Tuesday, November 25, 2008

These Kids Belong in a Museum!

... because they're so darn well-behaved.

In yet another example of Korean kids not being CHILDREN, we took them on a field trip to a history museum. It seems that everything must be inappropriately educational here (as a testament to the value of education here, check out this story in the Wall Street Journal about how almost all of Seoul was shut down for college entrance exam day recently).

I didn't get to go through the museum with them, as I was pulled aside to help some other teachers as we assisted 130 five-year-olds with making antique-type prints, so I'm still not sure what the museum was about... but I'm sure it was great!

Here's my little kiddies looking bored before they even got to go into the museum:

To make the prints, we first spread black ink all over a metal image (I sure did get a few splatters on my jeans)

Then you place the paper, and beat it with a stuffed sock:

After all that excitement, my kids had to sit on the floor for what I think was about 45 minutes... doing nothing... But I was really impressed with how well-behaved they were! They each ended up with 23 stickers for the day for being so good (a typical good day is about 13 stickers). I love my little mini-adults!

Also, on Sunday I had the opportunity to go to my first wedding here! One of our supervisors (and one of my favorite Koreans) Katie got married this weekend... It was certainly a bit different than what I'm used to, especially the fact that the whole thing from start of the ceremony to end of the reception (really, just lunch after the wedding) took only about 2 hours! It was a good time, though, and she looked beautiful!

That's it for now. It's been a little slow around here. Rick's coming to visit on December 20th, and we'll be going to Taiwan the day after Christmas, so I've been too excited for that to be exciting now :)

Oh, and I may be going to a "traditional" Thanksgiving buffet in Seoul on Saturday!! Cross your fingers that there's no kimchi in the stuffing!!

Love you all!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Last night was awesome. I saw Billy Joel live at Olympic Park in Seoul. Wow. He put on a hell of a show, and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to see such an amazing singer and songwriter.

This sign identified the show as a "Super Concert"

Me, Catherine, and Angie - all super-pumped to be here!

The sold-out show before Billy came on:

He opened with Angry Young Man... I filmed a bit of this, then gave it up because I wanted to focus on the AWESOMENESS ON THE STAGE!

Billy rocking out:

He played Piano Man as one of his encore songs. What was awesome was that, for this song, they had the words up on the giant screens - it was like a massive noraebang!

After the show, Catherine and Angie and I decided we were going to get backstage and meet him. At a concert in the States, this would have been nearly impossible due to security. In Korea, they are extremely accomodating.

We ended up at a back door of the stadium, where Catherine just said "Umm, Billy Joel?" No one asked for ticket stubs, wristbands, or any proof that we belonged there. We were directed to a VIP lounge where a bunch of well-dressed Koreans were milling about, and given free scones, muffins, and juice. We were hoping this was maybe some kind of meet and greet, but alas, never got to see Billy. However, we felt his presence in the scones :)

Love you all!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Steve's Birthday - For Cindi :)

We celebrated Steve's 25th birthday last weekend... For a quarter-of-a-century, he still has that youthful glow, hahaha.

I wanted to post some pictures so Cindi (Steve's mom) could see that we're taking good care of her boy:

Steve and his good friend Cole at dinner (we went to an awesome galbi place):

Then we hit up a makgeolli house - Steve's favorite Korean beverage:

Here's the whole group out celebrating the fact that Steve is alive:

The next day, Steve was a little partied-out:

Happy Birthday, man... and I hope you enjoy the pics, Cindi!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Momma!!!!

I love you. Soooooo much... I would not be the incredible, beautiful, amazing woman I am today (hahaha) without your influence, genes, and guidance. You are the strongest woman I know, and I hope you're around at least 31 more years (that's your age, right? 31?? wink wink)...

My kinders were excited that it's your birthday, so they wanted to give you a special treat:

I love you, Momma. Thank you for everything you are, were, and always will be. I couldn't have done anything without you.

ps - The proper spelling of your name was the special bonus question on all of my elementary spelling tests today... For the record, no one got it right... Kind of like in America! (but I think they got closer than Americans... Most kids spelled it "Jalane" or "Jalain"... One girl said "So we're smarter than America?!?!" hahahha)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pepero Day - and fun pictures

Today was Pepero Day in Korea. It's pretty much the most blatantly commercial holiday I've ever heard of. Pepero is a candy, often a sort of chocolate-dipped pretzel or a waffle-cookie-tube filled with chocolate. Because 11/11 resembles five Pepero sticks, November eleventh is National Pepero Day.

I've basically been eating chocolate all day long!

Here's a photo of my PK-12 class (my smartest class) enjoying their Peperos:

All of the kids were on a crazy sugar-buzz all day.

Also, yesterday in my IC-3 class, while I was signing homework sheets, my pen ran out of ink. I said "Oh no! My pen is dying!" When I came back to class after the break, this is what I found on my wall:

Needless to say, it took quite a while for me to stop laughing... I even had the other teachers come in, and everyone got a kick out of it. Shows how important spacing is when writing :) (and how you can be a 25 year old woman in charge of small children, and still have an adolescent sense of humor!)

Finally, Friday was Sun Q's birthday. Another huge birthday feast, so I'll spare you more of the same pictures, but I had to share this one. This was during the "cut the cake with Teacher" time, and Sun Q and I were conspiring to just eat the whole thing and not share it with everyone. Love this pic:

Love you all! Keep the comments coming... there are a few people that I'm wondering if they still read the blog... (UNCLE CJ!...AHEM...)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Halloween Pictures - And my 50th Blog Post!!

Ok, yes, Halloween is over. But I just had to share the awesome pictures from school. The kids were so cute in their costumes!

And the Haunted House was an incredible success. We had at least 20 kindergarteners cry, and at least 15 elementary kids cry. It may sound dark and demented, but we counted that as positive feedback :)

We send weekly reports home with the kinders, and sometimes their parents write back to us. Many parents were telling stories about how their kids couldn't sleep on Friday because they were still so scared! My students are awesome though - their parents said they were scared, but after Emily Teacher explained how it was fake, they were ok. One mother said, "Eileen told me she was frightened, but after you held her in your arms she was calm." So sweet!

And now, without further adieu:

Our ghost decorations:

Ryan thought Emily Teacher's zombie groan was hilarous:

Sun Q and his mother made his snail costume together - I loved it!

The boys:

The girls:

This may have been part of the reason the Haunted House was so scary...

Brett was actually going for kids' jugulars with this mask!

Danielle's awesome Bride of Frankenstein hair:

The lobby at LCI was all decked out:

Song contest:

We didn't win the song contest or the classroom decorating contest, but I did win $40 for best costume! We went out to Itaewon after school for Halloween, and no fewer than 10 Koreans asked if they could take my picture. Guess I'm a pretty believable Zombie Pirate :)

Me and Kung Fu Panda Stacy:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Change has come to America!"

We won!!!

By "we" I mean the USA. Our entire teaching staff today was hooked to minute by minute updates of the race... and the moment Danielle said "CNN has called it for Obama!!!" I got goosebumps... This country is primed for the kind of change Obama's been proposing for years, and thank God we now have the right person in a position to push for that...

I stood in a blizzard for 3 hours to hear Barack Obama speak in El Dorado, Kansas. I cold-called voters during the primaries to get out caucus and voting information. I caucused during yet another blizzard to show my support for and belief in this man. And yet, I still didn't fully realize how AFFECTED I would be by the announcement that Barack Obama will be President. I think the right word is elated... maybe ecstatic... euphoric? Yes. All of these.

Of course, there was some celebrating after work...

Please raise your glasses with us to toast a new chapter in America's history... Here's to you, Barack Obama... And to you, Voting Public... You have been heard.

Monday, November 3, 2008

This life I live...

As foreign as this country is, I'm becoming awfully accustomed to the way I live here. I'm in a suburb of Seoul, and yet I can walk to the next town over in only 20 minutes (along a river, no less). My friends all live very near me, so it's easy to spend an evening at someone else's house.

Just tonight, I realized I was out of water. I walked down to the end of my block and got a bottle of water, a fresh-baked loaf of walnut bread, and a little honey castella (sweet loaf) for breakfast, all for under $5 (and about 15 minutes round trip).

Everything I need is 10 minutes or less from my front door. Bakeries, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, work, friends, stickers for my students - all of these things are just a walk away.

There's a food stand on my way home from work where we sometimes get what we've affectionately nicknamed "Dollar Dinner." You get your choice of three fried items (squid, shrimp, rice, mandu, potato, etc) with a spicy rice-ball sauce called ddokboki on top. It's a decent little meal, and only costs a buck. The lady there recognizes us already, and remembers that I'm the white kid who likes to go light on the spicy sauce, and that Stacy likes hers served up normally. It's charming to be remembered.

Granted, the major attractions and nightlife of Seoul take a little trek on either the bus or the subway, but I think that keeps me out of trouble. :) (ok, out of too much trouble)

At home I lived very near a shopping area called New Market Square, that has restaurants, shops, and a Wal-Mart (what else do you need, right?). But I think the fact that there was no one else out walking made it seem so much farther. Here, you see children running around until at least 10:00 at night, and families are just finishing their dinner around then.

Yes, I think I'm becoming quite fond of this way of life...

Love you all!

ps - Halloween update soon. It was a smashing success, and I have the photos to prove it :)