Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Just had to listen to one of my students get caned for 5 minutes by a teacher for some transgression in his class. I think it was something to do with not bringing his book and talking in class too much. He's a bit awkward and gangly, but usually a pretty good kid in my classes, in that he's usually quiet (compared to the others) and not very high level, but he looks like he's paying attention most of the time and really wants to understand, and can usually hammer out a more or less accurate sentence given 5 minutes and some help. But I have no idea how he behaves in other classes which might be why he's just been beaten around the shoulders with a love-stick (read: a wooden stick or bamboo cane that most Korean teachers have) and shouted at.that he's a worthless S.O.aB. (rough translation, but kind of just a generic insultory term in Korean) and a waste of time and how his parents must be disappointed in him (the most crushing thing you can say to a student).

So even though I could never do it, I can see that maybe a whack across the palms is ok if things get bad - it stings and it gets the point across that you've pissed the teacher off - but I hate how far corporal punishment can go here, and I always feel so bad for the kids. Sometimes it's just making them do a kind of downward facing dog position balancing on their knuckles in the corridor, othertimes it's a full-on slap to the face. It's not supposed to happen, but it does - I've seen the student manager here do a three-in-one across the faces of three boys who had been seen smoking behind the school. However, I've been told not to get involved and anyway, I mostly would have no idea how to and definitely no inclination to annoy any of the people I work with by interfering.

Just for the record, the most I do is minus class points - if they get a certain number they have to do lunchroom duty etc to make up for it - or make them stand in the corner or outside in the corridor. Or I take away the fun activities and make them study the textbook and let the rest of the class scream at them for me. The only time I've ever hit a student was accidentally when I was waving my pointer around too much and the tip flew off and bounced off her head.

So this boy got the beat down and verbal abuse and is now kneeling on the floor waiting for the teacher who was disciplining him to finish his class and come back for round 2, and is sniffling and trying to stop crying. But it's not all bad - I liked my VP before, but I like him a bit more now because he just came over and tried to calm the boy down a bit. Admittedly, he also tsked at him for sniffling too loudly and told him off a bit for disrupting the other teacher's class, but he was also pretty kindly about it - more like, 'you know that you were rude and that's bad' than yelling at him - and gave him some tissues. And he does have the position and seniority to do that kind of thing so it's good that he does.

Ok so the other teacher just came back and luckily the beating appears to be over - it's all a verbal scathing from here. Wish he was in my after-school class so I could give him some hot chocolate and check that he's ok. Not that he'd understand me anyway.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just a few things that make me happy

... and one that makes everyone say WTF - North Korea. The latest in it's crazy crazy search for whatever the hell it is that it thinks the world owes it. I mean, it's not like the South has been a paragon example of peaceful tolerance either, but suddenly throwing a tanty at an annual military exercise, killing someone, injuring dozens of others (including civilians) and basically forcing a bunch of people out of their homes? Honestly.

Although I have to admit, I did find it slightly amusing that they apparently faxed through their 'cease and desist' :)

Ok, so onto a cheerier topic.

 FOOD! I do love it. Some of the great food I've had recently has included hanjeongshik (한정식) or a traditional Korean banquet meal with bulgogi (불고기 - marinated BBQ'd beef) and some spicy barbequed pork in Cheollabuk-do after hiking as mentioned in the last blog. It was pretty good - almost made it worth the bunged foot I ended up with! Hanjeongshik, to give you a brief summary, usually involves a couple of central dishes (like the BBQ'd meat) and a tableful of side-dishes, as well as a communal soup. The side-dishes that you get with every Korean meal can contain anything from vegetables to seafood, to meat, to pickles, to tofu, to eggs, to fried bits and pieces, to salad - anything and everything! - but in hanjeongshik are usually all traditional foods and also often try to use as much local produce and specialties as possible, so every hanjeongshik restaurant is different. The one that we had in Cheollabuk-do was delicious, as you can see by the picture, and had quite a lot of fresh seafood as well as about twenty side-dishes and four types of kimchi. One table of this was between about four people, but realistically it could have fed six.

The next food adventure was last weekend in Busan at Gwangalli beach with my friend JP and his boyfriend Jun-Ki. Busan is Korea's 2nd biggest city and biggest and busiest port, so it is naturally famous for it's seafood, and in particular it's sashimi. Jun-Ki was craving ojing-o (오징어, squid) sashimi (called hwae or 회 in Korean) so we spotted a likely looking restaurant that looked quite popular on the eight floor of one of the fish market towers and headed for that. Fortunately for us, the lift was really busy so we decided to walk up, and JP and JK both being smokers, when we struck up a somewhat puffed conversation with a Korean guy on the stairwell charging up the stairs with two heavy buckets full of water and fish from downstairs, he immediately sensed the opportunity to entice us into his restaurant instead on the 5th floor. We opted for the mixed hwae platter and some additional ojing-o for JK and it was great! Even better, part of it was nakji (낚지) or octopus sashimi, which is cut up alive and directly served to your table.
JP eating nakji

As my sister might remember, we'd seen octopus cooked alive before (in a stew with a glass lid) but I'd never tried it like this so I was curious. Nakji hwae is cut up into smaller pieces so it doesn't try and strangle you from the inside out, and you usually dip it into a spicy gochujang (고추장, chilli sauce) paste and scoff it. Of course, the whole time this is happening, it's trying to cling to your chopsticks or escape, so it's not a meal for the absent-minded. But it was delicious ^__^

Cost? 104 000 won (~$90) for the three of us, which included a couple of bottles of soju and cider. So in all, about 35000 won each for a great dinner (with great company!:) ).

But this is not to say that there isn't delicious food in Cheongju! (Cheongju is the name of the city where I live). One of my favourite indulgences is fried chicken. Koreans LOVE their chicken! It's commonly eaten with pickled white radish and beer, and often sold by random vendors on the beaches of all places. Koreans also love home delivery - practically everything is home delivered here, and I mean home delivered, not just mailed for you to pick up whenever. This includes the usual groceries and furniture, but also shoes (:D) and even in my case a USB stick for school. No kidding! When I needed one at the start of the year, one of the teachers called up the textbook company and asked demanded one. They told me that the person bringing it would try to bring it to me at school, but if not, he'd just bring it to my house!

half yangnyeom, half fried chickeny yum

But anyway, back to the food. So food is also pretty cheap in Korea, with foreign food being a bit more expensive. Chicken falls into this category, but it's still worth it and of course you don't have to go anywhere to get it - as long as you have a phone, you can sit at home like a fat slob demanding as much fried grease as you like. It also comes in four main types - fried, garlic, yangnyeom (양념, kind of meaning 'savoury' or 'condiments' I guess) or ganjang (간장, soy), all of which is delicious. My favourite chicken place is called Jjo-a Jjo-a (쪼아쪼아) which I think means "good! good!" Whatever it means, it's the bomb, and doesn't leave you feeling dehydrated, (extremely) greasy or with a slight MSG headache like a lot of places, and even better, comes with crinkle cut chips! O_O!!! If happiness were a potato, it would be crinkle cut chips (preferably smothered in gravy, but this is a good second). I don't normally eat a lot of junkfood like this these days, especially since I haven't been hitting the gym with my foot, but seeing as it's that time of the month at the moment and I've been craving chips for two days, I felt ordering it was justified. Delicious boxload of enough chicken to last me for about three days for only w14000 (~$12).

Oh and one last thing that hasn't made me happy yet but I hope that will soon: miniature hedgehogs. I WANT ONE!!  saw them at Homeplus (a kind of mega-store like K-Mart meets Woolworths) with the gerbils (which I'd also never seen before) and the fish, and I happened to pass by as one of them was standing on its friend to drink water from the water bottle in its cage. You who know me know that I have limited cutesy tolerance but ...OMG! THESE ARE THE CUTEST THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN! Dare I say it? Even cuter than ... Floss???? Maybe not quite :) But still pretty cute. And made even cuter by my students, who call them "hedgepiggys" or "hedgie-hoggies" ㅋㅋㅋUnfortunately, the only animals you can bring into Australia are pretty much just cats, dogs, birds and horses, so hedgehogs are classed as illegal foreign imports. And I don't want it to die or just dump it somewhere when I go because a) I have a soul and b) I actually like animals, so unless I can find someone I trust to adopt it when I'm gone or quarantine laws change, I guess I'm hedgehog-less for the moment. But I still want one.

Making and then fixing foot problems

Taking a kimbap break on our danpoong
Not exactly sure why, but last week my foot started aching. Specifically, the arch of my foot, possibly from wearing cheap ballet flats with no support and even though I have awesome sneakers, running at the gym probably didn't help. I was then dumb enough to go ahead with hiking in freezing weather a week ago last Saturday to Mt Kangcheong in Sunchang, Cheollabuk-do (which was beautiful and great fun) to see the autumn leaves. BTW, on a cultural note, just to show that I do do cultural stuff too, Koreans call this kind of outing danpoong (단풍) and because you only get the most brilliant leaves for a few weeks, weekends tend to be extremely busy and every mountain is usually swarming with busloads of Korean ajummas (a ferocious breed of middle-aged or at least middle-aged looking ladies) and ajosshis (middle-aged to elderly men) in a variety of very impressive hiking gear, various stages of boisterousness and usually for the men, some degree of drunkeness.  There are also the usual family groups with their kids, tourists and school excursion groups, so it's not a good idea to go if you aren't prepared to occasionally have to push your way through a crowd and be elbowed in return, but everyone usually has a good time looking at the pretty colours and if you get a bottle of makkolli (a kind of cloudy grain alcohol that tastes like a mix of beer and yakult) like we did you don't tend to feel the cold as much :) And also, if you make everyone on your bus sing karaoke for 3 hours on the way back to Cheongju like we did, it's a lot of fun even if you aren't very sporty!

So consequently, even though I had a great time admiring the colours of the leaves with my friends, I spent the rest of the weekend, and the first couple of work days limping around like a lame duck. As my English lab is on the fourth floor in a different wing of my school, this means a lot of stairs. Up until Tuesday, I put off going to see a doctor because I didn't think it was that bad ... and I didn't want to be sent to an acupuncturist (I hate needles) or made to take some awful tasting and horribly expensive Oriental medicine which would be the normal Korean course of action for a sore foot. I think my co-teachers got a bit worried about me hobbling around though, since my school is like an Arctic wind tunnel, and the heating hasn't been turned on for any of the classrooms yet, so on Tuesday they ganged up and organised getting me to an orthopaedic doctor (orthopaediatrist???).

And it actually turned out to be pretty interesting! True to form in any country, the consultation with the doctor was predictably short (less the 5 minutes face time). After looking at an x-ray of my foot, the good doc agreed that it was probably just a strained muscle, gave me a prescription and said goodbye. All pretty routine, right? Well that's where it got interesting - as well as some pills, my prescription included something that the teacher who'd brought me (Mr Lee) translated as "massage". Ok. Sounded good. So upstairs we headed... where there was what I guess was the physiotherapy centre. Mr Lee had to head back to school for class, and sadly I had to miss out on my class with the ... shall we say, most rascally and lowest level 2nd year girls' class with the worst attitudes? (Normally that phrase would be replaced by one word, beginning with a 'b', and well justified for a class where a student used the 'f' word to my face twice the week before.)  So somehow I didn't feel too upset about missing a class with them. :D
Heat pad sandwich with my foot

Anyway, I settled in for my "massage". (Here you'll have to excuse my complete lack of knowledge about both medicine and machinery.) This began with thirty minutes of lying down in a quiet room with a hot compress on my foot. Napping optional ^_^ Then a lovely nurse who didn't laugh too much at my knee-high stripey yellow witch socks or at my Korean name (which is very old-fashioned and for some reason was decided to be my real name for my health insurance here) came in, took off the compress and squirted some sort of anti-inflammatory blue ultrasonic gel over my foot, and massaged it in with this weird kind of ultrasonic machine (I seriously have no idea what it was!). Once that was done and the excess gel wiped off, she then attached some gel pads to my foot and hooked me up to a kind of neuro-stimulator gadget thing which sent series of gentle electronic pulses through my foot while a heat lamp thingy kept it warm.
My neighbour with some sort of butt problem.

As you can see in the picture to the left, for deeper intramuscular injuries, there was also the option to get some sort of sucker things attached, presumably the electronic version of the Asian practice of cupping. And yes, that's a sneaky photo of the lady who was in the other bed in my stall getting her butt cupped, just because I thought it was a funny picture. The nurse was very professional when she had to massage in the gel and the lady pulled her pants down further and told her that the pain was 'further in the middle' but I think I saw her sigh silently ㅋㅋ

Mr Lee then came back to collect me and took me to the pharmacist to get my medicine.

Just a quick note for those of my dear readers not in Korea, when you collect a prescription in Korea, they give you each dose of your medicine individually packaged in little, well, packets, usually only for a few days at a time to encourage you to come back for a check-up. This is great because it's really convenient and also keeps prices cheap because you don't have to buy a whole box.
Foot-twitching machine

Heat lamp
The teachers at my school were very relieved that I was getting treatment, and after a good night's sleep, I was very impressed at how much better my foot felt! Two more days of treatment and the pain was virtually gone! So much so that I elected to choose partying over prudence and wore heels for two nights straight. Feeling slightly less spruce today so I may have to go back later in the week. But nevertheless, the detrimental effect of my own determination and the seductive lure of a pair of very beautiful boots aside, I was thoroughly impressed with Korean orthopaedics! Oh and the best bit - cost! Extremely low (by Australian standards).  Even without health insurance, Korean consultation fees and prescriptions are extremely cheap.
pulse machine generator whatsit

Prepare to be amazed:
X-ray: 70 000 won (about $60)
Doctor's consultation fee per visit including 'massage': 2300 won (about $2) each time -> 3 days, 7200 won (about $6.80)
Prescription (6 days of medicine): 4600 won (about $4)

Yes. All in all, I paid less than $80 for a week of specialist treatment, most of which was the x-ray. Korea - you rock.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A chuckle a day keeps the teacher enjoying her job.

So I believe that I have mentioned before how some of my 2nd year (15yo) boy students say "Hey baby!" to get my attention? This has now spread to another class, who has moved it onto a new level ... of hilarity. To get the rest of his class to shut up, one of my students decided to call them baby. Collectively.

Me: "Be quiet please. Jeong-Woo, please shut up."
Gwan-Mo: "Hey! BE QUIET BABY!"
Me: .... *laughing my head off*

**five minutes later**
Me: "Boys, this is what I want you to do for this activity."
Gwan-Mo: "HEY BABIES! PAY ATTENTION AND SHUT YOUR FACE!" (I taught them that accidentally).
... cue more uncontrollable laughter.

Oh and the student who started the whole "Hey baby" thing, Yeong-Seoh, once again displayed his amazing talent to make me laugh (thus disrupting the class because they think me laughing is hilarious, so really quite a clever tactic). He's actually quite a good student - in my classes anyway. Previously, when practicing advice for "what should I do when I'm tired?" with his class, Yeong-Seoh suggested that I a) get a haircut like his so that we could be friends or b) go home with him. Today, we were talking about where we wish we could go in the world and what we wish we could do. Yeong-Seoh's sentence: "I wish I could go to Australia and see your house." You gotta admire his persistance.

Other answers from today (all boys classes I'm afraid) included:
"I wish I could go to London and see bigban."
"I wish I could go to England and fight Harry Potter, I steal his broomstick."
"I wish I could go to Italy and see perfect pisa." (I'm not sure if this was supposed to be 'eat the perfect pizza' or 'see the Leaning Tower of Pisa')
"I wish I could go to Japan and see girls."
"I wish I could go to french and see apple tower."

The boys come up with some of the funniest stuff ^__^

Oh and on another topic, food! Koreans love to eat. Koreans also love to share food. We don't really have specific morning tea times, but if someone brings food, they usually bring enough to share with everyone. Also, if someone is celebrating something like buying a new car or a promotion, they usually celebrate by giving some sort of snack to everyone in their office/school. This can range from vitamin drinks, yoghurt, biscuits, cake, corn, boiled potatoes, anything really. But today really took the cake (and then went back for more). There must have been a lot of good luck going around, because I came back to my desk at lunch after having four classes straight all morning to find two mandarines, a rice cake stick (ddok) and another sizeable chunk of sweet rice-cake. A usual portion is about the size of a quarter of a brick. This is not to mention the snacks from earlier in the week that I didn't finish, so I also have another mandarine, a boiled egg, a cheesestick, a chocopie and countless random lollies and caramels in my desk drawer. Stuff I actually finished during the week were two cups of Korean cinnamon tea, two chunks of sweet rice-cake and three mandarines. Not that I'm complaining! But I'll definitely have to force myself to go to the gym next week. Usually I pass some of this stuff onto my kids, but I do have a lot left over today. Guess I know what's for dinner tonight!

Also, just to see you through the weekend, some more random funnies from my latest new favourite cartoon "The Non-Adventures of Wonderella" (yes I totally leeched this from Neil Gaiman's blog). If it makes you feel any better, or you think you have a depressingly empty weekend ahead of you, don't look at them until tomorrow :)

because it made me giggle

my job. every day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Aussie Bucket of Happiness List

Woohoo! I get to come home earlier than I thought! YAY!!!!

Although I said it already on facebook, I have to say it again here - my co-teacher Ms Shin rocks! She was awesome before this, but this news makes her super-co-teacher of the frickin' year!

Just to clarify what happened, holidays are kind of a big deal for us Guest English Teachers or Native English Speaking Teachers or whatever the hell we're supposed to be officially called over here, as we are supposed to get so much time off, but also do winter camps and extra classes. So the time we can get off is mostly dependent on the school's own timetable, and there is no country like Korea for instititutionalised last minute-ness so a lot of the time (or all the time according to the 'real situation' nightmare scenarios in our guide book) GETs try to be organised and apply for (and get) time off and book tickets waaaaay ahead of time only to find out closer to the date that the school's schedhule has changed (or actually been decided on) and conflicts with their plans which they now can't change. (Some very naughty people actually do this on purpose too.) So bascially holidays can be a big headache for both the GETs, their co-teachers and their schools. Now, as someone who is extending their contract (oh yeah, so I have decided to stay on for another year in Cheongju at the same school. I should really write something more about that later!), we are supposed to get 14 extra CALENDAR days holiday as well as the 10 WORKING days winter break in our contracts. There is also the week we are supposed to get off for Seolnal (the Lunar new year) but if you aren't careful and your school decides to stiff you, your extra calendar day leave might run into this, cheating you of a few of your precious days. Which is why we specifically get working days, as we don't work every 2nd Saturday like our Korean counterparts. There is also a week before the new school year starts in March that the teachers have to be back at work for admin stuff and to organise graduation for students that completed their last year, before you get another week off and then have to come back. Originally, I was very annoyed, because after asking about holidays a while back when I was still considering moving to a new area (which would mean a new contract and no extra holidays), I was told that yes, I do get two weeks, but depending on winter classes which might run until the end of January, it was entirely possible that these would be non-consecutive, and therefore I would only get to spend one week at home unless I wanted to buy two lots of plane tickets. And because of my contract running until February 25th here, but having to go to the new area's training session at the START of that week, I might in effect only get one week off because the second week would be taken up by moving and training. So not good. Nothing to do with my co-teacher or my school (although I did wonder at the time if this was part of the blackmail to try and make me stay with them), but if I wanted to be one of those jerks that made a bad name for GETs everywhere I could have kicked up a fuss and just bought my plane ticket for late January anyway and left a great school on a bad note.

BUT THEN! Flash forward a month and a half - having decided on patience and trusting in the eternal last minute serendipity of Korean planning, I asked Ms Shin again this week about the possibility of going home for Australia Day, since I won't be able to go home for Christmas. I had already told her a while back about how important Christmas was to my family and how we all get together and just kind of enjoy spending time together, and how we hadn't really had that many proper family Christmases over the last couple of years, what with people (ok, me and mum) being out of the country and then us all going to Canada and so not being able to spend Christmas with the rest of our family and so on, so she knew how important it is to me and what I meant when I told her that we would usually have a family dinner on Australia Day and especially that I would like to spend it with my grandparents, as I haven't been home this year since I left and they can't travel overseas. Once again, I have to state just how awesome Ms Shin is in that she actually tells me things BEFORE they happen sometimes, rather than AS they happen. She told me that actually, there was a possibility that my extra classes would only run for one week instead of two, so as well as my winter camp for a week, I might be able to come home as early as the third week of January! O_O!!

Needless to say, I was overjoyed! Even if it does turn out that I have three weeks of school over winter instead of two, I will still be home for Australia Day and eating delicious food with the people most precious to my heart :)

So in order to make the most of my time at home, I have decided to start a list of things I want to do/eat while I'm there. Let me know if there's anything I've missed or you have any suggestions!


I want to:
  • hug my grandparents and my parents and my sister and my dogs and never let go
  • hug everyone else until they tell me to go away or start to turn blue in the face
  • eat a roast lamb dinner with lashings of gravy and mum's special extra crunchy baked potatoes.
  • eat fish and chips and calamari rings on the beach
    Bill comma Bubble O's :D
  • get Thai takeaway and a bottle of wine with my little sister Frangipanni, watch a bad horror movie, and spook ourselves/laugh
  • go to the video store and understand the blurb on the back of EVERY single video without having to refer to the pictures or my electronic dictionary
  • Sam "Calippo Muncher" Shin's ice-lolly of choice :)
  • eat a Calippo and a Bubble O'Bill ice-cream with Sam! (if you don't know, these are FABULOUSLY DELICIOUS! ice-creams like so) 
  • make a pavlova
  • eat (a) pavlova 
  • watch mum make a trifle and then eat it for dessert at every opportunity until it's gone.
  • eat a lamington
  • send a billion Timtams to my friends around the world (let me know if you want to be added to the list!)
  • sleep in my bed
  • hear one of my grandfather's brilliant stories and my grandmother telling him he's a silly old bugger
  • see my big sis Kate and Chris' new house
  • watch the news and discuss Graeme the ABC weatherman's sexuality and bad fashion choices
  • never watch the 7.30 report now that Kerry O'Brien is gone
  • watch "The Biggest Loser" and laugh at ... oh so many things! (I'm hoping there'll be a new season out by then!)
  • walk around in a low cut (i.e. NORMAL) singlet top with my bra-straps showing and no-one caring
  • go to the beach, swim in the ocean, get a little sunburnt and walk around with beach hair all day
  • eat a meat pie
  • eat a sausage roll smothered in tomato sauce
  • drive and listen to awful music and sing along with it ^_^
  • go shopping with franniken in sydney, hopefully while there's still some good stuff left from the new year sales
  • buy a new pair of slim strap havianas
  • buy some new jeans that actually have room for my butt
  • ooh! go shopping at JAG with katie for new jeans :)
  • go (swing??) dancing with miss lucy-lu!
  • catch up with all my OPSM peeps and see Jeanne's wedding pics!
  • catch up with all my Canberra crew and see Meggles' wedding pics!
  • gossip with jini and lyss and ms bouf and all my favourite Canberrans over too much champagne
  • eat pho and play some (in my case, 'suck at') Wii with Nuong, Kit Kat and Meliphant
  • eat a cherry pie at Dobinson's and a steak and onion pie at Cornucopia (bakeries in Canberra)
  • go to the Lindt or Guylian cafe (chocolate cafes) in Sydney and poison myself with dairy products
  • stock up on herbs so i can cook real pasta dishes next year
  • go to t2 and sniff every kind of tea I can, try every kind of sample and perhaps buy something delicious and exotic ^__^
  • drink tea with t-bovo and enjoy being cynical and amused
  • buy a pair of shoes with actual support in them
  • go underwear shopping and revel in beautiful underwear that is actually made in my size!
  • take my dogs for a walk on the beach every day
  • cook Korean food with Franceline to stave off my inevitable kimchi withdrawal and stink out the house with the smell of garlic
  • have a HUUUUGGGGEEE food-feast (otherwise known as a pig-out) with Naomi and Aya!
  • go to the fish markets in Sydney and eat sashimi (I've never been!)
  • be driven crazy doing the morning crossword with my parents (most often heard quote: "just because it has the right number of letters doesn't mean it's the right word!! you can't change the spelling to make it fit! it doesn't even have anything to do with the clue!")
  • read the Good Weekend, Spectrum and National Times from the SMH every weekend
  • eat grilled cheese and tomatoes on toast
  • eat avocados on EVERYTHING just because they taste so good
  • eat some sort of focaccia sandwich
  • eat a whole tub of "Nuts About Chocolate" ice-cream (I love it because it's so chocolatey yet so cheap that about 30% of it is water and thus somewhat lactose-intolerant-friendly)
  • eat some Cadbury's Caramello ice-cream
  • eat cherries and nectarines until I pop (or possibly poop... tmi? >_< ㅋㅋㅋ~ )
  • eat some good ole Aussie prawns
  • eat a good steak
  • eat chips and gravy
  • drink Pure Blonde, White Stag (low carb beers) and James Squire Golden Ale again
  • sit on the verandah with mum, dad, fran and the dogs drinking tea (if it's the morning) or a gin and tonic/beer (if it's the afternoon) just enjoying the summer
*sigh* ^_^ ...
.. anything you can think of that I missed?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

White Ninja Is There For His Son

Just to keep up with Chanel's expectations of a post-a-day. And because this tickled my funny bone just a smidge.

Haha :)

Oh, also, finally went to the doctor today about my foot. Turned out to be more interesting than I thought - more on that tomorrow (hoping to get some photos).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Reason #3 for blogging?

So I had a few requests for the cartoon strips I used with my kids. They are just normal comic strips that I downloaded from the net and then got all techy with using a little known program called 'paint' (:p) and erased all the speech from. If anyone is planning on doing a lesson about storytelling or anything, I also found some Calvin and Hobbes cartoons with very little speech (below) that I cut up and got the kids to discuss in groups and rearrange them back into the right order. I wrote my mobile number on the back and when they thought they had the right sequence they had to call me on it (yes I totally stole that idea from our orientation ㅋㅋㅋ) to check that it was right. Each group had to then tell me what they thought happened in their story (preferably at least one sentence for each panel). I did this with both first year and second year middle school students, including second year boys, and everyone seemed to find it pretty interesting. With my first years, I used two lots of fairy tales with only 6 or 7 panels, and as well as the rearranging, phoning, re-telling, I added a challenge segment where to get each panel one person from the team had to walk to the end of the room with a book on their head or a balloon between their knees, then give me a sentence using a target phrase/vocabulary from the lesson to get the panel. This was mainly just to kill some extra time, but then I decided to do away with that and switch the the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. As they weren't familiar with the cartoon's style it was a lot better and more interesting.

Anyway, here they are, hope they're useful :)

P.S. If for some reason you can't get them from here with good enough quality, send me your email address and I'll email them to you.

Hilarious Ad

I find the "Want Cash?" ads hilarious. It took me ages to figure out what they were for as initially, whenever they came on TV I would be concentrating on the funny little dances they do rather than the product. And really, who cares? This is the latest "want cash? ad" by the Want Cash? Girls, and in my opinion, the funniest :)

(unfortunately I can't find a video that I can embed here so you'll have to go to another website to have a loook)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Some random goodies from my students

Category 1. Practicing giving compliments to each other with the 2nd years (~15yo):
"I like your face."
"You are curly. Very beauty." (=You have beautiful curly hair)
"You wear dead animal skin. Very fashionista!" (=Your fur jacket is very fashionable)
"Your face is no good. But your personality very kind!"
"You look like a dog. Very cutie!"

Category 2. Asking the 1st years (~14yo) to tell me something surprising:
Gems from the boys -
Student A: You know what? My friend Jong-Woo is a traffic light.
Student B (Jong-Woo): Really? What a surprise!

"Guess what? I see Do-Gyun wearing hot panties!" (=I saw Do-Gyun wearing short shorts)
"You know what? My friend Do-Gyun has a cucumber face. He look like cucumber."
"Guess what? Do-Gyun is a dog."

And from the girls -
"You know what? I am a dog."
"Guess what? I saw Mina only come school with bra panties!" (=Mina came to school in only her underwear!)
"You know what? I saw Amy teacher wearing short pants and short shirt and eating many sundae and ice-cream!" (sundae is a kind of black pudding sausage filled with blood and noodles).
"Guess what? Amy teacher is a man!"

Category 3. Class 2-8: my favourite class because they are outrageously funny, but also my biggest headache because they are so noisy and widely acknowledged as the 2nd year class with the worst behaviour (they are boys of course). There are some amazingly good students in the class though, and their sense of competition always helps my lessons along.
Things they say to either say hello or get my attention in class:
"Wassup yo?"
"Hey baby!"
"Sexy teacher!"
"Hello Indian teacher!" (I was wearing a floor length hippie skirt)
"Mr Amy!/Mr Jenkins!" (this is not a mistake, this is entirely on purpose)
"Miss Tiger Woods!/Miss Obama!" (after coming back SLIGHTLY more tanned over summer)
"Hey you!"
"I love you!"

Complaints from the noisiest of the horde, Gyeong-Hun (usually when I try to ignore him or tell him that his answer is wrong):
"Teacher! Why don't you love me?"
"Teacher! Why can't we play a game? You don't worry about our exam score, we are all genius!"

Talking about our interests:
Question: if I am interested in music, I might want to be a what?
Answer: "Jesus!"

Category 4. Random:
And in a follow up to the dinosaur cartoons, I had my 1st year conversation class do some too, but had to explain why they shouldn't call one of the dinosaurs "Homo the Dinosaur" and that in fact it was "Homer Simpson", not "Homo Simpson".

This stuff is why I love my students! ^_^

No Mention of Peppero Here Whatsoever...

... actually, I lie. If you want to go outside at ALL in Korea on the 11th of November, you better be prepared to be inundated by people waving peppero at you EVERYWHERE. In fact, really, you should be prepared for this all week, because the advertising starts early (in the tradition of pushy advertising) and if you are dumb enough to go to a supermarket like I was last night, you should be prepared to see grown adults in a near scrum over boxes of these chocolate covered biscuit sticks. Which is quite interesting seeing as this isn't even a real holiday, and in fact is widely acknowledged to have been encouraged, if not actually started (and heavily denied) by the Peppero company about 8 years ago (?) because the number 11 looks like two peppero sticks. Never mind that it also looks like many other things that are sticks or even sticks themselves - where's the profit in that?

Adorable if a little scary.
At any rate, for those of you not in the know, on Peppero Day you usually give peppero to people that you like such as your friends, people you respect (like teachers) or that crush you've been looking for a subtle way to express your feelings to. So I can't be too cynical about this day, as I did quite well out of it. I ended up with about 9 different lots of peppero, and a chocopie in lieu of peppero because one student didn't have any peppero to give (presumably because by the time they remembered to buy some, the shop shelves had been utterly ransacked) but the colours are the same so it was a pretty good substitution! To give you some idea of how crazy this gets, Min-Jae (scroll down for a picture of her) told me that she got more than 20 from her friends! But her brother only got one ㅠ_ㅠ...

Above is a picture of the ones I didn't scoff for recess, as well as a really cute card here on the left from one of my loveliest students to go with the peppero that she gave me. I thought it was awesome, even though she drew herself with a kind of screaming zombie face.

As you can see, in the face of all this peppero, Remembrance Day barely gets a look in. In fact, when I was doing a lesson on special days earlier in the year and we were going through a list of days celebrated in Australia, and I asked "so what is celebrated on the 11th of November?" , even though it was written down in front of them, most students STILL said "Peppero Day!" with what I thought was extreme optimism. Needless to say, wearing a red poppy seemed a little bland. At any rate, I still wore red today (no poppies) and as most peppero packets (or chocopies) are red too, it was quite fitting.

And here we move onto Reason #2 for why I started this blog - the food! (good guess Naomi ^_^)

Because today was not JUST Peppero Day - it was also a great food day! In both amount and quality. So I am quite lucky in that my school lunches are really good and always edible AND recognisable, and also that I'm quite used to Korean food (we all know that means I LOVE it and could easily eat my way out of a vat of it) and, not to put too fine a point on it (because I know that the school lunches are one of the biggest continuing problems that foreign teachers have with their schools), willing to give most things a go, even if I know it's probably going to burn like the bejeezus on the way... through... : s So I never go hungry during the day. BUT I am also incredibly lucky in that I have been somewhat adopted (yes, again) by the lady who runs the supermarket near my house. Which in Korea means that I never have to buy my own kimchi again! This is especially fortuitous this year as following a number of typhoons earlier in the year, the price of vegetables has skyrocketed, and it's possibly the first time that buying ready-made kimchi has actually been cheaper than making your own (which is also a big part of Korean culture and food). The whole family is also super friendly and the kids are absolutely adorable so it's really easy talking to them all in Korean and they don't make me feel like a complete moron when I make mistakes.

Super Onni's "simple dinner" minus the 파전 and 미역국
So today Hee-Jeong (I call her Super Onni because I both love bad puns and she is!) invited me over for some dwenjang-guk (된장국) or bean-paste soup, which is a bit different from dwenjang-jjigae (된장찌개), the bean-paste stew that you usually get (or rather, got, pre-vegetable crisis) with any kind of Korean BBQ'd meat. This mostly just has the bean paste and a kind of Korean silverbeet in it rather than the basic Korean stew vegetables and clams, and is of course delicious! Being very lazy and with the weather going CRAZY outside with wind and rain and all sorts of a hullaballoo storming it up, I skipped the gym and had a nap. In retrospect, I really wish I'd made the effort to go, as "just 된장국" turned out to be 된장국 plus the requisite side-dishes you always get with a good Korean meal, plus beer, plus pajeon (파전) or savoury pancakes, plus MORE beer, PLUS miyok-guk (미역국) or seaweed soup because it's her daughter Min-Jae's birthday tomorrow and it's a Korean tradition to eat 미역국 on your birthday. (This is to commemorate your mother giving birth to you and eating seaweed soup to restore her iron levels.) Needless to say, I ate and drank far more than was good for me (yes, I eat like a man and can never resist just one more bite)!

With Super Onni's kids, Min-Jae and Min-Seong
And just when I thought the food overload was done, Super Onni gives me a 2kg container full of kimchi and about four other containers of other side-dishes to take home with me! ...Seriously, gym next week for sure. And of course, because he is a gentleman and his sister had just given me about 3kgs of food, Super Onni's brother Jin (who is a champ and always makes an effort to speak in both Korean and English with me) walked me home and carried it for me. Granted, it was only about 300m away, but I was grateful nonetheless.

So to summarise, I put absolutely NO effort into feeding myself today. Most appropriate quote for the day: "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers..." Except change 'strangers' to Koreans. Great day : D


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reason #1 for blogging - my students :)

So I am currently doing a topic on stories and writing with the students in my 2nd year conversation class (I'm teaching at a middle school, so they're aged around 14 or 15) and thought it would be good practice for them to write in the dialogue for some blank cartoons. These are some of the most hilarious results.The last two are a bit hard to read so I have included their scripts.

Dialogue #1 by Sally and Sophia

Dialogue 2 by Jisu and Hyeon-Jeong.

Jon: Eat, Garfield!

Jon: Eat quickly.
Garfield: No, no, it's bad.

Garfield: YOU eat this food.

Jon: Thanks, but I don't like this.
Garfield: What?!!

Garfield: You must eat this food right now!

Jon: No. No. Oh my god.
Garfield: Eat. Eat!!
Woman: They look very happy.
Other neighbour: Yes. I envy them.

And last is my favourite, simply because it is the funniest, saddest, sweetest and most poignant of the lot.
Dialogue #3 by Burger King and Iron Man (the English names two of my boys chose for themselves and didn't want to change, even after I started using them in their regular classes too).

Dino 1: I'm hungry!

Dino 1: Oh! I find a food!

Dino 1: You are my friend.
Dino 2: What??

Dino 2: I eat you!
Dino 1: Oh god! Help me!

Dino 1: I want peace.
Dino 2: Shut up!

Dino 1: **cries**

ㅋㅋㅋ my after-school conversation kids are brilliant ^_^

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Something different?.. probably not.

Welcome to my blog. First of all, I have to point out that I am not puporting to be able to offer anything but my own perspective on what I find funny, noteworthy, weird or interesting. I am certainly not claiming to offer an original or even particularly insightful blog about life in Korea (or wherever I happen to be at the time) and I don't particularly consider my own life to be very interesting or blogworthy in itself. But occasionally I do find or think or wonder something that I want to share, so if I manage to amuse a few people, brighten someone's day or just momentarily alleviate your boredom for a few precious moments along the way then I will consider it worth the absolute minimum of effort that will most likely go into this enterprise.

Having said that, to paraphrase The Korean at Ask A Korean (the author of a great blog on many things Korean which hooked me into actually following blogs in the first place) I reserve the right to say whatever I damn well please. If you don't like it, too bad. muahahahaha~

Also, those of you who know me know that one of my main pet peeves (on the very long list I have of pet peeves, being an aggro type of person) is spelling and grammar mistakes, so please correct me if there is something that I have missed. Lowercase doesn't count - my anal retentive corrective instincts are easily superceded by my laziness.