Archive for May, 2011

A Beach Weekend

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29, 2011 by kingcal

Well, I haven’t written in awhile. Mainly because of going to the gym. I go 3-4 days a week and the total time it takes driving there, working out, and coming back is about 2 hours. After working out, I’m too tired to do more than just lay around watching a movie or maybe get on Reddit. The days I don’t go, I feel an obligation to go out and see people now that my free time is a bit more sparse during the week. I’ve only been doing it about 2.5 weeks now, but I think I’m already seeing results. I can actually see bones in my chest. It’s been a pretty long time since I could say that.

Last weekend I spent in Songtan with the Hashers. It was a good time. Kind of bittersweet. It was a joint house-warming and farewell party weekend. I didn’t know the guy well obviously, but he seemed nice in the small bit I did talk to him. Seems like a lot of people will miss him. The next day, I go to go onto the Air Force base in Songtan, which was surreal. We got checked in and took a taxi past schools and department stores. Everything was three shades of baby shit brown, but other than that, it looked exactly like America. Even the landscaping. We got legit American breakfast at a diner, and they gave me change back in American money. So weird.

My work week was largely uninteresting. The only thing worth mentioning is that on Thursday and Friday we had speech contests with our afternoon classes. They were pretty routine, but it was a nice way to waste a period of time not teaching. Beth, my best student, did a great speech. She said she wanted to be a hero when she grew up and her super powers would be doing push-ups and telekinesis. She demonstrated by doing all of three push-ups, then used her telekinesis on another student from class. It was pretty funny.  She’s definitely getting something.

This weekend I went with five friends to the east coast, to a city literally called East Sea. It was just a fun time at the beach. The weather was a little cool, and we had the beach mostly to ourselves. The highlight of the night was running into a couple with a little girl about the age of my students. She was mentally handicapped and we had fun playing with her. I think I quite easily spent the most time playing with her one-on-one after the other guys got distracted by other stuff. Her mom called me “uncle” (which was really touching) and her dad bought some fireworks for u to shoot off. It was a lot of fun. I don’t know if something like that would happen in the States. Especially since the kid and I would just kind of wander a good distance away on the beach to explore. I don’t think parents in the States would be comfortable with that. Especially with a disabled child. Koreans can be incredibly trusting of strangers.

Soon after that, though, I called it a night. I don’t know what happened, but for whatever reason, I got turned into my moody, introspective drunk self and decided to just go to bed. Not really because I was tired, but I just wanted to be by myself. My phone tells me that this must have happened sometime before 11 PM. Pretty goddamn early. Everyone else came in around 6:30 AM after the sun came up. I had planned on doing that, but I guess it was cloudy and rather unimpressive, so no great loss. I ended up laying in bed (read: the floor) until around 11:30 AM when I got up and decided to have some instant noodles for breakfast.

We left the beach a little before one and started the bus trips home. The first leg was about 40 minutes to a nearby city with a bigger bus terminal. From there it was what should have been a 3 hour ride back to Cheonan, but because of traffic, it took a little over 4 hours. I couldn’t sleep at all on the bus, either. Mostly just tried to sleep to no avail. Though at the one rest stop we made, I bought dinosaur stickers for class and a dinosaur comic book for reading material for me. Gonna learn some Korean dinosaur vocab.

I’m also in the rather slow process of uploading really old photos from Children’s Day and from my phone, so keep posted. Additional Children’s Day photos here:

Spring is Finally Here!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2011 by kingcal

It’s absolutely beautiful weather today. Perfect even. Seventy something degrees, blue skies and no clouds. I just got back from lunch. I was just going to walk to the nearest kimbab joint, but as soon as I got outside I knew  wanted to go for a drive, so I went and had sundae gukbab just to have an excuse to drive my scooter. It’s that nice outside.

My stitches are healing nicely. I suppose they won’t have to amputate anything. I’ve been going back to the clinic near daily to get the bandage changed and a shot, though yesterday when I went they said I didn’t need the shots anymore, which I was glad to hear. After a week of getting a shot in the same small area, it was getting a little sore. The last time I got a shot, the nurse told me to massage the area, at home even. I wanted to say “Oh, you don’t have to tell me to massage my ass while I’m home alone, sister” but I’m not sure how accurately I could translate that into Korean. Instead, I just nodded.

This past week or two, my kindergarteners have really started reading. They could kind of read before, but mostly just short vowel sound words that aren’t hard or really, really common words that they’re used to seeing all the time, like school words. Now we’ve been learning long vowel patterns in our phonics class, like Silent E, vowel+E (ae, ee, ie, oe, ue), OA, etc… It’s really amazing to see kids learn how to read. I can now give them words they’ve never seen before and they can sound it out.  I’m really proud of them.

Friday with my oldest class was pretty bad. Not because they were too rowdy or anything, but they were all pretty depressed. Almost all of them had mid-terms on Friday, and we had our weekly vocab, as well, which only two students did anywhere near well on. They were all just pretty cranky. I felt bad for one girl. She said she wanted to stop coming to Kid’s College because taking the English class made her feel retarded. Literally, those were her words (we learn fun vocabulary). I had to assure her that it was okay. I knew they were busy studying for their mid-terms, lots of kids missed class because of holidays, and that she still speaks better English than a lot of my Korean friends in college or that have graduated.

I joined a gym this week, so after I finish this, I’ll probably head there. It’s not too bad there. I’ve never lifted weights before, so I’m a bit sore, but actually doing it isn’t as hard as I imagined. I’m also running, which I have never ever enjoyed, but I’m surprising myself with how far/long I can run, compared to what I could do before.

Friday I went to Suwon for a Hash. I was too sore from the gym, so I decided not try bother with running the trail and just had a nice walk to the finish. Apparently it was a bitch of a trail. I guess it went up a mountain, then said “You’ve been fucked” so you had to run back to the bottom, then ran you right back up the mountain a different direction. I would’ve been a little pissed about that. So, I got to the finish with a group of three other guys, and we just started drinking. It was nearly an hour before the first runners came in. That’s one bitch of a trail.

We drank until midnight, then most people decided they wanted to go home or something, which surprised me, so I spent the night in Suwon eating and drinking some more, then got a love motel with some people and just crashed. When I woke up, I felt like shit. Terrible sore throat and cough and such. Thursday and Friday I could feel a cold coming on, and it hit me all at one Saturday morning.

I had planned on Hashing again Saturday on an island off the coast of Incheon, but I wasn’t feeling up to it. What usually happens is that I feel like shit in the morning and get slowly better all day, then next day wake up even more sick. I decided to just stay in Cheonan and keep it low key. Went to an open mic at Banana Bar to see some friend’s play, but left pretty soon after they finished. Sure enough, when I woke up this morning I felt even worse. I’m okay now, but I can imagine waking up after a night of hard drinking and having to journey a couple hours home would’ve made my morning even less enjoyable.

In two weeks I’m heading to the east coast for a weekend on the beach, which I couldn’t be looking forward to more. It’s just gonna be like a real small group, maybe only four guys, but it’ll be nice to just hang out on the beach and have some fun. I don’t think I’ve been to the beach since my summer vacation last year when I toured down the east coast.

What the Fuck is Hashing?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2011 by kingcal

So, I had myself a bit of an adventure this weekend. A reader that is actually working in Cheonan for my previous boss added me on Facebook. Being new in town, he wanted to meet more people from the area, and I’m always glad to help out. Friday he mentioned meeting a friend of his in Pyeongtaek for a “party” as he put it. So, knowing only this much, we decided to meet up and go together. I’ve recently become a bit bored with Cheonan. Mainly just tired of doing the same things in the same places with the same people every weekend. Just wanted to go out and do something new. Be spontaneous for once. Boy, be careful what you wish for.

We got to Pyeongtaak a bit before 8 PM and met with his friend. One of the first things she says is don’t shake anyone’s hand, we have to follow chalk lines drawn on the ground, and that it’s a running club. I was not informed running would be involved. We met up with the group of people and I learn a bit more about the group. “Hashing” is almost like a game, where one or more people are “hares” lay a trail for people to run and follow, with the general aim of catching the hares before they reach the ending point. Afterward, the group stays together for a night of drinking. There are lots of songs, rules, traditions, special names, etc… Very cool stuff.

Being unprepared, I didn’t run, but just drank all night. It would be impossible to document all of the events of Friday and Saturday night, but it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all fun. Friday night I cut my arm pretty badly and had to go to the hospital on Saturday. Ended up with seven stitches. Pretty gnarly. Monday I have to go back and get a new bandage. I’m supposed to go every two days for maybe a week.

I also lost my glasses. That was pretty harsh. Especially since I drove to the train station. But I got home all right. Once I got an hour or so into a really bad day it became less terrible and more funny because of the ridiculous circumstance of things. I’m definitely going back to the next Hash, and hopefully run the trail. Maybe not necessarily run the whole way, but at least do it. I guess I’m only getting half the experience if I don’t run the trail with everyone else.

Good weekend though. Going into the weekend I wasn’t sure at all what I would do because none of the options I had in Cheonan were very exciting to me. It was really awesome to get out and do something completely unexpected. I mean, I expected something different but I couldn’t have predicted how differently my weekend would be. Very tiring, but full of adventure. Something that has been lacking lately.

Monday will be a normal work day, but fortunately we’re getting Tuesday off for Buddha’s Birthday. I don’t have plans in particular, other than just sleep in and enjoy some much needed rest.

Also, I’m going to upload some new pictures to Facebook soon, so stay tuned.

Just Another Weekend in Cheonan

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1, 2011 by kingcal

Well, another week has come and gone.  Aside from the field trip on Monday, it wasn’t the best week. There was only one other good thing all week, but we’ll get to that later.

Wednesday was pretty bad, mostly just because of my last class. They were just complete animals. I ended up making them put their heads down and staying silent for ten minutes, and I did this over the break so they didn’t get one. Because they were so out of control, Friday I was super strict on them. As soon as they came in I made everyone move the tables to the walls and made them all sit at their own table and turn away from everyone else so they couldn’t talk. The first 40 minutes was a test, which they all did pretty not good on.

Last half was self-study. I gave them homework Wednesday, but literally no students did it, so the first 15 minutes was them doing their homework in silence. Then we moved onto the grammar book and they worked for another 15 minutes in silence. The last ten minutes of class I let them push the tables back together and gave them a bit of a lecture. Two of the students are in the Tuesday and Thursday class, and I asked them which class they liked better– Tues./Thurs. or Mon./Wed./Fri. I explained to the other students that Tuesdays and Thursdays are a lot more fun and they end up doing less work because they behave better. I told them I didn’t have fun on Friday either, and that I would like to have more fun with them, but they have to change their behavior because it’s completely unacceptable.

Next week they’re going to have a review test over the whole unit we’ve done this month. I’m going to make it really hard. Fifteen spelling words and a different fifteen words for the fill in the blank section. I told the students that if half of them get 100% on the spelling and everyone gets at least 50% on the fill in the blank we can have a party. We’ll see how it goes. I’m going to add another condition on Monday. I’m going to give them class points and every time I have to discipline someone they lose a point. If they lose all the points, no party.

Friday with my kindergarten was also pretty shitty. Alex was super sad. He said his mom wasn’t at home and that she had gone to Grandma’s house. I tried asking why and for how long but couldn’t get a straight answer out of him. All day he wailed on and off. He’d be fine one second, then the next just bawling at the top of his lungs. He’s a very loud crier. He moans non-stop. It was really distracting, especially during story time, so I had him talk to the head teacher for a bit, and when he came back he just sat under a table.

Kate was also really sick for the first part of the day, so she just came in and laid her head on the desk and didn’t move or do anything for awhile, so I felt bad for her.   Again, during story time, Seoa got into some kind of disagreement with Mia and she became really whiny and difficult. At first she simple just got up and walked out of the room. I carried her back in and the only place she wanted to sit was on my lap, but I couldn’t really let her do that because I was trying to read a story to everyone, so she ended up sitting under the table with Alex and doing God knows what, but they were both cheered up by the end, so thank God for that.

The only good thing about Friday was Rachel’s behavior. She was pretty much perfect all day. She did all her work well. I didn’t have to nag her constantly to write things down. She was just overall probably the best she’s been in the past two months. She’s been improving slowly, but Friday was the first day where it was very obvious how she’s been changing. I was really pleased with that.

The only other good part of the week was my Thursday class at the end of the day. Beth decided a couple weeks ago we should have a gift-exchange between me and her for just the hell of it. So I got her a little cell phone charm of a super girl because her alter ego is Super B. She got me an awesome robot pirate skeleton figure. Totally cool. That was a nice day. Also, that class in general is always good. Plus, the boy was absent, so it was just the three girls, so we did some work, but we also spent a lot of time just shooting the shit.

This week should be better. Two normal days of work, then on Wednesday there’s no teaching at all because it’s just a day of games and bullshit for Children’s Day. Then we get Thursday off. Usually we only do the cool shit for our kindergarten classes, but even in the afternoon we won’t have class. In the afternoon, we’re setting up different stations for games or what not. I’m in charge of a three-legged race. Should be a good time. I just hope to Christ it doesn’t rain.

Last night was just a good night out in Cheonan. Two good Saturdays in Cheonan in a row? The Rapture must be coming. Hit up the Chinese restaurant that has lamb skewers, then a makeolli bar, the odeng bar for some soju, a concert at Banana Bar (which as scrooegey as this is — was too fucking loud, so I spent most of the time outside chatting), and finally a noraebang. Pretty long night out, but a good’un.

Recent pictures: