Monday, September 29, 2008

Korea is so ridiculously hip, don't you think?

More blogging to gush about how much I frickin' love Honik University. I coo-choo-choose Honik as my new love of my life. I wanna move there and bask in the loveliness of cute Korean hipsters and the whole non-Foreigner thing. They even had a greaser-50's guy store there. Crazy!

Me doing the creepy thing and modeling with the self timer in the bathroom like a 12 year old on Myspace. Baaaah, I just wanted a picture of my cute new bunny shirt I got for $8 at a boutique around the Honik area.

Soju and Hite beer earrings. Along with a Marlboro and cigarette cell phone dangler. Gotta teach the kids what's up, I guess.

Um, I finally found Nylon Korea..... In the subway. Most magazines here come with awesome samples and they are like 10 times thicker than magazines back in the U.S. I also picked up Cracker magazine, which I saw on the net. Free!!! Street fashion and good stuff.

This girl at Honik totally made these pins and I bought tons of them!!! She was selling them for $1 each- crazy huh? She drew the little pictures then cut them out and pasted and clear coated them onto a wooden back with a pinback. I wanted to buy everyone she had! Sooo cute and awesome! And she was amazed that I was American. I guess there are not many foreigners in the Honik area. Hmmm.

Krispy Kreme donut stickers from the Krispy Kreme donut place I had a snack at. They make the donuts right there in their little factory and they took one right off the line for me to have for free as a sample or something. It was sooooo amazingly good!

Here is a sweet handmade journal I picked up at Honik at the book festival. Some cool college girls made them! Yes! Octopus man is having his way with hot girl.

This blog entry was sooo self-gratifying and probably only interesting to me. Oh well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pee All You Can Be.... I mean, be all you can be!

In my attempts to blind out all of the horrid U.S. financial crisis news breaks, I have been satisfying my sweet spot for cute things- as usual, right? But seriously, my day to day life here in Korea has been becoming increasingly centered around how I can become a better teacher and keep my classes under order and control.

My day to day life consists of waking at 8 a.m. and getting ready, arriving at school by 9:30 a.m. and teaching 8 screaming, squirming, crying, hitting, and teasing Korean preschoolers. If I can get through my morning with out my little one, Jinha, crying, and without my bulky bruiser, Brave punching and screaming, it is a great day. My morning would be greater still if Alice didn't grab at everything like a spoiled brat. At this age, the greed of a child is just tremendous. My attempts to teach kids to share has turned to me allowing each child one crayon at a time and they have to ask "Green please!" and "Thank you!" each time they want a new color. I look forward to the day when I can get them to work together and share with one another without behaving like rabid dogs at a steakhouse.

At 1:30, the pre-schoolers head home and I have an hour and a half to prepare for my afternoon classes. I write the day's schedule out, photocopy worksheets, write quizzes, and grade super boring practice books. At about 2:40, the elementary school kids come tromping into the hallways like a heard of wild beasts. Hey, at least they are excited to be there, right? At 3:00, I enter my first grade class that I have everyday. I have got some real characters in those first grade classes, I tell ya! I have the typical teacher's pet/ know-it-all kid, the beyond hell troublemaker, the lovable and smart chubby kid, the ditzy but cute girl, and the snotty nosed kid that keeps giving teacher hugs. I keep handing her tissue hoping she can wipe away some of the green goo and spare me!!!

I actually have 2 first grade classes I teach everyday, right in a row!!!! The second one is just as interesting as the first, I assure you. My typical day consists of balancing out teaching with crowd control. Lately, the inner Hitler has come out in me as I have learned exactly what is acceptable form of punishment here in Korea. Lets just say the methods of disipline used here in Korea would cause the average teacher in America to be sued backwards and forwards. I have been told by fellow teachers as well as students that humiliation is a very popular form of punishment. So humiliation it is!

The nice thing about this tactic is that it both punishes the kid by embarrassing him in front of his peers and makes me come off as a bit of a circus ringleader and therefore more entertaining than strict and militarian. My approach thus far has lead me to putting Michael, the class menace, in the front of the room with his book for 2 days straight. He was not to look at others and was to stay on the correct page in the book and keep his book up at all times. I instructed his classmates to inform me if he made faces at them or bothered them in anyway. On the third day, he knew not to bother anyone and was actually kind of a pleasant kid! I just have to break his spirit a bit like a show pony I guess. Just like training a dog!

After my 2 first grade classes, I either teach 2 classes of 4th graders, which are pure gold and probably smarter than me, or "Gifted and Talented" 3rd graders, a mixed group of genius and idiot. Some of the 3rd graders are writing essays and getting perfect scores in everything, and others can barely write their name and speak in English soo broken that it hurts my ears. I am convinced that unless I somehow play the role of Michelle Pfeiffer in "Dangerous Minds," some of my third graders are doomed to be working at Dunkin' Donuts and living in a van by the river sometime in thier future. I don't know.

Here are some "Rewards" that I got for the kids that have done their book reports and survived the first month of the semester at Poly School. The marshmallows are for my pre-schoolers who just totally rock my world, regardless of the fact that they behave like lower level primates at times. I have to cut them some slack, they are like 5 years old and English is their second language!!!!!

My booo-tay has been killing me from using this hard old chair for a computer chair for a month and a half so I splurged for a crazy cute pastel bear pillow for my ass. Ahhhh cuteness! His little thought bubble is thinking about honey. And I am thinking about Honey Nut Cheerios! Ha ha!

I am sooo happy to have a job that is rewarding that does not consist of manual labor or selling something. In the land of cute cheap things, yummy food, and my adorable Korean students, it can't get any better than this!!! (Well, actually, it can and will get better as the adventure continues. Everyday just totally rocks and I am ever grateful for that.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Delicious Food, Dude!

The food in Korea is glorious. The snacks are all cute as hell, sugary, cheap, and delicious. The cola chews are awesome! They are like 30 cents and those little cute cookies with the chocolate filling are my all time favorite. Hell yes.
Here is the cute bento box or whatever that I got from Daiso for $2. It has little compartments inside. I was inspired enough to cook some lunch to put into it.
How yum does this lunch look? Can you beleive I cooked this all by myself? I am normally a really terrible cook. Something magical is happening here and I am starting to wonder if I am part Asian somewhere far down the line genetically.
On the top left we have spicy tofu, in the center, sauted mushrooms, and kimchi on the top right. On the bottom left you will see fried tofu, sauted garlic, and kimchi spiced pork. I take a little lettuce leaf and put some spicy bean paste on it (called Ssamjang), then pile on a little bit of everything on top. I roll everything up in the lettuce leaf and then shove the whole thing in my mouth, which I am sure makes me look like a chipmunk!
Who wants to come to my house for dinner? Ha ha!

Places I Like in Suji

I decided to take more photos around Suji cause all of this stuff will be boring to me in a few more weeks, right? All of the areas of Suji I can walk to make me take note of how small and boring the city actually is. There are a whole lot of Woori Banks, Paris Baguettes, PC Bangs galore, and a whole mess of barbers and sea food places with plastic tables in front. Oh well, I like it that way, right?!
How cool does Suji look from the rooftop of a high rise apartment building? The smokestacks in the center are right near my house. The little tiny buildings in front of the smokestacks are the area where tons of foreigners live. They are not particularly nice compared to what everyone else lives in but they are nicer than most of the apartments in Iowa City I ever lived in. I think my tiny, ghetto apartment is cute!

Skin Food, my favorite cosmetics and skin care store. They also have Skin Food inside Lotte but I prefer this location cause some of the girls there speak English and are super nice and helpful. You gotta go where you get good service, right?

This is the salon where I got my hair cut at. I thought it was a pretty hip little salon. All of the stylists there are cute and young and the salon has cool decor inside. Plus, everyone coming out of there had some pretty bangin' hair so it has to be good, right? They cut my hair and styled it for $10 bucks and I love my cut! Better than getting your hair cut inside of the grocery store (a.k.a. Lotte Mart)!!!

This bike looked really cool and weather worn so I took a photo of it.

The devil himself must have had me in mind when he put this Dunkin Donuts a block away from the school I work at. The coffee tastes just as amazing and kind of greasy as back home and the donuts are sinfully good. Plus, they have amazing chewy donuts and weird flavors such as mango, cappichino, and green tea. I love green tea flavored anything! Worse yet and not pictured is the Baskin Robbins right next to the Dunkin Donuts. They have green tea ice cream, and my new favorite, pistachio almond ice cream. To die for!

When I first saw that massive sign with two black kids with super ghetto haircuts and the Hangol thought bubbles above them, I nearly peed my pants laughing. I have only seen maybe one or two black people total so far in the month or so I have been in Korea. One of them is in the foreigner area, Itaewon, so he basically didn't count. What in God's name was the Korean barber thinking when he decided to advertise for his salon with a giant photo of some black kids with super ethnic looking cuts? Dreadlocks and 'fros with racing stripes shaved on the side? I am pretty sure these styles are non-existant in Korea. I am puzzled by this one I must say.
Sup my homie? Wanna go eat some kimchi and play World of Warcraft at a PC Bang or do you just wanna admire our totally awesome hair-do's somemore?

Some days, it's the random weird things that makes living here most rewarding, I think.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Poly Sports Day and My Super Cute Preschoolers

On Thursday, Poly School had a sports day for the Kindergardeners and Preschoolers. The kids were all super excited and dressed in their adorable matching Poly tshirts and yellow sweatpants. It was incredibly hot out so I spend most of the time in the shade and alot of the kids did too! The kids all brought snacks galore so they spent the majority of thier morning on the benches stuffing their faces with candy, chips, and cookies. Korean kids love their junk food!

Victor is sooo cute and tiny!

Sarah is kind of a handful sometimes but cute as a button!
Sean and Victor, my little ringleaders. Those boys are connected at the hip and always ready to get into trouble. Sean is the biggest boy in my class and worlds ahead of his classmates. Victor is just tiny and sweet, but also naughty and quite the handful at times.
The yellow Poly backpacks. I love Sarah's little identification tag with her picture on it. Trying for the innocent and sweet look, eh?
Victor is a sweaty boy! Look at those cool New Balances he wears!!! Stars and stripes, baby!
Victor plays hard!

My Poly kids and I on the bus. Amy and one of the kindergardeners going to town on the candy.
Some of the kindergardeners snacking out.
Sarah caught a dragonfly!
Look at those pigtails!

David getting a big drink of water.
Hula hooping Poly kids!
One of the kindergardeners, Catherine. I think she is really cute with her curly hair.

Lindsay Teacher is team red!!!

My preschoolers on the turf.

Aram Teacher looking miserable in the heat.
Brave gulping his water.
Brave's cool Bart Simpson slip-ons.
Brave, my little bruiser. That kid is always quick to punch and hit all of the other kids. He is such a stocky little boy and always grumpy and loud. But cute too, huh?
David and Alice getting a snack.

The girls trying to catch bugs.
Alice and Sarah getting a drink. Those girls didn't even break a sweat! Ha ha!
Alice giving me a cheesy smile.
Amy in the visor going for some of Catherine's snacks.
Look at those wild pants!