Saturday, February 16, 2008

"TEACHER! Are you a Korean people?"

This week I started teaching. It was a whirlwind of classes, preparation, and cute kids with the sweetest smiles. My classroom is super tiny, but it works (will post pictures later). Monday I had the first day jitters, but after my first period I was calm and everything ran pretty smoothly. It turns out that on Tuesdays and Thursdays I don't have a class my first block 1/2 periods until public school starts. That gives me the privilege of doing some office hours, prep work, and observations during the next two weeks. Today (Friday) I didn't have any classes...This should be the norm. I spent six hours creating quizzes for future cycles.

I have two small classes...The first one is a Monday/Wednesday class. Mike and Robin are the babies out of all of my students...They are brand new and eager to learn. Mike has a smile that could get him out of trouble and Robin has caring eyes.

My other small class is a higher level course. Currently, Minji is the only student in it...Maybe in March my other student will show. Minji is an intelligent girl, she attends an international school and is learning French and Chinese in addition to learning English. I think I am really going to enjoy this class because I will get to know her well and because it's more of a debate and essay style course.

There are a number of other children that have made impressions on me as well. Johnas-- "I don't like school. Don't like reading. Don't like English. Don't like homework." Teacher--"So what do you like Jonas?" Jonas--"Games!" Behind his round Harry Potter glasses there is a very expressive face which makes me smile every time I look at him. In the same class there is a boy named Daniel. He is a happy boy and likes to laugh. During the quick twenty minute period he kept me and the rest of the students laughing.

During a quiz, I had one little girl named Yujin ask me, "Are you a Korean people?" I told her right now it is quiz time, during the break she could ask me more questions.

I never thought I would be a teacher, but here I am and I enjoy it.

I'll leave you with some photos of food that I ate this past week...

Cham-chi kimbap (bottom) and kimchi mandu (top)....

The Titanic roll from ROLLS.

Yes! They have Pizza Huts in Korea (less/little sauce)...They package your leftovers nicely.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Where ever the wind blows...

Every time I step out of my office-tel I get this anxious feeling. It subsides by the time I'm walking among the other Koreans, I just wish it didn't happen at all...

Today I took a trip to NamDaeMun Market. I think it only took me 30-40 minutes to get there by subway.

This is a huge place with many vendors selling all sorts of items. Some with good prices, some with not so good prices. For example, I wanted to get another pea coat. I bought one for 45 KRW (originally it was 55)...about an hour later I discovered a store that had a large number of pea coats and jackets for 15-30 KRW.

I also ended up paying 10 bucks for a snack of chicken skewers...NOTE: ask how much before sitting down and eating.
At the beginning of my shopping excursion I thought I would get lost in the market because it was so large...towards the middle of my journey I discovered that I had gone in a circle about once or twice...The market was packed, but I didn't mind it so much. There were a large number of foreigners shopping as well.

When I see other foreigners I get this comfortable feeling because I know they are just like me or were like me. Struggling with the language barrier and new to their surroundings. Then I realize that when they see me they just see another Korean. They don't think I speak English, or that I come from Mississippi where there are Fried Pickles and Fried Green Tomatoes. When my eyes see the people I am familiar with, I can't let them linger too long...Foreigners get stared at by Koreans which can be uncomfortable. I don't want them to think that I'm just gawking at them in awe or negatively. Although when I see them, I can't help thinking what their story is. Why they are here and where they come from.

Some guys were sitting at one of the food vendors and as I passed by they started talking to me. Of course I didn't understand them so I continued listening to my mp3 player and pretended to not notice them. All of a sudden they holler something at me and I turn around. Haha--a vendor looks at me smiles, says something and points to them. I immediately respond and say, "I don't understand them. I speak English." He nods and points me in to his "shop." Ha ha, I'm sucker and buy some cute black pumps that I had on my list of things to get.

(Watch out for those Korean men!--RD's advice to me...taken.)

I bought a towel, pea coat, 6 mugs, an umbrella, 2 pairs of leggings, three pairs of shoes and a bag to tote all of it around. I wanted to buy a floor mat but it started getting cooler and my feet were hurting so I headed to the subway.

This coming Monday starts the spring semester at E-Spirit. I'm really excited about teaching. Hopefully, I won't have an rascals in my classes. Tomorrow Marie will be coming over to my apartment so we can prepare a little bit more.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ne, Anio, Juseyo, Kamsa hamnida, and All That Jazz.

Welcome to South Korea. The land of girls wearing short skirts and leggings in freezing weather, delicious foods, PC bangs, and soju.

When we arrived in Seocho, we went to this restaurant right around my apartment. It was delicious and the environment was pleasant. The restaurant was on a side street where they cook the meat in front of you. Next time I eat at an establishment like this one I will take pictures. I also tried soju for the first time at this restaurant. It is potent. I only took one shot--hehe--and I felt the affects quickly. It has a slightly odd taste to it, it isn't something that I would want to drink by itself a lot.

Sunday we went to Yongsan to check out one of the largest, if not THE largest electronic stores in Seoul. If I remember correctly, there was one entire floor dedicated to just cell phones. I managed to buy a hair dryer and an iron for 35 bucks...The guy wanted 40 for the two...I still think I could have gotten it cheaper.

I also went to the Army base in or near was useless to get on base. I can't do much of anything. The PX now has the rule, if you don't have a "ration control card" you can not enter the facility...At least we got to eat REAL Popeye's.

We went to the Costco in Yangjae, it is gigantic! I had never seen escalators that accommodate buggies. I spent about 30000 KRW for a year'll be worth it since I can get cheese, meat, and foreign food items there...but the prices are not impressive.

Koreans like to hand out stuff for free on the street. Cards that advertise their bar that have candy with them, international calling cards, sewing kits (which I got), etc...They also like to sale stuff to you--while you are eating, riding the subway, inside the subway station, etc.

Looking Korean and not being able to speak Korean has been interesting and some what of a challenge...One girl started laughing and laughing when she realized that I could not speak it. She was pleasant though ;) It is hard because I don't want to be rude and ignore the people when they speak to me, but I also don't want to say anything either because it just confuses them even more.

Before training today I went to go get some noodles from the 24hr Mini Mart downstairs...The cashier was very helpful and spoke a good bit of English too. He showed me how to mix everything together and showed me where the hot water was. Many of the Koreans that I have had interactions with have been very nice...

Yesterday I rode the subway by myself and did not get lost! I was so proud of myself for being able to accomplish a task such as this. On the way back to my apartment I was listening to my mp3 player and "Tell Me" came on...If you don't know what this song is, it is a song by Wondergirls, a Korean Pop was popular for awhile and still is.
Anyway, it made me smile and made me feel like a real Korean for a moment on the subway.