A Year in Seoul - video by Maddy

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Englishee Speechee Contestuh

Last week we had a Speech Contest for our 3rd and 4th graders. About twenty students were forced by their parents -I mean volunteered - to write elaborate speeches in English and then spend every waking moment memorizing them. They then had the privelage of reciting their speeches for a room full of teachers all in the hopes of being named number one.

The results were nothing less than adorable, and after a week of correcting and typing speeches I got to sit back and enjoy the show. I was really impressed with how well the students did. Here are some pictures and a very short video that I managed to take in between my judging duties. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An Interesting New York Times Article...

If you have a chance, check out this article on North/South Korea. It's an interesting take on the situation.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I think its about time...

...to give you a little more K Pop

so enjoy The Wonder Girls "So Hot" because you may be hearing them over in the States soon. They are releasing an English album and going on tour with the Jonas Brothers. Go K Pop!

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's been a long eventful week in which I've barely stepped foot in my apartment. Last Tuesday through Friday I had a GEPIK (Gyeonggi English Program in Korea) Teacher's Workshop so I traded in my regular work days for a sleep over camp/prison for foreign teachers. I was able to sleep in a bit on Tuesday before heading to Guemjong Station where they promptly carted us off to the middle of nowhere. The Workshops used to be held in the city, but the teachers spent a little too much time at the bars so this time we were headed for Guam. We were told we couldn't leave "the compound" past 7 pm, but that the convenience store on the premises would sell beer. There was also a driving range, walking path, and some nighttime entertainment. Goody.

The opening ceremony was interesting, to put it mildly. We were told we were going to see a performance and then in walks three very scantily clad Korean girls with instruments which they preceded to "fake play" to recorded music while they danced provocatively. It was all a little much for a Tuesday morning, but hey, it's Korea. The rest of the time we attended lectures on teaching techniques and co teacher relationships and did some practice teaching. Some of the lectures were really interesting and I left with a lot of new ideas to use in the classroom. At night they played Korean movies and we just hung out and had a few beers. We watched a great movie called the Host which I highly recommend if you can get your hands on it. It was a monster movie, but minus all the Hollywood cheese. This one was funny, thrilling, sad, and satirical all at once.

On Friday we finished at 11 am and the sun was shining. I couldn't wait to get home and was extremely grateful for the half day. I had to unpack then repack immediately because I was off to Jeju Island for the weekend. Jeju is known as "Honeymoon Island" or "The Hawaii of South Korea", but I laughed off both descriptions feeling absolutely sure there was nothing even closely resembling Hawaii in Korea. It's located just off the southern coast of the country and I thought it was too far north to look the way it had been described to me. I was wrong, however.

Maddy and I had signed up for a biking trip through meetup.com and we were leaving early Saturday morning. Luckily, Maddy lives right near the airport, so I spent the night at her place, avoiding waking up before dawn.

The trip was absolutely amazing. The weather must have decided it owed me one, because despite forecasts of rain we only saw sunshine and blue skies. On day one we biked around Udo Island, a smaller island off Jeju's East Coast, then hiked up a volcanic crater for a nice view of the island. We went to ride horses after that, which was more of a kids' pony ride than anything. The horses trotted around for a while then ran around in circles on a track while I tried to hang on to both the saddle and the ridiculous cowboy hat they made me wear.

In the evening we headed to our lovely hotel by the beach for a BBQ (complete with tofu for us veggies) and a campfire under the stars. The next day the weather was even more perfect and after spending the morning at the beach, Maddy and I decided that we just couldn't bear to leave for the scheduled itinerary that consisted largely of being indoors. We opted to catch a cab and meet the others at the airport, so we spent the rest of the day lounging on the sand and eating delicious fresh seafood at a Japanese restaurant overlooking the ocean.

So Maddy and I had a delightful Honeymoon amidst the palm trees and blue green water. We came home refreshed and significantly sunburned and after two weekends away, I'm ready to take on the city again.

Enjoy the pictures below!!

Honeymoon Island

My trip to Jeju Island, located off the southern coast of South Korea, in pictures.
I have to remind myself that this is Korea.

Beach bums

Crystal clear water

We ate some amazing fresh seafood

There were baby horses everywhere, it was heaven.

We hiked a volcanic crater... the view from the top
Made it!

Nothing but blue skies.

The hike down

Woman power!

The view from our balcony

Sunset at the shore

Campfire tales

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More pics


enemy # 1

more fireworks




Chilling at the tent

drinking games

Sunshine Funshine??

Went camping at the beach last weekend. Took a six hour train ride to Mangsang Beach on the East Coast and the weather was crap. We still had a great time though, played some football, raced quads, shot off fireworks and drank too much Whiskey. Who needs the sun when you've got good company??

Check out some pics courtesy of the organizer/bday girl Eunyoung!

Our super sexy (and classy) first night's accomodations. Hey, who's picky at 4 am??

The ocean! Finally!!!!

JMP and out wonderful borrowed tent (that I lugged everywhere)

Wearing my fav "Englishee tshirt"

Lacy managed to blow up the beach ball although it was a bit too windy

teaching the Brits about football

loving Eunyoung, the birthday girl. Boop!

card games

All beach and no sun makes drinking a priority...

ummm... fireworks and sparklers??? yes!!!

survived the weekend... at the train station

Staking out the diner car on the ride home

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Oh my noraebang!!

For those of you not in Korea - noraebangs are a phenomenon that might be referred to as Korean Karaoke Rooms. They are absolutely everywhere and if you see some Koreans drinking soju you can bet they will be hitting up the noraebang shortly. In Korea, karaoke is done in private rooms. That way, you can make a fool of yourself and only your coworkers will see, not those pesky strangers.

I nearly died today at work when my friend Steve posted this video online of the comedic genius that is Flight of the Conchords doing up a noraebang.

Please enjoy. You can thank me by mailing me some Mexican food (really, please, I'm dying over here.)


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I could use a drug store human about now

I love the charge that hangs in the air after a thunderstorm; the way the sky tints a sickening yellow adding an edge to a dismal gray day. I can't relax. I feel excited for no reason at all. For two weeks now I have barely slept. This is my first flirtation with insomnia and its somewhat fascinating. Normally, I am a healthy sleeper. I need 7-8 hours to feel my best, no more or less. Lately, I average about five. I stay up entire nights to do things like go to Incheon on a Wednesday and watch a soccer game that I don't know anything about. It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Presently, the storms have receded to nothing more than rumbling threats on the edge of my mind. They threaten my Saturdays but stay safely out of view. The sun once again fills the sky, spiking temperatures and causing restlessness all around. The heat has made my students much more difficult to handle, but also much more hilarious. My third graders have gotten in the habit of coming into the classroom calling, "Hello moto" like little parrots. The students have also been coming up with some interesting answers to my questions.

me: What do you call somebody who works in a pharmacy?

6th grade boy: Ummm... drug store human!!

me: What do you want to be when you grow up?

student: Crazy!

I also have a friend who asked his students what the currency in Mexico was and they answered "Nachos!"

They have also decided that every white woman in any powerpoint I show looks just like me. It doesn't matter how old she is, or which class I am showing the picture to, its always, "Oh, look, Brittany Teacher!" And they do this with complete sincerity. Come on, I can't really look like the forty year old woman with the chin length haircut... can I?? I decided to ask my coteacher about it and she confirmed my suspicion: we white people all look the same.

I know, I know, its a common stereotype that you are tired of hearing about. Or wait a minute...

Apparently my coteacher's mother doesn't even like to watch American films because she can't tell the characters apart. So really, I can't blame my students, because that thirty five year old female scientist with brown hair could easily be my twin sister.

Also amusing was the day I wore a dress to school for the first time. Its taken three months, but I wasn't in the mood until the weather got hot. I had several conversations that day that went something like this:

Korean Teacher (with look of complete amazement): You look nice today.
me: Thank you.
KT: you are wearing a dress.
me: yes... I am.
KT: Oh, is it a special day?
me: No, not really. It's just hot.
KT: Oh, because you always wear pants.
me: Yeah, I usually do wear pants.
KT: But today you are wearing a dress so I thought maybe it was a special day.
me: nope, just a regular day
KT: Its just that every day you have on a shirt and pants....

Either Koreans really don't like change or I need to start dressing nicer at school.

On a totally different note I have some fun weekends coming up. I am going camping at the beach on the east coast this weekend, then next weekend will be biking and more beach on Jeju Island. Jeju is off the southern tip of Korea and is known as the country's Hawaii, however I am fairly certain there is nothing even slightly resembling Hawaii in Korea. It is supposed to be really nice though and Maddy and I are taking the trip with a meetup.com group so we will meet a lot of new people.

Then in July we have Mud Festival. Basically it's exactly what it sounds like: a big group of people (mainly foreigners) gather at the beach, drink, and throw mud at each other all weekend. What could possibly be better?? I mean that. Mud is the best. Oh, and I also have my bungee jumping adventure coming up the last weekend in June (see my poll ----->).

I have had a blogging lull lately now that I have settled into a routine. Everything that used to seem strange has become normal and all the things that used to be normal feel strange. I've been rambling on about nothing a lot but hopefully I will have more to say now that life is getting eventful again. Thanks for bearing with me (and if you bailed long ago you don't even know I'm writing this or that I am giving you the finger right.... now.)