Monday, March 31, 2008

Work Lunch at Outback

So on Friday our manager, Mark, took everyone for lunch at Outback Steakhouse. Originally he'd said we would go out for Korean food but I think a combination of 1. galbi (BBQ meat) places don't open until later in the day and 2. they all subscribe to this stereotype that foreigners only eat greasy food, made him change the venue. Whatever. It was nice that they took us for lunch. All the Koreans were shocked to learn that all of the foreigners never ate at Outback. In fact, all six of us had never been to an Outback restaurant before coming to Korea. All the stuff on the lunch menu seemed pretty heavy so I decided to get the seafood quesadilla, a new menu item. It was basically disgusting. I should have got a salad. Oh well, live and learn and I didn't have to pay for it.
You've probably noticed that this year I haven't really taken any pictures at work. We're not at Little Brown anymore and things aren't as picture friendly. Also we are alway frantically busy so I don't really have time even if it wouldn't be weird. This lunch was a good opportunity to take some pictures of the Korean women we are working with this year. So here they are. In the first picture (on the left) you can see Seon and I. Seon was my first coteacher and we worked together for the first two months of my contract. In the next picture I am with Yuni, who is my current coteacher for the past month.

Here's Matt (lucky guy) with all the Korean teaching staff. From left to right: Matt, Michelle (Matt's coteacher), Clara, Yuni, Kate, Seon. Aren't they lovely?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our Weekend, in Brief

It's astounding how quickly time is passing since we returned to Seoul. It's almost been 3 month!! That's a quarter of our contract finished! Wow! It's no surprise that our weekends pass by at lightning speed. Last weekend we did norae bang a couple times (once alone at our favorite, swanky norae bang and the other time with Dana and Curtis) and hung out with some new book club friends.

Saturday was the day I got my fab haircut (although now I am having styling issues... Hopefully I will catch on soon.) and then Matt and I had a late lunch at this amazing Japanese place that's really close to our house. I think that we're the only foreigners that ever eat their and this time the lady gave us seconds on our gimchi, miso soup and pearl onions. Nice! Unfortunately, Matt got gimchi all over his shirt so we split up. He ran to change and I carried on to COEX where we planned to meet Aaron and Charlotte from the bookclub.

I realized on my way to COEX that the reason why I don't get approached often by people is because I am usually with Matt. In the 25 minutes or so that we were separated I was approached three times. The first time two middle aged Korean men gave me a little red bean bite sized bread thing and one asked for my cell number. Hahah. The second time was by an American girl who's in town as a musician so I gave her my business card and maybe I'll hear from her. The third and most entertaining time was with a group of four Korean university students.

The students accosted me and asked me if I would have an interview with them because it was their homework assignment for English class. It was all pretty standard stuff, what's your name, where are you from, how long have you been in Korea, why are you here... Blah, blah. Then they said they had learned in class that there are some questions you shouldn't ask people when you're meeting them for the first time. For example, "How old are you?" and "How much do you weigh?". So I told them it's not a great idea to ask "What religion are you?" They seemed satisfied with this answer. Then they asked me one last question, "If you had all the money in the world and all the time in the world, would you get plastic surgery?". Bwhahah! They seemed shocked when I said I wouldn't and so I asked the girl who had been asking all the questions if she would. Her reply? Of course! Silly me! I posed for a picture and we parted ways.

By that time Matt and everyone had shown up. We watched these wacky people for awhile (they were all over the mall, obviously promoting some type of game or something) and for once we weren't the most stared at people around. Hehe. We checked the movie selection at COEX and then decided to go to nearby Techno Mart instead. We watched Interview which really felt more like a play to me. Even though I really like Steve Buscemi I have to say that I didn't care for this movie. I didn't connect with the characters at all and didn't think they were very believable. I wouldn't recommend it, although Matt thought it was okay.
After the movie we stopped at Kraze Burger for a late dinner. Yum! Here you can see that Kraze Burgers actually do make people crazy.

To top off our Saturday we were treated to some Spring Konglish. In case you can't read it this says, "Twinkle Twinkle Sunshine & Fuming Flowers! Enjoy happy spring." Don't mind if I do!

Sunday was spent reading (I finished Kafka on the Shore and started reading The Known World) and then hanging out at Dana and Curtis' place in Bundang. Good times!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I'm so vain, I probably think this blog is about me...

I got a haircut today! Anyone that knows me well would know that I have a horrible, awful, no good, very bad track record with hairdressers. I usually end up with the most hideous haircuts no matter where I go or how much/little I pay. I've had more mullet-esque poodle cuts than I care to remember and there was also more than one instance where they cut my hair REALLY crooked. Like one side was about 2.5 inches longer than the other side. So I rarely get my haircut because I am afraid of looking like a crazy poodle bag lady. Today I decided to be brave though. I went to the hairdresser that is right beside our apartment, alone. Yes, I didn't even bring a Korean to translate. Luck was on my side since the hairdresser spoke English, she did a great job, and it was dirt cheap. It cost 12,000 won which is about $12. For a haircut, shampoo and style. Look at the results! I'm fabulous! If you want to see more pictures I have dedicated a section of my Photobucket to my new haircut.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Awesomeness

Back when we had just returned to Seoul Eddie and Gisela gave us our birthday presents. They'd brought them all the way from America just for us. I don't have a picture of Matt's Yoda since he took it to school and put it in his classroom but I took this one of mine. GIANT PEZ! But better, Muppet Show giant Pez. And because we have way too much time on our hands we made a video so you could behold the true majesty of GIANT PEZ.

Having a Great Day!

Well, I haven't had to go into work yet (remember I work late afternoon/evening) but so far my day has been fantastic. I got to talk to my Dad and Sharron and we had a great conversation and they are going to send us a small package (just some deodorant for Matt and a specific eye shadow for me but mail is mail!). While I was talking to them the doorbell rang and a package was delivered from my lovely friend Rebecca!! So exciting!!! She sent us some new English books and they look fabulous! Here's what she sent:
The Infernal Desire Machine of Doctor Hoffman by Angela Carter
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Then Matt and I went to Lotte Mart to do some quick shopping. There are always pigeons hanging around but today there was a mega fat giant one! I tried to take a picture but it was tough. I was trying to get a normal sized pigeon in the picture too to show the difference. Poor pigeon, maybe it has a glandular problem or big bones or something... Anyway, it was pretty funny.

Anyway, I should get ready for work. Thursdays are my best day since I only teach 4 classes (instead of 5) so I'll have time to get my paperwork done. Also today we're doing a test for part of the class.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Weekend Full of New Experiences

Last weekend was really jam packed and busy but so amazing! On Friday night we went out with a couple coworkers (Ryan and Eddie) for a late dinner and some drinks. Will was really tired so he didn't come out with us, but that's okay, next time. It was nice getting to know them better and we'd all had a crazy week so it was cool to be able to let off a little steam. Eddie just started working at our school this month and he seems really nice.

Then on Saturday I ventured out on my own. I met up with some new people that I met off a website. Okay, maybe this sounds a little scary but I was meeting a girl from London and in Korea it can be really tough to meet new people that speak English. Anyway, her name is Rosanna and she brought a couple friends, Kat and Cruise. We had lunch and then tried to go to a Korean fortune teller that spoke English (this was the main point of the get together). There was a massive line so Rosanna asked us if we'd ever tried Dr. Fish before... None of us had.
So we went into this place that looked like a regular coffee shop to me. Everyone ordered a drink and the "Dr. Fish". I had a delicious ice chocolate. After we finished our drinks we proceeded to the Dr. Fish zone where we all removed our shoes and socks, rolled up our pants and washed our feet.

Then we went and sat on pillows, the worker set the timer and we had 25 minutes to stick our feet in a pool of water filled with tiny fish. What do these fish do? They eat the dead skin off of your feet!!! WEIRD!! (Also a little bit gross.) But it was really cool.
Rosanna was telling us that apparently there are places where you can get a full body Dr. Fish treatment. I'm not sure if I would be that brave! I was reading up on it a bit when I got home and it turns out these fish are great for people with skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, acne) because they remove the dead/diseased skin and leave the healthy skin behind.

After Dr. Fish we decided to check out the fortune teller once more and we were in luck! We only had to wait about 10 minutes. Then he told everyone's fortune. It was so much fun and a great laugh. He took our birth dates and times and did a lot of scribbling and looking at books and then told us about our fixed and unfixed (could change) future. I don't remember all of my details but basically my element is Earth and this showed up a lot, and I am "big Earth"- a mountain. And my inner energy is masculine. Since I was born in the winter I am frozen Earth and therefore it is difficult for men to have a relationship with me. Hehe. He likened men to trees and said that it's tough for trees to grow in the frozen soil.

He said that I am better suited to have my own business and be my own boss, not a salaryman. Also that I should go back to school. He told me 2011 is a lucky time for me to get married. Also that I would have 2 daughters and one would be extremely gorgeous (he wouldn't stop talking about this and kept coming back to that point numerous times). But that my children will try to boss me around and act like my grandmother. Hahah! But this would be lessened if I have children past the age of 29. He also said that I will make a lot of money in my mid-30s and for the next 25 years after that but I need to watch out for people trying to take my money. Cruise asked when he would die and was told when he is 95 so I asked too. You're in luck, I apparently will live to be 97! I wish I had taken a picture of the booth or the fortune teller. He told me a lot more stuff but I've unfortunately forgotten a lot of it plus his English was good, not perfect. It was a cool experience and one I've wanted to do for a really long time. There are fortune teller booths everywhere here but very few speak English.
Here's a picture of some of the stuff I bought on Saturday. A cool earring holder/stand. You can see my current collection of earrings. I wasn't a fan of dangly earrings until I visited BC and Matt's sister Corinna gave me some (she sells jewelry). Now I really like them and you can buy interesting ones for really cheap here. And I got this awesome purse! It's so adorable and a gorgeous shade of brown.

When I got back to Jamsil on Saturday night, Matt and I went to Ho Lee Chow's for Chinese food and then did some grocery shopping at Lotte Mart. Ho Lee Chow makes great food but is a bit expensive. It was super delicious. And since it was White Day recently I got to pull a slip of paper out of a bowl and try to win something. I think they had some prizes like money off your bill, etc but I ended up winning candy. What kind of candy? Well, 4 mini candy canes actually. Bwahahah!
On Sunday we met with our book club, which was great. A member named Mitzi (who is really outrageous, outgoing and funny) had attended the Vagina Monologues the day before and came bearing vagina shaped chocolate. She gave one to me and I have to say it was very tasty. Hahah. It was pretty hilarious.

After the book club we rushed off since we had tickets to the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). It was put on by a traveling group and was really cute and funny. I'd recommend it, even if you aren't into Shakespeare. In this picture you can see the pamphlet for the play, my Ho Lee Chow White Day gift, some cute stickers I bought and an awesome book Rosanna gave me about all the different kinds of museums and art galleries in Seoul (there are some crazy ones like the Tax Museum and the Lock Museum). Fun! How was your weekend?

Happy Belated White Day!

If you've been paying attention to this blog for any length of time you would know that Koreans have two "Valentine's Days" but the 2nd one is a month later, on March 14th, and is called White Day. It's also the day where boys are supposed to give candy and chocolate to girls. So I was hoping for some delicious treats. I didn't get much, especially compared to last year, but that's okay. Matt bought me the basket of goodies (awww) and students gave me the other stuff. I love the giant lollypop and I really giggled when a boy named David proudly presented me with two fruit roll-ups. Hahaha! "Teacher, teacher, America jelly!" (They call any kind of soft, gummy, chewy candy a jelly here.)
My biggest surprise though was that little blue box. White Day was on Friday and so I had 4 regular classes and then my level 5 Screen English class. I just started teaching Screen English and these students I only see once a week and this was actually their second class. This level only has 2 students, actually, a girl and a boy. I walked in and only the girl was there. The bell rang, I went to start the video when suddenly Jun Jae rushed in, all out of breath. He apologized for being late and then presented me with this adorable box in a very respectful way (head bowed, box held in both hands). I was so shocked! And it was my most delicious White Day gift- some kind of hazelnut truffles with a white chocolate top. Like a mini mountain of scrumptious! Yay for White Day!

The street where I live...

My walk to and from work is very short, but it's certainly never boring. In the last post I mentioned that hilarious shirt that the regular street vendors were selling. What I didn't mention is that there are a few regular vendors and they sell fruit, socks, shirts and sometimes other vegetables. Fruit is incredibly seasonal here. It's unlikely that you will be able to find a watermelon in January and if you do it will be ridiculously expensive. I'm talking like $30 for a small one. However, when the fruit is in season it is ridiculously cheap so it all balances out and is a nice reminder to try and eat seasonally and also, by default, locally.

Right now strawberries are in season so my vendors always have huge tables and carts filled with boxes and boxes of strawberries. Originally there was only one vendor but a couple weeks ago a second one showed up and decided to set up about 5 metres away from the 1st one. It's turned into a bit of a bidding war, which is great for me since the price of strawberries right now is dirt cheap. I picked up this pack on my way home from work for $1!

Another interesting things that was happening tonight when I walked home from work was a film crew filming a movie! It looked pretty low budget (maybe even students from a local university), however they had fancy cameras, vans with equipment and giant spotlights. They were shooting outside of Jamsil Byeong Won (Hospital) and had even covered over some of the signs. Neat! This never happened in Gimpo!

I was feeling peckish but didn't want to eat a big meal since Matt gets off later and would be hungry too so we usually eat together. So I picked up a handy little Col-pop. What is a Col-pop you ask? Well, for $2 you get a drink and a small container of mini chicken nuggets/popcorn chicken things. Great deal and tasty too! Here's what it looks like:

Bask in it's chicken and cola-ness!

Anyway, that's my street for you... Maybe later I will do a full and comprehensive report on "fried chicken alley" as we've dubbed it. Heheh.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I wish I could have taken a picture...

On the way home from work I saw a shirt with this printed on it "The Sock and Cock Show". Bwahahaha! I didn't have my camera with me and I don't think I could have taken a picture anyway since the vendors are the ones that are on my street everyday and know me. It really made me think of vintage Red Hot Chili Peppers though. (Click only if you want to see men only in socks.)

A beautiful day in our neighbourhood..

This store is just down the alley from us. Charming, eh? Although it does appear they really do know all about dogs. Poopoo and peepee central is pretty accurate. I especially love the hot cartoon sketch.

Adventures in Listening Dictation: Part 3

I thought I would put these two selections together since they have the same subject matter.

Finding Your Ideal Partner I

Name: Aldo
Country: Brazil
Age: 22

I don't want my wife and me to be too independent. Couples in the United States are so independent, they can get everything by themselves. But then after they have a fight, they can just say, "Why should we stay together? One of us can move." In my culture, people struggle and have to depend on one another. When couples have a fight, they have to put up with each other. That's why marriages in Brazil last longer.

I'm looking for someone who can complete me. I don't want someone who can do pretty much the same things I can. I'm not saying she has to cook and I have to cut the grass. If I like to cook and she likes to fix computers, that's OK. Some things my wife should know how to do better than me, and some things I should know how to do better than her.

Finding Your Ideal Partner II

Name: Kanjana
Country: Thailand
Age: 24

I think it's important to find someone who wants to have children. When people get married, they should have children because children can take care of us when we're older. It's hard to find someone who loves us as much as our children do.

I also think it's important for the man to have enough money. If the woman can earn money, that's good, too, but it's more important that the man earns enough because he is the leader of the family. But if I had to choose between a man who has a lot of money and a man who understands me and loves me, I would choose the one who loves me.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Name that Country

So I saw this on someone else's blog and thought I'd give it a try. I kinda suck, although I did better than them. It's amazing how your mind goes blank and how fast five minutes can be. Also how many tiny countries there are in the world that I have never heard of...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Explain this to me....

What kind of gift do you give someone with this bag??

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Adventures in Listening Dictation: Part 2

Here's another little gem.

A Jamaican Religious Movement

It was when I visited Jamaica some ears ago that I first learned about Rastafarians. Rastafarians are members of a Jamaican religious movement that started in the 1930s. According to their belief, the only true God is the late Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie who was originally known as Ras Tafari. Rastafarians also believe that white Christian preachers and missionaries have distorted the Bible to hide the fact that Adam and Jesus were black. The Rastafarians can be described as a religious group popularly characterized by their special hairstyle, music, and ganja.

Teacher, teacher- what's ganja? Hahaha.

Adventures in Listening Dictation: Part 1

When we first started this job the school was brand new and therefore we didn't have full class loads and had more 'free time'. So we were given the task of editing some of the school's text books. Older students (well, A4 level and higher) are required to do something called Listening Dictation every day. This means they log onto the school website and listen to a recording and then fill in the blanks with the words they hear. It's designed to improve their listening skills.

Something you might not know about Korea is they don't seem to have the same copyright laws (or maybe they just disregard them?) as Canada or the USA. This means that in every book I have seen in any Korean school that they created there has been material "borrowed" from some other source but used as their own. This is extremely commonplace and our new school is no exception. I'd like to know who decided what would go into the final draft of these Listening Dictation texts since there are some pretty odd and age inappropriate stories/articles. We collected some of our favorites so I will periodically post them. Keep in mind that most of our students are about 10-14 years old. This one isn't necessarily age inappropriate but it is weird and kind of effed up.

Our dog, Bob

Our dog, Bob has killed twenty-eight snakes this spring. He knows how to kill a snake. He doesn't rush to do it. He takes his time and does the job well. I could see the snake didn't want to fight the dog. The snake wanted to get away. Bob wouldn't let it. I wondered why it was crawling toward a heap of black earth at the foot of the hill. I looked as the snake lifted its pretty head in response to one of Bob's jumps. "It's not a bull black snake," I said. "It's a she-snake. Look at the white on her throat." "A snake is an enemy to me," my father said. "I hate snakes. Kill it, Bob. Go in there and get that snake and stop playing with it."

Bob obeyed my father. I hated to see him take the snake by the throat. Bob grabbed the white patch on her throat. The blood spurted from her throat. Something hit my legs. Bob threw the snake down. I looked to see what had struck my legs. It was snake eggs. She was going to the sand to lay her eggs. Her body was still moving in pain. Bob threw her body back on the sand. She trembled like a leaf in the lazy wind, then her body lay perfectly still. The blood colored the earth around the snake.

Picasso's Secret School...

Who knew it would be in a dirty alley near my apartment in Seoul, Korea?

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Highlight of my Weekend

While we were on our walk we stumbled upon this little gem. One thing that Korea is never lacking is churches. I've seen all sizes, shapes and denominations. This church seems to be offering a special new "Alpha" program. I'm curious to know how it's going and also if the English is a correct translation.

Look closely. They are pulling all the stops to get people to join their church, including bribing them with food. Pasta!?!! Really? I mean, they couldn't think of any appropriate 'P' words to put on their banner? You know... Like praise or prayer or pretty please? Maybe I will have to stop by and exercise the last "A" in the acronym and ask what the deal is with their pasta promises.

Weekend Walk...

So last week we remained apartment bound for the majority of our non-work related time. It was a good thing because it helped us get over a cold (although Matt is apparently sick again) but it also meant that we were feeling pretty squirrelly come Saturday. So we decided to take a giant walk and basically see where we ended up.

We saw a lot more of our neighbourhood and actually bumped into one of my students and his mom (what are the chances?!). We ended up by Olympic Stadium, which we live pretty close to.
After taking a break to have some mandu and bibimbap for lunch we decided to continue on. We learned that they have regular basketball games and a random Korean man informed us of the costs, etc in a very odd conversation. He pretty much told us we should go to the game and that we could buy a ticket for 7,000 won (about $7) and where the box office was. Then he asked us about our marital status and how many babies we have. Hahah.

Instead of watching basketball, a sport I really don't like, we continued on our way and decided to try and follow the signs to Hangang Park (Han River Park). A curious thing happened. We were on one side of the street and there was a massive sign that said "Hangang Park 1000m" and a huge red arrow telling us to cross the street. So we did. Then we looked up and saw another giant sign proclaming "Hangang Park 1100m". Bwahaha! But at least the arrow was pointing in the same direction so we carried on and hoped to fall into a secret worm hole which would take us to the park instantly. This is not what happened, unfortunately. I will give the short version- we did manage to get to the park but it was no easy. In fact, it was really difficult and we walked a really crazy roundabout way to get there.
Luckily we had stocked up on beverages. Matt found a new one so I think Pocari Sweat's days are numbered. This one is called "Amino Get Walk". Much tastier and clearly equips you better for giant walks.

We noted the top of the line safety equipment.

I wonder how Canadian the Pizza 26 pizza really is. Also, check out these crazy masks you can buy at Lotte World!

In the end we got back to Jamsil station and spent a bit of time shopping around Lotte World. We arrived home and our friend Leah called us and asked us to come out to Itaewon to hang out. So we freshened up and made our way out there. By coincidence Dana and Curtis were in the same area so we enjoyed some food and ice cream and then Matt, Leah and I went for a drink at the Rocky Mountain Tavern.

Sunday we cleaned our entire apartment, did all the laundry and then went to Bundang to hang out with Dana and Curtis. This included board games, delicious food cooked by Dana and norae bang. When we got home we watched the movie Atonement which was just 'okay' if you ask me.

One of my Goals...

So I think I have mentioned that one of my goals this year is to meet new people and read more. I may also have mentioned that I found and joined a book club that meets every other week near our place. It's called Bookleaves and everyone is really friendly. We've been to two meetings so far and have another this Sunday. Unfortunately they haven't been great about keeping the blog or the Facebook group updated but they do email everyone about the meetings and books so that's okay.

We decided not to get cable tv this year and therefore we have had a lot more time to read. As a result, here is a list of the books I've read since returning to Korea.

Cunt by Ingrid Muscio
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
You Suck by Christopher Moore
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

All of these books were pretty good, although wildly different. I'd have to say my favorite was The Lovely Bones even if the second half of the book wasn't as stellar as the beginning. It had a really interesting concept, great characters and was extremely moving. I think this is a book my friend Cindy could finish, which says something since she has finished approximately 3 books in her entire life and hates reading. You Suck was hilarious and crude (it's a vampire love story, do I really need to say more?). Suite Francaise was all right but honestly the author's personal story was more interesting to me than the book. Irene Nemirovsky was an acclaimed writer of Jewish descent, living in France, during WWII. She was writing this book about the war (with fictional characters) and wanted it to have five parts, like a musical 'suite'. Unfortunately she was arrested, sent to Aushwitz and murdered shortly after finishing part two. This novel was discovered and published about six decades after her death.

Currently I am reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami and really enjoying it so far. It's another translation (Suite Francaise was also translated) but they did a great job and seem to have retained the author's quirky writing style.

Anyway, I realize compared to some people, I haven't read that much in two months but for me I'm doing pretty good. It's hard to get back in the saddle after a long hiatus from reading. Being in the book club is nice since I am reading books that I probably wouldn't have tried otherwise.

A Bit of a Work Update...

Now that it's March there are a few changes at work. First, everyone had to switch classrooms because they realized that B Level could potentially require more classrooms and that the second floor (where A Level was) has more classrooms than the first floor. So now I'm in room 106, which actually is way bigger than my other room. This is okay but I miss my old room because it was right across from the photocopier and now I have to go to the 2nd floor whenever I need copies.

Also, now I am only teaching A1 and A3 levels, instead of A1, 2, 3 and 4. This is a fantastic change because it cut the amount of paperwork I have to do in half. It did mean that I got a new coteacher. Her name is Yuni and she is lovely and I really like her so that's no problem. I do love Seon though, my other coteacher. She is really outgoing and larger than life which is pretty unusual for a Korean woman. I told her she reminds me of a cartoon and she laughed.

We also have a new foreign staff member. I realize how weird it is that I have no pictures of anyone I work with, although we are pretty busy most of the time and I rarely see anyone so it's not surprising. It's just so different from last year. The new foreign guy is from Oregon, is named Eddie and seems really nice. I "trained" him (although it was only for one day or so but I have been checking in on him and answering any questions) and he totally surprised me on Friday by giving me a thank you present!! It was really sweet and cute actually. He explained all about it and how he lives near the place where the toffee is made and that Oregon is really famous for hazelnuts (I had no idea!).

Anyway, it was ridiculously delicious and it seems this place has a website so maybe sometime I will buy some for myself or as a gift. Super, amazing, fantastic! Here is my crappy picture of the toffee and a link to the website!

Also, I have started teaching a new class called Screen English. Basically this consists of watching an English cartoon. There are subtitles available and a script and I am to extract useful vocabulary and phrases for the kids to learn. It's pretty simple to teach and means that I get to watch cartoons and get paid for it. Currently we're watching a claymation movie called "Bump in the Night", a Super Dave Osborne cartoon (I kind of hate him, actually) and an Archie cartoon (which is surprisingly hilarious). Things are all fine and dandy right now but I can see these shows grating on me after watching them for the 2097th time. Hahah.

A really terrible situation...

Before anyone gets worried, I am not talking about something that has happened to Matt or myself, we are doing great. However, not long ago I learned about this horrible story that happened to a fellow foreign teacher. Actually, today I was going to go and make a donation towards his medical costs because we finally got paid (it seems like we have been waiting a lifetime for a full paycheck). This story has been covered in the Korean media and really brings to light some negative things, or at the least things to beware of, about teaching in Korea.

Bill Kapoun was 26, just like me. I never met him and now never will because on February 24 his apartment caught fire and he was left severely burned and disfigured. Fire safety is often distressing and laughable in this country (remember all the descending lifelines aka ropes I've taken pictures of? Remember the 2nd floor door that opened to a platform and a huge drop at our school last year?) and his apartment did not have a smoke detector, a fire extinguisher or even an alternative exit. Also, since he was working part time and didn't opt for or ask for health insurance he also was uninsured. This is often a huge problem here. I think we weren't properly insured last year, even though it was in our contract. This year we do have insurance (at least they are deducting a portion off our paycheck for insurance but I think I will double check) but looking around our apartment I realize we also have no smoke detector or fire extinguisher. We are only on the 2nd floor though so if a fire broke out we could jump out one of our windows and be okay.

Bill's family is going through a terrible time and they still are facing huge costs for the medical services that he was provided with. He just passed away over the weekend and I am really saddened by this news. His girlfriend also died in the fire. There are numerous websites dedicated to this story that you can access here and here. If you can, donate some money to the family because even though Bill has passed away the bills for the operations and procedures he went through are still staggering. Or at the very least, keep them in your thoughts and prayers. It could have been us.

Everything tastes better on a stick!

Living in Seoul has some great perks, for example, you can get something to eat just outside of your apartment at any hour of the night. The other night we finished work and decided to try a new place. This one featured all food on a stick. Behold!
It tasted okay. I thought that those green things were grapes actually and that was part of the reason I insisted on getting that dish. As it turns out, they are some kind of nasty bean-like substance that I don't recommend and I made Matt eat. The food tasted okay and we had some beer to go with it but I don't know if I'll become a regular there even if you can have numerous sword fights after you've eaten.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Joi's Birthday Party

So last weekend we had an opportunity to hang out with one of our favorite ex-roommates. Joi Teacher had her birthday in February but she was back in America visiting people so we couldn't celebrate it with her. She returned and we met her for dinner and drinks. We also had a chance to meet her adorable coworker, Helen.

It turned out to be a fun and delicious evening- we had Greek food, then went to a club and had a drink and enjoyed ice cream cake. The girls at the table beside us were also celebrating a birthday so we swapped a piece of our cake for theirs (which was tiramisu).

Later Helen went home and we continued on to the Hongdae area. We went to a couple of places but ended up at a club called Oi. The most noteworthy thing about this place was that it's all carved out of stone and you have to take your shoes off to enter. It's a pretty neat looking place. We went there to hear Joi's friend DJ but didn't end up staying too long.

Joi spent the night and had the opportunity to see our humble apartment and then left early the next morning. I didn't take a lot of pictures but the ones I did take are over here.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

What I've been doing with my spare time...

Yes, it is pathetic. Last year we worked like pack mules and with this job we have a fair amount of free time. So what productive and honorable activities have I chosen to do with it? Save the whales? Learn a new talent? Volunteer at the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Want to Learn How to Do Other Stuff Good Too? Nope. I have been playing Scrabulous obsessively on Facebook. However, now that I have won 15 games in a row and managed to figure out how to make a screen cap of it I think I can return back to civilization. Phew! Also, slightly in my defense, I've had a cold this week so I've been trying to rest. Who am I trying to kid though? I probably would have been playing Scrabulous anyway!