Friday, December 28, 2007

xmas was not too xmas-y

i think it helped that korea is not overly xmasy. if it were i would've had a bigger sense of what i was missing and been much sadder i believe and felt lonelier. but since eveyrone in korea retty much treats it like any other day, i was able to also. aside from opening wint's card and present. id ont think i even sang any xmas carols on 12/25. very odd. considering how that is my favorite music genre. also. i load all the xmas music on my ipod on 12/1 every year since i've had one. it's like my speical countdown treat. but this year the 24 days from start to finish went by MUCH too quicly. it's like the world knew how hard this month could have been for me and somehow it flew by in my consciousness where i seriously hve no idea wher ethe time between thanksgiving and NOW has gone. very odd, but omforting in a way also.

right now waiting on emails from some VIP (very IMPORTANT People) in my life. i get really impatient with this time difference and i HAT Ehaving to wait to talk to ppl i really dont feel like waiting to talk to! i get really antsy/anxious/excited about the ppl i love and this time difference thing is killing me. (i KNOW if i had to they' be totally willing ot listen ...) but usually i just wanna call and be like COME ONLINE SO WE CAN WEBCAM AND I CAN SHOW YOU MY NEW BOOTS!!! and then they would hang up the phone and silently curse me in their sleep and dream dreams of sweet revenge. so i must be patient (don't worry mommy-no new boots - that was just an example)

i'll come back and clean this up. i'm dizzy so that must mean it's past my bedtime. good night.

oh p.s. mommy/jess: i feel like i haven't talked to daddy on the phone for a while so make sure he's home tonight when you guys call me - i'll be awake around 9:30 my time but call AFTER 10am bc i have to eat breakfast with hostfam thanksloveyougnite.

korea is funny ...


today i taste freedom. from teaching. from little kids. FOR TWO FREAKING MONTHS!!!

lesson emphasizing "can i borrow (enter school supply here)?"
student: teacher, scissors
me (prompting): "can i ..."
student: ... HELP YOU?

restaurant corner:
me: who do you see in a restaurant? WHO?
MANY people

leaving hweshik lunch today, 5th grade coteach is walking 100 yds in front of us all alone
me and 3-4 english teacher: AUDREY선생님!!! why are you walking alone?
5th grade teacher: my face
... she got some moles removed yesterday and isn't allowed to wash her face, put on makeup, or let anything come in contact with her face and she thinks it's a horrendous sight so she had left lunch early so no one would have to see her .. haha

english camp was super awesome. it was gratifying bc i really felt like the students have learned SOME english (if not quite a LOT) this past semester. they've at LEAST improved HUGELY in classroom english comprehension. THAT counts for a lot for me. they've come a LOOOOOONG way from when i first saw them. no cheesy anecdotes right now.

oh, so 3-4 official english coteach is BAAAAACK from maternity leave. it was soooo good to see her. omg on wednesday when i saw her walk in the back door of the classroom i teared up. which is odd bc it's not like we were super close or anything but it just made me feel soooo good that she was back!!! she is DEF the best at english of the english teachers at school and the youngest of the 3 and she was the one who took the most care of me and stuff like that in the first month before she left to have her baby. i'm so happy she's back!! even tho it does surprise me that i'm as happy as i am, hehe.

then TODAY, i teared up and nearly welled over AGAIN when saying bye to 1-1 coteacher (again). i dunno why but i totally love her. she was my FAVORITE coteacher and the greatest one. her class was by no means one of my best/favorite/well-behaved/smart but class with her was always fun and amazing. she's just transferring schools and she told me she's not moving and promised she'd call me over break for coffee (well she said she would have coffee and i could get tea bc she remembers stuff about me like that =). i dunno, she just helped make my transition to korean life much easier and has always been amazing. i am thankful for the wonderful supportive ppl i meet in my life =)

foods i miss:
*goldfish crackers
*white cheddar goldfish crackers
*eating goldfish crackers by the spoonful with winty before, on the walk to, on the walk back from, and after going to the gym
*raspberry milanos (esp. when other ppl buy them for me)
*pork chops from george's
*chocolate chip cookies
*oatmeal cookies
*spinach and cheese dip, artichoke and cheese dip, lobster dip & tortilla chips
*sauteed mushrooms
*wheat bread
*blueberry morning cereal
*banana nut bread
*going to the refectory for lunch

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

rude skiers

anyway, the main thing i want to write, how koreans bring their lack of personal space and pushiness onto the slopes.

mostly it's pretty bad on the subway and on the streets and sometimes in stores. they just push and shove and there are no apologies or sorry faces or "excuse me"s.

i've mostly gotten a little more used to it. this translates into, i push and shove back and figure if they wanna be "ugly koreans" then i'm gonna be an "ugly american" with no manners either. i also have taken to talking about them in english out loud instead of just muttering under my breath. they usually don't even notice i'm talking about them, but when they do they definitely understand my tone and the derision in my face.

so anyway, this past weekend when i went skiing, THEY BRING THIS ATTITUDE TO THE SLOPES!!! and to make it worse the resort we went to at least, doesn't really have lines or roped line making areas like in america (land of rhyme and reason). they have a GATE type entryway right at the front of the lift and there's just this MASS MOB THRONG of people behind it ... it's ridiculous. ALSO, this is not like walking down the street in a coat .. this is like THERE ARE METAL POLES BEING STUCK AT ME from all angles and people SLAMMING their snowboards on my toes!!!

but i soon figured out a way to elbow them out. and eventually i just got annoyed and started commenting on this ridiculousness to my hostsibs in english. at one point i was POINTING to the kid right next to me and saying he was rude. i understand this was childish and just as rude if not more of me to behave in this way ... but sometimes ... you just need a release. i promise i will search for healthier ways of taking this in and being more culturally ambassadorial. (that'll be one of my quests in this coming semester).

next observation: there were very young children and college students and adults on the slopes ... but no middle/high school age students. i slowly noticed this. at first i was just like, oh look at all the young children. oh look at all the young adults. ... and finally i was like waaaaaaait ... where are all the adolescents??? studying at home and going to hakwon ... poor korean students ... horrible cyclically torturous education system ... it was so odd .. there's a WHOLE DEMOGRAPHIC missing from the merrymaking and fun in korean culture ... =T

Sunday, December 23, 2007

pre xmas notes

ok. so to clarify. the last post was NOT about xmas. altho it would've been an AMAAAZING xmas present.

at this point i don't know how excited i should be about the proposed *thing* but it's ok.

i had a pretty sweet ski weekend with the hostfam =) and just got back.

i'm a LITTLE jealous that i missed the seoul powwow with man선생 but it's ok. i'll see my favorite faces tmrw anyway.

also, so, we got back from ski weekend a little early and i wanted to go to the gym. so i gear up and head out. and i get there and THE GYM IS CLOOOOOOSED!!! booooo!!!! so then i head over to my dance/yoga studio to see if they'll let me take a class NOT at my scheduled time just bc (ykno it's xmas and they really like me cuz i'm from american and i speak english) and halfway there i see the building is all dark and remember they only do classes on weekdays =(

so i come home ... and it's OKAYYYYYY because i just got another xmas package!!! this one is from Hannah and 정민 언니. i'm debating opening it now... and i will ... hehe after my shower (so it's like a reward!).

i already opened one xmas package from my family (i have 2 more coming!!! teehee) and i'll open the one from Hannah (and the Park fam) tonight and i'll save Wint's for xmas day when i get back from seoul. haha, WINT, i know you'd freak if i opened it early bc it's not ACTUALLY xmas!! =) this year we are opposites of last year with me getting my present early and mine to you arriving late!!

also, i'll update after i shower, about how korean ski resorts try my patience ... haha

Friday, December 21, 2007

i'm so excited

i might pee my pants right now
but i'm not sure yet
and i don't want to get excited about something that might not happen
but it's hard
and i know someone else who is at least as excited as i am if not more.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


sometimes i miss my family so much it hurts.
my sister just started a blog and emailed the link to my family and my dad jsut responded with another email and reading it was so wonderful and got me started crying. and it hurts so much to be so far away and know i wont be able to see my family for so long. i have the most wonderful loving family in the world and many ppl think they went overboard and spoiled me rotten but i don't care bc they are my favorites. i miss my parents and my sister so much. and i jsut want to hug them for a week and not let go. (it would be pretty awesome if someone would feed us tho even whilewe are in the hug).

i refuse to sit here and cry like a baby tho so i'm gonna go to pilates dance class. it'll be a good pickmeup.

i miss them so much.


written last night: 12/19/07:
Ok. My internet is down for some reason. I have no idea why but I’m annoyed because I did a good deed today and that means good karma should be coming my way but internet not working = bad karma. Haha. I sound like a brat.

convo of the day: (walking down to oil-covered beach)
me: i'm so excited!! teeeehehehehe
kim: umm you know this is just manual labor?
me: i KNOW!!! manual labor is so exotic to my life!!!

Today was fuuuuuuun. We all (korea haha) had the day off to go and vote. And since I can’t vote I decided to do something else civically minded: help clean up the taean oil spill. (ok, to be honest it was maia’s idea, but I thought it would be good).

So we take off at 7:30 to daejeon where we transferred to another bus going to taean. But FIRRRRRST we wandered a bit in daejeon and FOUND A MCDONALDS OPEN FOR BRAEKFAST!!!! THIS MEANS …. SAUSAGE MCMUFFIN!!!

Yesssss!!! I had been craving one since my 1st class yesterday. I don’t know why but yesterday morning I was jus all like, OMG I WANT A MCMUFFIN. And so maybe that was my good karma. We ate at mcdonalds and wanderd around the homeeplus trying on sweet animal hats.

We slept all the way to taean where kimmy bought us lunch. It’s really pretty and open and you can see the sky!!! Kimmy’s sweet hostparents drove us to our site. Along the way there were white tents giving away cleaning up gear so we scored some boots, protective onesies, and gloves.

We got to an acceptable site and geared up.

Then we dove in by starting to scrub down rocks coated in oil when the tide went out. We did this for about an hour and a half. The weather was AMAAAAAZING. There was a crazy guy with a megaphone thing and we ignored him for a while cuz I only heard random bits and thought he was spreading the word of God and being all evangelical.

But finally we realized he was just using God to get us excited/motivated but mostly asking us to help with the long line of bucket passing that was behind us along the coastline. People coming from that direction were COVERED in oil and we decided there was like an oil pool/field/pond over yonder and maia decided we had to see it. Well …. Bad decision. As soon as we head in that direction the assembly line calls us and we get sucked in to passing buckets full of .. surprise surprise … OIL.

It was gross and amazing how much oil there was!!! The buckets were full of brown/black GOOP. At first it reminded me of fudge and then it reminded kim of chocolate pudding. But it smelled pretty much like oil.

Next exciting thing: WE SAW 신정환!!! Apparently he was doing some PR thing for some TV show. And he walked along our assembly line and apparently went down to the end where he scooped two buckets before he left. I wanted to stop him and say we were fans from America so he would talk to us but KIM wouldn’t let me. And I couldn’t take a picture because I was mid-bucket passing and we thought the angry Koreans yelling at him that half the work was already done would not be too pleased if I stopped passing buckets to take a picture. Haha.

So, yea we kept passing buckets until 5 when kim’s hostdad came to get us. It was a good day’s work. We left Taean at 6:10 and I got home around 10. I’m exhaauuuuuuusted right now but really happy we went and tried to help. =) it was beautiful out there and I can’t wait to visit again.

3 of us after finishing:

me! goal accomplished! (my goal for the day was to get super dirty, that way it would look like i really did a lot of work)

p.s. 이명박 seems to be the new president.

Completely unrelated to the president thing, but I am happy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

TPOPT (the power of positive thinking)

today was a frustrating day for weguks in cheongju.

it could've been a far worse day if not for my POSITIVE THINKING!!!

haha. well it was my last day of class! and things went pretty well. normally i hate tuesdays cuz it's 4 classes of 2nd grade (blech) haha i'm kidding. i just like them less than my 1st graders which isn't saying much cuz i LOOOOOOOVE my 1st graders. anyway. i decided to change my attitude and decided today was going to be fun with the 2nd graders!!! w00t! and it WAS! the kids were the same as ever at english (that is to say, they were not so good but hysterical).

then the downs syndrome girl (not a nickname, she has downs and i dont know any of my students' names) told me she liked me better than all the other teachers and that i am very pretty and have pretty shoes, too. haha. but that changes everyday. last week she said she didn't like me bc she is bad at english. haha. but it was a good feeling to have her talk to me at least.

next, mad errands. my phone bill got paid, no biggie. then headed downtown, filled out all the paperwork ... the bank guy says "do you have your passport" and i'm like uhhhh it's at home .... so of course i'm in a poop mood bc i had thought going INTO the bank oh this is gonna suck but then i was like, no no think POSITIVE and i smiled but it STILL sucked. anyway, POSITIVE THINKING: it was a good thing i came home bc i had to PEE like i was niagara falls. ok i kno that was TMI (too much info) but if i exaggerate it makes me feel not as wasting time that i had to come all the way back home for my passport. plus, i called franklin and just speaking ENGLISH to someone made me feel better about the bank thing.

also, i saw jamal crossing the street while i was on teh bus home, and saw him coming out of HIS phone place on my way BACK to the bus stop. so it was good to talk to him. sometimes, jus ttalking in english makes me feel better. and jamal was having a bad errand day, too, so commiserating was good.

head back downtown, figure out bank biznass, met up with maia, had another positive thinking moment, but now i forget that one. but maia and i were thankful for our hostfams again. =) and each other. seriously, this girl is my sanity in cheongju. i dunno what i would do without her.

i sent all my xmas cards minus 2 today (they are both waiting for package completion). sent my sister 2 packages!!! (surprise!) and got myself a 6,000W sweatshirt to wear to taean tmrw that i wont mind getting oil on. maia and i got matching shirts so we will be a couple. haha. (mommy, i'm gonna wear my new underarmour you sent me and i'm so excited about being warm!)

ohhh funny story for today: i haven't had any in a while, i'm sorry:
so in 2-1 class, there is this one boy in the front who does the 노홍철 저질 댄스 to EVERY song/chant we ever do in class. it's quite hysterical. if you are not familiar with it please enjoy:
at 11 sec. dance 1

and this one at 43 sec and 55 sec. dance 2

anyway, so he KEEPS doing it today while we are learning a new song for 10 minutes. and even a cute thing gets old. the other kids are telling me, "teacher he is crazy he crazy boy crazy, crazy boy him" so FINALLY i say: "i know, 돌 아이" and they FALL APART. hahahaha. this takes a little explaining if you don't get it right away. (is that redundant?) it is reference to nickname of the blond guy 노홍철 who does the dance and it is a play off the word for a LOON. (that is roughly what this all amounts to) they were blown away by my cultural reference and also that icalled my student crazy. it made for some nice bonding.

now the other funny part: tonight is dance/pilates for my yoga/pilates studio. we alwasy do these pelvic thrust things the whole class (focused on abs and crunching motion, go figure) and we start doing the 저질 댄스!!! hahaa. i was DYING laughing as i was doing it. but it really did work my abs. so it was great. if my students could've seen me they would've DIIIIIIED.

ok, taean at buttcrack of dawn tmrw so sleep now. gnite, loves.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

6 months (exactly)

me (elf) and santa (ray)

family xmas pic: jason, me, our daughter, and jess-the nanny

me, jess, kim =)

i should probably write some deep and meaningful reflective entry about the last half year of my life in korea. but i'm about to pass out (less than 5 hours of sleep for 5+ nights combined with nyquil=sleeeeeeeepy). i've been very american in putting off my xmas card writing. perhaps i'll try to do one or two tonight.

this weekend was a great great one. friday i did a bunch of random stuff in the morning, then yoga, then nails with maia, hot cocoa and toast with maia, then visiting subway unni, then visiting 양신부님 and a free ride to the retreat meeting/reunion. then of course dinner and drinks afterward. i came home pretty early bc of gumi the next morning but got to saw a teensy sprinkling of snow!!!

heading to gumi sat morning w/maia. arrive at orphanage and chillax til lunch and xmas party activities began. it was a day of ETA and children!! it was a loooooot of fun, despite the freezing cold indoors. (yea i know). i am writing in my journal about a lot of the thoughts i had. perhaps i'll share some later. but in general, the question of "parental love" and what that entails/means came up in my mind a lot. i was so grateful for my parents and wonderful family and everything i grew up with. and it only emphasized in my mind the need to give back. because i did nothing to deserve the situation i was born into (i don't believe in reincarnation, not exactly). so i feel like i ought to do something and give my amazing karma back to the world. but anyway, i'm droopy in the eyes, so i'm gonna journal and xmas card and sleep.

PROMISE (kindof) korea 6-month entry. soon. this week. i've been busy lately. (and maybe too cool to blog?) GASP. haha.
schedule for the week:
monday - 3 classes. (xmas/bank errands). end of year dinner w/2nd grade teachers.
tuesday - 4 classes. (LAST DAY OF CLASSES!!!)
wednesday - taean for oil spill cleanup helping =)
thursday - no classes. 1st grade teachers end of year dinner.
friday - FINITO!!
saturday/sunday - ski trip w/host fam
monday - xmas eve ^^
tuesday - xmas
wed to fri - english camp
THEN FREEDOM until jan 22.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

pro boxer

i am a dork. i was going to take a shower and i caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror in my sports bra and bathrobe ... and decided i looked like a boxer. like hillary swank in million dollar baby. and i felt really tough and cool. (mind you, my sports bra was acceptable ... but my bathrobe is fluffy and bubble gum pink ...) i probably did not look anything like a boxer.

(this was pretty pointless) haha. im going out for a nails date. i'm wearing a bunch of american clothes today. 7 jeans, new abercrombie sweater from mommy, new *GOLD* coach sneaks from mommy!!! i'm psyyyyyched. then i am writing letters and xmas cards. so if you are one of the few who reads this religiously, you can prob expect from xmastime mail. =)

and i feel good cuz i had DDUK instead of cheesecake. and my host bro told me dduk is good for you ... i hope so? it seems like refined rice flour and sugar to me .... but whatever. i heart 떡.


it's gonna be a good weekend.

it started off today with loads of good news at school. a successful last day of 1st grade classes. and WOOHOOO getting my xmas package from hooooooooome!!!

i opened my surprise packages while i was on the phone with my mom and yippeeeeee for presents!!!

tmrw i'm going to yoga and the gym in the morning. followed by i will probably eat half of the cheesecake my 1-4 teacher gave me as a thank you present for lunch. this thought makes me *GIDDY* with excitement!!!

then xmas nails date w/maia. followed by VIDA ppl at night!!! yayy!!! i've been waiting over a month to see these faces!!! (i hope i don't cry!)

then saturday off to gumi TO DRESS UP AS AN ELF. pretty much i can tell this entry is gonna make everyone so jealous of my amazingly sweet life. i get to dress up as an elf. talk about holiday dreams come true! (PLUS i am doing a good deed for orphans). SCORE!!!

another random thought, sunday is my official 6 month anniversary of landing in korea. i will reflect deeply on that in a few days. for now, THINK ELFY THOUGHTS!!!

i'm gonna look like THIS!!! YES!!!

Buddy: The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.

Buddy: I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

whirlwinds of fun.

i'll say this much for my life. it's NEVER boring. i just had a class where one of the boys is "in love" with me and then another one starts crying at the END of class and no one can calm him down except a few of the boys take turns trying to calm him down and alternate between carrot and stick methods.

apparently the issue at hand is SOMETHING money related. i have no idea what is going on. the meanish one kept hitting the sweetlooking one during class so i was not happy with him. but then at the end apparently the meanish one says that the sweetlooking one keeps telling MO that he owes SLO money. then later after everyone leaves and i am talking to SLO he says that the MO keeps taking his money. so i have no idea who is telling the truth or what is really happening.

anyway, lunch was ok. i heart 파전. it's so deliciously tasty and yummy. i could eat it every day all day. then i would be a fattie. haha.

these 5th grade girls jus stopped by. 2 of them had been in one of my english camps and they brought a bunch of their friends. there was some crazy konglish going on. and the one is admittedly crazy. she reminds me of 송이 when she was younger. haha. and/or me. altho i think i've calmed down quite a bit. and thre is a new 방방 nearby!! i'm SOOOOO excited for the 방방!!! haha and these students' english is GREATtastic. i'm SOOOO excited!!!! i'm gonna hang out at the 방방 (trampoline!) and play with my students!!! heeeehehehehehehehe

entry later (when i go home) on my many questions.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


my mother's universally accepted truisms:
(edit: this is not a malicious entry, it is a "i miss my mommy sooooooo much" entry!!!)

me: describe me in one word (for college app wkst)
mommy: noisy

mommy: you know you are really 멋있어 until you open your mouth? you LOOK intelligent and sharp, but once you start talking that all breaks down. you shouldn't talk.

mommy: no one is going to date you or marry you if you keep eating like that. it costs too much to feed you. this is why i will have to live with you until i die. 내 팔짜야!! MY LIFE IS SO SAD!!!

me: i wanna get short shorts
mommy: like hotpants?
me: yes
mommy: but your legs are like tree trunks!

mommy: you only say two things: "i DON'T understaaaaaaand" and "i'm gonna diiiiiiiiiiie". my oldest daughter is stupid and diseased. 내 팔짜야!! my life is so sad.

mommy: i don't see YOU walking around. i see a 돈떵어리 (giant chunk of money) walking around.

me chasing my sister and puppy around the house
mommy: 임지혜!!! stop running!! you'll break my house!!

(i call home)
mommy: what do you want? you know it scares me when you call? you always need money or want me to buy you something or send you something. go study.

me: you NEVER remember anything i say!
mommy: you talk ALL the time. you say a LOT of things. most of them are useless and stupid. if i remembered everything you said, i'd be the world's biggest idiot.

mommy: you know i am so scared of you? you are so cranky. any time you ask for something or complain i have to fix it right away. i am so scared when you're not happy. other daughters treat their moms like queens. but no, i am your slave. i tried to be a good mom but now i know i did it all wrong. (shaking her head)

the REASON why i started missing my mommy so much? i wanted someone to 귀파 me. i am super anal about stuff and my ear hygiene is one of those things. at duke i got into the habit of going to student health just to have my ears irrigated. it was so amazingly clean and fresh feeling. usually also, whenever i go home i have my mom do it for me. i've been wondering lately what to do about my ears (it's been nearly 6 months!) and so i kept missing my mommy. =] ㅠ.ㅠ

"A mother is she who can take the place of all others but 
whose place no one else can take."
-- Cardinal Mermillod

"The commonest fallacy among women is that simply having children makes one a mother—which is as absurd as believing that having a piano makes one a musician."
-- Sydney J. Harris

"A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary."
-- Dorothy Canfield Fisher

where are you, christmas?

my adorable ex-puppy (we gave him away) after a trip to the puppy salon before xmas in 05


3 pts if you get the reference

i nearly cried today in class. but first, i have no brain. lately i have been increasingly acting as though my brain were, in fact, missing and/or gone. i.e. i was trying to INSERT a videocassette by repeatedly hitting the EJECT button and wondering why nothing was happening. this happened for like 5 minutes.

anyway, i had yesterday (monday) off due to exams. somehow, i decided this morning when i turned off my alarm that TODAY was MONDAY and i didn't have class til 10. it WAS, in fact, TUESDAY, and i had class starting at 9. my 2nd grade teachers had a good laugh about that all day. they all entered my class giggling and asking me how my monday was? they are the best =) and when we went over the date, and i was like "TODAY IS TUESDAY" my favs 2-3 asked me, "really?" and winked.

anyway, back to nearly crying. since yesterday's 3 classes had no english this week is outside the textbook curriculum. today's classes got to make snowflakes and learn "jingle bells". as my kids are BELTING out "jingle bells jingle bells 징글어워요ㅛㅛㅛㅛ!!~" i start tearing up at how much of christmas i'm missing.

for example, "jingle all the way" the xmas classic starring the governator as that bad parent who is trying to get his kid that robot toy guy. the grinch on TNT! those animated xmas movies like rudolph, the one with the yeti, and the one with mr. snow and mr. sun!! ELF!!! (i THINK i brought that. i HOPE i did!). love actually! CHRISTMAS MOVIES!!! and altho xmas is STARTING to take hold in korea, the decorations and stuff are not as widespread as at home.

we did see a sign for *X-AMS* in a GS25 along with HAPPY HOLLYDAY!!! in homever. christmas is very different here. it just isn't the same. PEOPLE DONT BUY REAL TREES!!! altho i suspect this has more to do with korea's love for pine trees (and preserving them), i want that SMELL in my house! and since there is no tree, there is no place for multiple plentiful gifts to congregate!!! actually, it doesn't seem like my host fam is THAT into xmas in the materialistic sense that i love.

they have a token singing less than 3foot tall xmas tree with cotton balls the hostsis decorated. but no wreath or fireplace decorations (well, no fireplace at all) or stockings or anything. and it doesn't look like sending xmas cards is tHAT widespread here either. and the kids haven't even started discussing presents ... whereas i give my family the preliminary list around thanksgiving!!! and then it just grows from there!

admittedly i am a little kid who loves presents and toys and act of giving and receiving. still, i miss what this holiday means for me. it'll be kindof a lonely holiday, indeed. without my family gathered by our tree after xmas eve mass (and/or xmas morning depending on how patient i am) opening their presents, and then watching me open mine (i always get the mostest!!!). and then i miss my stupid adorable dog wallowing in all the paper and ribbon. chasing himself silly and snuffing about in our laps bc we're all ignoring him!

i miss watching hannah in the nutcracker. 딩굴ing all day with my sister and making her do xmas movie sleepovers with me. sitting in my kitchen watching our snow covered backyard and the little critters that visit. trips to the mall for presents. for me. haha. (my mom) driving in the snow. our fireplace and sweet potatoes roasting in there ALL day!!! making my parents watch movies with me and my sister jus bc i have nothing better to do during break =)

i miss christmas. this will be a tough year, in looking for the "christmas spirit" and what it REALLY should be. love and family and gratitude to be able to give and share with the people that i love most. being so far from everything familiar and comfortable to me is really making me appreciate what i have. and maybe that should be my xmas lesson for 07.

things i own that i miss

khaki peacoat
orange clutch
white patent leather bag
gold rhinestoney sandals
faux fur (i'm animal friendly!) capelet
grey benetton coat
my prom dresses (and sitting around the house in them when i'm bored)
orange longchamp purse
red suede purse
my graduation diamond necklace =(
pink graduation dress
brown suede boots
hot pink mini
all my colored blazers!
my pink bebe j.lo tracksuit a la lil cricket
my plaid jcrew mini
my fish market ajumma vest (haha)
my dresses
my undies!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

I'll Be Home For Christmas

(I have no idea why... Originally drafted 12/1/07)

I'll Be Home For Christmas.

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow
And mistletoe
And presents 'neath the tree

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
If only in my dreams

we scare, because we care

5 points if you got the allusion above.

i had no school today due to the ONE day of exams my elementary kids get. it was very nice. well, first, a recap of this weekend.

jess came to cheongju on saturday. it was so lovely to see her and 딩굴거려 together. i got my nails done, then we walked around waiting for minsuksan to come join us. then we walked around some more waiting for maiasan. finally we all four went to go eat dinner!!! after dinner we walked a bit more then went to a cafe where we sat around and were lazy for like 2 hours. it was a good day. plus i took buses all day so i was very thrifty. jess and i were super awesome and read before going to bed. haha

sunday: we woke up and 딩굴ed some more. we went for lunch with my hostfam (감자탕) and then jess and i took my hostsis to the arcade place in the CGV building. UMMMMMMM I FOUND TWO OF MY TRUE LOVES THERE!!!!!! TETRIS AND SOUL CALIBER!!! i am soooooooooo going there alllllllllll the time!!! for 500won i can have like 30min+ of fun (with tetris) and hopefully i'll get my soul caliber skills up again so that 500w will last me at LEAST 30 min. GAHHHH!!!! this is why i never START/dabble with video games ... i get more addicted than you boys out there.

anyways, after that we came home to 딩굴 again until dinner. which was my favorite, BBQ chicken's GOLDFINGERS!!! MMMMMmmMMmmMMmmmMMMMmm!!!! delicious white meat chicken tenders with some kind of spicy light tantalizingly crunchy coat!!!! yummo!!!! then jessica left =( and i read and went to bed early.

i was going to write a lot more but i'm tired and need to rest before yoga and the gym. im gonna reread my letter from winty (i got ur xmas package today!) and then go back to my book for the week. and then workout. oops. i almost forgot i need a lesson plan for tmrw. haha sometimes i forget that i need to teach.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


i have too many thoughts to record. anywhere. my brain is a mess all over the world. hehe.

the more i try to slow down, the happier i've been feeling. and more fulfilled and satisfied. rather than my first choice of remedy to the homesick blues, which was to pack my schedule and keep my life frenzied and crazy crazy crazy!!!

so many issues and things to think about.

my life is good. i'm happy for what it is right now and more and more excited for what's to come!

p.s. i had this dream where i was harry potter (but i looked like me) and i had his talents and skills (i.e. awesome broom flying) and voldemort and i had to keep having these showdowns but they were all local to where i grew up. one was in my friends' house and another was in verona park, etc. it was so terrifying, i think i woke up when i was racing threw the cedars without a decent conclusion of either of us dying.

xmas card pictures from this weekend:
leejihae and sexy xmas tree

me w/sexy tree

maia w/winter scene

jess w/winter scene

me w/winter scene

Friday, December 7, 2007

life is good

ok. barrage of updates/entries in production. many many drafts. (not to say they will be in good condition when i publish - just that there are many entries of just bulletpoints).

my life right now is good. i am a very lucky girl. i think the walk from home to gym is shorter than the walk from wilson to few quad. my walk from home to school is shorter than walk from the WEL to soc psych. i recently joined yoga/pilates classes and altho it's nothing like the ashtanga i miss and my body craves, it's decent. the instructors are ridiculously adorable and perky and upbeat. and altho yoga doesn't make me sweat like i'm used to, they do a lot of "korean" workouts like upper arms, abs, and thighs. which is good for me bc those are the first places i gain weight.

i've chatted with one of the trainer guys at my gym, too (he needed english help for these weguks but that's another story) and they're all really nice, too. they are super friendly to me and always helpful. i'm thinking of possibly signing up for a few training sessions to learn how to diversify my workout cuz i've been getting bored of jus running and stretching. (the weight machines LOOK mostly the same but also kindof different and i dont know how many KGs are equal to the LBS i'm used to).

my host family is great just like always. altho they have started to get on my nerves sometimes. i think this is just normal living with a family type feeling. they don't DO things on purpose to annoy me, i jsut get annoyed sometimes by their habits or stuff like that. but i'm sure that means they feel the same way about me too so that means we both need to be better around each other. =)

lydia came to visit on thursday and we saw EVERYONE (minus maia) and that was fun. then yesterday was an all day english native speaker teacher province trip. spent the day with the other ETAs and EPIK folks. we made dduk and dyed handkerchiefs (cultural experiences) and then separated into secondary and elementary to watch demo classes. for me, it was jus OK considering they did a 5th grade class and i teach 1st and 2nd which is so differnet you can't even understand. haha. also, i am fo sho the only one doing younger than 3rd grade so it wasn't helpful really to talk to the others or whatever.

altho i DID feel lucky that i speak BOTH english and korean decently enough that i always knew what was going on. since many ppl were there with their coteachers there were all korean times and all english times and almost always someone was out of the loop. but i was happy i understood both langauges. and my coteacher realized how lucky SHE is that she has me. the whole day she kept saying "i'm so happy we got you and you speak korean. i can't belive what it'd be like if i had to talk in english all the time. it would be so 닾닾해 and it would take so long to explain even one thing" and she realized how competent and culturally understanding i am. haha. so that was nice.

the snow up near jaecheon was PERRRRFECT for snowballs so clearly that happened quite a few times!! oh!! but i fell TWICE!!! i slipped on the way out of my teacher's car in the morning bc there was black ice on the parking lot and then i fell on my way out of the bus bc the steps were super slippery. my back is ok but i broke a nail pretty badly and have a bruise on one of my forearms from using it to brace my fall on one of the steps i think.

anyway, jess lee is coming today!!! whoopeeee!!! so im gonna read my book, write a letter to lil cricket, and clean my room. get psyched for like 2 entry a day days starting next week. hopefully. i've been so busy lately (but in a totally good way) it's been harder to update.

p.s. my thanksgiving turkey lesson went well!! and so did santa claus emotions. (pictures to come!)
on another positive note: english camp is over. so HOPEFULLY this means i get to leave school at 1:30ish for the next few weeks!!! (i'm getting soooo excited about LIFE!!!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

inside the box

i'm not sure if it's just because my students are so young (so there's a cognitive developmental explanation) or if it's because my students are korean (so there's a cultural explanation) but they seem to have this overwhelming epistemological framework that mandates: there is ONLY ONE RIGHT WAY to do anything.

i have noticed this in my past few weeks here. it takes a LONG time to convince them otherwise. For example, in writing the letter "O". i went clockwise. they said the korean 이응 (ㅇ) goes counterclockwise. i said it didn't matter. and they didn't know what to do. as long as it looks like an O in the end, i really don't think it DOES matter?

they are ALWAYS confused by my "7"s. which i cross. i forget where or why or when i picked this up, but i cross my 7s. and altho sometimes i've stopped doing it here when i'm writing it big on the board for something (it's just easier) it looks weird and naked to me (not all 7s, just the ones that i write). the kids think it's a 9, or a weird ㅋ (키엌). or something else.

today there was a tussle over the correct way to write a "K". with the 2 slanty lines meeting at ONE point on the vertical one, OR with the bottom one coming off the top one. i said they're both correct and the kids were puzzled.

even when i was teaching "q" the worksheet had a little thing on the tail that comes up to the right at a 45 degree angle. and the teachers wited it out before photocopying it so the kids wouldn't learn the "wrong" q for their english hakwons.

i dont understand WHY things are so standardized. i HAVE noticed before, the PECULIAR similarity between ALL koreans handwriting. both their korean, english, and numbers. my mom, other ajummas, my korean friends' parents' handwriting: they all look EXACTLY the same. amazing what this rote memorization writing lines educational system will do to you.

i stylize my writing bc it's fun and im lazy so it's easier to round my 기역 and 미음s and im vain so i like to feel different. i was quickly told here that my korean handwriting is "wrong" and i should go buy some handwriting workbooks bc it looked sily for my "adult ideas" to be scribbled in 한글 that was ashamed to be 한글.

handwriting is just one place i've noticed. probably the most prominent bc its so easy to see the conformity in practice. but i've come across it in a lot of other places, too. and sometimes it's amusing. sometimes it's frustrating, and sometimes it's just an interesting observation. but ALWAYS it's odd and noteworthy to me. esp. when i grew up so much more blase and in a "do what you want how you want as long as it doesn't harm anyone else" environment (home AND school).

how different would i be had i grown up here?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

monday, monday (vent then reconcile)

it's shaping up to be those mondays that makes everyone hate mondays based on reputation only.


FIRST of all, i get to school, of COURSE no lesson plan from the slacker 2nd grade teachers. they're all NICE, but none of them PARTICULARLY REALLY cares for english. one teacher does. but she can't make the lesson plans ALL the time. plus she treats me like a parrot (actually i think she thinks she's doing me a favor by letting me "rest" for most of the class but i just get bored and feel useless).

NEXT, i have messaged ALL of the 2nd grade teachers, of COURSE still no lesson plan or response. ok wahtever, i know they'll apologize tomorrow. and i'll smile and say OK. but whatever.

NEXT, THIS FRIDAY, i will kill someone. probably. there is this "mandatory" english teachers program in jaecheon for all us chungbuk english teachers. HOWEVER, maia's teacher ASKED her if she wanted to go, and she said NO and so she doesn't have to. I DONT EVEN WORK ON FRIDAYS.

so ok. apparently it IS mandatory. and NO we cannot ask for compensation bc apparently the board of ed thinks it's doing us a FAVOR. talk about retarded. what kind of favor starts my weekend off on a bad note, takes 15+ hours of my time, is a 5-6 hour roundtrip commute away, and is korean ppl teaching me english? I DONT KNOW BUT IT SURE SOUNDS LIKE THIS FRIDAY. hmmmph.

anyway, there were more things, like how every time i ask my teachers to talk to the janitortype staff to fix my desks and chairs they don't, or say we'll jus fix them ourselves, and yet the mismatched chairsa nd desks are STILL distrating EVERY class i teach. teachers here are retarded sometimes. KOREANS are retarded sometimes. it begs the question, WHY?

buuuuuuuuuuuuuut, as my mom so wisely pointed out, asking "why" ppl act a certain way is jus maddening and itself begs no solution. so, i took a few breaths after freaking out and being pissed for 15 minutes and realized, i can't always ask WHY and then brood cuz tehre is no answer, and even if tehre is, it's not going to help me. sometimes you can only accept things and move on.

also, "fair" is not how the world always operates. and as much as i hate to admit it. that admission's gotten me a long way in terms of sanity and coping. also, i've been warming up to the idea, ok NOT warming up exactly, but slowly acknowledging and pondering that it is POSSIBLE that the world does not ALWAYS EXACTLY QUITE revolve around me, what i want, and what i think is right/fair.

email from wint: "according to one of those earlier psychologists, i think ppl specifically kids are supposed to grow outta that stage where they think the world revolves around them when they're like 8 lol. you apparently are very held back in that phase my dear"

well, looks like i'm making SOME progress, however late it may be. anyways, i've made peace with this friday. and my 2nd grade teacher sent me the lesson plan 5 minutes ago (after a day of class) with her most sincere apologies. and i dont hold it against her. she's a mom w/kids and the head teacher of her grade, and has her 36 kids all day long. i have nothing to complain about.

i have much less on my plate than anyone else i know in korea (even my hostsibs). and eventually "living abroad in a foreign culture alone" stops being an excuse for everything. so, yup. here's my positive outlook kicking in. (it's been in gear for a bit, but the newness of it is hard to shake off ...). i'm a work in progress. =)

lost in translation. again.

FINALLY figured out what this is about: pre-tday entry where i ask "what do americans eat for thanksgiving" and students answer "rice cakes!"

apparently, in KOREA, at Christian (non-Catholic) churches, they celebrate American Thanksgiving by giving out free 떡 rice cake at church. (something about puritans being some type of christian and escaping english protestants). altho why the korean PROTESTANTS (mostly) celebrate this holiday i'm not sure. perhaps some sort of ritualistic YES WE DROVE THEM OUT OF OUR COUNTRY, THOSE DIFFERENT FREAKS. or something of that nature.

(weird mood)

today is a good day.

it started out good (well mostly) when dennis woke me up at 7:30AM for a family breakfast. where 3 of us got rice and 김치찌개 and 2 of us (me and dennis) got scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. woohoo! then i moped around for a few hours trying to wake up (i was somewhat zombielike, body moving around but not really awake in the brain area). then i showered (that helped a little) and we went out for some deeeeeelicious lunch of chicken and jook and samgyetangesque stuff. then i got dropped off at home so i could collect my things and meet jamal at angel-in-us. it was very productive! i wrote 4 letters!!!

and also discovered a new favorite drink. i'm gonna start going to the gym every day jus so i can drink one of these a week. it's a 밤라떼. i jus discovered on google that "angel-in-us coffee" is actually java city under a different name in korea. nice. too bad this still means no 밤라떼 in america. also discoverd that if you google "angel in us coffee korea" my blog is the 3rd hit for a prior entry on their green tea lattes. interesting. they are my favorite korean cafe chain bcaaaaaaaaaaaause their drinks are the sweetest. they are not as loud as other coffee shops. and they don't let ppl smoke inside. so yayyy for them.

anyways, afterwards. i went to visit subway store unni. she is seriously such an amazing person. i am so glad to have met her here in korea. i foresee lots of visiting her and learning from her. she is seriously so nice (and not in that creepy i'm gonna make you teach me english way). she sincerely is always so happy to see me (even more so when i do NOT buy stuff) and is always asking after my health and how tired i've been and whether life in korea is beating me up. she always gives the best most uplifting advice and stuff. and is always worrying that i am "alone" in korea. and how hard it must be away from my family.

today she made me feel better about having trouble with making friends here. basically, i was freaking out that i had a personality/character problem bc i am not very successful (nor trying) to make friends here and she was like omg no you can't think that. it's not your personality. there are just not very many ppl here whose personalities match (are compatible) with yours. wherever ppl go in the world, there are ppl who fit and don't fit. and she was saying how there are few actually bad and good ppl (dichotomy) but rather there are ppl who we are either compatible with or not to some degree or another. which got met thinking, and in agreeance about the truthiness of her statements. and made me feel loads better. there are THOUSANDS (ok maybe jus LOTS) of reasons why i am not compatible with the ppl here in cheongju, language being just the first. and that's not my fault. so yes, she made me feel much better. and that was only ONE of her uplifting things.

then i hurried home bc imo was making 갈비찜 for me. she looked up recipes ALL day yesterday online and then tried a practice at lunch yesterday. today was pretty good. nothing like Mommy's, which is the ultimate best i have ever had anywhere, but it was definitely satisfactory. also, she has never made galbi before at home. and never thinks she would have if not for me. she is really really nice. last week somehow it came up that i ate galbi every night for a month straight before coming to korea bc my parents knew i would find it hard to come by in korea bc it's expensive and "beef" from china is really cardboard. so in the past week, imo's made some sort of galbi or beef for me 3x. her kids are ecstatic cuz they've never eaten so much meat before. and i know it's expensive so i tried not to make a big deal so she wouldn't feel like she should always make it for me. but i think she knows that. she commented on how silently and efficiently i ate tonight. hehe. oh well. the meatlover in me will never die. =)

Friday, November 30, 2007

dear old duke

wednesday night i went to a duke korea alum end of the year dinner. it was interesting. it made me think. the dinner was at the ritz carlton and the food was amazing. but i'll talk about that later. other than me and soojin (both 07 trinity girls) the alum were all old men. they were mostly fuqua alum, LLMs from duke law, and a few MDs. there were also a few who had gone as visiting scholars (does this mean they were students? or lecturers?). there were almost NO women. the few women who were there were the wives of duke alum men, and half the wives were also duke affiliated. there were maybe 2 couples, one was both fuqua and the other was both LLM, where both the man and wife were dukies. i wonder if they met there, or if they were both accepted bc they were a package deal?

anyway, duke alum in korea are surprisingly a lot like those at home, it's an old boys' club. it makes me wonder also, are there less duke women grads in korea? or are they in a society that keeps women from attending bc they have to take care of the kids? but from the looks of the alum last night, these ppl are members of korea's elite society. they are all in the upper echelons of their respective corporations, or are doing really well in their own business/hospital, or are so well-off they're jus chilling doing philanthropy. so the point of that was, these WOMEN if they are graduating with duke mbas and llms, is that they definitely are in a class where hired help is a given. for more on why being a woman in korea SUCKS, refer to LJ's entry on korean womenlife.

i would NEVER EVER choose to be a woman living in korea. even though i am from america, ppl STILL try to fit me somewhat to the korean woman mold. i'm so happy that i am enough of an "outsider" that some ppl are nice and understand and don't ask me to do all the normal traditional woman roles of the house and whatnot. i enjoy my guest status in that respect. like at restaurants, i am never expected to pass out the chopsticks and spoons even though i am the youngest female bc they all know i was not brought up like that. which brings me to my next point: entitlement and prestige?

these ppl went to a diff duke than me. we definitely had differnet experiences. this i know, just from observing the international undergrads. our duke experiences may have overlapped in a few areas, but overall were vastly different. however, were our reasons for going the same? did we know that duke offered us very similar things? entitlement, belonging to the (academic and social?) elite, school name, better opportunity, bragging rights, etc. korea is crazy competitive and clearly studying in america was a leg up, but studying at a place like duke was a super duper double leg and arm up.

anyway, dinner was delish. i had scallops for the first time since coming to korea!!! winty!! i missed scallops soooo much!!! and DIP!!! i haven't had any kind of dip yet, and i miss it sooo much!!! you girls KNOW how much i love scallops and how much i love chips and dip, GOOD dip!!! oh well, i didnt even have time to TRY the dessert bc they moved on to entertainment and bonding games before i was ready. =( oh well.

on another note, a source at duke (ok, john) tells me that this year's team is the best in the whole country. i am SOOOO mad i'm not at duke to enjoy this firsthand, but SOOOO proud of our boys and hope to find a way to watch their games SOMEHOW from the motherland!

Thursday, November 29, 2007



i'm sorry. it's the most stressful thing ever. and altho there were parts i LOVED. mostly there were parts that were ok. and overall, it's one of those things where i'm like, hmm OK experience, glad i had it (ok, "glad" is a stretch) but NEVER AGAIN. PLEASE.

The kids, as a whole, were great. it's nice to know students from other grades. it makes the school a less lonely, and more friendly place. walking around the buildling or schoolgrounds and recognizing students taller than my knees is nice.

but also, i don't want to know any more. i'm pretty happy with the current group. first of all, the kids (as a group) are horrible at english. and i get 3 days with them. so 3 days of "fun" english with kids who can't speak my language. and the teachers haven't said anything yet, but i can see in their faces, are not pleased when i speak korean to the kids. but they are so freaking terrified when i speak english. and korean serves multiple purposes. 1. it breaks the ice, the kids are more comfortable. 2. my errors make them laugh and they feel more comfortable making english errors. 3. THEY UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO.

next, i get a new group every week and a new grade every 2 weeks. they are all such different levels (and soetimes HUGELY different levels WITHIN groups). and i never know what to expect. and the coteachers are NO help. i asked about the first couple groups "what level can i expect? what level should i plan for?" the response: oh a little above average. .... what is average??? they look at the roster and say, "oh a little above average". ... like that's supposed to mean something to me. so basically these aren't the really good kids who can afford the supergood hakwons, and they're not the braindead kids who sleep during english class. ok great.

next, they CLAIMED i'd only have to make 2 sets of lesson plans. one for 5-6 and one for 3-4. yea ok. i made one per grade, and usually a huuuuuuuge revision between each grade's 2 weeks, so, yea i've made NOT 4, but 8, that's right EIGHT brand new lesson plans, for english levels that i'm never sure of.

i HATE english camp. not the kids. not really. (a few i dislike, bc they are here and don't really care, but that's more the parents i dislike not the kids' fault).

PLEASE, GOD. NO MORE ENGLISH CAMP. SORRY, next year's students. BUT I JUST DON'T WANT TO. Nay, I JUST CAN'T. If they ask me, I will be all D.A.R.E.-esque and JUST SAY NO.

maybe i am really selfish and cynical. maybe i'm negative for thinking that these 3 days are so pointless and a waste of my time and definitely my energy. i could SLEEP and write novels and save the world instead of stress over lesson plans that no one understands anyway. maybe 3 days is not enough to improve students' english skills but just to whet their appetite for english. to get them more interested and liking english. well, whoop-dee-doo i can't say i really care. (i know, this is horrible - i'm a horrible english speaker and an even worse english TEACHER). but ... the amount of effort that IIIII have to put into this endeavor ... is not worth a FEW kids PERHAPS becoming a LITTLE TEENSY bit more interested in english than their overzealous parents are making them be. i KNOW i should be all like "stand and deliver" and BELIEVE in the positive impact i'm having, but i really doubt that cranky overworked me is ANY kind of inspirational. ESP if i am not wanting to be there. like i've said before, i'm pretty freaking transparent and horrible at faking. so these kids can TELL if i'm not enjoying myself. and it's REALLY hard for me to NOT enjoy being around kids ... so yea...

Q.E.D. I should not do any more English Camp.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

ameri카 (engrish!)

Class 1-1 Cloud family members (as told by students)
아빠 구룸
엄마 구룸
색기 구룸 (오잉???)
correction: 아기 구룸

student 1: 선생님, 운전해요? (teacher, do you drive?)
me: yes, in america
student 2: 뭐레? (what did she say?)
student 1: 응, 운전하신데, "어메리 카"라고 하셨어 (yes, she drives, she said Ameri Car.)

(2nd grade lesson on breakfast, lunch, dinner foods in america)
breakfast: cereal, toast, bacon and eggs, omelet, french toast, pancakes
lunch: bagel, sandwich, salad, hot dog, pizza
dinner: steak, spaghetti, roast beef, meatloaf, chicken
me: okay, so those are some of the foods we eat in america
student 1: what about rice? you don't eat rice?
me: mm, no not really, not at every meal
student 1: so just 고기 (meat) and 밀가루 (flour)?
me: yes
students (to each other): ohh, that's why they (americans) are so fat!!!

me: what is roast beef?
student: 고기 떵어리 (hunk o meat)

me: what are string beans?
student answers: 고추, 오이, 깨잎, 당근, 지렁이, 고슴도치 (pepper, cucumber, sesame leaf, carrot, worm, porcupine...)

teacher workshop today: post-food lesson
teacher a: miss christine, so you REALLY eat eggs and bacon for breakfast?
me: yes, sometimes
teacher b: they go together?
me: YES!!!
teacher c: and you eat omelets, too? eggs and cheese and ham?
me: YES!!! (mmmmm~)
teacher d: and you can NOT digest KOREAN food for breakfast?

teacher english workshop: listen and fill in the blanks of "wonderful tonight" by eric clapton
after filling in the blanks, listening to the song several times, and discussing the meaning line by line, my teachers came to this conclusion: first they thought it was a sweet love song, but then you REALIZE that clapton is very 답답해 (frustrating) because he only 마음 만있어 cares about the woman in his heart but doesn't show it in his actions or words. they decided he clearly doesn't show her his appreciation bc the woman keeps asking him "do i look all right?" and "do you feel alright?" and if she has to ask, then he's being very annoying by not telling her. then they say this part: "And the wonder of it all Is that you just don't realize how much I love you. " is NOT a wonder (mystery) at all because of COURSE the woman can't realize if the guy is not TELLING her and she has to wait and ask him point blank. they decided eric clapton is an idiot(바보). this somehow took me to explaining that he was somewhat drunk by the end of the night (his "aching head" and she took the keys) which led to me teaching "to have a hangover" and "to be hungover". it was a very interesting class.

tomorrow is the thanksgiving/turkey/thankful lesson with 1st graders that i planned from start to finish!!! can't wait!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

winter roadtrips (nostalgia)

me on alligator at mooee outdoor art exhibit

with welcome to dongmakgol totem poles, on set!

me and hostsibs on set of welcome to dongmakgol

inside welcome to dongmakgol set kitchen

this weekend i went on a trip to 강원도 with the hostfam. it was supergreat. i got to eat a lot and sleep a lot. basically that is mostly what i did. we did sightseeing too. but mostly the eating and sleeping made it fantastic. it did, however, remind me loads of winters at home, mostly though, of last winter.

it has occurred to me that this will be my first winter spent away from home. EVER. i've been abroad in the summer, and at school during most summers and some springs. but ALWAYS ALWAYS home for the holidays!!! not this year tho. so the first snow here was odd (a few days ago last week). considering that i spend all my winters at home. winter = when it snows and i get to sit inside my house and watch korean dramas all day and say "no" to meeting ppl bc i feel that lazy. (darn you ppl who ACTUALLY come and drag me out - jp i love you the most!)

so anyways, this winter road trip from the past weekend ... reminded me of my two main drivings last winter: to and from home (duke to home and back) and ski trip staying at the baiks' house. and of COURSE those two drives reminded me of: my sister, ashley, skiing, baik bros, bbfl, chow fun, cherry tomatoes, nrb, beirut, and more. it reminded me of the hectic few days after finals packing and making sure i said bye to everyone before heading home. the early morning wakeup and drive home, stopping off in md for ashley. mosley and my singing most of the way back from md to nj. haha. that was fun. then surprising my mom by showing up at church (which turned out to be like 5 min from mosley's house where i dropped him off). then picking up my sister at the train station! then going to see hannah in the nutcracker the very next morning!~ then it reminded me of ashley coming to visit, going skiing, that nice cold air smell, my sweet pink ski outfit, walking around in underarmor, deeeeeeelicious hot cocoa, etc etc etc.

anyway, i'm getting too nostalgic, this would be a good time to focus on the "present" and work on teacher workshop english class lesson.

p.s. i have a sty(e). i am probs going to die. wish me luck.

thanksgiving in korea

last year's spread (minus candied yams)

me, post-thanksgiving last year

so seeing the first snow here, and realizing ppl were going home for tday break and i was going to have to WORK, well, that was a little over the top. luckily, i am a super duper trooper and made a lil substitute thanksgiving on my own. in addition to thanksgiving lunch/dinner at the us ambassador's house the saturday before (which was good, and by all means i am so grateful ... but just not as delicious as thanksgiving at my house). and the pumpkin pie was not up to par. sorry, but i am pretty picky when it comes to thanksgiving food.

maia cutting up some more bread to satiate minsuk's stuffing love

me + "yams" (sweet potatoes)

the spread: stuffing, broccoli w/almonds, mushroom gravy, chicken&cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes

the boys: me: min picture! min: i'm eating

hostfam's "first" "thanksgiving"

nytimes article: gratitude journal i think it sounds viable, i might try doing this in altered form

*You should be grateful all the time, they say, and one of the best ways is in writing — by keeping a “gratitude journal.”
* keeping a list of things you’re thankful for can make you happier

Thursday, November 22, 2007

teacher forever (false), angel students (true)

i am thankful for all the amazing ppl i have met in korea. who help me, take care of me, make me smile, make me laugh, and remind me of the beauty of life. (separate thankful entry)

if all my classes were like my 1-4, i would be a teacher all day everyday, no problem. those angels just make my life here wonderful. they are among my highlights of the week. they answer my questions in unison, when we do "listen and repeat" they are so loud and enthusiastic they knock my socks off. they monitor each other's discipline so i never have to. they chastise each other for not trying their best. apparently many of the kids in that class are firstborns. hmm, interesting. they are usually the only class who finishes every single part of the planned lesson without running out of time or skipping any activities. they are so great.

and remember my little angel? the one in the beginning of the semester who told me "just couldn't do english"? well, he's a very 식식한 boy now. i picked his name on a popsicle stick during "last week's review" time and i was worried, but DEF had no need to be. he stood up and said "MONKEY" super clearly and loudly and sat down! and i had been worried bc last week he FINALLY raised his hand and so of course i called on him, but he got it wrong so i thought he'd be all sad and discouraged this week but he WASNT!!! both me AND his homeroom teacher were pleasantly surprised with his performance. he's been raising his hand a lot more, and apparently he's picked up his spirits in general lately. 1-4 coteach and i are very pleased about this.

i LOVE my 1st grade teachers. like REALLY REALLY love them. i sometimes feel guilty that i like them more than my 2nd grade teachers, but they are so much more thoughtful and caring about me and my classes. mostly bc the 1-1 teacher is a great example so the others follow, but they are a great group. they're a lot of fun, they really look to help me, and care a lot about the students, too. that much is evident.

today at 1st grade workshop, the teachers had ordered chicken for the meeting. it was soooo delish!!! i knew i was having thanksgiving later but i'm pretty sure i ate half a chicken. i think my body jus craves protein/meat and when it's near my protein radar goes up and i just inhale it all to stock up for the next drought of protein.

anyway, today was last day of 4th grade english camp. this was prob one of my fav groups so far. they were so funny and outgoing. i got a twin. he walked in the first day and i said "didn't you already come last week?" in a kindof annoyed voice bc he was a handful ... but he said it was his twin brother. this one was GREAT. he was so helpful and kind to his english-retarded partner and always a sweetheart. i keep getting siblings of kids who were in my earliest advanced classes ... i like to think it's a personal compliment that the other sibling couldn't stop saying good things about me so their mom signed up their bro/sis for my camps!!! haha ... probs the family is jus ubermotivated in general and has nothing to do with me ... but i like to think of it my way. ^^

i had one kid who "translated" (if you can call it that) as he pleased. i would say "read with your partner" and he would announce in korean "hand in your nametag" or i would say "now we will play a game" and he would say "open the book to page 20". like REALLY random stuff. and he DEF thought he knew what he was doing. it was sooo funny. his nickname/label was "마음데로 회석 boy".

today i sat in on 1-1 korean language class. they had to learn compliments and complimenting and when to do it and how to do it properly. it was a good lesson. also, 1-1 is one of my fav teachers and (in my opinion) one of the best teachers so it was good to see her in action (not in english class-where she's good, but clearly not in her element). she had some good strategies for classroom management and flow and stuff. one of the most adorable boys is in her class. he ALWAYS answers my questions by standing up and pushing in his chair (which actually a lot of the students do) and saying "저는 _______이라고 생각합니다" in this cadence that apparently is normal in korean classrooms. so they did a compliment chain where A compliments B who then compliments C and so on and so forth. he was the first person to be complimented and he chose one of the WORST behaved students in the class (who i KNOW is not his friend). he complimented him by saying he has great english skills (true) and he is very good at drawing (also true) and i was surprised at the largesse of his heart to pick someone who the teacher is always calling out as misbehaved and who he wasn't friends with.

i hearts my students. they are usually pretty freaking amazing. they surprise me with how much they know. they surprise me with how kind they are. they are so patient sometimes.

i'm a rambler. but last story i promise. there is this boy w/some kindof mental/learning/behavioral/cognitive disorder in my 2-2 class. he gets frustrated super easily and loses control and can't calm down for the rest of class. he has trouble concentrating or participating. his desk partner (purposely by homeroom teacher)is the SWEETEST most patient brighteyed girl in korea. she always helps him out and explains things to him. when we play card games she helps him word by word and praises him to no end when he follows her leading and always gives him advantages at her own loss. she whispers him the correct answer when i pull his popsicle stick. she is the only one who can calm him down ever. she is so helpful and so wonderful and kind it amazes me. i REALLY HIGHLY doubt that i could have that kind of patience with ANYONE EVER. and to see her at work with him, it really brings tears to my eyes every time bc it's so beautiful. i worry about what'll happen if they get separated next schoolyear or what'll happen when they're a little older and she tires of it (like in korean dramas!) and realizes he's only slowing her down. i'll jus focus on the good/positive right now. and allow myself to be inspired by my students every week.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"king sorry" (adorable)

here come a bunch of adorable student stories. i'll update on my life and thoughts separately.

more STUV fun:
T is for Tea

me: what is tea in korean?
student answers: 우유, 물, 꽃, 삼뿌리, 컾, 멕주: milk, water, flower, ginseng root, cup, beer

U is for Ugly

me: what is ugly in korean?
student answers: 쭈굴쭈굴 아줌마, 찐그리다: wrinkly old woman, squinting

after the correct answer:
me: what is the OPPOSITE of ugly?
student answers: angry, witch, tired, 아저씨 (ajussi)

me: What is "teacher"?
student: (stands up, points to me) YOU!!!

What words start with U? (i get the standard: umbrella, UFO, up)
genius CNN girl?: UNESCO

1st grade singing "Old MacDonald"
they are all very very VERY good at singing "E-I-E-I-O". i did get a lot of "And on his farm he had some 떡" ... (to my knowledge Old MacDonald had some poultry that goes "quackquack" on his farm, the song says nothing about rice cakes). they are always asking each other why i am doubling up in laughter.

coteach: What day was yesterday?
girl: elephant

on sunday, i had a sad incident downtown. i was walking and i see a familiar looking boy walking towards me. i recognize him as one of my students so i tap him on the shoulder as he passes and say "안녕!" (it slipped, i should've said "hello"). his dad(?) asked him who i was, and the boy shrugged and said (in korean) "i don't know i've never seen her before". by that point we had both walked further away in our opposite directions and the crowd kindof filled in and i didn't get to say "i am his english teacher NOT a creepy pedophile woman." so today in class: (punchline is the end)

me: i saw you on sunday (acting this out very well w/motions)
student understands, but looks bewildered
coteacher: (to student) did you see miss christine?
student: no
coteacher: (to me) where did you see him?
me: downtown (to student-reenact my tapping him on the shoulder, "안녕")
coteacher: (to student) did you go downtown on sunday?
student: yes
coteacher: did you see miss christine?
student: no
me: (to teacher) i was wearing glasses
coteacher: (to student) you didn't recognize miss christine bc she was wearing glasses?
student: (dawning look of realization) OOOHHHHHHHHHHH~~ she looks REALLY similar to that woman in the glasses!!!
me: THAT WAS ME!!! i'm so sad (fake crying hands on eyes)
coteacher: 너무 했다! (it's too severe(?) for you to not recognize her!) apologize, silly~
student: (looks so embarassed and is still staring at my face) I'M SORRY I'M SORRY
me and coteacher laugh
me: it's ok
student: no no, miss christine, KING SORRY KING SORRY
(in korean, it is completely normal to stick 왕(literally king) in front of many things the way americans use "very" - it is alternately used as best, huge, big, etc.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

smarter women = no dates

op-ed from nytimes Should Hillary Pretend to Be a Flight Attendant?

"Men did put significantly more weight on their assessment of a partner’s beauty, when choosing, than women did. We also found that women got more dates when they won high marks for looks.”

"It isn’t exactly that smarts were a complete turnoff for men: They preferred women whom they rated as smarter — but only up to a point ... It turns out that men avoided women whom they perceived to be smarter than themselves. The same held true for measures of career ambition — a woman could be ambitious, just not more ambitious than the man"

"men — and female secretaries — are not considered less competent if they dress sexy at work, but female executives are."

interesting points. and all true. in my experience. all but the most confident and/or comfortable (with who they are) of men have been turned off when they realize i'm smarter and more ambitious than them.

to be honest, high school is where i learned to be dumb. bc thats how you got boys to like you and laugh at you and pay attention to you. the more bimbolike you were the more attention you got and the more ppl try to take care of you. they tease you but mostly in that friendly i wanna get to kno you better flirty way.

let me correct myself, i didn't "learn to be dumb" or to fake being dumb. i hate fakers. rather: in high school, i learned to use a "skill"/trait i already had to my advantage. i'm not gonna lie, it wasn't that much of a stretch - mostly bc i realized in middle school that i tend to be booksmart and lack most sense and logic in the streetsmarts way. as such, i naturally tend to say kinda airheady things bc i talk before thinking through the implications of all that i'm saying and so a lot of what i say makes NO sense.

letting this side of me go, letting my mouth run all its thoughts before i'm done forming them is still the easiest way for me to make friends. its a long time before i can talk serioiusly or be serious around ppl; esp guys. even girls are more likely to approach me when i play the dumb card. it puts them at ease. they are more comfortable and less intimidated. i dont know why this is true. i dont even take myself to be that smart. this is maybe why most of the ppl close to me are well rounded/confident/comfortable/super nice and/or at the very least pretty happy w/themselves types of individuals.

i have noticed tho, that my closest guy friends (gal pals take a different route), and even the ones who i'm not that close to but know me so well, are all the ones who have called me out on this. all 3 of the main "loves" of my life (i put it in quotes bc i don't know what to make of "love" right now-am i even allowed to have 3 is that too many?) ok i'll change it: all 3 of the main interests in my life have completely called me out on "why do you have several sides to your personality? why do you front differently around different ppl?" and it's never that i mean to.

i have a fragile self and so i think it comes out naturally to be the easy to get to know non-threatening mouthrunning airhead. there is much less avoidance/rejection/shunning this way. no one likes a smartypants knowitall. not really. they're not so much fun. this is such a tangent from my main point. but mostly, it's true that pretty not as smart girls are more well liked IN GENERAL. i guess this was just my anecdotal evidence to back up Dowd's point. (she writes lots of pretty good/interesting gender issue articles).

another hillary-related op-ed: Hillary Fries the Waffle

i like the columnist's tone and style in this. it makes a good point.

Monday, November 19, 2007

mean teacher (grr)

today was a first for "mean teacher" christine. but it seems about right. one of the etas i was talking to last week yelled at her students for the first time. so maybe it's just a time thing until the students finally waer you down.

one of my teachers is on a business trip (출장). i actually am suspicious of that phrase bc ppl are ALWAYS on 출장s and i don't have nay idea where teachers need to go off to that often. but anyway, she messaged me yesterday to ask if i could handle her class alone this afternoon. normally they are pretty well-behaved (2nd place in star stickers) so i agreed. they arrive and all is well. class starts and all is pretty well. there is a grouping of 4 boys (i don't know why she hasn't separated them yet) who ALWAYS fool around and poke at each other and generally just don't do English class. Today they were out of hand, the girls were out of hand, in general everyone was talking and not paying attention and the little rascals had no 눈치 to tell i was getting in a worse and worse mood. i was scary (i think) - actually i probably wasn't bc they werne't really getting any better... and anyway i wasn't smiling the whole time and any time i faced the board away from them i was muttering under my breath "WHAT THE HECK!?!?!?"

it doesn't help that i'm always the "teacher" and the coteacher is always walking around disciplining during my classes. so i have no idea how to discipline or get them to stop talking or pay attention and their english is so limited that w/o the coteacher there to help (at least THEY usually have 눈치) it was ridiculous. i don' blame JUST the kids - i know i failed as a teacher today bc i have no classroom management skills ... and that's why i'm debating 1 or 2 stars. 2 stars bc they acted just average for a class w/o a homeroom teacher.

when class ended, i let them out one at a time by calling on them. the ones who were sitting down with all their materials in a pile on their desk were allowed to go. the little fools (oh i will regret this later) couldn't figure out (some of them until the very end still had no idea) that i was only calling on ppl sitting still at their desk not talking and kept jumping out of their seats and getting in line. i was sooo confused at how oblivious some kids are ... omg. anyway. that's my guilt for the day. i am so not in the mood right now for teacher wkshop and english camp. followed by some errands that i'm also not in the mood for but totally have to do.

also, ppl are being annoying again. jeeperz. it's all a black hole today. haha. imo said she's make one of my favorites for dinner tonight tho since i (re)decided last night that i'm probably dying. and she knows that there are too many annoying stupid ppl in the world. i don't care how i'm coming off right now. i'm an elitist and i know i'm in the smarter 50%ile on earth.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

STUV engrish. charades. weekend.

STUV engrish:
What words start with S?
socket (WUUUUUUT???)

What words start with T?
tell me, tell me, t-t-t-t-tell me
what's something you can eat that starts with T?
(correct answer: tomato)

What words start with U?
universe (impressive...)
유도 (judo)

What words start with V?Volume (impressive)
바가지 (no)
very good

What do you put IN a vase?
김치!!! (kimchi)
american culturally correct answer: flowers

sometimes i am a glorified IT assistant. in thursday's "open class" i said "what's this" 4x total and "bye" at the end of class. i was also instructed to give the directions to a puzzle game that the students had previously learned.

i dont understnad why so much of korean culture revolves around charades, ceremony, and false gestures. it sometimes feels so fake i could puke. but the PEOPLE i work with aren't fake. if anything i think they're genuninely nice. me, on the other hand, i'm pretty fake i think. i can trash talk with the best of them and then smile to your face. sometimes. nevermind, im actually pretty transparent. and a horrible liar. but anyway, you know what i mean. the people arent fake but here are all these hoops we jump through and i dont know why. maybe it helps the society work better? i dont know. but it annoys me so much. like it's so OBVIOUS the class has practiced and practied and pre-learned today's lesson mateiral. in america our "open classes" were never like this (at least where i grew up in my public schools). the teacher would say the principal or VP was coming in for a few minutes. and they would come in and sit in the back and take notes. we would behave mildly better than usual and that was that. none of this rehearsing for 2 weeks in advance. packing the lesson full of "fun" activities we normally don't do all at once. its just so FAKE. orchestrated. i feel like so much of korean life is scripted and orhestrated. yes thats the exact word i was thinking of. orchestrated.

i'm a horrible cultural ambassador. what kind of ETA am i? i mean what would it prove if i pointed this out and said i was unhappy and said it was a cRAPPY open class cuz it doesnt show what real class is like at all? like who would that help? would i feel better for outing my superbly caring and warm coteachers and making them painfully aware that yes they normally defer to me in the classroom bc they suck at english? no. but still this irks me so much. i mean they're here for the rest of their careers/lives so they need the good feedback. im outta here in a few more months so i should jus bite the bullet and let them use me as a prize show pony. right? but it still totally rubs the wrong way against something inside of me. something like pride? i dont know. but ugh. it disgusts me. and yet i have to keep reminding myself that THIS is the noble road. THIS is the one of quiet deference and following what is BETTER for everyone in this situation rather than what i think is RIGHT. i guess this is growing up.

thursday: open class followed by 회식 with 1st grade teachers at 마중 (yummy hanshik restaurant i ate at over the summer-mommy we went here with 임신부님). yummy 산사춘 w/teachers = fun.

friday: wake up late go to school to meet teachers to go on faculty/staff/employee hiking trip. after hiking eat duck and kimchi. must give formal 검배 in the namsung traditional style. beer with principal = entertaining. then nails and cake/tea with maia =) much needed

saturday: wake up. meet maia at bus terminal to go to seoul for thanksgiving lunch at us ambassador's house. the house is gorgeous. i think that is what my dad is doing to our house right now. .... haha so glad i'm missing most of the construction. insadong, 이대, and kangnam/apgu with the girls for joan unni's early bday. ice cream with other ETAs. last bus to cheongju (gahhhh almost missed it!~ thanks to maia's antics for making the bus driver wait while i RAN like the wind)

sunday: sooo relaxing. mostly. woke up to hostbrother screaming on the other side of the door "BANG THE PIANO!!! BANG THE PIANO!!!" (there is a piano IN my room - and more on me and hostbro's relationship later) .... get out of bed and chase him around the house yelling "DENNIS I'M GONNA KILL YOU!!!" ... then eat spagetti for lunch and head out to visit subway unni. chill with her for 5+ hours. come home and 딩굴딩굴 until bedtime. =)
it was a good weekend.