Monday, April 25, 2011

Love and marriage in Korea

Double-post day - demanding, I know! But actually the last post was from last Thursday, I just never got around to publishing it on the day. Once you read it, hopefully you'll understand why I had to post again.

First things first, this is not and never will be a dating blog. My parents and other family friends read this blog, so while there are a few dating blogs by foreigners in Korea that I enjoy reading, I don't intend to follow in their fairly candid footsteps. But there are some things that deserve a mention, and one of these things is the blind date. Upon meeting someone, the first thing a Korean person will ask you is your age and whether you are married or not. Sometimes if you're a foreigner, this aspect will excite more curiousity and they'll ask you where you're from first or second after enquiring about your age, but usually it cannot compete with the mystery of your relationship status. Now I don't know about anyone else but if someone at home was asking this question straight off the bat I'd assume that they were interested in the person that they were asking about, so it took me a while to become comfortable enough with this question to just answer it straight away without looking embarrassed and I still find it a weird question to open a conversation with.

So back to the story - I rocked up to school at 9 to find everyone standing outside in the yard for an assembly. Normally I start half an hour later twice a week to compensate for the extra half hour at the end of the day that I teach so that the time falls within my contractual 8 hour day/22 teaching hours and the school doesn't have to pay me extra (which I am fine with! I do love my sleep^^) If there's something important on of course I'll come at the regular time.. as long as I know about it. Which today I did not. As I'd have to walk past everyone to go inside I just waited it out and went up to one of the teachers standing near the entrance to ask what was going on. He very nicely explained that it was the welcoming ceremony for the new student teachers. There was a pause. Then came the age/marriage question. Now I haven't ever actually talked to this teacher before and I don't even know his name - he's one of the new ones this year and I'm not in the main office any more so I'm not as obvious as I was  last year. But somehow I managed to make a good enough impression on him in the space of about three minutes (two of which we stood in silence) and with one sentence for him to offer to set me up on a blind date. And not only a blind date, but a blind date with his only son. As a dad and not his wingman friend it's pretty safe to say that this will be the kind of date where you suss each other out as potential husband/wife (the Korean approach to dating is another often discussed subject, but to summarise, it's basically with the goal of marriage very firmly in sight rather than the Western style where establishing the relationship comes before you consider where it might lead to). Apparently this boy is 31, 184cm tall and works at a company near Cheongju University. OK. However, when I asked if this marvelous son spoke any English, his dad laughed and said "Why would he need to speak English? You speak Korean." I answered that it can be hard to express myself in Korean because I'm still learning, but apparently this is something I'll grow out of, so I have a dinner date sometime with this son (whose name I also do not know).

So that was a funny start to the morning and it made me smile a little at the randomness of Korean life. I wondered if perhaps this had happened because the teacher couldn't think of anything else to say.

Apparently that wasn't it because another teacher, Ms Yu, also offered to set me up on a blind date with her friend's younger brother after lunch. But at least this was a more conventional occasion - we'd actually talked before and she waited until we were having tea in the office and were chatting about random things to ask me if I was married. And she also understood about the language barrier problem. Moral of the story: women are much better at these things than men. (DUHHHH!)

Anyway, the last funny marriage-related thing today is a message that one of the teachers sent through our school's messenger system. Apparently an ajumma put this ad in a newspaper offering her husband for sale. Here's a rough translation (trying to keep the sale tone).

 남편 팝니다. [Husband for sale]
 사정상 급매합니다. [Sale due to circumstances]
 ㅇㅇㅇㅇ년 △월 □예식장에서 구입했습니다. [Was purchased in/Married since ㅇㅇㅇㅇ]
 한때 아끼던 물건(♥) 이었으나 유지비도 많이 들고
 성격장애가 와 급매합니다. [Was once a well-loved product, but now must sell due to high maintenance and personality incompatability]
 구입 당시 A급인 줄 착각해서 구입했습니다. [Mistook the goods for A-grade quality at time of purchase]
 마음이 바다 같은 줄 알았는데 잔소리가 심해서
 사용시 만족감이 떨어집니다. [Thought his heart was as deep as the ocean but due to increasing nagging product has become less satisfying with use]
 음식물 소비는 동급의 두 배입니다. [(Also) consumes twice the normal amount of food]
 다행히 외관은 아직 쓸 만합니다. [Luckily his outer appearance is still quite impressive]
 AS 안 되고, 변심에 의한 반품 또한 절대 안 됩니다. [No after service ofference, and will not take returns if you change your mind]
 덤으로 시어머니도 드립니다. [Comes with mother-in-law add-on]

Haha ^_^


I think one of my co-teachers is annoyed with me. When we were talking about heroes I told our class that Mother Teresa was born in Albania, and I didn't realise she'd been telling them that she was Indian Brahmin. Needless to say they got very upset because I wouldn't give them any class points (since it wasn't a correct answer) and we had to start talking about someone else very quickly.

Ok - so obviously it's not good for teachers to contradict each other, that goes without saying. BUT. Even before I knew where she was from, I knew Mother Teresa wasn't Indian, she just lived and worked there for most of her life. It's pretty obvious from just looking at a picture of her, even a picture of her as an old woman (which most of them are) that she's not Indian, as racial features - heck, all features really - get less distinctive as we age. But anyway, somewhat tangentially (is that a word? It is now!) the whole thing made me realise once again just how multicultural Australia must seem to people, even though those of us living there know that while we have a lot of ethnic diversity, this doesn't necessarily preclude us from being an extremely racist country. And just to clarify, unless you're a complete idiot, you know that racism doesn't just mean white people hating non-white people and multiculturalism doesn't just mean you eat Chinese takeaway once in a while. Unless you live in an extremely small country town, by the tine we grow up, most of us can tell the difference between Indian and Filipino, know that Europe is a continent, not a country, and have eaten something more exotic than Teriyaki chicken at least once in our lives. Most of this is due to the fact that everyone in Australia except Aborigines is either an immigrant or descended from one (well, two to be biologically accurate). Korea doesn't have that. Even though it's pretty centrally located, as indicated by centuries of occupation, colonisation and general warfare for ground, for the majority of the world it's still a mystery. It's not somewhere that people know and automatically think "I'd like to go there someday" - it's somewhere they go either completely by chance (e.g. people looking to teach English who use recruiters and exchange students) or because they have some sort of connection with the country like family. Even though there's a large military presence (...) and there's been an increase in the number of South Asian immigrants here as wives or workers, there still isn't a lot of racial diversity and not much general knowledge amongst the population about other countries. Similiarly, even though a lot more people get the chance to travel these days, those of you who are familiar with the Korean travelling style (a whirlwind tour done with other Koreans, speaking in Korean most of the time and eating Korean food as much as possible) will know that it doesn't always give the most accurate impression of a country. Which is not to say that there aren't Koreans who don't take genuine interests in other countries, travel independently and can go for weeks at a time without rice or kimchi, and that people from other cultures don't do the "I don't actually travel outside of my own head" thing either (Aussies in Bali anyone?). This is just a generalisation. Hee~ :D

At any rate, the racial thing is actually one of the paradoxes of living in Korea for me - even though I look pretty much like the majority of the population and here I can be just part of the crowd for once, unless I keep my mouth shut and dress to the princess standard, I kind of stand out more than I do at home in Thirroul, which is a small and VERY white suburb. As someone who is ethnically Korean and who doesn't have any tattoos or weird hair I'm obviously not as sensational as much as some other foreigners, but I still wasn't raised Korean, I still don't have any Korean mannerisms (that I'm aware of) and I still don't carry myself the same way or have the same facial expressions as everyone else. So for someone like me, unless you're in Seoul, you still stand out and people WIL stop and stare at you in the street. Or stop you in the street to have a chat about the Bible. Or ask you about your life story and give you their opinion on why you should/shouldn't track down your birth parents (taxi ajosshis). Or goggle at you from their car windows as they careen through intersections because they find you more interesting than red lights, pedestrians or other vehicles.

Anyway, I find this double standard of obscurity/celebrity ... well, curious. It's a bit hard to call something interesting when it also means unwanted attention. If I'm a bit tired or having a bad day, sometimes I don't even say hi to my students if I see them in the street, I'll just smile and wave because I don't feel like having everyone turn and stare at me or try to start a conversation about random stuff when I have somewhere to be.

More after lunch.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I have no idea what's happening. With anything. Primarily with my school. Today has had some ups and downs. Firstly, the drama with Friday. Friday is our school's foundation day so we have the day off. Or so I thought. This morning my co-teacher Paige told me that the Vice-Principal had decided that actually, only the students have the day off but all the teachers should come to school, so if I wanted to take the day off I'd have to use one of my leave days. Ok. *Big sigh* This was a little disappointing as I had been planning to go to Seoul and go shopping in Myeongdong while everyone else was at work and generally just revel in the relative quiet compared to the usual weekend rugby scrum. For those of you not familiar with this sporting term, it's when the players all bunch together to get the ball, except in this case instead of a group of heavily muscled men crashing into each other as they scrabble for a tiny ball, it's about two thousand people pushing and elbowing each other for a) space or b) a bargain. It's also waaaaay nastier because everyone has heels, manicured talons and/or a huge handbag to bring into the fray. Add into this the crazy religious people predicting your afterlife in hell and the couples walking arm in arm coat-hangering half the crowd and the people randomly stopping or moving much slower than anyone else and you've got one of the most frustrating shopping trips you'll ever have. A standard Saturday there is seriously worse than the New Year's sales in Sydney. *sigh* The things one does for Forever 21.

Anyway, so as Paige was apologising for giving me this awful news even though it was the VP being an arse and not her (I hadn't made a fuss about it, she was just apologising because she didn't want to be at school either and  knew what I was thinking), my other co-teacher Ms Kwon told me that the VP had also decided that since I went on the 2nd year camp last year (actually we stayed in a rather nice hotel on the coast), I shouldn't be allowed to go again THIS year and would have to instead stay at school for 3 days and deskwarm. Despite the fact that unlike most teachers, I actually WANT to go! This is because the students from Ms Kwon's homeroom 2-2 and the next class down 2-1 are some of my favourites from last year's Super Duper English club and I could also have helped (vaguely) Ms Kwon out a little. So a little disappointing, especially since I've been telling the girls in those classes that I'm going with them - one of them even told me that she was going to do nail art for me on the bus! So much for that. *Double sigh*

However, this was not the end of the matter! At lunch, the school secretary guy Mr Jeong (the teacher that does most of the actual organisational work at the school) had found out about Friday and asked me what I was doing. When I told him that both Paige and I were told we have to be at school he harrumphed a bit and said he would check. He worked his magic and lo and behold! We don't have to come in after all. Huzzah for Mr Jeong! He's a lovely man and his English is actually good enough for us to talk, and I think because I helped him fill out a form for his daughter's enrollment in some prestigious boarding school somewhere in the UAE last year he tries to look out for things like this where he could easily just not bother.

Anyway, so that was the down, then up for the morning. Keeping in tradition of ending my posts on a positive note (and I need to focus on the positive after having class 2-8 today who are keeping up their own tradition of being noisy little ratbags), I am most elated because the five students from my special English after school class who we entered in an English essay/speaking contest ALL won prizes! One of them won the top prize of extra points towards her academic record (these count towards their high school entry scores) and the others won 2nd place awards from the company that runs the competition with our Education Office. You might remember me bitching about having to check and rewrite five 1 to 2 page essays over three days on top of all my other work a while back, so I'm happy that the hard work (both mine and theirs) paid off and they did well. I actually wanted to run out and buy them a cake to celebrate but Paige pointed out that the other students might be a bit upset since we hadn't even told them about the contest so I fought the urge.

Other highlights of my week have been the consistent answers from the 1st year boys about what makes people sad - I asked them why a young girl in a picture was sad and most of them answered "because her dad/mum/baby died". It became much funnier during the next activity on giving advice with class 1-5 when I asked them what you say when you can't really give advice to fix someone's problem, and gave their own example back to them as "my dog died yesterday".  They thought that I said "dad" and also that I was serious so the whole class went quiet and looked horrified except for one boy who shouted out "OH NO! TEACHER! SORRY!"

Today a student in class 1-8 also told me that he was happy because his friend Dong-Wu is very ugly. And then another told me that his partner, Jeong-Bin, was an octopus, upon which the whole class immediately launched into their best octopus impressions.

But the funniest thing I heard today has to have been the compliment from Ms Kwon: "Your forehead is looking very wide and shiny today! It is very beautiful!" haha she's such a sweetie ^_^

Off to go blot my giant shiny forehead, over and out!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A look at last week in K-Land

So if you are living in Korea and especially an English teacher with EPIK in Korea who obediently followed your PoE/MoE's directive to open a Nonghyup account because they are the biggest bank in Korea and thus very reliable, you will already know that the biggest and pretty sensational thing that happened last week in Korea was that Nonghyup's servers crashed, disabling most transactions requiring any kind of electronic jiggery-pokery above a basic command. Now, everyone knows that foreigners like to complain - usually very loudly - about things that inconvenience them but luckily most hadn't realised that Nonghyup had been having problems all week in different areas until everyone's chequing cards stopped working on Wednesday evening. Even better, it got fairly quickly resolved, but it was a bad week for a lot of people, such as the teacher at my work who was stressing she'd lose her savings and wouldn't be able to pay for her father's chemotherapy. But if you don't speak or more importantly read any Korean you may very well have found the sudden rejection of your card very surprising indeed as you probably didn't realise that the Korean SMS you got from your bank was about this and not just the usual loans spam.

But really, you were the lucky ones, as those of us who do, and especially those of us who do and are inclined to panic slightly at such revelations (i.e. me) got the text message on Wednesday evening and immediately rushed to an ATM to confirm that yes indeed the world was ending and we were all going to be stranded in Korea without a won to our names and unable to ever recover our hard earned savings. Now just to give some context, to me this was a real concern after the problems one of the biggest banks in Australia, NAB, had last year on a payday just before the weekend that led to thousands of people not getting paid, getting paid ridiculously small amounts, getting charged for repeated transactions, etc. Luckily bankbook withdrawals were still working (which I'm sure probably lead to a huge drain of cash resources from Nonghyup as everyone panicked and tried to withdraw as much as possible just in case) but of course these only work at a) Nonghyup branch ATMs and b) if you HAVE a bankbook so it was a worrisome 24 hours before I could get to one that took bankbooks and supplement the w18000 (about AU$16) I had in my wallet to see me through the weekend. Luckily the problem was fixed by Friday afternoon, and other problems like with electronic transfers and internet banking etc were fixed by the weekend. According to the Marmot over at The Marmot's Hole, this was caused by a fairly simple command sent from a worker's (possibly hacked) laptop. Worrying in oh so many ways.

Anyway, that was last week's Big Thing. In other areas of scandal, a video that's been causing a lot of kerfuffle in the K-pop world is Ra-Nia's "Dr Feel Good". But no, it doesn't seem to be the lyrics with lines like "Dr, Dr Feel Good, come make me feel real good" and "strap me down into my chair" (most Korean versions sub it as "sit me down into my chair") that are causing the concern - rather, it's the '쩍벌춤' (cheok-beol-juum) or "wide leg spread dance" moves (aka "skank dance") that have led the video to be banned from many music shows. See 0:37 of the video beneath for an idea of why these moves might be considered rather suggestive. Although to be fair it looks a lot skankier when they do the dance live here than on the official music video.

 James over at The Grand Narrative of course does an excellent critical analysis of this clucking and much ruffling of feathers over this "compelling song with powerful sound and an addictive refrain" [파워풀한 사운드와 중독성 강한 후렴이 돋보이는 곡이다] and references other bands who have done similar dance moves, although none probably as explicit as this one. I'm actually curious now to see what my students think of this - well, the girls anyway, the boys are way too predictable - after seeing how popular Miss A's "Bad Girl Good Girl" was last year and having to watch my 15 year old students innocently do what I consider the inappropriate and slightly disturbing moves for children that age to the song at our school's performance day. But this is probably not appropriate either. Having said that, I did teach the 1st year girls (about 13 years old) in my Super Duper English group the word "stripper" to properly discuss the Miss A song, although this was immediately followed up by the comment "they look like worms" (because of their stripy outfits) so I am fairly sure that the word didn't in fact make much of an impression on them ㅋㅋㅋㅋ

By the way, bravo to Korean political correctness on Music Bank for describing the Brave Girls as apparently inspired by "'80's style black music".

Anyway, that's what's been happening lately. It's also the cherry blossom time of year again, so expect some pictures when I get around to taking a stroll with my camera. I actually watched that 1993 classic "the Secret Garden" (based on Frances Hodges Burnett's classic of course) on the weekend so I have been somewhat inspired. There are of course numerous cherry blossom festivals around, the most famous being in Jinhae, but they are pretty spectacular in Cheongju along our Mushim-Jeon ("Absent-minded Stream') that runs through the middle of town and make even a taxi ride in rush hour traffic a more beautiful and tranquil thing.
벗꽃 from last year at Songrisan
I did also spy a very small-scale cherry blossom festival thing near Geumseok Intersection/Bridge (near the 금석교 bus stop). I think it's behind the fitness centre there (don't remember the name sorry) but Google maps is telling me that it's actually behind the Ilsan Wedding Plaza. Anyway it's near the bridge/intersection and apparently there's a whole bunch of streets named around the Cherry Blossom or Cherry Tree (or whatever the English name for 벗나무 actually is) around there too. I'm going to go check it out sometime this week so I'll let you know how it goes :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

너무 귀엽다! (so cute!) ^_^

And my funny for the day - three cute dog videos (originally from ^_^

(I don't know if the third one was staged or not but it still made me do one of those weird silent laughs where you sound like you're suffocating and everyone else in your office looks at you like you're a freak).

More Orr

Sorry, haven't had much spare time to upload stuff, but hope this stuff helps anyone looking for lesson ideas, even if you don't have the Orr book (the one with cats in a boat for 1st grade, and cats in a double-decker bus for 2nd grade). Personally I don't use because it takes ages to winnow through everything to find anything useful and I can't seem to download anything for some reason (yes I am a techno-n00b). Basically I don't have the time (or the patience come to that) to sit there and read through every thing or to figure out what's wrong :p It's good but I seriously can't see why people rave on about it like they do - there are heaps of other great ESL websites out there.

Thomas Orr's English 1 (Middle School 1st grade)

Lesson 1: I'm Lucky - introductions and the weather. Here is the link to my lesson plan with a blank Facebook profile worksheet and a powerpoint for different types of weather.

Lesson 2: School Is Fun - transport and our favourite things.
Key sentences:
- How do you go (get) to school?
- Q: What's your favourite ...? A: I like ...
Here's the link to my lesson plan and some flashcards to elicit the question "What's your favourite [sport]?" using the picture to make the sentence "I like [soccer]." Read the lesson plan for an idea for playing Favourites Bingo (bingo sheet here). Also, a postcard template for an additional writing activity (covers Lesson 1 and 2 together and possibly 3 if you are short on time) if you are expected to cover writing in class.

Lesson 3: Answers on the Web - giving reasons and advice.
Key sentences:
- Why? Because...
- Why don't you...?
Here's the lesson plan for the first part of chapter 3 (on giving reasons) and the powerpoint on emotions (with translations in Korean) that I used.

If anyone has any ideas for the "why don't you...?" lesson please share! Since I won't be teaching here next year (or am not intending to) I am tempted to just use the same lesson idea on giving advice that comes up in the 2nd grade book that I used last year... :D

P.S. I forgot to post this before, but here is a worksheet for Bruno Mars' "Just The Way You Are" that I did with my high level 2nd and 3rd graders (it's a little challenging). You divide students into pairs and get them to help each other correct each other (the A sheet is the easier one). At the end, I showed them a video that runs the lyrics across the bottom and the Korean translation - I can't embed it but you can watch it here:

Friday, April 8, 2011


Neil Gaiman, that's who. AND Doctor Who too to be precise! I am so freakin' excited to see this episode ("The Doctor's Wife) I really do feel like a geek :p What makes it even better is that I heard about this ages ago and completely forgot, and then remembered over a conversation with a friend, and then read a new post from Neil Gaiman's blog and looked it up to find out that it's premiering in America on April 23rd. I haven't managed to find it anywhere else online (YET!) so I'm assuming that's also the world premiere. And you know what? I think one of the reasons that this is so exciting, despite being American, is that they've actually taken the show and shot it in America rather than an American TV network taking it and "Americanising" it (i.e. changing it completely and turning it into rubbish) like they did with Coupling and Red Dwarf (neither of which made it past three of four episodes) and which I believe is currently happening to Skins. Anyway, exciting stuff!

Also, the new thing I learned this week was about the game called "hamburger" in which students (ok, boys) see how many people can dogpile on top of each other. Last time I saw my 2nd year students doing it they only got to about 6 people before we walked in and my co-teacher at the time Ms Shin (who is normally pretty calm and mild with the kids) went ballistic, making them do that downwards facing dog punishment in the corridor where they have to balance on their knuckles (luckily we have lino here, not just concrete) for 15 minutes and gave them a good scolding that actually left some of them in tears. This time, it got to about 14 people before I arrived but they very quickly all got up and went back to their seats when I walked in and yelled at them. Unfortunately, I didn't realise that the person on the bottom had been one of the tiniest boys until I saw him sitting with his head down on his desk, red as a beetroot, doubled up in pain and sobbing in that awful way you do when you can't breathe. Eventually the others explained and I sent him off to the nurse's office, and gave the others a good telling off for being little ratbags (in English unfortunately but I think they got the point). Then my co-teacher Ms Yun turned up and having passed the poor kid on her way up and gotten the story from his friend, launched straight into "angry Korean teacher" mode. Ms Yun gives the best tellings off - she works her way up from them being immature, then goes to disappointment and finishes with a good ole "what would your parents think of you behaving like this?" before demanding an explanation from the usually now sniffling student. If they've been really bad this is usually where she gets out her ruler and whacks them across the palm of the hand, but she usually doesn't even need it. Anyway, I think the bottom bun hamburger boy was eventually ok. Hopefully it won't happen again, or at least they'll do it to someone a bit less fragile.

Anyway, uh, what's a positive note to end on? ... well, it's Friday! That always makes me happy. In fact, that's my example sentence for 1st grade at the moment to talk about feelings and giving reasons in Ch 3 - I feel ____ because .... (I feel happy because today is Friday!) It's also been a pretty nice day (I power-walked home in 2nd period to get my camera for Paige for our students in the speaking contest and quite enjoyed it) with plenty of sunshine. I'm going to go to Homeplus and stock up on tonic and fresh lemons (no limes here ㅠ_ㅠ) so I can have a gin and tonic to help me through my Korean homework (thanks Costco for the gin!) of which I have an absurd amount. Lovely (the G&T not the homework) ^_^

Have a good weekend all!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Monkey business and capital punishment

Haha this ad made me laugh when I saw it on TV so I had to share it - a monkey doing sit ups! Did you ever see such a thing? Hehe ^^

Had my Ban Ki Moon speaking contest preparation class today, which is always fun because it's with the top scoring students from 2nd and 3rd grade with the best speaking skills, and they are all also my favourites ^^ As part of the class, they each have to do a short presentation on whatever topic they'd like, preferably with a PPT presentation to accompany it. In the past, this has included gaming addiction, soccer, going to New York (a trip there is the prize for the BKM contest this year to meet the man himself) and favourite movies. There are two people presenting each week, and this week was Seung-Ju and Seung-Ho who are also incidentally brother and sister. Seung-Ho's was pretty good but nothing revolutionary, just talking about arguments for and against school uniforms. Seung-Ju however got up and announced "My topic today is the death penalty or todesstrafe" ('death penalty' in German) O_O Seung-Ju, who is quite lovely and usually pretty quiet and meek then proceeded to argue for the maintenance and use of the death penalty, beginning her PPT with a graphic picture of someone with a sack over their head being publicly hung.

My favourite line: "many say that death penalty is against human rights, but I say murderers already broken human rights by killing someone, and also by indirectly killing victim's family with grief. So we must give them death penalty to make justice."

We always have a quick discussion afterwards so I suggested that in that case, doesn't that mean you are indirectly murdering the murderer's family? Seung-Ho promptly disagreed, arguing that murderers always come from bad families, and anyway, usually they have no family or they kill their family. I tried not to laugh and asked then what they considered to be the most humane method of execution - these days it's usually lethal injection, the electric chair or gassing. Another student, Juri shouted "Death by gun! You should shoot them. Or kill them like they kill other people! That is justice." I pointed out that this was probably didn't count as execution and count as representing a public decision because only one person would do it, and Seung-Ho agreed... only to suggest that instead we should hang them like in the picture with the bag over their head but with everyone watching so that they would feel like they were being executed by them all.

At this point I decided we were done with discussion and changed the subject.

For the rest of the lesson, I gave them some lateral thinking puzzles. There were some interesting and logical (if not actually correct) answers. These were my favourite responses to a few questions (I gave them 10).

1. A man who lives on the 12th floor of an apartment block catches the lift down every day to work. On the way home, he gets in the lift, and if it's raining, or if there is someone else in the lift, he goes straight home. If not, he gets out on the 6th floor and walks the rest of the way. Why?

Best answer: Because it's a very slow lift, but he can kill the other people and then it will go faster. Or maybe he just likes to kill people.

2. There is a man living in a small town who marries 20 women in one day. No-one thinks this is a problem and all the women are happy. Why?
Answers: Because he is a polygamist/ Because there are only 21 people in the whole town/ Because he is a very lucky man.

3. A man wearing a backpack lies dead facedown in the desert. There are no footprints nearby or signs of other people. How did he die?
Answers: Because he is a Muslim. He went out to pray and suddenly died./ He is thirsty.

4. A woman gives birth to two boys at the same time on the same day in the same year, but the boys aren't twins. Why?
Best answer: Because they were one boy with two faces.

Oh and in great news, the 5 students from my school that were entered in a different essay/speaking contest last week (who are also all from this class) ALL made it through the essay stage to the speech stage which is tomorrow. Frankly that's a relief since I had to edit (i.e. write/decode/heavily re-write) ALL of their essay speeches in between my normal work and marking writing homework for four classes (about 120 students) in only three days last week so I would have probably been rather upset if none of them had made it through. They all came up with their own ideas though so I'm really proud of them and although I can't go with them tomorrow (unfortunately I have class), I'm sure they'll kick butt! My co-teacher Paige who is going with them has promised to keep me updated so I'll have my phone in hand all afternoon. Good luck guys! 화이팅! ("Fighting!") ^_^

P.S. To everyone in Korea, hope you guys stayed in and out of the radiation rain today! I heard about it on Tuesday, and asked the students in one of my 1st year classes yesterday what they thought of it (we happened to be talking about the weather). One of the boys gravely told me that I should not go outside because it would make my baby deformed and another told me that it would make my skin peel off. Great stuff!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Less Happy but still...

So I didn't want to once again follow up a rather chirpy post with a downer yesterday, ruining my whole e-outlook for the day, but I ended up having to spend all of lunch listening to the teacher sitting next to me rant about how ungrateful we foreign teachers were. I don't know if she realised that I actually speak Korean or just didn't care, but my co-teacher knows and I think the other teacher sitting across from me definitely picked it up by the expression on my face, and they were looking a little uncomfortable by the end of lunch. Apparently this teacher had been at a school with a NEST (Native English Speaking Teacher) before, a Korean-American gyopo, and had not been left with a good impression. I don't think she had actually taught with her as this teacher is a Maths teacher, but the NEST had apparently made quite an impression on her. Obviously as the foreigner, any NEST is going to be subject to much more scrutiny than they are aware of by all the teachers in the school regardless of actual direct contact, and according to Ms Ranty, this one had been very arrogant about their status as a foreigner in Korea but because they were also Korean, this meant a lot of bitching very loudly in Korean about being forced to do stuff that teachers in America wouldn't be expected to do and calling in sick a lot. I don't know how much of it was exactly true and based on repeated behaviour or it was just once and the NEST had been a arse about it and it had stuck, but I guess that kind of thing does happen. The ranting co-teacher also had a lot to say about foreigners only wanting to teach in Japan - don't know if this was also based on the other NEST - and only picking Korea as a second choice, which kind of sounded like she thought the ones in Korea were the losers that couldn't get into the JET program. By this point I had stopped paying attention to the silly woman, but my co-teacher told me about it later and when I told her that that certainly wasn't true, especially in my case, and lots of people choose Korea because it has better working conditions (slightly) she said she would correct the other lady. Which is going to go down well I'm sure.

But it's ironic really that this teacher was so uppity about the whole thing and so prejudiced against foreigners, because she's sure to be the type that would make a big deal about knowing a foreigner if she was friends with one (unlikely) or staring at one in the street or trying to touch their hair/skin. I'm sure she's also the type that would make no effort to learn or use any English if she ever went overseas to an English speaking country, and then would rant about how racist people were there against her. Anyway, it was a bit odd. I'm assuming she did in fact know that I speak Korean as even most of the new teachers know by now, and was just on her soapbox blithely bitching away in the manner of someone brave enough to say it when they don't have to directly look at the person they're going on about and "subtly" complaining by using an example of someone else. And no, she didn't look at me once during this tirade, even though I'm sure she noticed that I was sure as hell looking at her with my "what ARE you on about you mad cow?" face a few times. Anyhoo, for the most part the other teachers are nice and realise that I don't speak during lunch much because a) I don't want to speak Korean in front of the kids, b) my Korean isn't top notch as it is so I can't really just chime into conversations like the other teachers do and c) I'm the foreigner so it's quite daunting. So I'm not going to let one person spoil my week. I hope she isn't on the 2nd grade trip though because that would be a pain in the butt.

In other news, Spring is finally yawning and emerging from its den, so the weather is getting warmer and I'm turning down my ondol heating more and more every week. The yellow gaenari (개나리) flowers - real name "Forsythia" I think, but lots of Koreans call them "Rape flower" which can be a bit weird if they ask you if you've seen them or want to go see them - are out and the cherry blossoms won't be far behind. I'm also going to a strawberry picking festival on Sunday at Sangju which should be fun and of course also strawberrilicious :) Huzzah for Spring!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Happy thoughts for the day :)

"The world is a beautiful book, but of little use to him who cannot read it."

Thankyou Korean stationery. So close to perfect English too. But still a sweet thought :)

I also like that one of the popular notebooks this year which says "English notebook" on it is about travel advice for Italy, one point of which says "Learn some basic but important Italian phrases as English are not widely spoken in Italy." Other inspiring notebook blurbs are "Life is a game that tests our tenacity. Thus failure in your youth is nothing. There are opportunities for us everywhere. And this means you can become successful!" and "True love is when you have to watch a friend leave, with the knowledge that you might never see him again." Also, "English holic: people, even more than things, have to be restored, renewe revived, reclaimed and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one of the end of your arm!"

Less inspiring but funnier (to me anyway) is the graffiti stuff written in my kids' notebooks as I mark their homework. Today's favourite: monkey sorry yo!!! 뭔키써요? 뭔 개소리야!! [did you say monkey? what the hell are you talking about??] balle panty!! 발레 팬티 한국어로 ??? [what is ballet panty in korean??]

It's nice to know that if I ever feel depressed I can just browse a stationery store to make myself feel better ^_^

In other news, the actual content of the writing homework! Last week I asked 2nd grade to write 1/3 of a page (about 4 or 5 lines) about something new or surprising that they learned recently and how it made them feel. They could talk about a new food they tried, a new friend they made, a new teacher they have or something they read in a book or saw on TV. These are my favourites so far. And yes, next lesson we're going to have a talk about not using a computer/internet translation program!

This is what it feels like finding these stories while checking HW
Today is Saturday, 26th of March.
I learned something new.
It feels different depending on who is a full head of hair.
When the severed lot very awkwards bangs.
That seems to be a very embarrassing

There are many friends in my class who look similar as other animals. Su-In looks like a bear and Bo-Yeong looks like a squirrel. Ye-Seu looks like a fish and Ji-In looks like a rabbit. Everyone looks cute

진우: Title - About teacher (home class)
(Our) new teacher(‘s) name is 김광영. He is (a) science teacher. His jokes is not funny. But he is very kind and handsome. My teacher very good teacher.

Today is my younger sibling motion’s birthday. The breakfast ate the seaweed soup and the cake together. I to distinguish the fist with the futures cried like that. Beggar a same tear. Afterwords that tastefully ate the cake and the rice. The shank rim to be many was gre(a)sy too a little. Was and to eat came out and the school went. <<< this one was really hard to correct! I had to give up on parts of it :s

Today I know a new animal. Maybe you call it ‘monster’. Its name is ‘Mongolian deathworm’. It’s a very big worm. This terrible worm lives in the Gobi Desert. Usually it hides in the sand but people walk on the sand, it eats them. It is very terrible. I can’t believe that.

And my favourite, by Min-Seong: <About my new friends>
I started new semester. By the way one friend caught my eye’s. His name is Pyohyeon Soo. I liked him. So I try to talk. Well he is answer me. He is very kind and really good friend. So I want to be familiar with him. If he and me are become familiar we will good friends. I really like him because his idea and my idea are almost the same and his sense of humour is good and his character is perfect. His style is my favourite style.