in the water, which was freezing cold. Ended up accidentally finding the Busan Aquarium, which is something I had planned to go to anyway, and went into, spending all the afternoon there pretty much.

Went back to my hostel’s area, stayed in a DnD for awhile to use the Internet, then had dinner and caught a movie at Busan’s Lotte Cinema 11. Apparently, it’s a pretty famous movie theater. They had a whole wall covered in photos of celebrities that had come to the theater for movie openings. I recognized a lot of them, too, and they were A-list stars. I saw Inception, which was an amazing movie. Really original. That’s not something you  can say for most movies nowadays. Went back to the hostel and went to sleep after watching the first episode of the second season of Jersey Shore. Don’t judge.

Saturday, July 31st: Woke up and pretty much immediately checked out and headed to Busan Station to get on the first available KTX home. Got to Cheonan just a couple minutes after 1 PM. I spent all day doing laundry and cleaning my apartment. Just enjoyed relaxing at home for awhile. Went to the Banana Bar last night. Played a lot of pool, and probably the best night of pool I’d had yet. I lost a couple games, but I won much more and played well anyway. I was pretty happy about it.

Unfortunately, I left my bank card there. Luckily, the bartender is a friend of mine who goes to the language group, so I’ll get it back later tonight. Still, when you go to pay for something and your card isn’t there, it’s not the most awesome feeling. Luckily I had enough cash on me. Also, being friends with a bartender is pretty cool. At the end of the night, they only charged me 20,000 won, but I know for a fact that I ordered a lot more than that. I didn’t argue. The only thing that sucked was it was Shin’s last night. He’s the owner of the bar, and a pretty decent guy. I’ve seen the new owner there a lot, Mr. Oh, but I haven’t talked to him much. Hopefully, he’s as cool as Shin.

Anyway, today I’ll just read, study some Korean vocabulary, then go to the language group. I have no idea what I’ll do for the rest of my vacation. Work doesn’t start until Wednesday. I feel like Monday and Tuesday will be really boring.

Konglish in the next post, as this is long enough anyway.


An Update from Busan

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 30, 2010 by kingcal

Well, I haven’t been able to write because none of the places I’ve stayed had reliable Internet, and I didn’t want to spend any more of my vacation in a PC Bang than necessary for looking up information.

I’m in Busan, the second largest city in South Korea, located directly on the SE coast of Korea. This is actually the last night of my vacation. I’m cutting it a bit short. Nothing bad has happened. Quite the contrary, I’ve had an amazing time. I’ve hiked several mountains, seen some of the most beautiful and culturally significant temples and historic places in Korea, and I’ve met a lot of great people on the road. Still, I’m completely exhausted.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been this tired before. Usually I have trouble sleeping during the day, but on every bus or train ride I’ve taken, I’ve fallen asleep, and even had to take a couple naps during the afternoon. I’m definitely ready to come home. The only place I will miss is Yeosu. It’s not a big city, just a really pretty pretty coastal area. I’ve seen more than enough beaches for awhile.

I’ll give a whole account, or as close as I can come to one, once I get home. Right now, I’m just wasting time in a DnD as I upload the last of my pictures to Facebook. I’ve got 300 some pictures. I don’t think I’ll be posting them all on my blog, but in the event you read this and aren’t a personal friend, I’ll post the links to the albums when they’re done, and post some highlights or pictures that I feel like expanding upon.

Tomorrow I’ll be getting up early, checking out of my hostel, and catch a KTX back to Cheonan. As great as this vacation was, I’m really excited to go home and just relax for a couple days before work starts up again.

Positively 4th Street

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 23, 2010 by kingcal

Well, the weekend is finally here! I’m free. It feels awesome. For the past two weeks, all I could think about was this trip. I think I was beginning to get kind of cross with some kids because I just wanted to get through the week. This week has been pretty weird. We had a new schedule made, which I learned is only for August. The only reason it’s possible to have 9 AM and 11 AM classes is because school is out. Once it starts back up, I imagine we’ll be back to the normal 1-6 PM teaching schedule, and I’ll get to see Orange class again, which will be great.

Still, this schedule has it’s awesome parts. Mondays and Wednesdays, my last class ends at noon. I’m supposed to just work on the normal billet of tests, workbooks, and textbooks, but Mr. Lee said I could do it at home. I doubt I’ll go home though. I’ll probably just sit in a teacher’s office somewhere and work there. It’d be pretty impossible to work from home, so I’ll just stay an extra hour or two, then head home whenever the hell I feel like I’ve done enough work for the day. Also, teaching the Treasures classes is always fun, and one of the classes is only three girls, so it’s super laid back.

Today, all my classes did was finish any work in their book they hadn’t already done. According to the schedule I was given, they’re ending this unit about a week short. I guess they don’t want to send the kids on vacation for a week and then have one more week of the same unit. I understand, but I wish someone had told me this shit. All day I just checked kids books to make sure they’d written the right things and had them finish up the things that hadn’t completed.

There was only one thing of note. To truly appreciate the story, I’ll give two of my students a bit of an introduction. They’re both in Red class, which is all either 2nd or 3rd graders. Not great English, but worlds beyond the first graders in the previous hour. One girl, Angela, a 2nd grader, struggles in class a lot. Probably the largest problem is that she’s got less than zero confidence in herself. I think she’s realized that she’s been labeled as a remedial student by teachers and other students and it affects her self-esteem. She’s a really sweet girl, though, and she really likes me.

Earlier this week I made Angela cry because I punished her for refusing to take part in a class activity. I knew it was just because she was self-conscious about her reading ability, but I couldn’t really let her get away with just refusing something I told her to do. The thing is, if you really, really press her and take the time with her, she can figure out everything just as well as the other children. The unfortunate reality is that I just can’t waste ten minutes every time I want her to read something or answer a question.

Sally, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. She’s a 3rd grader, and I’m fairly confident she should be moved up at least one more level. She’s competitive about points, but otherwise she can be a bit impetuous. She finishes he work quickly, then sits around doodling in her book or something. She can get a bit of an attitude on her, as well. Sally’s a bit hard to read. She doesn’t seem crazy about me. She’s one of the students who on a regular basis will just shake their head at me when I see them and wave.

So, as class, started, I graded Angela and Sally’s books first, then gave them back. Angela had three or four pages to finish. They were things we’d all done in class, but lots of students simply neglect to write down answers even if I spend ten minutes asking an answer for each question. I asked Sally to help Angela finish, since she was the only one who’d completed her work, while I graded the rest of the books.

For the rest of the hour, Sally spent all her time with Angela, using a mix of Korean and English to help her finish her book. I saw her using her book, and I told her not to cheat. It really irks me when I see kids just blatantly copying out of another student’s book. She said okay, and would leave her book face down, look at each answer, and then take as long as it needed to explain it to Angela without just telling her the answer.

It was really kind of heart-warming. It’s certainly a side of Sally I hadn’t seen before. She was acting a lot like a big sister. I was really proud of her. I was also really proud of Angela. It was obvious that she had absorbed a lot more material than you might assume based on her class efforts. To help Angela remember the word “sap”, Sally fed her the clue “tree water”, which is the same way I’d explained it in class a week or two ago, when I was quizzing kids about the vocab words in English. Angela got it right away, so it’s obvious that she is learning. She just can’t help but second guess herself.

Anyway, tonight I’m probably heading to the Banana Bar. Joel’s birthday was this week, so people are meeting there to celebrate. They may go to a club later. I don’t know if I want to go or not. I’m not a huge club person. We were planning on going to a new club that just opened nearby, but we heard it was “Korean only”. I’ve heard that some night clubs have adopted a no foreigner policy because of problems with foreigners, particularly army, coming in and acting the fool, to use the parlance of our times. I can understand that, but still, being told I can’t go somewhere because of my race is a really weird feeling.

Tomorrow I take off for my vacation. First up is Seoraksan,  Mt. Seorak. I’ll have to bus to Seoul and then to Sokcho, a tiny little town that has no train service, and the bus only goes to large cities. I’ll probably spend at least two days there. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow. Earlier today it absolutely poured for several hours. I’ll try to post at least small updates from the road.

Konglish of the Day:

Level 2:

History: There’s none people who do not fart. (Common Sense)*
History: Delicious chocolate~ It has been made in this way. (History of Chocolate)
History: The different ways of election of Korea and the U.S (The U.S. history,)
History: Which country has a king? (World History)
History: The origin of bank. (Common Sense)

*One of my favorites. Sure, it’s common sense, but what does it have to do with history?

Dance, Dance, Dance ’til We Run this Town

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 21, 2010 by kingcal

The super upbeat title brought to you by sonnyeong sidae, otherwise known as Girls’ Generation. Only in Korea would it seem anywhere close enough to plausible to take control of executive power simply by dancing. Almost as bad as England’s basis for executive power based on watery bints lobbing scimitars.

Today was pretty hectic.  Rolled into work just after 8:30 AM, and they were like “Okay, here’s the book for the phonics class. GO.” Sometimes the last minute shit is really aggravating. Especially when they’ll simultaneously give you shit for not lesson planning. Kind of hard to lesson plan when you’re springing last minute shit on my constantly.

The Phonics class wasn’t too bad, even though I feel at least two of the students don’t need to be there, and there are handful of students that I know should be there. Still, enough of the kids dropped down into the phonics classes to put the remainders of the previous four first grade classes into two large classes. I’m not thrilled about that. Trying to control 23 first graders is pretty goddamn hard.

After that was my hour long break, which was pretty much just me sitting down and trying to relax after phonics. At 11 AM my “Treasures” class started, which was pretty much Brown class minus some kids that were in an advanced grammar class earlier in the morning. None of the kids from the Treasures class showed up, and none of the Brownies had the book yet, so we just worked on the book we’ve been working on. I was really looking forward to a new book, too.

Ordered delivery Chinese, which came pretty much as my first class was starting, so I had to bolt it down super fast. Then it took like 20 minutes sorting out which kids should be where. Since some of the kids didn’t have the necessary books, Diane just said to play games, so I did. Red and Blue have also been combined into one class. Also not sure how I feel about that. Both classes alone are manageable enough, but putting them together creates a lot of constructive interference, if you follow my physics.

Green and Yellow remain separate, because they’re both big classes, but they’re both pretty chill, too. Yellow has a lot of my favorite students. Mostly sweet girls.  We did a little book work, a fill in the blank exercise, and then for the last ten minutes of class we watched funny cat videos on YouTube.

Orange and Navy are combined into one class, and David and Diane alternate teaching days for that class. Kind of sucks, since Orange was probably my favorite class by far, and now I’ll only see the kids around school and not in class anymore. Both David and Ariana are in that class. Sad face.

After work, I tried to get my bike fixed because the left pedal fell off, but the guy wasn’t there. Guess I’ll go back tomorrow. In the mean time, I need to ride the bus to Yawoori to meet a friend and borrow a backpack from him for my trip around Korea. I should probably be leaving soon. After dinner, I came to the DnD, and Julia was here. We sat and talked for maybe half an hour or a little more. She’s a really funny kid. I pissed her off a little, though. I asked when she was born, and she said 2000. I was like “Oh my god, you’re so young! You’re only ten!” This really offended her. She kept insisting she was eleven, and I kept arguing she was ten, so she got a little pissed off. I explained how age works differently for us, and she got over it pretty quick. She also got a little pretend mad when I said she looked like her brother in high school, and she insisted he was evil and she was good. Mostly though, we just talked about summer vacation stuff.

I realized I haven’t posted Konglish in a couple posts, so triple dose today:

Level 2:

Society: Three cups of water will make you strong. (Health)
Society: I helped them to be killed without pain!!! (Current Issue)
Society: Stress. Good-Bye! (Health)
Society: I can’t live without eating meat. (Health)
Society: Physical handicap, it doesn’t matter to me. (People)
Society: You wanna cry out? Then, you have to cry your fill. (Health)
Society: Memorizing. I don’t have any problem with that. (People)
Society: Do you like World cup? (Current Issue)
Society: Brand, Brand, is that really important? (Current Issue)
Society: The importance of Marriage (Current Issue)

History: Chinese are so superstitious (World History)
History: When did foreign workers come to Korea? (Society)
History: Missionaries who came to and died in Korea (History of Christianity)
History: The origin of coffee (Common Sense)
History: Air conditioner, where is it from? (Common Sense)

Last of all, this video appeared on my Facebook feed from another foreign teacher friend here. I love it. You probably won’t appreciate it as much, but everything in the video is 100% true.

Boryeong Mud Festival

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on July 20, 2010 by kingcal

Well, I’ve already uploaded my pictures to Facebook. Chances are if you’re reading this, then we’re probably Facebook friends anyway. If not, I’ll still be posting some pics and elaborating on them, but certainly not all 72 pics.

A pic of Wonjae on the train ride to Boryeong. It was absolutely pouring when we left, and it continued right up until we got to the festival. Fortunately, right after we got there, it stopped completely. Saturday was still pretty overcast, but it was still packed. I guess when you’re just going to get muddy you don’t mind too much about the weather.

This was our hotel room. It was actually underground, but had a balcony that looked right out onto the ocean. Two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a large open living room/kitchen.

The only other room underground at the hotel was a noraebang, which we ended up using later Saturday night.

Our hotel, the White Beach.

Walking up to the Mud Festival.

The best (only) mud sculpture I’ve ever seen. We went back an hour later and it was completely destroyed following a mud fight I had no small part in initiating.

Left to right, Taelan, Lin, myself, Andrew, and Joel.

Lead singer of a band that was playing “Twist and Shout”. They let people up onto the stage and they were going nuts. Love that song.

A random electronic piano next to our lunch table. After these guys were done, some two year old foreign girl got on there and started banging away. At first it was adorable as hell, but after a couple minutes it got old. She was really cute, but even her mom got sick out of it and eventually pulled the plug on the piano.

Grilling up some dinner.

The prettiest of the dozen ocean pictures I took. I’ll spare you the rest.

On Sunday the weather was much better, so the beach was absolutely packed.

Sunday I have almost no pictures. At first, I thought I’d just chill on the beach and not get dirty, but that didn’t last long. I packed all my stuff in a locker, including my camera, and spent all day in the ocean or on the beach playing in the sand. Then, once I got my camera at the end of the day, it promptly died, so not many pictures at all from Sunday.

Saturday we only stayed on the beach until around 6 PM. We went back to the hotel and made dinner, drank a bit, the hit up the noraebang. I don’t really sing in public, so it got old after awhile, and I just went and chilled on the balcony and drank while I stared at the ocean. Sounds kind of lame, but I sat there and contemplated. There were fireworks I could barely see from the beach. I love fireworks, but fireworks from far away depress me. It’s like standing outside a window and watching the birthday party you weren’t invited to or something. Ended up passing out on the porch swing, only to be awakened an unknown period of time later to come sleep inside.

Woke up around 9 AM, had a breakfast of Ramen we ate from small disposable paper cups, then checked out of the motel around noon. Our return tickets weren’t until 6 PM, so we went back to the beach and spent all day on the beach. We buried each other in the sand and spent a lot of time in the ocean. We rented an inner tube, which was so much fun. We took turns riding in it and getting flipped off or riding a wave all the way up to shore.

I definitely paid the price though. I’m real sunburned. And you can even see a zigzag burn on my arm from where my keyband for my locker was. Looks retarded as hell. All the kids are calling me tomato or apple teacher. Apparently, South Koreans just don’t burn. They have no idea what it is. Even when I put “sunburn” into Google Translate a lot of them seemed baffled.

I found out something good and something bad today. I don’t have to participate in any summer camp, like I thought. I think this means that I don’t have to work Saturday, so I can leave a day earlier than I believed. Bad news is, I now I have to start coming into work at 8:30 AM. They’re radically restructured the class schedules. I’ll be teaching a remedial phonics class from 9 AM to 10 AM with Diane, so we’ll both be in the class room. From 10 AM – 11 AM I get an hour long “break”, in which I’ll probably have to continue working on the normal work I do in the morning. From 11 AM until noon, I’ll teach one of the advanced Treasures classes, which will include students from Brown class. Brown has been eliminated entirely, and all of the students have been placed into the advanced class.

At noon, I get my hour long lunch break, then I teach from 1-5 PM like normal. It means now I get out at 5 PM everyday, rather than 5 PM two days a week and 6:10 PM three days a week, which is a decent trade off. It just sucks I have to get up half an hour earlier, and my mornings are going to seem to be a lot less productive, at least outside of class work wise, because I won’t have four hours to work, but just two. Still, I think overall it’ll be good. Particularly, the remedial phonics class and putting my best students into the advanced class.

Even in my nightmare class, it’s obvious that pretty much all the girls are grasping the material at a normal rate and comprehending, while at least half of the boys are simply stagnating, because they don’t have the basic knowledge of the alphabet, so expecting them to be able to read full sentences is ridiculous. Also, getting to teach a Treasures class is awesome. I really liked subbing for Amy those two weeks. Even if they just give me all the same students, and put all of the original Treasures students into one class, I still think it’ll be a huge improvement. Hopefully given a more challenging curriculum the kids will settle down.

A Day of Dichotomy

Posted in Uncategorized on July 16, 2010 by kingcal

Well, this morning, I went into work, knowing I had to make report cards for all of my students. I wasn’t really looking forward to it, but at least it would be a good break from writing tests. I was at work for maybe half an hour or so, when I was told that the Principal and Vice Principal would be sitting in on all our classes and observing us teach. This mainly meant that we had to clean the rooms hardcore. I sweep every day, and mop every week or two, but there were still a ton of scuff marks. The problem is that there aren’t any mop buckets to be found, nor soap, nor hot water in the building. Makes mopping effectively pretty much impossible. So Mr. Lee and Diane went and got some cleaning products, and I spent my entire morning scrubbing floors. I was less than pleased.

It wasn’t like I took a solemn oath never to mop a floor again, but I thought I had escaped it after I stopped working at my cafeteria job in college. Mopping is something that I absolutely hate. I can’t stand mopping. It was made even worse by the fact that Diane and Mr. Lee are both so scared of the principal that they really feel the need to go above and beyond. I was more than perturbed with it. I couldn’t believe they really expected us to completely scrub all the classrooms in the few hours before we had to start teaching. It took the better part of an hour and a half just to clean one room. I did the last one by myself in a much more half ass fashion. When they said we had to scrub the hallways outside the classrooms, I got really angry. I  basically told Diane that I’m a teacher, not a janitor, and that if the school wants someone to scrub the scuff marks off in the hallways, then they should hire a janitor. I was getting mad enough to consider saying this directly to the principal if he confronted me about it.

I started teaching, but the big man was nowhere around. I was in a super bad mood from my morning, and the kids definitely picked up on it right away. I taught the class full of trouble makers, and instantly let them know I was not in any mood to be flexed on. The first offender had to do squats.  Not just squatting against the wall, but actually squatting and standing. At first the whole “up, down, up down” routine was funny to him, but after a minute or two, as he got more and more tired, he took it a bit more seriously. Later in the day, I started making a student do it, but it turned into a game of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” much to the delight of the rest of the class. Actually, the whole class was actually pretty well behaved. Still, I don’t like leaving them to their own devices, so I waited for Amy to come and relieve me. I’m honestly not sure if she was ever at work today. She never came, which screwed me over. Expecting to only be teaching each class for 25 minutes, I only prepared as such. So I kind of bullshited another 20 minutes, and since the kids had behaved uncharacteristically well, when they asked to watch a cartoon in the last five minutes of class, I obliged them. Thirty seconds into the cartoon was the exact moment the principal walked in, and I was just inwardly conscious of how fucked I was. I decided I may as well stick to my guns and I would just point out pieces of the video (A classic Wile E. Coyote cartoon) and tell them the English word. Invisible, footprint, cliff, gun, water, fish, etc… so it would seem even minimally educational. Still, I’m sure I’ll hear all about it on Monday.

The rest of the day, I wasn’t really in fear of the principal walking in. I had my lesson plan and I was prepared. I was just conscious of the possibility that he’d come in. Of course, the rest of the day he never showed up again. Most of the day was just reading the story and me checking to see if the kids knew the vocabulary. We’ve been studying it long enough now that I’ve begun asking them the meaning of the words in English. It seems silly, but I think it’s pretty important for a Korean kid to be able to explain an English word in English.  I saw eight of my nine classes, and I didn’t have a serious problem all day. I pulled the whole call and response trick (“‘This museum is really interesting, Dad.'” “I’m not your dad, and this is a school, not a museum!”), which most of the kids seem to enjoy. At least the third and fourth graders. I had a sixth grader tell me: “Teacher, you are no funny.” Luckily, the next line in the story was “Oh, ha ha!” so I responded: “Sue laughed. See? I’m funny.”

I’ve been introducting random bits of American culture to the kids. For instance, recently when I take roll call, I say “here” with a Cartman accent, so it kind of comes out as “hyaw”. Some of the kids don’t like it when I do it, because it sounds like the Korean word for “tongue”. Other kids think it’s funny. Others have started saying it themselves, which makes me giggle like an asshole hearing a Korean kid say “here” like Cartman. Today, I also started demonstrating what a noogie is on some kids. Hehehe. I’ve also been screwing with the kids. Especially my last class. They’re 4th-6th grade. When they walk in, I’ll saying something along the lines of “Hey kid” and they always get worked up and start arguing with me. “I’m not a kid! I’m eleven!” Hehe. I’m 22 and I still feel like a kid. Also, I started playing the name game with them, which they really don’t enjoy. At least, they don’t like it when it’s directed at them, but it’s amusing as hell when it’s other people. My last class turned into Dianer, Liser, Deener, Jelly Belly Kelly, Danny Wanny, Nick-y, Scary Harry, and Butch-y Wutch-y. I also alternatively call them by their first initial and dawg. “Yo, D-dawg, read.”

I don’t know if I’m the worst teacher ever or the best.

No Konglish today because I’m at a PC Bang, so I don’t have the file handy. Double dose next time. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some Boryeong Mud Festival pics up Sunday night. I take off at 8:40 AM tomorrow morning, and I’ll be getting back at roughly 5:30 PM Sunday.

Weekend So Close…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 15, 2010 by kingcal

Well, Thursday is down the drain, I’m a mere 24 hours away from my glorious, glorious weekend. I’m wasting a little time in DnD before I go to the Banana Bar to practice before the pool night. I should be meeting Joel, as well as Yuna and Simpson (he loves Bart Simpson), two of the Koreans I met at the Banana Bar last weekend. I’m actually pretty pumped for pool night. The first time or two I went, I felt a little weird being around so many foreigners, particularly in Cheonan, but it’s a great environment.

Today at work was pretty routine. I made June in my second class cry. Someone drew a hand giving the middle finger (it looked pretty much like a T block from Tetris), and I was joking around with June asking him if he’d drawn it. He was cool with that, but then he told me “This is ‘Puck You!'” He said it with a kind of proud tone, like he was really telling me some useful information I may not have previously been privy to. I’m not quite sure if he was intentionally mispronouncing it or just regular mispronouncing it, but I still couldn’t let it fly. I made him stand with his hands up for like three minutes before class, and when I let him sit he was crying. I felt bad, since he’s one of my favorites, but some things I can’t let kids get away with.

He got over it quickly. The rest of the day was smooth as hell. All the book work we did was a word search. I made it into a race. First kid done, three points, second two points, etc… It makes for a really great way to kill at least like 20 minutes and have a dead quiet classroom. The rest of class, I just played the Millionaire game. The kids in general seem pretty into it. There’s always one or two kids that just don’t want to do anything in class, but even most of them get engaged after a couple minutes.

Yesterday was pretty much the same. Again, the day was all smooth, except my last class. Before class, the kids were messing around, but nothing unusual. Then I noticed Jennifer seemed quieter and more isolated than usual. She’s usually very outgoing and loud, but she was sitting by herself and looked really sad. I tried asking her what was wrong, but she wouldn’t talk. Alice tried telling me what was wrong, but I still couldn’t work anything out. While we played the Millionaire game, Alice just kept comforting Jennifer who was at points straight up balling in the back of class. Eventually, Jennifer calmed down and participated in the game a little towards the end.

That’s just the thing that you run into in Korea once in awhile. There are going to be days that a kid will be just super upset about something , and they won’t be able to say why. Not even do they not want to tell you, they simply don’t have the language to say what’s wrong. I really wanted to help, but I realized I couldn’t, so I let Alice do whatever she did to help calm Jennifer down.

I’m simply more excited for the Boryeong Mud Festival than you could imagine. It’s going to be a great time. I leave 8 AM Saturday morning, and the return train leaves Boryeong at 4 PM Sunday afternoon. The only thing I have to make sure to do is protect my camera.

The only new thing going on, is that I’ve officially become a “power blogger” for I don’t really get paid, and I won’t be posting any content there that wouldn’t be posted here, but it’s still pretty cool. A couple days ago, my views spiked up to 300, though they’ve recently sunk back down to much more normal levels, I imagine it has something to do with it. I will be able to receive gift cards though, which can be used at various offline stores, including the book store in Yawoori. I’d gladly work for books, especially with the price of English books here, considering I’ll be buying them regardless, so it’s money saved on my part.

Daily Konglish:

Level 1:

Culture: Dressing express me (Teenager Culture)
Culture: What’s Hip-hop? (Teenager Culture)
Culture: I wish Dong-bang-sin-gi could be my best boyfriend  (Teenager Culture)
Culture: I like soap drama so much but my mom doesn’t want me to watch TV. What should I do? (Teenager Counseling)
Culture: I wanna be popular in my school. (Teenager Counseling)

Dongbangsin-gi is a Korean boy band here. I guess, whoever it is wants to date an entire five member group. Korea is more liberal than you’d think, in some ways.