A Travellerspoint blog

July 2008

-i saw your boyfriend today. -which one?

-what are you doing sunday at 6? i want you to take me to a movie and dinner. *laughter from peanut gallery* -which movie? -actually i was just wondering if you wanted to come to my housewarming party.

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last friday started out as another ordinary day. i left for work at 215, got there a little after 230, worked, and wound up staying until 3am. but that's not even why it wasn't an ordinary day. the weirdest thing happened to me. i woke up, and i understood korean. now, before then i could understand some and communicate a little bit, but nothing like what it is now. i can eavesdrop! even if i can't fully understand what they're saying, i can look at them like i do. it freaks them out. i stayed at work with three of the korean teachers and they were discussing various things in korean and every once in a while i'd chime in...you should have seen the looks on their faces. they were so very confused about how i could possibly understand what they were saying. i can't tell them what i think in korean because i think my pronunciation is awful and i'm still working on the grammar thing...so when i talk to them, it's still usually in english...which i think throws them off even more. pretend it were you: speaking korean with friend, white girl living in korea 4.5 months suddenly understands what you and friends talk about, lets you know she knows what you're talking about by conversing with you in english. what? it's sweet.

ok, so...in the last month quite a bit has happened. i moved into my new place. actually, it's kim's old place. i don't like it. it's ok, there's nothing wrong with it, i just liked my place more. the view was better and i had curtains. the morning i moved, the moving "team" showed up...by "team," i mean one adjashi (old man). of course, when we start moving all of my stuff, they finally are just starting to clean kim's apartment. three weeks after she left. i was very annoyed, to say the least. i knew that kim's air con didn't work, so i made it a point to let someone know a week in advance that it didn't work. if you haven't yet heard me complain about the humidity here, i'm about to. take the worst humidity you've ever felt in your life...multiply it by three...you've got korea in the summer. walk outside and within minutes you're drenched. it's not sweat, it's just humidity. it's awful. anyhoo, i asked them to fix the air con before i moved in. no. of course they didn't. so for a few days i had no air con...it was unbearable. i do believe i was grouchier than usual. there's just something uncomfortable about being soaking wet for no reason at all. the air con not working wasn't even the best part about my move. the adjumma (old woman) who was cleaning my place, and did a terrible job, stole from me!! it's not like a juice box or bandages are really that important to me, but it's a matter of principle. the adjashi made me go downstairs and help him with something, and while i was gone she helped herself to another juice box, but didn't finish the one i gave her in the first place. she hid the juice box in her stuff. wench. she just kept following me around asking me for my stuff. i even gave her a box of tissues because i had like four. i felt sorry for her, but not sorry enough to be ok with her taking my stuff. she just kept telling me that because she is adjumma i should give her stuff and that her back hurts, blah blah blah. she even asked how much money i made!! and she told me i looked 30! i pretended i didn't understand most of what she said, but the fact is, i did understand...and i wanted her to leave immediately. but i couldn't remember how to say "go away" in korean. she stuck around to help me unpack some of my stuff, and she completely rearranged my room. i understand the hierarchy in korea and biting my tongue was all i could do to not go off on her. as i was waiting for her to leave, i started opening boxes and moving stuff around, she opened a box too and decided that since there were bandages on top and she was adjumma, she deserved to have some. she didn't see me watching her, but i was. i watched her greedily take them and rush over to her bag of tricks and throw them in. hmmf.

so, to "celebrate" my new apartment i had a housewarming party. a potluck with foreign food! hooray! it was me, mau, grace, keri, patrick, mike, lukas, josh, and maybe a couple other people. patrick made some amazing pasta salad. he let me keep the leftovers =) it was a fun night that ended in fireworks and sparklers down by the river. we were celebrating four days after canada day, the fourth of july, and my new apartment. fun and festivities all around.

i also went to a book store called kyobo in bundang. no joke, i was in heaven. HEAVEN. it also had an art box. what more could i ask for? tons of books and office supplies. if you know me, you know i love my office supplies. there's something refreshing about a new box of paper clips or another notebook. ah, it was great, i need to return soon. i bought a couple books and a time magazine (i won't bore you with what i bought at artbox). i've been reading like a madman lately and trading books with the other foreigners. it's nice to be in company of intellectual people who enjoy reading and discussing books and current events. it's also nice because they don't make fun of me for wanting to spend a couple hours after work on a friday reading before i do anything else. an interesting change from home.

a few weeks ago i went to seoul with steve. he was my designated tour guide. we went to gyeongbokgung palace, but unfortunately it was closed by the time we got there. so we took pictures in front of it and went and hung out in insadong. he kept questioning my sense of direction. ha. silly boy. i knew how to get there, but he didn't think i did...even by the time we were 20 feet from where we needed to be, he was still questioning whether or not i knew where i was going. it's ok though, i got to rub it in his face when he asked some guy and he told him the exact same thing i did. but anyway, we saw a buddhist temple, walked around and looked at cool stuff, i bought a t-shirt that makes me look like a tourist, and a few other random things. i suggested to steve a game we should play...it was called, "i don't speak korean." we talked to people in english (even though steve is korean). it was hilarious...you shoulda seen the looks on people's faces when steve started speaking english to them and not korean. we couldn't figure out how to get out of the parking lot (we're not dumb, they lowered the gate arm and you actually had to ask them to raise it for you..but they were on the opposite side of the lot than where the gate arm was). steve asked the attendant in english. poor guy about had a heart attack. i was amused though. we laughed about the look on his face the whole way home. when you look at my photo site and see the pictures of the palace, you can find certain pictures that have me telling you what the different things are. =) neato.

things have been a little crazy at work. we just started a new semester. hoon's dad had a stroke and is paralyzed on one side of his body, so hoon has been scarce and a little moody. but things are finally getting back to normal. his dad is doing fine and is back at home. however, that upsets hoon because he thinks his dad should be in the hospital. we wrote a book during holding period for fall semester. and by "we," i mean all of the foreign teachers. it should be a decent book. we started summer intensives on wednesday (yes, on a wednesday) and things are still a little disorganized. i agreed to teach an esl class in ivy (they share our building, but i work at nokjiwon...which has the really smart kids), and i have never been so happy to leave a class in my life. i love my nokjiwon students. a lot. i don't dislike the ivy students because they can't understand what i say, i dislike them because the air con in the room doesn't work and they're brats. unfortunately i can't always understand what they say in korean, so when they talk i just glare at them and act like i know they just insulted me. one kid played with his phone and kept turning around and talking to his friends. so i beat him. ruthlessly. ok, i didn't beat him...but i made it very clear he shouldn't do that anymore because i'm a mean teacher. none of them have english names either...so i had to call attendance for 17 korean kids. ash.

i finished the newspapers for my journalism class, so as soon as i figure out how to get them on here, i'll do it. the korean teachers loved them! the tas are on the front of one, leslie is on the front of the other, and so hyun and heyoung want to send them home to parents, plus have them hanging up at school and on the tables for parents to look at while they are registering their kids or something like that. one of my kids wrote a huge article on black holes..he's impressive. he looks like he just stepped out of the 70s. but he's really really really REALLY quiet, and has the most adorable smile in the world! dimples!!! he's gonna be a heartbreaker! i listened to his speaking the other day and he talked so much!! i don't think i've heard him say that many words in korean, let alone english! i helped another student prepare for a writing competition, and i've been helping another one with his speaking. busy busy busy.

in addition to the craziness at work, we have revamped our teaching style. you can't make the parents happy. ever. and they're going to drive all of the korean teachers crazy by complaining so much, and drive us crazy because every time they complain we have to change something!! 9 times out of 10 their complaints are unfounded. they take pure advantage of the fact that our school is actually a business and the teachers will jump through hoops to make them happy. anyway, no more fun classes. only toefl. write an essay, correct it in front of the class, assign homework. the kids don't bring their binders or books, and the parents complain we aren't using the books or binders enough. the kids don't pay attention in class, and it's our fault they don't learn anything. they kids don't improve on the toefl, and it's our fault. they don't study, it's our fault. how exactly? i haven't quite figured it out yet...unless...IT'S NOT OUR FAULT! argh!! they say they want their kids to improve in more areas than toefl, so we get to work on the root of their writing/speaking problems, but then the parents say that their kid's score didn't improve, so we shouldn't focus on anything besides toefl. this last statement lacks serious logic. because their kid didn't improve (don't worry that they never did their homework or show up to class), we must not worry about fixing the roots of their problems, just make a temporary fix so they can get a good score on the toefl. the principle kind of echoes an economic stimulus package i heard of once...

my solace about work comes from a few places. 1. most of the kids are really awesome and they laugh at my jokes and some of them try really really hard...even better, they like me too! 2. it sucks for everyone, not just me. 3. the more i work, the faster august will go, the sooner summer intensives and summer itself will be over. 4. i get paid more. 5. brendan is coming soon. 6. i bought my ticket to the summer breeze music festival and am dying to see new found glory. 7. i'm just excited that summer is almost over. one month of this awful weather left. 8. shaun might come visit. 9. i want to go back to school. 10. i have books to read and notebooks to write in. some of the koreans believe that 26 degrees celsius (78 degrees fahrenheit) is air conditioning. sometimes it's miserable in my office because it's so hot. sometimes my kids sit in the direct path of the air con and tell me they're cold. i tell them to bring more clothes, and don't sit in front of the air con, because i'm not turning it off. it is, no joke, 10 degrees hotter in the front of the room than it is in the middle, or even in the back. i keep telling myself i'll get used to it...and maybe i'm not getting used to it, but i'm able to tolerate it...it's also been raining for about a week straight. i'm glad i have a huge umbrella and a pair of rain boots.

anyway, that about wraps it up from this side of the world. mau's sister is in town and me and grace are taking her to the express bus terminal today to go shopping. woot. and, the guy who moved out of the apartment above mine this morning has finally stopped trying to hammer nails into cement on a saturday morning. now he just walks like he's wearing thick, loud heels. i can hear it echo. goodness. i love you, shopping.


Posted by flaminko 06:47 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

wait, so now it's an imaginary sock puppet?

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my new apartment

umm whatever...the people i hang out with...*explicit content warning*


on the bus singing a really stupid song...*explicit content warning*

gracey's konglish

and fireworks...*explicit language warning*

Posted by flaminko 15:34 Archived in South Korea Comments (2)

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