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This past Sunday I went to Everland. It is an amusement park in Yongin that all my kids always talk about going to. Unless they’re lying, every one of my kids has been to Everland twenty times this year. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly suprised. Everland has a few really big roller coasters that wouldn’t be out of place in a Six Flags. My favorite was the T Express; a roller coaster that Everland claims is the steepest wooden coaster in the world. The rest reminded me of more legitimate looking carnival rides. Attractions like “The Viking” come to mind.
Even though I was surrounded by Korean families, I felt like I was back home. It reminded me of summer carnivals and going to Six Flags with friends. It was exactly what I needed to cure my recent homesickness.
Something that was really astounding was how inexpensive everything inside the park was – especially the food. I’m so used to overpriced water bottles and food that I was shocked to see $2 slushies and lunch sets under $10. Also, all the souvenir shops were reasonably priced. If I was a little kid, I would’ve cleaned the place out without bankrupting my parents. This is not unusual in Korea – businesses don’t take advantage of their customers. It is a courtesy I can really appreciate.
I must also note, that regardless of how “American” Everland felt with all the Burger Cafes and snow cones, the Buttered Squid stands quickly brought me back to reality.

The children at ILS continue to bring their A game when it comes to conversation and writing.

A Journal entry about junk food: Junk food is high calorie, but nutritive is very low. It’s bad for your health. Junk foods are hamburgers, hotdogs, fried chicken, etc. I hate to eat them. Because of junk food, my younger brother is fatness. When I hit his belly, it sounds “tong, tong, tong.” I look fat but my weight is OK. My parents hate junk food too. 


“Ok guys, tell me something fun you did this weekend”

Boy 1: I played computer games with friend.

Boy 2: I played soccer with friends.

Boy 3 (with huge smile on his face): I beat up my little brother.


Journal Entry: What makes you sad:

I’m that makes feel sad is computer. Because, my computer is very very crazy, and me is very very catch a stress! My feel sad its a computer!



Threatening my class with taking stamps:

Me: If you don’t do your homework, I will take your stamps.

Aiden: You take my stamps?? Then I will… (mimics picking me up, carrying me across the room, and throwing me in the trash)
So, I’ve finally started collecting all the unintentionally hilarious things my kids say and write. Here is just a little taste… more to come!

Angela’s journal entry about her grandparents “i love my grandma, but when she hits me, she hits me very hard.”

Sophia to another teacher: “teacher, with your hair like that, you look a little bit like a witch.”
Teacher: “oh?… well, what exactly should i do to fix that?”
Sophia: “do you have a comb at home?”

 
From a journal entry, what your afraid of:
I’m afraid of my mom.
My mom like a monster. Very scary.
But I think my mom’s cook is very nice.
 
Journal Entry:  My favorite game is Zombie game.
Because it is very very fun and I collection the gun.
It is a lovely game.

After doing a BrainQuest with our elementary classes
Teacher: “OK, so plants need sun and water to grow…what do you need to grow big and strong?”
Enthusiastic students: “RICE TEACHA! RICE RICE!!”

Rachel Woo who hasn’t had her front teeth for 6 months: “teacher, my teeth, they grow like snails”

After hearing our korean coworker say “James” in the hall: “first name James, last name Suuuuuh”

Jenny: “teacha, smell my shoe… It smells like Crocs…”
Me: “uhhh…”
Jenny: “No..really!”

 
Journal Entry: My best friend is Jon-ho because he runs fast. And he is taller.
 
Journal Entry (and one very sassy mom): I go to playground during break. And I slide on a sled.
I slide sled for many rides.
But I’m cold. And mom said “This is cold. You like flu?”
Then I go home.

I teach art classes to most of the kinder kids. Usually, it goes very smoothly. They just have to draw something in their “sketch books” and we have conversations about what they’re doing. Past projects have been “My House” “Playing Soccer” etc. This week they had to draw ” My dear mother:A special woman.” My older students had no trouble with this task. I thought it would be an easy week for art, until I got into Tweety class. Tweety now consists of four 5 year olds. Apparently, this is what the two boy’s moms look like:

Edward's mom... a total babe

Look mom!! You're a black pit!

Grace and Olivia's drawings

This is an essay from a teacher at a different school. I think it is hilarious:
I want to have chicken in my house. Chicken cant fly a lot, so it cant run away too. First, chicken yell in the early morning. If I have a chicken. I must not late for school.
Second, chicken can lay the egg. And I can have fresh egg every morning. Also egg can be the chick.
Third, In the case, I can eat chicken in imargancy. I think it will be cruel. But most people buy chicken for eat.
Fourth, other animals like moneys, elephants will very expensive. They can be 10000 thousand dollar, but chicken
is very very very chip. It’s like 20 dollars.
I like to have chicken in my house because of these 4 following reasons.

Back in February, we had our kindergarten graduation. I was nervous about kids forgetting their lines, getting stage fright, etc up on stage. As it turns out, everything went very well. The kids all remembered their lines, and the parents seemed very happy.
the kids before the play started
Here is a video of them performing “zip a dee doo da” at graduation:
The new batch of kinder students are very young. I teach a class of korean 6 year olds (which means they are closer to 5 then 6). They speak very little english, and cannot read or write. They are learning to read with our lowest level red books and workbooks. It is very overwhelming. When I first came here, the kindergarten class I taught were already here for a year and a half. They were very strong speakers, and they understood the rules of ILS. It was nice in class to have conversations with the kids, knowing that they understood what you were saying. Now I communicate mostly with thumbs up and thumbs down as the kids speak none stop korean.
Their progress is amazing. The key is to start them young. Within a week, their english is already improved so much. I only have about 3 1/2 more months to go, and I know it will be astonishing how far they will progress in that short amount of time.
I am teaching Nemo class now. I have 5 students: Chloe, Justin, Joshua, Matthew, and Yvette. They are a really fun group of kids and have a good attention span for how little they are.

Yvette

Joshua

Matthew

Chloe

Justin

After our old kinders graduated, we had a few days to decorate the classrooms and make new bulletin boards. I made some posters (farm animals, fruits, and colors) and the bulletin board. I found some really good sight word printouts so I added those to the walls too.

Nemo's Bulletin Board

Posters

Kimbap looks like a sushi roll. It contains steamed rice, strips of spinach, carrots, pickled radish, egg, and spam, and is rolled into dried seaweed. My favorite one is the tuna kimbap. These are normally 1000 won, so under a dollar, but the tuna is usually 2500 won.

Another one is a street food that is popular among the kids is boong-uh bbang. They are fish-shaped treats. The batter and filling is poured into a fish mold, which works sort of like a waffle iron. The most popular “fish” is one filled with red bean paste. Red bean paste tastes exactly like it sounds – not very sweet, although the koreans love it. So instead I get the less popular flavor, which tastes like a warm vanilla custard. It is a nice snack to grab while on break at work🙂

Another street food I thoroughly enjoy is Ddeokbokki. It is rice noodles, fish paste slices (not as gross as it sounds), and a spicy sauce.

I should have mentioned this one first, since it is served with each and every meal – Kimchi. It is definitely an acquired taste. I didn’t like it at all when I first got here, but I have gotten used to it. It is cold, fermented cabbage in a spicy sauce. It is very difficult to do breakfast worksheets with the kids, since when you ask them what they eat for breakfast, they tell you “kimchi and rice!” I like putting it in my soup at school. This makes me “very korean” as my coworkers point out.

Dak galbi is a stir fried spicy chicken dish. In a big pan, they mix chicken, chili paste sauce, cabbage, sweet potato, onions, and rice noodles. It is cooked in front of you. It is a very spicy dish. If you go to a good place, there are a lot of veggies, otherwise it’s a lot of questionable pieces of chicken (picture a lot of skin) and mostly cabbage.

Here are some Korean dishes I have sampled and/or become obsessed with.

I tried “live” octopus the first few weekends I was here. They take an octopus, and chop it up alive, then serve it on a dish in little pieces. It is still squirming on the plate. It was more of a novelty – something fun to try. The pieces still have suction capabilities, so while you’re eating, the pieces can stick to your tongue or mouth. There isn’t much of a taste to it – it tastes like the oil/seasoning you dip it in.

Something I thoroughly enjoy is gamjatang, or pork spine soup. You get about three pieces of spine bones, with the meat still attached. You pull the meat off the bones, add rice, the green weeds, and soy/wasabi sauce. The place I go to in my village serves the meal with a side of pickled garlic. It is a lot of different flavors, and delicious. If you have more people, you can order the kimchi gamjatang, which has kimchi and potatoes mixed in with the soup. A bit spicier, but it always does you right.

Something I always crave when I’m tired or sick is Shabu-Shabu. They bring you a big pot with broth in it, and you mix in a bunch of (I call them) weeds. Sometime, there are mushrooms, tofu, and dumplings thrown in the mix. You cook it in the broth with roast beef. After a pot or two of the veggies and meat, they bring out some noodles that you add to the mix. Usually on the table is a soy/wasabi sauce you can mix in with the veggies and meat. After you finish all the soup, they put bop (rice) into the big pot and cook it.

I haven’t updated in a while… my apologies.

X-MAS VACATION:

First, let me just say Boracay was an island paradise. The postcard photo matched what you actually saw when you stepped out on the beach. Depending on the sun, the water was either crystal turquoise, or an aquamarine green. Either way, the sand was white, the water was clear, and the sun was hot. I made sure to slather on the SPF 70 (which had an impossible to rub-in glue-like feel to it) but I still become a leathery bronze goddess (my dream come true.)

You definitely get both the resort life, and the local life on Boracay. On the plus side, there are security guards at every turn, so no one hassles you for hours to buy their bracelets or carved Jesus sculptures.

So if you ever want to see Paradise I’d advise you to go. to. Boracay.

right in front of our hotel

SCHOOL:

We were working in rooms that took two hours to heat up. I spent each and every day teaching in my winter coat, two pairs of gloves, three pairs of socks, and a scarf. And yes, I was still cold even with all these extra layers. One day I braved the elements and taught sans gloves, and I ended up with purple fingernails. I even went so far as to let a kindergartener sit on my lap the whole class just for the extra body heat. It was getting ridiculous, until someone figured out heaters need to be cleaned once in a while, and after that, there was actual heat blowing out of the heaters.

Now we are spending a lot of time working on our plays for graduation. The kids have to memorize a Wizard of Oz skit, a presentation, and countless songs. Also, because there are vacation days in February, parents are opting out of keeping their kids in kindergarten for the month, so we keep loosing Dorothys, Tin Men, and Scarecrows😦

SHOPPING:

I’m officially assimilating. Shoes I thought were very ugly a few months ago, I now can’t stop buying. Here are a few gems I picked up on my latest shopping excursion in Myeondong.

doily shoes

boots with the fur

...bought a few months ago...

moon boots...for winter...

….and as always…here is some K Pop… if you (like me) enjoyed “The Percolator” you will love this…

So I figure I’ll post the story I wrote for Tweety’s  graduation. It’s a speech they will perform at graduation. It’s a little like a magic school bus story. They visit the oceans, talk to animals, and learn fun facts along the way.

SARAH TWEETY A: The other day, we all went to play on the beach. We saw a submarine out on the water. We all climbed inside and started our underwater adventure.

MICHELLE: The submarine went across the Pacific Ocean, to the Great Barrier Reef. It is 3000 kilometers long! It is so beautiful. The Great Barrier Reef is the only living thing we can see from space. There was pretty coral, sting rays, dolphins, and giant clams! I never wanted to leave!

HARRY: We saw a very large sea turtle, so we talked to him. He was a leatherback. I asked him how long he could hold his breath underwater. He said the longest he’s ever gone was five hours! Their hearts slow down to one beat every 10 minutes! I had fun talking with this leatherback sea turtle, but he needed to eat. Do you know what leatherbacks eat? Jellyfish! YUCK!

CINDY: The reef was a lot of fun, but we had more to see. We left the Great Barrier Reef and went to find the biggest animal alive – the blue whale. I never knew why these whales were named “blue” until I met one. The blue whale was named for its color. I couldn’t believe how big he was! He was about 30 meters long! That’s 18 times longer then my dad! He eats 4 tons of krill a day!

DANIEL: We had much to see, so we said goodbye to our new giant friend. We were heading south go to the Southern Ocean. This ocean was huge! As big as 193 Korea’s! It was so cold that we had to wear winter coats. The temperature was five degrees! We saw  scary icebergs. Icebergs break off glaciers and float in water.

SARAH TWEETY A: When we got near Antarctica, we saw a bunch of penguins. One talked to us. She was an Emperor penguin – the largest kind! She’s bigger then me! She had a black face, yellow ears, and a white stomach. In the water, they have to look out for leopard seals and killer whales.

SARAH TWEETY B: Emperor penguins can hold their breath for 15 minutes, so she had to go back to the surface for air. We had fun meeting the penguins, but we had to leave. Up next, we were going to the Indian Ocean. It is the third largest ocean and the warmest. It felt nice after the freezing Southern Ocean.

DUKE: Near South Africa, we saw a hammerhead shark! His head looked like an anchor! He said he was hunting for fish. Hammerheads don’t attack people, so we talked to him. I thought he was big, but whale sharks are fourteen meters long! That’s as long as a bus! He was a scalloped hammerhead, the most common kind.

VICKY: We had a great time in the Indian Ocean. We said goodbye to our new friends and went home. The submarine took us home. Everything was so wonderful. The oceans are amazing places. They cover 70 percent of Earth. We saw a sea turtle, a blue whale, a penguin, and a hammerhead shark. We visited the Pacific, Southern, and Indian Oceans. What a great day!