Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

Not too much to say...but the we all had fun...carved some pumpkins, went trick-or-treating and ate a lot of candy!
The photos pretty much say it all - the kids and staff had a blast!
Hope you all had a Happy Halloween!


The teachers : Javier, myself, Amanda and Whitney.....sooo scary! Posted by Picasa

My class : all the little monsters. Posted by Picasa

Austin and his mother carving their pumpkin. Austin's favorite color is green (he always wears it)....but I am sure you gussed that. Posted by Picasa

Amy came dressed as a pumpkin. She is one of the smallest kids in my class, but has the most energy out of all of them. She can usually be found bouncing like 'Tigger" around the school. Posted by Picasa

This is of my favorite kids Posted by Picasa

Christoph: One of the funniest kids I have ever met. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fall time in Yongin

This past week has been an eventful one.
Two new coworkers have come to my school.
I am looking forward to having some new people to hang out with and hopefully a more positive working environment.
Since one of my previous co-workers had not moved out of his apartment, one of the new teachers, Amanda, stayed at my apartment for her first three nights. Needless to say, we got to know each other pretty well.
On Thursday night, all the teachers went out for a good-bye/hello party after work (I forgot my camera...sorry; you'll have to use your imagination). We started with galbi (meat dinner) and ended at the nori bang (karaoke room) with plenty of boozing in-between. We stumbled back to my apartment at 4am and spent the next few hours trying to sleep off the beer before we had to work at 10am. Friday was a rough day - to say the least - and all the teachers were feeling the wrath. But we somehow we made it through and Amanda and I spent Friday night recovering in front of the TV.
Saturday she moved into her apartment and I went to the gym to sweat out any residual beer that was in my body.
Today I woke up and decided to go for a hike. As you know there are a ton of mountains in Korea and my city has about 30 smaller ones.
Unfortunately, accessibility can be difficult without a scooter - but I managed to walk along a highway near my house to get to one.
The sky was really overcast, so I apologize for the quality of the picks - you can hardly see the city or other mountains - but the day was cool and the air was fresh.
I spent about 2 hours hiking along the hills and it felt awesome to get outside and do something on a Sunday morning.
Tonight I met a coworker for some dinner and have spent the rest of the evening preparing my costume for tomorrow's Halloween party at work. It should be a fun day with little or no actual teaching (which always makes for a good day).
I will add some photos tomorrow so you can see the little ones in their costumes should be good for a laugh or two.


Self-portrait (not the best photo)

View of Yongin city on a cold cloudy day

Some of the leaves are starting to change colour

View of Yongin City

Walking along the road toward the mountain

This is my near my house - Jukjeon-dong

An ajemma doing some fall gardening along the roadside

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

도둑 Thief

Yesterday started like most Mondays. I arrived at school and taught my morning class full of bright young minds. My coworkers and I went for lunch, and being that we were expecting a new teacher to arrive after lunch, everyone was eager to make a good impression. After lunch we all returned to our classes to teach an afternoon of phonics and maybe some arts and crafts. This is where I was when I heard the news. While we were busy teaching, and my students were busy making Halloween decorations, a thief (도둑) had come into our teachers lounge and stolen money and wallets. One of the students reportedly saw an older man walking from the room. Korean surveillance, being what it is, was useless and three of our teachers (including our new teacher, Whitney) were robbed.
As we all scrambled to understand why someone would steal from us, the police came and we answered questions...although since none of us actually saw the 도둑 we didn't have much to say. The amount of money was not huge, yet the 도둑 took his time and searched through our bags. For some he left the cards, while others he took entire wallets full of id and money.
It makes me really consider why some people could steal from anyone, but especially teachers. Admittedly, many of us are here to pay off debt back home and Korea does offer a chance of doing this before we reach middle age - but most of us don't have a lot of money.
In the same breath, I am hurt that someone could bring themselves to steal in the presence of children. Perhaps I am taking this too personally but I hope that the person really needed that money - although I have my doubts as to what their needs may be when they can take from hard working people whose sole purpose in this country is to educate the young and give them an opportunity that their parents never had.
Needless to say, everyone was left a little hurt and a little violated. Our new teachers was very gracious and handled it much better then I would have, given she had been in our school less than an hour when she was robbed. So much for first impressions.
For those of us that didn't lose any money, we treated our new coworker to a few pints and some food after work. For those few hours it felt like just another Monday.

"to market, to market"

On Sunday I walked around Dongdaemun Market. It was a wonderful way to spend an autumn afternoon.
Located in the east of Seoul, along the Cheonggyecheon Stream, this market is a great place to find clothes, shoes and almost anything else you are looking for (or not looking for).

Enjoy the pics - my favorirte is the Buddha. I liked the contrast between spiritual and non. I think Buddha would have seen the humor in this one too.

some Ulsan-ites and me

Not just for coffee anymore : Helen and Nat in Itaewon a week ago.
We met for lunch and stayed for plenty of drinks (no starbutts for us, but the photo seemed like a good idea after a few pints).
The second photo just made me laugh and I pondered the efficiency to which crime is 'self regulated'.
Pretty funny.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Another update from Kimchi land

Again I must apologize for the time between entries - not having a computer in my apartment has made writing a little more of a chore then I wished it to be. It's not the writing so much, as having to get my sorry a$$ over to the PC room. A PC room is an entity by itself. Full of pre adolescent Korean boys who spend countless hours playing mindless computer games with the volume so loud that they must yell to the person next to them. Has this country never heard of head phones? Thankfully, I have decided to go shopping next weekend for a computer of my own - so in the near future I will be blogging in the comfort of home once again. on with the update.
Things here are pretty much just as they have been - quiet but good.
I spent most of this week trying to battle my first cold to no avail. Since most of my children have colds and they seem to endlessly pick their little noses, I am not surprised that I managed to catch something.
On Thursday my school hiked up a near by mountain. It was beautiful, despite how sick I was feeling, and my students all managed to get up and down the mountain with only a little help from me and without any major injuries (with the exception of one boy who fell down in the parking lot after the hike finished...go figure!).
It was nice to get outside with my kids, show them a little bit of nature and get a break from teaching at the same time.
Last weekend I traveled down to Ulsan to visit with some friends, collect some of my things that I had left there back in July and enjoy a long weekend away from my apartment.
My good mate Helen let me crash at her apartment, despite already having a house guest and two cats (thanks was cramped but cozy!).
We drank a little and watched some movies. I got my hair cut and caught up with some old friends. Being that it was a long weekend, most people were out of town, however, it was still a great trip. Next time I go down, I'll try to see more of whoever's still down there.
Little had changed in Ulsan since I was last there, and I must admit I had a little moment when I went into Benchwarmers (my old bar)....think 'Cheers theme song" and you've got the moment I'm talking about. Ahhhh just like the good 'ol daze.
Anyways, we had some good laughs and I even got to watch some of Troy's tv shows ( he is the star of a local reality where he lives and works with different Korean people to get an idea of their culture....very funny even though it's all in Korean ).
This weekend I am staying in and getting over my cold.
I know it's a holiday back home and I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!!! I will be thinking of you all.
Have fun eating the turkey!

My class after we finished our hike. (L-R Backrow : Angello, Brian, myself, Austin, Amy, Kevin, Front row: Gloria, Joon, Betty, James, Patrick and Charles) Posted by Picasa

Some of my students climbing the mountain this past week. Some areas were so steep I had to almost carry them. Posted by Picasa

Changing of the guards ( or some other ceremony) at Gyeongbok Palace, Seoul Posted by Picasa

Rainy day at Gyeongbok Palace - you can see the mountains through the afternoon haze. Posted by Picasa

Chimneys of Chageyong-jeon - at Gyeongbok Palace Posted by Picasa

Hyangwon-jeong surrounded by a lotus pond (in Gyeongbok Palace) - Beautiful! Posted by Picasa

Helen and me at Kyeonghoe-ru in Gyeongbok Palace Posted by Picasa

Kyeonghoe-ru in Gyeonbok Palace Posted by Picasa