Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Korea


Christmas Eve was very laid back this year. I had the day off however Fred had to work. After work he took a bus and a train to Suji. I had spent the day trying to book another vacation for us because we were not able to get on a later flight to Thailand. We are now leaving on Tuesday morning and are going to Tokyo. It should be a very fun, but expensive, trip over New Years!

On Christmas, we spent the morning Skyping with family at home. We made hot chocolate and opened our presents. In the afternoon we went to the grocery store (what an unreal Christmas Day experience) then relaxed at my apartment. We watched 'Home Alone' on TV before heading over my co-workers, Janice and James's, apartment for Christmas dinner. There were 7 of us, Fred and I, Janice and James, 2 other teachers from a different school and Janice's sister from Toronto, for dinner. We had cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, roasted potatoes and veggies, salmon, salad and apple pie, ice cream, caramel squares for dessert. When we left their apartment it was snowing! Not as white as it is at home, but we did have a white Christmas in Suji!

Opening presents

Opening presents

Walking back in the snow

Snow and Christmas lights

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Night in the Emergency Room

Over the past 4 weeks I have been battling bronchitis and a severe sinus infection. I have seen 2 doctors and taken many medications. On Monday morning I went back to the doctor for a check up. He said that my sinus infection had improved however my cough had not. He then sent me to another doctor for a chest x-ray. Once he saw the x-ray he was worried. I was then sent to a University hospital because he thought I might have TB or pneumonia.

After I spoke to a doctor at the hospital I was admitted. I was then hooked up to an IV and sent back to the waiting room. After hours was waiting I was told that I would need to stay in the hospital for 3-4 day or up to 7. I was in tears calling my boss and parents. I was then given a bed in the ER because all of the rooms were full. The bed was literally in a huge room with about 35 other patients with curtain dividers. I was shuttled around for x-rays, blood tests and a CT scan. The other teachers came to visit me on Monday after work. They had stopped on the way to buy masks to blend in with me. (I was the only patient in the ER that had to wear one!) They brought me tons of supplies, books, my phone charger, food and treats. The ER staff would only let one person come to visit me at a time but we bent the rule a little bit! It was so comforting to see them.

I tried to sleep during the night however there were many distractions with the language, bright lights, other patients and the EMT's rushing in the new patients. Many of the doctors and nurses appeared to be ignoring me and hurrying around. It was very overwhelming and shocking to be in a foreign hospital, alone all night.

On Tuesday morning one of the owners, Melanie, came to see me. She was very sweet and brought me food. At about 11am the doctors finally came to talk to me. They said that I have pneumonia and put me on a lot of medications. I was told that I would be released and called the school. One of the Korean staff members, Nathan, came to pick me up. We waited until almost 3:00pm before I was finally discharged.

View of the bed directly across from mine. Great place to spend more than 36 hours!

I have to go back to the hospital on Monday to get more blood tests and an x-ray. Fred and I are suppose to leave on Friday for Thailand. The doctors knew this and would only give one week on medication. We now have to try to change our flights to Monday evening. If not, we are either out a lot of money or I have to go with no medications.

As all of this was happening, I missed out on Santa coming to LCI and the entire Christmas party. I had bought my Kinder students presents and didn't even get to watch them open them. What bad timing to be in the hospital!

Today, we had a spelling bee for our afternoon classes. Jetty, from my 2:30 class, won his division. Ethan in my 4:00 class took 2nd and Anika in my 4:00 class took 3rd. I was a very proud teacher!!!

Spelling bee. My boys are the 4th, 5th and 6th ones in from the left (Chris, Jetty and Alex)

The winner Jetty

Ethan (2nd place), Rucy (1st place, not my student) and Anika (3rd place)

The frozen river running through Suji

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Song Competition

Here is my Kinder class singing our Christmas Song.

Christmas Day will soon be here and I can hardly wait!

Christmas Day will soon be here and I can hardly wait!

Santa will be coming. Soon he will be coming.

Christmas Day will soon be here and I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Daegu and Pohang

Last week flew by. My students were well behaved and excited about the material. I have been teaching my Kinder students opposites. They were excited to use examples in class. They have told me that I am old, a man, poor and fat. Oh, the important things that they learn!

We have art every Wednesday. Last week the students were to draw mermaids. As I was explaining this, Samuel jumped out of his seat bubbling with excitement. He ran up to me and told me the story of "The Little Mermaid." He told me, "London Teacher...Ariel is mermaid. She lives in ocean and there is a mean witch. Ariel love prince but she no legs. Witch gives her legs but then she NO VOICE!" It was absolutely hysterical. I was trying to hold back the tears as he was explaining this to me. He is a slow reader and has no focus however he speaks clearly and says the most entertaining things!

On Friday I took a train from Suwon, near Suji, to Daejeon. Then I took a KTX train to Daegu. These trains are the fastest ones in Korea. Once in Daegu, I met Fred and some of his friends. We had dinner and stayed the night in Daegu. On Saturday we headed to Pohang and spent the day relaxing before going out to dinner. On Sunday we walked around town and Fred bought a camera. I then had to come back to Suji.

Tomorrow we are having our Christmas song competition. I am hoping that my kids do well and do not freeze!

We only have 5.5 days of teaching left before break. Next week we have full days on Monday and Tuesday and a half day on Wednesday. On Tuesday night we are going to go out for our staff holiday party. Fred is going to come to Suji on the 24th and we leave for Thailand on the 25th!

Playing a game that is a cross between bowling and pool in Daegu

Jasmin, Chelcy and Jenny

Jenny and her hat. These animal hats are all the rage in Korea.

Louie and Sean

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weddings and Tattle Tales

Samuel and Weddings

Sean and tattle tales

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Celebrating Shauna's Birthday

This week was long at work. I went to the doctor about 2 weeks ago because I wasn't feeling well. I was told that I had bronchitis and given meds. As the days went on I was not feeling better. Finally, some of my supervisors recommended that I go see a specialist. I went on Friday before work. The doctor spoke perfect English and took x-rays of my head. It turns out that I have double sinus infections on both sides of my face. He said that they are really bad and lead to the bronchitis. Now I am on new meds and have to go back on Tuesday for another x-ray.

After work we, Gina, Britney, Shauna, Christine and I headed into Seoul for Shauna's late birthday celebration. We had great pitas for dinner before going to a few bars.

On Saturday I just stayed in Suji, grocery shopped and went to dinner. Today I have been feeling really sick and have just relaxed. I hope that these infections go away soon so that the pressure in my head goes away!!

We officially have 12.5 days of classes left before break! On the 23rd we only have elementary classes so we do not start work until 2:30pm. On the 25th Fred and I will be off to Thailand!!

This weekend I am going to Pohang again to see Fred. I hope this week goes well!!

Me, Gina and Shauna

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My students and I

Sean and I




My M-F 2:30 class (My FAVORITE!!!!)
Back row L-R: Chris, Jen, Jetty, Alex and Jaden
Front row: Tom, Ria and Julie

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Funerals in Korea

Last night we went to Lucy's (our head director) moms funeral. It was at this building attached to the hospital. When we walked in there was a huge screen with the persons name and what little room the service was in. When we got to her 'room' the hallway was covered in flowers. Once inside, we had to take off our shoes and go to the right side were her mom was. Her body was behind a white screen so we could not see her, luckily! In front of the screen there was an altar thing with her picture. We had to enter the area, take a white flower and set it in front of her picture. Lucy and her siblings were lining the wall next to the altar. We then had a moment of silence before bowing to the family. The women, only in the immediate family (such as Lucy), had on full white gowns, similar to our communion gowns. The brothers had black suits with a hemp arm band and a back ribbon. We did this ceremony sort of thing about 3 people at a time.

We then went into the left side of the room and had a meal. Each of the service rooms are half a kitchen and dining room. We had tons of traditional Korean food. It was a very weird experience and the 11 of us sure stood out.

This starts right after a person dies and goes for 3 days. There is no waiting period like at home. The immediate family also does not sleep so Lucy was in rough shape. This morning is the 3rd and final day. They will have our 'funeral' type service today before she is buried.

After, we all went out for a drink and darts because it was also Shauna's birthday!! What a day to have a birthday. I have recently become known as a dart shark. Apparently, I have this undiscovered talent for darts. Janice and I were on a roll last night and ended up playing 4 games. We are going to go for dinner and out in Seoul on Friday I think.

This week has gone slowly. My Kinder students have been really hard on me lately. They are more advanced then the others in their age group and the work is too easy for them. They have no problem completing the work without my help. This is good, however it leads to more fighting. Lately they have all been fighting. Last week, Lex and Daniel took their shoes off during play time and started hitting Jenny in the head with them. Each day they make me more stressed with their fights and their lack of listening skills. I have became the teacher that yells and takes away everything that is fun. I hope that their behavior improves soon!

All of the teachers left to right:
Alan, Christine, Blake, Gina, Michael, James, Britney, Shauna, Steve and Janice

Gina, Britney and I

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving in Korea

This past weekend we had our own American thanksgiving celebration. Fred headed to Suji on Friday after work to join in our dinner and got here around 10:30pm!! After work, we (9 of the 11 teachers) headed to Alan's house for our dinner. Everyone brought a dish to share along with wine. We could not get turkeys here so we all pitched in and got a few roasted chickens. We hung out at Alan's for a while, talking, playing Wii and enjoying our feast. After dinner we went to a Noreabong. This is Korean karaoke. We sang and danced the night away.

On Saturday, Fred and I headed into Seoul. We went into the Insa-dong area which is known as the art district. We had lunch before walking around hunting for our Christmas presents. We snacked on a traditional Korea street food. It is basically a pancake filled with hot, sweet nut and cinnamon paste. We had this treat in Sokcho and were very excited to find it again on Saturday. On Sunday, we just walked around Suji. I ended up getting a new pair of glasses. Frames and lens for about $42.00!! Crazy! We then had a late lunch in a city called Jeong-ja, 3 subway stops from Suji. We then headed to the bus station so that Fred could get back to Pohang. As always, we had a great weekend together but it is always hard to say goodbye.

Tomorrow is December, which means we are almost at our 5 month mark! In about 4 weeks we will be off to Thailand!!

Our Thanksgiving feast
Christine, Shauna and I
Street performers in Insa-dong
Making art on the street

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Daejeon, South Korea

Fred and I decided to meet this past weekend. We chose to make a little vacation out of it and met in a city about half way between Pohang and Suji called Daejeon. It took me about an hour and 40 minutes to get there and it took Fred a little over 2 hours.

We both got there around 10pm on Friday and headed out for a late dinner. As we were walking it started to snow! Our first snowfall in Korea. We ended up having chicken and tons of side dishes for dinner.

On Saturday we headed to a very important temple, Beobjusa, about an hr away from Daejeon. It is in Mount Sogri National Park. The largest Buddha in Asia is here. There was also a very beautiful 5 story pagoda. After walking around the snow dusted park for a while we decided to head back to Daejeon. We could not feel our hands and toes it was so cold! Once back we headed to an Italian place for dinner and out for a drink after.

Today we got up and walked around town. We shopped a little, had lunch and coffee and relaxed before we had to leave. We both took trains back, Fred leaving around 5 and me around 5:30.

It was a very fun and relaxing weekend!

In front of the pagoda


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Britney's Birthday

Today is Britney's birthday. A bunch of us, Shauna, Christine, Britney, Gina, Steve, Alison, Matt and I went out in Seoul last night to celebrate. We had a great dinner and went to a few bars. We met up with a few people who used to teach at our school, and are now at different schools in Seoul for their second year in Korea. We also met up with a friend of Christine's from home who is teaching near Seoul.

This past week was very crazy at school. We are missing a lot of the students still due to swine flu. Even after our week break, many of the mothers have pulled their kids from LCI until December. The teachers and the owners had a meeting on Friday after school. We decided that we are not going to work on Saturdays or shorten winter vacation due to the swine flu break.

We spent most of Monday and Tuesday revising our class schedules and work because of the break. We are now trying to merge that work with our assigned work. This is making it very hard to fit everything in. The kids are stressed as well with the added work, making the week even longer. On Wednesday, during the lunch hour, one of my Kinder boys, Samuel (the smallest one) basically body slammed one of the girls into the floor sending her to the hospital. She ended up being fine however we were worried that she hurt her leg. This shows you how rough my class truly is!

We were also told to start decorating our rooms for Christmas. Of course, another song contest is involved.

The weather here is starting to get cold! I now have to have my heat on. It is hard to believe that it is already the middle of November! In a few weeks Fred and I will be off to Thailand for Christmas and New Years.

Shauna and I

Britney, Christine and Alison (she teaches at LCI in the city next to Suji)

Most of the staff on Halloween
Back row L-R: Alan, Michael, James, Steve and Blake
Middle row L-R: Michelle (Supervisor), Rebecca (Supervisor), Melanie (Owner), Gina, Janice, Me, Shauna, Jackie (Owner)
Front row: Britney and Christine

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More Philippines Pictures

A typical bus in the Philippines

4 year old crocodile

Starfish Island

Honda Bay

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Swine Flu=Philippines

On Friday after school we got the news that our school would be closed for a week due to swine flu. On Saturday another teacher, Gina, and I booked our tickets to the Philippines and we left on Sunday.

Our flight out of Seoul was delayed about 5 hrs so we did not get to Manila until around 6am on Monday. We stayed in Manila until our next flight at 5pm. We went to the Mall of Asia to waste time. We also saw a 3D IMAX movie called 'Under the Sea.' We then arrived on Palawan island around 6pm. We found a hotel a booked it for 2 nights. They sent us to this great seafood place for dinner. Everything in the Philippines is open. There is a roof but usually no walls. We sat outside and enjoyed our first dinner.

On Tuesday morning we went on a tour to an Underground River. We were picked up at our hotel around 7am and then we drove 2 hrs. Once at the ocean, we took a boat to the island where the river is. We then walked through a jungle area before getting into another boat. The river was in a cave. It goes for miles however to go past the first mile you need a special permit. It is known as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. After the tour we went to a souvenir shop. We ending up meeting this wonderful couple (Virgie and Charlie) that owned the shop. They gave us great suggestions for dinners and things to do. We were talking to them about changing to a hotel with a pool. Virgie said she knew a place and took us there. We walked into this amazing four star hotel knowing that we could not afford it. Then she told us that we could use her corporate account, she is a realtor. We ended up getting the room at less than half price. We then headed to another great seafood place for dinner!

Underground Cave

On Wednesday we went on another tour, this time to Honda Bay. We went island hopping to 3 different islands. The first was Bandan Island. We were there for 2 hour. We enjoyed a great lunch and unbelievable snorkeling. We then headed to Snake and Starfish Islands. The water was pure blue and green. You could see straight to the bottom. We ended up meeting 3 Filipino ladies from Manila who we had dinner with that night. That night we also transferred to our 4 star resort for the rest of our trip!!

On Thursday we spent the morning laying by the pool. In the afternoon we went on a Puerto Princesa city tour. Our first stop was a crocodile sanctuary. We were able to hold a baby crocodile. It was a very cool place. We then headed to the oldest prison in the Philippines. It is an open prison so the prisoners are able to work and live freely on the prison grounds. It was a weird feeling to be walking amongst prisoners. We also saw an old congressman's house, a look out point, the boardwalk, a church and the capital building. After the tour we met with Virgie and Charlie for dinner at a restaurant floating on the ocean. It was very nice to be able to talk with them. They then took us out for iced teas made with Bandan leaves and honey.

On Friday we sat the pool before relaxing and getting messages and facials. For dinner we went back to one of our favorite places, Kanibuchs for more seafood. We then went to the bar at the hotel and listened to the live music, both in Filipino and in English.
Finally on Saturday we had to leave the Philippines and head to Korea.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Videos

My classroom decorated for Halloween

'Orange Pumpkins' for the song competition

Happy Halloween

On Friday we celebrated Halloween. My morning began with a surprise. One of my students, Jenny, who will be gone for a month, came for the day! We tried to begin class as normal however the students could not focus. LCI was decorated, with black sheets, pumpkins, monsters and cobwebs everywhere. We were also playing scary music through the sound system. Many of my students were freaked out.

Then it was our turn to head to the 'haunted house,' aka play gym. Steve, Michael and Blake had worked the night before to make the haunted house, complete with 'eyes' and 'brains' to touch. One of my students Jasmin would not go in the house. She was crying and grabbing onto me as soon as we got there. Steve then came out, with a flash light up to his face, and summoned the students in. No more than 30 seconds later I heard my first blood curdling scream for 'LONDON TEACHER!!' I opened the door and yelled, "its just Steve teacher. Its ok." That did not help much. Soon I heard Blake yell for me to come in. I literally had to carry some of my kids out because they were too scared to move. Once I had scooped them all out to the hallway I looked around. Not 1 or 2, but ALL of my kids were crying and shaking. I then opened the play gym door to show the guys and to yell at them. I later found out that they were laughing and high fiving. After I got them to calm down (which was very hard because I was laughing so hard at the situation) we headed to the snack room. Later in the day Steve came to my room and asked the kids if they were a little scared. Sean very sternly said, "No Steve teacher, a lot scared." Did I mention that my class was the only one that had more then 2 or 3 criers. They all cried!!

We did not do any book work on Friday. Just filled our time with songs, candy and playtime. Before lunch it was our turn to sing our song. The kids did very well. I do not know who won yet.

After Kinder was over, I found out that I will be missing at least 4 of my kids for the next month.

The afternoon went on as normal. The kids were not in costume however they were still excited to see the school.

After school ended for the day we were told that we will be closed for the next week due to swine flu. Many schools in our area are closing so it was not much a surprise to us when we also decided to close. Fred's school is closing for 3 mornings. I hope that they will extend this break for him soon! All of the teachers decided to take advantage of this time to travel. A few teachers are going to Taiwan and a few are going to Thailand (Fred and I are going here for Christmas and New Years.) One of the teachers, Gina, and I are headed to the Philippines. We know that there has been some flooding but it is not in the area or on the island that we're are going to. We leave tonight and will be back on Saturday! Wish us luck!

Harry Potter (Louie) and I just hanging out

My class and I

Haunted House reactions

Jasmin, Jenny, Sarah, Mini and Chelcy
Samuel, Lex, Sean and Louie

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sport day, carving pumpkins and swine flu

Wednesday at LCI was Sport day. The day began an a sad note. Two of my Kinder students are going to be taking a month long 'break' because of swine flu. Daniel, my trouble maker, and Jenny, my smallest, cutest student, will be gone for weeks! Now my class is down to 8.

In the afternoon we carved pumpkins. Most of the students have never carved a pumpkin or even seen a real one. I took off the top and carved the face while my kids took out the insides. All of my kids were excited to do this, except for Samuel. He was not interested in touching the pumpkin at all! They had a lot of fun doing this.

After school we were told that all of our Halloween festivities have been canceled except for the haunted house. Many of the parents are concerned about all of the students being in the same room because of swine flu. (As if it can't spread from room to room in the air.) Also, many schools in our area, and around Korea, are closing. If we have to close for 2 or 3 days we were told that we would have to work on 2 or 3 Saturdays.

As of now, Wednesday night, the Korean government is strongly being urged by doctors to close schools for 'at least 2 or 3 weeks.' There are headlines all of the newspaper websites and on the news. We will see what will happen tomorrow!

Sarah and Samuel


Our jack-o-lantern