Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Leaf Pie

I just ate a "Premium Pastry Pie" called a Leaf Pie. It was more like pie crust molded into the shape of a leaf with some glazed crust, which I will say was apple flavored. I'm yet to determine whether or not it was delicious.

I'm at school right now, it's T-u-e-s-d-a-y, S-e-p-t-e-m-b-e-r the TWENTY-EIGHTH of what year? Two thousand and ten, 2010 (insert smiley into the last zero). I taught 3rd grade today, which I totally love. However, I planned for the wrong lesson today... whoopsies. I brought in material for lesson 11- It's Cold- which I unpacked from my bag and set-up in the classroom. My coteacher walked in and I was very quick to tell her how extra prepared I was by bringing in my winter clothes! To which she responded, "Why?".

Anyways, we quickly threw together the first part of Lesson 10- I Can Swim- which had absolutely nothing to do with 'It's Cold', though I still wore my winter hat through part of first period... And again thanks to my quick thinking coteacher we had some decent games to play with them, so it wasn't a total bust. Actually I thought the games were all fantastic, though slightly hectic because the 3rd graders were all so excited to play, rambunctious is a good word.

The Leaf Pie was pretty good, I've decided.

I've also decided that I am not a fan of idle time. I came upon this discovery last week during the holiday when I failed to use my days off to my advantage and sat idle through most of the days doing nothing. That being said I finished Season 1 of Breaking Bad, Season 2 of Fringe, a movie or two and I acquiesced Season 1 of True Blood. I had to look up how to spell rambunctious but I didn't have to look up acquiesced... there's something uncategorizable happening to the English portion of my brain. By the end of the week I was feeling slightly mired, as a result of my miring I've decided to be less moored during future idle plights. So I hope I can adhere to that and use mire time moore wisely in the future.

Being back at work is great though, I love what I'm doing which is a fantastic sign for the future; being that I plan on teaching for a great while- whether in South Korea or somewhere else, who knows.

Getting attacked by kids. More later.

The-more-later part:
I got my first paycheck last Friday! And they all rejoiced-- Yancy. Ha ha, I had typed "yayyy" there but Google Chrome suggested I check my spelling, I like their suggestion more. It turns out that I get an extra 100,000 Won for teaching at multiple schools which was a fantastic surprise! Of course the fact that they had to take out 500,000 as a safety deposit was less fantastic, though not a surprise.

Things I'd like to spend my money on:
1. Instrument- Banjo would be preferred but finding one may be challenging... perhaps a quest is in order.
2. Camera- A reasonably priced moderately decent digital SLR... a Rebel or Nikon D-series, maybe even a Sony?
3. Food- I gotsta eat.
4. Alcohol- Liquor... Korean beer reminds me of freshman year of college and good beer is quite expensive.
5. Not student loans- If I didn't have to, I wouldn't...

I'm certain there's more but I just got home and plan on vegging out for a minute or two. I've got an idea- let's end my posts with quotes that may or may not be relevant from now on.

"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those who don't have it."
- George Bernard Shaw

Friday, September 24, 2010

I've got a warm desk

It's Friday the 24th of September, 10:21 AM. I'm sitting at school in the English classroom just kind of relaxing... I'll be here for another six hours- not teaching, oh no no. I'm desk warming.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term; it's akin to benchwarming except a desk is involved and there's no game that you wish you were part of. Unless you consider being outside of school "the game" then yeah, it's more similar to bench warming than I'd like to admit.
Anyways, it's a good time to catch up on things- write in my blog and whatnot... maybe make a few youtube videos? I took some videos on my way to and at school today, on my phone. Unfortunately the file type is one that my computer can't recognize, so I couldn't edit them at all, and I don't thinkn the sound is working, which is fortunate because it really just saves me the embarassment of my early morning rants becoming public. No, I do not like coffee- neither here nor in America...

There are four parts to my story, make up your own script... The school I'm showing you is my main school- Shinheung Elementary. Anyways, it's been two hours of deskwarming and I'm already bored.

What did I do for the three days off, you ask?
Well Brian and I have been going out during the night more- and loving the Daejeon night life. We've found a few quaint bars, one of our favorites being the Beer Warehouse, which is the definition of dive bar. It's underground down a narrow staircase, the door opens up to a dimly lit room with high tables and stools, no bar, and graffiti covers the walls. One wall has about 5 large beer coolers filled with delicious brewskis, we imbibed just a few. Sitting in the corner with eight empty Budweisers between them was a young korean couple who were obviously curious about us being down there, but were entirely too engrossed in an epic game of Jenga to pay attention for long. Aside from Brian and I and the couple the only other person down there was the cashier- who seemed to dissappear for extended periods of time and then reappear without being beckoned. We got great vibes from that place.

After the warehouse I went to play a board game with some friends a few stops away from Yongmun. It was my first time to their apt. and to Galma station so I was met at the station and led to the abode. Apartments for couples in Korea are more than twice the size of a single- which makes sense I guess, but it's bewildering to go from my dorm room size apartment to a regularly sized apartment with a living room and spare room!
So the game is Settlers of Catan and it's quickly becoming an addiction. I had played it only once in the states and it left a good impression then, but now that I'm playing it more... totally dig it. Even if my current record is 0-3... that will change, I will add my name to the list o' champions.

Well, I'ves succesfully spent about 22 minutes writing in my blog, that leaves me with a little more than 300 minutes before I can go home... Expect more from me before the day is over.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

K Pop!

Classes this week have been going really well. Ok, so mostly well. I had one activity totally bomb- I had a premonition that it would so I had kind of prepared a back up (go me!). Turns out that 3rd graders can't really handle the Kimbab English game (speed dating game)- but they could handle a rock paper scissors tournament style game using picture cards. Must say that my coteacher made this game WAY better than I had anticipated by adding the competitiveness and bragging rights- she deserves alllll the credit.
Students pop out ten cards from the back of their book, all with pictures on one side and a number on the back.
They hold up one card each and take turns saying, "How many (object on card) do you have?" Then they play rock, paper, scissors (they never learned to say 'shoot' here so they just throw it down on 'scissors'... threw me off for a while). The winner gets to say how many they have "I have seven (object)" and they stick their tongue out at the loser in a playful manner. The winner puts their card on the table, moving them down to nine cards, and the loser just moves their card to the back of the pile, so they remain at ten. The ultimate winner is declared when one student has no cards left in their hand!
The kids ate it up, they loved it!

I taught grade four students today. Probably the best classes I've taught so far... maybe ever? I don't really feel like explaining what I did right now- but it was brilliant. Again much credit goes to my fabulous coteacher. I think we're starting to get the swing of things and figure out how to "tag team teach" as the kids say these days.

Every day at my main school- oh, I work at two different elementary schools. Shinheung m-w & fri and Dongmyoung on thursdays- so every day at my main school, at about 1:50 pm a group of 5th grade girls invades my little office. They try to teach me Korean, and of course I play dumb and ask them what everything means in English. Today they navigated me to a K-Pop site on Naver... they put on a song and proceeded to sing and dance for me. Most adorable thing everrrr.

I never thought elementary would be this much fun, but it is! It's a good way to stay young, although it can be a crazy amount of work. The beautiful thing is, no homework to correct! You would have to be crazy to assign homework and correct it- I have about 22 classes, all with different students, about 30 in each at my main school. My other school is VERY small, 60 students total in a k-6 school. Anyways, 22 x 30 = 660 students every week. I know one kid's name and that's because everytime he sees me he quizes me on it.

Let's talk about my current favorite Korean food. Takalbi or dakgalbi... 다갈비. I typed that myself.
It comes out in a giant deep dish pan- a sizzling mass of chicken, cabbage, thick noodles, and cheese if you ask for it (지츠 = chee-suu = cheese). You cook it at your table for about 5 minutes, until all of the cheese melts and the chicken is fully cooked. By the way, a lot of Korean restaurants will have burners in the middle of the tables- so you actually cook your own food. It's great. When the food is done cooking you can make miniature wraps with lettuce or sesame leaves, add some garlic, chili paste, or kimchi to the mix and stuff the whole thing in your mouth. SO GOOD. It almost has an indian curry flavor, but it's still spicy and Korean. You gotta try it.
Seriously the best thing ever.

Tonight I have a dinner meeting with my main school. I've just been told that it entails a lot of alcohol; Koreans love their alcohol, and lots of food; they also love their food. It's my first meeting so I'm pretty excited about it. I'm just hoping I can sit with the teachers that can speak a little english. Koreans get anxiety when foreigners aren't talking, but many of them are too shy or not competent enough with their English to attempt conversation. The fact that I know my silence makes them uncomfortable can create some seriously bad conversation. I talk about totally mundane and ridiculous things because I feel like I HAVE to be talking.
Dear Korea,
Sometimes I would rather sit in silence than have terrible conversation... silence doesn't mean I'm unhappy.
Sincerely, Aaron---And Mike.

Anywho- things have been going well this week. Brian and I continue to create some magical quotes which I should add to the quote page... I just forget what's said before I can write it down.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Daejeon: Like being in a foreign film

So I'll never actually write in this thing unless I catch up immediately!
Arrived in Daejeon.
Visited school.
Did intro lessons.
Kids are great and loved it.
Went out with coteacher, brian, and Seth (coteachers BF)- yes, he's American.
Taught more.
Teachers at school afraid to talk to me in English- very shy and lacking in confidence.
I convinced one to make after lunch time the "English(ee) Time"- it worked!
I now talk to at least 4 Korean teachers a day in English convos. Yay!
Lots of squid in school lunch... getting used to finding tentacles in my rice.
Weekends are great! Still have not been to a noraebang... Soon?
Week 2- going great!
Now we're caught up.

The Orientation Nutshell

The rest of orientation was great...
Went to a sweet buddhist temple- Brian got stung by hornets 3 times, and I tamed dragonflies.
Went to Hanok village in Jeonju- a part of the city with hundreds of traditional korean houses. We made our own fans, ate bibimbap and wandered the streets. I met up with a group of people and together our fans formed all four seasons, I had been the missing one. Serendipitous.

There were many, many, many lectures. Some of them were great, better than some classes I had at school- I majored in education, and these 40 mins - 1.5 hour lectures were better... That being said, maybe I just got more out of them because of my education background. Yeah, let's say that.

We were randomly assigned lesson presentation groups. My group consisted of a South African girl named Andrea, she was quite awesome, and a Canadian guy named Benjamin, people referred to him as: the Ghoul, the Creep, the Guy with Crazy Eyes, the Guy with the Sadistic Smile, the Guy that Sweats-a-Lot, and the Autistic Kid. I believe all of the above were and are true... Needless to say, our presentation didn't totally bomb, and we even had to go first. Right after the presentation Benjamin decided to leave the program, for good. So he went home. I'm truly glad that no kids will be near him.

BAM! Orientation is over! Most of us have overcome our jet lag and have acclimated truly well to our South Korean lifestyle.

Enter bus trip to Daejeon- we took a bus to Daejeon where we met our main coteachers. Super exciting moment. They marched us in to the auditoreum and we were put on display for a few minutes in front of the teachers. We had nametags so our teachers quickly waved us down. I just happened to be standing near mine, convenient. Her name is Younglan- she is nearly fluent in English (yes!) and she is super amazing. I.e. I got lucky.

She brought me to my apartment, which is rather tiny, but suitable for my pint sized self. I ran into Brian in my apartment building, our coteachers had coordinated! We live right across the hall from each other, applause!

We went out with our coteachers to register for our ARCs- Alien Registration Cards. They forgot to mention that we should bring passport photos so we ended up taking photos at a booth in the immigration office... Worst Picture Ever. I'll eventually get it up here... maybe. Anyways, I had no idea what to do- I just put the coin in the machine, I expected a menu with options to come up- nothing. Then BLAMSNAP! My picture is taken.

After the immigration office Younglan had to jet, so we said our goodbyes and I went with Brian and his main coteacher. By the way, she introduced herself to me by saying "My name is Kimchi". I didn't believe her, but it's true- I asked Younglan about it in an e-mail later that day.

Kimchi took us to a giant department store called Homeplus. The place had escalators! For you AND your carts! Like, escarampalators- which is really what they should be called. And the carts can turn in any direction at any time. In the US our carts are like cars- back, forwards, and wide arcing turns. In Korea the carts can go back, forwards, left, right, diagonal- like they're sitting on spheres instead of wheels... but they ARE wheels. Also, the carts have little stoppers on the wheels so it wont just slide down the escarampalators and take out everyone in front of you. Amazing.

So we bought some stuff, then went home. We unpacked and set up our computers- our landlord had the entire building installed with internet and we just pay him every month. Some people have to wait for their ARCs before they can get internet which can take as long as three weeks!

I made my bed, and passed out. End.