Friday, April 30, 2010


Living here in Korea has been a change and often times I miss home. There is not a day that I leave my apartment that I am not reminded that I am not a part of this culture, that I am a foreigner! Many of my experiences make me smile or laugh and others leave me thinking...."Gee, that is so strangEE!!"

Everyday as I make the 10 to 15 min. walk to school or the subway I am passed by kids who look at me, and then a huge smile comes across their face. Then they usually wave to me or say "hello." Very few of them can actually have a short conversation with you. Then my favorites are the very young kids who don't know any English yet but still want to say hello. So they will very cutely do a full bow (nearly to the ground) and say "anyunhasayo"(the formal way to say hello in Korean). Then there are the kids who are riding bicycles who see me and nearly wreck b/c they are waving and looking at the foreigner! haha! I like it most of the time when kids do this to me.

However, there is a huge difference between kids doing this and adults. When adults see me, they don't usually say hello...instead they intently stare at me as I pass them. If they see me on the side walk, many times they will completely stop in their tracks stare at me and continue to stare at me as I walk closer to them, as I pass them, and sometimes they will stare until I am out of their view.....That's rediculous!!!! I know that I am taller, wider, lighter haired, different facial featured, and probably many other things, but seriously......MUST YOU STARE???? That creeps me out! Its mostly the older men and women who do it, but sometimes it is people my own age who are staring at me! So StrangEE!

So, all of those previous things should of prepared me for what happened last week on my strangEE scale! On Monday as I walked to school, the sun was shining and it was beautiful weather.A man is driving a van towards me. Just as he gets closer, he slows down. His jaw drops and he stares as he's driving past me. Weird! Then Wednesday or Thursday, I am coming home from work and it is raining hard. Suddenly a truck drives towards me, stops completely, rolls down their window....(may I remind you that it is night in the pouring rain...I'm kinda creeped out at this moment)....As I attempt to walk past the truck that is stopped in the middle of the street, all of a sudden I hear a deep mans voice say "hello" (Creeped out I walk a little faster to get past the stopped vehicle) Then just as I am about even with the truck then two kids come flying across their father through the open van window and also say "hello!" I felt a little more relieved to see the kids, so I said "hello" back to them, waved and continued my journey to get out of the rain. Lastly, about a block from my apartment, a man on a motorcycle drove past me, pulled over to the side of the street, took off his helmet, then proceeded to stare at me as I walked by. I tried to avoid looking at him as I walked by b/c it thoroughly CREEPED ME OUT! Then after I was out of view he drives up closer and then slows down as he passes me. So STRANGEE!

So, none the least.....I still feel like a foreigner in this land! :-)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Kids Kids

Working with kids has proven to be difficult at some times but I have experienced more good times than bad in the classroom. One thing that I have started doing recently is writing down funny things that they say......some things are even funnier to me, because they are just learning to speak the language, and they tend to come up with unique ways to explain things.... Such as: one of my lower levels were trying to figure out a word, so they ask me. "Teacher, what's the name of that guy? Uh...that big guy? Uh....You know him? That, uhhh....big sky guy?!" ......Have you guessed it yet? Yep, the word they are trying to figure out is God!

But not all of these funny things happen the same way. Sometimes a few students know actual slang words while others don't or they mispronounce something. For example another one of my younger class students were reading aloud and came across the word "tidy," but he pronounced it "titty." One of the other students in the class starts cracking up and I'm trying not to laugh also. But in this case I just told the student how to pronounce the word and we moved on with class. However, in one of my more elite classes we have a 30-40 min. section where the kids work together as a group to work on a project. On this particular day they were supposed to choose a certain kind of job and write the requirements for it and explain why they said that requirement. After I got the projects going I went back to my desk to enter in a few more grades while the kids worked on the project....but I couldn't help but listen in to this one group. Here's the conversation they were having:
Robert: "I think one of the requirements should be- 'After 5 years of marriage"
Jack: "Why?"
Robert: "Because if not married, then they will be chasing girlfriends and never be home. But if just married they will only want to play in the house. So, after 5 years they will not just want to play in the house anymore."
Jack: "What is 'play in the house'?"
Robert: " are too young to know!"
Jack: "But what is it?"
Robert: "Ask Teacher"
Jack: "Teacher...."
Me: (since I had been listening in to this convo, I was already cracking up and I knew what the question was, so I cut him off and just said...) "Ask your parents!"

Not all of the funny things happen in class. Sometimes it is in their homework or on their internet forums that they post online. This week while I was checking the class forums I came across my highest classes forum. The students in this class are very close to being nearly completely fluent in English and many of them could probably go live in an English speaking area and be able to survive easily. So, it is not too often that this class makes mistakes, but sometimes they forget a word and use replacements such as this student who was discussing the forum topic of human cloning. She talked about how she is against cloning. This was one of her reasons why: "If we clone humans we will devalue the meaning of the human life. For example, a mother has a hard time laying the baby, but if we clone the babies, it has no meaning for the mother to do the hard process of laying babies." That day when this student came to class I had to point out to her that chickens lay eggs and humans give birth to babies!

I have to give you just one more reason for why I have so much fun with my students. There are many times where my students ask me what a word means. I try to follow with an easy to understand definition of the word. But sometimes the topics that we get in class bring about words that I find a little difficult to find an appropriate answer for the classroom. During this class the topic was the different types of love. In this class I have only 4 students and they are all 12 Korean yrs....which means that they are 10 and 11 yrs old in America. When the topic of all of the passages is Love then of course the word "mating" has to be of course there is the student to ask the question: "Teacher, what is mating?" I stopped, and I stuttered a little bit and didn't have an immediate answer like I normally do.....But today, one of my other students had the answer. She stood up so proudly and said, " I know what it is, it is the process of eating meat!"

Geeze! I love my kids! They make me laugh a lot!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ahhhh, Pure Embarrassment!!!

What would life be like if we had never embarrassed our self before??? The last time that I felt true embarrassment was when I was a senior in high school in the spring of 2004! I was the class Valedictorian and it was my turn to go to the podium to do my speech. That day my head was in 50 different places at once, and for some reason the one thing that I forgot at home today speech! So, I casually got up and approached the stage. My heart was pounding and I was excited and scared to stand in front of these hundreds of friends and families that had come to watch us on this special day. I was so excited and scared that I completely forgot that there was an extension cord running across the floor to the podium. As I got closer to the podium my foot caught the cord and...yeah, you guessed it.....I fell to the floor! This did not happen, not at all. I fell completely out on the floor, losing my cap and the two bobby pins that were holding it in place. I wanted to just stay down on the floor, but I knew that couldn't be an option right now. Especially since I am lying in the middle of the stage at this moment. I brought myself to stand up and collect my hat from the floor. Since I was in front of everyone, I didn't have time to fix it and put it over my hair. So, I just plopped it on my head and looked at the podium...the empty podium. Right now, I was wanting to cry, or laugh, or scream, or something. So many emotions running through me at this moment and I had to start my speech. So, since I didn't really want to cry and the whole audience was stunned that I had just fallen....I did the only thing I could....cracked a joke about falling. As they laughed, I tried desperately to smile and to try and remember something from my speech. Just then, as the laughter was dying down, a girl comes running into the building across the gym floor toward the podium. While the audience is probably wondering who this girl is and why is she running in here during the ceremony, I am relaxing now and very relieved at the sight of my sister-in-law running up to me with my speech. So, thankfully I am good with words every once in a while and I made it look like this was all planned to happen, and I think I convinced nearly everyone! Thank the Lord that this all worked out and my speech went smoothly!

I have been really good at avoiding embarrassment and making events look like they were intentionally supposed to happen.....well, I had been good at it until recently. I am teaching in an English Academy (Hogwon) for children from 8-17 years old. I have been working here for a little more than 6 months now. I like this academy, and I really like that we are one of the more advanced schools. When the students are in the classroom they are only allowed to speak English. However, many of their parents either speak a little or no English at all. Every once in a while the parents come to talk with the faculty. When they are at the school we were told to greet them and say either "hello" or do a bow and say "Anyunhasayo." This specific day I was looking very nice because the weather outside was beautiful. I had on a flowy skirt and a nice shirt, I felt really pretty today! After the first hour of class we get a five minute break, so I ran to the restroom real quick. Then I talked with some of my students who were in the hallway. As I walked through the main lobby there were three or four parents waiting to speak with the faculty. Being the good teacher that I am, I bowed and said "anyunhasayo." I smiled and they smiled and I started to walk away....then one of them caught my attention "Ya...Ya!!" I turned back around and walked back to them and they pointed to me, so I walked closer. None of them speak English and then one of them gives me the motion to put my hand on the back of me....I know exactly what she is motioning to me now....My skirt has been tucked into my underwear! AHHHHH! Pure Embarrassment! But at this moment I can't help but laugh because now I have just mooned several of my students' parents and probably the students too!!! lol! What an experience! I was laughing so hard that I had to stop by my manager's office and explain the story to her before I returned to my classroom! Really, what would my life be like without truely embarrassing moments that make you look back and laugh?