Tuesday, May 19, 2009

one of my last posts!!!

This entry will mark one of my last entries in this blog! Tomorrow my host is driving me to the train station in Mokpo and I will take the train up to Seoul! Unfortunately my hotel does not have wireless access, and even if it did, it would be too hard to type using my Ipod touch. I will probably write one last time when I arrive back in the states to upload the last of the pictures. 

I started to pack yesterday, but somehow it seems my stuff has grown! I tried to get rid of stuff I didn't need but theres really not that much I can get rid of! Today I will give the presents my parents sent from the states to my host family. Also going to Mokpo today because yesterday I received a very large gift card from the school i worked at 2 times a week that I need to use up. 

Time to go get ready for the day. I hope all is well with everyone!

Friday, May 15, 2009

duck not dog....

They eat some really strange food here. A group of us went out to lunch today and they had the portable grills out and then they put meat on one grill and another really spicy meat that looked like chicken on the other. I was sitting on the non spicy side. I was told by a girl who has been here for a few days that speaks good English that the meat was duck...but the korean accent makes it sound like dog. i was like wait...duck...or dog? She clarified the bird kind which made me feel better. I know my mom and dad are happy that I tried duck. It is definitely not something that I want again. It had a consistency that was almost like...an octopus leg...and had some fat on it too...and even when dipped in a sauce I really didn't like it. Ah well. 

We came back to the center and dropped off some people before changing vehicles and going to see a movie! The girl who speaks good English wanted to see Angels and Demons so that is the movie that we went to see but we were almost late! Turns out in korean movie theaters they actually assign you seats. I would not like this at all because i like to pick my seats based on being away from other people especially little kids, and usually towards the back and center. Half of the fun of going to a movie is picking your seat!! I do see how it could be nice if a movie is full and you are going with other people this enables you to know you can have seats next to each other. 

I tend to judge movies on a few factors, and one of them is number of watch checks. That means number of times I looked at my watch and calculated how much time might be left in the movie. I did not check the time one single time. The movie went by really quickly. I also did not recognize Ewan McGregor at all in his role. It wasn't until after the movie was over and I came back and looked online that I realized it was him. He did a great job. Don't go see the movie if you had no previous interest...it's not the type where its like "oh my god you have to go see that movie!" but if you wanted to see it, I would say go watch it. I'm happy I saw it. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

as the days wind down....

I realized why I feel so relaxed and at peace here in Haenam. You don't have to worry about crimes of any sort. You can leave your purse in any of the buildings, and know that when you return to get it, it will have everything still in it. Not that I recommend leaving your purse anywhere, but it's an example. If you hear somebody walking behind you, there are no worries that they might be about to jump you. I feel safe walking anywhere at any time alone in this town. I know that I live in a small town, and chances are that I won't have anything happen to me if I walk around, but there is always a chance. Here, there is not. It gives you peace of mind to walk slowly and enjoy the day without any stresses, and it is wonderful. I'm really going to miss this town. 

I asked my host at lunch if he would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for me, and he was really nice about it. I was really nervous asking him because it required me asking him to be a reference AND for him to write a letter in English. He said that of course he would be willing to. He is very good at writing and reading English it is just conversation and speaking words that are more difficult for him. It is obvious he has spent a lot of time learning from non-native English speakers and learning from books. He spends a lot of time with an English conversation book and he knows a lot of expressions and phrases which is really good. There are just some problem areas that he has that is very typical for Koreans that I have noticed. 

One of them is that he tends to add the letter "e" to a lot of words, especially when the words end in "ch" or "h" or "sh". When my little kids first started playing go fish, they called it go fish-y. They also all have trouble pronouncing the letter D, and that is because that letter is not used in Korean. Other trouble letters are X, Z, and J, but those are to be expected. Yi Sul is very helpful explaining to Moksanim where to put your tongue and how to say it after I repeat the word a few times. 

Not much to report today. I reserved my hotel room for my 3 nights in Seoul. I found a cheap hotel that is near the subway and also near this airport limosine which costs less than $9 which will be good for when I have to go to Incheon on Saturday. I can't believe how close that day is getting. Every time I blink I feel like another week has gone by, but this time in a week I will already be in Seoul. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Today was a massive church event for my town where all the different church communities came together for a massive picnic. Since it was also during church time, they kind of had an outdoor service, but it was right at a giant playground, so I got to play with all the kids. It was a BEAUTIFUL day, there was not a cloud in the sky, it was probably in the low 70s with a wind to keep you cool. I really felt like a kid again, and sometimes you need to do that. I got to go on the swings and just have fun with the kids. At one point some of the kids were having a very small contest to see who could jump off the swings the farthest (it was in sand). I used to do that with my friends in Toronto so it made me very nostalgic. To top it all off, lunch at the picnic was bulgogi! What a perfect day. I don't think I will forget it for a long time. WARNING: more photos than you ever wanted to see :) 

^Left to right. San-been (he's the youngest son of my hosts), Che, Che's brother Chan on the see-saw. we all had a lot of fun on them including me! Oh the boy on the farthest right is not one of my students. 
^All the kids surrounding the watermelon. All but one of the kids are my students, all of them in elementary school, two are in the upper elementary class.
^On the left in the front is Yu-Jin (pronounced like Eugene) and on the right is my host's eldest son Han-Been. They are best friends.
^During the jumping off the swings competition. All the kids pictured are in my middle school class.
^The silver you see is a kind of mat that comes in a giant roll that they put down when we eat outside. The tiny cups are what we drink out of...and most people dont even get seconds. Actually its rare to see people drink at all, but today they had some juice and soda so we had cups.
^This is tteok. its a kind of cake made out of rice I guess. It's a very slippery surface so it kinda feels weird. I also don't like the taste of it :( The kids seem to love it though as do adults. It's usually eaten as a snack before a meal or during a meal.
^My soup is to the left of the picture. In the middle is the plate (finished almost) of bulgogi. Forgot to take this picture when it was a full plate. This was shared amongst 4 people.
^Ji-in and che is to her right.
^Apparently there were about 400 people at the giant picnic. Each group brought their own food etc. 
^Little kids on the swings. Behind Che (the girl on the swing on the right side of the picture) pushing her is Un-ah the daughter of my hosts. I believe this is the first picture I have taken of her. 

In 2 weeks I will be back in the states at home...its unbelievable how fast this time went.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Wow it's been a while!

Oops, definitely didn't mean to go this long without a blog entry! I actually wrote a draft but had to go to a meal so I saved the draft and forgot to publish it. 

Things have been going really well lately. My roommate Yi Sul left on Wednesday to go back to Seoul and comes back on Monday. She has some sort of school trip that she has to go on. It's nice to have the room to myself! Really really nice. 

Earlier this week we went to a spot known as "the end of earth" because I guess it is the southern most tip on the Korean peninsula that does not include all the islands. It was truly beautiful there! I tried to take a ton of pictures, but I do not think that even they do any justice to the area. Pictures will be posted later as the room is dark right so I can't find the thing I use to upload my photos. 

I taught at the middle school alone on Wednesday which was scary. As much as I teach the class without much help from Yi Sul, she is always there for translation help but this time I didn't have that. At first I was planning on doing a unit on airports, but it was too complicated without her help translating, so I switched to a unit on riding a bus. I have been coming up with situations that I have encountered in Korea where I wish that I knew what to say in Korean, and I am teaching the kids how to say the phrases in English. I even made out this whole bus system throughout America (kinda like a greyhound) and wrote down on pieces of paper different information about where they were going. I also planned out bus schedule times and transfer locations to make it hard, but they got really good at it by the end! I was a proud mama. Next two units will be airports and restaurants. 

Lately haven't had many classes. There have been a lot of days of no school because of various holidays and mid term exams meaning I have only taught a total of 3 classes this week. Today is "parents day" in Korea and it seems like not that much happens on parents day...one of my hosts kids the middle child was supposed to give his father a carnation but was too busy studying for mid terms to do that. We went out to lunch and saw a very pregnant woman with what I assume are her parents, and my host father said that it was probably a woman treating her parents to lunch for parents day. CVS/Hallmark has not taken over Korea yet to make the holiday something bigger :) 

No plans for the weekend that I know of, but usually the plans tend to be not scheduled and I never know until they are happening. I leave here in less than 12 days..I can't believe how fast time is going, and how sad I am going to be to leave. 


^So picturesque!
^Houses here right in front of the door have this little cut out from the floor where you take off your shoes. I know it looks like a wood floor but its really just like wall paper...it not real. Kinda threw me when I discovered that the first day.
^More beauty
^Me, my host family, and another woman from the community with her daughter who is one of my students.
^Me and Ji-In. 

Thursday, April 30, 2009


A couple of days ago the elementary schoolers all went on a picnic, so a few other adults in the community and I along with Yi Sul and Moksanim my host went along with them. At first it was a bit confusing because I thought we were going in Mr. Park (he is the widowed father of the 3 year old and 5 year old)'s car, but then 3 of the women I see almost every day told me to get into their SUV. Yi Sul had not come out of the room yet so I was confused but then Yi Sul came out and explained that the women wanted to take me somewhere first. 

Apparently it was the birthday of a famous general that day, and there's a monument in my town dedicated to him, so they showed me that. There were a lot of steps to climb up, and at the top women in hanbok were lined up on both sides clapping as people arrived. 

Then we went to the picnic where they put down a large mat and we ate very typical Korean foods except we also had fried chicken. It's funny to see people use chopsticks with fried chicken, especially legs since for us it is just finger food. 

Not much else to report. I have less than 3 weeks left in Haenam. I really wish that there was a viable way for me to stay here, and there is one project available that seems interesting, but I think I would just be giving up too much to stay here including my sister's graduation and getting a job with money this summer. In the end I think it is just too much to lose, but I really wish I could stay. I definitely hope that there is a way I will be able to come back to this country. I will miss it every day. I have grown up so much here, experienced a whole new culture which I just adore, and even though its the complete opposite of America and the American culture, I have come to see that it is just as viable as ours. I really adore this country. 

Okay picture time :) 

^Che Ui age 3. She doesn't smile much and she's incredibly shy. 
^As we were driving we passed some horses! At least one thing looks the same in Korea and America :) 
^We went to an aquarium where there were some fish, but the rest of the animals were all plastic/not alive it was a really sad aquarium. 
^Che again and she is with a woman from our community who has almost become like a mother figure to her. She is also the woman I have become the closest to in the community. She speaks only about 4 words of English, but we play Sudoku together and eat many meals together. She cooks all the meals when we eat at the center. 
^Yi Sul and Che at the picnic. Che did NOT want to look up at the camera. She's pretty camera shy

Saturday, April 25, 2009

American music

At the center, I could tell that the middle schoolers were getting bored of all the English lessons/grammar lessons/etc and who could blame them? Then I had the idea to teach them about American music. Play them different popular songs that are current right now, and maybe some older ones. Introduce them to different styles of music, etc. The minute I started to talk about music, they all knew about hip-hop, and that is it. And not even current hip-hop but hip-hop from like late 90s, early 2000s such as Jay-Z. I played them lots of songs, but all they seemed interested in was when I played 2 hip-hop songs. 

It gave me the idea though to print out the lyrics to one specific song, and go through the song line by line with them to help them understand what the song means. I am finding this more difficult than I initially expected. 1) No profanities for obvious reasons 2) Easy lyrics with and easy meaning to the song. Most song lyrics are pretty....I don't know how to describe it, but pretty ambiguous 3) Up-tempo song to keep their interest 4) Not a song about love as there is 1-2 girls in the 2 classes, and they are 15 year old guys. Love songs arent something that interests them. 5) I have to like the song. This because I'm going to be playing it a lot and going over the lyrics. I wanna like what I teach :) 

I am currently going through my songs on my ipod trying to find a song. Wish me luck!