Saturday, September 27, 2008

To the untrained eye...

This may look like ordinary Korean gum. The kind that loses it's strange flavor after it's been in your mouth for 15 seconds. Foolish person. This is urgent gum. I passed by one of my former students while she was leaving the bathroom and I was entering it. I was the only person in the bathroom. So I was in my stall, well, you know, when suddenly she bellows, "Teacher! TEACHER! Here for you!" and sticks her little hand under the door to give this gum to me. At that moment I literally pissed myself laughing. I'm sure her mother would be mortified but I think it's pretty hilarious. My life can be so strange. I'm just grateful she didn't stick her head under the door too.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Creative Responses

So I just finished marking all of my monthly tests for my students. This is generally a pretty boring and laborious task but there were a few bright spots. In one class we had read a story about an octopus that tries to learn how to cook. So one of the questions asked what the student would do if they had eight arms and then it required them to draw a picture of them in the situation where they would use their arms. Here are a few of my favorites:

Besides having the most perfect handwriting, I liked how this girl envisioned herself as an actual octopus. And not only was she cooking but she is doing homework and somehow has a baby too! I'm pretty sure she hasn't hit puberty yet so this takes things to a whole new level. Who's baby is it?

I laughed so much when I saw this one. It's clever. However, Paul was a little overzealous and somehow he has 12 appendages. Even when you account for 2 legs that only makes 10. When his friend glanced over and saw this picture he couldn't stop cracking up. Notice the swim cap. Those are serious business here.

This is probably one of my favorite students. The grammar and sentence structure is pretty messed but I love how he's "doing some fast to get money". Bwahaha! Epic! Now if only I could figure out how to do some fast because I could sure use some money.

The best part about this is probably how she put shoes on two of the arms but left an arm in between in a phallic manner. Or maybe how she would dance in English class (or just serve some food) if she had eight arms. ^^

Last but not least, here's is Alex's picture. He actually called me over during the test to check if this would be okay. He was like, "Teacher, I bad drawing, please teacher." I love how he drew the desk only and left himself out of the picture. Probably in the bathroom or something.

There you have it. This is the kind of stuff I am testing impressionable young Korean children on.

Attack of the Mosquitoes

Even though it's nearly October we are still being bitten by mosquitoes daily. In fact I have bites up and down all of my arms and legs. Matt was totally attacked the other night and it resulted in him having 5 (well 6 but one is on the other side of his arm) bites in one area. Look at the carnage!

I'm so glad the weather is getting colder and the leaves should be changing color soon. It's just not right to be getting more mosquito bites now than I did in the summer!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

An Odd Sort of Day

So I'm going to write a casual, rambling blog just on how this week has been. Nothing exciting or really noteworthy has happened so this could be incredibly boring for everyone. ^^ I've been in a bit of a slouch all week since work is busy (end of the month stuff) and the weather has been rainy and gray. I am so affected by gray skies and rain. I hate it so much. Anyway, this morning I woke up before 8 am because I was FREEZING to death. Overnight fall has arrived and it looks like it will be here to stay. It's not that cold but considering last week it was 30C it's a big change. Today was the first day I wore socks in 5 months! So that's something. I wore my favorite pair. Hehe.

I wasn't able to get back to sleep so I spent a fair part of my day reading the next book club selection (we meet on Sunday so I have to get it together). We're reading A Spectacle of Corruption by David Liss and I am going to be honest and say that I wasn't keen on reading it at first. I'm glad I am because now I really enjoy it but I would NEVER have picked it up on my own. So that's a good part of being in a book club and being forced to read something different. It's a fun read. Even if I usually dislike period books or "old" books in general (I'm a modern girl). So it's a pleasant surprise to be enjoying this one.

Something that was not pleasant was watching Iron Man last night. Or attempting to. Seriously, am I on drugs? Why does everyone love this movie?! I thought it was a horrible, steaming pile of you know what! I couldn't even finish watching it- it was so stupid and boring (and predictable!). I don't mind silly movies but this wasn't even interesting. Matt didn't like it either but he watched the whole thing (I picked up my book halfway through). Terrible movie. I can't believe it has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes!

Matt made potato salad for lunch and we bought fried chicken to go along with it. Yeah, I know, not the healthiest meal but it was delicious.

Then work was pretty good. I love my coworkers- Mi Eun randomly brought me a copy of the movie Once which I have heard great things about, wanted to see but couldn't find. How awesome is that?! She brought it just because she thought I would like the movie. I'm totally ecstatic about it and I'm certain it will kick Iron Man's ass. Then I had some laughs with some of my classes and a great partner meeting with Min Jeong. And walking home I ran into a foreign girl that lives a block away! We both totally did a double take and I actually nearly dropped my umbrella. I know I live in Seoul but I rarely see other foreigners in my neighbourhood so this was a big deal. I gave her my business card and we chatted a bit. So we'll see if she emails me. It would be nice to have more friends in the area and apparently she is here with her boyfriend too!

So that was my day. Sorry if this was a bit long winded, I'm just wasting time until Matt gets home from work. Then maybe we can watch Once! ^^

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Here are a couple of cute/silly signs that we found recently. I especially love the Art Box (panda) one since that's my favorite store in Korea. Plus autumn is my favorite season. Enjoy!

Our Anniversary

Our ninth anniversary was on the 12th of this month so Saturday we spent the day together doing cheesy romantic things. It was a bit challenging since it was Chuseok that weekend and a lot of things were closed but we managed. Here's the link for all the pictures.

First we dressed up and took the cable car up to North Seoul Tower on Namsan. Earlier we'd bought some locks and a permanent marker at Lotte Mart and when we got to the Tower we spent some time decorating them and writing stuff on them. Then we mulled over where the best spot to put them would be. I wanted them to be near a heart shaped bike lock but I wanted it to have an okay view too. That turned out to be a tall order so we compromised on the nice view in order to get the cute heart shaped bike lock nearby.

Then we sat on the patio to enjoy a pitcher of sangria and bask in the sunshine while overlooking Seoul. It was lovely and fun but possibly not my smartest move since there was a lot of sangria and it was only 4pm. Then we had to hike down the mountain (and we were a bit tipsy). Oops!

We were disappointed that our favorite (expensive) restaurant was closed- but not for Chuseok! They were renovating and so most of the kitchen had been pulled out and left on the sidewalk in front and there were various workers milling about. I hope the restaurant didn't change owners because then the food might not be as nice. Plus I loved the atmosphere in there. So we were at a loss of where to eat. We decided to go to Itaewon and go to a different Italian restaurant and it turned out that one had changed owners and had a different name. Grrr! We were too hungry to argue and the menu was basically the same so we ate there. In retrospect it may have been a better idea to just eat somewhere cheap and try the first restaurant again later. The food was only "okay" but the price tag was still pretty steep. Oh well.

Next we decided to watch a movie and decided on "Mamma Mia" basically because we had heard other people had liked it and because there were no other English movies playing. I love Meryl Streep but I have to say this movie was pretty ridiculous. I have vowed never to watch another play/movie based on popular songs. The plots are always too ridiculous for me to suspend my disbelief and usually I prefer the original versions of the songs anyway. It's okay Meryl, I still love you.

So we caught a cab home. Since it was Chuseok the roads were pretty quiet, but there was light traffic. Our cab driver had a death wish though or maybe he was using the quieter roads as an opportunity to practice for the Indy 500. Matt and I simultaneously reached for our seatbelts because that guy was SPEEDING. At one point (when my eyes weren't squeezed shut) we were up to almost 140 km/h in SEOUL. What the eff!?! I thought for sure we were going to crash more than one time. We did make it home safe and sound so I guess it was a good end to the day. We certainly appreciated eachother more having narrowly escaped certain death! Now we just have to figure out something cool to do for our ten year anniversary. Any ideas?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Look Closely...

You might have to click on this picture to read it properly. This must be a typo, right? A baaaa-d one too. (I know, I am retarded.)

Kelly's Birthday

Last Thursday the A-team reunited to celebrate Kelly's birthday. We didn't do anything too fancy- just had some delicious chicken galbi and cheesy rice. We also had some fantastic cake and in keeping with tradition I was sent over to the other table of people in the restaurant to give them some cake. Min Jeong taught me what to say but when I had to say it I got nervous and totally screwed it up. It was pretty funny. Afterwards we had a couple drinks before calling it a night. Work is so much easier to face when you're friends with your coworkers.

The Age Game

The other day one of my classes asked me how old I am. This is one of my favorite questions because I can always turn it around and see what they think. This class has one of my favorite students in it. His name is Jun Seok and he is extremely curious and outgoing. He probably asks me about a dozen random questions every class. Anyway, Jun Seok decided to be a smartass and say 50 (his original guess was 40) and so I decided to take a class poll. Here are the results:
So I wrote his guess first and then announced to the class that the person with the correct response (or closest) would get a prize. Jun Seok had a mini meltdown and begged me to let him change his guess. It's really fun messing with him but I did let him change it.

Apparently all the boys think I am much older or else the girls just wanted to be kinder. Anyway, at this point I had an interesting situation since they count age differently here and therefore Lucy and Alice were technically correct depending on which way you count my age. So I gave them both prizes and explained about how we count ages differently in each culture (atleast the kid were learning something while we were off topic). Each girl got a pack of Canada themed stickers and I thought Jun Seok was going to cry (he's about 12 though so he held it together). Jun Seok is obsessed with North America. Last class he asked me if he would have to go to the airport to buy a ticket to get to Canada and as a result he learned what a "travel agent" is. I could probably dedicate an entire blog to the hilarious questions Jun Seok asks me in class (that have nothing to do with the lesson). Never a dull moment.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Spris Let's Rock Festival

Saturday was one of the highlights of my entire year. My awesome friend Mi Eun asked me on Thursday night if I was interested in going to the Spris Let's Rock Festival. She casually showed me the flyer and immediately I noticed that Nell (my favorite Korean band) was headlining. Uhh, YEAH I WANT TO GO! There were some other big names on the list like Big Bang and Pia (that I recognized anyway). I asked her what ticket prices were and I was shocked when she said they were $14 (for the day including a free drink) or $16 (for the day and a free drink + lunchbox). Holy crap! Cheapest festival EVER! On top of that it was really close by at Olympic Park Stadium. Needless to say, I was totally pumped to go to the festival!
The weather here is still gorgeous, despite being almost halfway into September. I think the temperature was about 29C on Saturday with perfect blue skies. I still wear skirts with bare legs or shorts everyday here. Despite being 20 minutes late because Olympic Park station is complicated to get to (Line 5 does this weird wishbone thing and we ended up going the wrong way) things went otherwise smooth. Poor Anna was on time and everyone else was late! Actually Matt and I were the least late! Garrett and Eddie ended up taking a cab after getting pissed off at Line 5 and Mi Eun lost her house keys and had to backtrack. I felt really bad for Anna! She was a great sport though.
It was really fun hanging out with Anna (she's one of the new homework room teachers at our school) and both she and Mi Eun were pretty frickin' adorable rocking out to all these bands. I was a bit surprised at how hardcore some of them were. There was this one (now I can't remember his name) who was dressed in a red jumpsuit with white lace gloves and white face paint. His music was awesome but every time I looked at him I cracked up. Especially after he smucked his makeup on the microphone and so had a flesh colored stripe down his nose. There were also high school students running around in funny outfits- like the one in the elephant suit and her friends with their giant bows and one with a Stitch mask. They must have been melting (along with the poor pelican mascot that was wandering around the festival).
In total there were 25 bands on the list but we probably saw about half. Some of the ones I can remember were Sugar Donut, Coffee Machine, Windy City, Vassline, Vanilla Unity, Pia, Eve, Lazy Bone, Big Bang, No Brain, YB, Transfixion and of course Nell. Actually we missed Big Bang because they played while we ate dinner. Dammit!! I'm not a Big Bang fan but they are really popular here and it would have been cool to see them play. Oh well, maybe another time. Mi Eun said there are more festivals coming in October. I really enjoyed Sugar Donut, Coffee Machine, Pia, YB (who created the Korea World Cup soccer song) and Nell though. They were my highlights. Windy City was kind of fun- picture a Korean reggae band. Hahah. Sort of strange. The girls braved the mosh pit while the boys sat in the beer garden for awhile. Another awesome thing about Korean rock festivals? Cameras are allowed, water costs $1/bottle and beer is $2. Also it was strange being at a festival where no one was selling t-shirts or cds.

I have to say, Nell exceeded my expectations. I was so excited to see them live- I really love their music even if I can't understand it. The lead singer's voice just affects me. They were so sweet and humble seeming too. Apparently they were discovered by Seo Tai-ji (a really famous Korean rocker). Anyway, I've made a lot of the bands into links so you can sample some Korean rock/punk for yourself. Each link is to a different song. Unfortunately I don't have Korean writing capability on my computer so I couldn't search thoroughly. Also you can see all the pictures from the festival over here. I'm so glad that Mi Eun invited us to come!

Cool New Accessories

I forgot to post about my new watch and phone charm! I picked them up in Myeongdong the other weekend. I especially love the watch and I was replacing my Astroboy phone charm since my original has taken quite the beating. Poor Atom.

Isn't my watch the coolest you've ever seen? Sushi!! All my kids comment on it and say it makes them hungry. I love this watch brand (Naughty Naughty Pets) because they always have colorful, cute and funny stuff.

Baking Extravaganza

Now that it's not a billion degrees outside (only a million) I had a chance to experiment a bit more with baking in my toaster oven. While we were shopping at Home Plus I made a few exciting discoveries. They had Hersey's cocoa powder and white chocolate chips!!! I am CERTAIN that both were an ordering mistake since the cocoa powder is with the hot chocolate mix (there are going to be some very disappointed Koreans) and the chocolate chips were with the chocolate bars and were on sale. I squealed when I saw the chips and immediately grabbed them. The Korean couple next to me looked extremely puzzled and intrigued. After I walked away a bit I saw them carefully picking up a package and examining it. Hahah!
Anyway, so far I have made chocolate muffins with white chocolate chips and also cookies. The muffin recipe I had was a bit ghetto so I ended up having to modify it a bit which meant it wasn't as chocolate-y as I hoped. Live and learn. Considering that few Koreans bake (they just don't own ovens) it was quite the novelty for me to bring home baked goods. Everyone liked them, even if I knew they could be better. The cookies I made on the weekend and brought to the book club meeting were AWESOME though and I will definitely use that recipe again. Although I am running out of white chocolate chips and probably Home Plus will never have them again. Oh well!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Iceberg Straight Ahead!

Look at what Matt removed from our tiny fridge the other day. Yep, that's a piece of ice. He's pretty impressed in the first picture and I took the second after commenting about how he probably shouldn't pose like that with a knife in his hand. Hahah.

I am worried about our fridge, actually. At first they gave us the smallest one possible (think mini beer fridge) but since we gasped when we were shown the place they replaced it with the next size up (still a beer fridge but a bit bigger and with a freezer). However, it is clearly secondhand and lately it has been creating massive ice tumors in the back of it, which then start to melt and form a pool of water at the bottom of the fridge. Then the puddle spills all over the floor in front of the fridge. This is not convenient and we've lost a lot of food because of this shitty fridge. Either from vegetables/fruit freezing because it's near the back or else rotting because it gets waterlogged. I sort of wish it would crap out completely except then we would lose all of our food and the stupid school probably wouldn't send us a replacement for a few days. Grrrr...

T-shirts in Myeongdong

After we hiked around Namsan we spent some time in Myeongdong and I spotted a few humorous shirts. Enjoy!

This one seems like a thinly veiled death threat, doesn't it?

The brand Maru has some pretty funny Konglish-y shirts. At least Joyce is being honest and I'm glad to hear Lisa isn't racist.

A Visit to Namsan...

Last weekend I decided we should go to Namsan Park and take a little walk. You might remember that we went there (and went up Seoul Tower via the cable car) last year but it was early spring and nothing was in bloom. I really wanted to go again while everything was green. I'd envisioned a leisurely stroll while we admired the vegetation. I conveniently forgot that the 'san' in Namsan stands for mountain. Dammit!

It was a lot of work getting to the top but we powered through. I think it was my extreme gangster ghetto style that gave me my strength. Matt, on the other hand, was barely phased at all by the steep inclines and took the opportunity to work out further at one of the random, rusted out exercise areas. Weirdo!

Later he refueled with cotton candy. We were all about healthy living that day. When we arrived at North Seoul Tower we discovered a festival! They were having a food theme festival! Unfortunately we didn't get any free food (the line for a free taste of galbi was RIDICULOUS!) but we did wander around and enjoy the view for awhile.
There were some cool wire people suspended around the base of the tower. The most interesting thing was discovering the section of the fence covered in thousands of locks of all shapes and sizes. Apparently this is a couple thing to do- buy two locks, write sweet messages and your name on them, interlock them and then lock them on the fence. You're supposed to keep the key as a memento of your love (unless you use a combination lock) or something.

It's cute and so we've decided to go back there on our anniversary to add some locks of our own. We also want to eat at the adorable restaurant that we discovered last year. Maybe we'll even get couple rings to top it all off and be extra Korean. It's hard to believe it will be 9 years.

Anyway, we capped off our day watching the pizza dough tossing demonstration/contest that was sponsored by Mr. Pizza. Afterward we hiked down the mountain and we to Myeongdong for dinner and shopping. It was a good day!

To see all the pictures of our adventure in Namsan Park you can hike over here.