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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Potent Quotables

(Seulgi drives Jaehong and I to dinner. Her car only has one passenger seat, so Jaehong has to ride in the hatch. The hatch locks automatically and has to be opened from the outside.)


Jaehong (once we're parked and Seulgi and I have exited the car): "mumble, mumble, mumble." (knocks on window.)
Me: "Oh, sorry. I don't know Korean."


--

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cheongok Dream Center: Winter Camp Edition

Technically, it's winter break, but don't think that'll stop the schools from making the teachers work. Most of us get to experience the joy of Winter Camps. These are informal lessons for smaller groups of students during the break. I haver two camps throughout the course of the next few weeks.

This week, I have the Winter Camp at my school, Cheongok. I work from 9 to 12:20 and then I get to go home. It's actually a spectacular break, and I'll get paid like a regular work week. I'm teaching alone and I get to make my own lessons. Kind of like Seodang, except I have the kids for longer. The attendees of my classes are a group of 15 third-graders. Of course I picked the adorable ones, even if they don't quite understand a word I'm saying. Unfortunately, I have the same small class all day, which means I have to think of activities/lessons/games that will fill up the whole timeframe. This is much harder than anticipated. When things run a little short in a 40-minute class, no problem- throw on a video or play some music. When you have 20 minutes of extra time because your activities didn't last as long as anticipated, well, panic mode.

Today was Day 1 and I managed to make it work, but it was a little difficult. I really want this week to be about a fun learning experience. I have free reign, so I want to incorporate games as much as possible, but I'm not actually great at adapting simple games for specific learning purposes. For example, I decided to make the camp Harry Potter-themed because kids love magic and I can show clips to fill like 25 minutes a day. Score. But, for whatever reason, my mind keeps blanking on other fun activities to do during the class. It doesn't help that I have almost zero materials. Last week, I mapped out a ton of games that I could play, but looking at them closer now that the camp is here, none of them seem like they'll really work. Thankfully, Ulsan is a giant community of teachers, so tomorrow I'm meeting LaBecca to do a little brainstorming. All I have to do is get through tomorrow. It can't be that hard, right?

Sidenote: A third-grade girl braided my hair today. Too cute.

--

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Potent Quotables



Seulgi: "Reedy is sick."
Jaehong: "She is lovesick."
Me: "You don't know me!"


(Seulgi and Jaehong break into a minor rendition of the following K-Pop song:)






--

Gritty Reboot

I took a bit of a break from blogging due to the holiday, which coincided with my scant time off. I'll try to briefly catch up.

Tuesday - Wednesday
Tuesday was my last day of work. The teachers left early to go to Pohang, on the coast of Korea. It was really lovely.


Except for the part where the other teachers played "let's get the foreign teacher drunk until she passes out." Followed, the next day, with "let's go hiking."

They had had just as much to drink as me, and one guy threw up early on in the hike. He sat out the rest of the hike. While Ididn't get sick, I did decide not to push it and sat out for the more rigorous part of the trip. They fully neglected to mention that there would be a hike, or else I would not have consumed as much libation the night prior. Hiking in Korea would be a singular experience. 

Got back into Ulsan on Wednesday, went to dinner with Labeccs and Adrian, then shopped for the next night's Christmas dinner.

Thursday
First of three Christmas dinners. Hosted by Adrian. There were rolls, potato soup, Caesar salad, ham, chicken, penne pasta with pesto sauce (pesto's my absolute favorite), oranges, cookies, and probably other things I'm forgetting right now. Intimate setting, about 8 guests. Very chic.


We did a white elephant gift exchange afterward. I got a stellar bear-shaped hat/scarf/tiny mitten combo. It's difficult to describe,but amazing. I'll have pictures of it eventually. Adrian, LaBecca, Solo, and I went out after for headier merriment. Boy, did we get merry.

Friday- Christmas Eve
Some of the Hogye kids met upfor a nice dinner at a Chinese place. The Korean take on Chinese food is a lot like regular Korean food. Still. Good. We didn't really calculate how much food any of us  was really going to  needs, so we over ate. Eh, it's Christmas. Let's be bountiful.

I may or may not have opened my gifts on Christmas Eve. I meant to only open one, but I couldn't stop myself. Which means I got to wear my new pajamas early. I'd call it a good decision.

Later, I went to Samsan (New Downtown) with Brett. We met up some of his friends, played cards at a classy Italian restaurant, then pool and darts at a foreigner bar. Brett and I topped off the night by baking cookies at 3 in the morning. I forgot to use baking powder, so they turned into scones. Oops. 

Saturday- Christmas Day
Skyped with Mom, Dad, Mikey, and Nicole in the morning. Insisted my dad read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" to me over Skype. It was Christmas Eve their time, so completely appropriate. I did a whole lot of relaxing for a while, then cleaned my bathroom. Then, Dinner #3.

This third dinner was a little potluck at Jason's (other PSU rep in Korea). I brought broccoli cheddar soup and some sparkling white wine. We had pasta, croquettes, garlic bread (the weird, sweet Korean kind), salad, banana bread, cookies, chocolate cake, cheesecake, apple pie and other assorted foods.


Dinner parties are too fun. 

Sunday
This brings us to today. I should probably clean the rest of my apartment and I definitely have to plan tomorrow's lesson. The regular year is basically over, now it's time for Winter Camps, which I'll detail in a later post. First things first, I have to venture out of my apartment to grab some sustenance beyond delicious oatmeal raisin cookie. It might also behoove me to start dieting tomorrow... Oh, holidays.

--

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Daegu Photos

As promised, the rest of the photos from Daegu.

Pictures from the DongDaegu train station. For Jan0rz








From an herbal medicine museum.






It seemed poignant.


--

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend was pretty fantastic. Change of pace and then some.

-- FRIDAY --

Dinner with Vince. So much delicious food. This one foreigner walked in while we were there and no one else was even in the restaurant. We did the obligatory "Hey, foreigners!" head nod. I've actually seen this guy around a couple times. I might slight attempts to engage him, but he's been non-responsive. I mentioned this to Vince. Still, we decide to invite him over to our table. He's clearly alone and if he lives in Hogye, we should meet him. Vince and I delayed the invite for a while, discussing how being rejected hurts, always. But then we decided we're real awesome, so how could we possibly get rejected? We exude awesome. It's an obvious fact. So Vince goes over and does the nice guy thing. Only to, in fact, get rejected. That guy was clearly a douche. We parsed his personality for the next several minutes and could find no other conclusion.

Afterward, I went home and read. I haven't hung out with a book in ages. AGES. I was so happy. My apartment was all warm and cozy and comfortable. I fell into a sober sleep by 10:30 PM. Loved it.

-- SATURDAY --

The things about getting to bed early on Friday is that it's impossible to sleep in on Saturday. Also, I had plans for Saturday that I was excited about. I woke up, showered and ventured to Daegu via train to see Sweet Mama Momo Bear.

Reasonably obsessed with taking shots from the train.






There was a ridiculous amount of merriment in Daegu. I'll make a post of just pictures after this. We ate a lot of food, went to the herbal medicine market, the herbal medicine museum, the black market, more food, some alcohol, more food, did the cupid shuffle in the middle of a hof, and topped everything off with a showing of "Love Actually" in a DVD Bang. Justifiable tears. Roommate hearts abound. <3

-- SUNDAY --

Came home from th 'Gu and relaxed. All day. Stellar.

--

First Things First

Lately I've been indulging in low-key events, to fantastic result. Last Tuesday I went to dinner at LaBecc's witha few choice people. We had Mexican. Wonderful, wonderful Mexican. I never realized how much I loved Mexican food until it became a rare commodity.

I went to LaBecca's a little early to hang out and help prepare. Little did I know that my help would mean working a novelty cheese grater.

No, really.
That's LaBecca's novelty puppy, Yepuda "Yepu" Tom Collins. I grated about a cup and a half to two cups of colby jack with the grater the size of that puppy's ear. And bitched about it the whole time. Still, if Adrian (pictured in green, holding Yepu) had offered help, I would've refused. Not that he did.

A couple other people showed up (Shannon, Han Solo, and fellow-Penn Stater Jason!!). We ate our burritos and had varying degrees of appropriate and inappropriate dinner conversation. In a word: Amazing. A really refreshing break from the normal. 

I hope it happens again.

--

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Korean Traditional Dress

Nevermind the glare.
Korean traditional wear is called Hanbok (한복). It's always bright and colorful. Pictured is the women's fashion. I don't have a picture of the men's traditional clothing because they are much less prominently displayed in shop windows. The dress shown is particularly elaborate and fashionable, the styles do vary somewhat.

In general, Koreans wear Western-style clothing in their daily lives. The Hanbok is only worn on very special occasions or holidays. Around Chuseok (추석), Korean Thanksgiving, and some other big holiday, the name of which I can't remember, women can be seen wearing their Hanbok around the town. Not so much true of the men. Who knows why.

I'd buy one, but they're expensive. Plus, I don't fit into Asian sizes.



--

Potent Quotables

(I give a 6th grade girl an odd look during class.)
Student: "What?"
(I point at the inked-on whiskers on her face)
Student: "Oh, yeah."
Student's Friend: "Teacher, she was sleeping, so I draw on her."


--

Lost in Translation

Pictures of K-Products that didn't quite "get" it.

I'd like to drink more potions

I have no idea.

I know where to find WWIII's answer to 'Wind Talkers'

The stores like to pair unrelated products in their 2-for-1 deals

The best one I ever saw? Tampons and Frozen Shrimp.
Obviously.

--


Serious Business


The Game of Jacks (공기)
4th Graders

This girl looked really impressive when she was playing. She'd flip the jacks onto the back of her hand, then catch and release, then swipe them up lightning-fast. She was less tricksy when her classmate started playing with her, but it still looks cool. Plus, they get into a small skirmish, which is always fun to see. Not shown: when Co-teacher Jenny decided to start playing. If only I'd kept on recording...

--

Most Heart-Wrenching Moment Thusfar...



I was at HomePlus having dinner, when this tiny, adorable boy wanders into the food court saying "Omma? Omma? ("Mom? Mom?") and his face was all scrunched up and about to let loose a rush of tears. He was beyond distraught, so what did I do? Took his picture. Naturally. I'm my mother's daughter.

It was a bit of a quandry. I didn't want to scare him, so I kept my distance. I couldn't find any workers nearby to alert, so I stayed to keep an eye on him. People were bustling about and no one stopped to see if this kid needed help. It was awful. I don't know any Korean and he's too young to know English, so what can I do? I hovered. I'm a creep.

His mother found him in a matter of minutes and she was more annoyed than anything else, but the boy was relieved, which was all I needed. Uncharacteristic maternal moment. Ew.

--

A Dish Best Served Cold

Kids are messy. Give them separate shoes to wear once they're indoors? Restrict their materials in class? Irrelevant. They will make a mess of anything. Take the Cheongok Dream Center, for example. It currently has glue sticks, paper, dirt, milk stains, ink stains, dried gum, eraser shavings, and scuff marks everywhere. Literally everywhere. Walls, floors, teacher boards, even the printer is subject to the merciless grime of youth. Lucky for me, I'm no germaphobe. I have no idea what to do about this mess. Four months in, I still don't know what to do when the trash bin is full. And I've asked. When I submit a query, people just take care of things for me instead of giving me an answer. Less work for me, sure, but I feel like an incompetent child. So when it comes to the state of cleanliness of my room, I got nothing.

Take that, ingrates!
Here's where Korea gets a little brilliant. Technically, there are janitors. Or. Janitor-type people. They clean up serious messes. And by that I mean the bathrooms, which get more besoiled by paint than anything else. Don't ask me. There's also a general maintenance man who does... everything imaginable. I guess he'd clean, too. But on a regular basis, guess who cleans. That's right. The students.

As far as I can tell, the students rotate cleaning responsibilities. They're actually pretty miserable, never want to do it, and insist they're done before any cleaning has been accomplished. My favorite part? When they do sweep anything up, they walk over to me and ask me what to do with the trash in the pan. Every time. What do they think I want them to do with it? Not too many options, kids.

I take some small measure of joy in watching them clean. Especially the kids who act up on a routine basis. Still, most of their time is devoted to complaining instead of cleaning, so I get irritated. Do the work and go. And leave the SMART board alone. Then you can go. Simple solution.

My parents would probably roll their eyes at this sentiment. They used to pay me for similar kinds of work, and I remember a tantrum or two. I'm sure there's a lot I complain about that's basically just like having a family. Basically, I never need to have children, I already have 630.

--

Devil's Advocate

I could probably devote the rest of my blog solely to Devil. Total Teacher's Pet. Hands down. And she likes it. Kinda reminds me of me. She's adorable. A fourth-grader who's smarter than most sixth-graders (at least in English), a bit of a tomboy, loves Justin Bieber, and pretty snarky for age 11.

[Class assignment: Paper Snowflakes]


Stephani: "Teacher, mine ugly! So ugly!"
(puts snowflake on desk in front of Devil)
Me: "No, it's beautiful!"
Stephani: "Teachah! No! Look!"
Devil (completely deadpan, with a shake of her head): "Yepuda."


"Yepuda" is Korean for "beautiful." Cracked me up.

In addition to her wit, she's also spectacular at making cognitive connections and then expressing them in outstanding English.

[Re: My Water Intake]


Devil: "Teacher, you drink 2 liters of water every day?"
Me: "Yes. It's good for me."
Devil: "Good for you. And your skin is better."


I can't even hold her observation of my poor complexion against her. I'm too impressed.

I've commissioned her to write a letter for my friends and family, which I'm totally going to post here. She's really excited about it. It's extra work and she feels honored. This is why I adore her.

Did I mention she loves Harry Potter?

--

Monday, December 13, 2010

Potent Quotables

Me: "What is Santa doing?"
Student: "He is drunk."


--

Culinary Profile: Bibimbap (비빔밥)

Bulgogi-sot Bibimbap
I've mentioned bibimbap in other places, but I thought I'd give it a full profile here. It's a Korean rice dish (밥 = bap = rice), with a whole lot of julienned veggies, some egg, and sometimes meat. It's a traditional Korean dish that likely originated elsewhere, but is delicious regardless. Most foreigners appreciate one of the many variations of this dish, likely due to the fact that it is served as shown above; you can identify everything you're about to eat with relative ease.


The featured entree is bulgogi bimbimbap. Bulgogi means beef. Usually. It also has: bean sprouts, zucchini, carrots, onion, dried seaweed, cabbage, red pepper paste, a fried egg, spinach, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Some varieties can be pretty spicy, but not Scott Reedy-spicy. Just a little kick, which you could technically amp up by using more pepper paste. Anyway, not only is this dish visually stunning, it throws in an element of fun since you get to mash the crap out of it.

An all-around delight
Most Koreans go ahead and eat this with a spoon,but I like practicing my chopstick skills, so I use those. Until I get tired of that and fully switch to spoon. Girl's gotta eat. 

Bibimbap is cemented on the list of things I'd miss about Korea after I've left. Tasty, cheap, ubiquitous. Thankfully, it's quite simple to replicate. As long as I can get a hold of some Korean red pepper paste (gochujang)... that's key.

I don't even care if it's a tired cliche to be a foreigner who likes the bibimbap. Too delicious. Seriously. Try it.

--

Potent Quotables

The Seodangkinder On: The Color of My Hair

Becham: "Teacher, hair changee."
Me: "Yeah, light brown. Do you like it?"
Beckham: "No. Hair black."
Me: "You didn't like it when I changed it to black!"
Beckham: "Teacher. Black."
Me: "Good point."


--

What's My Name?

리디 크리스틴
(Reedy Christine)

Koreans list their family names first.
Pronounced "ree-dee kuh-rih-suh-teen."

--

Language Lessons

"Seoul" is the anglicanized spelling of Korea's capitol, which foreigners pronounce "soul."

In Hangeul (Korean language) it's 서울. The closest phonetic pronunciation I can give via blog is "saw-ool." The "aw" is a little more rounded like a short "o." It's a two-syllable word, but, like anyone, they kinda mash the syllables together when speaking at a normal pace. "Soul" isn't that bad an approximation, considering.

--

Moment of K-Pop

Super Junior, one of the world's largest boy bands.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Junior





--

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Post Script

I totally got shushed on the bus to Busan. Some ajumma pushed her face in front of Nadia and I, grabbed my hand to get my attention, and gave a hearty shush. Now, I may be a little hot-headed, as some would say, but I think it was the breach of the personal bubble that really ticked me off. Do not touch me, lady. Never touch me. Her overzealous hushing came at around one in the afternoon. No one was trying to sleep, in fact, many other people were talking. Now, I'm fully aware that my vocal intonations tend to carry, but I felt especially singled out in this instance.

Let me take a moment. Sometimes, being a foreigner in Korea can be a little too tangible. They stare, they giggle condescendingly, they shoo you out of stores because you probably can't fit in their wares, they elbow past you when vying for a position on the bus or in the taxi line, I've even been cut in line at supermarkets or cafes. They'll take pictures or videos of you when you're at dinner, grossly proposition you if you seem to be enjoying yourself, or yeah, shush you, regardless of surrounding/circumstance. Most of these things are minor inconveniences and  by no means represent my typical experience with Korean people. In fact, the only time I think about istances when any of the above have happened are during moments of reoccurrence. Like now.

Okay, so the woman overstepped her bounds by touching me and shushing me (the second attempt at shushing since Nadia and I got on the bus). Either Fate or coincidence endowed me with more sass than any one person should ever be shouldered with, so when this lady bent over and decided to lock eyes for an extended period of time, I reacted. Strongly. I sent her the world's most incredulous glare, paired with a bark of laughter. Subterfuge was never my game.

Was this my best moment? Sure wasn't. But I tend to get a bit miffed when someone attempts to stop me from doing the same thing everyone around me is doing. She didn't just want me to speak quietly, she wanted me to stop speaking. That, my friends, will not fly.

--

Weekend Wrap-up

-- FRIDAY --

After the supersonic experience that was my trip to the K-Salon (only 1,000x greater in its inability to satisfy), the night turned itself around.Met up with Shane and some other in Samsan, had a giant triple beer and a classy Erlenmeyer flask (kinda) of mango soju. I attempted to order food with this, but was shot down for some completely indiscernible reason.I even had a Korean cohort there and he couldn't explain why the food was  a no-go. It's cool, the crap beer shall be my dinner. Healthy Decisions 101, lead, as always by Prof Reedy. Needless to say, I got tipsy fast. It's okay becausewe rounded out the night by going to a Nore Bang. For some reason, my friends always encourage me to take the mic. My hesitance comes only from knowing that once my hand grips the cool,smooth base of the mic, it will be staunchly resistant to ever letting go. Luckily, I was indulged and only had to relinquish the mic once or twice. Rose and Jack have nothing on me and Mic.

-- SATURDAY --

I was sadly bereft of my camera on Saturday. It;s cool, though, it's not like I went to the Busan Aquarium, which boasts the nation's longest underwater tunnel or anything. It wasn't amazing and there were no photographic moments with dazzling marine life, so it's totally fine. Nadia and I didn't have an incredible time where we waxed philosophical about the sociology behind communities of fish. We didn't derive any unrestrained joy in the zen of the jellyfish tank or find ourselves solicited for impromptu photograph sessions with adorable Korean children. Afterward, we absolutely did not have a run-in with Busan friend, Chad, who pointed us to a delightful Mexican restaurant, which was followed by a meetup with Stephanie and her well-spoken boyfriend, Brandon. No jello shots in orange peels, car bombs in the newly-opened Irish pub, certainly no fun or excitement worth documenting. Of course not.

-- SUNDAY --

Like most Sundays, this one was reserved for some recuperating and reviewing of the days preceding. Look at this, a weekend roundup before Monday? Crazy. Don't worry about my lack of photos. I'll be going back to Busan again, definitely the aquarium. Especially when I decide to shell out the price of taking a dive in the shark tank, which, oh yes, you totally can do. Yeah, it's gonna happen.

Good weekend.

--

An All Too Familiar Experience

When I was in high school, I accidentally dyed my hair black. It was supposed to be dark brown, but box browns you do at home always come out darker than they look. Fact. I rocked that color for over a year, but eventually got fed up with the upkeep. Here's the thing about dyed-clack hair- you either have to shave your head or strip the color to be rid of it. By "strip the color," i mean bleach. It's very damaging. Somehow, I found a home-bleaching kit and did it myself. Terrible idea. I went around with a strange array of colors in my hair for about a year before my natural grew out enough that i chopped the excess. Apparently, I don't learn. Also apparently, I gave myself salon-quality results. I'll explain.

This year, I once again darkened my hair. Since my previous experience, I'd been sticking to semi-permanent colors or highlights, but that can be difficult to find in Korea. So I went a darker brown than my natural. Then, I couldn't find the same dye when my roots started growing in, so I had to approximate. Long story short, the color came out black. Fuuuuuuuuuuuck.

The color itself looked fine, but it's just too dark for what I want. I definitely didn't want to go that dark for the rest of my life, so I figured it was better to rectify the situation sooner than later. On Friday, I ask my coteacher Jenny about sakond and bleaching and whatnot. She tells me to go to the salon in HomePlus, which is cool because I can totally find that one. She wrote (what I thought was) what I wanted in Korean on a piece of paper, in case the stylist had no English. Decent start, right? Sigh.

I go to the salon and the guy there speaks some English, which is cool. I show him the paper and try to verbally confirm what I want. I thought he understood. He gives me a stack of English rags to read and offers me a cup of coffee to drink while he's working. I take water instead and indulge in the magazines. About halfway into the process, I shake from my crap mag reverie to check out what they're doing. Foils? That seems unusual. Wait. What is all that excess hair doing outside the foils? Oh my god. are they doing highlights? You've got to be kidding me. 


At this point, I call the guy out and try to see what's going on. He had apparently decided that complete bleaching would be too damaging, so he was just going to do highlights. I tell him that I understand the damage it will incur, but I want NO black. He protest for a bit, but I insist. So he has to wash out my hair and then bleach all over. Except some of the hair has totally been vleaching for like 30 minutes already. Crap. Whatever. He bleaches all over, washes out and starts to dry. He hadn't calculated for my roots, which had grown out some, so they don;t remotely match... well, let's be honest, nothing about my hair matched. As he's drying it, he gives me a shit-eating smirk and shrugs. Um. okay. Then he asks me if I want my hair wavy or straight.

Um. Excuse me? This job is NOT over. I should also mention that I had brought a picture of what Iwanted my color to be.  Point to the picture, point to my head,l thumbs up. He had fully nodded when this went down, before any coloring had occurred. So why the hell was he under the impression that I wanted a mess of blonde, orange, copper, rust on my head? I told him I wanted a new color. He got a little huffy, but brought over their color chart. I pointed to a reddish brown that was pretty close to the picture I'd brought for referential purposes. The guy freaked out a little. He kept telling me it was darker than the bleached hackjob. Yeah, that's the point my friend. He had convinced himself that his work was done. I kept pushing. "Brown, yes, black no." Mistranslations suck. He agreed to do one more coloring, but picked his own damn color. Another hour later, and I finally have a brownish version of a terrible mess, but he had once again neglected my roots, so they're all bleachy yellow. Fantastic. I'd been in the goddamn salon for four hours. I was so over it, that I just gave up. I'll take it like this, fine. So now I have bleached- rust roots, a brownish/reddish tint to most of my hair with some darker streaks that seem unchanged from before the whole damn process and a couple super-light streaks that seemed to have missed the brown dye. One of the eight colors I currently have is actually really nice, but it's hardly predominant.

The damage? Four hours, 230,000 won, a radioactive scalp, and I'll probably have to dye over it just so I look more normal. But, it's not black anymore. And, really, that was the main objective, right?

I honestly can't believe that someone who ran that salon would let a patron walk out with the disaster that is my current hair color. Sigh. I keep thinking it had to be the language barrier that led to the unsatisfactory result. Mehhhhh. Pictures are probably imminent.

--

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Potent Quotables

[Scene: I'm wearing another flower in my hair. The student who called me crazy for doing so last week is wearing an over-sized, plush barrette in her hair.]


Sallome: "Teachah, crazy!"
Me: "Wait, why is this crazy, but yours isn't?"
[Sallome pulls barrette out of her hair. Thinks about it, then clips it back in.]
Sallome: Okay. My crazy, too. Both crazy."
Me: "I can live with that."


--

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Potent Quotables



Slightly Creepy Older Guy: "You dance very well. I will never forget."


~~~~
And thanks to you, sir, I will now never forget what would have been an otherwise mundane Friday. Fantastic.

--

Cast of Characters, Part IV: Hogye Boys' Club

This part of the cast listing has been long-in-coming. I'd say I'm sorry, but I've already filled my quota for lying today. This list is the hardest to contemplate. There are many people in Hogye and the people mentioned below are by no means an exhaustive compilation of the whole town. Even just the foreigners in town. I've decided only to list only the people I see the most. Keep in mind, this list is subject to change. They're mostly dudes. Hence the title.

Prereqs: Awesome, Funny, Attractive, Snarky (to a degree)

Shown administering the lethal "dong-chim" to an unwitting statue.
I have no idea how to spell that.
(It's something the students do to unfortunate teachers)
((Never happened to me))
My kids just taught me how to spell it in Korean: 똥침
Name: Shane
Aliases: None assigned
Country: USA (Arkansas)
Group Role: (co-)King of Hogye
Backstory: I met him in Seoul during Chuseok. I was slightly offended by his self-appointed title in the monarchy. Later, I found out that he likes laughter and fun, so I let it go. Plus, he told me I could be Queen of Hogye. And he regularly reads my blog. He's probably my favorite person in that town.







Name: Matt
Aliases: Canada Matt, Ron Weasley
Country: Canada
Group Role: (co-)King of Hogye

Backstory: Also met him in Seoul. During Chuseok. With Shane. They hang out a lot. Also initially galled by his assumed sovereignty, but, also, got over it because- surprise- he also likes laughter and fun. I would've done a composite profile on Shane and Matt, but Shane reads my blog. Therefore, first billing. Oh, and I guess they're two separate entities or something. Allegedly.








Name: Matt
Aliases: California Matt, Vince (because he looks like Vince Vaughn. I've never actually called him that to his face, so he might not be aware of the moniker.)
Country: USA (SoCal)
Group Role: The Snarkiest

Backstory: Met him on an impulsive jaunt to Pizza Etang. We engaged in what is easily one of the Top 5 Introductory Conversations I've ever had. Which basically means he's real funny. Sadly, he came to Korea six months before I did, so he'll be leaving relatively soon. I'm already mourning his loss.






 Name: Brett
Aliases: None needed
Country: USA (Oregon) 
Group Role: The Mascot

Backstory: Met this character during the World Music Festival in Ulsan. He actually was a mascot for Oregon and won the National Mascot Championship twice. No, I did not know that championship existed until I met him. He has aspects of absurdity similar to those of The Wildcard, but Brett is consistently uplifting in his antics, thus qualifying him as The Mascot.


Name: Mike
Aliases: None known
Country: USA (Illinois)
Group Role: The Biker

Backstory: Met him at the English Festival that preceded the World Music Festival. He was wearing a nice set of Mickey Mouse ears. He's the owner of the first motorcycle I've ever been on. This guy is the most likely of anyone to formulate legitimate, hard plans. Often a complete necessity. Engaged to Val.







Name: Val
Aliases: Val is the alias
Country: USA (Oregon)
Group Role: Mistress of Games (okay, just the one game)

Backstory: I met her at the English Festival, too. She didn't have to wear any ears, though. She's done Peace Corps with Mike and AmeriCorps and all kinds of highly compassionate stuff that would make me feel unworthy if I had any shame. She owns an African deck of Uno cards (with Spanish writing...?) that we play when we decide to stay in Hogye. This has led to the World's Longest Uno game, more frustrating than it sounds.







Name: Martin
Aliases: None
Country: Scotland
Group Role: The Brit (assigning roles is a lot harder than you'd think)

Backstory: He was at my orientation in Jeonju, but I didn't really meet him until the Ilsan Beach Reunion. It just occurs to me how weird it was to have a reunion like a week after orientation. Cute. Anyway, met him there after having figured out we lived in the same town. So, friendship abound. He doesn't much come out after the dinner hour; I can only speculate that he leads a double life. 






I stole this picture from Facebook


Name: Sinan
Aliases: With a name like "Sinan?" 
Country: USA (California)
Group Role: Dance Party

Backstory: I met him the first weekend I moved in. He was helping the girl I replaced move her stuff out. It was a brief meeting, and I was still a little "deer-in-headlights," so we didn't bond much. Subsequent meetings have gone over much better. His appreciation for dancing is comparable to my own. So, clearly, I adore him.







This one, too
Name: Adam
Aliases: None Known
Country: Canada
Group Role: TBA

Backstory: I met him briefly at the World Music Festival, too. Didn't talk to him much. He works with Sinan and Weasley at Dongcheon Elementary. I'm a little jealous that they have multiple foreigners at their school. I don't know him that well, but he seems pretty cool. All of my sixth-grade girls have a crush on him. 









Name: Dara
Aliases: None
Country: Ireland
Group Role: The Invisible Man

Backstory: He was also at my orientation, but i didn't meet him then. I never really see him around and he only sometimes shows up for Hogye hoedowns. I joke that he's never in Hogye. He counters with, "You're the one that;s never in Hogye," which is pretty accurate. Good story, I know.




There are a couple other people I've met that live in Hogye, but I don't know them that well and I rarely see them. I have neither their pictures nor phone numbers, so I'm not going to mention them. They won't know, anyway. Unless Shane tells them. Nobody likes a nark, Shane.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Ultimate Goal: Achieved

My fifth- graders broke out into spontaneous Christmas carol as a direct result of my room's decor. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" were in the rotation. Slightly butchered, sure, but they're English is better than my Korean, so who's complaining? Plus. They broke out into song!! Lifelong goal, finally accomplished.

--

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

How are you? I hope this letter finds you and the Mrs. well. Reindeer and elves, too.

So, it's that time of year again. I know you're tired of everyone petitioning you year after year, especially since you probably already know what everyone wants and who deserves to get it. Still, it's a time-honored formality. My list is pretty small this year, barring the usual bids for peace on earth, goodwill for all humans, and, of course, Love. When we get right down to the materialistic nitty gritty, here's what I'd like:

  • Bert's Bees Chapstick (with peppermint oil)
  • European Drinking Chocolate (the ones I got last year were lost in my transpacific flight before I even got to try any. Sob story, I know, but I was really distraught. Still am.)
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

That's all. I don't think it's asking too much, do you? I've been at least that good this year. I mean, let's face it, I've had much worse years than this one (behavior-wise), wherein my Christmas Morning yield was much greater than what I'm asking for this time around. Anyway, that's my little plea. Please regard it kindly.

Have fun gearing up for the big workday, may the skies be clear. Thanks.

Always,
C.M. Reedy

P.S. Umm, this is a little awkward, but was there anything you wanted for Christmas? Is that how being Santa works? I'm not sure how this goes. I guess I should just stick to cookies and milk, huh?

==

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Strong Reaction

My Seodang lessons have become completely shoot-from-the-hip. I've run through what was left of their "textbooks" and now have to improvise lessons. No, I have no idea what I should be teaching them. So what do they get? Christmas. Why? There are so many carols, movies, activities, games, etc I can make them do that they lessons practically write themselves. Last Thursday was every student's Big Exam day, so I cut them (myself) a lot of slack for Seodang. I turned it into some serious karaoke. I made them learn Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You." Class B already knew of and liked the song, so that was easy. Class A was unfamiliar, but appreciated my own zeal for the song. They did their part in at least appearing amused.

Kinda

Better

There it is


I told Seulgi we should try and stretch the Christmas lesson for two weeks. She didn't object. If we don't do our own crap, we have to start teaching them grammar, which neither of us wants to do. There are only three weeks left in the semester, so who wants to set the precedent of doing real work? Pshhhh.

--

The Christmas is Spreading

  

The kids universally adore my Christmas decorations. They throw down compliments like "Oh, Teacher- beautiful!" and "Teacher, I love Christmas!" Okay, the second one is more a statement than a compliment, but let's not argue semantics. Their faces are all alit when they come into the Dream Center. Score one for Teacha Reedy. Sure, inherently they just want to rip it apart because they are little monster children, but at least they're interested in something that's happening in that room. It's kind of a double-edged sword, though, because now all the kids want to hang out in my room during breaks, which I simply cannot abide. I jealously savor those breaks. My Precious.

I'm getting wildly off-topic here. Christmas. It's in my English room and it's all over Ulsan. I love Christmas tree lights and decorations. I miss riding slowly through neighborhoods (especially the rich ones), checking out all the decked houses. But at least I get this:

       

Okay, not a ton of variety, but at least
 they're different colors.

It's a storm of FIRE!
--