Monday, April 27, 2009

The story of stuff

There are days when I just go shopping CRAZY and all I want to do is buy buy buy! I walk into a store, my adrenaline surges at the wondrous beauties of new things and my heart droops at all that I know I will not be able to buy because I am still under the classification of POOR in my book. I LOVE shopping when I have money. I love the hunt, I love the kill and I love the feast when it is all said and done with. (Having the money to buy things with of course is key because if I can't have it, and can only look, I am only disappointed in the end unlike my mom and husband who seem to like shopping no matter if there is intention to buy or not) But my best friend recently shared a video with me that help put some things in perspective about the things we buy. It is called the Story of Stuff and honestly is shocking. In fact, I find it beyond shocking and has helped me to rethink my LOVE of all things new.

This video is about 20 minutes but I strongly urge you to take the time out of your day to watch it. Even if it is only a few minutes at a time, maybe during the commercial breaks of your fav TV show. It is something we really should think about because the world is our home, and we need to take care of it or else we wont have a home much longer.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pattern anybody?

After the disastrous Friday afternoon was evening event; Farewell party! The kids watch their photo stories that they put together in class, have a hula hoop contest and dance to some of their favorite songs. As I was watching their dancing two things struck me.

1. How do the kids know all of the dance moves to all of the songs? You know how there was a boy band craze in the US for a while with "cute" boys who could sing and do synchronized dancing. Korea never left that faze, in fact they have probably perfected it. Almost all bands are made up of either 5 plus girls or 5 plus boys who can dance in sync.
The application must look like this:
Photo: Must be attractive- and have had plastic surgery
Name: Not really important
Age: Should be under the age of 24 years
Singing voice should be above average but negotiable if considered HOT by tweens.
Must be able to dance in sync with others and should not be concerned about looking idiotic.

But it really is amazing how all of the kids know ALL of the dance moves!
Here are two examples of some of the HOTTEST songs right now.

2. Does anybody else see a pattern here?
Gee Gee
Haru Haru
Nobody nobody
sorry sorry

These are the names of popular Korean songs. Why do they all have double names?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A potion for disaster

This past Friday was a difficult one. All in all, the week was a good one. My classes were fun to teach. The children were rambunctious but generally well-behaved and respectful. Friday, however was a different story. The disaster as most are, was not just one incident but a combination of small things piling one on top of the other.
Dreadful combo:

1. I was pooped! I stayed out a little too late on Thursday night and therefore had a shorter and more frayed string of patience to start out with.

2. I had the three lowest classes to end what was close to a great week. Low classes are not always bad, in fact, most of the time, I would say they are generally quiet. Quiet as little field mice running around scourging for cheese. So quiet that my voice gets louder and louder as no words or peeps or even acknowledgement is said as I ask questions. In fact many times teaching the lower classes is like being a dentist, it feels like pulling rooted teeth except there is no anesthetic involve, just pain and misery. But the low classes this week weren't field mice. OH NO! They were more like drugged up on crack, escapee science experiment rats with a mission. Rambunctious was the word I used to describe this school, but these kids were crazed!

3. And last but not least, and this might have been the thing that really lit the fire, was the fact that these were the last classes of the week on Friday afternoon. I remember full well sitting in school, wiggling my bootee, waiting for the clock to tic toc over to the sweet bell of freedom. The nervous, restless anxiety that filled my empty vessel of a body up. There was no learning on a Friday afternoon. A mind cannot sit still when freedom is just around the corner. And the contagion had begun and spread like wildfire. That familiar freedom itch was obvious not only from the look in their stir crazy eyes but in their actions of "how to drive a teacher mad!"

So there you have it, my disastrous combination stewing in a cauldron, a short frayed patience, eye of newt, crazed children, rotten apples, a hair of a swine's tail and low level classes is a recipe for certain ill fatted consequences. I should have known by the black tainted steam pillowing out of the sparkling abyss.

Cataclysmic conclusion:
1st afternoon class- I stumble out of bed, with lines still creasing my face from my afternoon nap and find that I now have to teach the LOWEST CLASS of the school while fighting off the sleepy daze. Broadcasting is not a hard class except for two things. It is hard to help all of the kids who can't figure out the script if they aren't high enough to figure it out on their own, and it is hard to control the children who are waiting to be filmed in the other room from going absolutely bananas. As I began walking around the room helping the kids with filling in the blanks and pronunciation, I realized that I couldn't possibly help everyone in time to do filming. Most of them weren't interested, some of them couldn't read English, and the boys didn't even have their books open and had started to get up and walk around the room as if I weren't there. As I looked around the room at the 13 children my rope of patience started to stretch taut. I could feel the strings popping as tiny threads gave in under the weight. The overwhelmingness encompassed hit me like a cloud. We didn't finish the taping. Normally I have at least ten minutes to spare with enough time to show them their hard work on the big screen. But when the kids can't read and you have to spoon feed them every line, it doesn't work so smoothly.

State of patience: rapidly fraying, in very bad shape

Second class: Before class even started, the boys walked in and started playing with the video camera, speakers and TV. VERY BAD SIGN! That is an obvious NO NO, and it was obvious that they had they didn't care if they should or shouldn't touch the NO TOUCH equipment. I began the class with yelling. I hoped that if I scared them enough at the beginning, I could get them to behave the rest of class. NOPE! They were past needing drugs for hyper activity. I needed a tranq gun to keep this class in line. They were screaming, rolling on the floor, pressing every imaginable button grabbing at the video camera, tripod and any other thing with wires sticking out. Solution: WORD SEARCH for half of the class! Result: They didn't even really pull my patience taut. Oh NO! They took scissors and cut it into little pieces. I might not be very frightening, but I knew who their next teacher was, and he COULD be frightening. "Make them cry," I said, "Have no mercy." I am pretty confident they had what was coming.

State of patience: cut into little shreds- disastrous, all people coming in contact with me should be concerned

Third class: They weren't as bad as the first and second classes but it didn't matter. There no longer was a short string of patience. There was no patience left. It was cut into tiny smithereens and scattered all over the broadcasting studio. I don't honestly remember what happened in this class- it was as if I were in a daze. A crazy, teacher's gone off the deep end daze.

State of patience: Non existence, lost to the world.

This weekend, I am working on sewing my rope back together. It is tedious work, but I am hoping it will be restored with some R and R and time away from kids!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A typical work day in Korea

7:20 am- the alarm goes off. I groan, fumble around for the alarm until the piercing sound has been muted at least for another blissful five minutes.

7:25 am - Should I shower this morning? Is it worth it? To sleep or shower, that is the question? Would my co-workers really notice my stench undulating off of my body if I skipped it this morning?

7:30-35 - Zombie Vanessa has arisen. Watch out, she does bite this early in the morning. It is best not to try her patience which if measured might be 1/2 inch long. Make up or no make up? Dress nice or going bum today? These are the important questions I must face each and every day. It is a hard life.

7:50- I am simultaneously fixing/eating breakfast, and calling Kyle on skype. My breakfast usually is one of the following: a banana, if I have a fresh one, banana bread, if I have made it from the bananas that went bad, cereal if I have milk, or peanut butter toast if my bread has not gone stale or has mold growing on it.

8:25- saying goodbye to Kyle, wishing desperatly that this goodbye did not have to occurr daily.

8:30 - office meeting (yep, five minutes after I get off the phone with Kyle. I just have to walk down the stairs and I am in the office, living at work has it's perks)

8:45- Homeroom class (Each of 20 classes has a name, my class's name this week is Original and I see them everday before classes and after classes. If the kids are great kids like they are this week, I take full responsibility for their angelicness however if they are brats like usual, I take absolutely no responisibility). My voice as of late has been similar to a bull frog so I try not to talk to much so as not to scare the kids in thinking I am an alien. (Anyone remember those books?)

9:00-11:50- Three 50 min classes of my situational class for the week. This week, I am teaching cooking class in the morning. We make something similar to rice crispy treats but with corn flakes and choco chex. They aren't as good as rice crispy treats, but the kids love them. I always tell them to start off with though that we are making CHOCOLATE KIMCHI ICECREAM. The funny thing is, some of the kids think that sounds delicious! I swear, Koreans and their kimchi!

11:50- I can't tell you how much I look forward to lunch. Not that I think the cafeteria food is going to be spectacular, and sometimes it is even under the heading of obismal (aka: I am not sure my dog would eat it) but it I LOVE FOOD! Let me repeat this in case you skipped over it, I AM OBSESSED WITH FOOD! I swear that my entire day revovles around when I will get to eat again. When can I eat breakfast (which is what used to get me up in the morning, although now, talking with Kyle is what gets me up in the morning), when is lunch time, when is dinner, when is my snack time? Should I treat myself today? Of course I should!

12:15 I am usually back in my room. I chat with Kyle for a short time depending on whether I need a nap. Usually the answer is a resounding YES!! NAP PLEASE or else I may bite a small childs head off and use it as chewing gum!

1:30-3:30 Three 50 min situational classes which today is Broadcasting studio. They learn words in which they hardly ever remember like: celebrity (none of the kids can remember how to pronounce that word), interviewer and camera person. They then have to take turns reading a interview script and filming with a camera. I scream at them for acting like crazed monkeys at a zoo while waiting for their turn at fame, pull my hair out in chunks and chew on it and then laugh as they scream and hide their face when we watch the interviews on TV afterward. They love it generally and so do I when I have co-teachers to help control them.
(Christy and Jon who recently left posing in the broadcasting room)

4:30-5:20 Homeroom again. The kids have to write a journal, something like "Today at SNET I went to Cooking class, broadcasting studio.... My favorite class was...." It takes them a really long time to do this typically and I stare into space and relish the fact that I don't have to hear my voice echoing in my head. Then we play a game, they wash their hands, and low and behold, dinner time!! YAY!!! Food, food, food!

Free time- unless I have evening event. Tonight, I don't have any obligations so I think I will go for a jog unless I get too lazy- which has been happening a lot lately.

Monday, April 20, 2009

If you don't want to cry

... don't watch this video of this little girl singing like an angel as she steals the hearts of the entire audience.

Over the Rainbow was meant for her to sing it!

Hope your having a fantastic day. I am, I finished a book in a little over 24 hours and have been listening to the sounds of raindrops all day long. If only I had someone to cuddle with. :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring is here already???

I have a feeling this post is just going to me rambling about nothing in particular. I normally think long and hard about a post before I start typing. I pick a topic that I want to talk about it, and I make an outline and a rough draft in my head. I come up with cutsie metaphors or similes and deep thoughtful or provoking statements. But today when I was bumbling around in my mind, sorting through possible topics, nothing stuck out as significant. I felt like, I should write something, that there was something I wanted to say, but I couldn't figure out what it was that needed to be said and none of the lost trinkets buried in my brain were buzzing or flashing, demanding to be placed on paper or rather the internet. I couldn't settle on anything. My mind was jumping from one lily pad to the next, splashing about without settling.

You see, the problem is, it is officially spring! That means hibernation is over, and I am getting restless. There is no excuse for staying indoors and doing nothing active or productive as was my pattern in winter. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, Korea is stunning! Today is a glorious sunny spring day, and I have nothing to do, and no one to play with. I slept in this morning till 10 am, and as is with my routine, called Kyle. It was 8 pm Saturday evening in Texas rather than Sunday morning like I was experiencing. He was out and about, having fun, living life and my voice croaked like a bull frog, so low that he had a hard time understanding what I was saying. I am hard to understand in the morning because my cold has not left me entirely. It keeps walking off stage as if the concert is over, but has returned numerous times for an encore so many times that the audience's enthusiasm in it's returns are wearied and tired. Except of course, no one claps for a cold, but you understand what I am saying, he keeps pretending to go away, and then pulling a "I tricked you!" and "I tricked you again!" stunt.

So I told Kyle to call me when he was done having fun. Now what am I supposed to do with myself? Yesterday was a fantastically fun day; shopping with friends, spending way too much money, impulse shopping (really, what was I thinking?), eating Korean food, meeting new people, cheese and wine, and a day in the new found sun!

(Example of some of my shopping impulses, the pink shoes are SOO Korean. I don't know why I bought them, but I did, and now, I guess I will have to wear them.)

I love the sun- except of course while running outside in the sun, then I want it to hibernate again so I don't overheat or dehydrate. But today, I had no plans except to call Kyle but Kyle can't talk to me when I want to talk. Plans have been foiled- what is next? I decide to read in the hammock on the balcony- in fact I finished my book "High Fidelity" an entertaining read. But now that the book is finished, once again, I am left with "What should I do with myself?"

During winter, I didn't have this problem. The outside was too cold to breech, holing up inside was a brilliant survival plan and there was no guilt involved in being entirely curled into a ball like a hedgehog with my prickles sticking up to ward against the invading cold. But now, now it is warm outside, and the guilt is seeping in. I need to be out there in the world, sporting skirts and sleeveless tops, glowering in the return of the sun, basking in the gloriesness of it all, but my partner is in a different hemisphere, and it isn't even day time there. Ugg, I am tired of the company of myself. I am pretty boring on my own. There are plenty of ways of entertaining myself, but blah blah blah, been there, done that, I am ready for something new and different. I could go out by myself, but I just don't find myself that interesting.
(We met someone with hedgehogs as pets. Really adorable)

I am almost resentful that spring came bounding in so fast. I wasn't ready for it. I spent so many months complaining about the cold, and how I was tired of hibernating, and now that it really is over, I just keep hoping that it will stay away just a little longer until I can enjoy it with Kyle and that he wont miss it. So there it is, I did figure out what I wanted to say after all. There was something bumping around in my jumbled up brain trying to get out, it just needed some sorting, some reorganizing for me to figure it out. I miss my husband. And although this is an obvious to statement, I feel the need to express it for the nth time. I hope Kyle gets here soon. Soon is my favorite word as of late. Soon Kyle will be here. Soon, I wont be dying of loneliness. Soon, Korea will be that much more enjoyable!

On the bus we saw this dude. Pizza delivery boy all dressed up like superman! How funny is that!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Living in an International Community

Living abroad in a completely, and by all sense of the word, foreign country is an experience, challenging and exciting. However living with an international group adds an even more interesting twist on this not so conventional situation. As I have mentioned before, I work at an English camp. Many teachers who come to Korea work at either private institutions or public schools, but my school is entirely different, unique one might be so bold to say. There are four floors, well maybe five if you include the basement. There are classes and offices on the first and second floors. The third floor is living quarters for the students who are staying for the week, referred to as "the hotel" by the students. The fourth floor is where the staff live, both the Korean staff who are in charge of discipline whom we call the "guardian angles" and the English staff (non-Korean). When I taught English in Chile the volunteers consisted primarily of Americans. There were a few Aussies and Canadians scattered throughout, but the large majority by far were Americans. At this school, however that is not the case. There isn't a strong majority on any nationality. We consist of 5 Americans, 6 Canadians, until recently 5 from the UK, their numbers are down after the departure of a couple who ended their contract, 2 South Africans and 2 Kiwis (New Zealanders). And although we all share the same language, there are some differences in culture among some of the groups. This bowl of culturally mixed fruits could in some instance be a recipe for an outrageous fruit bomb. ( How do you like the silly metaphor which makes no sense?) But surprisingly, there has yet to be an explosion, or even two much spoilage. In fact, I would say, that considering that we live in such tight quarters, working, living, and spending our spare time together, it is miraculous that we get along so well. One of the reasons I was drawn to writing this post was to pass on not only some of the new an interesting things I have learned through living here, but also the different uses of English from the different countries.

Do you recognize this flag? Can you name the country it represents?

If you can, you are better educated than I am. The first day here, one of the teachers had this flag drawn on his nametag.
"What flag is that?" I asked
"Why does no one recognize this flag? It's the English flag?" he responded light-heartedly, but flabbergasted by our lack of knowledge about his country's flag.

So there you have it, that is the flag of England. Are you confused? I was. I always thought the English flag looked like this:Nope, this is the Union flag, often referred to as the Union Jack. This flag represents the United Kingdom. Maybe I didn't pay attention in geography, I take that back, I know I didn't pay enough attention in geography, but I don't remember going over the difference between the UK and England. In my mind, they were the same. I thought it strange that there were several names to refer to the same place, but I had never really questioned it before coming to live with Brits.
Ok, so here is the difference.
England is not the United Kingdom. England is a country in the United Kingdom. I realize that some of you may be thinking at this point, "man is she dense, of course England and the United Kingdom are two different things" but I am hoping that for those of you who were unclear about this as I was, this will help explain things a bit better. England is shown below in Green.
The United Kingdom, however includes, Wales (not spelled with an 'H' as I had previously thought), Scotland, and Northern Ireland (not Ireland). I didn't know there was a division between Northern Ireland and Ireland and I have even visited the country. Of course I had heard about the IRA, but like I said, I didn't pay enough attention in geography obviously. So the United Kingdom is a unitary state made up of four countries which are all run by the same government, Parliament. Queen Elizabeth is still considered head of state, however she is more of an icon than an actual ruler. But however iconic she is, she is still head of state of the 53 Common Wealth countries including, but not limited to Canada, Oceania (Australia, and New Zealand), South Africa, the Bahamas, etc.
Great Brittan is not the same as England, nor as the United Kingdom, rather it refers to the Eastern Island where England, Wales and Scotland reside. It also includes some of the surrounding smaller islands. I find it all very confusing.
One of the Brits (anyone in the UK can be referred to as British however it suggested that you not call an Irishman a Brit) is from Wales. Welsh and English are the two languages spoken in this small country.

Okay, enough of the England, UK, Great Britain lesson. If you are still interested in learning about the complexities of this unique grouping, I suggest you click here.

On to the interesting terminology of the English language. Before I start however, I would like to point out that everyone of the countries represented here is under the common wealth besides the USA. That means that much of the terminology for these countries is the same. Ex: "the lu" is used in both South Africa and in England. Therefore the category for British terminology will be unproptionately large.

UK termonology

Uni- (pronounced 'You knee') refers to University. It is confusing for other countries when Americans talk about 'college' because college to them is something entirely different than a university. It is equivalent to a prep school before University.

well- this adjective is used in many different contexts that we might use 'so' or 'very' or 'really' in place of. "that is well funny" "she is well fit" (fit in this context means HOT or attractive)

sorted- "I've got it all sorted" - a problem has been sorted out.

can't be bothered- I can't remember if I used this phrase before coming to Korea, but it is a phrase I use all the time now, and that everyone seems to use with regularity. Another version of this phrase is "I can't be asked" Ex: "I can't be bothered to work out today." Basically admitting to laziness hence why I use it all the time.

get on- "get along with" is our equivalent. "How do you get on with her?"

geezer/bloke/mate- all a term referring to a friend or guy.

knob- "He's such a knob!" This was used when speaking about Hugh Grant. Arrogant, stupid, slow.

torch- a flashlight, not a stick with flames which is what I though the first time.

bumbershoot- I love this word!! Umbrella!!

zebra crossing- pedestrian walk way.

swimming costume- yep, a swim suite, but this sounds so much funnier.

vitamin- only the pronunciation is different, but it is significantly different. "Vee ta men"

"bum a fag"- have a cigarette

"cheekie beer"- I still don't fully understand this term. But for example, we sat down mid- afternoon to have a beer while waiting for a friend and they said that because it was in the afternoon it was "cheekie." Like we were doing something we oughtn't.

"up the duff"- pregnant

"you alrigh" (notice the lack of a 't') used as a greeting in replace of "how are you?" The first time one of the American girls heard this phrase asked to her, she didn't really understand and said, "yeah, I'm fine" with a little attitude.

rubbish bin- trash can

lergie- a lougie (a snot ball) or a sickness like a cold. "I had a little lergie"

football- a word we seem to fight over all of the time. Soccer is the term we use and is the word we teach since we use "American English" to teach.

zed- "Z" the last letter in the alphabet! They have a different name

H- the pronunciation is like the 'h' is hate, but with a ch at the end. It sounds like Hach.

duvet- (french pronunciation, no 't') a comforter, as in the big fluffy blanket on your bed. In a conversation with someone about the "comforter" I was requesting the other person was very confused because a comforter to them meant a pacifier. Why would I need a pacifier? Some days, no one can understand anything!

South African terminology

bokke- (pronounced "boy key") male term like "dude"

bruv- like "bro"

hey- asked at the end of a sentence like the Canadian "eh?" It's a nice day out hey?

shame- this is used all the time by South Africans. Me: "I am feeling sick today." SA: " shame. I hope you feel better." Me: "That kid doesn't have all of his marbles." SA: "Shame."

courgette- a zucchini

pom- a derogatory term for the British.

New Zealand

Kiwi- ( a New Zealander)

sweet as- came from "sweet as pie" but is shortened to "sweet as." They would say this in response to something they like. "That is sweet as"

mauri- their natives.


The obvious: eh? - which I have to say is addictive and I sometimes catch myself saying eh? at the end of sentences.

Are you aware that Canada still uses British spelling? I wasn't until recently, but because they are common wealth they follow the spelling of the Queen more so than America.

They also use the word zed rather than zee as we do in America.


Things I am made fun of for saying:
"yall"- obvious one
"rambunctious"- they said they have this word, but it wouldn't be used unless you were writing a serious paper.
"the wave"- evidently everyone else in the world calls it the "Mexican Wave" because it was first done by Mexicans at a world cup soccer game.

Monday, April 13, 2009

An opinion of a Korean about North Korea and the Missle

If you didn't know already, North Korea has just recently launched a "missle" or a satellite into orbit.
( You can click here if you would like to read the entire article which was written before the launch.)
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea declared Tuesday it is making "brisk headway" in plans to send a satellite into orbit as part of its space program, a launch regional powers fear is a cover up for testing a long-range ballistic missile capable of striking Alaska and the western United States.

South Korea's Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee challenged North Korea to prove its intentions were peaceful, telling lawmakers the North "should clearly present evidence that it is a satellite."

Either way, Seoul would consider any launch a "threat" because the technology for launching a missile and a satellite are similar, he said.

Surprisingly I heard very little about the launch. In fact, I didn't even realize the even had already taken place until the day after. I feel that South Koreans, at least the ones I am contact with, don't worry too much over North Koreas actions. They have lived with them as their hostile neighbors for either most of their life or all of their lives. The Koreans my age, don't even know what life would be like without this feeling of a constant threat at their doorstep, and because of this, they don't find it alarming like a foreigner might. This is only my opinion, and I can only go off the small pool of Koreans that I have conversations with in this small bubble on top of a hill sepereted from the rest of the world. I have had several people ask what the reactions here in South Korea have been so I decided to provide you with the writings of an actual Korean who writes at a blog called Ask a Korean. He is mostly writing about the response of South Korea's government and media, but you might find it interesting never the less. Here are some excerpts if you feel more like grazing, otherwise you can find the entire anaylsis here.

Strictly speaking, my personal view is that the media, including Korean ones, are taking treasonous actions. Treasonous action is nothing complicated; it is, literally [in Korean], an action that benefits the enemy. The following is why I think so.

First, the media is providing the stage for Kim Jong-Il’s play. Kim Jong-Il can trot around with that crude missile is thanks to the capitalist media that incessantly chatters for him.

Second, the media, beyond serving its function of providing information, is terrorizing Koreans. Television only showed the missile news all day Saturday – it seems that the media is firing the bullshit cannon on behalf of Kim Jong-Il. It is not difficult to realize who gains from the atmosphere of fear resulting from such chatter. Further, although all three network television stations clamored in their special programming, the ratings did not even hit the average for the same time period from January through March. In other words, Koreans do not even care now.

Third, the media is assisting North Korea’s technical analysis. With North Korea’s technology alone, it would be difficult to figure out the post-launch status of the missile.
Honestly, without the analysis from America, Japan and Korea, aided by such cutting-edge equipment that cost billions of dollars, I am not sure if North Korea would even know where its rocket went. Kim Jong-Il is in the cat bird seat in that respect – he just needs to launch, and there are all these great people who know to bring over the newest equipment possible to let him know exactly where, how, and why his rocket failed.

In fact, there is not much Korea can do against North Korea’s action. This is the difference between “closed society” and “open society”. Because of the many factors to be considered, Korea simply cannot respond in the thuggish way to North Korea’s thuggish action. Because of the backing from China and Russia, taking North Korea to the United Nations is difficult as well. Then what must we do? Should we simply sit and chatter as we do now? Is that all we can do?

I believe that for Korea’s benefit, the media must ignore Kim Jong-Il’s theatrics. A show requires a passionately reactive audience to be successful. Kim Jong-Il must be loving it now, since other countries are creating such reaction. One can tell how much he is enjoying this episode from the way he tricked the whole world on Saturday. I cannot be the only person who got screwed with high blood pressure from having to stand by on his day off.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cherry Blossoms

This evil cold is still plaguing me. The stuffy nose, the slowly dripping snot, the sore throat and the out of body feeling feels like it has been dragging on for soooo long when in reality it really has only been about four days. But I call this cold evil because it has the audacity to linger on through my birthday! Through my birthday! Come on cold, can't you let up so a girl can celebrate properly?
It began Friday with a sore throat and has exploded into a snotty monster but however sick I was, I wasn't going to let that stop me from going out to the Cherry Blossom festival. I had never really thought of Korea as a cherry blossom nation since Japan is always the nation that displays these marvelous pale pink flowers in their movies, but cherry blossoms are in fact native to Korea as well as Japan. They are beautiful and greatly celebrated with many festivals. One of the new Korean office workers went out of his way and offered to take the teachers to the Cherry Blossom festival in the evening. We left Friday at 9:00, waited and waited in horrendous Seoul traffic. Trees were lined up along a pedestrian walk way and were lit up with street lamps of a variety of different colors. And there were thousands of Koreans out to see the trees and take pictures. It was like a carnival except the only show were the trees, which were quiet beautiful, but surrounded by all of the noise and people, I felt removed from them. I wanted an opportunity to enjoy the trees to myself, but I was surrounded by people. I don't know what I expected, but I didn't expect the HUGE crowd of people. I guess it was unrealistic to expect that serene, peaceful feeling at a festival, but that is what it lacked in my opinion. There was no room to think or really even to move. It was difficult taking a picture without someone walking in front. And, I am greatly disappointed with how the photos turned out in the end. I was trying the night vision setting and, I don't think I will be doing that again. It was a lot of fun though, and we really got to know Josh, the Korean guy who might be our boss, but I am not sure really.

This was some type of bug sold as food.

But at least these magnolia pictures turned out well. This was the magnolia tree at our school.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I feel crummy

I woke up this morning with an excruciating sore throat. It was incredibly painful, but since then the soreness has subsided to a general throat ache. However, my head is throbbing and my nose is running! It is spring, why I am getting a cold!? So, since I am not feeling well, I am going to keep this post extremely short and just share two new videos with you.

Ok, so the first video isn't really a video. It is an optical illusion.

The Spinning Silhouette Optical Illusion - Funny bloopers are a click away

She will sometimes change directions for me, but normally I stare and stare and she continues to turn in a clockwise direction without changing no matter how much I will her to and then BLINK, and she is going the other direction. Freaky huh! ? I taught internet class this week and in my internet demonstration, I showed the kids this optical illusion. Many of the kids said that it was scary.

This second video, a kid in internet class requested and I found it hilarious. It isn't quite so funny if you have never played nintendo or mario kart, but if you have, I am almost positive you will fall out of your chair laughing. Very clever!

I will update more when I am feeling better!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Editing photos

I have found a cool new website called Picnik. It is a free online program that allows you to edit your photos and do lots of fun effects. I have wasted a lot of my time lately playing around with the different features. Here are some examples of photos that I have edited!!









Cool huh!! Be careful.. it is so easy to spend WAY TOO MUCH time editing photos and playing around!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Soccer Match

It was a game to remember, a soccer game with stakes: City hall officials vs. SNET (our school) AND... ladies were allowed to come ( a monumental achievement although had we asked to play, that might have been a different story)

Mr. Lee (our director who speaks very little English) came up with "The Plan" complete with bullet points and diagrams to show what position each person would play.
  • ground condition- artificial turf
  • first half- strong defense
  • second half- defensive attack
Soccer is very important in Korea. Very important. And the boys kept joking that if they didn't come back Monday, we would know that they had lost (meaning that they were 'sacked' for loosing the most crucial game ever to be played in SNET history)

We piled into vans and cars to head out to a high school. To pass the time we played badminton and volleyball while the soccer game before ours was finished. The wind is strong and the hitting the birdy against the wind is like stopping a tape and rewinding. It literally would stop in mid-air fighting for it's proper direction frozen in time and then slowly be bullied backwards from whence it came. It put up a struggle, an honorable fight, but, the birdy lost in the end, and admitted defeat.
High school boys in their uniforms playing some Basketball

Hilarious shirt for a high school student to be wearing. We wondered if he knew what it said.

A plastic bag containing something rolled in aluminum foil is passed around. For the briefest moment, my heart jumps with ecstasy at what I think might be tacos, but as the moment floats away on a speck of dust and reality smacks me in the face, I am in Korea: NO TACOS!! (Why would I come to a country without tacos I ask you? Why?) These tacos are kimbap (veggie sushi rolls)- very tasty, but not tacos.On the side lines, cheering

The city officials, dressed in yellow jerseys stood in a circle stretching in sync with one another. They were older, probably twice the age of the fellas on our team, but they looked serious about this game- as soccer is probably in the top 3 most important things to Korea.
Synchronized stretching should be a sport in itself

We stood on the sidelines cheering. The game was shorter than I thought it would be and by half time, it was obvious the other team didn't stand a chance. The score was 3:0. There was a request by Mr. Lee not to make many more goals and to go easier on the other team. The second half of the game was a joke. The players were walking mostly now rather than running as they had before, and basically made paths for the city officials to make goals. Two goals were made accidentally, once when one of our guys was just trying to make a pass. The game ended when the match was a draw- evidently those were the unspoken rules. The city officials fund our school, so they MUST NOT loose! We had come to the game thinking that this was an important game the boys must win, but in the end, it was just a political meeting that either had to end in a draw or our team loosing. I will never understand Korean culture, I don't believe.

I discovered a new button on my camera- the sports shot. It is so cool because it takes pictures consecutively if you just hold down the button. Check out this awesome series of photos of our boss, Mr. Kim, stealing the ball from an opponent and passing it to a team member all while wearing dress shoes and khakis.
Mr. Kim is the one in green
Way to go!!

After the game we were taken to Linner- (lunch and dinner) as it was only 3:30. We ate with the opposing team, who were all very nice older gentlemen. And since this was a political meeting, drinking was absolutely necessary. It is inappropriate in Korea for there to be a business meeting without utter drunkenness. I believe I have talked about this before, but in Korea they don't think they can trust you until they have seen you drunk. The food, unfortunately was not my favorite. It was a type of Korean BBQ but the meet was 2 parts fat to 1 part meat, seasoned with only pepper. I ate one piece to be nice, but mainly sipped on my rice wine, until I was chosen to chug a beer mixed with soju in an arm lock you might see with a wedding couple when drinking campaign with one of the city officials. I don't even like beer, but when in Korea... After my chug, I then had to pick the next person who was to chug until everyone had played in this ritual/game.

Mr. Kim who is the head director at SNET sat next to be shooting back three sojus to every sip I took of my wine or water. He leaned over to me and said, "Korea has a very unique culture." Yep, Korean culture is unique alright! Very unique!