Friday, October 23, 2009

The Planet Song

To my few loyal readers:

Much apologies for the long hiatus. This month has been stressful/busy/draining as we have had to deal with a field trip, report cards, the usual lesson plans/weekly reviews, Open Class (more on this later), and now I find I am in charge of setting up the Haunted House for our Halloween Activity Day.

When I come home all I want to do is just veg to Ninja Video. However it is finally Friday and I have most of the above crossed off my to do list.

Yesterday was Open Class and it was a big pain in the booty. Twice a year our school opens the classrooms to the mothers so they can see how well rehearsed- I mean intellectually stimulated- their children are and how well they have improved with their English. We create an elaborate lesson plan to showcase their kids. Moms come in with cameras and camcorders so they can show their friends how much better their children are doing at XYZ hagwon and why their kids are doing so much better than their friends' kids who go to ABC hagwon.

My previous Open Class in July was a big success, I did a lesson on life cycles and felt pretty confident going into this next Open Class. And I have to say I did a pretty good job. But the icing on the cake was the musical number, "I Know the Planets."

Pretty cute, eh?

The kids liked their head pieces so much they wore them for the rest of the day. For lunch today, David (still wearing his head piece) was eating lunch and stuffed his face with mandoo (meat dumplings). He looked so cute that I had to take this video:

P.S. Just to cover my own hiney, there is no underlying racist tones in this video whatsoever... he had a mouthful of mandoo and the thing with his ears was entirely HIS doing!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Welcome Back Charlie!

On Saturday, we welcomed back a familiar face, Charlie.

Charlie was editor of the magazine Liz and I worked at, SpeakEasy. Charlie, like the rest of us, cast out his line far away from Korea but found himself pulled back in. We had a big reunion last night in Hongdae. It was Vivian, Anton, Andrew, Liz, Charlie, and myself. First order of business- food.

Once we arrived at the galbi restaurant, we were ushered upstairs at the galbi red headed stepchildren and were tucked away in a corner by ourselves. The reason why we were denied dining al fresco? Personally I think they just wanted to save their street cred and hide the foreigners from street view. But THEIR excuse was that apparently, you can't cook pork outside.

Now can someone tell me the difference between cooking beef and cooking pork outside? There was absolutely no tell tale difference when we were cooking beef and pork upstairs on the "terrace". I'll just chalk it up to another Korean idiosynchratic pile of silly... like not flushing toilet paper down the toilet but instead throwing it into a wastebasket atop a bunch of other wads of used toilet paper... mmm toilets and galbi!

After a very enteraining dinner (conversation = A+, Food= D -) we headed to Diggins for a brief taste of Funk Music and then to Nomad for some Jenga, Captain Cocks (that's their insane version of Jack and Coke), darts and Liz dragging an unsuspecting Korean man to the dancefloor for a quick K-Pop dance lesson. After hearing numerous songs from Mariah and Janet, I simply was not content to just singing along at a table... I wanted a mic.

Next stop was the Candy Shop Noraebang. You would think with (what Westerners would deem) an excess of noraebangs in Hongdae, it wouldn't be a problem to get a room. Wrong. Even for it being rather early (around 12?) we had to stoop into several establishments before even getting someone to tell us we'd have to wait 10 minutes for the next available room. Well we certainly weren't going to let that room go after all that trouble so we rocked out for a good 3 solid hours. Songs ranged in styles and tempos. There was some Boyz II Men, Hall & Oates, Kim Carnes, Ricky Martin, Jamiraquai, Beyonce, Meatloaf, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Mr. Big..

However I am going to get on my soapbox and say that my Fleetwood Mac AND Kelly Clarkson selections were prematurely aborted! Noraebang etiquette states that should someone hit the cancel button on someone else's song, said offender should either let victim choose another song or at least fill up the victim's Buy the Way dixie paper cup with an acceptable liquid apology.

Now I don't REALLY know if there is any sort of Noraebang etiquette but there should be... maybe that will be a future blog post.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bow Wow Bauhaus

In an attempt to distract Liz from the departure of a good friend, I took her and Eva to Bauhaus Dog Cafe in Hongdae.

I'm going to stay away from the whole "dog as food" controversy and just say that Koreans LOVE their pets. They love dogs and now cats are slowly winning over a few Koreans (Cat cafe post soon to come!). However it can be a challenge keeping a pet in Seoul. So what does the animal lover who can't realistically keep a pet in the city do? Well, go to a dog or cat cafe of course!!

Bauhaus is a cafe where dogs run the establishment. You've got the big dogs (Great Pyrenese to Labs to Golden Retreivers to a giant Malamute) all the way down to the toy breeds (or as Liz likes to say, the ones you can drop kick). Honestly, it's Cesar Milan's wet dream (Cesar is the Dog Whisperer, dont'chaknow) as it's just one huge pack of dogs running around. You think the humans are the pack leader? No no, the employees just walk around mopping up messes and puddles. They do a great job, always on top of a "situation."

From outside you can already hear barkings of all ranges- yip yip yips to woof woof woofs to mong mong mongs (that's the Korean equivalent to "woof"). You walk up to the 3rd floor, hop over a small gate and enter into the cafe.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes come over to greet/ smell you. The human employees take you to a booth and drop off a menu consisting of teas, coffees, shakes, and alcohol. As I wait for my oreo milkshake a couple of friendly pooches come over to say, "Hi!" Some sit and stay, others decide we aren't that interesting and walk on over to the next booth.

Bauhaus is a wonderful place to visit if you're feeling down. It's scientifically proven that playing with a pooch raises your blood pressure and gets the warm and fuzzies going in full production. What could be better in picking you up than a warm lick on the face or a cold wet nose pressing against your hand?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kid Cartography

While doing a science unit on keeping Earth beautiful, I had my students draw a picture of Earth. Kids' perceptions are the darndest things!!


  • Busan is an island.

  • Japan is approx. the same length and size as South America

  • USA, America, and North America are all different continents

  • Size of China


It's going to be a quiet R&R Filled vacation for me. While the rest of the city floods out to the smaller towns in the countryside, I'm hibernating in my apartment, preparing for winter.

Chuseok is Korea's equivalent to Thanksgiving. We had an activity day for the kindy students on Tuesday. The students arrived wearing hanboks, the traditional Korean folk dress. These kids look so adorable and I must say, they have certainly upped the fashion factor of hanboks since I wore one when I was younger.Each classroom was assigned a certain activity. Stephanie taught them how to bow, Mike and Michael played games, Mindy made lanterns, and I taught the kids how to make songpyeong.

We had balls of rice cake (ttok) and a mixture of brown sugar and seasame seeds (kkeh). The kids would roll small balls of ttok and flatten them out. Next they would put a small spoonful of the kkeh and seal up the ttok to make the songpyong. Basically they're just sugar dumplings. This would seem rather simple but the ttok would get super duper sticky and I had a plaster of rice cake on my hands by the end of 5 classes coming through.

For the first few classes I tried to do my best in making authentic songpyeong. But by the end, I just threw the rules out the window and basically took off little chunks of ttok and dipped them into the kkeh mixture. One of the younger 6 year olds one upped me and just started eating the brown sugar/seasame seed mixture like it was cereal... I would let Stephanie handle his sugar frenzy later.

Our director also got presents for the teachers. These gift sets are pretty hilarious. They can range from Spam, to Shampoo/Bodywash, to tuna (says Mikey who received a nice tuna gift set from his school).

What could mine possibly be?

Are they trying to tell us something?