Archive for October, 2009

Two Parks in Sanbon

Holy crap, I just discovered that Sanbon has 2 parks!  It’s on the other side of town and it’s fabulous.

Actually, I’ve never seen it in daylight.  One night I was walking home with friends.  We had been in the next town over.  My friend knew a shortcut through a park.  This park:

A shrubbery orchestra… how cute is this?

Tennis and basketball courts are surrounded by a car-less walkway.   It’s conveniently located between a giant apartment complex and an Elementary school.  So the children going to and from school never have to cross a busy street.  It’s great.

I shouldn’t be surprised that there is another park.  Sanbon is surrounded by mountains and trees.  I’m sure there are parks in about every direction I walk.

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10-25-09

Today I lost my grandmother.

Mary Lucille Nelson

I’m very sad, not only because I lost someone close to me, but because I cannot be there for my family.
She was a strong woman and she lived a long happy life. How many people do you know still playing golf at 82 years of age? She was playing Bridge and going to a Stitch group… even this year.

Her given name was Mary, but everyone called her Lucille.  She had a twin sister named Louise.  More than anything, she loved to sing and dance.

She taught me many things. Mostly how to be a lady. “A lady never cusses.” She showed me how to sew and how to cook. I made my first quilt with her at age 9 and from since I can remember I was in the kitchen helping in some way or another.  Whenever I try a new recipe, she’d be the first person I called.  Or when I’d forget how to make her famous Cracker Fudge she’d be thrilled to tell me how to make some again.

My grandmother tried to teach me how to dress like a lady too, but that one never stuck. I’d be wearing pantyhose and dresses everyday if it were up to her. She hated my worn out jeans and heaven forbid she ever saw me in a tie dye. But if anyone ever complimented me on an outfit or some accessory, chances are she picked it out for me. That woman had great taste.

Not to mention her amazing jewelry collection.  Her bling could be seen from a block away.  I’ll never forget how she showed off her newly acquired sparkle:

“Did you see my cow go down the road?” She’d ask this as she pointed with her ring finger and waved her wrist so the person she asked couldn’t help but notice the shine.  It always made us laugh, and that’s even how I showed off my engagement ring to a bunch of people.  It may not make alot of sense without a proper demonstration, but it really is something that puts a smile on my face even now.

She was very proud of me. I do know that. My grandmother was one of the few people that didn’t think I was crazy for coming to Korea. She said that it was one of those lifetime opportunities that I needed to experience. “See the world Tiffany, see everything you can.”  If anything she believed in it was education and travel.

My Grandma and Mom at a Marshall Green & White Game (2 seasons ago) I wish I had an upclose picture without glasses, but I am limited on what pictures I have access to here.  She definitely didn’t look her age.  My grandmother always told me the trick to being young was to hang out with people that made you feel young.  Most of her friends were younger than her by at least 15 years.  She ran circles around even them.

tea party

This picture was taken in her basement.  She loved to throw parties and when my friend Stacey was getting married, she opened her home to us and let us have a Bridal Shower- Tea Party there.  It was a lavish affair, a day to remember.  Really, any excuse to dress up and have a good time.

As I cannot be there with my family right now, please keep them in your thoughts.  :cry:

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Let’s Learn English

Seeing the strange topics that Korean children learn in their English classes explains soo much.

Welcome to the English language… you will learn nothing but nonsense.

Why?

Booble? This is the most absurd story I have read thus far to my classes.  Keep in mind kids reading this range in age from 7-9 years old. What is up with this?  Why do children need to learn words like this? Booble was actually a vocabulary word they had on their tests!  And this picture… weird purple hairy monster that looks like Grimmace gone drag, only not wearing any clothing.  Heaven forbid that Bimble would get me in my sleep.

Ok, so this next fantastic lesson was for a class of 10 year olds.

Here’s a breakdown of how class went this day:

Me – Ok class, let’s talk about things that smell good and bad.  So tell me now… What is something that smells good? (silence)  Okay, what is something that smells bad?

Students – Teacher, teacher….Poo poo smells bad!

D-D-O-N-G!  D-D-O-N-G!  D-D-O-N-G! <– this is followed by loud laughter from the entire classroom and continued until class was over

Ddong is the Korean word for crap but they never say it they only spell it, which is odd.  They spent a good 20 minutes talking about poo and garbage.  No one could think of anything that smells good, except for one little girl that thought pizza smelled “so-so”.

And if you think that was bad,  you can only imagine how this next lesson went…

Yes,  this is an actual unit in a book meant for 12 year olds.  :!:

How much gas do you think the average person has a day? <– I did NOT ask my class any of these questions.  I was not about to open that can of worms.  Surprisingly, the children were much more mature than I ever expected.   Even with that said, I had them answer the questions in the book and then gave them an essay to write instead of talking.  Can you imagine how hard it was for me not to laugh the whole time?  Impossible, because I did end up laughing the entire class.

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Road Signs

I don’t drive in Korea, but I do notice the street signs.

What’s weird is that the signs are situated in strange locations.  Places that, if in America, drivers would be completely lost and constantly miss turns.  There might be a sign that is after the turn, so if you’re not paying attention you miss the turn because the sign is ahead of the traffic and ahead of where you should have turned.  Sometimes the sign is located WAY before the turn with maybe another road in between the sign and where you should actually turn.

This top picture of signs for example is located smack dab in the middle of a 4-way traffic light.   The top sign that says ‘Gunpo Global Education Center’ is not found by turning right at this intersection… it is down a few blocks.  This led me to believe that signs found on top like this one imply not turning at this intersection, but at the next 1 or 2… that was wrong.  Logic fail.   Sometimes it does mean to turn immediately.

Oh and there is only 1 sign at this intersection, only visible to the people driving head on.  What about the other 3 lanes of traffic?  Do they not need signs?

I’m sure it makes perfect sense to Korean drivers.  But how we’re supposed to just KNOW this, I’ll never understand.  Chalk it up with the rest of the weirdness.

This sign is placed in between two streets.

As you can see, it has directions for what appears to be two different left turns up ahead.  But notice the Do not Turn symbol pointing in the same direction as the road says to turn.

Hmmm, which way do I go?

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Library Access

I have been a card-holding member of the Gunpo “tosagwan” library since March ’09.  (I realize that my picture is the absolute worst.)  Getting this card was super easy.  Just had to bring in a picture, have a local address and bring my ARC, Alien Registration Card.  The entire process took ten minutes, maybe a little less.

Surprisingly, it had a decent section of English books.  The books could only be checked out for seven days which put me into a nice routine.  Weekly I would make my journey, around the park, to the library.  It was such a pleasant walk that I enjoyed soo much.

Until one day, it was closed.

At first, there was just a tiny sign on the door that I couldn’t read.  I figured it was closed for holiday or some other weird reason that I wouldn’t understand because soo much happens here that I am left with more questions than answers.

I was wrong.

This was no quick remodel or paint job.  Soon, walls came tumbling down and the entire library was gutted.  A new sign appeared that I could understand only a single date.  February 5th, 2010.

Construction signs around the library.

The rest of my time in Sanbon will be spent without access to free English books to read.  :cry:

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My Dreams Were Invaded By Korean

Last night I had a whirlwind variety of dreams.  Everything from seeing my nephew Gavin standing in a sandpit at a park to eating caramel ice cream by a pond.  The weirdest dream of them all was conducted only in Korean that featured family and friends from the States.

Most of the dream was gibberish, but I understood it all.  There were actual Korean words that popped up throughout the dream, but otherwise it was my own twisted version of the Korean language.  Soo strange.

It was funny to see my friends from back home speaking Korean, or at least my own version of Korean.

I woke up laughing.

Oct 18th was the new moon.  Not New Moon as in the new Twilight movie, but new moon as in the lunar cycle.   When the new moon occurs it is a time of new beginnings, things to start fresh, rebirth or growing energy.  Maybe I had the dream with all my family and friends speaking Korean because I’m thinking about going back home.  It was my subconscious merging the two worlds together.  Since I can’t be home now, I just brought them all to Korea.

Who knows….  I wonder if anyone else had weird dreams.

wall paper Lost In Translation 25 Hours After New

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School

Time is dwindling down on our contracts with Sisa English Academy.  I’d like to say that I’m feeling sentimental or wishing for more time, but that’s not the case.  One year  will be just the perfect amount of time here.

Some classes are still wonderful with kids smiling, speaking English, drawing cute pictures and sitting in their seats.  Other classes children throw shoes out of windows, jump on desks and scream at the top of their lungs that they “want you to die”.  Ahhh the life of a teacher.

It has been wonderful to walk to work everyday.  How awesome is it to make it to work in 5 minutes?  When I used to spend 30 minutes driving to work, this has been just the most amazing change of pace.  That is, unless it’s raining.

There is still 3 months left of teaching to endure but overall, it has been a great experience.  We had it easy at this hagwon.  There were no lesson plans to be made.  We could leave school if we didn’t have a class to teach, and up until recently we were home most of the day.  It was nice.

Since October 1st, Seth and I are the only Foreign teachers at Sisa.  So we were given all of Kevin’s classes when he left.  In reality, it’s still not that much work, but when you’re used to working 5 hour days, or less, being at school for a straight 7 1/2 hours is torture.

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What Makes My Day a Happy Day

Some of the kids I teach are absolutely adorable.  In fact, I have found one of the cutest kids in the world… I am sure of it and I’ve seen some cute kids.

His name is Eddie… or at least his English name is Eddie.

I don’t want to say that I’d take this kid home with me, cuz I would get in trouble for that… but if this kid fit in my pocket, he’d be seeing America soon.  He knows more English than some of the English teachers I have met here.

Most kids just make funny faces when the camera comes out… Oh and little Eddie is in the background. :smile:

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Post Office

Turn left, walk 3 blocks.  That’s how easy it is, for me, to get to the Gunpo (Sanbon) post office.   Cheap postal services should cause me to mail more things back to the States, but with the ease of email and social networks I send very few correspondences through snail mail.

A buddy of mine requested a post card.  So, why not take a picture of it?

This card was one of 7 cards given to me by a buddhist monk.  This summer when I attended a ceremony, one of the monks gave me and my friend a pack of post cards.  Funny side note; shaved head, wearing traditional Buddhist robes, he handed us the envelopes full of post cards through the window of his SUV.  Some things, I will never understand.

The Gunpo post office.  At least the important part is in English.  :smile:

Walking through the turn style doorway you always see 15 other people, sometimes more.  Koreans usually don’t like to stand in line, they would rather “take a number”.  Just like American delis or DMV visits, you take a number and wait for your turn.

I love this.

People don’t push in line, they don’t cut in front of you, they don’t tell people to hurry up.  They accept their number and wait their turn.

Full of people, situated off to the side, is an area of self-service free packaging.  For public use are scissors, markers and tape, the good kind of tape that is meant to be used for shipping boxes.  Plus, there’s a giant table to lay your items on and organize your box.  It’s great.  This is when I am reminded why I love this country.

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I miss football

I don’t have anything exciting or new to write about.  Just that as of today, 106 days remain on our contract.

Lately, good ol’ West Virginia has been on my mind.  Football season always makes me think of home, mostly my dad, for obvious reasons.  Marshall has won 4 games, lost 2.  This is the first year, probably in  my entire life, that I haven’t attended a single home game.   Oct 17th is the Marshall vs. WVU game and I really wish I could watch this game live, but it’s going to be impossible.  My thoughts go out to all the Herd fans next weekend.

Marshall Flag

Also, my little nephew Gavin… he’s such a cutie.  I miss him and my sister, Angela.

love his little curls

love his little curls

My mother sends pictures of Gavin almost daily.   The latest picture update; eating an apple and watching something very intently.

Most exciting, right now, is the news that Stacey is coming to visit me!  November 3rd- 10th she will be here in Sanbon to experience all the weirdness that Korea has to offer.  I cannot wait.

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