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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Pardon My Whining

Today's blog is like a high school textbook as compared to an elementary school textbook: lots of text and no pictures. Sorry. :D

So the 5th graders went to an amusement park called Everland on Tuesday. As one of my students told me, "Korea Everland...is like...America Disneyland." Originally, Ms. Lee (co-teacher) and myself were going to go with them. But the day before the trip Ms. Lee was told that she had to go with the 2nd graders to a folk village because one of the 2nd grade teachers is pregnant and couldn't go. She was really pissed that they waited until the day before to tell her that. I was none too happy as well since that meant my main English speaking ally wasn't going to be there. So anyway, on Tuesday morning we all took off for Everland. Each class had their own nice coach bus. I rode with the class whose teacher speaks English really well. She is also pregnant, so she couldn't go on any rides. So in the US when classes go on field trips they always get a bunch of chaperones for classes of like 30. So these are classes of 40+ and the only chaperone for each class was the 1 teacher. And me. Crikey. It took about an hour to get to Everland (located in Youngin, near Suwon). We get off the bus and all the kids run away to go on rides and stuff. So I end up walking around with all the teachers (about 9 of them). None of them were into cool rides. I went on a ride that was like Thunder Canyon. And I saw a sea lion show. Which was cute enough, but all the talking and instructions and stuff were in Korean so it wasn't quite as humorous as if I had understood what they were saying. Then we walked around for approximately 2 hours deciding where to eat lunch (after already eating a "snack" at the park of what I would describe as a full meal). I swear, Koreans eat so much food. How they stay so thin is beyond me. I guess most of their food is relatively healthy. So out of all the restaurant options we ended up going to the one I liked the least. It was called, "Korean Restaurant." The park was divided up into country/continent sections so they had restaurants serving food from all over the world and we went to Korean Restaurant. In Korea. And I have to be honest, I really don't like most Korean food. There are definitely things I really like, but more often than not I'm just not that into it. Especially the side dishes. Lots of the food has some flavor that I really don't like. I don't know what it is but I think it might be sesame oil. I guess I have a thing with disliking oil. I also hate olive oil. I think sesame is in a lot of the food here. Then they kept telling me that I was going to go with one other teacher after lunch to go on some rollercoasters (the only other teacher who liked good rides...and even she was a pansy, really). It took so damn long to eat though, that by the time we left the restaurant and got to the rollercoaster the line was too long and we wouldn't be able to go on it and be able to get back to the buses in time to leave. So I never got to go on any rollercoasters or anything even remotely resembling a thrill ride. I was really annoyed and wished I could have just went with some of the kids. Oh well. At least I didn't have to pay for the ticket or my food. It beat teaching at school all day. It was funny at the park because it has this huge Halloween theme going right now. Koreans don't even really celebrate Halloween.

So the next day after school I'm beckoned to the 5th grade lounge because one of the 5th grade moms had brought a crapload of food for the 5th grade teachers because we took the kids to an amusement park the day before. For like 10 of us there was 2 pizzas, one bucket of fried chicken, another bucket of Korean-ish bbq chicken, four boxes of kimbop, and 3 liters of Coke. Kimbop is like sushi without fish or seafood. Just veggies and maybe some other meat, I don't really know. It's not bad. I loved it--we got food for going to an amusement park. Thanks! :D Then the teachers "forced" me to take home half a pizza and an entire box of kimbop. The pizza was damn good, too. Whenever I think of kimbop I start singing it to Mmmbop. "Kimbop, blah blah blah find you bop, shoobidobee, kimbop..." or however the damn song goes.

Ok, random interjection: 2 commericals came on in a row and both had Coldplay as their background music. One song was 'Clocks' and I don't remember what the other one was...but it was slower. Oh, and Liz, you wanted to know about whether or not Google was in Korean or English. when I first went to google after I got internet it was in Korean. I had to click the English button. And the mozilla homepage is Korean and I can't get it to English because as far as I can tell there's not a button to do so. Anyway...

I had asked my co-teacher a while ago what was up with my winter break, and how long the English camps were and stuff. She seemed to think that the English camp would only be 2 days, and the rest of the break I would have to go into school and sit there reading through the English books the kids use making corrections and suggestions. While no one else is in the school. Then I asked the other 5th grade teacher (who has helped me out a lot and seems to know more than my co-teacher) about it on the bus ride to Everland. She said that it would be about 2 weeks of English camp and wasn't sure what I'd do the rest of the time. So the next day my co-teacher found out about the 2 week English camp (that she has to be at as well) and flipped out. I guess she yelled at the 5th grade teacher and the vice-principal for not telling her about it. It was nice though, because she's now demanding a schedule and confirmation on what 2 weeks the camps will be. So now I'll know when those will be when otherwise I wouldn't have a clue until I was practically teaching at them. Compounding my co-teacher's anger was that she also found out that we have to do a demo class in November. A demo class is where you teach a class and like 40 other people come to watch. The principals, teachers from other schools, important figures within the Education Department, etc. I guess it's a huge deal. So they told her today that we were doing that and we had to tell the Ministry of Education people by today when exactly we'd do it, with what class, and what lesson we'd be doing. So that royally pissed her off as well. It's great having a Korean co-teacher who gets just as pissed off about the whole last-minute change of plans/information that happens all the time. I don't even know when my teacher classes are supposed to be now because they've changed it so often and half the time they don't tell me even though I'm the friggin' teacher of it. Ugh.

Last night I went to a board game room with Jaclyn and Will. They have these places where you go and pay by the hour and just play board games. They have a bunch that you can pick from. It was fun. We played Rack-o and some game called Settlers of Canan. I hadn't played either of them, but they were both pretty fun. Although I got royally screwed during the Settlers game so it kind of sucked. Oh well.

I'm not sure what's happening this weekend. I think I might go to Seoul on Saturday afternoon and shop a bit at some of the markets. I have to go to school Saturday morning and teach two 4th grade classes that I missed by going to Everland. That kind of sucks, but what can you do? Monday is a holiday...it's National Founders Day, or something. So it's a long weekend. Sunday and Monday I might be going somewhere, but I don't know. When do I ever know what I'm doing? I just do what other people plan. As long as it doesn't end up being drinking, I'm good. It shouldn't, because I've been assured that 2 of the people I'm going with aren't really into drinking, but the other person is the Kiwi who gets wasted every time I see her, so I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Last Unicorn

I was super excited this weekend as I was finally able to talk with Joleen and my mom and dad on the phone. I downloaded Skype, so I can call people from my computer and it's only 2 cents (actually like 2.3 cents) per minute. And it sounds good, too.

On Saturday I went to Suwon with some people (Will [guy who lives near me], Colleen, Erin, and Danielle). We first went to Hwaseong Fortress. I guess it was built in the late 1700s. We walked along the whole fortress wall (I think it's about 5 km). It was interesting walking along an old stone fortress with the huge city of Suwon surrounding it as a backdrop.
There was a festival going on as well, so we walked through that. I got some cotton candy, so that made me happy. I also think it's funny that it looks like all of the temples are patroned by Nazis--they use the--I don't know what it's called, but it for good luck, or something--sign that the Nazi's warped on all the temples. It's mildly alarming, initially.

We then went to a baseball game. The Suwon baseball team is called the Hyundai Unicorns. How sweet is that?!? It was their last home game of the year and they were playing the LG Twins. :) The Unicorns lost despite all of our cheering. It was really fun. There was hardly anyone there, and it was pouring rain for much of the game. We were heckling the players, but because we don't know much Korean we were yelling the stupidest things. For example, the guy in the outfield near us was named Lee (big surprise, eh?). So we'd yell shit like, "Kimchi Lee!! Anyeonghaseyo!!", etc. Koreans around us were very amused. Because of our fervent cheering we got two balls thrown to us, so that was nice. I bought a Unicorns t-shirt, although I was very disappointed that they weren't selling any that had the mascot picture on it--a mean-looking unicorn swinging a bat. At one point during a rain delay we harassed a worker in the concourse to let us take pictures wearing the unicorn mascot heads. It was awesome.

We also spotted some little Korean kid wearing a University of Wisconsin shirt. We got all excited and tried telling him that that was where we went to school, but I think we just confused him. But I was wearing a Wisconsin shirt and we were pointing back and forth between his shirt and mine and I think his sister finally understood and explained it. Then their family gave us cookies. Score! You can see in the distance all the red glowing crosses that churches have in Korea. From the stadium I could count at least 10 glowing crosses in the nearby vacinity.

Today I went to some shops around Osan Air Force Base with Will and another guy named Wes. They wanted to look for sports jerseys. I just wanted to go to see where this was (Wes lives in Osan so he knew where to go). It's really easy to get to, so I'm happy about that. It's only a couple subway stops from Pyeongtaek and like a 5 minute walk from the station. I bought shoes. They were 40% off (blue Nikes)!! I want to go there again to do some clothes shopping. I don't have many shirts.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Chuseok it to ya!

I really hate this blog program. It's confusing. And doesn't have a good way to post pictures. Oh well. These are pics from the recent vacation I went on during Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). I went to the East coast (Gangneung and Dong Hae). It was very pretty, especially compared to what I've seen thus far.

Anyway, in the pic of us in the hats we're doing a little spelunking (wow, is that really how it's spelled??). From left to right the girls are as follows: Elizabeth, Kelly, me, Colleen, and Audrey (who is Vietnamese-American but all Koreans assume she's Korean...it's kind of funny).

Korean Packages

Because these made me happy, I took a picture of them. Fruit Loops for breakfast really does beat kimchi for breakfast, let me tell you. Even if the milk here is not quite up to MN/WI milk. Hey, beggars can't be choosers. The KicKer bars are really not that good (don't hold a candle to KitKat bars). Koreans don't seem to be into sweet foods. But a grocery store near me does sell Hershey bars, so that's a plus.

Welcome to My Blog

I'm now starting this blog for random info that many people may be interested in...so I don't have to worry about who I've told what to. Sorry that I ended that sentence with a preposition...although I believe my employed English major friend has informed me that it's now ok to do so. Haha, 'How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?' just came on my computer...which is funny because I always sing, 'How Do You Solve a Problem Like Korea?' Some day maybe I'll make complete lyrics for my version.

Anyway...Many of you received my 20 page word document giving an excruciatingly detailed account of my first month here in South Korea. If you're reading this and never received this account, let me know and I'll send it to you (if you want it, that is).

Now I'll try to post some pictures here. Not sure what this baby's capable of, though. I was not well-versed in the world of blogdom, so I just googled "create own blog" and went to the first site that came up. Lata.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005