Sunday, April 29, 2007


It's the end of the month and we're a teacher short so as you can imagine we are pretty busy. On weekends we've been going out and doing fun, interesting things that I want to update about but I haven't had time yet. However, the good news is they have FINALLY hired another Korean teacher and she will be starting on Tuesday so this should make life much easier for everyone. Just cross your fingers that they will have a new foreign teacher lined up to replace Joi at the beginning of June or else it will be hell all over again. Oh, and if anyone has any good ideas for what to do with my kinders for Open House, I'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Occasionally we have theme days at our school and last week Friday was "Toy Day".
The children brought their toys to school to share and play with during the break and a good time was had by all. You my ask yourself, 'what do small Asian children play with?' Well, you're in luck. Allow me to showcase a few of the more interesting toys brought by Unicorn class.

This is Brian (Unicorn Brian, not Amber's "Lion Brian") and Andy and they're showing off their super cool Mega Dragon PoWeR swords. These swords have interchangeable parts and a magic key that unlocks THE POWER!!! YEAH! and to top it all off they growl and light up when you turn the key. Jealous? Afraid?
You should be.
Brian is a pretty neat kid. He loves fighting and awesomeness, so he's basically the "tough" Unicorn. He also throws a mean dodgeball. Like really hard!
Andy has no business holding a sword of this magnitude. First of all he's freakishly tiny. Amber has an Andy in her Lamb class and he's also really, really small. Maybe it's the name for short people. Seriously, the picture lies. He's like a foot and a half tall. He's also one of those hand holding, cuddling, 'I got a boo-boo on my finger' kids that I mentioned last post. When I let them play for 10 minutes he stood in that exact spot and hugged his toy weapon like a baby. Someone get that kid a doll.

Crazy Charlie brought a robotic monkey!
He's in the blue coat here in the picture, and as you can see he's holding a remote control. The robot ape thing can walk, bend his arms, pick up stuff, but Charlie just made it burp like a hundred times.
The kids in this picture are, from left to right, Rina, Brian, Andrew, and crazy Charlie.

Other exciting toys included a wind up dog that flips and barks and a princess card collection game. The cards all have these half naked princesses on them and they have bar codes on the bottom. You scan the princesses to see how they're holding up, if you need to feed them, play with them, give them a new magic scepter, and so on. Rina brought a periscope she made herself out of some cereal boxes and a broken mirror. It was a big hit, but a little ghetto next to Charlie's robot.

I love theme days. Don't you? We should have national theme days so everyone can join in the fun.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Seriously, I am a small scale celebrity.

Today I was walking home from work and I crossed paths with a student, Juliet, from the school. She loves me and always talks to me whenever she sees me and this is interesting since I have never, ever taught her (not even subbed for her class) and she doesn't react this way when she sees any of the other foreign teachers. Obviously I am just that awesome. So I stopped and chatted with her a bit (she and her mom were on the way to the little corner store) and then went home. About 10 minutes later our doorbell rings and it's Juliet bearing a giant tray filled with bananas. They are the really adorable baby bananas. The gift is for the whole house but I do have to take responsibility for the inspiration for the gift. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'm allergic to bananas but maybe we can make some banana bread or something so I can eat it. Oh how I love the free stuff.

One last song from Lamb Class...

They're singing another song that I have never heard of but this time it's more nonsense than funny. Apologies for the shoddy camera work. Isn't Grace adorable in her dress? I love the polka dots.

Ally bally, ally bally bee.
Stand up, sit down, hee hee hee.
Open and close, open and close.
Stand up, sit down, hee hee hee.

Oh No! Don't Do That!

Usually I have heard of and know the songs that we are supposed to teach the kids as per the lesson plan. Occasionally they throw in something that I have never, ever heard of and this means they are either really funny or they make little sense. This song I'd put in the former category. Again, I filmed both classes doing the same song. Ironically, Will and Grace (Lamb Class) were doing all sorts of things they shouldn't be doing while they were singing this song. I also liked how suddenly Cathy (Lion Class) went Mach 20 in the middle of the song and started screaming. Classic. Enjoy!

Lamb Class

Lion Class

Oh no! Don't do that!
Oh no! Don't do that!
Oh no! Don't do that!
It's not okay, now don't do that!

Don't yell! Don't yell!
Don't yell in the classroom!
Don't fight! Don't fight!
Don't fight in the classroom!

Oh no! Don't do that!
Oh no! Don't do that!
Oh no! Don't do that!
It's not okay, now don't do that!

Head and Shoulders Showdown

Who is better? I took some videos of my kids singing and I have to say, I thought my old Lion Class was bad at singing because of their age. It turns out I was wrong. Those boys are just not musical in any way, shape or form. These kids are pretty impressive considering they have only been learning English for about a month and a half.

Lamb Class

Lion Class

Cherry Blossom Central

This past weekend we went out and enjoyed the lovely cherry blossoms around the Yeouido area of Seoul. On Saturday we went to the Yeouido park and then on Sunday we went back (Joi came too) and looked around the Hansang Park (which is right by the Han River) and found the "festival". If you like looking at millions of pictures of flowers (although it's not all of flowers) then go here immediately.

(l)A performer at the festival.
(r)A vendor selling coconuts with a straw!

Both of the parks were quite awesome and full of people doing fun stuff. One thing I can say about Korea is that people here are really active. They are constantly out walking, even if they are so ancient looking that you would think mobility would have been a distant memory. At many of these parks you can rent all sorts of cool things like roller blades, bikes (tandem ones too!), S-boards (sort of like skateboards) and other various things. Probably the coolest and most difficult looking thing were these tiny boards with a single wheel underneath them. They were like ghetto roller skates and they looked impossible to use and balance on.
It was all really lovely and a lot of fun (even if it was a bit windy out and overcast). Cherry blossoms are fleeting things too and once the blossoms fall off the tree it's really not that pretty so I'm glad we went out and experienced it while we could. There are a few random trees around our apartment and school and already they are starting to look a bit scabby because all the blossoms have fallen off. Korea really does have some lovely trees and plants though. I have no idea what kind of tree this is but it is my all time favorite (and there is one right outside of the Lion Class window).

If anyone knows what kind of tree it is I would be interested in knowing. The flowers are so gorgeous!

Oh and I have to post my favorite cherry blossom picture- I just love how the tree is reflected in the pond!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I am an html genius.

So I figured out how to create a link section, as you may have noticed. So now you can go and read other blogs that I frequent. The first is my grand and witty friend KB who I can't properly name since her students keep googling her to try and find her blog. So if you are really stumped about who she is, email me and I'll help you out. The second is our friends Eddie and Gisela who are from Texas and are living in Suwon (another suburb outside of Seoul, like Gimpo is). Eddie is a technical writer and he's working on fixing the cell phone manuals for Samsung. They are the first people we've met who are not either teachers or in the army. The last link is Jon Teacher's blog but beware, he does not often update it. Perhaps that will change once his shiny new laptop arrives but it's tough to say. He seems to be a very busy sort of guy. So there you have it- more things to read to waste time on the internet!

Cool New Shirt

It's probably supposed to be a guy's shirt but I don't care because it's humorous and not too bad to look at. I am looking forward to being back in Canada so I can go clothes shopping. It's nice having more than one size to choose from.
The front of the shirt just says "BLACKANT" and if it's too small to read the tag says, "Ant on the street/Make a good choice. Very famous!!". On the side of the shirt there is also a small patch with this quote on it, "Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error." So you see, it's a very wise and famous shirt and it tells you to get lost. Awesome.

Cool New Toy

It's a gold, squishy, gooey, splatty pig! It provides hours of entertainment and it cost less than a dollar on the street. What a bargain!

Friday Night

So after we passed the dancing bakery girls we went to our favorite galbi restaurant for dinner. It's not often (especially in Gimpo) that we are approached by English speaking Koreans so we were all a bit surprised when this guy started talking to us. He was with his friend (who is mammothly tall) who only seemed to know a tiny bit of English (important things though- like "Cheers!"). Turns out these guys are in the Korean army reserves (all Korean men have to serve time in the army in some form) and Yun-Woo, the English speaking one, is doing his army stint producing at SBS (a large TV station). I'm not really sure how the army works here but I do know that Lewis, our old manager, completed his army obligations by playing on their tennis team. Yun-Woo was really nice and he told us he was living and working in Toronto 3 years ago but since returning to Korea he hasn't had a lot of opportunity to practice his English. He told us if we wanted a Korean friend to call him and he gave out his business card. His giant buddy, Han-Woo, started talking to Yun-Woo in rapid Korean and then Yun-Woo asked us where we live and it turns out that Han-Woo lives in the same apartment building as we do and is in apt. 601. Han-Woo kept saying SIX-ZERO-ONE over and over. So apparently even though he studied English last in high school he wants to hang out with us and he promised to bring Sansachun (the Korean wine we were drinking). It sounds like a good time to me!

Han-Woo bought us a bottle of the wine while we were eating and we all had a toast and then they left the restaurant. So it looks like we have some new friends. After dinner Joi went home and Matt and I went and did some norae bang. It was the same norae bang that we went to our first time back in September with the other Matt teacher. I don't think I would go there again since they ripped us off a bit by renting us the super deluxe huge room even though there was only the two of us. There were some drunk businessmen by the front desk and they gave us their business card and high fived us when they learned we were from Canada. It was pretty funny. The one guy kept shouting "Niagara! Niagara!"

Just for people's general interest and so Joi will read my blog (she claims to only read the ones with pictures) I present you with the lovely and delicious sansachun.

All it takes is one tiny mistake...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Dragon and Unicorn class

Since I am long past due for a guest appearance on "our" blog I thought I might take a moment to tell you all about my new kindergarten students. When "Dolphin" and "Bear" class graduated to elementary they were picked up by Amber. I'll miss the little terrors, it's true, them and their chemically unbalanced parents, but I have a new army of adorable children at my command now. I am 'Teacher' of the mighty DRAGON and UNICORN classes.

In honor of this event I have changed my desktop wall paper to this.

This work of art pretty much sums up my new kids. Awesome, and a little bit gay (but not too gay.) They even have personalities to match their mythological namesakes! Unicorn class has 10 students in it, including crazy Charlie. They are sweet kids who love hugs and games and holding hands. In short, they're total pussies. The Dragons are smarter, taller, stronger, and speak English like 5X better than any other kindergarten kids in the school. I really lucked out with them.

And look! We made a very special art project in Dragon class back in April to commemorate the new class!

His name is "Magic the Dragon" or "Magic flying ice breath Dragon!" YEAH! Feel the noise!
Cower beneath his might! You pretty much have to because I pinned him to the ceiling.

I plan to put up a similar project in Unicorn soon so keep yourselves posted!

Opening a bakery? Better book some dancers!

Another quirk that I love about Korea is how they treat the grand opening of businesses. We were on our way to our favorite restaurant when we happened upon the grand opening of this bakery. I took a short video to properly illustrate the revelry and celebration that is warranted by the addition of another bakery to the city.

Possibly we annoyed them but we did get a picture with them. So amusing. Last week Joi saw a different set of dancing girls at a gas station grand opening. Only in Korea!

Best Raingear Ever!

Look what McQueen (yes, this is the English name he's chosen thanks to this movie.) came to school in on Friday! His rubber boots even had little flames on the backs of them.

Our pottery came back!

Remember when we went on that awesome field trip last month to the Pottery Village? Well yesterday we got our stuff back. Everyone was a bit surprised at how much the vases shrunk and how the colors turned out.
As you can see from this picture, the vases were pretty big. Also, we spent a lot of time carefully painting them. And they had told us that the paints would turn certain colors. If I had known how those colors actually turn out I don't think I would have put as much painstaking work into my vase and would have just carved a few interesting things into it and basically just left it as is. My mug is really lovely though!

Oh well, they are still pretty cool and they were fun to make (and free! Hooray again for free stuff!). We have another field trip booked for this coming Wednesday to a Children's Museum. Sounds like fun!

I love free stuff.

One of the benefits of being a foreigner in Korea is that often we are given unexpected free stuff. Most of the time it's nothing big but I am always delighted. People who know me know that I love free stuff, even if it's something I really don't need. Sometimes this means free stickers when we're buying things at one of the stationary shops, other times an extra cream horn at the bakery. In the past week or so we have gotten a fair amount of interesting/odd free stuff.

It started last Saturday when we were on the subway going to Seoul Tower. Three ajummas got onto the crowded train and Matt and I got up to give them our seats. One of them was especially aggressive and shoved me out of the way (apparently I wasn't moving fast enough or something) and then she grabbed my hand and made me take a bunch of her dried squid out of a plastic baggie. The squid was okay but I wasn't really in the squid eating mood. This would never have happened to me in Canada.

The next free thing we received was the next day which was Easter Sunday. We decided to go grocery shopping at Home Plus and when we stepped off the bus we were accosted by a group of ladies, one who was wearing a han bok. They were handing out hard boiled eggs and pamphlets (in Korean) about the church they go to. Here's a picture of the egg I was given (Matt's and Joi's were completely in Korean). It says, "Jesus, My Saviour".

Another thing I doubt would happen to me in Canada. Probably because any food a stranger offered me on the street would be laced with poison or something.

Then we were at another stationary store later in the week and were given free candy just because we're foreign. Nice! And then last night they gave us free coke at the restaurant we were eating at (but I think this time it's because we eat there so often). When I go back home I am definitely going to miss the free stuff. It's like being a mini celebrity.

Closer than you think.

At Seoul Tower they have printed on the window all sorts of international cities and the distance they are from the tower. Edmonton wasn't included but Vancouver was. Turns out we're closer than I would have predicted.
Stephie was in France this past week and I was surprised to learn that Paris is actually farther away from Seoul than Vancouver. I would have guessed that it was closer for some reason. She's on her way back as I type this (probably sitting on the plane) and hopefully has lots of great presents for me.

Seoul Tower Adventure

As I briefly mentioned in earlier posts, last weekend Matt and I decided to play hookie from our Korean class to go to Seoul Tower. The weather was all right (it didn't rain) but it was a bit hazy. I'm not sure if it's because of the yellow dust or just general smog and pollution. The day started off fairly auspiciously when Matt found 30,000 won left in the bank machine. Woohoo!

We decided to take the Namsan Cable Car up to the tower. Now I'm not sure if I would describe it as a "thrill of joy" like that website says, but it was fun, albeit a bit crowded and filled with loud children. Since spring has just began things were a bit bare and grey but I can tell this would be a gorgeous place to revisit once everything is green.

A few interesting things- this little old ajumma was making cotton candy with this foot peddle machine. And it seems that it is still Christmas in April at Seoul Tower.

Unfortunately because of the weather/haze the view wasn't as spectacular as it could have been. But it was pretty cool nonetheless. When we left the actual tower part and went back outside there was a B-Boy show just starting up. Unfortunately my camera's batteries were almost dead so the camera wasn't cooperating like it should have and so I missed a lot of really cool pictures but I did manage to get a few before it completely shut off. (Later I found my spare batteries.)

After we'd had our fill of breakdancing we decided to walk down from the tower and find somewhere to eat supper. It was a nice night and the walk was pleasant. Because most of the trees are bare it was a little bit spooky. I tried taking some pictures but most of them didn't turn out very well. The tower looked really lovely all lit up though.
On the way down there was a lookout point which provided a much better view than the tower.

We also found this really cool little bench. I don't know who this Ben fellow is but I like his bench.
By the time we got back to the cable car place we were pretty hungry and so we decided to eat at this really adorable looking Italian restaurant nearby. It was a bit pricey but we decided we should splurge and call it Easter dinner, especially since we found 30,000 won earlier in the day. The restaurant was called Lovestory and it was really beautiful, romantic and fancy. The food was excellent and even though the bill was fairly large I didn't feel cheated.
Good food, good wine, good times. We were tired when we got home but it was a really fun day. To see all the pictures go here.

Spring has sprung...

The grass has ris! I wonder where the birdies is? (My Dad always says this.)

I'm not sure how we survived the long, hard, brutal Korean winter but by the grace of some deity we have been granted a reprieve. Winter was just as wicked as you could imagine. I think it snowed 2 or 3 times! And one day it was so cold; I think it was -10C! I had to wear BOOTS twice and sometimes I wore a toque because I had to and not because they are awesome. Traumatic, I tell you. But I'm glad that seems to be over and that spring is FINALLY here. Hehehe.

Look at all the pretty buds and flowers that are sprouting up everywhere! Now that I live in Korea I can finally appreciate why people actually like spring. Where I'm from spring is disgusting and full of mud and muck from all the dirty snow melting. Here it's lovely and dry and full of colors and flowers. In fact, later today Matt and I are planning to go and look at the cherry blossoms! Here are some pictures I took last week around the school.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Chicken and Beer

Matt and I finally delved into another unique Korean phenomena- the 'Chicken and Hof' restaurant. (Hof= Beer) That's right, there are tons of these places all over and the only things on the menu are chicken and beer. No french fries, sodas, salads or anything else of the sort. If you step into one of these places you'd better be prepared for a lot of chicken and a lot of beer. Nothing's better after a hard day of teaching than a pile of chicken and a cold beer.

Best Pencil Case Ever.

So I have lots to try and update about but it's late and I should go to bed. I wanted to tell everyone about my awesome and hilarious new pencil case. It's purple and has a sketch of a tortoise and a hedgehog on it. The text is as follows:
"One day a little tortoise met a hedgehog.
The little tortiose said "Hello Mr. Nice to meet you."
"Hi. little fellow. Where are you going?" Mr. hedgehog said.
"I'm on my way to poo-poo. It's a sort of Emergency Situation."

I don't have the heart to take it out of its plastic wrapper yet, I love it too much.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Cuteness Updates

Even though every month we have a birthday party at school and they always look the same there were a couple cute pics from March's party when we celebrated Janet and Kate's birthdays.

Later I got a really cute picture of my old Lion boys. The inspiration was Steven's t-shirt. I'm not sure if this is a new take on 'Jesus is my Homeboy' but it was a bit amusing nonetheless. Click on the picture for a close up.

In other news, Teek's hair is growing back and Joi bought him a new shirt. There are a few more here. Stayed tuned for an update on our Seoul Tower adventures.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Other Man

Meet Charles.
Charles is my boyfriend.
Charles is eight years old (which means he's actually seven) and in Dragon class and he speaks excellent English. In fact, Dragon class students are fairly remarkable and are probably at an elementary level.
Charles is really, really funny and has a fantastic "shit-eater" grin. He also throws a mean dodgeball and an even meaner insult ("you are a bug eating octopus" "you are a flower faced monkey", etc). He also likes the color pink and is really good at spelling.

Our love affair started about two months ago when Charles was still in Tiger class. We'd been verbally sparring for awhile since I like to tease and Charles gives great reactions to being teased and then one day at lunch I was teasing him and he told me to go away. Then I threatened to sit beside him and he said, "Okay!". Thus our relationship was born. To clarify things I was sure to ask, "Charles are you my boyfriend?" and he immediately said, "Yes! And A-a-a-a-mber Teacher is my girlfriend.". (Charles has a pretty intense stutter.) For the rest of the week he sat beside me at lunch. One day I sat across from him instead of beside him and when I asked how he was doing he informed me that he was angry because I was not sitting beside him.

As with all new relationships, things were fairly intense for the first week and gradually he began eating lunch away from me sometimes. He still gets a big grin on his face whenever he sees me but unfortunately we have opposing lunch periods. He is still full of jokes though- like the day he told me that he hated me and then added, "Only joking!". Or when he told me that he would never draw a picture for me at his art class.

Probably my favorite exchange with Charles happened earlier this week. I asked him, "Charles, why are you so handsome?" and he sagely advised me, "Because I love you very much.". Awww, and I love you too Charles.