Saturday, September 22, 2012

Beyonce 'glee-ed' up my Friday!

Now, remember how the kids all have pseudonyms  Well today Snoop, which I figured was in reference to Snoop dog, only requested to change his name to Beyonce!
So this popped into my head....

'Are you sure?' I asked him.
'Yes' he said.
'You know that's a girls name, right?'
'Yes' he said.
'You are sure you want to be called Beyonce?'
'Well, ok'. I said. Genius!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Not a Samsung then.

I'm mobile again! However, I've stuck with what I know, much to the derision of some of my students.
My old phone seems so tiny now.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

'I want to play a game.'

Remember my little 'gangsta' student. He's changed his name to, wait for it... Jigsaw! 
That's right, Jigsaw.
Curiosity killed me, and perhaps somewhat foolishly I asked him if he's watched the Saw films. 
He told me that he hasn't, but I'm not so sure... His name before? It was John, wasn't it. During class he then behaved exceptionally well, like the perfect student in fact. Is this some sort of test? 
He's definitely a very interesting character. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm an alien!

I'm also still playing blog catch-up, hence some post headers with a lack of content. I'll get there :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Caffeine crisis

I kept thinking to myself, 'I hope energy drinks have a lot of caffeine in them. It's the only reason I've been drinking them this week!'

Something had to be done, Korean coffee is not for tasting too often (it comes in ready-made sachets with dried milk and sugar). I was seriously lacking caffeine. I made a trip to e-mart and purchased a slightly expensive jar of instant coffee. I was apprehensive because the jar looks somewhat similar to 'dishwater' type coffee granules. I was extremely disheartened to discover that with one tea spoonful it tastes like it too. I've rectified the problem somewhat by using table-spooned sized portions, and adding semi-skimmed milk. Ahhh, coffee! :)

To blog or not to blog?

I've been toying with the notion of writing a blog for while, but the first few weeks in Korea have been pretty hectic and I've honestly struggled to find time. From the moment I landed, I lost track of what day it is, and I've spent the last few weeks in a generally pleasant sate of dazed bewilderment. 

I also find the notion of being open and candid slightly strange. Don't get me wrong, I'll happily share humorous anecdotes from my life with loved ones, but the idea of posting on the net evokes some feelings of self-consciousness and anxiety. I know everyone is generally an expert on themselves, so it should be easy. But I don't tend to share lots of details, I like to hold a little back and retain an air of mystery. Plus, I tend to get a little lost in my own dreamy thoughts and simply forget to mention things...

For those who know me, deciding which blog has naturally taken me a while. And, I still need a little time to properly acquaint myself with the features and settings. Since I'm already a couple of weeks into my current adventure, I will need to blog a little retrospectively. Well, at least I've finally started, so I'll try to gather my thoughts and add more soon....  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

He is wearing red pants.

The current chapter at school is called 'he's wearing a red cap'. This lead to me having to stand at the front of the class and drill the pronunciation "he's wearing red pants". When I think pants, I visualise something like this...

Oh, American English, I had to force myself to maintain a straight face. How old am I?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

'un pour tous, tous pour un'

I was very fortunate to do my CELTA with some lovely EFL trainees. They were all very friendly and supportive during quite a frantic and stressful time. I co-taught lessons with two others, who I became quite close to, both of them were, and have continued to be tremendously supportive and encouraging. So now, I fondly like to think of us as the three musketeers venturing off to conquer the EFL world. 
Aramis (the master swordsman who intrigues women). 
Athos (the caring, protective one). 
Porthos (the one who loves food and wine~me). 
And, I suppose that could be d'Argtanan in the background. 

Prior to coming to Korea, I taught full-time at Summer school with Athos in Bristol. That was hard-work, but we still managed to have some good times. 

Last February, Aramis left the UK to live and teach in Gwangju. He kindly gave me lots of advice and support before I arrived in August. He was in Seoul this weekend, because he was running at the DMZ as part of a peaceful protest event. So, we arranged to meet up. He took me to Itaewon which is a popular area for foreigners in Seoul. We went to the Wolfhound, an Irish pub. Where, I indulged in my pleasure for drinking cider, and treated myself to some slightly expensive bottles of the apple fizzy stuff.

Aramis gave me several tips, these are a couple I remember:
  • Yogi-oh = 여기오 which means 'hey, over here'. It can be used in restaurants (although there is usually a yogi-oh button on the table), taxi's, etc.
  • Be prepared to barge your way off the buses and subway without apologising. Aramis told me that I would increasingly find myself doing this. I've had to push a little sometimes, but generally I'm managing to duck and weave my way past people whilst saying shil-le-ha-ge-ssŭm-ni-da. 실례하겠습니다 which means excuse me.
It was lovely to see a friendly face, and get my first proper hug for weeks! Aramis entertainingly regaled tales of his Korean experiences, kindly introduced me to his friends, and invited me to visit Gwangju. I hope to take him up on this offer at some point in the future.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Gangsta's paradise

As mentioned previously some of my children have adorable pseudonyms. They also seem to have some choice materials that they like to bring the the classroom...
Today, whilst I was checking students had turned to the correct page. I casually pointed to one student's book and said 'page 112'. He turned to look at me. Only then did I notice that he had a large unused syringe with the needle in his hand. He lifted it towards me and made a swiping gesture at my arm. I was slightly stunned, but I opted to calmly repeat 'page 112'. Since the syringe failed to prevoke a reaction, he delved into his pencil case and pulled out his Stanley knife (Koreans regularly use these to sharpen their pencils, what's wrong with a pencil sharpener I don't know). He made a cutting gesture in the air, and said something in Korean. From his manner and his tone, I figure it was something threatening like 'I'm going to cut you'. I was not impressed, this twelve year old kid was actually trying to intimidate me. I opted to continue to appear unperturbed and calmly repeated 'page 112'. He muttered something else under his breath, before huffily turning to the page. I said 'thank you' and then swiftly moved away.    

Later over dinner, I regaled this tale to some fellow teachers, they asked why I hadn't scolded him or sought assistance from my co-teacher. I told them I'd also been thinking about whether I'd handled the situation appropriately. I explained that I my co-teacher was dealing with two other boys who were fighting across the room. I said I'd been told this student has some (unassessed) behavioural problems, and I felt like he was trying to intimidate me. So, I opted to go with my gut instinct of trying to calmly placate the situation rather than freaking out. I'm still not sure it was the best approach, however I assured them that I'd spoke to my co-teacher about it afterwards. Shortly after this conversation, what song should start to begin playing?

How apt? Beer tower flowing, good food, good company, and we were in fits of giggles....

Monday, September 3, 2012

My landlady

My landlady is lovely, she gave me a heap of stuff from the previous tenants. I got a hair-dryer, straighteners,  iron, glasses and mugs, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans. Towels, bedding and pillows, that she'd also washed for me. With my co-teacher interpreting, she also told me which bags I needed to use for food waste, general waste and recycling. How to use my air-conditioning, heating and hot water and door entry system. Then, she told me that I mustn't flush the toilet paper?!? I smiled and nodded, whilst in my head...

I almost wanted to ask her to repeat it, but at the same time I didn't want to expose my sudden shock and horror. Needless to say I spent the first few days feeling like I was at a festival, without proper amenities. I also had to re-potty train myself out of the automated flushing process. I've spoken to other teachers, who've said they are just flushing anyway. I don't dare because I have a feeling I'm the only waygook (foreigner) in my apartment block, so if the pipes get backed up they'll be looking at me!

Posters from a nightclub in Itaewon.

My landlady is also worried about me living on my own (ah). She told me that I must lock the utilty room door from the inside to stop people getting in. Err, I'm on the 4th floor, so unless Spiderman has moved from Manhattan I'd be extremely surprised to find someone had climbed up the sheer wall below my window. Besides there are numerous CCTV signs in the streets in my area. Considering that Seoul has a relatively low crime rate, it seems the Korean's fear of crime is even greater than at home.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Learning two new foreign languages

On Saturday afternoon's, I've started learning Hangul at Sookmyung Women's University. The campus is in a beautiful setting on towards the top of a hill. Classes are held in the Centre for continuing education, and delivered by current university students. They're really friendly and supportive, and it's really cheap! They have five different levels, although I doubt I'll make it to level five. Due to the different levels available quite a few of my fellow teachers attend, so as well as improving my Korean it's a great opportunity to catch up with everyone, meet new people, and get dinner together afterwards.

England and America are two countries separated by a common language. 
George Bernard Shaw - Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 - 1950)

After dinner we visited Myeongdong, which is a large shopping area in central Seoul. Now I know where H&M, Zara, Uniqlo, Nike, Adidas and Forever 21 are. Although they do stock lots of tiny Korean sizes, it appears that I will be able to purchase some clothing in these stores (phew)!

Whilst in H&M a fellow teacher pointed and commented 'oh look they have suspenders'. Well, I looked and looked in that vicinity, but could I see any suspenders? I really couldn't, so somewhat puzzled I asked her to repeat what she'd said a couple of times, until it finally dawned on me, 'oh you mean braces'.
'What?' She exclaimed.
I proceeded to explain that we call them braces, and suspenders are the things women use to hold up their hold-ups.
Highly amused by this statement, she said 'So what do you call the braces that you wear on your teeth?'.
'Braces'. I replied.
'That's crazy!' She shrieked.

Of course I'd begun to notice little differences previously, but it was at this moment it really dawned on me that I'm almost having to learn two new foreign languages, Korean and American English!

Henceforth, this teacher will now also be referred to as 'suspenders!'

'Hurry, hurry'

I'm not the biggest fan of public transport, and I miss driving my car. However, I'm quite impressed with my ability to navigate the Seoul subway system. I haven't really experienced any overcrowded or crushing type situations, then I don't travel on the Subway during rush hour. Oh no, I have the pleasure of travelling by bus. My co-teacher explained the Korean's mindset is very 'hurry, hurry'. When I tell you that the Korean's drive something like this....
  funny gifs 

 You'll understand why I am in fear of my life for 10 mins every morning. I can not begin to explain how crowded the bus gets. Middle and high school children pile onto my bus, and every morning the bus driver shouts at them to stop. You might now understand why I chose to walk home (25-30 mins) from School . I need to get up earlier, so I can also walk there in the morning, too. Walking is not without it's problems. In Korea, do not assume the flashing green man means it is safe to cross. Please make sure you check the speed and stopping distance of any oncoming vehicles, before stepping off the pavement!
  funny gifs