Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things, part 2

In my Grade 4 debate classes today, we were discussing the resolution "kids should be allowed to date." The children were (unsurprisingly) unanimously opposed to the notion. My favourite reason, from a girl who had obviously had some sort of sex ed:

  • "If they kiss and hug a lot a lot they can have a baby!"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

발리볼: Bal-li-bol part 1

Exciting news: I made first contact with a volleyball league today. After numerous searches on the internet, and aided by the help of my Korean-speaking friends, I managed to find out that there is a league in town that plays from 8 - 10 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reflections on a month in Korea

The road to work
This weekend marks the end of my fourth week of teaching in Korea; on Thursday I will have been here for a full month. In some ways it feels like I have been here a lot longer, in other ways I have barely been here.

The passage of time, I suppose, is as good a place to start as any other. In one sense, it feels like I have only been in Korea for about a week. This is because on my work days, I exist only between home and work, with a little stretch of Korea in between. I work in English and my co-workers are native English speakers, so the majority of the time, work doesn't feel like Korea at all. Then the work days blur into work weeks, which are blurring into a whole work month, leaving only the weekend days to remind me that I'm actually halfway across the world from home.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Find of the day

I found vegetables! There is a vegetable store/stand about a minute walk away from my place - really just across the street and tucked into another apartment complex. This made my day yesterday, and I had to go back this morning and take a picture of it.

I doubt it's open in the evening when I get off of work, but it seems to be open in the day before I go to work - so I can stock up on my vegetables then! I'll be checking back this weekend for sure.

Random Park Artwork (Part II)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Random Park Artwork

Whatever could this be?

Monday, March 22, 2010

The magic of chatroulette

This is what I wish we'd seen on ChatRoulette! Ben Folds is awesome. SFW.

Lists of the day

Things that are relatively less expensive in Korea than in Canada:

Korean food.

Alcohol. There are bottles of mokli (it's a type of rice wine, not sure I'm transliterating it correctly) at the convenience store for about $1 a bottle. Four of these is a good route to a bad morning. Beer is also fairly cheap, but it's really cheap beer.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quote of the day

"Democracy is coming to the USA."
- comment on CBC news story heralding the passage of health care reform in the U.S. House of Representatives

Arts and Crafts!

Erin and I take a walk around 범계동

My friend Erin and I decided to walk around our neighbourhood around sunset taking pictures. She has all the good ones up at her blog, so instead of re-posting them here, I'll give you a link.

Erin lives in the same building as I do and all of the pictures are taken within a block of our building.

Erin's blog post - go look at the pictures!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

News Story of the Day

A sandstorm that hit Beijing yesterday also affected the weather in Korea yesterday. It wasn't as bad as the picture to the left (which is Beijing), but the sky was certainly really grey. The teachers at our hagwon were all at a professional development conference yesterday, and when we got on the bus to go home we were warned to stay inside to avoid the dust.

감사합니다, Home Plus!

As promised, my shopping adventure!

As I was mentioning, one of the things I have noticed recently is the surprising lack of vegetables. Of course, there is lots of rice, and large amounts of a ubiquitous yellow-dyed sweet radish served as a side dish to every meal. And veggies do come with meals, but not often in the quantity that I'm used to as a North American. It turns out Saskatchewan is more than the place my family is from!


I didn't think it was possible to out-do my Pink Razr, but I may have. My phone is called, and I'm not kidding, "Sweet Ice Cream."

But more importantly - I HAVE A CELLPHONE! YAAAAAY!

The other cool thing, which you can see if you click the picture to see a bigger version (did you know you can do that with all the pictures on my blog?), is that it can display times from two time zones! I have it set up to show me the time here and the time in Vancouver! So cool!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A teaser

Hi everyone - I seem to be on the mend, which is nice going into the weekend! Tonight I went with a coworker on an epic late-night grocery shopping adventure to Home Plus. Full post tomorrow, so consider this the teaser post. The picture above is the row of red pepper paste. Keep in mind that this isn't a super-huge grocery store - its grocery section is about the size of most average Safeways or IGAs. And they devote a whole row to the red pepper paste.

But the really epic quest of tonight was to find the one food group I have been lacking since leaving Vancouver... (cue my mother being proud of me)... Vegetables! In a store that devotes an aisle to red pepper paste (not to mention the aisles for noodles, rice and soy sauce), will I be able to find vegetables? You'll have to tune in later to find out!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A quick update

I got my AR (Alien Registration) card yesterday, which means that (1) I can stay in the country for more than 3 months and (2) I'm off to get a cellphone! Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

I'm also battling a sickness of some sort - some sort of cold, nothing life-threatening. But I'll probably take a couple days break from blogging, as my life in the next few days will consist of work, sleep and soup.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kids Say The Darndest things

A few tidbits from class:

The assignment: write a story about a Cinco de Mayo party. I got an assignment handed in about a Super Mario party.

Also, a question from one of my students in class: "Teacher, firecrackers is food?"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Learning some 한글

Causing a minor traffic jam at Costco.
This weekend has been relatively uneventful. I went shopping at Costco with some coworkers to buy food staples, enjoyed not working 8 hours a day, did some computer work I had hoped to do before I left Canada, and played with Chatroulette with my friends until the wee hours of the morning. Today I haven't really left my apartment building: I went outside to go to dinner, but went to a restaurant in the same building. Not exactly spellbinding blog material.

So instead, I will share my experience with the crazy doorbell system in my apartment.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Metro, Ne

The Seoul Metro system map

On request from Pat, here's a post about public transit!

Urban studies thought of the day

From the American Conservative, of all places:
For the 101st time: sprawl — an umbrella term for the pattern of development seen virtually everywhere in the United States — is not caused by the free market. It is, rather, mandated by a vast and seemingly intractable network of government regulations, from zoning laws and building codes to street design regulations.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beomgye-dong, or, the View From My Window

Poly Hagwon

The outside of Poly Magnet
I promised to write about my work - so here goes! I work at what Koreans call a Hagwon, which is a sort of private academy. My hagwon teaches an intensive English-immersion program, mainly aimed at students returning from studying in an English environment overseas. Unlike the Canadian education system, the private schools here don't replace the public schools - the children attend public school in the day and then hagwons in the afternoon. If this seems strange to you, consider that many of the extra-curricular activities Canadian kids do (piano lessons or team sports, for example) are here formalized into hagwons. Of course, there are also academic hagwons for English, math, and so on.

I work an 8 hour day (1:30 - 9:30 pm), but the kids are only at the academy for two or three forty-minute classes each. My day starts with my two classes of Gr. 1 kids, and works upwards through the Gr 3s and 4s into the middle school Gr 6s and 7s.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Blankets Upsayo

... well, not exactly upsayo ("do not have") any more. Now that I have blankets, and kitchen supplies, and power to my laptop I'm almost all set to go in my new place. Here are some pictures of the place.

Quote for the Day

From a commencement speech by David Foster Wallace.
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"


The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

"This is water."

Annyeonghaseyo Korea!

Me and the symbol of Anyang, the city where I live.

Several words come to mind to describe the past week, all following the theme of "overwhelming". In the past week I have travelled around the world, been lost and lonely, found some great new friends, turned two years older, set up a new apartment, and hiked a large hill. Not to mention the 8 hours a day that I teach countless children (with a surprisingly good grasp of English) how to debate, and countless other children how to improve their command of the language.