Friday, September 28, 2007

it's gonna be a beautiful day!

maybe it's just because i received a sweet package from home, maybe i'm still riding my high from last night's dancing but enjoying it so much i didn't notice my million blisters until just now (when was the last time THAT happened?), maybe it's just the beautiful weather, maybe it's my successful turning away of the evangelical christian woman outside my apartment (i lied and told her i couldn't read korean), but i have a refreshingly positive outlook for the rest of this year.

i'm not going to be TOO optimistic, i'm gonna be cautious with this and say that it might be a fleeting feeling or something. but for now i will enjoy my renewed positive energy. i think i've become too cynical (at least outwardly). i also feel like there has been a lot of discord between what i say and what i feel/think. i like to think (it sometimes fools me, i don't know if it fools others) i'm a lot steelier than i am. i like to think i've wisened up and become cynical and cautious. but the TRUTH of the matter is, i'm still as naive as ever, trust waaaaay too much as ever, believe in only the good things (in ppl and in life) as much as ever, and never see the negatives coming. i think this may be why i take setbacks/failures/disappointments so hard. not only am i not used to them, but i'm also never expecting them. when you only expect the best, for everything to always work out and fall into place, any clouds on the horizon seem rather like hailstorms from hell.

i randomly realize this throughout life, but i need to be more conscious and aware of it. i've been VERY lucky and led a charmed life. for this i am, as always, grateful. and yet i also have to keep in mind that life MOST LIKELY will not always be like this. i feel like i'm always feeling this way after i get out of my doom and gloom stage(c).

it's partially my fault for always expecting so much. i really don't know how to curb that. i always TRY and at least SAY and tell myself that i've lowered my expectations, and sometimes i trick myself into BELIEVING it, but in the end i always realize that i secretly had higher hopes and am somehow so disappointed, even when i promised myself i wouldn't be.

i rather love the fact that i really chose to come here against my dad's wishes. i love that the hard times are my own fault. i love that i have no one else to blame but myself for any trouble i have to deal with. i was talking with a friend last night, and i realized this may have been one of the first things i've really done in life that i really got to CHOOSE. i had a lot of choices laid out for me in the months before graduation, all equally enticing and beneficial and amazing, and i CHOSE this one. i CHOSE what i wanted for the next few years. (i think?) lol. so i'm happy with that. it would be unbearable otherwise.

there are definitely times i doubt this choice. i doubt myself often (altho not out loud hehe). sometimes i think i should've taken the PAID summer internship and then gone to law school with that experience under my belt. i'm not gonna lie, i'm going into law school next year COMPLETELY green to the field. i somehow always knew i'd end up there and so never really dabbled with law pre-law school. this might put me at a disadvantage relative to some other students. but i know i like wearing suits and feeling important - so those are good i guess. haha. no, i'm actually happy that i'll be going into it fresh and losing all my idealism at once instead of going into something i'm already cynical about. hehe. i'll post my why i want to be an M&A lawyer spiel sometime, it's so ideal it'll make all you readers laugh.

anyway, this rambling has gone on long enough. i need to shower and eat (french toast!) and i have a date with 이모 later. oh yes, for anyone interested: my school on ARIRANG TV Saturday 10/6 4PM. i think my part is minimal, but whatever-it's an international broadcast, which is more than i can say for Duke bball. haha. and you DEF can't mistake me for a little boy this time.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

i am a huge nerd

Today i realized how much i miss my school library. that is correct, I MISS DUKE'S LIBRARIES. I miss all the ones I've been in: Law school, business school, div school, med school, lilly, perkins, bostock, and biddle. there are a few more - i don't think i've been and studied in them though. of course i miss perkins and bostock the most. ok, and lilly a little bit a lot, too.

i miss the gothic reading room in perkins and how productive i always was in that chilly space. i miss the hidden tucked away tower rooms of bostock where i broke night writing and writing and writing. i miss von der heyden-that beautiful odd glass and steel beauty of a study space/cafe. i miss sitting there all day intermittently with ashley. i miss the lounge/lobby/study area in the new perkins. i miss jus sitting in a cushy chair with my laptop, notes, and tea all day. i miss bostock carpenter reading room. i miss pushing the two comfy chairs together and staying there reading/napping/hilighting all day. i miss the late afternoon sunlight slanting in through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows when i sat there after korean class doing my korean hw for the next week. i miss the first floor of bostock's huge tables where i would just set up camp for the day and be able to see all the foot traffic coming through.

i realized this all today when i joined the fb group: I'd Marry the Beast if I Could Have a Library Like That...
This is true, i think one of the most awe-inspiring movie moments EVER for me was when the Beast shows Belle his library in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I would LOVE to have a library collection like that.

i've been planning a library since sophomore/junior year of college. altho my partner library founder/benefactor is prob out of the picture now i'm still dead set on having a sizable library/collection in my eventual home. there WILL be leather sofas and a rolling/sliding ladder for the shelves. i can't wait!!! eeek!!! i'm so excited by this thought!!!

hmmmm mmmm mMMMMMmmmMMmmm the smell of new books excites me! being in bookstores and running my hands over bookspines excites me. =) sooooo much. just THINKING about it makes me so happy!!!

this brings up a thought i had over chuseok break, i brought some books to jindo to read bc i knew they'd come in handy. i then realized:

i could READ AND READ AND READ for every second for every moment for the rest of my life, and i would STILL NEVER even make a dent in the amount of reading in the world. i would NEVER EVER be able to read EVERYTHING, to learn, devour, consume, to KNOW everything there is to know. and that thought truly frightened me. that i could die leaving so much left unlearnt, untouched. the wealth of information out there that i wont ever even get to know exists makes me sad. but at the same time i'm so happy that reading's been such a big part of my life to this point.

wow, this was a nerdy post. i will try to go do something super cool to write about to balance this out. hehe

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ummmmm totally FREAKING OUT

ok, so today is the day arirang tv (korea's english education channel) is filming my class. so it's a good thing i got here 2 hours early bc ummmm MY FREAKING OVERHEAD PROJECTOR IS MISSING!!!! HALF my class is based on my overhead projector working seamlessly with my powerpoint presentations. i am frantically calling my english head teacher and cool messenger-ing with the tech guy who first asks if i LOCKED my classroom before i left? OF COURSE I LOCKED MY CLASSROOM BEFORE I LEFT. THEN he tells me that 5-3 told him that they took it for cleaning. so i start messengering wiht 5-3 and they keep teling me i'll get it back TOMORROW by 4th period. OH WELL THAT HELPS YOU STUPID KOREAN COUNTRY. all the while i'm getting more and more anxious bc the CLOCK IS TICKING. at least i just found out i dont have to film until 11:50. anyway, OMG so my teacher is calling. plus the 6th grade "reporters" just got here. I HATE KOREA SOMETIMES. ok, so anyway iw as frantically MESSENGERING ppl IN MY BROKEN KOREAN WHICH IS ONLY GETTING WORSE BECAUSE IM TRYING TO TYPE FAST BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE SEEMS TO CARE THAT I FEEL SOMETHING URGENT!!!!. so 5-3 just keeps saying tha oh we talked to the head english teacher and she said its ok so there's nothing we can do about it. and then my english teaher is not reasonding to any of my messages. and FINALLY she just messaged me back from the teachers office and then im all freaking out and trying to use my polite korean to get across my urgent pissed off annoyed message. and she just called to tell me, cant i just use the projector in the english zone and not inthe classroom? and im trying to explain to her how the classroom is what keeps the children focused, and how they ahve enough trouble trying to apy attn from their desks without the added distraction that is the english zone with al the dolls and props and them just sitting on the floor poking at each other. and FINALLY she explains to me, oh we're not filming ur whole 40 minutes class, just 10-15 minutes in the english zone. i thought you were only using the english zone. i thought i told you. NO YOU DID NOT TELL ME NO YOU DID NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT TELL ME. i was frekaing out this whole time about having to do my whole 40 minute class w/o a projection screen and setting up the classroom and getting everything REady and NOW you tell me that its only 10-15 minutes and only my english zone activity. and all the wind rushes out of me. im done. spent. and i still have an hour to go before my awesome rendering of pretending to love my school (which i normally do, just not right now) and acting otu this stupid skit with the korean students (ok i know i'll feel horrible about writing that later) but right now i dont care. i was hoping there would be less of this "misunderstanding" "miscommunication" junk bc i speak a little korean, but i guess this is what all the past ETAs were talking about when they complained about last minute changes and whatnot. blah. im so sorry to the others who dont speak any korean. i cant even imagine how much worse it is. I HATE KOREA AND THIS CONCEALING OF INFORMATION FROM ME. AND I HATE THAT I STILL DONT KNOW HOW MY CLASSES ARE GOING TO BE SUPPOSED TO BE RUN. GAAAHHHHHHHHHH


so, family time. it was actually pretty good and a lot better than i had expected. it made me miss my dad a lot tho, to see his family and all these brothers who look and act so much like him!

mostly all i did was eat and sleep. so by the end my whole family was teasing me about my lil ddongbeh. hehe, and my punk cousin kept poking at it and saying we should cut my belly meat and eat it ... =( haha

im being filmed tomorrow. so im gonna sleep now. more on chuseok and other random thoughts later.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Songs I'm feeling

so i'm not what ppl call a music junkie, per se. i don't know a lot about different groups/artists/genres. i just know what i like and what i don't like. but i've always had a soft spot for music in my life (appreciate it w/o really knowing anything about it). and i'm a sucker for lyrics. here are a few songs that have been keeping me sane by sounding like they totally apply to my life right now.

Bad Day - Daniel Powter
Ordinary People - John Legend
I Wish I Could Go Back to College - Ave Q.
For Now - Ave Q.
Falling for the First Time - Barenaked Ladies

I love songs. I love quotes (I added some more). I love words. I love language. This is my problem.

Everything in my life is currently pointing to Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Let's see if I can make good on all those signs.


Water, that precious life liquid

My mecca




I never thought I'd have a problem with getting enough water in Korea. First, a background. Water is one of the TWO beverages i normally drink. I usually get away with only drinking WATER and SKIM MILK. Lately (in the past few years) I've increased my repertoire to include: sprite, snapple iced tea, and orange juice (when i'm feeling sick). Recently (in the past year) I've increased my list of suitable thirst-quenching beverages to include: lemonade vitamin water, tea (in general), chai, and green tea lattes.

In Korea, people don't drink nearly as much water as I did in the states. I drink a lot of water. I usually go through 5-7 regular size (20 oz.) Dasani bottles a day. This is in addition to my pre/during/post workout drinks. In the summers at Duke, I would drink much more. One time when I was living with Joan (Summer 05), I took out the recycling in the morning and by dinnertime we had amassed a pile of at least 14 water bottles between the two of us (and Joan doesn't even drink water!).

Anyway, so here, Koreans don't really seem to drink a lot during meals, or even between meals. Just a little cup at the end of meals. Thus, I am always thirsty, pressing the table service button for MORE water, and generally being a camel that leaves everyone else in awe at my waterdrinking/retaining prowess. Lunchtime is the hardest. I've actually been skipping vitamins/fish oils due to lack of beverage to wash them down with!

After every class I am a trapped vulture, wishing water would appear on my horizon but no such salvation exists. I have less than 10 minutes before the next class arrives and by the time I rearrange and prepare for that class I have 3 minutes (MAYBE) to quest for some life-giving beverage. Usually this doesn't happen. So I chew some gum for the extra saliva that generates in my mouth (I know, gross and sad).

Today was especially bad. It has been super hot and super humid this week. I had to shout for 2 classes because the weather has gotten the kids all wired up, too. I thought the heat would tire them out, but no, it's just making them more irritable and irritating. haha. So, I finally get down to lunch and all I can do whilst eating, is FANTASIZE about that lukewarm barley tea water station on the way out of the cafeteria. I finish my rice and soup (today's banchan were gross - i'm not even sure what they were) and rush to the line ... where sadly there is just a scene of absolute chaos.

The students are tipping over the GIANT water cooler/warmer things because apparently there is NO WATER LEFT!!! They are backing up the whole leaving the cafeteria mechanism. I am desperately standing there PRAYING the lunch ladies will bring more water, because the unruly students are demanding it. NO SUCH LUCK!!! They tell the kids to go away because it will be a while before more water is ready. A giant ROCK falls into my already parched throat at this news.

I talk to my co-teacher about the next best thing. We have disgusting tap water that the children call "poop water". I must boil it to make it suitable to drink. And then wait for this boiling hot water to cool to at least room temperature before I can drink it. Because of the weather lately, room temperature usually means upwards of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. (I have yet to master the conversion to Celsius). MMmmmMMmmm. Talk about refreshing.

Note: My 1st grade teachers just brought me delicious patbingsu for our workshop. And are giving me random class days off. Really, I'm going to be getting through this year on these people's shoulders. I am so thankful for them and how much they take care of me. =)

Water, water everywhere. But no water here. =(

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Learn vs. Run

so i begin every class with a short review of last week's lesson. an adorable anecdote from today:

ME who remembers what we LEARNED LAST WEEK???
ME hmm? who remembers what we LEARNED LAST WEEK??? (huge arm motions backwards to signify chronological past)
COTEACHER what's last week? we learned last week, last week is 지난주 (in korean)
STUDENTS :blank stares:
COTEACHER what is LUHN? we luhn-ed "luhn" (bless her heart, this is how she pronounced it)
STUDENTS 달리기! 달리자! 뛰어라! (in korean:racing! let's race! RUN!)

aww, i love my kids and i love my coteachers. they are all so sweet and amazing. (despite what i said in yesterday's post about the "establishment" - the actual ppl i deal with everyday are amazing) c'est la vie.

thank you for the love everyone. i didnt realize that my 하소연 would be so well-received. i am very much appreciative of the support and encouragement i've been receiving in response to yesterday's events. i AM trying to keep my chin up and stay positive. =) thank you!

I am totally loving the love. <3

(many teaching pictures on my picasa -

Monday, September 17, 2007

gifts i have received at my school

new keyboard and mouse for my school computer
new speakers for my school computer
new laser color printer for my school computer
new usb mouse for my laptop

pizza for bfast
cheeseburger for bfast
pizza for snack
kimchi and potatoes arranged beautifully on a plate (that some random 4th grade boys all ate)
hardboiled eggs, grapes, and some kind of cabbage arranged beautifully on a dish
throat gum (soothes your throat)

pretty mechanical pencil (from a student)

some seem very normal. others, a bit odd. however, i am thankful. i could be jason - and have students sticking ice cream wrappers in my shoe shelf/closet everyday. hahahahaha.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


today is a crylicious day. i can't really explain why. other than i'm really tired and suddenly feeling overwhelmed. altho, yesterday i was really psyched for this week and to do well in my lessons.

anyway, as soon as i got to school today i felt kinda bleh. but then i was in my classroom and as things unfolded i just wanted to cry more and more. and yet, i guess i'm learning what it means to be professional. i couldn't cry. i had class in 30 minutes.

first my 2 main english teacher ppl came and were talking to me about the schedule change at our school. i don't know why but they changed the lunch schedule around and all my classes are bumped up 10 minutes and my lunch breaks up my teaching schedule and i think it's all confusing. so first i was confused. then my head english teacher was telling me that we had been doing our lessons all wrong and that the homeroom teachers should be leading the lessons and i should just be the "assistant" teacher and "talk" during the "listen and repeat" "chants" etc. sections (aka be a parrot). this pissed me off a lot because i am the one making the lesson plans and super duper powerpoints for each class and that's just not fair. i explained to her how i felt about this (not pissed off, but that it's unfair) plus it's difficult for the teachers to teach a lesson that someone else made. that's actually why i feel like i've been leading most of my classes is because the teachers come in and even though we workshop the lesson a week in advance, they still don't really have their own idea of how it should flow and play out. so i told my head english teacher, if she wants the other teachers to lead then they can make the lesson plan and i will just show up and parrot. (this would be easier for me, but i feel like they're just wasting my potential - not that i think i'm a super teacher, but i feel like i came to korea to do a lot more than speak english on demand). plus they keep emphasizing how impt it is for the students to hear my "pronunciation" and "intonation" yet they want me to keep my mouth shut. it is quite a paradox. so that really frustrates me. i thought we had worked this issue out. i'm supposed to think things over and get back to her about what would be the best plan of action after this week's lessons and chusok. =/

then the tech guy came to look at my computer and stuff. and so i was explaining to him about how i use the stupid school computer for internet but how my ppts aren't working on it. and so all my lessons last week had to be altered last minute. so then i told him if the internet would work AGAIN on my own laptop i have no need to have the projector dilemna. basically the overhead projector is hookedu p to school computer bc we use a lot of songs from the internet. but its really complicated and annoying to switch the overhead projector from the school comp to my laptop and so on and so forth. i can't switch several times per class. so apparently they switched some IP thing last week (which is when my laptop stopped working) and the school website stopped working. etc etc etc. i was gettign really frustrated bc my english teachers wanted to talk about stuff and the computer guy was still here not knowing anything and the clock was ticking for my classes to start and i had yet to look over my lesson plans (which was why i came to school early in the first place).

so then my class came in and all these random ppl were still here and i COULD NOT cry. PROFESSIONAL as ... well i don't know. but as i had to be. i smiled and gesticulated and sang and danced and was the general clown i need to be to keep my classes focused and involved. luckily, my first class 2-7 teacher is actually one of the ones who is pretty good at "co-teaching" and so i rode off her waves/flow. she is one of the ones i like less so i was like, oh so thankful for her to be unknowingly helping me out like that. but then at the end of class she was like "when is your break time? i want to learn more english" and honestly, my break time at school is MY time (actually it's been getting stolen by some of my 2nd graders who are leeches of my break time). seriously, break time is my sanity time. this time of day most of my friends at home (stateside) are awake and able to chat. seriously, if this gets taken away from me, i might cry. all day. haha. also i use it to lesson plan and explore the materials available in my classroom. so its my productive school time also.

then at lunch (which is earlier than usual) the VP told me to sit all alone at a teacher table whilst everyone else sits with their students. usually i like to sit with my students and talk to them too but today iwas so sad i was about to cry into my food. maybe im jus super emotional from being tired and cuz it's monday (rainy days and mondays always get me down-carpenters). hmm, i'll get back to you all later. maybe the day will pick up (im joining the gym and having my first yoga class tonight =)

My life.

Last week i started doing an hour of chitchat with my host brother at a cafe in exchange for free cake on 이모(hostmom). it was a lot of fun. we are very similar in so many ways, except he is a 13 year old boy and i am a 23 year old teacher woman. our key vocab words were "white lie," "operating system," and "ghetto." i love chocolate cake.

이모 is one of my favorite people in korea. today (well in general) i've been realizing how important it is for me to be able to talk to her and trust her and all that. being here in korea would be so much harder without my relationship with her. she is an amazing accomplished person. she's one of those women who gives me hope for having a career and a family. but it's also sad because i can see how unfair it is (division of labor) between her and her husband. even tho her husband is reeeeeally sweet and nice (esp. for a korean husband) there is still a sharp contrast bw her "workload" when she comes home from work and his. this worries me about my future. even tho they have an ajumma who comes 2x a week, 이모 still does a lot of cooking and housework. anyway, back to the topic, we have been creating a really good rapport with each other. i talk to her about my stressful days at school, teachers who i'm afraid of/annoy me, boy issues, my petty worries about being in korea, practical issues about living in korea, etc. it really is amazing how much difference having this type of grounding person makes. she also likes to talk to me about her work and life also. altho she has a daughter (my host sister is 16ish) she is always busy studying and not very talkative and i think 이모 sees me as more of a friend and confidante in some ways than her daughter (just bc i am older and girlier-like 이모). i am very lucky to have someone like her in my homestay here in korea.

a funny "parallel" in my life:
so my mommy got married when she was 23 and immigrated to america. i am 23 and have come to korea to live for a year. i know its not the same situation, but it's odd to me that at the same age we both made inverse trans-ocean journeys. maybe this is a sign i will get mature and learn a lot about myself and life and what i want and all that. or the pattern that i've noticed actually, is that the more time goes by and the more "mature" i get, the more i realize that i don't know anything. in a way i feel like growing "mature" is actually just a humbling process of realizing how little i know of the world and learning to keep that in mind when i process things. its just interesting. i've always known my mom got married at 23 but i never realized exactly how YOUNG that is. i still feel like a baby in so many ways (in/dependence, knowledge, experience, opinions, worldviews, open/close-mindedness). i cant believe my mom got married and left her home country with nothing but her new husband. that's crazy. she is a brave and amazing person. i only hope i can be half as 용기있어 (brave?courageous?energetic?) and resourceful in this coming year as she was when she first came to korea. i have so many different advantages in terms of support and resources, and yet i'm still a little terrified sometimes. well, here we go, time for the world to open my eyes. =]

Why it's worth teaching

there are times when it's been hard. as much as i love my school and homestay, clearly a year in korea is, well, a year in korea.

then there are these things that make it all seem worth it:

at lunch the other day, one of the 1st grade teachers told me that 2 of her boys changed their "life dream" after english camp and meeting me to be an english teacher. they said that they want to be "멋있는" english teachers like miss christine. =)

one of my first graders who previously had no interest in english expressed that he wants to learn more english and keep going to english camp

my little angel boy in 1-4 from last week SPOKE SOME ENGLISH on wednesday!!! and he was responsive to me! he went from completely ignoring the class to looking up and paying attention (even if he didn't vocally participate). i dont know if his teacher coached him, but i'm guessing it was at least a 90 degree attitude change. also, he was ok with the one sentence in english at the end with a little coaxing.

also, it's nice to see the students exceed my expectations:
there is one boy in 2nd grade who is has ADHD and usually doesnt participate or pay attn. one girl brought him into the card game and she kept explaining it for him and was showing him how to play and the other children were supportive, he did well and then she told the teachers how he knew words that no one else knew and i could tell he felt very good about himself. i was surprised by the behavior of the other students in his group. i had assumed they would just ignore him and he would just fool around in his chair like usual.

adorable haiku from one of my 6th grade boys
"so i say i don't like you
but i can't do that
anymore because i like you"
(p.s. teacher this is not about you)

he hands it to me as he blushes and runs away.

2 downsides to teaching:
i had to get headshots taken for my school ID. in korea they photoshop all photos. so my school id card is lighter-complexioned and has much clearer skin than i normally do.
2 of my 2nd grade girls: this picture doesn't look like you.
me: what do you mean?
girls: it looks very different from you
me: how so?
girls: the picture is very beautiful. you are not even wearing make up today.

also, i stopped giving out high 5s because i'm scaerd of catching pinkeye and other various diseases. they weren't kidding at orientation when they said koreans come to school regardless of how sick they are. this past week, everyone students and teachers alike were all dying and sneezing and coughing all over the place. it's a wonder i'm alive.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


that is my thinking noise.

i've had a lot on my mind lately. i also have like 5 posts in edit stage. so get excited for a barrage of new posts in a few days.

currently amelia and i have been making our way to seoul since 4pm. we are still sitting in my room. to be completely honest, we are still LYING in my room.

haha. the plan is that we are going to have a super girly weekend. we are going to PAINT THE TOWN RED tonight =) [i've been dying to use that phrase, i don't know why-it's an idiom]

then tomorrow we are going to get our hair changed/cut and nails done. also we are probs going to a girly jjimjjilbang. to chillax some more. and 수다.

hopefully this coming week will be much less tough than this past one. hmmph. =T

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

my newspaper articles =)

Newspaper #1

Newspaper #2


yesterday during a teacher workshop one of my teachers told me that she had her students write essays about me after our first class. she said i was so lucky bc most of them wrote that the new english teacher is so pretty. =) awwwww hehe

buuuuuuuuuut a bunch of my students YESTERDAY told me "you are not cute" and "you have a big head and small eyes" so that was not nice. but they were a little older boys so i'm going to think they were jsut giving me a hard time.

also, im learning that as concrete and manageable as i tried to make my powerpoint introduction, the students are still lost on a lot of things. first of all, one of my boys thought i was from INDIA. mostly he said bc i was dark-skinned and wore 2 toe rings, which he has learned indian women are wont to do. they aer all still confused to whether i am korean and if i am from america despite my sharing photos of my korean family and maps of america with giant stars where i am from.

also, last week, i would ask "who is korean? raise your hand if you're KOREAN" - usually my teacher and i were the only ones who would raise our hansd - at which point we would just look at each other and laugh before she translated what i meant and then ALL hands shot up and looked at me suspiciously.

OMG. MY TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL JUST COOL MESSENGER-ED ME and I WAS IN TWO PAPERS TODAY!!! hehe yayyy!!! they're local, but apparently EVERYBODY in "cheongju" reas them (or so they tell me)!!! hehe one is even in color. i'll try to upload them later. =)

Monday, September 10, 2007


my sister is randomly getting all touchy-feely with her emotions and is taking a POETRY class this semester. she sent me this poem they had just studied.

I feel like there are times in the coming year it will strike me as MOST appropriate given my attitude towards spending the remaining time here in Korea. (don't worry i won't be suicidal [this is mostly tongue in cheek]- i jsut think it'll be a good "wake up call" for when i get too down about how tough i have it ... haha)

To the Young Who Want to Die
by Gwendolyn Brooks

Sit down. Inhale. Exhale.
The gun will wait. The lake will wait.
The tall gall in the small seductive vial
will wait will wait:
wiill wait a week: will wait through April.
You do not have to die this certain day.
Death will abide, will pamper your postponement.
I assure you death will wait. Death has
a lot of time. Death can
attend to you tomorrow. Or next week. Death is
just down the street; is most obliging neighbor;
can meet you any moment.
You need not die today;
Stay here -- through pout or pain or peskyness.
Stay here. See what the news is going to be tomorrow.

Graves no green that you can use.
Remember, green's your color. You are Spring.

my adorable students

so, i clearly forgot to write about how adorable my little kids are. firstly, this is my favorite one. (unni- i know you read this - don't worry, hannah, joah, and noah are still my ultimate favorites forever!)

in one of my first grade classes there is a little boy who i swear is a tiny baby angel from up above. he is just PRECIOUS. like a teensy weensy adorable person. first off, whenever we have to talk in class, he ABSOLUTELY HAS to hold the teacher's hand. so anyway, during our lining up and saying one english sentence he just takes my hands in his and looks down. so i kneel down in front of him and he bends his head even more. so i slowly goad him in korean "just say one sentence, ANY sentence" and finally he lifts his head up a little and says in korean "teacher, no matter how much i try and try i just can't speak english at all. i'm sorry ...." and literally my heart BROKE into pieces bc he was so precious.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

it's been a while

ok, so it's been a while. i didn't knotice that i haven't blogged in a while. also i forgot my mom reads this. haha, i was on the phone with her tonight and she was like, you make me sound mean on your blog - which isn't true, i told her most of the responses i got thought she was hilarious/hysterical/baller, so 엄마 don't worry ppl love you.

anyway, since last tudesday .... hmmm .... well

i had my 1st grade classes .... WHICH ARE NOTHING LIKE MY 2nd GRADE CLASSES!!!! 1st graders are little monkeys who can't sit still and need ritalin for their morning snack. haha i'm jsut keeeeding. it wasn't that bad. altho it IS true that they have LOADS of energy and can't focus for as long. which sin't really all their fault since i'm just tanding up there blathering in a language that they don't know. i would probably do the same in their situation. but they were really sweet. mostly. one of the teacher's came to watch the class after her bc she was so ashamed of how badly hers behaved. then she brought me some pomegranate juice to revive my spirits/energy. i wanted to give her class 1 star sticker but she was so nice i gave them 2 (1 for them and 1 for her...haha)

anyway, it was a good first week of classes. lesson planning is not going to be as hard as i thoughtit would be. altho i might get sick of 7 classes of "what's this? it's a pencil/pen/notebook/monkey/pineapple/MYBRAINISFALLINGAPART" then i have 6 classes of "runcandyruncomeherecandycomeheregooddog" anyway, it's fun. so on to the fun part.

on thursday, 5-3 homeroom teacher (the tech one who wants to leaern engrish) sent me pizza for breakfast. haha. i dont think koreans understand that americans eat diffrent foods for each MEAL. like there are certain BREAKFAST foods, LUNCH foods, and DINNER foods. maybe bc koreans eat rice and stew for every meal they dont thikn there are differentiations. bc earlier in the week, one of the other teachers brought me a burger from lotteria for breakfast. and i was unable to eat/digest it. so i felt bad. but i saved the pizza for lunch, which was clutch bc i didnt have time to go eat in the caf. i did so many errands on thursday. it was great. altho i was soooooooo tired like death. the week ended well. my advanced class ALL showed up (they had been sporadically missing due to millions of hakwons they cannot miss).

the advanced boys turned into monkeys, too once they overcame their shyness. they would like pet each other and poke each other and laugh and stuff. oh hahahaha. one time i laughed so hard i almost peed my pants. so my advanced class gets nytimes articles that i pick and questions that i make up to discuss. we were doing one on how the venezuelan govt wnats to pass a law that limits all new baby names to a list of 100 compilled by govt "experts". and for one boy's argument/debate he used the example of having the name "idiot" and how that could negatively affect one's life. one of the other boys (my hostbro) starts CONTROLLING his uncontrollable laughter ...which lasts for like 10 minutes AT LEAST ... he can't breathe and is turning red and it was soooo funny i fell on the floor laughing (it was very professional) i hope they did well at their bankimoon competition yesterday. =) i will miss them.

since my classes end on thursday, i went to see lydia this weekend!!! oh first, bryan came to school to pick me up on thursday! he met my coteacher and we laughed about how my english head teacher will be so jealous and disappointed she missed him. bryan was impressed by my sweet english zone. yes, i know, it's an amazing facility and i can't wait to take advantage of it. then we hung out a lil and he helped me run some errands before PIZZA HUT and me heading out to gongju by bus.

which reminds me, i went to eat dinner with tom oppa on wednesday. tom oppa went to church with me at home and he's been teachng english in this area for 2.5 years. so it was soooo random that i was placed here too and im so glad to jsut have friends (english speaking friends). we had the MOST delicious italian food in all of korea. the lasagna is EASILY my favorite food in korea. anyway, so yes, itwas nice to have dinner with an old friend and chat about life in korea.

so i get to lydia's and we went to school together on friday. her school is an all boys boarding high school (elite). the boys were great! and so was she! lydia's lesson was sooo good it made me cry. a little. she was trying to inspire her boys to "think outside the box" and teaching them greek/roman roots for words and phrases like "supermetaimposed goals" (i totally got that wrong-but that just shows u her boys are more advanced tha i am). i was so excited by her lesson and how responsive her boys were. we also got to guest-talk (entertain) 4 of the 3rd year english classes. i got to talk about myself (my FAVORITE topic) and we had a lot of fun. we left for seoul a little tlater than we had planned and hit MAJOR traffic. but when we finally got there we met up with bryan and joan for dinner and that was really nice. i hadn't seen joan unni since yonsei day so i was so happy to talk with her.

oh, p.s. lydia's students bought her a BIKE. i got so excited about my PENCIL and she got a BICYCLE. an orange bike with a bell and a BASKET!!! haha. i'm gonna tell my kids about this. just kididng. i love my little ones.

highlights of seoul: lydia's 이모's cooking and bookstore with huuuuge (relatively) english section. i stayed at lydia's aunt's house (THANK YOU) and her cooking was sooooo good. i was soooo psyched. hehe. also, we got to go to bandi and luni's where they had a relatively HUGE english book section (and we got to see lots of americans/foreigners) and i got to buy a few books (YES!!!) and also it was so nice just to touch/feel/handle/smell books. yes, i am quite nerdy and yes i love books that much. hehe.

this week i'm teaching my first lessons from the textbook. i HOPE the kids think it's fun. i prepped for my 2nd graders. i think from now on im going to spend less time on aim/facebook/nytimes at school in my free time and just finish lesson planning really quickly and then READ in my free time. i bought a bunch of books and would LOVE to read them. i'm also worrying a little what to do with all my books when i leave (esp since i want to use this year to catch up on my reading wish list-so please feel free to send me books-used or new). i'm going to start dead poets society even tho i haven't finished beloved. also i bought books for my host siblings, because i thought it'd be nice to bring them small gifts, esp cuz the parents are so nice to me and i always feel the best way to show thanks to paretns is to be nice to their kids.

TODAY!!! i had vips for dinner. MMMMMMMMmmmMMMMmmMMMMMmmmm for steak! hehe. it was soooo delicious but now my stomach is a little upset bc its not used to large chunks of meat.

anyway, today i offered to "tutor" my host siblings in conversational english. my hostmom pays for cake/green tea latte and i have 1 hour of "cafe talk/chat" per sibling. the host bro is psyched but the girl not so much. this weekend i realized (talking ot the other GIKs) that i'm the only one who doesn't regularly tutor her host siblings. and i figured this was the easiest most enjoyable way to do it. this way i also get to eat free cake. =)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

my loving mother

I was cleaning out my emails, and came across this sweet mother-daughter exchange

August 2: From me to my mommy

i have the 땀띠 =(
it is so 가려워 and sad. but the 장마 is supposed to be over now (and just HOT HOT HOT) so maybe it'll get better soon.
i'm taking my 태권도 yellow belt test today! 화이팅!!!

Translation in CAPS:
I have the HEAT RASH =(
it is so ITCHY and sad. but the RAINY SEASON is supposed to be over now (and just HOT HOT HOT) so maybe it'll get better soon.
i'm taking my TAEKWONDO yellow belt test today! FIGHTING!!!

August 3: From my loving mother to me (this is copy-pasted verbatim, i kid you not)

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! good luck on your test. i will be leaving usa tonite. love you!

SHE LAUGHED AT ME!!!! she LAUGHED at my suffering!!! .... the subject line of the email i sent her was "=(" a SAD face, and her reply was "HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!" i am dumbfounded.

Monday, September 3, 2007

my schedule

my class schedule is AWESOME. mostly. =) i'm not complaining. people keep asking and it's differnet every day so it's hard to explain via words. so here you go.

i have 20 total max hours a week by contract. i teach 13 actual classes (6 1st grade and 7 2nd grade) and 4 afterschool classes (which will rotate bw advanced english and special english "camps" by grade throughout the semester) and then 1 hour of prep w/teachers per each grade (1st and 2nd) plus 1 generic teacher workshop called "classroom english"

all my classes are done before lunch so it kinda sucks to have alot of downtime before my afterschool activities ... but i figure ill do all my lesson planning then so i dont have to give any more out of school time. =)

first "real" class teaching today. 3 2nd grade classes. much better than i expected. not as difficult. teachers great. students-better than average. not TOO many problem children (1-2 per class that refuse to speak english and cry or hide under their desk instead). lol. really sweet so far. i heart them.

funny story for today: so my coteacher liaison is 7 months pregnant. she got a lot bigger over the summer break. one girl looks at her, points to her stomach and says, "It's a 똥배 ddong-bbeh" which means "it's a fat tummy". i dunno .. you kinda have to understand the korean for it to be funny. plus the honesty and guile of this girl (she actually meant it as a comment about the teacher's weight and not a joke about her pregnant stomach).

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Things I miss

me, shanks, john gatech game

calen, rindler, me, dmos - my bday eve

my 22nd bday dinner @ waduke

kville for UMD game

ed06, john06, me07, ash08 lny preparty this year

girls at lny preparty last year

calen, me dave, jr year kickoff

heather, me ash, kickoff to living in wanny together

girls at davidson game jr year

wint, ash, me before UMD game

(because i can)

Duke. classes. Lil cricket. mommy. daddy. dillo burritos. cosmic. eprint. wint. ashley. joan. tyty. heather. wm boys. track boys. calen. dlee. dmos. john. kirly. waterhouse. big willy style. tyler from clackamas. central. c-2s. gardens. duke student health. free meds. allen bldg. bostock. chapel drive. post-tailgate lunch w/ty. seeing greg paulus in computer lab. loop shakes. mcdonalds froyo. checking my mail. the post office guy who knew my name. beirut in section. MLTs. george's. shooters (haha). halloween. semis. dress shopping. coldstones. southpoint. nordstrom. jcrew. i-40. 147. durham bulls. fireworks. shanks. feltman in 114. husspony. the bummy asian boys. dhsu. dpark. eric. samwell. ak. dpark's ridiculosity. dan and eric bickering. craisins. goin to target and buying everyone's groceries. sitar. avea. sanford. sanford deli. REFECTORY. mmmhmmm. secret tower room. dasani. fries. kids tortilla. pub quiz. that really good smelling tree. rdu. haha. my american cell phone. voicemails. drunk dials. birthday dinners. 21st bdays. witnessing 21st bdays. theme parties. theme drinks. wine nights. white zinfandel. my new corkscrew. baking. grilled cheese. macncheese w/tuna. buying books. barnes. duke hats. rainbows. watching duke bball on dan's big screen. being annoyed by poker. watching ty play wii. watching movies on dan's big screen. when he's not there. haha. cake. mad hatter's. chai tea. chai's. thai cafe. fried rice from pao lim. ashtanga yoga. standing in line for games. in my sleeping bag. kville. towerview. fuqua experiments. waduke trail. waduke food. waduke bar. the asian guy who was the best at doing my nails. driving to the belmont. pumping gas. driving to central. being driven to central. walking on central. parties. walking through the gardens on the phone with ashley as i head to her apt. brunch at elmo's. foster's. dinner at ihop. costco. thrift store shopping with kirly and waterhouse. kirly's obsession with cosmic. GFH. im-ing DukeRef. DukePlays. acapella. watching laguna w/calen. tanning w/wint and KJ. pink and white duke notebooks. firelane. 9th street. top of the hill. franklin st. hating roy williams. loving and defending marty pocius. missing rick's. rick's latenight. rick's brunch. ordering grace's hungover. dragon gate. chow fun. sleepovers. desperate housewives. getting ready to go out while wint watches grey's. AD marathons. entourage. mango smoothies. shoe dept at nordstrom. trying on jeans. hiding stuff i bought. returning stuff i bought. cheesecake factory. godiva chocolate cheesecake. chapel at night. east. running to east. in the rain. lifting. with the wm boys. making the boys do yoga. =) sam being better than me. summers on central. summer classes. ty driving to trent. ty driving. heather driving. and getting $10 of gas. getting ID-ed. X's on my hands. wristbands. spice street. watching rachel ray. and big head. watching movies. movie nights. freewater films. walk of shame stories. alpine bagels. awkward convos. the youngns. the oldns. brodhead's ball. dressing up. fancy dinner nights. ordering grace's nights. blue zone walks. drive/bus rides of shame. charlene's. saferides. rdu at the buttcrack of dawn. nasher. nasher lunch. wint honking so i'd put clothes on. my room's "front door". bathroom shower convos w/winty. ty chilling in the room. dmos drunk dancing. hotboxed. the stinky basement. galbi nights. mandoo. delicious mandoo. fudgesicles. breakfast for dinner. duke mornings. leaving bostock at 7am. all nighters. writing in wanny commons. free food. whole foods. panera runs w/ty. gym w/wint. seeing ashley at the gym. track boys in short shorts. kirly's english. aim in class. chicken salad from saladelia. brownies. break and bake cookies. bringing john leftovers. mangina threats. manthigh. free donuts. ldoc. quad stuff. walking back from rick's. walking back from wanny. green zone parking. mt. fuji. tosca's. another thyme. seriously, SEMIs. pregaming. prepregaming. afterparties. afterafterparties. swearing never to do it again. bouncers. reading. for class. all the time. hiliting. buying hiliters en masse. grey backpack. white chocolate mochas from trinity. steamers w/skim. peach sunsets. studying in trinity. MP brunch. MP waffles. MP grilled cheese. my gf lilly. concerts in baldwin. kirly's room of wonder. kirly's leather jacket. and backpack. waterhouse playing pingpong. funny stories. communal shower stories. pulsar. meeting at the bus stop. flava of love marathons. when i should be writing finals. friends marathons. laundry. waiting for the bus. waduke desserts. golf. durham at night. buying pingpong balls. racing to get drinks before 11pm/2am. wine runs in the middle of wine night. the cat riesling. RELAX. random meals. loop fries. wint bringing me surprises. ordering stuff online. loving my packages. pictures. my wall. fake golf dates. when my sister visits duke. when i visit boston. driving wint's car. drive-in movies. not knowing how to pump gas. jimmy john's. bbq chips. blue devil shakes from quenchers. vitamin water after the gym. my pink yoga mat. the good ellipticals. the teeny indoor track. ab workouts w/ashley/calen. being victimed. circle chairs. my comfy chair. my nook. harboring. talking wint to sleep. quitting aim. chick-fil-a. baking biscuits w/heather. roommate beirut. bringbacks. reracks. overtimes. cookout shakes. cookout runs. wendy's runs. cookout nuggets. abc stores. fuddruckers. yummo. triangle mixers. the i'm taller than you game. being coquettish. el rodeo. brightleaf square. toreros. scallops. wint's risotto. wint's gnocchi. predicting other ppl's orders. CPK. five guys. firebirds. prime rib. =9 group dinners. small dinners. chosunOK. dimsum. pho on sat/sun. coconut bubble tea, no bubbles. sprite w/a shot of coconut. korean movies. MPDU. BUILD. driving around durham. qshack.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

many random updates

so here are a collection of random thoughts from the past week:

the powers that be have deemed it much better to stay MORE anonymous. therefore, i guess first and foremost, i have to go through and dissociate my blog from [Fulbright] "The Shiny Program." My adventures are now from [Cheongju] "Chicago." And my position will be referred to as "GIK" (gyopo in korea). ok that took all of 30 minutes. it was a really productive use of time (sarcastic a bit)

there is this one 5th grade teacher that everyone is playing a horribly mean but REALLY funny prank on. he is one of 2 male homeroom teachers for teh grade and really REALLY excited about me being the new english teacher (don't worry, he's married and treats me like an honored guest/younger sister blend). But all the other teachers have told him that i speak NO korean. so he pulls out these HORRIBLE english phrases and sentences to try to communicate with me and everyone else laughs hysterically (some have even fallen out of their chairs) and he just thinks its bc he's bad at english. and once i caught on (at first i was confused why ppl i had just been having fluent conversations with were telling him i couldn't speak korean) i kept turning to my coteacher to translate and it was SO hard to keep a straight face, i don't know how min does it. but he is REALLY REALLY nice and got me a printer for my room within 24 hours of my request (in english). hehe

one of the times of day when i feel MOST american .... is when i use my citrus burst Listerine in the shower. lol. i have NO idea why, considering there is a big sticker in korean on the back giving all the Listerine information but from the moment i pick up the bottle to the second i spit out the swished up listerine into the drain, i feel ESPECIALLY american. maybe i feel like fluoride is a uniquely american obsession (dental hygiene in general seems to be very american). but i just get this huuuuge surge of "wow im back in america/i am SO american" when i listerine. i seriously have no idea.

my school teachers LOVE my laugh and smile! i had no idea they were so charming~!! hehe but my coteachers and other homeroom teachers have said that my smile is exceptionally happy and lights up the whole room/area and that my laugh is so sincere and joyous that it just makes them feel like everything in teh world is ok and happy. i am glad they think so (also my korean voice is apparently "soft" and adorable and not WHINY like my english speaking voice).

also, i was really stressed out this week because there was some miscommunication and i was under the impression that i had to basically write a SCRIPT for class in english that featured the homeroom teachers and i did basically nothing but PREPARE for the class that the 13 homeroom teachers would lead. after talking with my host mom i brought this up with the coteacher and she was so nice about explaining how the sample lesson plan and several miscommunicationy conversations that had led me to this conclusion were all wrong. it was up to me to divide up the roles of the homeroom teacher and myself and i was to prepare SOME english phrases within the lesson plan for the teachers to use (bc they have very little confidence in their ability) but NOT my responsibility to provide THEM with a lesson plan to teach from while i stood back. SCORE for open communication. Fulbright has SOME very good advice from workshops (another is BE FLEXIBLE)

i may have said this already, but i have NO class on fridays, and i love this.

i had no class till 2pm mostly this week and so i hung out with host mom and we did errands and she helped me with random stuff i needed (bank acct stuff, etc.) and it reminded me so much of hanging out with my mom. we got lunch and cake/coffee afterwards and owuld just talk about stuff (both with hostmom, and also my real mom) and i'm pretty lucky that they are very similar characters, but it will both help AND make me miss my mom more.

my daddy's bday is saturday (they haven't woken up yet in the states) but i meant to send his bday card (which i wrote) but have not mailed yet. it'll just have to be a little late. oops =(

i might get over a week off for chusok. =) since i only teach mon-thurs and chusok break is until wed. my teachers have decided its kindof silly for me to come and teach 2 classes on thursday plus if those 2 classes get ahead it messes up our weekly teacher workshops. so my break is from 4pm when i get off on thursday, sept 20 until sept 30-the sunday before i teach again! altho this break is so long i wish i could travel, the bulk of it will be spent on JINDO with the chin-fam (chin means dad's side). hoom, oh well, it'll make my 할머니 very happy, at least and i can just play with my little cousins and try out english games on them haha.

i love my special advanced english class. theyare so adorable! they're 3 6th grade boys. i was opening up my email and they could see on the big projector screen bc i wanted to show them some articles i had emailed the links to myself (worst sentence ever). and i had an email from my sister that was subject: HERRO. one of the boys goes, oh that's korean-HERRO. lol it was so adorable!!!

also, one of my boys wants to go to DUKE!!! at first i was really surprised bc when i introdcued myself and said i went to duke he did the intake of breath, and i was like NOOOOO he can't know where duke is (mostly bc NO koreans know!) but then he asked me about it a few days later and i was like, HOW DO YOU KNOW DUKE!??!?! and he said he wants to go tehre and it is a very good school and he would love to go for math or science related majors! then another boy asked if it was ivy league and when the answer was no he did not believe it was a good school so then i whipped out the US news and world report (because we all know the schools all ACTUALLY pay attn to these) and duke was #8! right in the middle with 4 ivies above and 4 below. so there. besides, we all know dukies have more fun than ANY ivy league kids do =) lol actually i was a little nervous bc i hadn't checked the rankings since my senior year of hs and had no idea where duke would be.

i have started to wash my underwear by hand. this was something i was SURE i would NOT be able to do no matter how long i was in korea. although i guess now i can see all the signs were leading up to this. from the beginning of my brilliant wearing taekwondo uniforms INTO the shower after each day's class to rinse/soap them up, and washing my seven jeans by hand because i was sure they would mold, i have slowly been progressing to washing my underwear by hand in the shower (as apparently many, if not most, korean women do). it started with curiosity, at first i collected all my underwear and did it myself in the machine. then i felt bad about how expensive water is and how much water even my small load needed. so then i was like, ok if everyone else does it i guess i can give it a try. also, host mom says that hand washing actually makes it cleaner AND preserves longevity of my delicate underthings. so i tried it, and actually, its not that hard or gross or anything at all. plus it makes so much sense. it's so efficient. however, my one complaint is that it doesnt dry all soft and fluffy, but it wasnt gonna do that anyway since we line dry everything here. =]

ok, now, one small complaint, its pretty freaking impossible to do ANYTHING w/o a 중민등녹번호 (i thinkhope i spelled that mostly correct) here. it's basically like americans' social security # but abillion times more important. you use it for EVERYTHING. banking, blogging, eating, going to the bathroom, printing photos online ... seirously ... its such a hassle to try and do ANYTHING w/o one. i feel like korea is REALLY a closed off little country at times like this. haha. oh well. im much happier with my blue american passport than whatever hassle its worth not having a korean citizen #.