This and That

Not everyone who reads my blog has Facebook, so I thought I would do a picture post. I also have a couple videos of the plays that two of my classes performed this week. I don’t really want to go around posting links to children all over the Internet, but I’ve made a unlisted Youtube channel that I’m in the process of uploading the videos to. If you’d like the links, email me and let me know. If you feel so inclined, you can also see the silly video of my apartment that I made for my mom.

My week in photos:

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Korean BBQ

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A walk on the beach last weekend

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The view of Haeundai Beach from the some guy’s apartment who we bought furniture from last weekend. A little better than the one from my balcony.

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It was Ashley’s birthday on Thursday, which can only mean one thing: cake with chopsticks in a paper cup.

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Part I of yesterday’s lunch…

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And Part II. Open-faced chicken sandwich topped with slaw and yellow pepper. All of this at…

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This place is going to be very dangerous for my wallet. It’s right off of our beach, very close to work and open until 9 every night. Oh and I want everything on the menu. Next time I may have to try the Sausage Corn Crepe that looked amazinggg.

As far as weekend plans go, Rachel will be arriving very shortly. I’m not exactly sure what we’ll be doing but I’m excited to have her here. This morning was mostly spent cleaning my apartment and getting my gel manicure off (which cost me about $20, but was essentially a manicure without polish so it made it semi-worth it).

I’ll finish with a random, funny story from one of my classes the other day: In my speaking class on Wednesday, I asked them to write a speech about a special event. We were naming different kinds of special events, and Simon (one of my favorites) said slumber parties. Later in class, I went to check on his speech. He had written that he wanted to dance and have a slumber party with the president of Brazil. I was very confused, and so was he when I asked why he wanted to dance with the president of Brazil at a slumber party. Because he had actually meant “samba” party, which explained a lot.

I’ll be back again soon, hopefully with a more organized thought process. Happy weekend, all!

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How To Order Food In Korea

Before I left, people kept asking me if I spoke Korean. A logical question, considering where I’m about to spend the next year of my life. The answer was, and still is, a resounding no. I’ve recently mastered “hello” and “thank you,” but something like ordering in a restaurant is still a challenge.

Some restaurants have pictures on their menu, making it easy for foreigners to order. Others trick you by having pictures outside of their restaurant, but a Korean-only menu inside. So, I’ve developed two methods for handling this.

The first is to simply point at something random and hope it is food and something you like. I’ve done this a few times with varying degrees of success. Alex and I went to a sushi place a couple weeks ago, and employed the point-and-order method. Unfortunately, all we ordered was some kind of drink. Apparently the food was 49,000+ won, so we had our drinks and made a shameful exit.

I’ve done this a couple times since and had more luck. I happened upon another sushi place while walking home from the gym this week, and saw a Korean menu outside with items listed, and the number of pieces that came with it. It had to be sushi or sashimi! So I went in, pointed out what I would like on the menu, said my gamsamhamnida’s and went on my merry way with some sashimi.

The second way to order food in a Korean restaurant is the I’ll-have-what-he’s-having method. At lunch the other day, Alex and I tried a new place near work that had a Korean-only menu. Alex ordered the dankatsu:

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I wanted to try something different, and the lunch that the businessmen next to us were enjoying looked pretty good. So when the waitress took our order, I pointed to their lunch. Turns out it was this:

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A curry dish with chicken, vegetables and of course, rice. Even better, I had our waitress point out the dish on the menu, wrote it down in Korean and took it back to school to have one of the teachers translate. Ordering food will be much easier once I learn to read some basics: rice, pork, vegetables, etc.

I would say the food situation has improved from my post last week. Cooking is a little difficult:

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I also get home so late, and am so hungry once I arrive, that cooking dinner is not all that appealing anyway. I have been making some good salads though. The only problem is that a small bottle of dressing is about five bucks.

Time to get ready for work. It’s Friiiiday!

PS The donkatsu at the place we usually go. I like the other one better:

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Koreans: What I’ve Noticed So Far

            I contemplated publishing a post like this within my first couple weeks, for fear of making sweeping generalizations too soon. Ultimately, I decided it wasn’t; and unlike my somewhat sneering Paris post on this subject, my review of South Koreans is infinitely more flattering. A list of things I’ve noticed so far:

1)    Koreans are extremely nice.

I noticed this as soon as we got to the airport, as Alex and I struggled to get all of our bags from one airport to another to get our connecting flight to Busan. Everyone helped with our bags, whether it was getting them in and out of the elevator or actually carrying them for us (me). One girl dragged one of my suitcases across the airport and showed us to our terminal. Another instance of this occurred last weekend when Alex and I were coming back from shopping on the subway. There were no seats so we had to stand. Without a word, the two people sitting in front of us took our bags and held them for the entire subway ride. I’ve been really blown away by how kind everyone is.

2)    They want you to speak Korean!

Here’s a novel idea that France may want to try: they actually encourage you to speak their language here, even if you mangle it horribly! I have felt more welcome trying to speak the two words of Korean that I know (hello and thank you) than I ever did speaking conversational French in Paris. This one lady, from whom we get lunch a couple times a week, even wrote down the phonetic pronunciation for Alex when we first got here. When the language is so completely foreign and difficult, it’s nice to have one’s efforts rewarded for trying to speak it.

3)    Gender roles are subtle but enforced.

I suppose this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but gender roles here are definitely still traditional (though I would say that South Korea is rather liberal compared to China or Japan). I say it’s subtle because it comes in the form of things you might not notice if you weren’t looking for it. For example, we get lunch with our co-workers every day. The guys always get a larger serving of rice than the women (because they are manly-men and need their carbs). In the airport, Alex was spoken to as the “head of the family,” despite the fact that we clearly had different last names and were each our own party. For me, this is one of the more frustrating things about living here.

4)    Koreans don’t sweat.

I kind of knew this already, as foreigners are really the only ones who use deodorant and is one reason it’s so expensive (roughly $10-12 per stick). It really hit home, however, when I went to the gym for the first time earlier this week. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of working out with me, you know that I get extremely red-faced and sweat. A lot. It’s not my most attractive quality, but it is what it is. Well, talk about sticking out like a sore thumb. Who’s this very red, glistening girl rapping to Eminem on the treadmill? That’d be me.

 I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list as time goes on, but it’s a start. Happy Friday, everyone! (Or almost Friday, for you folks back home aka everyone who reads this blog). I’ll try to take some more pictures this weekend, as I’ve been seriously lacking in the photographic-evidence-of-my-being-here department.

Food: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what I’m eating in Korea. If any of you followed my Paris blog, you know that I usually can’t shut up about food. Well, I’m gonna level with you: I haven’t been too adventurous this week, and when I have been, it has not been rewarded with deliciousness.

Below is the first real meal that Alex and I had in Busan:Image

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On the right  in the first picture are pork dumplings, pretty standard. To the left is Alex’s ridiculously hot, fish Spam mess (those are the curly, noodle-looking things). My dish is the sushi, or what looks like sushi. It’s actually kimbap, which is the Korean version of sushi. This one was alright, but it has kimchi in it. I don’t care for kimchi. THEY PUT KIMCHI IN EVERYTHING. And if it’s not going directly into your meal, it’s always served on the side (the small yellow and red dishes in the first picture are kimchi).

A few days this week, I’ve had donkatsu for lunch (no pictures, sorry). This is a breaded pork cutlet served with a sauce that I’ve yet to identify, rice, and the standard broth/kimchi combo. I like this just fine, but it’s nothing spectacular.

What I ate today that was pretty damn good:

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The first is the donor kebabs we found at the Gukje Market today. Are they Korean? No. Are they delicious? Most definitely. The second picture is a donut with a cinnamon-sugar layer on the bottom, topped with peanuts, sunflower seeds and some other nuts and served hot. I don’t know what it was called, but everyone was walking around with them so   I decided to try it.

While walking through the famous Jagalchi Fish Market, here were some things I did not try:

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The fried fish above looked and smelled delicious. Everything else…not so much. But it was really cool to wander through and see what everyone was selling.

I’ve only been here a week, so I’m not giving up on Korean cuisine quite yet. I’d still like to try some Korean BBQ, and who knows? Maybe I’ll give kimchi another chance.

A Day In The Life

Hey, everyone. Still no Internet so I apologize for lagging behind on posts. More opinions on Korea to come!

I was a little too burned out the other night to go into much detail about my classes. Also, I actually didn’t remember all of them. I was so tired by the end of the day they had all kind of blended together. I figured a post about the specific classes I’m teaching might be of interest.

Period 1, Blue Class: Blue Class are almost-babies, with not much English under their belt. On Mondays I teach them Arts & Crafts; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is Play Class; and Friday is Sing & Chant. The first three classes of the day follow this schedule for the month of March, which means I’m doing three different plays with three different groups. Check back for updates on the production of Scary Dino later this month.

Period 4, Green Class: I have one class, then two periods off, and then lunch. Yeah. It’s a silly schedule but it does allow me to get prepared for the rest of the day, in which I have no break until 6:00. With Green Class, I’m putting on Let’s Play Together (I think that’s the name). I better learn the name because I need to know all the lines and songs.

Period 5, Purple Class: My absolute favorite class. There are only two kids in this one, David and Kelly. They’re only 6 or 7, but their English is excellent. I’m doing Cinderella with them. Yes, this would be the eleven-part play for two kids. I rewrote it so that there were no more than three characters in each scene, which means I also get to star in it! I’ve already handed out their parts, and they’ve been making up dances for the songs. Essentially, they direct themselves and are adorable (at least, when Kelly is not being a complete drama queen). David even offered his book to me the other day when he noticed mine was falling apart.

The rest of my day is different depending on whether or not it’s Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday. For the most part, I teach six or seven straight classes through to the end of the day after lunch. My least favorite are probably my phonics classes, of which I have two or three per day. Going over A is for Apple and B is for Ball for forty minutes is a little mind numbing.

I also teach a couple of reading classes, one speaking class and one writing class. They’re all pretty similar in that they involve listening or reading a passage, then answering questions about it. The speaking class is one of my favorites because I can actually have a conversation with the kids. I prepare them to give short speeches on different subjects, which involves going over vocabulary and helping them understand difficult words. It’s a small class, and my last of the day on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I’m happy that it’s a good one.

I’m happy that it’s a good one because two classes before that one, in Phonics 3, I have the spawn of Satan. I understand kids are hyper and loud and talk a lot; those are all things I can tolerate to a certain extent. What I cannot stand is someone making fun of someone else while they are learning another language. The way you get better at speaking a foreign language is to speak it, which of course means making mistakes. There are a couple students in that class who struggle significantly more than the others, and the spawn felt the need to point this out to the entire class. I informed him that if he spoke such perfect English, maybe he didn’t need to be there. Then I kicked him out. It didn’t solve the problem, exactly, because he seems hell-bent on being a problem each and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but I think I got my point across.

That is my school week so far. While I’m getting more comfortable with teaching, I still have a lot to learn. And I have never been so happy to see the weekend in my life!

 

First Day

Ahn yeong, y’all! I finally have a free, relatively non-exhausted moment to tell you a little bit about my first day teaching.

To say I was nervous and overwhelmed yesterday morning is an extraordinary understatement. If you know me, you know that I have a tendency to be a nervous Nellie but I think I had reason to be yesterday. Our orientation on Sunday consisted of making the schedules for a few classes for the next three or six months (depending on the class) and going on a tour of the school. No lesson planning, no prep time for Monday.

My first three classes on Monday were all Arts & Crafts, at different levels. Yesterday’s activity was Dot Composition, which is about as exciting as it sounds. I “taught” them how to create pictures by drawing lines between dots on a grid. I had them name what they were drawing and the colors they were using, depending on the level. With these same classes, I am also directing three different plays. This is especially interesting because the first class speaks almost no English, and the third class has only two kids. For an eleven part play.

In the afternoon/evening, I taught three phonetics classes, one reading class and one speaking class. One of my phonetics classes were brand new kids (unbeknownst to me) and I had to give them all English names. As a tribute to my family and friends back home, I named them Mary, Jake, Jay, Dan, Rachel, Lisa, Kristin and Justin. I tried naming two different girls Hannah but the Korean teachers rejected it as too confusing. I was also told Casey wasn’t a name (maybe KC would have worked).

I didn’t have much prepared in the way of a lesson plan for either yesterday’s or today’s classes so I was mostly playing games to get to know the kids, and working out of the book. The difficult part is that I teach 7-8 different classes, and not even the same ones every day. By the end of today, I had gotten myself a bit more organized but it’s going to take some time before I feel completely comfortable.

As a side note, our director still has not fixed my heat/hot water/Internet, but he was kind enough to bring us all kimbap at the end of the day today. Kimbap is basically Korean sushi, and I’m pretty sure they put kimchi in it. Anyway, all of the Korean teachers eagerly dug into their rolls, so I figured I’d give it a shot. As soon as I put it in my mouth, my gag reflex was triggered. I forced myself to chew and swallow, for fear of offending my Korean colleagues by upchucking in the staff room. Suffice to say I won’t be sampling any more of Mr. Jang’s kimbap offerings. But I would say yes to some heat and an Internet connection.

PS- I apologize for the lack of pictures. I promise to get some proof of actually living in Korea up over the weekend!

We’re Here!

First off, after a looooooooong plane ride, significant luggage lugging between three different airports (thanks to my super strong boyfriend and some very helpful Koreans), one short plane ride and a taxi, we have arrived. We got in last night around 10:00pm local time, and basically crashed right away. I don’t have heat/hot water in my apartment yet, but as luck would have it, Alex and I are next door neighbors! It’s good to know people.

Today we did a little exploring of our surrounding area. One of the happiest things I’ve learned is that we live above an organic coffee shop/secondhand bookstore! If any of you know me (I’ll assume you do), you know that this is very good news. We poked into a few grocery stores/markets to get a handle on prices of things. Fruits and vegetables seem comparably to reasonably priced (large bunch of 8 bananas: about $3.00; package of eggplant: about $1.50). This was also good news!

The first (and only) thing that I’ve eaten in Korea: A strange sweet/savory pastry of sweet potatoes, onions and peppers, and a cafe latte. The pastry came from the only bakery that was open when we were out and about, but there is no shortage of them in the area. Alex got what he thought was a plain roll, but it was actually filled with chestnut jam. A happy reminder of Paris, in which I gobbled chestnut jam by the jar.

Our director is going to pick us up for orientation in a couple hours, and hopefully we’ll have a better idea of our job description after that. It was nice to have the morning to ourselves to get settled and explore, though.

That’s all for now- I’m hoping to have Internet by my next post (currently leeching off my good neighbor). Later!