Sunday, May 30, 2010

May Field Trip


Sean, from my old class, and I


My class and I with my supervisor Michelle


Samuel, from my old class, and I


Gimbap: traditional lunch that most of the students brought. It is similar to sushi but usually without fish


My class and I

Last Thursday we took a field trip to Seoul Land. Seoul Land is an amusement park outside of Seoul. We visited the flower gardens and the zoo. We all arrived at LCI around 9:40am and waited for our kids to arrive. Once they did we took them off of their small LCI buses and put them onto one of three coach buses. On my bus was my class, Josh's class and Nathan's class. We rode about 40 minutes to Seoul Land. Once there we walked around the gardens then through the zoo. The animals were minimal but the kids loved it. We saw moneys, rabbits, turtles, horses, sheep and dogs. We then had a picnic lunch. All of the students came with a packed lunch and the teachers were given food from the school. Many of the kids had extra food, or even entire extra lunches, for us teachers. We then walked around some more and took photos before getting back on the bus to Suji. It was a very tiring day. It is not easy to walk around a huge place with only about 15 adults and 100 kids who are 6 years old and under. To add to the drama, the kids had to carry their backpacks with their lunches. When we got back to LCI our owner bought all of the teachers coffee to liven us up for our next 4.5 hours of classes. Overall, it was a very successful field trip.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Simon's Birthday

This past Wednesday we celebrated Simon's birthday. The kids were so excited. They all came to school with gifts and lots of energy. As Simon came into the room they all started singing to him. He was such a proud boy. He leaned over to me and said, "teacher secret, piano cake. Chocolate piano cake." It turns out that his mom had indeed bought a piano shaped cake. We also ate watermelon, candy, cookies, yogurt and even a coffee for me. We took tons of pictures and then opened presents. It was a very fun morning!
video

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Buddha's Birthday






This past weekend we celebrated Buddha's Birthday. It is one of the most important national holidays in Korea. This year it fell on a Friday so school was closed. On Thursday after work, Steve, Josh and I took a night bus at 9:30 from Seoul to Pohang. We arrived in Pohang a little before 3am. The bus normally takes less than 5 hours but there was a lot of traffic leaving Seoul. Korean people usually work 6 days a week and there are only a few national holidays which results in a lot of people leaving Seoul when they get the chance.

Right away on Friday morning we took a bus to a neighboring city, Gyeongju. It is very significant in Korean history and has one of the most famous temples in Korea. We decided to try and beat the rush, which worked but the area was still packed with people. The temple was covered in lanterns. There were people everywhere, both for religious purposes and for tourist reasons. After walking around one temple we took a bus ride up a mountain to another. The bus was packed so we had to stand, being swung around as we made our way up the road. Once we were close to the top, the bus broke down. Instead of waiting we got out and walked the rest of the way. We walked around a smaller temple then continued to walk to grotto. Inside there were stones everywhere. There were large Buddhas carved out of gigantic pieces of stone. In the center there was an amazing Buddha. It was one of the coolest things that I have seen in Korea but we could not take pictures. We then took a bus back to Pohang and relaxed before dinner. Fred and I took the boys to our favorite clams place on the beach. From there we shot off fireworks on the beach. It was a very fun day.

On Saturday it was very rainy. We had lunch then decided to go see a movie. We saw the new Robin Hood movie and then walked around downtown for a while. We just relaxed for the rest of the day.

Sunday was also rainy so we went to the Pohang Museum of Steel Art. Fred and I had been there before but most of the art had changed. From there we had pizza and watched a movie before we had to leave. We decided to take trains home to avoid the traffic on the roads. We took a train from Pohang to Daejeon and a train from Daejeon to Suwon. We got back around 12:30am. It was a very fun weekend and I can't wait to get back to Pohang.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More Lantern Festival pictures


Children waiting to perform

In front of the temple


A ceiling of lanterns

Lantern Festival


South Korean flag made out of lanterns near the temple

This past Sunday Fred and I went into Seoul to attend the Lotus Lantern Festival. It takes place in the middle of May each year in honor of Buddha's birthday. This year the holiday falls on Friday the 21st. We took the bus into Seoul and then walked to the festival area. There were many individual sections of the festival. The first on that we arrived at was a roped off block where tables lined the street. Each table was set up to show foreigners how to make lotus flower lanterns. There were literally signs in Korean and English that said 'foreigners only.' We had not registered early so there were no spots left for us to join. After watching for a while we moved on.

Entrance of the temple
We then arrived at a temple which was the hub of the festival. The temple was covered in thousands of lanterns, from the rooftop to the entrance. The South Korea flag was formed from lanterns above the temple. There was a stage set up where musical groups and children performed traditional dances and songs. From there we went to another area, at least 3 blocks, that was lined with different booths. Here we made Buddhist prayer breads and walked around. You could make paintings, buy books, speak with a monk, learn dances and do yoga. It was so much fun to see all of the activities. After walking around for about 4 hours we headed to Seoul Station so that Fred could get on a train to Pohang. It was such a beautiful day and it was exciting to partake in a very important Korean festival.
Older women in Korean Hanboks, enjoying the show

Traditional tea ceremony

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Teachers Day

Teachers are very honored and respected in Korea. The month of May is filled with family holidays such as Children's Day and Parents Day. Teachers also have a special day. May 15th is Teachers Day in Korea. This year we celebrated on Friday the 14th at LCI. The morning began with students swarming the staff office with cards, gifts and hugs. I was given many cards from my Kinder students along with chocolate, flowers, lotion gift sets, cookies, candy and even strawberry milk. Most of my students mothers came during the class music time and met with me. They gave me an award, a very nice Lancome gift set and a bouquet of flowers. It was very nice. As the day went on, move gifts arrived for the teachers as a whole. We ended up with donuts, pecan pies, chocolate cakes and candies. I even got a hair band from my old Kinder student, Jasmin and a traditional handcrafted jewelry box from my old Kinder student Lex.

The office at the end of the day

My desk


Flowers from my Kinder class

As the classes went on the gifts continued. From my elementary students I got more cookies, two cakes, brownies, flower pens, flowers and lotions. At the end of the day we headed to dinner and met up with Fred, who came to visit this weekend.

On Saturday many of my co-workers, including 3 Korean staff members, Fred and I headed to a LG Twins baseball game. The game was sold out and so much fun. It was about 65 degrees and perfect. We met a Korean man who saw our MN Twins gear and started talking to us. It turns out that his major was English Lit and he was very social with us. He knew about Minneapolis and St. Paul, and of course our winter weather! Unfortunately, the Twins last 13-2. It was a great way to spend a Saturday evening!

At the LG Twins game

Fred, Steve and Josh with our Korean friend

Friday, May 14, 2010

Paragliding


Last weekend, my co-workers Steve and I went paragliding with one of our supervisors, Michelle. On Sunday we left Suji and took a bus ride for about 2 hours to Mung-young. Once we arrived we were picked up by the paragliding company and driven to their site. We had to wait a few minutes before we were drove to the top of the mountain. As the trucks were being unloaded we were all given equipment to carry. Soon staff members were swarming us, strapping us in, zipping us up and trying to give us some advice. One of the workers spoke broken English but he was able to get his point across. Most of the time, Michelle translated for us. In a matter of minutes Steve was strapped onto a worker and they were running off of the mountain. Michelle soon followed and I took up the rear. I had to try to take off twice as the wind was pushing us backwards. We were just told 'go' and we had to start running off the mountain. Soon the glider filled with wind and carried us up. I never felt as though I was falling, only being pulled backwards and up. We flew around for about 10 minutes. It was such a cool feeling! When we tried to land, on the top of the same mountain, my guide had a hard time landing. It took us about 5 attempts before we landed. We would miss the mark or come in too high. With each pass, more and more staff members were shouting in Korea. Michelle told me that they kept saying, "get lower" and "you are going to make her nervous." We finally landed and everything turned out fine. Steve and I were amazed that we didn't have to have hours of lessons or even sign one paper. We just got out of the car, into the equipment and off we went! We didn't even pay until we had finished the flight!
We then went into town for lunch before busing back. We could not get on any bus to our area so we had to taxi to another bus terminal about 20 minutes away. After waiting for about 3 hours we got on a bus. This weekend was also Parents Day so the highways were packed. It literally took us less than 2 hours to get there and 5 hours to get home!! Note to self: don't travel on a holiday weekend in a country the size of Missouri with 86 million people!
Steve, Michelle and I

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May Song Competition

video

My Kinder class singing "My Bonnie"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Childrens Day

Last week went by very fast. Korea had a NATIONAL holiday called Children's Day. It is always on May 5th, which was a Wednesday. We had the day off as schools and businesses are usually closed. It was so nice to have a break in the week.

After work on Tuesday most of the staff headed into Seoul for dinner and drinks. It was so much fun to see almost every foreigner that knew because we all had Wednesday off. We even ran into Janice, who finished at LCI in February and started a job in Seoul. On Wednesday I went to a Suwon Bluewings soccer game with Josh and a bunch of our other friends from other schools. The stadium was packed due to free tickets for children. Lucky for us, it was a beautiful spring day in Korea and the soccer game was the perfect way to enjoy the game.

Soccer game

Thursday and Friday flew by at work. On Friday Josh had a Kinder student vomit all over his room. As they were exiting the room, another kid got sick in the hallway as a response to kid #1. After lunch, I realized that one of my Kinder students smelled really bad. I told my supervisors and they informed me that he had really bad diarrhea in his pants! It was a day full of bodily fluids!

Spring has arrived and left Korea. The humidity has already started and the weather is turning into summer. All of the flowers and trees are in bloom and it is gorgeous!

Spring in Korea



In case you haven't heard, I have officially signed on for year two. I will be staying at the same school and Fred will be joining me. We will be home around July 24th and we have to be back in Korea around August 25th. I think it will be a complete change from this year!


My cute, little old man, student, Young in his suspenders

Monday, May 3, 2010

Students


Danny

Class clown Ms. Judy

Ms. Smarty, Audrey

Cute, tiny Young

Funny and shy boy Simon

April trip to Pohang

This past weekend I headed to Pohang for the first and only visit in April. Fred has been coming to Seoul a lot lately so this weekend was my turn to make the journey. I jumped in a cab right after work but traffic was really bad so I ended up missing the first train to Daejeon. Once I got there, I had to transfer trains and head to Daegu. Once I got in Daegu, at 1o:59, I had to catch a bus at 11:05 to Pohang. Unfortunately, there was no way to get off the train, out of the station and make the 10 minute walk to the bus terminal in this time. The next bus doesn't leave until 12:00 so I had some time to kill in the stations. I made it to Pohang around 1:20! Hopefully, I have better luck next time!
On Saturday we headed to Busan. We went to Busan on our summer break last July. It is the second largest city in Korea and it is located in the south, on the coast. It is only an hour and 15 minutes by bus from Pohang so we ventured there for the day. It was a beautiful day! It was sunny and about 80 degrees. We had lunch and stopped by a beach before heading to a sea-side temple. It was very cool to see this temple built on the rocks next to the water. We headed back to Pohang around 6:30 and went to our favorite clams place for dinner. You sit outside, overlooking the beach, and cook your clams on your table. We then met a few other foreigners for drinks.

Sea-side temple


Clams

On Sunday, we walked around town and got my bus ticket. We then went to see "Iron Man 2." Overall it was a great weekend and I can't wait to visit again!