Saturday, December 12, 2009
Story #1: On Wednesday afternoon, December 9th, I was sitting in my office youtube'in some TV episodes when two 5th grade boys came in to bring Johnson and I milk boxes which is an everyday occurrence. They noticed that Johnson was not there and when they asked I told them that he had left for the day. They bowed, said goodbye and left. I heard them giggle a little on their way out but didn't think anything of it.
5:00pm rolls around and I am gathering my stuff to leave. I turn the computer off and hit the lights but I can't get out my office door. Well...needless to say I now knew why they were snickering. Those freakin' kids locked me into my office! (My office use to be a storage closet so it locks from the outside.) I was thinking, "crap...I don't even have the phone number to the front desk for someone to come let me out!"
That's when I became all James Bond like and squeezed through some bookcases that separated part of my office from the computer lab. I knew it was a shot in the dark whether that door was even unlocked because being a computer lab, it's locked all the time. So I got myself through and to my utter surprise and excitement, the door was unlocked!!
This could have been a very embarrassing situation had my survival skills not kicked in :)
Story #2: Thursday, December 10th, I taught my one 5th grade class during first period as usual and then Johnson said I didn't need to teach the 4 sixth grade classes with him today because he was just giving them a computerized listening test and didn't want to make me sit through that. Well, my other co-teacher caught wind that I was not having to go with him and told Johnson that I HAD to go. He felt bad and after the first class he told me the the fifth grade class two was doing crafts and that I should sneak in there and hang out with them since it would be far more entertaining.
The class was making their own cute little gift boxes. Being the crafty person I am I happily joined it. Well, I didn't really know all the directions since the teacher obviously gave them in Korean but I thought I had the gist. Turns out...there was some key information I missed because my box was so ugly and the top didn't even fit. Some of the girls came to help me fix it and we were having some pretty funny conversation because the language barrier was so bad. Well, I was so distracted with our conversation I failed to notice the superglue that had somehow gotten on my cheek.
Yes, that's right super glue. We were using super glue and most of the time instead of scissors, the kids use exacto-knifes...even the third graders. I was so embarrassed by this I didn't want to make a big deal of it, so I tried to just inconspicuously pick at it. No one else managed to get super glue on their faces...hands maybe...but not their face! One boy did put a little in a girls hair...so I felt lucky it was just on my cheek. Anyways...long story short, the top of my cheek was red and flaky and it took about two days for it all to come off!
I plan on being a little more careful that next time I get to sneak into craft time :)
Sunday, November 22, 2009
So, one of my students Kyle, yes, the same after school boy that I Karate chopped a few weeks back for strangling a poor boy in my class is at it again...
Last week, the week of November 16th, after school English class started off like any other. After the first hour, I always give the kids a 10-15 break to read their comics and eat their snacks (2 hours of English after school is entirely too long in my opinion). Anyways, the break time was over and I asked all the students to return to their tables so we can begin the second half. As usual, the other students in the class obeyed and came scurrying back to their seats, a little chatty but they were there. Kyle on the other hand was not. I ask for him to take his seat so that we could begin class.
(I forgot some key information. My co-teacher was not there and we are having class in the library. The tables where the kids sit are in the front of the room and there are book shelves in the middle with an aisle down the middle so the kids can easily get to the tables...just to set the scene a little bit.)
So back to Kyle, being the pain in the butt that he is, he decides to walk at a snails pace while weaving through the books shelves as opposed to walking normally through the middle. He begins to utter something in Korean, (which I'm sure isn't polite) and is seriously barely moving with his eyes locked on me. I'm like...ok "Kyle, please pali pali! (hurry hurry in Korean)" He continues at this ridiculous pace and holding up class. So I just looked him in the eyes and thought two can play this game. So...I let him ramble and baby step all the way to his seat. Once he got there, he pulled his chair to sit. I looked at him and said, "No, Kyle...you can't sit. You didn't listen to me. Please pick up your chair and come to the front." He looked at me and said, "Bad Teacher." In my head I was like, "You're the most annoying kid ever, so call me whatever you want. (At least this insult was in English)" So he brought his chair to the front and began to sit down. I said, "No, Kyle. Lift the chair over your head until I say stop."
Ok...I know you are thinking this is so cruel, but it is a very mild form of punishment. I will admit that I felt a little bad when he started whining, "Ahh...ahhh...ouch...hurts." But then I would look at him, and I just wouldn't feel bad anymore. I only made him stay that way for a few minutes, but he behaved the rest of that class so it was a success. I don't think he'll be snail walking anytime soon...
I hate to say it...but it's true...sometimes authority is a beautiful thing.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
This past Saturday, November 7th, Andrew and I decided to take advantage of some beautiful weather we were having. It was sunny and about 70 degrees so we decided to take a picnic lunch to Ulsan Grand Park. It's about a 15 min taxi ride from our apartment and we really didn't know where we were going (as usual) since we had never been there but we were excited. We got out of the taxi and the first thing we saw were thousands of beautiful flowers! They even had "Ulsan" spelled out at the entrance. The park was absolutely gorgeous...and crowded! The leaves on the trees were at their peak of beauty and the large pond and waterfall caught their reflection. We took a seat on a bench by the water and began eating. It didn't take long to notice that so many people were riding bikes. We realized you could rent them so we did what any nerdy foreign couple would do after a picnic in the park...we rented one...that's right one...a tandem bike to be exact, a nice bright yellow one! I was so excited since I had never ridden a bicycle built for two. Needless to say, it took some time to get use to but once we got the hang of it was quite an experience. We had few close calls but we blame it on the fact that one of the breaks was broken, our gears barely switched and our front tire was flat.
Later that night we went to dinner and decided to ride the famous Farris wheel that lights up the Ulsan skyline. It wasn't until then that I found out Andrew was slightly afraid of heights...so I enjoyed the view from above, while he closed his eyes and directed me on what to take pictures of to show him later :) Overall, we had a really great Saturday on a beautiful fall day.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
After the conclusion of the training, Johnson drove us to a cheaper hotel we found online and he said he would talk to the people to try to get us a discount because Hakseong often stayed at their hotel for soccer tournaments. Well, when we go there, he talked to the lady at the front desk and then translated to us that it's originally 80,000 won a night, but he 'talked' her down to 60,000 (about $50.) Whether that was true or not, I'll take a discount when I can get one.
When Johnson left to return to Ulsan, Andrew and I decided to take a walk around the Bulguksa Temple. This temple was completed in 774 AD and it served as a center of Silla Buddhism and of prayer for the protection of the country from foreign invasion. Sadly, like many other ancient Korean landmarks, the entire temple was burnt d0wn by Japanese invaders in 1593 (they should have prayed a little harder...) and it wasn't rebuilt until 1969 after thorough research, investigations and excavation of the ancient temple site. Something I thought was pretty cool, was that in 1995, the temple was designated as the world cultural heritage by the UNESCO.
As Andrew and I walked up the stairs to the temple grounds, the scene was literally breathtaking. I couldn't imagine seeing this temple for the first time at any other moment during the year. The trees were at their most beautiful fall peaks and the colors were simply gorgeous. (We see no trees living in the city of Ulsan, so it was an amazing site to see). The temple grounds were filled with beautiful trees but the most beautiful site of all were the trees that surrounded a pond and a waterfall. Andrew and I took like a hundred pictures and just couldn't stop staring at such natural beauty. I wish you all could have been there in person. These pictures just don't do it justice.
After we walked the temple grounds, we got on a bus to take us up the mountain to see the Seokguram Grotto, another UNESCO world cultural heritage landmark. The ride was less than exciting. I hear the views are beautiful but I was too busy closing my eyes and concentrating on not getting sick all over the bus. It was a miserable windy ride. The grotto was constructed in 751 AD and it represents not only the supremacy of Silla art, but it is also regarded as the best oriental Buddhist work. Sadly we were not allowed to take pictures because of how old it is I'm guessing. But it was a cool looking giant Buddha. I'm sad to admit, but for me, the view from the top of the mountain at sunset was even cooler!
The bus ride down from the grotto had to be the most miserable 15 minutes of my whole life. It would be wise for them to put air sick bags in each seat. They probably would have come in handy for the poor girl that got sick immediately after stepping off the bus. I know we all felt that way, and the last thing I wanted to do was get on another bus to take us to our next tourist destination. After waiting 20 minutes for the bus and trying to settle our stomachs, Andrew and I rode for 45 min on a bus where we weren't even sure would take us to the right place. Well, as usual, we missed our stop and just ended up getting off the bus. We ended up in 'Love Motel Ally' and weren't even sure how to get back. We flagged a taxi and pointed to the map of where we were trying to go. The map was in English, the taxi driver only spoke Korean...it took us a while to communicate where we wanted to go but eventually we got there.
We were at the Gyeongju Imhaejeon Site on the Anapji lake, a site you can really only appreciate at night time because they have the coolest up lighting on all of the buildings and around the lake. It is a separate palace that the King of the Unified Silla period had built so that he could plant rare flowers and trees and raise uncommon birds and animals. The King also used this place to hold banquets and lavish parties. Once again, it was destroyed by the Japanese and rebuilt in 1975. They have a model of what it might have looked like as well as some actual artifacts that were found when the lake was drained and cleaned.
It was beautiful and the had music playing as we walked the path around the lake. The lighting was gorgeous and even had color changing lights around some of the streams.
After a full day of site seeing we returned to our hotel where we had a very nutritious meal consisting of fried chicken, fries and Pepsi. What a great day!
Wednesday, October 28th, I threw my after school kids a Halloween party! It was so much fun. We played all kinds of Halloween games like 'Pin the tail on the Black cat,' we made construction Jack-o-Lanterns, masks, Ghost suckers, and BINGO (a Korean favorite). Their favorite activity had to be the toilet paper Mummy rap race...boys against girls. It's always good to promote healthy competition. Not to be biased in any way, but the girls kicked butt, look at the picture and you can be the judge! It was a fun time and a nice break from the English studying that we usually do. I think that all kids around the world should celebrate Halloween...everyone loves free candy! But if I have to hear, "Teacher changey...changey...." one more time...I might go crazy. If I gave them a piece of candy, they always wanted to 'change' the flavor. So I stopped that madness real quick. (That's me, in the Witch hat and striped leggings).
By the way, I have posted a few videos on youtube. Just type in 09Ulsan in the search tab. They are short because my camera can't take long videos but they are kind of fun!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Well, they lost their first game. Andrew and I didn't know if that meant they were finished or playing again...a double elimination kind of thing...no one told us anything because they didn't speak English. So we sat around because they sat around. Turns out, it was double elimination and Andrew's team ended up winning the entire tournament! Andrew even had a clutch play in the semi-final game to send his team into the championship. (A feat he continues to brag about every chance he gets). They played the team that beat them the first game in the championship. It was actually a very exciting game. And after 9 hours...I was standing on my feet beating water bottles together with the other fans. I'm not really sure if I was excited that the game was so close in score or that it was so close to being over. Either way, his team walked away with a trophy, a certificate and an MVP. His principal even game us 30,000 won (about $25) to eat dinner on!
On a happier note, October 20th was an all school picnic day! I was so excited to go and couldn't wait to see what they did. Well, I assumed we would go to park and play organized field games, eat lunch and return to school. Wrong again. We walked with all the kids about 20 minutes from the school to a trail by the river. All the kids put their backpacks in neat little lines and we continued walking for about 20 more minutes. The kids messed around on some exercise equipment for about 10 minutes and then we walked back to where they dropped off their backpacks. They began to engage in snack time (which I was not informed would take place so I was less than prepared). Several students noticed the starvation look on my face and began giving me snacks! It was great!
After snack time, Tessah (another English Teacher) and I went to play games with students. They just flocked to us and were so excited that we came, it was really cute. Well, this put the pressure on us to come up with some games on the spot. It was a kind of 'bring your own equipment' sort of picnic. I remembered a hand clapping game, Down By the Bank, and Tessah knew it too so we taught it to a group of girls. It went over really well...until they got bored. So the next game we played was the 'Tap, Tap, Clap, Clap, Snap, Snap Numbers game' we play at Grandma Stremme's every Christmas. They REALLY liked that game and I was happy because I was struggling think of any more.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
After our long walk, we were crossing the street to leave when he asked two girls at the cross walk where a good coffee place was around the area. They told him and then he invited them to come along. So our three man party turned into five and we all went to have coffee, on Kim. It was great. He told us stories about when he was growing up and more Korean history. He left us with something to think about and I just love it. He said that "The world is an ugly place and it's up to you to make each day beautiful." Andrew and I both felt very lucky to have met Kim and so grateful for the wisdom that he shared. Talk about being at the right place at the right time.
After the show, we went out for a night on the town. It was fun and my favorite part was probably the alcohol in a bag that you could buy from a street vendor...it was just a funny idea and it made me think of you Montgomery :)
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Saturday Andrew and I decided to continue our adventures to see the ''12 Scenic Sites of Ulsan" adventure. It was really cloudy and expected to rain so we didn't want to go too far from home. We decided to check out the Bamboo Forrest just off the Taehwagang River. Once again, the only directions we had was which bus to get on. It failed to tell us where to get off. This time we thought we were smart and brought a map. It didn't go too well. To make another long story of us getting lost short, we found it eventually and were not as impressed as we thought we would be. It was neat yes, but we learned it had been man made which kind of took the impressive factor down a bit. We were so exhausted after walking so much when we were lost, that we took a few pictures then returned home. It was kind of a bust. But on the bright side, we can cross it off our list. Bamboo Forrest....been there...done that.
I am beginning to experience what it's like to have allergies for the first time. I ran into another foreign teacher who said the same thing. So we have self diagnosed that it's allergies. It's awful! I mean the sneezing, running nose, congestion...it makes teaching a bit more challenging that's for sure. Oh...another week of teaching. I don't have any exciting stories for you. I just took a few more photos because they are so dang cute! These photos are of some students playing a memory game that I created. They had a blast and got so competitive. It's quite hilarious! Check out the excitement on number 69s expression! I love it!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Saturday was another 'get on a bus and pray we get off at the correct stop' kind of day. Andrew and I boarded bus number 1713, we were headed to the alps for some 'adventure' which is what the website told us. The only direction we were given was to get on either bus 803 or 1713 and get off when you are by a temple. So...after being on the bus an hour, we realized that we were the only ones left and the bus driver kept looking back at us through his rear view mirror. I told Andrew that maybe we were supposed to get off with everyone else and he doesn't know how to tell us. I began to get a little nervous. But then we saw it...a Temple! As the bus turned into a rest area/makeshift bus station, we realized that this was the last stop and our destination. So naturally we got off.
It wasn't until I asked Johnson on Monday which temple we were at that I learned we were at Seoknamsa, a Buddhist Temple located in Mt. Gaji. It is a 30-building temple of all women monks and famous for Zen meditation. The buildings were beautiful and the mountainous scenery was amazing! We noticed however a bunch of stacked rocks all over the place. I asked Johnson what that meant and he said people do that when they are making a wish or praying. We would have done it had we of known the purpose. We weren't sure if we could even touch them.