Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Christine and I at a "Luxury Noraebong" place, for London Teacher's birthday celebration last weekend. Apparently, "luxury" looks like someone's living room!

At the Luxury Noraebong, you take off your shoes and put on these slippers (typical of Korean houses and buildings)- however, they didn't want us foreigners wearing these slippers, so they made us go barefoot. The floors were all glass, with lights and flowers inside. Every door you see is a private noraebong room!

One of my recent meals at lunch: bibim mando. It looks like spaghetti- but don't be fooled! Those are noodles with a spicy hot pepper paste, plus mando (dumplings) and carrots, cucumber, radish, lettuce, and seaweed on the side. You mix it all together... a lot like bibimbap, my favorite Korean meal!

Kindergartner Ray, displaying a coloring sheet designed by Britney Teacher. What fun, phonics and coloring at the same time!!

I love Jamie- I take many pictures of him!
My new kinder class, gathered together for Kelly's birthday!
Me and the birthday girl- don't look too excited, Kelly!
The Post-Brunch meal on Easter, courtesy of Starbucks...
Smiley Egg-in-a-cup, handed out by cute Korean kids dressed in animal costumes. Made my day!!
Of COURSE the eggs would have little bows...just like any Korean baby/girl/woman
Umm, can I take you home with me, please??

Easter chick...I think he gave me all 3 of his Easter gift bags
Naturally, I was partial to the cute little pink bunny...

And this little bunny, too

Look, it's an Easter monkey!

Walked home from the gym just a little while ago...a typical Tuesday night in Suji at 10 pm, with groups of high school students finally walking home, arm-in-arm, still in their school uniform blazers and pleated skirts. Koreans in twos and threes stopping at the food trucks on the streets, huddling inside the plastic sheet "walls" suspended outside the truck to sip their cups of soup broth and nibble on unidentifiable skewered meats and fish sausages (not truly unidentifiable, except to the foreign passerby; the skewers are actually called eomuk, and are a mixture of fish, sugar, starch, and salt that are kneaded, fried, and then soaked in the soup broth before eating). I have watched Koreans consume this "warm and filling snack" (according to one of my guidebooks) all winter long here while walking to and from the gym. Enough, already- where is spring and all its warm weather that doesn't require warm and filling streetside snacks??

Today it snowed. Nothing stuck on the ground, but the sight of thick flurries from our 6th floor classroom windows was enough to make every student, and myself, groan in disgust. Yesterday, it reached the low 60s! The poor cherry blossoms of Korea barely even peaked outside before shriveling up and dying...although I'd like to think they are just huddling back inside, waiting to fully peak and burst with color once the weather truly turns to spring...

The new kinders are finally showing some progress...I've noticed such a difference in the atmosphere of our classroom even within the past few weeks. There's so much more English communication! I'm even hearing full sentences every now and then...granted, those sentences are basically all the same and don't extend beyond the standard, "May I go to the bathroom, please?" But nevertheless...it's exciting to be communicating more thoroughly with these kids! Right now we're reviewing the family members and are about to emark upon the potentially hazardous lesson of The Pronouns (I'm actually a bit frightened to tackle this one). We just celebrated our first classroom birthday last week. Kelly, the birthday girl, showed up to school in a pink princess dress and pink furry crown (which she kept on all day, of course). She also distributed hand-written notes to every student (in honor of her birthday?) and to myself, which read: "Britney Teacher, I love you. No go to hospital. Love Kelly" (in reference, I'm assuming, to my illness and doctor visits of the past few weeks).

Easter also came and passed in Korea with noticeably less concern and consumerism than Christmas had. For a country in which 30% of the population is Christian...you would never have known that it was Holy Week or Easter Sunday. Not that I needed the consumerism and social hype of Easter to be happy (I got all that in a package from my mom, anyways!)...but it was definitely a bit sad. Shauna, Christine and I ventured into the nearby foreign district of Seoul, called Itaewon, following our respective Easter Sunday masses (mine at the International Catholic Church, theirs at the International Lutheran Chuch)...hoping, hoping, hoping to find a respectable Easter brunch option somewhere within the streets of Russian nightclubs, Turkish kebab stands, and bad Mexican restaurants. No such luck...we ended up eating at a "Western" place we usually go out to on Saturday nights, indulging in an overly-priced meal of processed eggs, processed cheese, and a lone Bratwurst on the side of the plate (which apparently qualified as "side of sausage.") Not sure which was more depressing...the fact that I was eating processed eggs, cheese, and Bratwurst on Easter Sunday, or the fact that I was eating Easter brunch within the same bar/restaurant we usually spend our Saturday nights in!!

After "brunch" we hightailed it to the nearby Starbucks...feeling guilty and ashamed of our addiction to a coffee chain we'd all never step foot in at home...feeling guilty and ashamed about spending more money on overpriced Western food and beverages...but feeling just a little happier when sitting down to spend the afternoon with the good friends of a latte and a scone :)
Earlier, when walking into Itaewon from our churches, we had also encountered a streetside situation that made us feel much happier and more thankful: a group of the most adorable, peanut-sized Korean children, dressed up in animal costumes, shyly handing out homemade Easter gift bags to every passerby. Well, that was pretty much my ultimate dream fulfilled right there- I could have scooped up and carried home every last one of those kids (who, by the way, were not only dressed in bunny and chick costumes in honor of Easter...we also spotted a mountain goat, a dalmation, a monkey, and a few cows!). That unexpected encounter brightened our Easter day so much that the later consumption of processed eggs and Bratwurst didn't even matter...at least not too much :)

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