Archive for June, 2011

Rainy Days Ahead

Posted in Uncategorized on June 23, 2011 by kingcal

Well, as the students have told me from what they gathered from the news, the rainy season is here. I was originally told last year the rainy season started in late July. It didn’t hit until mid-August. Now it’s a month early. Korean weather is worse than Ohio. Honestly.

I’ve been mad busy. Last Friday I went to Seoul to meet some people. Had a nice dinner then went clubbing. Came back to Cheonan on Saturday and bummed around a bit before meeting some people in the park for a bit of outside drinking (seriously, why is drinking outside not legal in America?) and then headed to a bar for awhile, where we continued to drink mostly outside. Met an old Korean friend I hadn’t seen in like over 6 months there, so it was good to see him again.

Last Thursday I did my monthly test at the gym. I lost 2 kg, which I was initially pretty pleased with. Apparently this was not good enough. The trainer was kind of giving me shit for only losing 2 kg, asking me about what I’d been doing in the gym (exactly what he told me), my diet (98% Korean food), and my drinking (a lot). He ended up telling me I need to exercise harder and drink less. From what I’ve heard, the electric machines are notoriously inaccurate, but still, it’s not bad advice in and of itself. So I’ve gone to the gym the past five days in a row, doing higher weights, more reps, and staying on the treadmill longer. Haven’t had a drink since Saturday. I don’t normally drink much during the week, but sometimes if I meet a friend for dinner I have a beer or two, and I suppose those add up as well.

I’m making a goal of 85 kg in the next 2-3 months. I think it’s fairly doable, certainly by September. When I get there I plan on treating myself to a clothes shopping spree. Already all my clothes are like… pretty goddamn big on me. It’s getting a bit ridiculous. I need pretty much a full wardrobe.

Though, one thing I’ve always kind of been afraid of about getting into shape is starting to happen. I think I’m becoming a bit more conceited. Before I always hated being in pictures or looking in a mirror, because I didn’t like what I saw, but now I’m taking any opportunity to jump into a picture or check myself out in a mirror like “Damn he’s fine.” No lie, two days ago I literally stood in front of a mirror and flexed my calves for like 5 minutes. Having some self-confidence and -esteem is nice for once, but I don’t want to get carried away.

The only other real notable thing this week so far was my open class yesterday. From the seven students I have, seven moms came and four dads came. I was super stressed about it. We spent like two weeks practicing the stuff, but kids are so unpredictable in these kind of situations. Behavior-wise they were great. Nobody acting a fool. But at the beginning they were a bit quiet and weren’t speaking in full sentences, which is like one of the big selling points of the school. They’re not just teaching kids to read, but to actually verbally communicate with a native speaker. By the end they were getting better and better, and we played a spelling game for a couple minutes at the end that went pretty well.

The only catch was one student. She’s easily the lowest level, and everyone at the school was worried about how she’d do. I guess her mother has been thinking of pulling her from the school for awhile. During most of the class she was quiet, and when the other kids were speaking, she just mumbled along a step or so behind. I thought she did very well on the spelling game, but that probably wasn’t enough. She wasn’t in school today. I think she might be leaving.

I take students leaving very personally. I really, really tried my best to help her, and she was definitely showing improvement. But to be honest, not having her there today made the class way easier. I feel a bit bad saying it, but holding her hand through everything really slowed the whole class down. Maybe it would be best for her to go to a less intense school and start some of the phonics all over again from scratch.

Well, like the title says, it’s apparently the rainy season now. I drove to work all right, but it poured all goddamn day. Got soaked on the ride home. Decided to bus it to the gym tonight, which makes the whole journey take much, much longer than usual. So I’m skipping my normal Thursday routine of pool and movie nights to write this and maybe study a bit of Korean. Guess I better stop procrastinating and get to it.

Lost in the Supermarket

Posted in Uncategorized on June 14, 2011 by kingcal

This title has no bearing on recent events. Just listening to The Clash.

Today was a really good day. During the first class today, I was going through the rundown of how to make a pizza for our monthly cooking class, and I said to be careful around the oven, because ovens are hot. Yeongkwang piped up with “Yes, hot, but Arf in, more hot.” After a little Pictionary on the board, I figured out he was trying to say Earth. And yes, the core of the Earth is hotter than an oven. So this sparked and impromptu lesson on our solar system because I was curious about what else they knew.

Cooking class was cool. Just making simple little pizzas on pieces of bread. Nothing too special, but the kids enjoyed it. I think Mia is a very picky eater. She gave me her pizza, because she said pizza makes her throw up. She also can’t eat ramen because of the same reason. After cooking class we colored dinosaurs and cut them out then folded them so they could stand. Pretty awesome pre-lunch day.

After lunch I had story time with Tomato class. I read them a story then we wrote our own and they wrote it down. After that, my last 25 minute class I just made some dinosaur trading cards with my class. I’m pretty sure my kids didn’t learn a single thing today. Not from me at least. Maybe they learned something in Math class with Shannon.

My elementary class continued basic phonics work. We read a short story and played Bingo with the words they had difficulty with. I had three kids cry. One just as class started. Then when I asked him who made him cry, when I kicked that kid out of class, he started crying. He’s generally a good kid, but he’s been getting a ‘tude lately. During Bingo, Chloe, my co-teacher’s daughter cried, because she couldn’t find a word and I wouldn’t help her. I felt bad because I couldn’t explain that if I saw her sheet, I wouldn’t be able to pick Bingo words. I ended up just getting another kid to help her find it.

My last class we just did some reading about a survey done with young Americans to find out what they’re looking for in a spouse. Great reading with two pre-teen girls.

Beth: Teacher, in America, are you handsome?
Me: Uh… I don’t know. Why?
Salad: Dorothy said she thinks you’re very, very, very, very, very, very handsome.
Me: Haha, that’s good to know.

After that was a quick bit of grammar and then we watched an episode of Adventure Time. If you don’t know, it’s one of the few cartoons worth watching recently. I think it’s just about the right level for the girls. It’s fairly simple, but some vocab words like “righteous” they don’t understand, but I’m pretty sure they follow everything well enough contextually to get something out of it. And it’s got lots of subtle jokes for older people, so it’s definitely worth a watch. I was sold right away when I heard Bender from Futurama was the voice of a character on the show.

The only kind of bad thing came right as I was leaving for work. I was stopped by the owner’s wife who was talking to me about one of my students. We’re having an open class for parents to watch soon. They’re worried about my lowest student. They talked to her mom on the phone and she cries every morning before school. She asks why she has to learn English. That’s the worst. There’s all this pressure on these kids to learn English, but the kids don’t even understand why. What can the parents even say? So you can get a good job? They’re 5 years old. They don’t even realize what jobs are yet. Most don’t have their “I want to be a… when I grow up” down yet.

She says she gets stressed because I take away checks for not doing homework. For one, I started this like… last week. Two, when I did use it for Show and Tell, the girl actually brought something and participated for the first time in weeks. They suggested I just leave her alone and don’t hold her to the same standard as everyone else, but I can’t see this improving anything at all. It’s going to make the other students ask a lot of questions and draw more attention to it. I’ve seen a bit of improvement in her phonics. She knows individual letter sounds, she just has a hard time blending them. And she’s afraid to be wrong, so she often just says “I don’t know” rather than try.

On a completely different note, I think I’ve recently noted some maturing in myself.  Guess I’m just getting older. Recently, things I’ve learned about myself and seen in others, which would’ve been much more upsetting to me before, I’m just better at getting over. I realized I could be making excuses and double standards, rather than actually accepting the reality of “life is not black and white and shit is complicated”, because I think if I observe something within myself or a friend, I’m naturally inclined to be a bit more forgiving than if it was a stranger because of the naturally positive light I already see them in, but then again, isn’t everyone the same way?

A Rather Expensive Weekend

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6, 2011 by kingcal

Well, this weekend had it’s ups and downs. To start with, it was a three day weekend. Monday is Memorial Day in Korea, so no school today. I needed the rest, too. Friday I went to Pyeongtaek to hang out with a Korean friend, but I came back before midnight and went to Dolce. I was probably the only person there not around 40. Ended up getting drunk enough to do noraebang in the bar. And if you know me, you know how I refuse to sing. Good times, though. I distinctly remember singing “Zombies” by The Cranberries.

Saturday, I went to Songtan to go hashing. I had already decided that I was actually going to do the running trail. We also had visitors from Kuala Lumpur, where the originally hash group started in 1938. They were all Malaysians in their mid 50s to 60s. But they were awesome people. I mentioned I had a vacation coming up at the end of July and they invited me to Malaysia and said they’d take care of me and I could go hashing with them. I don’t know what “take care of” means exactly. I don’t know if they’d put me up so I didn’t have to pay for a hotel or something, but they were extremely kind people. Really fun.

The trail was good, too. About 5K from what someone with a fancy schmancy runner’s watch told me. It went through hill and dale and up construction walls. Climbing the 50 foot wall was pretty fun. And sliding down the 45 degree slope to get down was interesting. A couple people biffed it there.I nearly lost it myself. I was surprised by my ability to keep up with the more experienced runners. I actually finished about 5th out of maybe 20 people. Afterwards, we just went back to Songtan (the trail actually took us to the subway station and had us go four stops) and drank all night.

Saturday two people got their hash names, which was an interesting process. They were subjected to all kinds of personal questions, and any clever name you could think of you’d quietly tell to someone writing it down. After all the questions and stories, the namees left and we voted on names by round of applause. It was pretty funny. After all the events were taken care of, we just spent the night drinking at bars in Songtan. It was all right. Nothing of any particular note though.

Sunday afternoon, I came back to find my bike missing from Dujeong station. I was upset, but there wasn’t anything I could really do about it. It didn’t even have a license plate, and there’s a chance that I’m driving illegally without a license, so I coudln’t really call the cops or anything. Kind of reserved myself to buying a new bike whenever possible and biting the bullet and going back to the bus for awhile.

I went to the gym, but as soon as I started working out, my muscles were like “aw, hell naw” and wouldn’t work. I was just too tired. Not strength at all. And I felt like throwing up. I think some Thai food I had in Songtan is doing a tune up job on my insides right now. After about half of my normal work out, I just gave up and went home. I felt super shitty. Super tired, super sore, super sick. Didn’t do much the rest of the day besides watch a movie.

Today, I didn’t do much either. I went to see the new X-Men movie with a friend. On the way, I saw my bike parked not far from where I had left it. After the movie, I went back and checked it out. They had opened up the steering column and fucked it up pretty bad. I pushed it to a bike shop near my house and they took a look at it. It’s about $330 to fix like five parts on the bike. They really fucked it up. They didn’t appear to steal anything, which just makes it more confusing. Like they just wanted to vandalize the bike. Ugh.

Still, I should be positive about it. First of all, I’m really lucky to have found my bike at all. It’s certainly easier to fix a bike for $330 than it is to buy a new one for $1000. Also, the simple fact that I’m financially stable enough to have the extra $330 around for unexpected costs like this is great. At any other point in my life, these $330 would have been really hard to come by. So I guess I should be thankful for the little things.