So my co-teacher is pregnant. Yesterday she asked me if it’s common for people in America to find out the sex of the baby. When I said yes, she said, “Really??” and then explained that in Korea it’s illegal for the doctor to say the sex of the baby. To get around this he will say things like, “I think your baby will like dolls.” or “I think your baby will like sports.”
My co-teacher went for her sonogram yesterday and was hopeful to find out the sex of her baby. She said that her mother-in-law was going to come along with her and she was nervous because her mother-in-law was hoping for the baby to be a boy.
This morning I found out the results. Seems like the baby will “resemble its mother.”
Let’s fast forward to the present so I can tell you about the day I’ve had…
The students are all preparing for their final exams so all they’ve been doing in class is reviewing previous lessons and taking practice tests. My co-teacher and I had some time to chat today. The topics were broad and included fruit, Costco, the movie White Chicks, Texas, Las Vegas and In-N-Out Burger.
I mentioned how I can’t keep bananas in my apartment anymore because they attract fruit flies. It’s really sad because most other fruit here is really expensive, but it looks like I’m going to have to start eating fruit that I can keep in the fridge.
I was so excited last week when I saw blueberries in the grocery store, but the price tag kept me from buying them. They were 5,980 won ($5.50) for about half a pint. Yikes! I mentioned this to my co-teacher so she immediately pulled up the GMarket website (sort of like a Korean version of Amazon) to try to help me find cheaper blueberries. No luck.
I mentioned that I might try Costco this weekend so she started telling me all of my options for getting there (subway, bus, taxi). She even wrote out instructions for the taxi driver in case I decided to take a taxi. I posted them below if anyone is interested. The first line is a landmark near the Costco in Busan in case the taxi driver doesn’t know Costco. The second line is just Costco written out in Korean.
Later, my co-teacher confiscated a handheld fan from one of the students. You know… the kind you spread out and wave at yourself to cool you down. It was really cute (like everything here tends to be) and had 7 baby chicken heads on it. This led to her think of the word “chicks” and then she got really excited and told me that she really likes the movie White Chicks. She said it is “soooooo funny!” I don’t know why, but that warmed my heart. I love that she loves this movie! haha
She then started telling me about her friend (another Korean elementary school teacher) that moved to Oklahoma. She showed me pictures that she sent her and one of the pictures was her husband posing in front of the University of North Texas, which is the university I went to. I then tried to draw Texas so I could explain that UNT and the University of Texas are completely different and she laughed pretty hard at my drawing and said, “Really?” I’m still not sure if she was laughing because of the shape of Texas or because I’m terrible at drawing.
She also showed me her friend’s pictures of Las Vegas, which included a picture of In-N-Out. And that led to us looking at Korean blogs posted about In-N-Out… and then Five Guys. I told her about the In-N-Outs that opened in Texas recently and all the buzz it’s caused. After class I sent her the videos below, to which she responded, “after see the youtube, i really want to eat the burger, eh?”
After 4 classes, it was time for lunch. My first thought after walking into the lunch room was, “What the H is that?” I am pretty sure the rest of the teachers felt the same way. One of our dishes was some weird meat thing that was all smooshed… it looked like red mashed potatoes with little bits of peas and potatoes. It was actually pretty good, but looked rather sketchy. Sometimes I wish it wouldn’t be awkward if I took my camera to lunch with me.
So I feel like I have rambled on enough (maybe too much), but I was rather proud of one of my 5th grade students today. He decided to be clever and change the words of a Korean pop song to suit how he felt about today’s testing. He changed the words of Big Bang’s “Love Song” from “I hate this love song.” to “I hate this test.” I was impressed. At least he gets the meaning, right??
Last night the English teachers from my school went out for a night of food and bowling. We ate at a shabu-shabu restaurant. This was, by far, the best food I’ve had in Korea. If any of you come visit, we must go eat at this place. They bring out a pot of seasoned broth and you boil the broth then cook very thinly sliced beef in it. You are also brought loads of veggies and rice paper. You wet the rice paper then fill it with veggies, meat and sauce and then wrap it. It’s so good! The girls said that it’s like Korean/Vietnamese fusion.
After dinner, we walked to the bowling alley, which is located about a subway stop away inside of Home Plus. Bowling was such a blast. There was tons of high fiving going on, even for gutter balls. The ladies I work with are super sweet. I was in second place the whole game, but I had a comeback on the last two frames and won.
Something I thought was really neat about the bowling alley was the way you rent shoes. The shoes are actually distributed through venting machines. The fee is 1,500 won (about $1.40). You insert your coins into the machine with your shoe size and the shoes drop out of the bottom. So cool.
After the game we walked around Home Plus to buy some snacks and supplies for the English teachers’ office. My two co-teachers shared a taxi back and JuHye and I took the subway. I only live two stops from where we were and I wanted to find out where the subway station was so I could come back on my own sometime.
I look forward to many more teachers nights in the future.
Friday I woke up regretting going out the previous night. I’m not sure why we thought it was a good idea to stay out so late the night before we were supposed to meet out co-teachers and move into our new apartments. I still hadn’t even packed yet! I hurriedly packed my things, but was starting to feel that same overwhelmed feeling I felt the night before I left for Korea. I decided to go get some breakfast with the girls and then come back and pack. I couldn’t eat. I went to the EPIK office to get a large sack to put my dirty clothes in. The only one they had was absolutely massive, which was fine because I had a lot of dirty clothes. I didn’t want to pack them so I thought the huge sack was a good idea. So now I had 2 large suitcases, a laptop bag, a backpack and a gift bag from EPIK.
At 9:00am we all headed over to the classroom to wait to meet our new co-teachers. Mine greeted me with an outstretched hand and a smile. We made small talk as we walked back to the dorm together. The dorm is about a 10 minute walk from where we had class. We went up the elevator to get my bags. On the way, I asked “Is school very far from here?” She said, “Yes, very far.” I was kind of disappointed and she said, “It’s about 15 minutes.” Then followed up with “By subway.” Wait… What??? We were told that our co-teachers were going to pick us up in their cars and then take us to school to meet the principal and vice principal. I didn’t even imagine being met by a teacher that didn’t have a car, especially with as much stuff as I had. When she saw all of my stuff she changed her mind about the subway. She said we would take a taxi, but we still had to get all of my things from the dorm room to the street, which was, again, about a 10 minute walk. It was such a struggle. That giant bag of dirty clothes (plus my pillow and jacket) weighed a ton. We were fortunate enough to find a taxi before we hit the street because it was graduation day at the university we were staying at and someone had just been dropped off. My things barely fit in the taxi. We had to put one of my suitcases between my co-teacher and I.
I know I was warned to take Dramamine before the car ride (thanks for looking out for me, Mary!), but I was just too busy to take it before I left for the classroom and didn’t anticipate being so rushed afterwards. On top of being prone to carsickness, I was already feeling pretty awful. The taxi ride to the school was torture. I was very close to getting sick, but fortunately I didn’t. What a first impression that would have made! I felt so much better after getting out of the car.
Meeting my principal was an interesting experience. I waited in the teacher’s lounge/secretary’s room and then I was escorted into the principal’s office with my head co-teacher and the former head co-teacher. My principal didn’t speak much English to me other than “Nice to meet you.” The co-teachers and principal spoke to one another about me in Korean and occasionally they would ask me questions about my age, family and what I learned at orientation. I was only in the principal’s office for about 5 minutes, then the co-teachers and I went outside. The former head co-teacher (of last year’s guest English teacher) had her husband come pick us up to take my things to my new apartment. Last year’s guest English teacher was still here when we got here. He was packing up his things and getting ready to head to the airport. He left the place in good enough condition. He left a lot of things here. Some I threw away, some I kept and some I gave away (like his giant collection of Magic The Gathering cards).
I left my things at the apartment and my co-teacher took me out to explore my neighborhood and to get supplies for the apartment. We walked from my apartment the closest subway station (which takes under 2 minutes), then to school (which takes 7-10 minutes), then we walked to the Dongnae Station, and then to a giant grocery store, which I would compare to Super Wal-Mart. She bought me bedding and these rice cake things and I bought some food. Then, we took the bus home because we had a lot to carry.
Once we got back to my apartment, the former guest English teacher was gone and my co-teacher helped me clean up. She also had me make a list of things I still needed for my apartment. I couldn’t think of much because my apartment was stocked pretty well. By this point it was almost 3:00pm and I still hadn’t really had anything to eat or drink all day so I was starting to feel awful. My co-teacher said she was hungry so she made us some ramen and we sat on my bed and ate. I didn’t really eat much ramen because it was too flavorful for me. I really just wanted a piece of bread or something. I ate enough to make it seem like I ate. Afterwards, my co-teacher left. I went down with her so she could show me how to sort my garbage and recycling. I had such a long day so I was looking forward to coming back up to an empty apartment. When I got back upstairs, the landlord was in the hall and he followed me into my apartment to set up my TV for me. I communicated to him that I would also like for him to setup my internet (my apartment has free internet!), and he happily started working on my computer. After about 30 minutes of trying, he asked me to follow him to his and his wife’s apartment so he could try plugging my computer into his ethernet port. After an hour at their apartment, it still wasn’t working. I told him that it’s okay and went back to my apartment with my computer. About a half hour later, he rang my doorbell and started speaking to me in Korean. I guess I should have mentioned that my landlords don’t speak English. Anyway, the only two words I could make out were computer and tomorrow. I figured it couldn’t hurt so I handed him my computer and off he went. I figured he’d bring it back tomorrow, but in about another 30 minutes he was back with my computer. This time, Google was pulled up so I knew that he had fixed it. I thanked him and then I finally had my apartment to myself.
Since I still didn’t feel well, I spent the rest of the night in bed watching Grey’s Anatomy and eating bread (finally). It was a good night. haha
I should also mention that my co-teacher came back around 8:00pm with a box of gifts from the school, and she had also personally gotten me a gift… a giant package of toilet paper. It was all very sweet. Below is a video of me opening my gifts I was given by the school…
Monday was Field Trip Day. We went to see an amazing martial arts show/play called JUMP. It was soooo sooo sooooooo good! We weren’t allowed to take pictures during the show, but I found a short video on youtube to share with you.
After JUMP we went to eat a buffet lunch at a hotel that was right across the street from Haeundae beach, which is the most popular beach in Busan.
The second part of the field trip was a trip to Posco, a GIANT steel mill that the Koreans are VERY proud of. POSCO is in Pohang, which is about 1.5 – 2 hours from Busan. We all loaded back into the bus to get ready for round two.
Unfortunately, I started feeling really carsick on the way to POSCO. I stuck it out and was so relieved when we made it to Pohang. It took awhile to maneuver through the city and actually get to POSCO. When the buses stopped, we all got out to go to the restroom and take a group picture in front of an old furness that they had displayed. Afterwards, we were all told to get back on the buses. My bubble immediately burst. This was a bus tour! Not only was I going to be stuck in the bus for two more hours, but our tour guide didn’t speak English… oh my! Our orientation leaders had to translate it into English for us and it was really too complex to get a good translation. Plus, a lot of the things they were telling us to look at were covered with fences that were lined with vines and shrubs. We were able to get off the bus once during the tour. We went inside of one of the buildings to watch a giant block of flaming hot steel going down the line and being washed off and molded into a longer, thinner sheet of steel. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures for “security purposes.” We were taken back to the building with the restrooms and we were allowed to go to the bathroom, and then we were stuck on the bus for another two hours. Being carsick for 6 hours was definitely one of my least favorite things about orientation.
The girls all went to eat at a traditional Korean restaurant that night, but I stayed in because I was still feeling bad. I ended up eating snacks from the convenience store again. I also took some Dramamine to help me feel better/sleep. I must have been pretty delirious because I ended up putting my Coke in the shoe closet when I meant to put it in the refrigerator.
Tuesday & Wednesday
I forgot to bring my camera on Tuesday and Wednesday, but we were very busy during these two days. We were back to the breakfast, lectures, lunch, lectures, dinner, Korean class schedule. After all of this, I met up with my group to prepare for our lesson plan presentations on Thursday.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Thursday we had our group lesson plan presentations. My group was great. We all worked really well together and our lesson was voted second best by the class. The presentations were all really great and gave me a lot of ideas for my classroom. We were all so excited to be done that we jumped for joy!
Later in the day we were introduced to the head of our metropolitan office of education (MOE). Everyone was very anxious because afterwards we finally were able to find out where in Busan we would be and what level we would be teaching.
Then we had the Closing Ceremony & Dinner.
After the week we had, we all decided to go out and celebrate.
We started at a place called WTF? That had specials for the EPIK teachers.
Priscilla and I tried soju for the first time… Cilla hated it!
We didn’t stay long at WFT? But here’s what we found once we left…
So after WTF? we went to a place called Bob Marley, but didn’t stay long. Then we went to a place called Thursday Party. It was an absolute blast. Not long after being there we met a table of Korean university students that were having a great time singing pop songs in English. Megan found free pizza… I swear she has a pizza radar. We all just mingled and had fun chatting with a lot of people we knew we probably weren’t going to see for awhile.
Right before we left the bar we stumbled across something quite interesting…
Popcorn seasoned with curry
Also, it looks as though some guy left his phone on the seat of his motorcycle while he went out to party. I wonder if it was there when he got back…? In the US I would say absolutely not, but in Korea, it wouldn’t surprise me if he found it right where he left it.
Cellphone left on motorcycle
I think that’s enough for now! I had originally planned to write about Friday also, but once I started writing I realized that I had enough to say about Friday that it deserved its own post. It will be up tomorrow so be sure to come back to take a look!