Sunday, December 30, 2012

The War Memorial of Korea part 2

Thanks to Rochelle for the pictures!

The War Memorial of Korea part 1

[I dedicate this post to three friends and a cousin: Fellow EPIK teacher, neighbor, and Iraq War veteran Dave; and Dick and Mike in Wisconsin: I love talking history with you guys. And last but certainly not least, my cousin Aaron of the US Air Force.]

After delaying it more times than we can count, Rochelle and I finally hit The War Memorial Of Korea. It's a massive and impressive building located next to the Samgakji (삼각지) subway station in Seoul. The outside of the building has planes, tanks, helicopters, mortars, and howitzers you can walk up to and touch. Dig that: I can't think of any places where that's possible in the States. Some of the airplanes have little stairways next to them so you can walk up and see inside the cockpit, so you can see everything the pilots saw.

We stood under a big B-52 bomber and checked out the F4A Phantom before heading inside. That B-52's a massive plane; I thought of all the missions they'd flown and all the bombs they'd dropped over the years. The B-52 was the big US bomber for a long time and I finally got to see one up close. Woohoo.

We wandered the tall and airy exhibit halls for hours. We started on the Expeditionary Forces hall and made our way around the place from there. What a great time! The place has all number of war paraphernalia and memoranda from recreations of old warships to cross-sections of jet engines. Wandering around and seeing the dioramas and photos of battles brought back all the time I spent reading the military books that I got from my aunt and uncle all those years ago because we saw stuff I'd only seen in books and movies before. The exhibits on the Korean (6.25 War for Koreans) and Vietnam Wars sparked my interest the most, for they're integral to understanding American history. They also represent two key points where American and Korean history intersect: The USA came to South Korea's aid in the Korean War and South Korea sent troops to Vietnam to fight alongside the Americans. The wars made indelible marks on both countries as well. (Full disclosure: I admit that I didn't know that Koreans fought in the Vietnam War, so that's more lesson learned. Good deal).

The War Memorial's free, which makes it one excellent place to spend an afternoon and get away from the elements. I've mentioned before that most museums and cultural attractions in Korea --and the country has plenty of them--are free or cheap, which I can't help but love. If you're interested in Korea's storied military history--or want an interesting and inexpensive place for a date, get down there as soon as possible. The museum abounds with learning opportunities. Highly recommended.

Explanations come in Korean and English, so the place is friendly for English speakers. It also has a coffee shop and there are vending machines everywhere. You're never hurting for amenities at these kinds of places in Korea.
And get this: The Memorial has a huge play area for the kiddies that costs about 9000won if I remember correctly as well.

Here's today's Korean lesson:

전쟁 War (jeon-jaeng)

비행기 Airplane (bi-haeng-gi)
무기고 armory (mu-gi-go)
숙소 Quarters (suk-so)
사막색 Khaki (sa-mak-saek)
창고 Warehouse (chang-go)
로켓트 Rocket (ro-ke-teu--as noted before, many Korean words are simply English words written in Korean)
기관총 Machine gun (gi-gwan-chong)
기관단총 Submachine gun (gi-gwan-dan-chong)
소총 Automatic rifle (AK47, M-16, etc) (so-chong)
화염방사기 Flame thrower (hwa-yeom-bang-sa-gi)
다지기 typewriter (da-ji-gi)

육군 Army (yuk-gun)
공군 Air Force (gong-gun)
해군 Navy (hae-gun)

전차 Tank (jeon-cha)
전투함 Battleship (jeon-tu-ham)
함교 Bridge (ham-gyo)

Note: I put the hyphens in to aid in pronunciation because Romanized Korean can look strange and hard to pronounce. Every syllable gets equal emphasis in Korean, too.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The last day of school

[I wrote this on Friday, 28 December and didn't get a chance to post it until today]

Today marks the last day of the regular school year. I'll be reviewing the year in a future post. Until then here's some thoughts on the week:

--One great thing about teaching is that no two days are ever exactly the same. Today's the same way. I arrived for the first class and found and empty dark classroom. The kids were nowhere to be found. Not even Mr. Kim knew. After asking around and talking to Mrs. J, we learned that the kids were off doing a music class or kind of special program. None of us knew about the change until class time. As I've said, this happens all too often here: schedules change at a moment's notice and hardly anyone seems to know what's happening until it actually happens. As it turned out, the first class got rescheduled for fourth period. They should up and all worked out well.

All of these changes are still surprising after 16 months here. I've found it hard to believe that things can run as smoothly as they do amid all the changes, but it's true. Would this work in the States? Probably not. I came out of the American style of having schedules set from the beginning of the year with plenty of advance notice on events or special schedules. I like that because it allows for more daily consistency and causes less disruptions to the routine. Routine's important to the students because it allows them to focus more on their studies. It also cuts down on time spent explaining changes or nuances in the schedule. Dealing with this gets stressful at times, but I don't let it get to me. The classroom is full of surprises anyway and I daresay I do okay with handling them. School life works similarly. Something strange will always happen. The best way is to keep calm and find a way to enjoy it. In today's case, the scheduling change meant another learning experience and time to read the paper.

For any new arrivals in Korea, please remember that the days bring plenty of surprises. Try not to worry too much about it. Smile and carry on.

On another note, I caught a girl talking on her phone while I was addressing the class [HS grade 2] at the beginning of the period today. There she was, in the middle of my quick speech about how the students had gotten better over the year and how much fun we'd had, sneaking in a phone call. Sneaking in a phone call--to who? Who could she possibly be calling at 10:25am besides her mother? I couldn't believe it. Such blatant disrespect hadn't happened in class since the Custer days. I stopped mid-sentence and stared at her. "진짜?!" [Really?!] came out of my mouth. She took no notice and carried on with her blank expression. A second passed and I went back to talking. She ought to have known better. I know that it's not ideal to talk too much at the end of the year, but I felt the kids needed to hear that they'd done well. I don't know if I'll teach them when they move on to 3rd grade, so today represented what may end up as our last class together. Should I have done more about the phone? Yes, I should have. Oh well. It's over and done with now. Lesson learned for next time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A semi-white Christmas in Wasu

We got a dusting of snow overnight, so Wasu had a slight glimmer to it this morning. Perhaps it'll stay like that for a bit. As usual, it's as cold as my native Wisconsin out here and we're doing what we can to stay warm.Rochelle and I had delicious dalkgalbi for lunch and we'll be having more Korean food for dinner later with our neighbors. It should make for a good evening. I know it's not the typical Christmas turkey, but I'll stay for the record that I've never been too keen on turkey and that my family's always done other dishes for Christmas. We like to have stuff we don't eat often, so we generally have steak, shrimp, or ribs. My mom makes a mean steak and I miss it.

I miss my entire family. We talked for a while on Skype earlier and all seems well back home. It's not easy being halfway around the world, but sometimes that's how things go. They understand that this job means a lot to me and they know how much enjoyment it brings. Still, they're on my mind today. Soon I'll be back in the States for a long holiday and that will make up, if only slightly, for lost time.

Despite Korea being much more of a secular nation than a religious one, Christmas is a national holiday here and all government employees have the day off. New Year's is also a national holiday, for that matter.

We'll be back in school tomorrow to finish out the last three school days of the official school year. That phrasing's deliberate because while yes, the year does end on 28 December, winter classes will start right away. They'll run for most of the month. I won't have any because I'll be off for vacation.

As a point of information, Gangwon EPIK teachers get 21 days of vacation for the winter* and 7 more days for for renewing their contracts for another year. In addition, I had 4 days of unused vacation time from the summer to use. 

Important note: I've heard that this will change for the 2013-2014 contracts. The 21 days will get reduced to 14 so Gangwon will have the same amount of vacation time as the other provinces. 

Finally, some Christmas tunes for you:

J Rabbit - Winter Wonderland
I came across this video while preparing for a holiday lesson and loved it right away. They nail this one!

Their full Christmas album.

Guided By Voices - I Am A Scientist
I'm not a big fan of Christmas music, so here's some other stuff that's been in heavy rotation lately. GBV hails from my home state of Ohio and they've been around a long time. Bandleader Robert Pollard penned this anthemic song about introspection and self-exploration. Enjoy, for it's a favorite.

GBV - Drag Days
Good number for those relaxed deskwarming days.

GBV - The Unsinkable Fats Domino. From Let's Go Eat The Factory, one of their newest LPs. It's a strong power pop number that features some cool stream of consciousness lyrics.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Greetings from the tundra/Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone.

It's going to be a good one here: We've already had a rocking weekend party at Kirsten's and the Wasu crew will be gathering on Christmas Day as well. Rochelle and I will be getting some barbecue tonight.

Fun facts of the day: my kids enjoy the hell out of the Home Alone movies.
The kids can't stop talking about Kevin and his antics, so they've been clamoring to see the movies again. It works for me. It's the last week of school and the students have worked hard all year. Plus, in the case of those who watched Home Alone 1, they got the added bonus of knowing that I've been the cities that they mention: Chicago, Milwaukee, and Kenosha. Hearing those names again triggered a flood of memories and associations of the USA. I almost said "home" there, but home is Wasu for now.

The other fun fact: Quentin Tarantino dropped out of middle school. He said it in an interview with the IHT. This fact has nothing to do with Korea, but I enjoy his films. It's also interesting how he did not enter high school and yet go on make an impact on films and filmmaking.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The day the world didn't end (just like every other time)/SILT

By now we've all heard all the talk of 21 December 2012 and how we're all supposed to die--but we haven't.

Instead, let's celebrate the winter solstice and get ready for Christmas.
This year marks my second Christmas abroad and the second year without seeing any family members on Christmas or New Year's. It's strange to think about it this way, it is what it is. We'll be gathering in Cheorwon for what promises to be a great time for all of us.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Enjoy the holidays and stay warm.

And on another topic:

--Korea has elected its first female president. Park Geun-hye won a close race with 51.9% of the vote and she will take office on 25 February.

--She is an atheist and is unmarried. Such a combination is quite different for this American because atheist politicians rarely do as well as their theistic counterparts in the States.

--I wish her good luck.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Update: 19 December 2012

Contents: The beard chronicles / Getting stared at by a little kid / news from school

Yes, this is post #4 today. I chose to break post a few shorter posts instead of one long post because it allows for a sharper focus. It's better to have a short and tight text than than a long and loose one. This is my English Ed background talking.

Some updates for you:

  • The beard chronicles, month 2.5: As you can see in the ramen photos, I've grown a beard. Something like this wouldn't warrant mention in the States. Friends and family know that I've had beards off and on for years now, but to the Koreans (and especially the students), the beard represents something Different: Beards and facial hair aren't at all common outside of historical dramas here. I've been told I look "old," "like a grandfather" and "softer" now. A few boys and girls have complimented it. Many students have asked about when I'll shave it off or why I even have it in the first place. Many students have asked about when I'll shave it off or why I even have it in the first place. It's always fun answering "Why?" with "Because I like it" because the students always seem surprised.
  • The vacation is all set: I'm getting a whopping month thanks to unused summer vacation time, the 21 days of winter vacation, and the bonus 7 days from the contract renewal.  Like last year, I'm heading back to the USA to visit friends and family. I need to see a few family members because it's been too long since we last saw each other. 
  • A little kid stared at me last night: It happened at the kimbap place by the bus station. A mother and her two daughters were sitting across the room from where I was. As I was eating dinner, the maybe-3 year old daughter stared and pointed at me before her mother noticed it and stopped her. I smiled and kept eating. As a foreigner in a small town, I figured such things would happen--I stand out here. All of us EPIK'ers do. The mom slapped the girl on the back as punishment. She brought her up to me and apologized before they left the restaurant. I said "That's all right" in Korean and they went on their way. I can't get angry about it. She was a 3 year old girl and she didn't know any better.
New posts:

Also: click here to see Rochelle's reblog of Illie's picture from our recent Christmas party.

Quick hit: Japanese ramen in Hyehwa

Rochelle took me out for Japanese ramen today. I’d been hearing nothing but good things about the stuff from her and her friends—evidently,the noodles are nothing like the much-maligned ramen noodles in the US supermarkets and better than Korean ramyeon. After eating some today, Icouldn’t agree more! We went to this dark, woody, and cozy restaurant that Iforgot to write down the name of and ordered bowls of karakuchi ramen and added egg and pork. I followed Rochelle’s order because it sounded good. And yes indeed, it was! The broth had none of the over-salted flavor of the ramen or ramyeon I’m used to, the noodles looked(and tasted) more like spaghetti, and the tender pork tasted succulent. The eggs made for a fine addition as well. What an excellent and filling meal. Iwas still feeling the fullness hours later when the bus rolled into the Wasubus terminal ^_^ Quality stuff.

Someday I'll make it to Japan and taste ramen on its home turf. Until then, this will suffice.

Gotta rock the ramen.

Another kind of ramen that Rochelle's friend ate at another time. The broth comes in a separate bowl and you dip the food into it. Apparently it's also quite good.

Quick hit: Put down your phone already. Your conversations or stories can wait

I saw a young guy watching TV on his smart phone while he urinated in the men's room at Gangbyeon Station today. He was holding his phone in his left hand and carrying on as if it were normal.  I saw this and couldn't help but marvel at it. Right when it seems everyone and their dog can't put down their phone to actually LOOK where they're going, along comes this guy.

The TV show can wait for a few minutes, man. Your stories will still be there. And while there’s only this one instance so far, I’ve seen more than enough people walking slowly while watching TV shows on the subways and sidewalks already. It never seems to enter their minds that there are other people around and that they should probably look up to see where they’re going. I thought the texting was bad enough, but this is worse. People look at their phones so often that I’ve even played chicken with some of the students in Wasu. I simply keep walking and go “boo!” right before we would hit each other. Why not? It pays to be careful.

Happy Election Day

Today's Election Day and it's a national holiday here. The students get a day off school and the teachers get a day to go to the polls. The country will decide between Park Geun-hye and Moon Jae-in. Park represents the ruling Saenuri party and Moon's backed by the Democratic United Party. Also, there's a vote for Seoul Superintendent of Education.

Everything I've seen and heard points to this being an important day in Korean politics. I don't pretend to know many of the talking points, but today could mean a turning point for the country's policies on education, including the foreign English teachers living here. More on this later.

Both presidential candidates' campaigns have come to Wasu, though neither actually visited in person. Below you can see the Park Geun-hye campaign and the ajumma ladies between dances. Yes, dances. They like dancing to a style of Korean music called 7080, or as I call it, noraebang music.

Fun facts: The Korean president serves for 5 years and cannot be reelected.

Park Geun-hye is the daughter of the late president Park Chung-hee, the man largely responsible for the country's rapid economic growth in the 1960s and 1970s.

Let the best candidate win.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Teaching tip: Word associations/get the kids up and moving

One of my philosophies with teaching here is "the kids know more than they think they know." The students are walking storehouses of knowledge--knowledge that comes from class and from daily life. I like using word associations to get the students thinking about new topics because they build on what the students already know. In this instance, I did a lesson about Christmas this week and began it by asking each student to think of a word that's related to Christmas. After a minute of thinking about it, each one would write his word on the board. Sometimes this would lead to unexpected words because the students see what everyone else is thinking and it may spur their memories. Here's one of my 2nd graders demonstrating it.

Mimi and her big chicken

Here's Mimi, a graduating 3rd grader, and her big chicken pillow. You can't see her because she's camera-shy, but you can see a larger version of what many of the students bring to school. Most students have some kind of pillow on hand to make sleeping at their desks more comfortable.

Any given class has at least one sleeping kid. I'm at wits end with trying to keep the kids awake, but short of offering candy, I'm not sure what to do. Waking them up doesn't do much good. The coteachers put up valiant efforts to no avail too. Oh well. More on his later.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

SILT: 13 December 2012 --Heaters and whatnot

Quick contextual note: Today began with a mass of confusion because all of the HS 2nd graders had to move over to the detached building so the workers could replace the classroom windows. As I had the first class, I showed up to find I was teaching ALL of the class instead of the usual half in one of the math classrooms.* And as if that wasn't enough of a change, the overhead heaters stopped working, so even though the kids had their winter coats on, we still had to deal with the cold. Yay.

-- I don't know who complains about the cold more; the students or the teachers. Both sets of people love to go on about it. I would think that they would've gotten used to the frigid climate by now. Hell, I'm from Ohio and Wisconsin and it's something we got to deal with. That's not to say that I don't loathe the ice and snow--I do, but of that's the price I pay for having excellent students and a great job, then so be it.

--The students wheeled in these big kerosene burning heaters to augment the overhead heaters that kept going in in and out. The fumes generated by these things calls for ventilation (lest we all get carbon monoxide poisoning), so we have to open an window, which thus defeats the purpose for having the damned thing in the first place.

--The students (and many teachers) are heat junkies: they have two heaters running, their winter coats on, hand warmers, and they're still cold. Me, I was ready to change into shorts a few times today.

--The overhead heaters don't work if the temperature goes below -10C. EVERY day for the past two weeks has seen temperatures below -10C. Strange and irritating.

--In something completely unrelated to the above, the Russian language has no word for privacy.

Ode to the Mocha Gold

For those of us in Korea, the very combination of the words mocha and gold probably provoke any number of thoughts. Perhaps it's "can't live without it!" Maybe it's "ugh--get that out of my face!" Regardless, Mocha Gold--and many other sachet coffees--constitute a big part of school life. The boxes and sachets of the stuff sit on most every teachers office or classroom in this country it seems. It's called coffee mix, but it tastes more like sweetened milk with a few coffee grounds tossed in for appearances.

Teachers at my school drink these over sugared confections by the caseload. See that picture below? 3 of the 5 of us in my office go through a box like that every week and a half. I'm convinced that several teachers drink nothing but coffee mixes every day because they never seem to drink anything else or even talk about anything else. They drink it before the first class, after lunch, and one or more times at various intervals throughout the day.

The recent cold snap's brought about. a sharp increase in "coffee" consumption with teachers running for the stuff as soon as they come in from the cold hallways. They anxiously heat the water and pour another round of their paper cup confections before they clutch them like lifelines to their parched lips and scurry back to their desks.

To the readers: what are you thoughts on coffee mixes? How often do you drink it?

*I watch this ritual unfold every day and wonder how someone can ingest that much sugar. Then again, even if I don't think too much of the stuff, it makes one hell of a soju bomb. The sweetness perfectly offsets the alcohol.

**And if not in sachets, coffee mix dispensers sit in plenty of restaurants, shops, and banks across the land. They're everywhere.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Something I learned today: 12 December 2012

Despite coming off of a teachers dinner and a busy but good day, I thought I'd
log some new stuff I learned between yesterday and now. I've always strived to learn new things and it sometimes feels like I haven't been doing enough of that. It's like getting through the day is enough in itself.

--Christmas is more of a couples holiday than a family holiday here.

--The students enjoy eating cake on Christmas Day.

--While golf is expensive in Korea, it is cheap in Myanmar. I learned this because one of the math teachers has been to Myanmar to play golf a few times and JB the co-teacher translated the conversation for me.

--The construction continues.

--The students love the movie Home Alone.

--The country's in the middle of one of the harshest cold snaps in years.

--Hanwoo (Korean) beef tastes as good as the advertisements say it does. We knocked down some delicious steaks tonight at a restaurant/butcher shop in Wasu. Don't let the description fool you: the restaurant's above the shop and it's one of the nicest restaurants I've seen here. We hadn't been there before, but perhaps we'll make it back again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Making dreidels

I found a tutorial and a template for making dreidels online and used it as part of a middle school
lesson on winter holidays. The students enjoyed this one. Here you can see some of the 2nd graders working. The 2nd grade classes have always been more talkative than the other MS classes and they're thus harder to keep focused. This lesson worked though: they liked creating something and they were occupied.

Two things to note about these pictures:

--Despite having heaters in the classrooms, they are often ineffective in combating the cold. Most students leave their winter coats on all day.

--Razor blades constitute a normal school supply here. Every student has one or more in his pencil case. This blew my mind at first because not only do most (all?) American schools forbid razor blades, many also forbid students from having scissors. Not here. A scene like this would cause an outrage in the States because of the accident/stabbing potential, but not in Korea.

I need to do more activities like this. Doing cultural activities means I get to bridge the gap between English and social studies and it's fun.

Links to the dreidel sites:
^this one's good because it explains what the Hebrew characters mean.

More about eating dog in Korea

I meant to do this sooner, but it fell by the wayside. The Korea Joongang Daily featured a two-part article on eating dog here that I found quite intriguing.

The country seems to have conflicting attitudes about eating man's best friend.
This was front page news last week.

2nd article

Monday, December 10, 2012

Something I learned today: 10 December 2012

While doing some middle school lessons on Christmas today, I learned that almost all of girls are sad because they'll be alone without a boyfriend at Christmas. I'd asked the students to brainstorm what they thought of when they heard the word "Christmas," and among the words I heard were


While friends had mentioned that Christmas is more of a couples day than a family day here, the girls' responses came as a surprise. They seemed downcast at not having a boyfriend despite being all of 15 years old and in a school system that leaves students with little free time. Such behavior seemed par for the course for the high school students, but for middle school? I told the classes that they've plenty of time to meet and date boys. There is no rush. Who knows if they'll heed the message, but today provided some interesting information about Korean society because of how the students view Christmas. Whereas me and many other Westerners see it as a day for family and presents, the students see it as a day for couples.

Lesson learned: the girls want boyfriends for Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Quick hit: the gas bill

This is what our gas bills look like here. They come handwritten on these skis of paper that the man places in our mailboxes every month. We pay by transferring money from our bank account to the business's at an ATM.

It took 4 months before I fully figured out what this bill meant. At first, a coteacher said it was a receipt and that I shouldn't worry about it, so I didn't. But after a while, I asked again and got the truth. Oh well. I paid the bill right away. Korean utilities are quite forgiving.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Construction work at Gimhwa High

The high school's working on day 2 of remodeling some of the classrooms. The crew's installing new windows. We've been hearing hammers, saws, and other loud sounds for a couple of days now. The work meant that the 3rd grade students had to relocate to other classrooms or parts of the school because their classrooms were getting new windows installed.

It's stopped today because the beginning of exams, thankfully.

High school class 2-3's weekly schedule

Korean school subjects key:
반: section (bahn)
시간표: Timetable/schedule (shiganpyo) (literally, hour table)

국어 Korean (Gukeo)
영어 English (Youngeo)
지학 Earth science (Jihak)
과학 Science (Gwahak)
미술 Art (Misul)
수학 Math (Suhak)
운동 Exercise/gym class (Undong)
문학 Culture/Social studies (Munhak)
화학 Chemistry (Hwahak)
동아리 Club time (Dongari)

This is an idea of what the 2nd graders' days look like. Notice how they have math 2 and 3 times a day; the kids have more math than every other subject. For those want to know why Koreans tend to do well in math, here's why: it takes precedence over other subjects.

3 December's dinner/Eating at the cafeteria at night

As I've noted before, my school has a dormitory for about half of the high school students. The cafeteria in the dorm serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Friday and also some weekend meals as well. A while ago JB the coteacher informed me that I could sign up to have dinner in the cafeteria if I wanted to. It would cost about 60,000 won per month and would get deducted straight from the paycheck.

Such a deal sounded good, considering that I usually went out to eat anyway, so after mulling the idea, I said sure. Going to the cafeteria sounded better than ordering 1 of the same 5 things every time anyway. I've been eating dinner there since mid September or so. Every day, I leave school at 4:30, walk home, and walk back to school to eat at 6. Such an arrangement cuts into the evening free time, but it does have two advantages: I get a good walk and I get more time with the students. It works well. The exercise feels good and the food's even better.

I suppose that at 26 I should probably start cooking more, but the convenience and low cost of eating out makes cooking in attractive. Sure, I can put a few things together and I do eat at home on weekends, but this way is easier. And also, kimchi's expensive on stores, but it comes free on Korea restaurants. A day here isn't the same without kimchi.

Now for the food itself: it's good. our young nutritionist keeps us fed quite well! Here's what we had on Monday night: some mixed pork and onions, a big potato pancake, soup, and a whole bunch of rice. We get well taken care of on the carbohydrates department here. What you see here is the result of months of telling the ladies "a little, please" when they give out the rice. At this point it's a losing battle; unless I go 2 days without eating, the rice just won't get completely eaten.

Stand by for more school food photos.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The beginning of the Snowball Wars

Though some snow fell earlier, it's come out in force today. The kids have begun the 2012-2013 Snowball Wars in earnest this afternoon.

It's good to see them having fun and letting loose before exams start on Wednesday. They need a break from all the pressure. Seeing them run around also reminds me of these few things:

--Aside from fretting over the snow getting tracked into the school, the teachers don't seem to mind the students and their horsing around. Most of the time they let the kids do what they want (within reason) between classes anyway.

--We couldn't ever throw or even make snowballs in grade school at recess.

--We never had time to play in the snow during middle school and high school because we had 4-5 minutes between classes and a barely-there lunch period.

--The students look genuinely happy. Good for them.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Linkage: Korean Self Study Isn't Lame - Ultimate Konglish List

This site has an excellent table of Konglish words and phrases. My students use them all the time and I've been steadily working on educating them on what the standard English word or phrase is.

The Ultimate Konglish List

The first few:

English Word
진실의 영문
Korean Definition
한국 정의
English Definition
옳은 영어 정의
Koreans generally use that word to mean: jewelry
extra parts, for anything, including jewelry, but not commonly used to mean jewelry
angle bar
the space between any two lines that intersect or come together end-to-end, relative to the 360° (degrees) of a circle.  I.e., an angle can be between 0 and 360 (exclusively).
super glue
any binding substance
introduction request at a night club
making a reservation
overcoat or trench coat
Trademark of light, long, waterproof coat
can maekju
canned beer
(or can of beer)
can (n.) = metallic cylinder (not adjective)

1-2 December Weekend Notes

Friday night got spent celebrating a friend of R’s birthday festivities in Hongdae and Saturday saw us hanging around in my old stomping grounds of Hyehwa. Here you go...

Funny enough, two of my lady teacher friends mentioned this specific noraebang when we found ourselves riding the bus together. They recommended it and said I should go because of how nice it is. They were right…Su’s easily the fanciest noraebang I’ve been to yet. The place looks palatial and ritzy with its shiny flowers and chandaliers. It has one significant drawback though: it doesn’t serve alcohol. This seems perplexing because frankly, a noraebang session just isn’t the same without a round beer or soju to go with the singing. We still had a good time though.

Others like it. I don’t.I disliked it as soon as the sign came into view. Before this evening, I’d told myself to keep the negativity at bay and enjoy the night as much as possible, but as soon as we descended the stairs, that same feeling came back: This music’s too loud, it’s not any good, and I’d rather be somewhere else. The dance/dub/whatever it is music that sounded too loud on the street got even worse inside. I know that a club’s supposed to be loud, but after over a decade of rock shows, it’s possible to have the music too loud—as in, when it’s too loud to think or hold a rudimentary conversation with the person next to you. Yes, I know that clubs aren’t symposiums, but no one should have to scream to tell the bartender a drink order. No disrespect to the birthday girl; her enthusiastic dancing showed she clearly liked the place. R and I hung around for a bit before catching a taxi with another friend. The one good thing about the place: Max beer on tap for 3000. Not bad for a pint.

I’m not a club guy and thanks to living in the country, I rarely, if ever go to trendy bars here because they’re always too loud and too crowded. It wasn’t much fun in the States and it hasn’t gotten any better in Korea. What gets me here is that this place felt like every other basement/dive in the States, only it instead of being just some neighborhood tap, it’s a viable and “cool” destination.

Yes, you can bring the leftovers home if you ask.

We ate some excellent grilled duck at the Well Being Restaurant near Noksapyoung Station. While there, we learned something quite valuable: We can take the leftovers home. The thought came when I saw that we couldn’t possibly finish all the duck in one sitting. I wondered if it’s possible to take it home in a bag. We wondered if it was even possible since none of us had ever taken any leftovers home in all of our 15 months in-country, but yes, it is. All I did was ask about a box for the leftovers and the lady said fine. She gestured to grill the rest of the (delicious) duck and came back later on with some foil and a bag to carry it home in.

Victory. No more will we leave meat ungrilled and wasted.

More DVD bang stuff

Saw the new Total Recall. Pretty decent film. We hadn’t seen it yet and I must say, it’s a good film to watch in a home theater-like setting because of all the action! My memory of the first Recall—the one with Schwarzenegger—is hazy, but the new one had a grittier and darker feel to it. 

The Barket – World Beer Outlet in Hyehwa

It's decent bar with big TVs, abundant seating, and a good selection of international brews on sale. Everything’s self service. We met a couple friends here for a bit.