Archive for April, 2011

More Pics

Posted in Uncategorized on April 26, 2011 by kingcal

This post is mostly just to post some extra pictures I got from work. There were almost 400 total, but it wasn’t my co-teacher’s camera, so most of the pictures were of another class. Still, there were some good ones on there. Keepers for sure.

Last night I had a dream about my old favorite student. I’d thought about my old students before, but dreaming about one felt a little weird. It was a really happy dream. I don’t remember a lot, but I remember I was back in America going up an escalator and saw her going down the other side, so I said her name and she came running up and hugged me. I think we were in a toy store, so we just walked around for awhile. Then we left and went and did other shit. don’t really know what.

I remember thinking something like “Hold on, did I just kidnap this kid? Where the hell are her parents?” The dream felt like it lasted several days, hence the weirdness. I swear, I didn’t dream-nap this kid. She came with me on her own free choice.

Anyway, yeah, it was a pretty happy dream. I miss spending time with her, and that’s all the dream really was. Just hanging out with my favorite kid. Then I woke up and was kind of depressed by it. I mean, I still live in the same city. It’s not impossible that I’ll never run into her again. But yeah, I wouldn’t count on it either. It was kind of a downer.

I’ve thought a lot about her in the context of how I feel about my new students now. I mean, I have a lot of students that I really like now. Plus, especially with my kindergartners, I have a lot more opportunity for fun and doing really awesome bonding experience shit, like the bear park. And my older advanced students are so advanced that one of them is just a shade away from sounding exactly like an American kid.

Still despite that, Arianna was my first favorite student. It’s almost like your first girlfriend in a totally non-pedo way. It’s just that it’s an important milestone for a person. You’re never going to forget that first one, and it’s always going to mean a lot to you. Even though you might move on to better things, that first one is always gonna be number one in your mind. I would feel like I was betraying her if I said that another newer student was my favorite over her. Goddamn. Maybe that is weird.

Nothing really awesome happened today in class. Just a pretty normal day.


Bear Tree Park

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25, 2011 by kingcal

I have to say, today was probably one of the all out best days “teaching” — by which I mean time spent with a class — that I’ve had in Korea. We got to work at 10 AM and immediately left for the park. About 40 minutes later, we arrived and unloaded, then walked to some picnic tables. The first thing the kids did was get some nalgene bottles and some fish. It was such a small thing, but a cool little bottle with some fish and plastic plants and fake rocks in it is such a cool thing for a kid. They really liked it.

After that, we had lunch. The cool thing about lunch is that the parents will make the lunches for the teachers, and they’re eager to impress, so they make bomb ass food and they stuff more of it in a lunch box than a person can eat. We ended up just opening everything and spreading it out on the table to enjoy all together. I ate until I was stuffed. It was amazing.

After lunch, we walked around the botanical gardens a bit, which were nice, and we finally found the animals’ area. Someone had told me not to expect much, and Korea for certain doesn’t have nearly the same level of respect for animal life that America does, but it wasn’t that bad. They way they described it made it sound like Auschwitz for bears. Left a little to be desired, but whatevs.

After the bears came the best part for sure. Right next to the bear’s little depressing concrete swimming pool-esque encloser was a huge open field maybe a bit bigger than a football field. My class was the first out there and we just ran amok, then all the other classes followed and pretty soon like 40 kids were just wilin’ out and it was so much fun. I didn’t get any pictures because I was too busy chasing kids and picking them up and rough housing with them. It was awesome.

I was talking with someone today, and this is literally the best part of my job. Even though I know given the opportunity I’d move up and teach at the university level, I recognize that there’s no way I’d have a day more fun than today with university students. The ceiling on the potential for fun with college classes is much lower than it is with kids.

Maybe the best thing about kids is that they can take nothing and make fun out of it. Like, literally, it was nothing but an open field. No playground equipment. Nothing particularly interesting. Hell, most of the grass was still dead. But they saw an open space and were just like “Fuck. Yes.” and it was so fun. It’s hard not getting caught up in that kind of energy. While kids can sometimes be draining and have so much more need for an investment of your time in them, it’s also the most rewarding. I know I’d take a university job just for the freedom, the fewer working hours, the less constant stress, and the vacation time, but I have a hard time not believing that I wouldn’t miss kindergarten at least a little bit.

Anyway, after the field, we slowly trickled our way out. Classes managed to stay together, but all the separate classes got separated, so we just walked around a bit trying to find other people. Ended up meeting up down the path a bit and got back on the buses.

I was tired, but my afternoon classes weren’t as tough as I thought they were going to be. I’m absolutely bushed now though. I didn’t really sleep well last night. Took awhile to fall asleep and then I kept waking up. I don’t think I’ll have that problem tonight. During the time we were going crazy some of the Korean teachers kept their shit together and took a bunch of pictures to give to the parents at the end of the year, so tomorrow I’m going to try and look through them over lunch and see if there are any with me and my students worth posting.

From my Facebook albums (had to start a new one):

Just Another Weekend

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 by kingcal

Well, another week down the drain. It being Easter and all, Friday we made Easter eggs and had an Easter egg hunt. Unfortunately, it was raining like a bitch, so we had to do the egg hunt inside, and they only made enough eggs for each kid to find one. It was pretty janky. I did manage to sneak one extra egg and put star stickers all over it, so the kid that found it would get a free piece of candy. I put it in the pencil sharpener’s shavings case. It took them forever to find it. Also, I taped one to the bottom of a chair. They didn’t find it until one of them hit the chair and it fell down because I taped it half-assed.

Of course, Tuesday we had the cooking class. Making the donuts was pretty cool, but I didn’t have much opportunity to take pictures. We did it in the library with Tomato class and I was delegated the job of handing out flour to the kids, so I got a bit messy myself. Still, it was pretty cool. I would’ve loved to make donuts when I was a kid. Shit would’ve been boss.

Anyway, Friday I was tired and needed a rest, so I took a nap after work, then decided to just stay in and take it easy for a night. First time in around a year that I hadn’t gone out and drank. Just watched a movie and stayed in. Nothing much to speak of.

Saturday was a different story. Maybe one of the better Saturday’s I’ve had in Cheonan. Went to several different places, drank but not that much, mostly just had lots of good conversations all night long. Finally decided to call it a night around 6:30 AM. Walked out of the last bar and it was straight up light outside. Ugh. Woke up around 3:30 PM. I should be going to sleep soon. Not sure if I’ll be able to fall asleep, but I guess I have to try. I am a little tired.

Tomorrow I’ve got a big day. Because rain is forecast for Tuesday, they moved the field trip up a day. I heard from someone that recently went to the same place that it was a bit depressing because the conditions the bears live in is significantly lower than the standard we expect for animal care in America, but anyway, I’m going to enjoy the day off essentially. I still have to teach my afternoon classes, but I have good expectations for this trip. I think the kids are really going to like it.

I learned this weekend how much I really like talking about my students. I almost feel like I’m bragging about them sometimes. Actually, I kind of am bragging about them. Especially now that I can whip out my phone and show off all my pictures. Sometimes I worry that I’m becoming tiresome. Especially with all my Facebook status updates about shit in my classes. Actually, there are a lot of people I’ve hidden on Facebook because all their posts and pictures and shit are about their baby and I’m just like “Oh god, I don’t care.” I’m becoming what I’ve always hated.

Recent pics on Facebook:

Are We Not Having Fun?

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2011 by kingcal

Well, I had a pretty… productive weekend. I kind of had a bad week and my only goal for the weekend was to get really, really drunk. Mission accomplished. Friday was spent in Cheonan. I met up with a couple Korean kids (they’re only 18) and had dinner, then went to the Odeng Bar downtown and started drinking soju. Bad news bears. Went to Dolce later and apparently napped for several hours.

Saturday I headed up to Seoul to see the Wagwak show. They were awesome as usual. The rest of the night was blurry. Most of it was spent outside, drinking with random Koreans in the park. I guess we also went to a noraebang, but once again, I napped. Soju really takes the fire out of me. I gotta stop drinking that shit. Anyway, we checked into the jjimjilbang sometime around sunrise. I definitely remember that it was getting light outside.

I slept maybe three hours in the sleeping room. Woke up around 10:30 AM and was about to leave. They keep the sleeping room uncomfortably warm. I walked maybe ten feet out of the room, but the floor looked so cool and refreshing I just laid down on the floor and slept for another hour. Woke up because some Korean dude was vacuuming literally right next to my head. It didn’t even really wake me up itself, except he was like telling me to move so he could clean. Otherwise I’m pretty sure I would’ve continued to lay there and not give a fuck.

Took the train home and that’s about it for my day. I’m in the process of uploading all the pics from last night. Check it:

A Busy Couple Weeks

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2011 by kingcal

Well, we had a little teacher’s meeting today. Actually it was only the foreign teachers. Doug got all the info from the head teacher and he passed it down to us. We have a lot of events going on in the next three weeks. I didn’t know until today, but tomorrow is our next birthday party, so I’ll be able to take some pics that I missed taking the first time around.

Next week we have our monthly cooking class on Tuesday. We don’t know what we’re cooking yet. I hope it’s something more interesting than hotdogs this time. Anyway, it’s a nice break from teaching something anyway. Then on Friday, during the morning we’re going to give each student a couple eggs to decorate, and then during the afternoon we’re going to go on an egg hunt around the playground. Some of my workers complain about the place, but they do a really god job of providing the kids with lots of entertainment.

In two weeks, we’re going on an all day field trip. The place is called Bear Tree Park. It even has a website you can browse in English. It’s apparently about 40 minutes by bus from Cheonan, so we’re going there at 10 AM and having lunch there, then coming back for our regular classes in the afternoon. It sounds like since I have older students they’re going to give me more freedom to take my kids deeper into the park, presumably without a Korean teacher tagging along, because they’re going to be keeping a close eye on the youngest students. Sounds awesome to me.

Then, in three weeks we have Children’s Day. Children’s Day is a national holiday, so I get it off, but the day before we don’t have to teach either. The Korean guy that comes once a week for Korean gym class is going to be setting up a bunch of outdoor activities, so we’re just going to assist him and play games all morning. In the afternoon, we’re not teaching our hagwon kids either. We’re just going to come up with different activities like face painting, sack/three legged races, bobbing for apples, etc… Sounds like it’s gonna be a great day.

The next week after that, we get a day off for Buddha’s Birthday. At least, I’m really hoping we do. I’ve never heard of anyone working on that day, but some people at work seem reluctant to believe we’ll get the day off. I hope we’ll get a certain yes or no on that soon, but we’ll probably find out the day before…

Anyway, work was all right today. Part of the lecture I got last week was about how my class is going to elementary school next year, so I have to prepare them for behaving properly in an elementary school classroom. I’ve been pretty hard on them all week. Wednesday, I actually sat down and just talked with them about how I don’t necessarily care a whole lot what they do as long as they’re not fighting, but they need to prepare for school because they’re going to be expected to act a certain way, so I want to practice in our class. They actually seemed pretty understanding.

Today, I had one of my favorite classes. I got sick of the one boy in class always being kind of a prick, so I told him, nay, promised him, that I would go out and buy a really girly headband and if he misbehaves in class I’m going to make him wear it. And take pictures. And show all my friends. So today I went to the train station and bought the most obnoxious, big bowed headband I could find. I’m going to bring it in tomorrow and introduce all the boys to the Headband of Shame. I’m giving them three strikes, and after three they wear the headband for 5 minutes. After that, no warnings and it goes to 10 minutes.

I have a little bit harder time punishing the girls. Partially because they’re generally better students, so a lot of their goofing off stems from being done and waiting on the boys to finish. Part of it is because I don’t want them to cry in my class. I think I’ll give them the same strike count and if they lose them all, they’re going to have to do the Chicken Dance five times. Repeat offenders get ten goes.

The only other funny thing is that maybe my favorite student Beth said she wanted to exchange gifts. When I asked her why, she said just because. So in two weeks, we’re going to have a gift exchange just me and her. The only rules are between one and two thousand won. I looked around a little bit tonight while looking for a headband, but I didn’t see anything much. I’ll probably end up spending more than 2,000 won.

Anyway, tonight is Pool and Movie Night. Tomorrow is nothing special. Just a night in Cheonan with whatever trouble I can find. Saturday I’ll be heading to Seoul for a concert. Just not sure which one yet. I have a choice between a friend’s concert at my favorite bar or seeing the same band, Wagwak at another bar in Hongdae, though I may have to pay a cover. Decisions, decisions.

A Wagwak Kind of Weekend

Posted in Uncategorized on April 10, 2011 by kingcal

It’s Sunday, which means I’m bored as shit at home with nothing much to do. Have a movie to watch, but I wanna save it until after the language meeting so I can just watch it before I go to bed.

Thursday I had one of the best classes I’ve ever had, and it was because a spontaneous idea I got during class. In the classroom, there’s a feltboard with random works stuck to it with velcro. Beth took one of the words and used the velcro to stick the word to her hair. I ended up making a game out of it. I was reminded of the card game where people stuck cards to their head and had to bet on if people had a higher or lower number than them.

I called it Blind Poker. Each student would have a word stuck to their head and the other students would take turn giving them clues without using the word or any Korean. If a student guessed the word, they got a point, and the person who gave them the clue which helped them guess correctly got a point as well. It went really well and we had a lot of fun. We ended up doing that the entire second 40 minute class instead of book work like I had planned.

Friday wasn’t bad. But I kind of got a lecture about making sure to use all my time with the kindergarten kids. Since it was Friday, I had been going outside in the last 20 minutes, but it had rained on Thursday so I didn’t wanting the kids getting muddy, so I just let them play around in the classroom. Like five minutes before the end of the day, one of the Korean teachers came and told me I had to do work with them. After they went home she talked to me again about it and kind of lectured me about preparing them for school by not letting them sit on my lap and shit like that. I had already been doing that, but still, it seems a little trivial to have to tell me that.

Anyway, got through my first grade class well enough. Nothing real special about it. I finished their book a week and a half ago, but it still hasn’t come in. So I do prepare a fair amount of work for them by just copying shit from books, but I do kind of just fuck around with them a fair amount. I taught them the hand slapping game and thumb wrestling. They taught me a game called Chopsticks you play with your fingers.

In my advanced class, we had a snack party because they did well on a test they had last Friday. I told them they could all bring snacks and drinks and what not to share. I surprised them with some nice Hershey’s ice cream cones that were like 2,000 won a piece. When I said how much they were, they started counting and were like “Oh, teacher, that’s expensive! That’s 14,000 won!” I was just like “Pff, I’m rich. I don’t care.”

Anyway, I got another lecture about not letting the Korean teachers know I was planning on having a party and that it went a little too long. They kind of bugged me to wrap it up quickly. So I just pulled their books out and opened them and told them to keep eating, so at least from the camera’s view it would look like we had our books out and were studying and eating at the same time.

Friday night there was a concert at Banana Bar. The first guy was just a singer/guitar player that was okay. I started talking to him after the show and found out he had lived in Columbus for seven years before he came to Korea. Always nice meeting a hometown boy. The second band kinda sucked. The headliners were two Korean guys. Kind of a Korean White Stripes outfit. Their name is Wagwak. Very cool alt, indie, anti-folk, dance rock. I talked to them a bit after the show as well. Very funny guys. Their catch-phrase is “We’re not gay. We’re just Korean.”

Anyway, Saturday was a much quieter night. Wasn’t really in the mood for any foreign establishments. Most people were busy doing their own thing. Ended up going to the Odeng Bar with two guys, but no wacky hijinx ensued. Just sat and drank for awhile. Called it an early night around 1 AM. Came home and stayed up until 4 AM just wasting time on the Internet. It was nice sleeping in a bed proper after the last two weekends of not sleeping on Saturday night. Didn’t get to sleep in as long as I would’ve liked, but oh well.

Check out some videos of Wagwak:

Check out some recent pics:

Just Another Daejeon Adventure

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2011 by kingcal

Well, last was pretty eventful. Oscar’s birthday was last week, and he had to go to Daejeon for an eye appointment anyway, so we decided to make it a small unofficial night out for his birthday. Unfortunately, all of the people we know in Daejeon were otherwise disposed, so it ended up just being a gruesome twosome kind of night. We kind of made a whole day of it because we got there around 2:30 PM. Went to his eye doctor real quick. Tried getting our haircut. I got mine, but the place was busy and I don’t think they understood both of us wanted our haircut, so by the time mine was finished Oscar was sick of waiting and we just left.

I lost my awesome hat on the train. We tried looking for it again in the same place I bought it a couple months ago. No such luck. Harsh. I was never a hat person before, but it kind of became my trademark. It’s starting to get warmer for good finally, but still. Especially when I ride my bike it can get a little chilly. Plus it kept the wind from messing up my hair. I guess now that I cut it that doesn’t matter much, but still. It was a good hat.

Anyway, we just went to a Wa Bar and had a couple beers. Bullshitted. Texted Koreans trying to get them to come out and have fun. No such luck. We had dinner and then hit up the odeng bar that he used to go to a lot when he lived in Daejeon. Actually, it was a new location, much nicer, but the same owner. The owner loves Oscar. Literally three seconds after we sit down, we’re making friends with a group of random Koreans. We drank with two girls and one of their boyfriends for like an hour. When they left, we just turned the other way and started drinking with a group of four college girls.

The only number I got was from the boyfriend of the girl in the first group. The point of going to the odeng bar isn’t necessarily to pick up girls, but mainly just to go do something spontaneous and meet new people, even if you never see them again. We actually tried to get the first group of Koreans to go to a singing room with us, but they were calling it a night or something. I don’t know.

As far as I’m aware, we were only at the odeng bar for like two hours. Still, we drank quite a bit, and the owner didn’t even really count or keep track of how much we drank, so we ended up paying like $9 each for several hours of drinking. Gotta love it. It pays to get in good with the establishment in Korea. They give mad discounts if you’re cool with the owner.

After that, we went to the big party area of Daejeon and went to a pretty popular bar. It’s strange. I’m beginning to dislike foreign bars. I’m starting to prefer Korean style bars. We left after awhile to go find a place to sleep. We finally get to a jjimjilbang and when we tried to go in they wouldn’t let us because we were drunk. It was total bullshit. I go to these places blackout drunk and have never had a problem. We weren’t even that drunk at that point. They were just being pricks because we were foreigners.

We were pretty upset about that. Went to a 24 hour McDonalds to eat and gameplan. Ended up deciding to just go to the train station because it was almost 5 AM and trains would be running soon. After we bought the tickets, we kind of passed out on these benches while we waited since the train wasn’t until like 6 AM. Next thing I know, some old Korean janitor is just straight up yelling at me. I looked around and Oscar was gone. I forgot the exact time of the train, but I thought it would be coming really soon, so I just got on the first train that pulled into the station. Ended up going the wrong way and had to ride 40 minutes to Daegu, completely the opposite way of Cheonan. I was so unhappy.

Fortunately, once I got to Daegu, I only had to wait 20 minutes for the next train to Cheonan. Spent another hour on the train drifting in and out of consciousness. I think if I had fully slept and missed the stop at Cheonan I may have just given up and taken it to Seoul, caught the first bus to the airport and just gone home. There was no way I would buy a third train ticket home. I got home around 9 AM. Slept maybe three hours, but around noon I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. I’m pretty goddamn tired. Second week in a row that I haven’t slept on Saturday night. Not properly at least.

I can’t say that I didn’t have fun or that I regret going to Daejeon. I think next Saturday I may take it easy and stay in town. Actually, I already promised to stay in town next Saturday anyway. During the day some people from the language group are going to some cultural, historic village in Asan. Afterward, one of my Korean friends knows a guy who owns a night club, so we’re going to get a VIP room for free instead of paying like several hundred thousand won.