Saturday, April 4, 2009

Everything I need to know, I learned from Korea

So i know i've only been here for 1 month and about 2 1/2 weeks, but i thought it would be interesting to share some things that i have already, in this short amount of time, learned from being here.  I'm sure that in a few more months, this list will be updated with even more random things that i'm learning. Enjoy!

1.  Brevity is underrated.  Cut out any unnecessary words: It's not: "You need to draw a picture of yourself". It's : "Draw yourself".
2.  You take what you can get-small victories are HUGE!!  When my youngest class asked me in English if they could go to the bathroom, i wanted to have a party. It was amazing! Now there will (hopefully) be no more peeing in their pants!
3. A 'look' is worth a thousand words (in any language!).  Facial expressions are universal.  Even my youngest students get my looks.  This is also true for actions.  My kinder students don't know what 'run' really means, but they know how to 'run' when i'm chasing them around the classroom. So you teach actions and then they catch on to the words.
4. The Dutch might not be the cheapest people i know...have you ever seen a Korean teacher feeding frenzy? It's ruthless out there.
5.  The way to a child's heart is stickers. My student's would run a marathon for stickers...if they could. It's great!
6.  If you can't say it....sing it! I have realized that i need to put almost everything i teach to music.  When we make a line at the door, i sing "Let's make a line, long and straight, let's make a line, long and straight"  and it works wonderfully! And then they learn it, so the next time i stand by the door, they start humming along with me. Gotta sing!
7.  The world is 3-D. I know that sounds obvious, but never did i realize it until i came to korea. When you're walking outside, you need to not only be looking to the left and right, when trying to find a place, you also need to be looking up...WAAAAY up! Buildings here are stacked with stores all the way to the 8th or 9th floor. So if you don't keep your head moving, you are bound to miss any place you're looking for.  
8. Grandma doesn't mean what it used to.  I'm talking about the notorious "hagimas" (older korean women) they're like the korean grandma's. But they're not your typical grandma.  On the subway, if you're walking on, which usually you never do b/c you're getting "shoved" on, and there's an empty seat, you can't expect to get it because out of nowhere, a purse will come flying from behind you and land right on the seat. And then you'll know that you got
 "hagima-d". I've seen this....these grannies are pro.

Korean culture is so interesting and i love learning about it and being surrounded by it. They've been doing things for like 5000 years. That seems like an unreal amount of time- Canada is a baby country in comparison.  There is so much to experience and learn and it rocks to have that chance! 

Until next time...

**konbae= cheers! **

Saturday, February 28, 2009

this little oegugin went to market...

Well today was my first trip into the big city.  No I'm talking about the actual BIG city.  The metropolis of Seoul has over 25 million people living in it.  That's a BIG city.  And it is so mind-exhausting.  I was trying to look at everything, but that is actually impossible because there's so much to look at.  Not only were the streets of the market packed with people, there are stores stacked like lego all over the place.  We walked into one store and ended up in a 4 layered-shopping hub.  We just kept following stairs and kept finding more stores.  It was totally nuts! 
Namdaemun Market is HUGE!  But you can find everything of anything in it.  It covers 10 acres of land and has thousands of shops in and around it.  We got these super tasty chicken kabobs from an Indian street vendor. Around the market there are the "actual" shops of Louis Vitton, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, etc. But why pay full price when you can get the knock-offs in the market for like a 1/4 of it? 
 The weather was beautiful today, too.  It was close to 12 degrees outside.  That totally helped the mood of the market I'm sure. I didn't buy anything today. I was just totally overwhelmed. But I'm excited at the prospects of going back and getting some sweet stuff. All the colours and smells (or should i say odours?? ) could keep a simple oegugin occupied for days. 


*oegugin= foreigner

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I love korean food.  All of is seriously amazing stuff.  It is also helping me get over my "Dutch-tongue-syndrome" aka excuse as to why i am such a spicy food wimp.  But this food is doing a terrific job of that.  I have eaten spicier food in the last 4 days then i have in my entire life. But i love it.  Sure it gives me that terrifying feeling that my mouth is going to implode into a river of hot lava, but that sensation usually only lasts for the first minute or two of H.F.E. (hot food entry). Also, eating out  in Korea is many won cheaper than trying to buy food and cook it for yourself.  Despite this last comment, i did attempt to go grocery shopping and pick up a few things that I thought would help me transition to life in Korea without losing every comfort of Canadian life.  The few things i picked up were relatively harmless: milk, eggs, lettuce, bread, fruit and pancake mix. Tonight however, i learned the implications of trying to bring what you think is "best" and forcing it into another way of life.  You're probably wondering what the heck? Where this going?
I'll continue.   We ate korean buffet at 1pm and i was perpetually filled up (in a good way...not like the Western chinese food -full of MSG- way.) from it.  My other foreign teacher friends were staying in for a quiet night so i followed suit and decided that pancakes would make an excellent stay-at-home supper.  I was sorely mistaken.  I looked at the back of the mix....what i could read was 2 eggs and 1 cup of milk for the whole 500g bag of mix.  So i inferred that for 1/2 of the mix i would need 1 egg and 1/2 cup of milk. That was the part i got right! 
Now, before i go any further, i need to tell you this. I am really bad at making pancakes...even in Canada.  I just actually suck at cooking pancakes.  For some reason they never turn out.  I have inferred that this is because i am (for the most part) an impatient person and like to have things done right away or at least be working on them.  So when I see pancakes cooking in the pan and there are no bubbles (or very little ones) i get impatient and jack the heat of the pan way up.  
That's what happened tonight.  And of course, they come out of the pan completely black on both sides with raw pancake batter oozing out of the middle. What a shame. I was really disappointed. But, being slightly hungry and not wanting to waste (another Dutch attribute!) i ate the pancakes anyways.  I only got half-way through the first one when I started feeling sick and thought, "hmmm...i wonder what this is all about".  I decided to sit and wait and drink some water.  Just as i was starting on the second one i felt a sharp pain in my stomach. O, no.  To the bathroom i go.

Needless to say i'm taking pebto bismol pills tonight and staying off the half-baked pancakes for a while... Seriously though...sick off of pancakes? Who would've thought that that's what i needed to be worried about :)