Archive | November, 2010

I should be embarrassed. Yet I feel proud.

16 Nov

Another Saturday. Another adventure with Ryan.



This week’s activity was hiking. There’s like 5 paths up the mountain in our city, and we basically pass one of them on our way to work everyday, so in a mere 10 minutes, we were headed up.

And up we went. Nothing like getting passed by whining 5 year-olds, dogs in sweaters, and 70 year-old power walkers, to make you feel good about yourself.


My enthusiasm exponentially went down as the elevation went up. My hair looked great.


Oh and once again, the trees were really, really pretty. (refer to previous post)


Note large amount of beautiful trees.


And we actually made it to the top. This was not helped by Ryan’s constant reassurance that “I’m sure the top is just right after this clearing. Yeah, I remember, we’re definitely almost there.”


At that point I had to make it just to spite her, and all those old ladies and well-dressed dogs.

And while the Korean families had a snack and some liquor (for real), we took a few victory pics.


This mountain is my bitch.

And while the way up was more challenging, going down the mountain proved to be difficult in its own way.


-we got lost

-we saw a huge sign with a picture of a scary dog with red eyes, in which Ryan could only make out “CAUTION!” but not what it said underneath:

Ryan: It just says caution! And that picture is really scary.


Ryan: I don’t know, but that dog was really scary. It had red eyes.

Me: I. KNOW. THAT. RYAN. What does it say?!

Ryan: I don’t know! It’s not like you can read it.


-Oh, and I fell. Twice.


Walking FAIL.


The first fall (not pictured) happened on a particularly steep part of the path, where you had to hang on to ropes. As I paused and waited for Ryan, one of those previously mentioned crazy 65 year-old ladies came behind me. In her attempt to pass me, she put her hands on either side of mine. This caused the rope to swing back, and I ended up on her lap.  She giggled and said “Oh my god”;  I said sorry and sort of bowed, and tried to run away. Ryan was looking for the camera.



This post is about the weather. Seriously.

12 Nov

After spending the last 3 years in politically-troubled hot and sunny Arizona, I seem to have forgotten how beautiful fall is.  Which is ridiculous, because fall has always been my favorite season: my birthday (anywhere from 1-2 weeks),  football & soccer, less sweating in general, and some of the best fashion of the year*

*While winter  is about not freezing to death or killing yourself, and summer is about not sweating to death and binge-drinking poolside, fall and spring are about expression – whether that’s with sassy tights and boots, or actually wanting to write on my blog because I’m sitting at a coffee shop looking at the most beautifully colored trees I’ve ever seen.

No I haven’t upped my meds or resorted to sniffing glue; I’m seriously this jazzed about how pretty fall is in South Korea.  So pretty, in fact, that last Saturday I sat outside and read, wrote on the blog, drank coffee, and took some ghetto pics of the trees. I didn’t have my camera, so I held up my laptop and got a few shots. They’re totally low-budget and don’t do it justice, but you get the idea.

Yummy and foggy and snuggly, oh my!

The other side of the cafe porch:

I live here. No big deal.

Some gorgeous lady I saw (hint: it’s me!) :

The following are totally NOT pretentious: a) blogging at a coffee shop b) documenting said blogging with unnecessary self-pics c) that hat d) all of the above


And although this pic wasn’t taken in South Korea, it was too absurdly precious not to post:

My smitten, beautiful mama + my perfect little peanut of a nephew + a striking fall tree = my cynical black heart melting (a little)

And yes, I’ve now become a crazy-obsessed aunt, because that kid is so damn cute. Just be happy I’m not posting all the pics of him, because I totally could. But then you’d stop reading – and then I’d be like those annoying parents who used to have a life but now just constantly update their Facebook status about their kids’ latest facial expression/bowel movement/miniscule achievement.

I just took this post in a whole different direction.

So on that note, happy fall!

More Fun at a Child’s Expense

10 Nov

Lucky for you, I’ve been assigning my students a lot of writing lately. They also had to complete on-line tests, where they not only wrote answers, but had to talk into a microphone that I later listened to. (re: a lot of Napoleon Dynamite breathing)

I present to you, the highlights:

Question: Write about someone special in your family. Why is that person special?

Answer: “I’m special person in my family. Because my parents ugly but, I’m very handsome in my family. My sister is look like boy. And ugly, too. So I’m very special in my family.”

Score: 4.5/5

Question: Write about your favorite activity.

Answer: “My favorite activity is send message with girlfriend. It is fun. Because I’m boy and girlfriend is girl. So different type of think. I listen her idea and give idea for her. She likes message with me and I like, too. So we cannot stop send message. Send message is my activity.”

Score: 4.5/5

Question: How do you get to school?

Answer: “I go to school by my 2 feet.”

Score: 3.5/4, with props for the poetic syntax

Fun with vocabulary sentences:

Vocab word: Pouch

Sentence: “My mom has a pouch.”

Vocab word: Enemy

Sentence(s): “She is my enemy. I must destroy her.” (from the girl who draws hearts on her papers)

“The lion is my enemy.”

Vocab word: Petunia

Sentence: “When I am embarrassed, my face turns petunia.”

Other special moments from the week:

-One of my 12 year-old boys crossed his legs, got a very serious look on his face, and began quizzing me on my romantic life. After giving me some worldly advice, the bell rang. He looked at me earnestly and said, “We’ll talk more later.”

-The kindergarteners sang Jingle Bell Rock repeatedly for 50 minutes today. But they only know the first verse.

-A different 12 year-old boy was playing with a toy, that was basically a small bouncy-ball attached to a string, so you never actually lose it. He decided I should try to play with it, but he still had the string attached to his finger. I pulled the ball back and bounced it on the ground, only to have it come back and hit him right in the balls. I’m serious. He fell to his knees and yelled, “Teacha, you hit me in the. . . owwwww!” I could not get my class to settle down for at least 5 minutes. But now the other boys respect me more because they think I somehow had the fine motor skills to do that on purpose.


Happy work week, y’all!

It Happened One Night

9 Nov

So last Wednesday, Ashley, Margaret, and I were walking home from school. It’s really cold here, and we were hungry, so we were basically jogging.

All of a sudden, a man runs up behind us and asks us to stop. He was tall, handsome-ish, and looked to be about 40. He said hello and asked if one of us would be his English tutor. Granted, it’s not that weird for Koreans and foreigners to become friends and then help each other learn their respective languages, but it was weird to have  a Korean man chase us down on the street.

Not only were we cranky, but we were very skeptical of this possible creeper (I also watch too much Law & Order, so I’m convinced everyone is going to kidnap us and drive off in a van).

He goes on to explain that he’s actually a movie star here in Korea, and he needs help learning English for a movie. One look at his Adidas track pants said he was lying. (Only Madonna can pull that “look” off).  He named a few movies he had been in, and introduced his very well dressed friend as his manager. I was inclined to believe this due to the manager’s constant chain-smoking and cellphone shouting.

Because our limbs were slowly amassing frostbite, Ashley stepped up and gave him her number. We followed suit, because Korean men really aren’t creepers. (I mean, this isn’t South America yo) We also asked him to write down his name so we could inspect the whole “movie star” thing.

Cue Thursday, when a quick Google search reveals that we actually had a 10 minute conversation with some B-list Korean George Clooney. The Korean teachers literally went bananas, asking us why we didn’t know him, and if we could get him to the school, and how did he look, etc, etc.  To this date, I have never seen my boss more excited.

Kim Sang Kyung, top right: Actor and personal friend

He actually called Margaret on Friday and tried to set up a time to meet for tutoring. Once the Korean teachers figured out who she was talking to, they were pushing to stand by her and listen to his voice on the phone.

If this had happened in America (which it wouldn’t), I would have known everything about the celebrity, from who he last dated, to his current drug problem (pills are in right now) and his latest film’s box office numbers.

But maybe it was our whole “uninterested” vibe that he liked. You know, getting back to his roots and keepin’ it real with the middle class.

Either way, I’m basically best friends with a Korean movie star, no big deal y’all.

There are no dinosaurs here. . . of course.

8 Nov

Last Saturday, Ryan, Betsy and I headed up to Seoul to tour Gyeongbokgung, the main (and very famous) palace from the Joseon Dynasty. (Yes I googled that for spelling)

A prime learning tourist opportunity, on what turned out to be a really pretty day. (Autumn in South Korea looks fake because it’s so pretty)

Before starting our guided tour, we watched the changing of the guards. It began with one, loud drum beating which caused me to ask what was happening.

Ryan responded with, “dinosaurs.”  An older Korean woman then approached us, and said: “It’s drums. There are no dinosaurs here.  . . of course.” She then looked really sad for our general ignorance and walked away.


Palace at the entry way. Note the lack of dinosaurs.

This is the inside of the palace in the previous picture:


The King had the same decorator as Teresa Guidice.

We then headed over to the stage and watched a dance performance.

Fabulous use of color, just sayin'.

After this, we realized we needed the help of an actual tour guide because we couldn’t find anything. And when we did find stuff, we had no idea what it was. Our tour guide was an adorable lady who would concentrate on one English word at each stop, and repeat it loudly. It was actually an effective tactic because her enthusiasm was contagious. So, I came away from the tour with a lot of one-word descriptions. (CHIMNEY! QUEEN! ROYAL!)*

For the first part of the tour, we thought she was saying “lawyer” instead of “royal.” As in, this is where the lawyer wedding took place. This is where the lawyer family slept. I seriously just thought they had a strong appreciation for rules and billable hours.

This is where the King had parties. Respect.

This is the Queen’s garden:

The original Real Housewife.

The queen got her own palace to sleep in, but unfortunately so did the Queen’s mother-in-law.  Apparently early Koreans were much like modern-day Italian men, in that they can’t let go of their mothers. The King’s mother chose the Queen, and 5 or so concubines for the King. The concubines slept in their own little house on the grounds. This caused me to make Tiger Woods jokes for the rest of the tour.

Where the King and Queen drank tea and chillaxed

Sophisticated and cultured:

Next Christmas card

A fabulous day – thanks Ryan for making me get out of bed and do this.

As they say, a girl never forgets her first palace.

Halloween Recap

6 Nov

Sorry for being MIA for a week; I have no excuse, except extreme laziness. And the fact that I located a DVD rental place close to my house.

And I’ve been busy whipping my hair with Willow Smith.

First order of catching-up business: Halloween!

My (least favorite) holiday isn’t really celebrated in Korea (hooray!) but it is at our school (meh). The kids get really excited because they only get to dress up and get candy at their English schools.

A Korean child’s natural enthusiasm/overall cuteness + way too much American candy = Cla Teacha Stroke Out. Once Friday was over, the teachers went out to eat and then literally all passed out. This is a far cry from my last few Halloweens, but a nice change from seeing girls get sloppy drunk in really skanky costumes (that just sounded especially old and lame).

But I digress.

Here are some of my favorite pics from the day:


Eddie Teacher's movie-quality Shrek costume


Fact: I saw him get his Shrek-head stuck in a doorway.



My student Jack wearing a bald cap. Yes I just wrote that sentence.



My favorite class: they are funny, smart and almost always the best part of my job. I showed them the “Thriller” video, which caused some confusion as to whether Michael Jackson died in real life because he was a zombie. (a pretty clever theory if you think about it)


My lovable little spazes



Our teacher dinner cooking:


My little brother's dream meal: bacon.



The only thing missing from this Halloween was my annual Hocus Pocus marathon. Which basically means I just watch it for like 2 weeks straight. Apparently the comedic genius of Bette Midler is lost on the Koreans. Sigh.