May 31, 2010


I was checking homework one day, and  one of my favorite students (Robin) had written a pretty long dictation.  (Dictation is when they listen to a CD that has a passage spoken in English, and they write it down.)  The dictation was good.  The funny part was what he had written proudly, in big bold letters at the end of the passage.   “I CAN WITE!!”

Spoken by William, a particularly adorable 5 year old.  “I don’t like puppy because in house poo.  There is so many poo!”

Preface to the following short story:  A norabang is a singing room…think private kareoke.  The room is big enough for about 6-10 people.  You have two microphones, LOUD speakers, and a big screen that shows the lyrics.  They are really popular in Korea.  And they are awesome!

Now for the story:  I was humming in class while I was checking homework and a student said “Teacher, be quiet.  This is no norabang.”

In one of my classes, whenever I erase the board, a little funny guy named Edwin showers me with praise.  “WOW!  Beautiful!  Very wonderful!  Fantastic!  Amazing!  Nice!”  He apparently loves a clean board.

Here, they call men’s and women’s underwear panties.  It still catches me off guard to hear a boy say something about his panties.  In class this other day, a boy named Brent said “Teacher, Minky see my panties!!”

There is a kid in one of my classes who never does his homework.  Every class I ask him “Nick, do you have any homework today?”  Last week, he raised his hands up in the air and said triumphantly “No homework forever!!!”

other funnies:

I’ve had a big accomplishment.  The 3 year olds have finally stopped bringing me their boogers!!!  They haven’t, however, stopped trying to lift up my skirt.

We climbed Geumo mountain this weekend (a big, popular mountain at the edge of town).  While at the summit, we got pulled into several group pictures.  One man was particularly set on getting us in his picture.  We were already  headed back down the mountain when we came and grabbed us and pulled us back to the picture spot.  Afterward, he had each of us talk to his friend on the phone (his friend spoke no English, so we just said “hello” a few times and handed the phone back to him) while he laughed hysterically.   He was an odd man.

Kevin doesn’t like praying (well, I think it’s a prayer…they say it in Korean so I don’t really know) before meals:

I was trying to get a good picture of David, one of the most adorable kids in the kindergarten.  I definitely should have waited until he was finished eating.

Something about a coffee shop named Ameba is just not appealing to me:

Here are some pictures from Guemo mountain.


May 23, 2010

Three weekends ago, we climbed Cheonsang Mountain.

Two weekends ago, we had a great time visiting our friends Andy and Lindsey in the northern part of the country.  They live in Gangneung, near the coast.  It was beautiful there.  Here are some rice fields that we walked past on the way to the beach.

And the beach….

This weekend, we visited two towns on the eastern coast: Pohang and Gyeonju.

Here are some pictures of the beach in Pohang.  We were there on Buddah’s Birthday, so lots of people were shooting off fireworks.

We discovered when it got dark that our motel was a black light motel.  This is the hallway….

this was our room…


The next day, we went to Gyeongju.  We visited a really great museum…

This was my favorite thing in the museum.  It was a mold for roof tiles.  I’m not really sure why it is so intriguing…something about the woman’s smile is just really friendly and interesting.  Kind of like the Mona Lisa I guess….nobody really knows why the Mona Lisa is so famous…she’s just captured peoples’ attention.

a marshmallow field…

The mounds behind me are burial tombs.

Yes, I had on a nerdy tourist poncho.  It was really rainy , OK?

a really old astrological observatory…

More burial mounds.  I loved these.  It’s hard to tell in the pictures, but they are pretty tall.

now for some funnies…

In one of my classes, the students started asking me questions about the US.  As I was answering their questions, one of the students yelled out “USA king is good!”  I said “you mean Obama?”.  He nodded.  I agreed.

One day I was asking for homework in a small class, just 5 kids.  Only one kid, Minky, had done his homework.  One of the other kids said “Minky is a wife.”  I gave him a confused look.  He said, “his husband is homework”.

We were having a food discussion in one of my classes.  We started talking about corn dogs (a popular street food in Gumi).  Here, they put sugar on their corn dogs.  I told them that at home, we don’t put sugar on our corn dogs…usually just ketchup.  One of the kids shook his head disappointedly and said “yellow head USA people”.

One of the classes is learning about the face and facial features.  Their book has “buck teeth” in it, but it doesn’t do a good job of describing or showing buck teeth.  So, I drew the best picture that I could of buck teeth, trying to show that buck teeth are larger and stick out more than the other teeth.  I don’t think I successfully showed the undesirability of buck teeth, because all of the students started coming up the front of the room, pointing to their teeth and saying very proudly, “teacher, I have buck teeth!!”

In one of the upper level classes, we were working through a workbook.  On this particular section, there were the beginnings of sentences that the kids were supposed to finish with their own opinions.  We came to the question,  “I think my most attractive feature is ____________.”  One of the funniest kids that I teach, Chris, was having trouble with this.  I said “Chris, you have great hair.  You should put down your hair.”  With a huge grin, he plucked out a piece of his hair and placed it on the blank line.

and the best for last.  I appologize in advance to those who are offended by the language to come…

I was teaching about the hands and the fingers to a young class with a low level of English.  I was attempting to teach the names of each of the fingers (thumb, index, etc.).  After showing both the thumb and index fingers individually, I paused for a split second before holding up the middle finger.  After assuring myself that it doesn’t have any meaning here in Korea, I bravely held up my middle fingers (on both hands none the less.)  The kids instantly freaked out.  So it does mean something, I realized.  I played dumb.  “What?  What’s wrong?”  All at one, nine kids proceeded to tell me how bad that finger was.  At first I thought I was hearing things when I heard a “fuck you finger” come out of the noise.  But, then I continued to hear it over and over.  A bunch of 7-year-old mouths were saying variations of “teacher, the fuck you finger.”    So, they don’t know the parts of the body in English, but they know the precise meaning of the middle finger….


Here are some pictures of Hank, our beta fish.


May 9, 2010

A couple weekends ago we went with Ben and Janna (the couple who we teach with) to Everland, a giant amusement park near Seoul.  It was a lot of fun.  They had several good roller coasters, a zoo, and a little German village where we got a delicious roasted chicken- nothing Korean about it (we’ve been craving non-Korean food more and more).   It was a beautiful park, built on the side of a mountain.

The tulip festival was in full bloom….I’ve never seen so many.

It was unbelievably crowded.

The next day, we went and walked around a giant fortress wall.  It was built hundreds of years ago to protect the town of Suwon.  The city has very much outgrown the wall.

One of the Korean teachers at the elementary school got married last weekend.  She had the wedding in a big, modern building that had multiple rooms for weddings.  I’m not sure we would have ever found the right room if we hadn’t been with some of the other Korean teachers from our school.  Prior to the wedding, the bride sits in a fancy little room, on a fancy couch up on a little stage and everyone comes and looks at her on display.  (I would have died if I had to do this.)

We learned that a lot of Koreans have two, back-to-back wedding ceremonies.  First, they have a western-style ceremony.  The bride wears a big poofy white dresse, the groom wears a tux and they invite everyone they know.  The ceremony was pretty short: only about 10 or 15 minutes.  And all of the guests talked amongst themselves the whole time.  It was like no one realized the wedding had started.  We asked the other Korean teachers if this was normal and they said yes.  I felt sorry for the bride and groom, and also for the officiant who was talking away to a crowd full of people who weren’t paying him a bit of attention.  It was hard to tell what was going on during the ceremony, both because it was in Korean and because everyone was talking, but I don’t think they said any vows.  The ceremony went about like this:  The groom walked down the ailse.  Then the bride and her dad walked down the ailse.   The couple joined hands and bowed to both sets of parents.  The officiant talked for a little while and then a man came and sang them a song.  The newly married couple turned toward the crowd, everyone clapped.  They walked down the ailse toward to back of the room, had the most platonic kiss I’ve ever seen, then walked back up the ailse toward the front.  They cut the cake, and the ceremony was over.  So, you could tell that it was modeled after a western wedding ceremony, but it was still pretty different.

After the ceremony, all of the non-family guests went to another room for a HUGE lunch buffet.  (The bride and groom changed into traditional Korean outfits, and the family stayed for the traditional Korean ceremony, which is held after the western ceremony).  We were mixed in with guests from the other weddings that were going on in the building.  The room was enormous and it was easily the biggest buffet I’ve ever seen.  They had Korean food, Chinese food and Japanese food.  It was fun to be able to try things that we had been too scared to order at restaurants (or that we didn’t know how to order at restaurants).

Here’s a picture of the bride and groom.

And a family picture.  You can see a lot of the women in the family wore the traditional Korean dress, called a hanbok.

We had another field trip with the kindergarten kids.  I love field trips with the kidergarten kids.   We went to a botanical garden and I was told to stick with the littlest kids all day.  I love the littlest kids.  Here are some obligatory cute kid pictures.

These are some pictures of me and my new best friend on the bus ride home.  (Her english name is Pinky).

Last Wednesday was Childrens’ Day so we had the day off school.  We found a great little park along the Nakdong River, the sad little river that runs through Gumi.

Then we had a great rooftop bbq.

We couldn’t find a real grill, so this was the improvisation.

I’ll end with some of my favorite kids from the elementary school.

Oh, and I have a name to add to the strange english name list.  Scott just told me about a kid in one of his classes named Adolph.  Yes, Adolph.