Friday, 30 May 2008


We have a slight problem with graffiti at the school. Students write on the walls and on the desks both in class and out. It's very frustrating for many reasons - one student wrote POLY = Hell on the wall, which is saddening. I keep forgetting to take a picture but in one classroom someone drew a circle, an arrow to the circle, and "booger?" In two classes I have seen students erasing doodles during class and I have informed them that if I catch anyone writing on the desks they will get not one study hall (detention) but study hall for an eternity. Then, because comprehension and vocabulary are so important, I say, "who can tell me what 'eternity' means?" There's always at least one student who knows the synonym 'forever' and I compliment them on their excellent vocabulary and remind them that they will get to experience eternity if I catch them writing on the desks.

Things I have done recently:
*Attended a meeting for volunteers for an organization that helps Korean victims of sex trafficking (the Dasi Hamkke Center)
*Attended a Taekwondo for foreigners club
*Tried norebang (Korean karaoke)
*Failed norebang
*Edited a piece for the Dasi Hamkke Center
*Discovered that vodka watermelons are a complete fabrication, a myth of the internet that cannot actually be made (I had a damned melon with a gaping wound full of vodka in my fridge for 36 hours to no effect)
*Drunkenly practiced my Korean with the front desk ladies at a party and discovered they think I'm mean because I scowl a lot - I look angry when I plan lessons I guess
*Developed a crush
*Acquired a vast array of Hello Kitty magnets from male coworkers who are now ahead of me in collecting (I don't purchase beer or cigarettes with as much regularity)

Monday, 26 May 2008

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

I Am Awesome (or Just Scary)

A few notes:

1) Bizarrely fashion-obsessed aspiring coworker was reading a student's paper wherein the student said that fashion in Seoul is 10 years ahead of the rest of the world. Coworker read this aloud disdainfully and snorted. Then I pointed out that if the adage that fashion cycles every 20 years is correct then the student could be right.

2) I am bestest teacher evar. Or I'm supremely frightening. I've had a few chances to see coworkers handling their classes and I have come to the conclusion that mine are, on average, the best behaved. Also, when I tell other classes what to do they listen. I can cause a hushed silence just by walking into the GTK classroom and handing out Significant Looks (and I don't even teach those kids!). I don't think I'm supremely frightening because my students ask me questions and will interact with me outside of the classroom but I'm leaving that as a possibility.

3) I have tipped off an obsession with Hello Kitty magnets from the 7-11. You get one for every $4 you spend so now I've bought wine, whiskey, and other things I won't consume in an effort to collect more national magnets. Three other coworkers are in on it now. It's dangerously addictive.

A Great Escape

I look forward to leaving Asia and no longer being mocked for my ethnicity. Tonight while I was out running two high-school aged Korean boys jogged behind me for an extended period of time laughing and making comments to each other. This would never happen to a foreign male and would certainly not happen were I Korean. I find it irritating and senseless. I ignored them until they finally broke away. They called "goodbye" and I replied, "I love you too!" as I do whenever I see clear evidence that I am the subject of discussion.

A few weeks ago while I was waiting for the interminably long light to change to cross to work a girl on the opposite side of the street began imitating me while I stretched. After several minutes of this I stopped stretching and began doing the chicken dance. These little moments shouldn't matter but they are tiresome. I don't like being the object of ridicule solely because I am white as it would never occur to me to mock them for being Asian.

I realized the depth of my need to get away from Asia this morning while pondering my late summer trip to Hawaii. I was not dreaming of beautiful flora and fauna. I did not imagine myself on a wonderful sandy beach. I do not long to lose myself in tropical breezes. The solace I found in thinking about Hawaii was this: I might be able to find my preferred brand of feminine hygiene product. I'm goin' to Hawaii and I'm not settling for HomePlus brand tampons!!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

The Noble Moose

"Weird" Al Yankovic's Canadian Idiot

O Canada, with on screen lyrics!

Mange mes brief! O Canada en francais!

PS, please forgive the illogical or senseless bits of the video. I'm blaming illness and wine for all failures to amuse.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008


Last week one of our vocabulary words was 'ambiguous' in TOEFL 1. I used the following example, inspired by Mitch Hedburg:

Moi:"Hyun-il, have you ever ridden a bicycle or killed a man?"
H-i:"..................Yes, but I -"
Moi:"Nonono. It's a yes or no question."
H-i: [pained expression] "Yes."

For the next class we discussed the passive voice and I explained the idea of distancing language and we returned to the topic of Hyun-il's dark side.

Active: Hyun-il killed a man with chopsticks. [I got sidetracked explaining that it is unclear if he killed a man *using* chopsticks as the murder weapon or if the man had chopsticks at the time of his demise.]

Passive: Hyun-il was the person who killed the man holding the chopsticks.

My passive examples weren't that great but I was having a lot of fun. I should stop teasing Hyun-il (he's a good kid and is easy going, which is why I tend to make him the subject). He was also the subject of an entire paragraph in a quiz yesterday wherein I continued the saga of his attempts to get a date with a girl in his physics class. In previous quizzes he has had to cancel dates because I gave him study hall or whatever so I cut him some slack in this quiz and they got to study together and it turns out she can explain both Einstein's Theory of Relativity and String Theory.

Vector of Disease

I went to a clinic all by my lonesome to get drugs for what I, with my vast medical expertise, have diagnosed as a sinus infection. Getting treatment in Korea is very different from America.

No wait: There's clinics everywhere and you don't have to have an appointment, you just walk in.
Cheap: It was $11 to answer a few questions, be exposed to further infectious agents, and get a prescription. The prescription came to $31.
Easy drug access: Seriously, the doc and I discussed phlegm color and pain and almost instantly I had a 'scrip' for antibiotics and several other unidentified pills.

Easy drug access: Do I really need 5 pills for sinus pain, coughing and phlegm?
Unsanitary: The doc used a metal tongue depressor to check my throat and tossed it right back into the cup of them on his desk.
Language barrier: This is a pretty serious risk. Granted, I can drag someone from the office with me to act as translator but I already had one mortifying experience with that and let's just say I never want to discuss specifics of lady parts in front of a coworker (again).

I'm looking forward to feeling all kinds of better soon and not sounding like a smoker.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Laptop Endangerment Exercise

I compiled the finest moments of my various sickly attempts at celebrating birthdays. I'll post cultural event pictures etc. when my energy isn't being sapped by disease. Right now I'm in a mood to wander some moors in a ridiculous dress and cry out the names of lost lovers NyQuil products. And chase sheep. Or at least throw dirty tissues and empty Advil containers at them.

Friday, 9 May 2008

May Babies!

I know a lot of people with birthdays in May!

I tried to make a video but both attempts were subpar. I caught a bug that makes me sound and feel like I smoked a pack of cigarettes right before bed.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Mountain View

This is what I spent Children's Day making.

Weekend Neatness

I love wysteria.

There was a reenactment of the wedding of King Sejeong (inventor of everything). A member of our party stopped him for photos and then a plague of us descended on these poor reenactors.

This tree and thousands of lanterns are all on the grounds of the Jogyesa Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in Seoul.

I made a lantern at one of the HiSeoul festival events. It's incomplete because we got there late but I'm pleased with it.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Shittin' Rainbows

Some things that have made me smile (or smirk) lately:

Read a Book
This raises a lot of questions about whether or not certain racial stereotypes are being reinforced with negative consequences. I think that it could go either way but, for me, it's less about race and far more about the hilarity of combining obscenities with good advice.

Flight of the Conchords
A New Zealand folk parody band. Yea, I know, I usually hate music related comedy but these guys are pretty entertaining. Plus...they're Kiwi. It's all good, though, since it's one of those things white people like.