Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Song Contest

Here is a video of my class singing "Witches Brew" for our Halloween Song Contest. We ended up taking third place.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pajama Day

Yesterday was Pajama Day at LCI. It was the kick-off day to this years Halloween Spirit Week. Most of the kids came dressed in their finest pajamas, slippers and robes. The teachers were also comfy! Here are a few pictures from the day.

My class

Freds class

Seoraksan National Park

This past Saturday morning Fred, Josh, Steve, our co-teacher Ann and I headed to Sokcho, South Korea. Sokcho is largest northern most city on the eastern coast. Fred and I went to Sokcho in September 2009 and in February 2010. Even though this was our third visit, we were counting down the hours until our arrival. Out of all of the cities that I have visited since arriving in Korea in July 2009, Sokcho is still my favorite. It is on the ocean yet surrounded by a gorgeous mountain range and Seoraksan National Park. We took a bus at 7:20am on Saturday and arrived three hours later. Right away we bought our return tickets and headed to get lunch and find a hotel before heading to the park. We bought our park tickets and headed straight to the cable car. Unfortunately, the cable car, which goes every five minutes, was sold out for the entire day. We then hiked around the park, visited the large bronze Buddha and went to a temple. We then headed to Waterpia. Waterpia is an indoor and outdoor sauna and hot tub spa. Each tub is a different temperature or has added scents such as Jasmine.

Josh, me, Fred, Ann and Steve in front of the Buddha

After hours of relaxation we headed to Daepo Harbor. We went to our favorite restaurant that we have visited each time we go to Sokcho. The lady immediately recognized us and started chatting. Her restaurant was full so she started to run us around to other restaurants. We ran, literally ran, after her through the street of shops and restaurants as she dodged around people. Finally, we found place that had room for our group of seven. It was a little table outside of the restaurant, right on the main walking street. We had a front row view of all of the action and we sure felt like VIP's. After a delicious meal of stuffed squid and clams we headed to our hotel.

Seafood dinner

On Sunday we headed right back to the National Park. We again tried to get tickets but they were again sold out, for a cable car that goes EVERY FIVE MINUTES. We ended up doing a small 90 minute hike to a waterfall. The leaves were turning red and yellow and the mountain seemed to be gleaming with fall colors. After enjoying the view for a while, we hiked back down. We then headed for the bus to leave the park. I cannot explain how many people were at the park. We waited for a few bus loads before we got shoved on. Once the bus seemed full, the workers who were managing the bus lines, took wooden sticks and shoved us deeper onto the bus. Then they added a dozen people and repeated the process. Once we could not breather in deeply without pushing against another passenger, the bus left the park. We stopped for a snack then headed to the bus station. We got on the bus at 5:30 and arrived back at 10:30. It took us three hours to get to Sokcho and five hours to get back. The amount of people leaving the area were uncountable. The roads were literally stopped. Even though it took us a long time to get home, the trip was wonderful. It was very nice to get out of the city and to truly enjoy fall in all of its glory. I cannot wait to get back to Sokcho this winter!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Halloween at Everland

This past Saturday Fred, Steve, Steve's friend Justin, Josh and I headed to Everland. Everland is the largest amusement park in Korea and is in the top 8 or so world-wide. We had visited Everland last spring but we all wanted to go again and experience the Halloween Party. We met on Saturday morning and took two cabs to Everland. It is about a twenty minute ride from Suji. We got our wrist bands and walked right in. Right away we were able to see the Halloween transformation. The park was covered with ghosts, pumpkins, witches and other Halloween decorations. We were there all day riding rides and eating food. We stayed to watch the fireworks at 9pm then taxied back to Suji after a great day at Everland!

Entering Everland

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jacob's Birthday

Last week we celebrated our second birthday in London Teachers class. Jacob, my smart, emotional and tiny little guy turned Korean 6 (American 5) years old. The students were all excited for this day as they had been preparing and discussing the events for days. We had chocolate cake, bananas, brownies, chocolate candies and milk. Jacob's mom even brought him a special hat to wear during the party. It was a very fun day!

Jacob and I

Enjoying the treats

To add to the excitement, one of my old students returned to LCI. Annie had left LCI in April to move to another school. It turns out that things did not work out there so now she is back. I cannot describe this girl to you. She is so cute but very troubled. She lacks a lot of emotional and behavioral skills that my other students have. On top of this, she is very far behind everyone else in the class. This past week was my hardest at LCI. Annie added a lot of stress to my classroom. She would get out of her chair and literally run out of the room. After a few chases through the halls I just let her go and hoped that the Korean staff would deal with the situation. She is always speaking Korean which is a big no-no in my class full of students who have been learning and speaking English for 20 months. Each day when Kinder ended I was worn out and exhausted from always having to stop for her, to chase her or to tell her to stop signing out loud or turning the pages in her book. On Wednesday all of my Kinder moms came for a meeting. We talked about the updates in class and how each student was progressing. It went well but the moms commented on how I seemed flustered and stressed. They also said that they were very happy with their kids improvements and they were so excited that I am back at LCI. Little did they know about the chaos that was happening down the hall. I have had many conversations with my supervisors about my class and Annie so we will see what happens next.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Weekend in Busan

On Friday after work Fred, Steve, Steve's friend Justin and I headed down to Busan. Busan is the second largest city in Korea, at the southern tip of the country. Fred and I spent our summer vacation there when we arrived in Korea July, 2009. We would also take a bus there for the day from Pohang, which is only about a 70 minute ride. We left work and headed to the Suwon train station. Once we arrived in Busan we found a hotel and went to bed.

We woke up on Saturday morning and headed to Busan Tower. Fred and I were acting as tour guides so we tried to hit the main tourist sites in Busan in a short time period. After visiting the tower we went down to Haeundae Beach. This is the main tourist beach in Busan. It turned out that the Busan International Film Festival was taking place in Busan. We did not know this before our trip but we lucked out with getting train tickets and a hotel. There were festivities all along the beach. There were tents with magazine samples, food, beer and many other give-aways. There was even a man walking around with a cooler backpack giving out samples of traditional Korean rice-wine. We watched a little show on a stage near the beach then headed to Busan Aquarium. After this we sat outside and played cards and watched the fireworks.

Busan Tower

Busan International Film Festival

On Sunday we took Steve and Justin to our favorite temple in Korea. It is on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Sunday was a very warm and sunny day. After touring the temple we relaxed on some ocean-side rocks before getting lunch and catching our train. We took a KTX train back to Seoul. The KTX is Korea's bullet train system. We arrived in Seoul after a less than 3 hour ride (going from one end of Korea to the other) and had dinner at an Indian restaurant before coming back to Suji.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sweet Potato Farm

This past Friday we went on a field trip to a sweet potato farm. We left LCI around 9:50am and loaded into 3 coach buses. After a thirty minute ride we arrived at the farm. We walked around the farm looking at puppies and goats. We continued on to a beautiful field full of sweet potatoes that was surrounded by mountains. The kids joined a line of others and began digging for their treasures. It was so funny to see lines of little kids throwing dirt around as they tried to dig up these potatoes. The manual labor was a great way to burn off access energy! From there we went to feed cows the sweet potato greens. The kids were able to hold long leaves out as the cows munched away. We were then loaded onto an ox pulled wagon. After a two minute ride in a circle around a smaller garden, we headed to eat lunch. The kids had all brought lunches of kimbap (traditional Korean food, rice, veggies and egg wrapped in seaweed) and other goodies. Once we were all filled up we went to feed carrots to horses. We then boarded the buses for the ride back to school. Field trips are always fun and exciting but they always feel like 8 hours. Arriving back at LCI is always exhausting as we still have over 4 hours of teaching ahead of us. Our head supervisor could see our exhaustion and surprised us by delivering pizzas around 4pm. This seemed to give us the energy to finish out the day.

After work a few of us went out for galbi, Korean beef and mushrooms which are cooked on a grill in the center of your table. It turned out to be a very exciting day as we were able to enjoy the beautiful fall weather outside with our students.

Jacob and his sweet potatoes

Digging for potatoes

Wagon ride

Audrey and Judy

Galbi for dinner

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Jeju Island

We recently celebrated Chuseok, Korea's most important holiday which is similar to our Thanksgiving. Due to this we only worked on Monday and had the rest of the week off. Fred, Josh and I headed to Jeju island on Tuesday. Jeju island is the southern most part of Korea. It is regarded as Korea's verision of Hawaii. Seoul ended up getting a massive rain storm, at one point we got 8.5 inches an hour! Our original flight was cancelled. The plane was stuck somewhere so we were told to leave the airport and go back to check-in. After talking with the airline, they refunded our departure flight. We then had to go to another airline, stand in line and hope to get put on a later flight. After what felt like 3 hours we were booked on another flight at 6pm. The rains kept up so we got delayed 3 more times. We ended up leaving Seoul around 8:30pm. After a quick 55 minute flight we landed in Jeju and took a cab to our hotel in the southern part of the island. On Wednesday we woke up at went to Jeongbang Waterfall. We explored the area and went into a museum. We then tried to rent scooters but there were already rented out for the week.

Jeongbang Waterfall

On Thursday we went to Jeju World Cup Stadium, a hedge maze and to a go-kart track. We then headed to Yeomiji Botanical Gardens. We were able to see tons of plant life and climb to an observation tower which overlooked the ocean. From there we went to Cheonjeyeon Waterfall. We were able to see the ocean and two waterfalls.

On Friday morning Fred and I woke up early and went to a green tea plantation. Once we arrived we were able to tour the grounds and drink an unlimited supply of green tea. The plantation was on the side of a hill overlooking the ocean. Within the plantation there was a green tea hedge maze. We enjoyed the wonderful views and the delicious tea! We even had green tea cookies and green tea ice cream.

View from the tasting room

We then headed back to the hotel and changed for the beach. We spent the entire day relaxing at Jungmun Beach. The water was clear and very warm! For dinner we met up with our co-teacher Nathan and some of his friends. Friday ended up being my favorite day of the trip. It was relaxing and beautiful, a true vacation day!

On Saturday morning we checked out of our hotel and took a bus along the eastern side of the island. After about 90 minutes we reached our destination, Manjanggul Lava Tubes. This is longest system of lava tubes in the world. The tubes were dimly lit as we walked around. We were only able to walk about 1 kilometer into the tubes. From there we took a taxi to Jeju City, the main city in the north. We found a nice hotel and had dinner.

On Sunday we woke up and explored the area before catching our flight back to Seoul. Overall our vacation to Jeju was fantastic!