Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stitch and Bitch

So I've taken up knitting (뜨개실/ddugaeshil) again and also gotten into cross-stitch (십자수/shipjasu). After admiring Fran's cross-stitching for a while, I got into it myself after picking up what looked like a very simple kid's craft set with a cross-stitch pattern at Fashion News for cheon won (about 95c) to make a phone accessory. After actually starting it however, I realised a few things that led me to the conclusion that it was a gimmicky piece of crap designed to frustrate and stunt any interest children might have in the hobby. There was no needle provided (fair enough, most people can find at least a sewing needle), the material provided was too small, and they basically just put in the same amount of every colour they had, regardless of actual need, so I ended up with a huge surplus of an orange colour that wasn't even in the pattern and running out of pretty much everything else, including the red for the strawberries about 1/3 of the way through the 2nd of 3 strawberries.
In the end I finished it with what was there just because I'm stubborn and it was driving me around the bend, much to the amusement of my friends who had been seeing me yell at and shake this tiny bit of cloth repeatedly over the course of many days every time something else went wrong, so now I have two red strawberries and one half red with what sewing thread I scrounged out of a hotel sewing kit and half orange. This time however I have a new (better) pattern and the shop I bought it at actually supplied the right colours and a real cross-stitch needle and everything. Actually, the ladies in both cross-stitch shops I've been to (one in Busan, one in Cheongju) were both really nice and patient so perhaps the calming effects of cross-stitching will be able to work their magic for me.

Although knitting certainly won't if the gorgon at the knitting supplies shop I went to is any judge. It's certainly the first instance I've ever experienced or heard of of bullying by knintting, which just goes to show how creative the average Korean ajumma can get when it comes to new ways of making someone else's life a misery and that language is no barrier to doing so. Oh and also that making someone feel awful about themselves is a far superior reward than actual monetary profit as I certainly won't be buying anything there ever again.

About 2 hours of knitting into my new scarf :)
So here I need to introduce my neighbour Edithe, who replaced Lara when she went home to ZA and so lives about 2 minutes walk from my place. Edithe and I hang out a fair bit (she bakes a mean chocolate chip biscuit by the way which is of course a completely incidental fact and in no way incentive^^), and have found that one thing we have in common is the tendency to 'hermit' in the winter months. Since we are a bit isolated from the rest of the city, but live near to each other, hopefully we will at least have some human contact with each other to stop ourselves going crazy. To aid this, Edithe came up with a "stitch and bitch" idea where we can get together with whoever is interested, do some very genteel womanly handicrafts and of course also gossip our little hearts out. Très fabuleuse, oui? As of course neither of us had anything to knit with, a needles and wool-finding expedition was needed. After asking around, I heard that there were actually supposedly quite a few such places in our area (Yongam-dong) so I did a quick search and found a likely looking place a couple of blocks over from my school called 용암뜨게방 ('Yongam Ddugae-bang' or 'Yongam Knitting Room'). Walking in, it looked quite cosy as there were a number of women there doing their own "stitch and bitch" thing looking for somewhere quiet to knit and crochet or who were just learning. Little did we know that the 'bitch' in this case was the woman in charge of the store. After deriding us for not knowing exactly what we wanted (apparently it's not enough just to buy supplies and THEN make up your mind) and that I didn't know the difference between winter wool and summer wool (FYI, the only wool I've ever seen in Australia is what I now know to be 'summer wool' which is thinner than winter wool, probably because, duh, winter wool isn't really needed and I only did this for a few years when I was a teenager for fun), we spent 15 minutes arguing over needles because we didn't want to use the Korean style ones that are short, made of wood and joined with a plastic cord over the ends and dared to ask her to order in some of the Western style ones that are long, separate and made of plastic. By the way, I'm tempted to call this woman Knit Bitch but I'll stick to Knitting Ajumma instead in an attempt to be positive :)

A summary of the argument:
We aren't familiar with them. - You'll get used to them.
We find them hard to use. - They're easier to use.
They're too short, we have bigger hands than you. - You'll get used to it, it's easier because they're smaller.
We don't like the cord at the back, it gets tangled in the wool and catches the stitches (when you have to move your knitting over the bit where the plastic connects to the wood). - You'll learn how to use it properly.
We don't like wooden needles. They catch on the wool. We like plastic more. - Don't be silly - these are better.

And so on. She finally grudgingly agreed to get us some more from Seoul, but kept emphasising that it would take "weeks" for them to arrive. Whatever. So we picked out some wool and she asked if we knew how to cast on and how to actually knit. I do but Edithe doesn't so I asked her to show her what to do (we'd gone through it before with a kids' craft set but the needles were really cheap and splintery and it wasn't very successful). KA cast on in an amazingly efficient way (which I since looked up on Youtube >> and love!) that I hadn't seen before, and then did the first couple of rows to 'teach' Edithe what to do. In about a minute and a half. Edithe's turn. As KA hadn't actually stopped to check that Edithe knew what to do, and also had started her off on a ridiculous knit 2, purl 2 pattern, she was naturally a bit hesitant. Too hesistant apparently, as a pause of longer than about 8 seconds was apparently enough to signal that she wanted KA to snatch it out of her hands and finish the row, all the while firing off instructions in Korean. And yes, I had told her both that Edithe had never knitted before and only knew a little Korean but apparently this was merely a reluctance to do it right on Edithe's part and not an excuse for not being able to immediately grasp and master the art. After a bit she bustled off to interfere with someone else and I tried to actually explain some of her instructions (which I had barely understood anyway) and show Edithe how to make the different stitches. We figured it out and Edithe slowly but surely knitted some fairly neat rows of knit 2, purl 2. We were both excited at what we thought was a pretty brilliant start she'd made to her winter scarf! And then KA came back, tutted at the mistakes, yanked the knitting out of Edithe's hands ("Even children can do this!") and unravelled all the mistakes... back to the first two rows that she'd started us on. Let the memes express my reaction

 Anyway, so we paid 24 000 won (about $23) for our stuff and got the hell out of there. Luckily, purely by chance on my way home from dinner with Michelle I found a fabric craft shop called '니들하우스' ('Needlehouse') that was mostly quilting and cross-stitch supplies, but also had some knitting stuff, so if we're desperate for some knitting help or more wool we can go there and not be made to feel like an ant under a huge ajumma shoe of disapproval. If you are keen to check it out, the address/directions is/are 상당구 용암동 롯데마트앞 우리들클리닉 1층 (first [ground] floor [of the] Woori Clinic [bldg] in front of Lotte Mart [formerly GS Mart], Yongam-dong, Sangdang-gu), t: 043-295-3690. As well as being quite friendly and patiently explaining how to cut and wind the thread onto the spools (she can explain how to do the stitches if you don't already know) the shop itself was nice, brightly lit and spacious, with a lot of tables where you can sit and work. By the way, what do you think of my scarf? I'm too lazy to do the scarf pattern the Knitting Nazi gave us so it's knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2, knit 8, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2, knit 2. I can't decide if it looks a bit wonky or if it would look better with just a purl pattern in the middle and the regular stitches on the side? Hmm.

Looking forward to my new and incredibly cute pattern^^

For anyone interested, there is also apparently another knitting supplies shop in Sajik-dong called '오후의 공간' - 'Oh-hui-ui Gonggan' or 'Afternoon Space', 흥덕구 사직동 621-4번지 (#621-4 Sajik-dong Heungdeok-gu), t: 043-213-2138 - which I could only find through Daum maps as it doesn't show up on Google, and there's also a cross-stitch store in Bunpyeongdong called '황실유럽자수' - 'Hwangshil Eurob Jasu' or 'Imperial European Cross-Stitch', 흥덕구 분평동 1305번지 (#1305 Bunpyeong-dong, Heungdeok-gu), t: 043-295-2127. I don't remember the name of the place in Busan, but it was in the Primall in Seomyeon near the Uniqlo store. Considering I only found the nice store by chance from walking past there, and that I see crafty type stores EVERYWHERE for stuff like beading and ribbons and fabric etc, I think if you are interested it wouldn't be hard to find somewhere. I found most of these places just by putting 십자수 or 뜨개실 into Google/Daum search. They must be making a comeback as a hobby I guess - one of my co-workers does quilting and has a bunch of stuff she's made such as a cushion, a hair accessory and a makeup bag around her desk. Pretty amazing :)

So that was my Monday. More to tell you about the other big thing in one of my classes that happened that day but I'll leave it for tomorrow so as not to completely overwhelm you dear reader :)

Oh and the other thing that happened today, I have officially de-facebooked myself! I'm still on here obviously though, as well as skype and contactable through my mobile phone and email and Google+. And yeah, I know it's virtually the same, but I did it for privacy reasons (virtually non-existent on FB) and there are less people on G+ and no-one that I'm actively avoiding but 'friending' to be polite (YET! : p) If you need any of those details, please leave me a message with your number/email address (I don't want to leave mine on an open space where demented Bieber fans people are easily upset.)

What else? Oh yeah, news about my 'husband' - Rain! Aka Bi (pronounced 'bee' not 'buy'). I was too stingy to pay the 80 000 won+ for tickets to his concert but Michelle brought me back some posters and apparently he's doing a free street concert before he goes to the military on the 11th of October. Oh my love, how I'll miss you! ㅠㅠ

Oh and a particularly cute video that made me smile today by a Korean Indie band called 'Standing Egg'. The song is called "Lalala", fittingly so because I believe that Lala herself will enjoy the kitty-ness of this video! And yes, seeing the kitty cut-outs on the apples made me shudder just a little :p A shoutout to seoulbeats for it - thanks! :)

And to finish, some student quirkiness. Firstly, when students see a teacher in the corridor, they usually greet them with a bow or at least an '안녕하세요!' (annyong hasaeyo! - 'hello!'). The more they like you (or fear you) the bigger the bow and the louder the hello, usually, leading to some funny moments I'm sure most foreign teachers can identify with where they start with a bow and an '안녕하세요' before they remember that you're the foreign teacher and switch to a hand wave and a 'Hello teacher!'. This is particularly funny when it happens on the stairs^^ For some reason, since late last year, at my school this greeting now has to be '사랑합니다!' (saranghamnida or 'I love you!'), which we are also supposed to use when we answer the phone. Odd? Slightly. It's not as weird in Korean (note: not AS, but still) where it's used slightly differently and more casually than in English, but it sounds funny and I laugh every time a student says it to me. They know it sounds a bit weird so most of them just say "hello" or "goodbye", but my kids like to joke around and they know that I think it's funny so they whip it out occasionally. Anyway, that's a very long backstory! But it made me smile today because I happened to walk up the stairs through one of my favourite 2nd year girls' classes (although to be fair I heart them all!) and they ALL decided to do it so I had a lovely chorus of "Hello! I love you teacher!"s all the way up the stairs. Haha, small joys^^ How was your Wednesday everyone?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sports Day

So yesterday was interesting! I went to the Office of Immigration in the morning to follow up this dual citizenship thing and just ended up aggravated. I got there at about 10 to 10 and waited for about 80 minutes (there were three people ahead of me) to see someone, who got annoyed at me for not being able to explain myself in Korean properly, and then asking if anyone there spoke English that I could see or make an appointment to see. He also told me that I was stupid when I told him that I'd tried to call and hadn't been able to get through, and that I should have tried harder (apparently a dozen attempts was not enough). After not listening to me telling him I just wanted some information which I hadn't been able to find enough of on the internet, he got angry at me for not having my passport and the paperwork, then gave me some very dubious information - apparently not only do I need an F-4 visa, I don't even need ANY visa to apply, and don't need to be in the country to do it. He then gave me what turned out to be the wrong paperwork (for naturalisation) in Korean (after I'd asked about ten times whether it was for dual citizenship or not) and shuffled me out after a grand total of 10 minutes. Great people skills there. Anyway, the upshot of it is that I have no more idea about what to do than I did before, and will have to go back with my co-teacher another day. Pfft.

Anyway, so that was annoying. Luckily, it was Sports Day at my school! So I knew that my afternoon was at least bound to be better. And it was! Since my co-teacher Paige is a 3rd year teacher, we went and said hello. Now I don't know if anyone remembers my school excursion to the Cheongju Museum for 3rd year photos, but if it weren't for a group of boys keen to practice what English they had by telling me how one of them was hungover from drinking soju with his father all night, it would have been a day as dull as grey wallpaper. Most of these boys are in the same homeroom group, as well as the school captain, Seung-Ho, who is also one of my star pupils in my extra-curricular English class, and they were the first group we ran into. Oh and did I mention that they are HILARIOUS? So I ended up spending the next two hours surrounded by 15 year old boys telling me how gay each of the others are, how big each others' heads are (Twice as big as Amy's! As big as this basketball! PLANET-SIZED!), being suitably impressed by their sports abilities and biceps (yes, they are 15, and some of them actually have them!), and them trying to trick me into admitting that I speak Korean . I was actually quite impressed, since most of them were fairly quiet when I actually taught them, and I must have spoken to at least two thirds of the boys at some point - or rather, two thirds of them actually voluntarily talked to ME. In fact, they got annoyed at Seung-Ho's ability to actually have a fluent conversation with me, since his English is so good and they know he's in my extra class, so every time he asked me something, they immediately started jeering him for hogging my time and showing off. Now don't get me wrong, it's not just the boys who like talking to me, but facing down a group of teenage boys for teacher rights was apparently too much for the girls, and the few who braved it to try and pull me over to their side got shouted at and shooed away by the boys, who felt it was their duty to also tell me (and the girls) in great detail which of the girls were actually boys and why they were ugly. To be fair, they were also very sure to tell me why each of their friends was also ugly and why they were 'bad boys' (not in a good way). A lot of them are also good sports players - I taught them the difference between the words 'player' and 'sports player' (선수) - so of course I had to cheer for them appropriately.

And of course, being boys, there was a fair amount of attempts to lightly maim and injure each other (an acceptable response in boy-language). Including wrapping each other in clear packing tape, especially over each other's mouths, which is not so easy to get off when it was over their hair! I don't think I've ever laughed that hard at school before^^ Anyway, so even the student manager giving one of them a slap on the head for wasting tape couldn't dampen their enthusiasm, and they managed to get three of their classmates before the tape ran out - lucky for me because I would have been next! Oh and apparently, I now have a boyfriend, Jae-Hun, haha^^ But apparently I shouldn't be his girlfriend because he has such a massive head. I won't tell you what I thought Byeong-Jo said when he told me "Jae-Hun head big size, planet size!" but it took me a moment to wonder a) why he was tellling me that and b) why that was a bad thing. Think another word beginning with 'p' that teenage boys are likely to know well (which they'd actually tried to teach me in Korean before). I think Jae-Hun was happy that I was so aghast, since he knew what they were actually talking about and no-one else realised what I thought Byeong-Jo had said. And by the way, I'm not the only one with a student 'boyfriend' - my friend Michelle actually has a 'husband' who gets her lunch tray for her!

As genuinely entertaining as all this was, there was actually a truly amazing moment too. One of my worst and most troublesome students from my most boisterous class (2-8) last year, Gyeong-Hun, was his class leader and is a very high level student. But unfortunately he's also only diligent when he wants to be, and he never wanted to be so in my class. I continuously tried different tactics to get him onside, from giving him responsibility to having (many) serious talks to him about his attitude to exclusion to bribery, but nothing worked. So it was rough at times, and because he was the class leader and quite sporty and pretty tough, no-one else in the class would shout him down when he got out of line like they normally would. Anyway, as I don't have 3rd year this year, I haven't really seen him last year, but yesterday of all days apparently he felt guilty enough about it that he actually came and APOLOGISED to me. And it was a good apology too! Literally, "Teacher, I'm sorry that I was so rude to you last year and made so many problems in your class. I feel very bad that I made you so much stress."

O_O <<< that was my face. I was so taken aback I couldn't even respond for a second! The fact that he actually said it and didn't just let it ride was so damn amazing it almost made up for last year. Anyway, after he'd made his peace with me, in between the other boys, we had some good conversations. You might be asking why (I was certainly wondering a little) but it all became clear after about half an hour when he 'stole' me from Jae-Hun. Apparently he likes my style because I'm so glamourous. Usually, that's not always a good thing - if you have 'glamour', this can kind of mean like in an adult movie, like being called Russian (meaning, I think you are a foreign prostitute) - but he actually used the adjective correctly so I think he meant it well. Anyway, these are excerpts from some of the conversations I had with Gyeong-Hun over the course of the afternoon (you might notice a developing trend).

GH: "Miss Kim (his English teacher) is too strict. I don't like her. She is my third favourite. Second favourite is Paige teacher, but first favourite is you."
me: "Because you don't have to take my classes any more, right?"
GH: "Yes!"

GH:"Amy teacher, what's my name?"
Me: "I know your name is Gyeong-Hun."
GH: "Ok. Don't forget it! I am very special."
> repeated 10 minutes later and then again 10 minutes later.

"Amy teacher, you are too pretty to be Jae-Hun's girlfriend. You should be MY girlfriend. I am a soccer star."

"You must give me your phone number. Give me your phone number before I graduate, OK?!"

GH: "Teacher, I dig you. Don't forget that I tried to dig you!"
Me: *Hahaha* "Ok, I won't. Do you know what 'dig' means?"
GH: (embarrassed) "... it means that I want to make you my girlfriend."
*cue me and Paige laughing* Me: " Haha, ok. I'll remember."

"Amy teacher, you must sit next to me! Because you are my girlfriend now."

And last but not least (sitting next to him):
Me: "So why didn't you want to talk to me last year? I was very disappointed that you always seemed bored in my class."
GH: "Because I am not good at talking to girls."
Me: O_O... "Uh, well, I'm not a girl, I'm a teacher."
GH: "No, you are a girl teacher. You are best girl teacher. So it was difficult. Sorry."
I was so impressed at such a cogent reason that I almost applauded. Serious about-face from Mr Attitude last year!

Anyway, so it was an interesting and very entertaining day in all. The girls are adorable, and I spend at least half the time talking to them thinking "awww!" in my head because they're so cute, even when they're making fun of their friends (e.g. announcing very loudly that "my friend is bangu-jjaengi!" - bangu = farting, jjaengi = someone who does something well, so literally, 'a fartmaster'), but I love the limitless potential that the boys have to astonish you outright sometimes^^

Friday, September 23, 2011

Justin Bieber is incredibly fat.

Had to share this. Checked my emails this morning to find a new (very late) response to my post a while ago about a funny fat Justin Bieber photo circulating and the devastation this was having on tweenage girls everywhere. It went as follows: Jerk justin"s not fat u r!!!!!

From this response (posted anonymously), I believe I can conclude two things. One: the poster is about 12, at least mentally; and two: the poster is very new to the internet, as they have obviously never seen this photo or heard of trolling before, and are having problems dealing with the shock. Oh and actually, make that three, the poster either has never heard of punctuation and spelling before, or else hates it with a vengeance and is seeking to punish it by ripping it to shreds. They also apparently can't read, as it's very clear in the post that I didn't make the photo myself. All of these factors combined don't make a very good argument for Justin Bieber fans, I have to say, so well done Anonymous Coward, you have really helped your cause there.

Which leads me to the point of this post - please do NOT post comments as Anonymous without putting a name somewhere there or at least some indicator of who you are. They annoy the shit out of me and unless extremely stupid to the point of ridicule like this one, will be deleted. And as always, the perennial blogger's question: if you don't like what you see, why the frick are you looking at it?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

School Concert - 만세!

Setting the rockets off
Today was our school's festival day where the students get a chance to show off their singing and dancing. Unfortunately we seem to have lost a lot of talented kids with our 3rd years from last year graduating, so it was a lot shorter this year than last, which included more singing and a pretty good attempt at a rock band. But there were still some pretty good highlights and about 12 performances all up. Our VIP guests (from the Board of Education and PTA) even let off rockets to open the day! Also, my favourite group actually choreographed their own dance rather than just copy the music videos. Unfortunately they chose LMFAO's "Shots" as their song, which I had to question the suitability of. The two boys in the yellow shirts (In-Hyeok and Gi-Tae) were also definite favourites of mine last year so they know that I know who they are and got really embarrassed when I asked them whether they knew what the song was about, especially because they know I have a zero-tolerance policy on swearing (in either language) and they've seen what happens when someone swears in front of me. So they were very nervous today that I was going to be offended, and the leader, Gi-Tae, even asked my co-teacher to take me to the bathroom or something when they were on. Like I was going to miss them! Haha^^

Anyway, so the first one is a group of second year boys (year 8) dancing to Infinite's "BTD (Before The Dawn)" which to me actually sounds like "before the derrrrnnnnn" in the video. Oh and 'Infinite' is pronounced 'Infinity' in usual Konglish accuracy. I only got a little bit because the boys in this group are usually quite studious and relatively quiet, and I never imagined that they were into dancing.

Second is a group of 3rd year boys rapping, guest featuring Yong-Hyeon, who is kind of like our school's own K-pop idol. I missed the huge cheer they gave when he came on in the video but he's really popular and so is his girlfriend, who was leading the cheer squad, so they got a lot of love from the crowd :)

Third is the much anticipated 3rd grade boys dancing to "Shots" and "Party Rock Anthem". The bit where the camera starts shaking is me sniggering in a very unladylike manner at the lyrics ("they need an excuse to suck our *****") because this was supposedly the "clean" version of the song, and you can hear one of my co-teachers afterwards laughing and saying something along the lines of "[lucky] that no-one else but Amy knows [what it means]!". These guys are by far the best and started making their dance and practising some few weeks before last semester ended - so like 2 and a half months ago. It shows - they rock!

**P.S. A bunch of 3rd year boys have been singing "SHOT SHOT SHOT SHOT, SHOT SHOT SHOT EVERYBODY!" and dancing every time they see each other in the corridor since this morning.

Fourth is a group of 3rd year girls dancing to Lady Gaga's "Pokerface" and doing a pretty good job of it! I didn't notice at the time, but if you watch the video, the kid who unfolds the piece of paper (the program), reads it, puts it away, then keeps turning around and talking to his friends about the dancing is Gyu-Seop whose girlfriend is one of the dancers. He seems less than impressed at his girlfriend's moves for some reason!

Last is a group of 3rd year boys who are also a bit more serious about dancing. Unfortunately they also chose Infinite's song, as well as what I think might be "내꺼 하자 (Be Mine)", and are a little better than the 2nd year boys (I think they practiced more). I don't know if you can hear it or not, but I was asking one of my girls which group was better in the background. I have the whole one here so you can see the cool kick move here. Sorry for the shakiness - my arm was getting tired by then. Some of the students in that group are (were) also my favourites from last year so I had to get the whole thing ^^

*Sorry that the videos are all over the place - they won't stay put!

 Update: I don't know what the hell is happening out there, but there's evidently some sort of marching practice for ducks going on in the corridor outside my staffroom, as all I can hear is one boy chanting "오!  리!" (Ori = duck) and then someone on a quacker responding - *quack quack!* - as they march up and down the corridor.

**3pm update: am now exhausted from running the "English quiz" stall this afternoon. There were four scrambled words around the room and students (in groups or singly) had to make words of three letters or more - 6 for 1st year, 8 for 2nd and 10 for 3rd. If they made all their words from one group of letters they got a lollipop, if they did it from more than one they got fruit Mentos. Feels like we had at least half of the student body come through our room at some point, most of who preferred to scream, cajole or plead for candy or bitch in Korean about how hard it was rather than do the damn quiz and earn it. One 3rd grade girl in particular who was a complete bitch face to me last year was the worst - she wouldn't even ask for it in English, and kept pulling on my arm. Finally snapped after about 15 minutes of this and got rid of her by leaning in close and said "What's that smell? Have you been smoking?" THAT much English she understood. Anyway, I'm sad that I missed out on facepainting! And fairy floss :( But on the bright side, I DID get a balloon poodle from one of the girls! ^_^

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting Jiggy!

I love how random Korean variety shows are, especially on MBC, which I like because they often subtitle stuff or add captions which makes it easier (for me) to understand. The morning stuff that I turn on as I get ready for school is usually re-runs and repeated every couple of days, which actually helps since it gives me a few goes at understanding what they're saying. One of my favourite shows is called 'I Love Pet' (of course!). Terrible English I know, but it's cute and easy to watch. Anyway, this morning, one of my favourite episodes came on - it's actually from last year, but being randomly repeated, and supports the idea that you can make anything a TV show. In this episode (or part of it seeing as the first bit was about a fat English bulldog that was in a play), the producers decided to make an idol group look after a raccoon. Sound odd? Yep, it really was. Especially since a) they initially only told the boys in the group (푸커즈 or F-Cuz/Focus) that they were getting a new female 'friend' and they thought that one of them was going to be on 'We Got Married' (a show where they pair two K-stars who have to pretend to be married and act as a couple). Seeing as the boys were only 18 and 19 at the time and they probably don't have enough time to have a girlfriend normally, they were thrilled! Less so when they got to the zoo and the raccoon was brought out - one of them actually pretended to beat up their manager.Oh and b) since they're so young, and Koreans (particularly idols) aren't as close-minded about gender-norm-based behaviour (i.e. they do cute stuff without it being considered gay), the stuff they do to the raccoon is ridiculously adorable! Like dress it up in little outfits, get upset when one of the others steals it away, feed it , make it dance, make it a little sand-bunker at the beach complete with umbrella and milk bowl, etc. Anyway, the one showing this morning was the first show (I think there are four in total but I could be wrong), but my favourite is the second which will hopefully be next week, because one of them, Kan, decides that Jiggy (the raccoon, named after their debut song) needs a wash. So naturally, rather than bathe it, he takes it in the shower with him. I couldn't find the episode online anywhere (I didn't search particularly hard) but I did find a bunch of GIFs from the episode from a blog about Kan (it's actually Lee-U or Ye-Jun in most of the photos though I think). Unfortunately the blog owner seems to be a bit precious about sharing so you'll have to go there to see them yourselves. I particularly like the 9th one - captioned (translation) "No! It's my Jiggy!!" ㅋ ㅋ ㅋ ㅋ They are such dorks^^ If you want to see an episode of this ridiculous concept, there is a blog with the 3rd episode that I similarly can't repost here. There aren't any subtitles, but you'll get the idea. Oh and the video for the actual song, 'Jiggy', which I find to be hilarious as I've never heard "Getting jiggy" sung in such a sweet and upbeat way before. Unless it means something different in Konglish, this is probably more evidence of the need for native English speakers in the Korean pop industry :)


P.S. And yes, they are dancing in a blue shower room in one of the scenes. After all, why not? ^_^

Monday, September 19, 2011


It's one of those days. I was feeling a lot better over the weekend (despite Australia's embarrassing loss to Ireland in the Rugby Union World Cup) but then my allergies went haywire yesterday and I couldn't stop coughing and sneezing. Last time this happened a week or so ago, I had some horrific sneezing bouts where I couldn't stop for something like 15 or 16 sneezes, making me feel nauseous. Just to be clear, these aren't little ladylike sneezes - these are those huge convulsive "ACHOOO!"s that feel like a light punch to the stomach every time it rips through your body and makes every nerve in your nose and tear ducts tingle, one after the other with no break. It was so painful I actually thought that I was going to burst a blood vessel in my nose and start spraying blood everywhere. Luckily it only happened twice in one day, and then not again until yesterday, and then not so bad - just a sneeze every couple of minutes, enough to thoroughly annoy the person sitting next to me in the cinema who moved away (possibly from fear of contagion too). What with that and the coughing though, which continued all night, every time I tried to lie down, interrupted by my nose filling with mucus, it's hardly surprising that I got a grand total of 3 hours of sleep, nor that as a result, I was late to school and had to take two naps at my desk before lunch time. I ate about a quarter of my lunch and peaced out. A nap this afternoon before bellydancing (I just started last week and love it!) might be in order.

I guess that's the one good (?) thing about Korea though - they have very different attitudes to sickness here, so I haven't had anyone actively trying to avoid me yet. The kids don't really care, whereas at home I'd have had a "ewwww!" by now. Even with the facemask thing, most people only wear that to stop other people infecting THEM, not to stop them infecting YOU. It's annoying most of the time when you're healthy, as it also means that people have no qualms about coughing directly on you, and don't cover their mouths or noses when they cough/sneeze, a fact to which I'm attributing at least part of this most recent illness. To be fair though, I think it's also the air-conditioning that's set this one off, as well as the schizophrenic weather we've been having lately. (It's raining and cold right now but it was boiling hot last week.) At any rate, I've been sick with it for two weeks and all of the medicine I've tried has either made me feel worse, or only made me feel better for a few days, so I'm not keen to go back to the doctor so I think I'm just going to have to hack it out.

Luckily I had Min-Seok's class today.. wow, never thought I'd put 'lucky' and 'Min-Seok' in the same sentence. Min-Seok is one of my ADHD boys who has in the past blown me kisses, asked me out on a date, tried to get out of class by hiding in the girls' bathrooms (apparently he forgot that as both a girl and a teacher I have no problems going in there to pull him out), pretended to be me and start a lesson, taken his shirt off in class numerous times and thrown a worksheet out of the window because he didn't want to do it. He's very cheeky, and normally a handful, so I guess I'm lucky that he quite likes me and so will normally actually be quiet when I tell him to (albeit for less than 5 minutes), just because he's happy that I know his name. Today's performance involved him walking in, striking a 'sexy' pose with one hand on his hip, winking, sticking his butt out and yelling "TEACHER! I AM SEXY, YES?". If I could find a picture to show you without having to trawl through soft porn I would, as it truly made my otherwise bleary morning. If you want to try and fix the mental image, he's 11, with the usual bowl haircut, thick tortoiseshell glasses and freckles. Haha, thanks Min-Seok^^

In other news, things that I found interesting today - an article on Korean adoption which I think is interesting because it hints at how Koreans see adoptees, as 'international Koreans' rather than as 'real' foreigners, regardless of how the adoptees see themselves. If I were to do a masters in Anthropology or Korean studies, I think there's an interesting thesis in there on racism, nationalism and perception of nationality in Korea. Which has probably already been done and is circulating on the internet, but anyway. Something else less serious and more silly that I liked was the All K-Pop website for my daily dose of all things K-Pop and gossipy. Although to be honest, I just go to the 'eye candy', 'lol/wtf', 'rumours' and 'scandals' sections... obviously in that order of importance ^_^

Haha, anyway, that's it for today. Just for you visual people, here's a photo from the match on Saturday, just because I liked this guy (Kurtley Beale) and I like seeing photos of the dumb faces sportspeople pull when they play.

Happy Monday everyone! I hope yours is doing better than mine.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Ms Yun, one of my co-teachers, is one of the sweetest people I've ever met! She's always the one who looks out for me, gives me snacks and drinks between classes when she thinks I'm getting tired or thirsty, hunts down medicine for me if I'm sick and being obstinate about going to the doctor, bullies me into actually going to the doctor, and actually tells me about changes to my schedhule. Sure, she says some weird stuff sometimes, but it's always because she's trying to give me good advice, despite the age difference and generation gap - for example, warning me that if I go out at night to Chungdae (one of the university areas and the main drinking area in Cheongju), I should catch a taxi home rather than a bus because there can be dangerous people on buses and I might get mugged. I didn't have the heart to tell her that the buses have usually stopped running a good few hours before. She's also the one who has been trying to reassure me (unsuccessfully) over the past few weeks that tanning is actually popular in Korea these days amongst the very rich (not because I said anything, I must just have started getting darker over summer). Anyway, the sudden declaration of this affection has good cause - she just brought me a huge box of songpyeon, sweet rice cakes filled with either red beans or (my favourites!) honey and ground sesame seeds or chestnuts etc. This was probably because a) when discussing Chuseok plans, I had told her that I was keen to try actually making some myself, but that I'd heard it was a little difficult and b) just because! Perhaps because she isn't married and doesn't have any children of her own, she's very gentle to the students most of the time (sometimes too gentle! But she can really bring the rain if needed) and looks out for me like a close aunt would. She got a bit upset last year when I gave her a Christmas present because I hadn't told her that I was going to and so she hadn't prepared anything for me, despite me trying to tell her that it was fine, and I just wanted to give her a present to say thankyou.

Anyway, so thanks to this very generous present, as well as some wonderful care packages that I received on Tuesday, just exactly when I was feeling down and really needed the love, I'm sure to have a brilliant Chuseok. For those of you wondering, Chuseok is the Autumn lunar harvest festival - Koreans keep telling me that it's 'Korean Thanksgiving' but it's really much better, as we get three days off (hooray for a five day weekend!) and of course there are lots and lots of jeon (lightly battered fried foods and savoury pancakes), songpyeon and ricecakes around! Which is lovely if you like ricecakes like I do ^_^ It's traditionally a time to spend with your family where you commemorate your ancestors, so most Koreans return to their hometowns at this time and the women of course spend a lot of time cooking the food for this and for their families, although apparently these days many are increasingly using it as an excuse for a short overseas holiday. So a big thanks to Ms Yun, Lara (aka KBFF) and Nat (aka City Pug)! You guys rock! ^_^

To everyone else:

Happy Chuseok!

"Have a happy and warm Chuseok!"

"Have a good [merry] Chuseok!"

(I couldn't decide which Chuseok picture I liked best so here they both are)


I must have mentioned wanting to make songpyeon more than I realised - that or my co-teachers know how hard it is and are trying to spare me the agony - because another co-teacher, Ms Kwon, just gave me another huge box of songpyeon. Serious songpyeon overload! I distributed them to my co-workers in my office and asked them to keep it a secret :) Michelle and Edithe, if you read this, you are both expected to help me eat the other box! If you haven't, hehe... surprise! ^_^

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Finally managed to shut Eun-Jong up! Told him that he had five chances, and every time I had to say his name, he lost a chance. When it got to five, the WHOLE class would be kept in from lunch for five minutes. He got up to three (seven minutes into class) before the rest of the class lost it and started screaming at him. Attention-seeking little ADHD monkey got the message and put his head down on his desk for most of the rest of the lesson, only perking up to read through the dialogue with the rest of the class, then slumping down again.

I think that that was as close to perfection as class 2-6 will ever get. I actually high-fived my co-teacher afterwards.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Birthdays and Visas

Just in case you get the wrong idea dear readers, and anyone else who stumbles across my poor pittance of a blog looking for a description of life in Korea as an English teacher, class 1-5 yesterday was behaving worse than usual. They're normally just noisy, and in fact there's only one student that I've had to repeatedly tell not to take his clothes off and he's not in that class.

On the other side of the scales, some of my other students are very sweet! Especially the second year girls, probably because a) they're lovely! b) because I had a really excellent and gentle co-teacher for classes with them last year, so our classes were always pretty good and c) they are, for the most part, high level students, and even the ones that aren't particularly good at English are still fairly enthusiastic, so there were about 12 of them that joined my lunch-time 'Super Duper' free-conversation English club that I ran once a week. And really even the second year boys aren't as bad as the first years, in general, because even though they try to pull a lot of the same bollocks and are of course very noisy, there are still a lot who genuinely want to do well or enjoy studying English. So don't get the wrong idea; not all of my students are little hellraisers. Case in point about the girls, yesterday one of them, Jae-Eun, invited me to her birthday party on Saturday. I thought it was a rather sweet gesture, and apologised since I had planned to go to Daegu on Saturday. Her answer? "Ok, you go to Daegu first in morning, then come to my party afternoon! At my house! I give you address!" Her friend Yeon-Hee (another favourite of mine) interjected with "Amy is busy! BUSY!" Haha^^ Anyway, I had to mollify Jae-Eun with a promise of a 'birthday present' on Friday, and by singing 'Happy Birthday' to her in the staffroom (to mixed reviews: all the other teachers ignored us, Jae-Eun looked rapt, and Yeon-Hee put her fingers in her ears). And of course I'm going to make the whole class sing it to her today too, since we don't have class next week thanks to Chuseok (the Autumn Harvest Festival). Knowing Jae-Eun, she'll probably stand up and conduct the entire class, haha^^

Anyway, apart from that, I have some real information too for anyone looking for such. As some of you may know or be interested in knowing, adoptees can now get dual citizenship, entitling us to many things that are hard to manoueveur around when you're on the foreigner's short-term employment E-2 visa such as a credit card, websites, getting loans, buying a house, etc, or even getting a darn smartphone if you are that way inclined. However, getting this is a bit complicated, and as far as I can tell, to get it you need to be on an F-4 visa, which is tricky enough in the first place. Here is the link to a document detailing how you get said F-4 visa on the GOAL (Global Overseas Adoptees Link) website which also very kindly offers to help adoptees applying for dual citizenship, including free translation of documents for members.

And no, I don't have the F-4 visa, because it was so much work to organise (and yes, I am incredibly lazy), but I think I am going to make an appointment with someone at the Immigration Office or the Australian Embassy in Seoul just to see what's what and if there's some magical way not mentioned on the internet that I can apply for it from an E-2 visa. I'd still rather hold dual citizenship with England, but with all the bureaucracy crud and bollocks you have to go through to get anything done in Korea as a foreigner (especially as a foreigner with a long-ass name like mine that doesn't fit into a bunch of internet form name boxes), it's definitely worth looking into. Also, and I'm not saying that I'm going to, if I did have it and I'm ever teaching here again, I could walk away from my job if I hated it without risking being deported.

So anyhoo, hope that provides a nice and informative start to your collective Tuesdays. I'm feeling a bit down today for various reasons, but fingers crossed that the rest of the day is all sunshine and puppies :)

Happy Puppy!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bad Manners

... and horribly demanding of me to post twice in one day, I know. But I needed to share a few tidbits from the blog Sociological Images (which I don't always agree with, but it does sometimes have some stuff worth sharing), especially after having my mind blitzed by the uphill battle that is class 1-5. As I've just bitched on Facebook, I can't say that I was particularly impressed with them today (am I ever?). It was quite telling that class started with me walking in to find one boy about halfway up the classroom facing away from me not wearing his school shirt (they all wear t-shirts underneath so he looked like he was clothed) and everyone else roaring in laughter. I told them to quiet down and for the student to sit down but he wouldn't turn around. Three of his friends proceeded to inform me that he couldn't because he was doing an "elephant" [impression] out of the fly of his pants.

Needless to say, I was not amused. I also had to escalate through the 'quiet pyramid' a few times today - they know it starts at "boys, be quiet please" to "BOYS! Quiet!" to "[name]! SHUSH!". But they were pushing me today so I had to give them that "You've gone too far and Teacher is REALLY angry now" quiet stare and go through the whole "[Daeho] Don't make me say 'shut up'. Because if I say 'shut up' it will mean that I'm very angry", shortly followed by "[Daeho], SHUT IT! I'm really angry now. Do you know WHY I'm angry?.. Class, why am I angry?" and pick on him in front of the whole class, which doesn't always work anyway when you have a class full of clowns and attention seekers. I don't actually say "shut up" unless it's in that precursive warning sentence to students very often because I feel like it's rude and probably a little unprofessional, but I do use the whole range of synonyms. Oh, and I broke my love-stick on the desk last week so I think I need a new one. Maybe I'll get a bamboo one - nice and tough, and scary looking as hell. Muahahaha :D

But anyway, so that was how I battled for my soul over the last 45 minutes. It was quite nice therefore to come back and catch up on more blogs I missed and see another lovely video that I hope you like too :)

Oh and there's also a quite interesting post there too on women in (American) politics. The clip in question featuring Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Hilary Clinton also seems to me to be kind of telling about women in comedy too, as many of you have probably heard me rant about (and are probably sick of me doing so) how much I hate women who use the 'dumb bitch' approach to comedy (namely Corinne Grant and that fatuous bimbo that replaced the brilliant Julie McCrossin on Good News Week), as I feel it demeans both women and the work that real comedians put into their routines. Anyway, watch the video, read the article, and hopefully you have time to look out the window and enjoy the sunshine! Or at least pretend that there's some lovely sunshine outside for you to enjoy if there isn't any around :)


One of the nice things about coming to work on Monday (perhaps the only nice thing in fact) is catching up on all the blogs that I haven't bothered reading over the weekend and that I usually haven't had time to read last Friday. I get my Wonderella comic (this week was not so good), a few good Cyanide and Happiness strips and, all going well, some other random bits and bobs that help put me in a good mood. Today I logged in to Google Reader and found this video on HYF's blog. I have no idea what it's about but it IS hilarious - I particularly liked the co-ordination behind the baseball game at the end! (You have to watch the whole thing to really appreciate it). I was tempted to turn it off after the first minute and a half out of sheer embarrassment (watching it at my desk) but I'm glad I stuck with it - I must have laughed at least once every twenty seconds ^_^

Happy Monday everyone! ^_^

Friday, September 2, 2011


What's the oddest compliment you've ever received? I get all sorts from my students, and co-workers, including my favourite "you have a really cool nose!", but the one that's made me laugh (read spit out my water and sputter) the most recently was this:

"Individually, the features of your face are nothing special. But when you put them all together they look really good!"


Love this [troll]face. ಠ_ಠ

Which was kind of the face I made upon hearing that compliment before bursting into laughter and trying not to cry at the same time.

That is all. Haha^^

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A response to a theoretical situation reflecting Korean family life

Me: if your apartment was on fire in a contained way that affected no other apartments in your block (had to change this from 'house' after too many arguments), and you could only save one thing, what would it be?
Gi-Hwan: My mother.
Me: What about your father? You wouldn't take him too?
Gi-Hwan: No, because he would be at work.

Good point.

Oh and just for the record, class with 2-6, while still moderately stressful, was actually what I would consider good! We got through all the work and only had to stay back 5 minutes after class ended and lunch started to wring three word answers out of two boys. Eun-Jong is still a nightmare (he spent ten minutes trying to hold the hand of the boy sitting next to him, got up and tried to walk out of the class 25 minutes in, and screeched like a hawk at the top of his voice) but I only had to tell him off three times which must be a new record. I think part of this is because it's become a bit of a class joke about how often I tell him off, so everytime I yell "EUN-JONG!", the rest of the class does it too at the top of their voices. Anyway, I now have no more classes today, so I'm going to try and study my Korean, classes for which are starting again this Saturday (10am - 12pm at the Cheongju YMCA)... and possibly watch an episode of Jersey Shore. teehee^^