Sunday, January 31, 2010

Working on a Saturday

This weekend was a good one considering that we had to work on Saturday. It is hard to believe that out of 12 days, we have worked 11 of them! That is a lot when you are dealing with little kids all day who don't speak your language. By the time Friday came around, we were all pretty depressed to think about coming back to work on Saturday morning. A few of us headed out for dinner after work. Fred had left Pohang right after work on Friday and made his way to Suji.

On Saturday, we woke up and headed to work. Fred came with me to see the school, meet the Korean staff and observe my kids. It was really fun to show him around and see his reactions to everything. It is fun to compare our schools. The morning began and my kids were a little nervous about Fred. That lasted for about 4 minutes before they were all running to him to be hung upside down. The boys adored him and the girls were drawn to him. They all wanted to sit by him, help him, talk to him and quiz his Korean. They were all amazed by how much Korean he knows and that he can write it. Many times during the day, I heard, "London Teacher!! Fred Teacher speaking Korean!" At the end of Kinder, Sean's mom showed up. She came and talked to me as Sean was running around like a crazy child looking for Fred. He was telling his mom all about Fred and trying to get us to come and play at his house on Sunday. Lets just say that he now has 10 fans in Suji!

On Saturday after work most of the staff headed out for dinner and drinks. We played some darts before calling it a night. Today Fred and I relaxed and had a nice lunch before he left to go back to Pohang. It is really hard to believe that I have to go back to work again tomorrow morning!!

Chelcy and Sarah loving Fred's shoes

A bored Samuel, Jenny and Sarah

Fred and Daniel (Fred loves him)

Fred and Chelcy

Samuel, Sean and Jenny

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Half Way

I am officially over the half way point. I now have about 6 months left. It is hard to believe that time has gone so fast. When I first arrived in Korea I was ready to turn around and head home. I am happy to say that my time here has only gotten better. I have grown to love my classes and students. I am adjusted well and finally truly absorbing Korean culture. Soon it will be spring and the rest of my time will hopefully fly by!

Over the past few weeks I have been reminded that kids really do say the darnedest things. On day Samuel, one of my Kinder boys, came to school and ran up to me explaining that his tooth was gone. I said, "Wow you lost your tooth!" What I got in response was a very confused look and, "No teacher. It's at home." How could I correct his 5 year old when he was right?! It was really not lost!

Lately 'Avatar' has been the talk at LCI. One of my older 11 year old students, Lion, had seen it when it was first released. He came to school a few weeks ago talking about it. In the middle of our newspaper class, he raised his hand. Once I called on him he asked me, "Teacher, is son of a bitch bad?" Apparently, during the movie (which is in English with Korean subtitles) he read the term in Korean and knew that it was bad. He remember it in English so that he could ask me about it. I had no response. I sat there in shock for a few seconds before telling him it is bad and to not say it again!

Last week two of my Kinder boys had been fighting, what else is new? Anyway, we were on our way to the bathroom after PE class and Daniel and Lex were fighting. I ushered them into the bathroom and went to wait for everyone to finish. Soon Daniel came out all wet. He told me that Lex had put water on him. As I was lecturing Lex not to dump water on his friends, Daniel tapped me on the arm. He soon admitted, "Teacher no water. Lex pee-pee." As it turns out the fight continued into the bathroom and they peed on each other!! Only 5 year old boys!

I have spent the past two weekends in Pohang. Two weeks ago Fred and I relaxed and saw 'Avatar.' Last weekend we went to the new Steel Art Museum opened by the resident steel company, POSCO. Fred had been there on a field trip with his students. It was very nice even though we couldn't read the descriptions. We had dinner at a really good vegetarian buffet. I am always sad to come back to Suji.

The other week my recruiter Don was in Korea. All of us from MN met him for dinner on Thursday and then he came to LCI on Friday. It was really nice to see him and fill him in on our life in Korea. Later, he ventured to Pohang and saw Fred as well.

This week has gone well. Unfortunately, it is a six day work week due to a snow day we had a few weeks ago. It will be interesting to see how many students show up on Saturday for classes. We had spent a lot of class time practicing for our upcoming 'Festival.' On February 20th we will have a huge show where all of the parents come to watch. My kids have been learning a song and story where each kid has a speech. They were all very fast to memorize their lines and I am actually excited for the end result.

Art Museum in Pohang

Fun in play-gym! Jasmin, Jenny and Samuel

Daniel, Lex and Louie


Lex and his crazy outfit thanks to his mother

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sarah and Chelcy's birthday party

This week we celebrated two birthdays in my Kinder class. Sarah's was on Wednesday the 13th and Chelcy's was on Thursday the 14th. We usually have a birthday party for each student however their mothers combined theirs into one large bash. On Thursday we began the day as normal, with greetings and show and tell. After we practiced our new song, 'It's A Small World,' and then went on with the festivities. Sarah's mother came with tons of food! We had fried chicken, strawberries, cookies, chips, oranges, two kinds of juice, pecan pie and even an ice cream cake. After we took a ton of pictures and sang 'Happy Birthday,' twice, we were able to dig into the feast. All of the kids were soon on a sugar rush! Each student had brought the girls a present. It was a very fun day!

Chelcy and I


Sarah and I
The entire class

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Snow Day

Today was suppose to be our first day back in the new year, however we had a snow day. Our supervisor, Lucy, started calling us around 9:30am to tell us that Kinder was off because of the snow. The buses could not pick up the students because they do not plow the roads here. We were told that we would get updates on the afternoon classes later. Around 11:30 we were told that the elementary classes were also canceled. Today was officially our first snow day!!! It is very surprising to see the little amount of snow it takes to close schools here. It is sure a change from Minnesota!

The view from my apartment

Parking lot near my building

Walking to a little store near my apartment

A few more pictures from Tokyo

A sign in the bathroom: only in Asia

A park near the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station

Entering a temple

View from our hotel

Playing 'Plinko' a famous Japanese game. We won orange juice and chocolate


On Tuesday Fred and I headed to Tokyo. We were suppose to go to Thailand but because I was in the hospital with pneumonia we had to change our plans. We left Tuesday morning from Incheon and took the 2 hour flight to Tokyo!

When we arrived on we had to find our hotel. Apparently there are 2 Metropolitan Hotel Tokyo's. We headed to a tourist information center and they were able to get us to the right hotel. We stayed in the Ikebukuro area. Once we got to the hotel ,we walked around to explore our area. We ended up having dinner at a nice place before going to sleep.

Ikebukuro at night

On Wednesday we got up early to head to the Tsukiji Fish Market. We were told to be there early. We got there around 8am. It was packed with people. All of our time in Tokyo, we never felt surrounded by people except at the market. We walked around and enjoyed all of the sights. We had some oysters grilled right in front of us. We then wanted to get sushi. We saw many little places to get some however one was packed with locals. We decided that this was the place to eat and decided to wait. After about 40 minutes, we got 2 spots on the counter. We ordered a tuna plate and miso soup. It was so delicious! We then walked to Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple. After we hiked to the Imperial Palace. It is only open to tourists 2 days a year so we could not go in. We explored the gardens and the wall. After, we went to see the Meiji Shrine. We had Japanese soup and dumplings for lunch and then walked to the Harajuku area. This is an area filled with tons of non-traditional Japanese teenagers. For dinner we had pizza and wine.

Fish Market

Imperial Palace grounds

On Thursday we went to the Sunshine City Aquarium. They had many different kinds of fish and even a little zoo area. We were able to enter this area and the animals were roaming all over. There were no boundaries or cages. There were parrots, armadillos, lemurs and tons of other animals. We then went to the Sunshine Building observatory deck. We were able to see all of Tokyo. We were even able to go on a outside deck. We then had a Japanese lunch were you cook at your table. It was a mix of cabbage, ginger, cheese, tomatoes, bacon and egg. You form it into a pancake. It was very good! We then took the subway to see Senso-ji Temple and 5 story pagoda. The area was filled with people, beautiful sites and tourist shops. We then went to Japanese restaurant near our hotel for dinner. We were able to order tons of smaller dishes to share. We then went to a nearby bar for a few drinks. We were able to watch the Japanese New Years show and countdown. We could even see fireworks!

Senso-ji Temple and Pagoda

On Friday we tried to go to the Ueno Zoo however it was closed. We then explored a nearby park. There was a lake in the area and it was very relaxing. With Tokyo being such a huge city, it was refreshing to stumble into a park. We then found another pagoda before going to a rotating sushi bar for lunch. We had 30 minutes to eat at least 14 plates. We accomplished the goal! We then walked around the Roponggi, Shibuya and Shinjuku areas. We went into the Government Building to the observation deck. We could see so far and even saw Mt. Fuji in the distance. For dinner we decided to eat at our hotel buffet. It was packed with people and tons of food. Fred was daring and tried jellyfish and blow fish.

Mt Fuji

On Saturday we sat in the Imperial Palace garden near Tokyo station before taking the 1 hour train to the airport. Once we got to our gate, the plane before us was going to Minneapolis! It really made me want to change my ticket!! Overall we had a great time in Tokyo. We had beautiful weather in the 50's, great food and saw tons of sites.
A few thoughts from Japan:
-Japan is NOT obsessed with swine flu
-The Japanese people are so warm and friendly. They don't push you or cut in line.
-The weather is beautiful, even over New Years
-The food is great
-It does not smell
-The streets and subways are very clean and well-kept
-It is expensive
-It does not feel packed with millions of people