Saturday, September 27

Milk School

Field Trip Time!

This Friday, everyone went to Milk School. Some one hundred kindergarteners feeding and milking and screaming. Oh, those poor cows.

We also got to make ice cream and share our germs!

It was beautiful though. And fall hit us the day before, literally snapped from one season to the next, so the air was crisp and clean. Except of course for the bite of cow pies and dirt. It occurred to me as we were lulled into a post-field-trip stupor on the bus ride home that Korea is no longer "other" to me. I had the sense of returning home through familiar landscape. I forget that I have light brown hair and am just as surprised as a Korean to see foreigners in our midst. Not to say that I am, or could ever be, indoctrinated. I don't think they allow that here, really.

May I express, momentarily, how overwhelming it has seemed this week to keep in touch with all of you? I love that you fill my inbox with e-mails--I mean I thrive on hearing from home. Please forgive me the tardiness of my replies. I spend a minimum of two and a half hours commuting after work when I venture to Seoul, which, this week, will be four times. I'm using the time to listen to a Korean audiobook and learn how to say, "The weather is nice. Yes, it is so."

I divide my time between dancing, hanging out with Korean friends, American friends, and dance friends, discovering tentacles in my soup (side note--when I'm not expecting it to be there, a tentacle in my soup is probably the most startling phenomenon in Korea), and keeping my cupboard stocked with cereal and peanut butter.

Sad to say, I haven't written much of anything for a while. But one of my advanced students asked me the other day, "you are a famous writer?" Where did that come from? I don't even know how she found out that I write, but I cleared up the mis-understanding about the famous part, and she asked to read something anyway. Seeing as how I have little in the way of eleven-year-old appropriate stories, I've decided to write one for her. She said she likes mysteries, and when the kids don't have to be around their parents. I think, perhaps, I should just buy her a copy of The Golden Compass...

Sunday, September 14

Big Scissors

I want to get my next haircut from this chick.

Thursday, September 11

Photo Extravaganza

Photo with Teacher, everyone!

Today was Chuseok, some sort of Korean Thanksgiving type holiday. My kindergarten classes came dressed in the traditional hanbok. Like this one:

Of course, theirs were slightly unkempt after the first five minutes...

After lunch, they showed me what I assume is a traditional bow:

They also showed me how to demonstrate rowdy, seven-year-old affection:

These are a couple of boys from my kindergarten reading club:

And these are my advanced students, all of whom I adore:

And, just for you Dad, because I think of you when I think of parks, this is the park by my house:

Tuesday, September 9

Anticipating Autumn

We decorated the board with fall leaves. Such great artists in my class!

Meanwhile, outside, it's a balmy eighty degrees Fahrenheit and the empty lot by school looks like this:

I have, however, caught one red leaf lying poetically on the pavement, and another falling lonely from a tree in Gangnam.

Sunday, September 7


Gangnam romanced me twice in one weekend.

Friday night, I found Son Latin Bar, which George had recommended to me. The bar was little, the floor was large, and everything was lined with mirrors. After my friends left to find an actual bar, I was the only foreigner in the place. I never had to sit down, and I never had a bad dance. Each of them asked before we began if I danced on 1 or on 2. In Denver, most people dance on 1, because that's what's taught. In NY and LA, people dance both, and on 2 is popular because it gives a little more time for flair and shine, I think. Anyway, I danced until everyone had cleared off the floor, and even when I began unstrapping my gold shoes, I was asked to dance again by another Korean with a strong lead. When that (awesome) dance ended, they turned the music off and he began cleaning up the place.

Getting home was an adventure in trusting strangers. I got on the 9404, recommended to me by the boy at the bus stop, and decided, well, either I'll get there or I won't. He got off halfway through and told me it would be two more stops. Two stops later I asked the kid next to me, and he crossed his arms the way they do and said, "Jukjeon, no." When he got off, he said, "Jukjeon next next." Sure enough, two stops later, and fifteen minutes faster than the 1005-1, I was at the stop down the street from my work.

Saturday, my new friend Ji-hyun met me in Gangnam again. She showed me the shopping area in the subway station, the chain clothing store called Who.A.U (pronounced "who are you") with "californian style," the stretch of popular bars and nightclubs. Then she took me out for Japanese/Korean food; broth that you boil at your table and dump in cabbage and shavings of meat. Once you've eaten the big bits, you can sip the broth and order rice to make porridge. Oh my gosh. I wish I could send you a link for your taste buds. Later, Ji-hyun took me to Kyobo mungo bookstore and when I asked about a library she promised to take me there next time.

Thursday, September 4

I Love Korea (vol. III)

Instead of an irritating and eardrum rupturing beep, trucks and fire engines in my neighborhood blast Fur Elise as they back up.

Wednesday, September 3

Yeong-eo Seong-saeng-nim

I am an English teacher. Je neun yeong-eo seong-saeng-nim.

My kindergarten class was very impressed that I knew the Korean word for airplane this morning. "Bihengi" is the butchered Romanized version. They like to tell me new words in Korean, which I make them explain in English until we figure out what it is.
Last week, it was "dung beetle." "Teacher," they said, "it is bug, and it push--" complete with hand motions, and drawing on the board.
Today, it was crow. "Kamakwhi" is the closest I can come to an English spelling. I made a couple of rude cawing sounds and the kids said, "yes! That one!"

One of my elementary students, the one who likes to hide under the desk and who sometimes tucks a piece of candy into my hand (bribery or generosity, I'm not sure), walked out the door unfolding a pink piece of paper. He looked up at me and said, "Teacher, I have girlfriend many," and nodded seriously. I just bet.

My first day of the advanced speaking and writing classes was yesterday. After a morning of yelling over the top of ten screaming kindergarteners as they chase each other with colored pencils or chocolate corndogs, my classes of three and of six were like floating on an azure cloud of coolwhip. Why azure coolwhip, you ask? Because why the hell not.
So, poor things, we're working out of college textbooks. But I admire their determination. My class of three are all around ten years old. One wants to be a scientist, one a soccer player, and one a doctor.
In my class of six, they requested I read one of the practice paragraphs as fast as I possibly could. I think it was a test of my English speaking abilities. So I took a big breath and read all about some guy's first rock concert until I absolutely, positively could not expel another centimeter of air from my lungs. I finished to hearty applause. "Teacher, your face is all red!"
I adore them. I adore teaching. Mostly.

Oh yeah, and apparently I look like a high school girl today:

just can't get enough--

--of this Korean pop stuff.

The band's name is SHINee, and, according to Wikipedia, "SHINee's official fan colour is pearlescent sky blue." Good god, will they ostracize me if I show up to a concert in robin's egg or baby blue?

I also found this clip with English subtitles, but I'll spare you the translation. Just enjoy the dancing.