Monday, November 19, 2007

First Snow

It was snowing when the plane touched down last night and I woke up to five inches of snow today. It is the first snow of the year.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

To My Plane Seat Mate...Sorry.

YT and her husband picked me up to go to the airport at 1pm. The plan was to go to lunch before dropping me off. It was a very memorable lunch. We went to the seaside where restaurants serve every kind of seafood imaginable. We opted for clams and shellfish. They brought us a huge platter of fresh clams, mussels and snails. We threw them right on the flames and waited for them to steam inside their shells. When ready to eat, they popped right open. It was a very good meal. I felt sorry for the person who had to sit next to me on the plan because I’m sure I stank.
My flight left right on time…only ten and a half hours to American soil!
Twenty-two hours later and still the same day I landed in Great Falls. It is a surreal feeling to be back. The past year just seems a blur. It is really hard to believe a year has passed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kimchi Pots

I am trying to fit my entire life into two suitcases. It is a surprisingly complicated task. It is amazing the amount of 'stuff' one accumulates after one year. I have already sent five boxes home and now I can only carry two bags onto the airplane.

I am purging a lot of my clothing opting on buying new stuff when I get back to the states. I think I would have been fine except YT came over today and took me to the farmer's market. She bought me two kimchi pots. I had to repack everything to make them fit and I might have to leave some more stuff now. I'm not complaining because kimchi pots are the absolute perfect souvenir from Korea. (Korean politicians voted that they could not be exported so you cannot get them anywhere but Korea. How's that for unique?! Who knew that an obscure pottery item could be so noteworthy.)

My final farewell dinner was at IPorky's. Man, I love that place. It was especially delicious tonight. We told the owner that tonight was my last night and she was all about giving us free vegetables, free wine and some free meat. I love Korea. I said goodbye to my fellow teachers and called up my Korean helper teacher to say goodbye. It was fun. YT and her husband will pick me up tomorrow at 1pm to take me to the airport.

If you could never eat at a restaurant again, where would you go for one last meal?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Perfect Symmetry

I had a lot of heart felt goodbyes with the kids today. I received several going-away gifts and some of the kids' moms paid for pizza, cake and other food at lunch. I then took a final picture with all my kindergartners. I will miss them.
In the afternoon I had some parties with the kids which included handing out some candy but for the most part it was business as usual. I gave the kids my email and mailing address and so I'm interested to see if I actually get any letters. After work, we went to our favorite dak galbi (spicy chicken) restaurant. It had a certain symmetry to it because dak gabli was my first meal in Korea. Afterwards we went to the nore bong to sing some favorites. They included Barbie Girl, Living La Vida Loca, Jessie's Girl, 99 Red Balloons, and a multitude of others. What do you miss when you leave family, work or friends?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Galbi Castle

After attending several other going away dinners it is hard to believe that tonight is my dinner. Mrs. Lee took us all out to dinner at the 7th floor pork barbecue place that we like so much.
I feel really honored because she went on and on about how much they'd miss me. She blessed my future and wished me good luck. Then, Mr. Lee showed up and wished me well! The man hardly ever comes to the school and the first two words I say to him or him to me are goodbye and thank you. It was an enjoyable dinner with all you could eat. They Koreans all laughed when I ordered the food...in Korean. I may not of learned Korean from my time here, but I do know how to order food! For a food lover that is rather important I think. My conversational skills end if we aren't talking about pork, beef, mushrooms, pumpkin or noodles.
How do you celebrate a bon voyage?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Immortalized

The renovations are complete at KC. It looks atrocious. There is no common color theme and everything is too loud, stylistically speaking. It looks like eight different decorators had a fight and whoever got to a specific wall first got to do what they wanted. The classrooms are very green. The hallways have obnoxious educational posters with a Plexiglas covering. Colors include every hue of the rainbow and the wallpaper patterns...It looks like Mrs. Lee said "I'll take one of everything."The one nice thing is that the walls are now clean. There are no scuff marks, holes, or other eye sores. In addition, any spaces of large open wall were quickly filled with life sized pictures of 'great teaching moments'. A photographer came in a couple weeks ago to pose and capture these teaching moments and the pictures were quickly turned into over sized wallpaper.I've seen these types of murals before in other places and I always wondered who the schmucks were that posed for them. Turns out, I'm the schmuck. This is the first time the school has been renovated since opening nearly a decade ago so I have a feeling my ugly mug will be up on the wall for at least that long. They also made a banner for each of the school buses with our pictures on them. Not only do we get to see our likenesses on a daily basis but so does the rest of Gimpo now. How did I get so lucky?

How have you been immortalized?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cute Koreans

Today was my second day with the four year olds. They are so cute! I feel especially lucky because I managed a whole 15 minute lesson with them before they lost interest. Let me introduce Matthew,
Nicky,Lucy,Rex,and Alex.
Which one is cutest? My favorite is Matthew.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Suit Success

After four weeks, I finally got my suits. Usually they can turn out a suit in less than a week but because I said I wasn't in a rush and because I could only go for fittings on the weekends, they took their sweet time. I did one final fitting with the tailor and with a scowl on his face and many times gutturally clearing his throat it was deemed that it did indeed fit very well. I have a charcoal gray one and a navy blue one (both pin striped).

The suits will need to air out before first use and it might take some Febreze upon returning to the States because they both have the distinct aroma of the tailor's tobacco.

He said I could come back any time for adjustments but unless I gain or lose a lot of weight in the next six days I won't be able to take him up on his offer. At any rate I'm really excited to have a suit specifically made for me.

Do you have a rack wardrobe or a tailored one?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

11-11

Happy Pepero Day!

Ever wonder if Hallmark invented Valentine's Day or any of the other nameless holidays you are supposed to buy cards for? Well, questions of Hallmark's lobby power in the holiday creation industry are dwarfed when compared to Korea.

The Lotte company actually did just that. They created a national holiday for their product...Pepero. These biscuit like sticks are dipped in a milk chocolate coating. I don't particularly like them but they are quite popular.The sticks look like the number 1, sort of. Or the letter I or a lower case l or just a stick. What do you get on Novemer 11th? Answer..... 11-11, Pepero sticks. It is a bit of a stretch for me but it is big here.

Every business sets up a special Pepero stand. Students give them as presents to teachers and they get gifted and re-gifted a multitude of times throughout the day. Of course this year the 11th was on a Sunday so the gifting and re-gifting started on Friday. It is kinda like that mythical fruitcake that gets passed around the office. (Not Mom's fruitcake. Hers are delicious.)

What holiday will be invented next?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Angler

After a late Friday night, we got up early to travel to Paju. JT signed up for a peace 10K run. YT coordinated it for him and so she and I chaperoned. While he was running, we got to enjoy some other activities like donkey rides and some others whose target audience was 10 year olds. But, I got some windmills, a balloon, and some paper insects. We walked around the park and took some pictures. There was also a Korean pop group with their hit song...not sure which group it was. Their lyrics were something like 'shut up, shut up'. Good for the late teens to early twenties demographic.

video

We took the train back into the city which is always a nice change from the subway. We went to a restaurant owned by a friend of YT.
The restaurant specialized is steamed seafood including angler fish, baby octopus, squid and a couple of other unidentified fish. The seasoning tasted just like Old Bay. It was good and unlike any other meal I've had in Korea. What's your favorite seafood seasoning?

New Light Bulbs in Plain English

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Night

We went into the city for dinner at our favorite pork restaurant. It was one of many farewell dinners planned. The meat was especially good but they ran out of salad.Afterwards we went to Studio 80s for some non-stop 80s music and dancing. It was a great decade for music.What's your favorite 80s tune?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Shopping for YT

It is Yoon Teacher's birthday next week and we wanted to do something nice. We all made plans to have dinner together and then go shopping to find her a birthday present.

It was actually a nice evening because rarely all six of us go out together. We went to a New Zealand BBQ joint here in Gimpo and then walked to HomePlus. We found a basket to hold all the goodies and then loaded it up...wine, cheese, CDs, DVDs, candles, chocolates, gum, cookies and some other assorted treats. We'll present it tomorrow. I'm sure she'll like it.
Whose birthday is next on your list?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Slippery Devils

Today was my first day with the four year olds. I think it would be fun to approach life with the mentality and attitude of a four year old. These are the invaluable lessons I learned today.

1. Making forts is completely cool and anything on hand is good building material.

2. Chaos and disorder are the symphony of life.

3. Exercise consists of squirming away from adults trying to keep you in your chair.

4. It is possible and natural to go from a fit of tears to a fit of laughter .4 seconds.

5. Every day should involve tickling.

6. When a shoe comes off it might be a national emergency until properly restored to the foot.

7. If it is closed, open it and vice versa.

8. If off, turn it on and vice versa.

9. If it is on the table, it is meant to be on the floor; vice versa.

10. The nearest adult should be jumped upon and tackled to the ground....just because.

What lessons have four year olds taught you?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Burn the Bird

The running trail just outside of our apartments has been under construction for the last week. They put a nice soft surface down on another kilometer of its length.
I've been trying to run two or three times a week. Korea is definitely the place to loose weight. The diet and the lifestyle lends itself nicely to shedding extra pounds. I am just trying to keep my running up so my brother doesn't beat me too badly on our Thanksgiving Day run. We are going to do the Burn the Bird run which is a fundraiser for the River's Edge Trail in Great Falls. I'm looking forward to it. To be perfectly honest I've never walked the trail and I've always wanted to. It should be cool. Then I won't feel so bad when I come home and gorge myself on turkey and all the fixings.Have you ever walked the River's Edge Trail?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Sleeping in never felt so good. I am resting up for what will undoubtedly be an exhausting week. Mrs. Lee has decided to expand the school and take on a Korean four year old class. (That's two and three years old by American counting.) At some point you have to draw the line. That is just too young to be seriously trying to learn anything other than walking, talking, and using toilets rather than your underpants let alone a foreign language.

Each of us will spend one class period a day with the new class to try and break them in. I look at it as taking away a prep period to baby sit. If nothing else the kids will be cute. When they're that age, it's hard not to be.

The school has been steadily growing the past several months. We've been getting more and more new students in the older grade levels and they are talking about creating a new kindergarten class (in addition to the new four year old class). Apparently our academy has a really good reputation right now. Other schools down the street from us has been suffering with staff turn over, bad teaching, and poor management and so many of the parents are pulling their kids out and transferring them to KC.

Hopefully they'll get a new teacher to help handle the influx of students. Doubtful, but here's wishing. At least I only get to be a part of it for another two weeks.

What's your place of business' reputation like?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Korean Fashion

I've been wanting to get some new suits. My new job will be professional dress. I have never had a suit or dress shirts that actually fit. To get shirts or suits with the right arm length, the body of the suit/shirt had to fit a much larger man.
Three weekends ago I went to Itaewon to go suit shopping. Pictures in hand, I picked out two fabrics for two different suits. I also choose five fabrics for some custom shirts. I was measured then and told to come back for a fitting. My first fitting was last week and I saw the almost-finished suit today. It looks good and fits really well. The tailor was able to adjust it a little bit more to remove some wrinkles and increase the taper.I was able to take the shirts and I'll pick up the suits next weekend. I'm really excited to have some clothes made specifically for me. I don't know if I got the best deal but I felt comfortable paying for what I was getting. I know I could have paid a lot more.
Have you ever had a custom suit?

Friday, November 02, 2007

TGIF

I've been trying to prep things at school so I won't be overwhelmed my last week. I actually finished writing my lesson plans. I still have student evaluations and a December curriculum book to make.

The week flew by. We had been planning to go to the magic bar again and tonight is the night. We started in the Hongdae with dinner at the TikiTi.

We had a private three act show at the magic bar and then finished the night at Macando.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

All Saint's Day

I forgot my camera at school so my Halloween post is a day late. But, I had pictures too cute not to share. Koreans don't celebrate Halloween so it is kinda hard to find costumes. Dedicated parents pulled through and dressed the kids up right. I had three Spidermans....
one vampire,
Darth Vader,
one witch,
Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Snow White.
From Saturn class came the cutest Peter Pan ever!!
And of course Clark Kent/Superman had to save the day. Yours truly!
We paraded the kids around two streets taking them to local businesses where the business owners handed out candy. It was supposed to showcase the student's English ability. The Korean staff kept urging us to have them sings songs in English. The kids were completely distracted and were having none of it. I had some major flashbacks from my own childhood: My parents urging me toward a door prompting me with 'What do you say?' and 'Don't forget to say thank you.' Conclusion: Halloween is overwhelming for children of all ages.
What is your favorite Halloween costume/activity?