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So I have always hated people who dress up and treat their dogs like people. People like Paris Hilton carrying around a toy chihuahua dressed in pink come to mind. However, since buying a small Yorkshire Terrier a few months back, I find myself gravitating to the puppy outfits more and more.

It started off innocently enough… After my vet shaved Fritz to resemble a stoned rat, I had no choice but to buy her a small sweater to keep her warm on walks. How else would she retain her body heat? She weighs 4 pounds! This small necessity has turned into an obsession. Over the weekend in Insadong, I passed a street vendor selling puff vest with fur-lined hoods for dogs. You can imagine what my next move was. I bought Fritz a red Polo vest (authentic, I’m sure) to keep her warm during the winter months. My next move? Tae-kwon-do uniform with black belt…. yeah, it’s happening.

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So I recently bought a pair of shoes in Myeondong – Seoul. They are a great pair of shoes. One problem: Korean shoes seem to be lacking grips on the bottoms. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, except that Koreans love to decorate the sidewalks with shiny polished marble. So you can imagine what happens when it rains and I have to walk home from work. Every step I take on a rainy night makes me feel like I’m gambling with my life. How these ladies manage in heels I’ll never know.

We have been very busy at ILS the past few weeks. We had to pick and prepare graduation speeches for our kindergarten kids. They graduate in February. I wrote a ‘magic schoolbus’ type story for Tweety class. They will be going on an undersea adventure where they meet and talk with a sea turtle, blue whale, and penguin.

They will also all participate in a Wizard of Oz play. Tweety class is doing the scene where Dorothy destroys the Wicked Witch with water, and finds out she has to click her heels to go home. I will be very stressed the next few months trying to get my kids to memorize two scripts. Wish me luck….

I have recently become obsessed with K Pop music. The first few months, Korean pop music is extremely annoying. And then like any other boyband/girlband group, you end up getting hooked without wanting to. I am currently in the process of trying to find out how to buy tickets to a K Pop concert….

Here are a few of my favorites….

So we had our Halloween party two weeks ago. All the kids were super excited to be dressed up and getting candy. They had been learning the Trick or Treat song, with one notable lyric change. They sang “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat, if you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll just make you wish you had.” Our kindergartners have already learned how to successfully threaten someone. At least the version I grew up with, you knew…give me your candy or I’ll pull down your underwear. This new, menacing last line comes with all sorts of implications….we don’t know what they’re going to do.

We set up for the kids to go to two stores around our school to trick or treat. Then, we went back to ILS and every kid’s parents were there, wearing masks. Then all the kids trick or treated with the parents. For being Korean, these parents were not joking around with Halloween. The kids bags were bulging with candy, some had to get extra bags. We also had a pumpkin carving demo with them, and made balloon pinatas that they had a blast hitting.



Pumpkin carving with Nuri                 Born to be Superman

So for Christmas break, I will be relaxing under the sun in paradise. I’m going to Boracay in the Philippines for 8 wonderful days. Boracay is a tiny island that houses the famous White Beach. It’s been voted one of the best beaches in the world a few times, so I’m pumped.

A few things I noticed about Japan that differs from Korea:
  • It is expensive… comparable to the US – $2 subway rides, $10 minimum dinners
  • The men can have long hair and scruffy facial hair
  • The women are gaudy. Big fake tacky copper colored wigs, huge pink blush lines, and fake eyelashes
  • It is not as new or as clean as Korea
  • A lot more room for self expression with their clothing
  • Bars are few and far between if you aren’t in the “nightlife” strip
A breakdown of my days:
Tuesday we flew out of Incheon, and everything was going fine until we got to immigration. They only had four booths open, for maybe about 7 foreign flights. We stood in line for over an hour. By the time we got through immigration, our bags were already off the conveyer belt and lined up by customs.
On the subway and train lines in Osaka, I noticed right away that it is much dirtier and dingyer then Korean public transport systems. The decor was very outdated. Dark wood on the walls and dark green velvet seats. Quite off putting.
The hostel we stayed at was disgusting. I’m in the process of writing a very heated review on hostel world. Everytime we opened the door to our room, we got hit with the musky, moldy smell of our sleeping quarter. Thankfully we were only there for one night…
We decided to walk around and find some dinner. We went into a little restaurant that had a long bar for sushi. It was a very authentic meal. A thick piece of raw fish with wasabi and rice. I liked the tuna roll, and the salmon egg roll the best.
After I had just told Sarah how much I dislike shrimp, two guys next to us ordered us two different shrimp plates. The first one was raw, so trying not to be rude, I ate it. The second one was a grilled shrimp with its face still attached. After I told Sarah it was looking at us (yes, it still had its eyes and purple brain) neither one of us could eat it.
Wednesday:
After sleeping on a pillow cushioned with cut up pieces of straw (my favorite) we headed to Nara. A volunteer from the YMCA was standing at tourist information and offered us a free english speaking tour of the city.

Nara has deer roaming freely everywhere. They go into stores, hangout on the curbs, and line the streets. I bought some biscuits that you can feed them…. big mistake. As soon as the deer spotted the treats,  they swarmed me.
I didn’t give one aggressive male deer a biscuit fast enough, and he butted me. Luckily, they de-antler the males, but he still have me a huge bruise. After the attempted gorring, he hissed at me before retreating.
We then went to the Todaiji Temple that houses the Big Buddha. He was made in the 8th century, and is one huge piece of cast bronze. It weighs about 450 tons. One piece of his curly hair is about the size of a human head. The temple he’s in is the biggest wooden structure in the world, and only a third of its original size (burned down in the past)
Thursday:
It was raining very heavily in the night and in the morning, so the trains were all delayed. Our next stop was Kyoto. When we got off at the train station, we stopped at tourist information to figure out how to get to our hostel. The woman helping us was completely clueless. She could barely read a map and had to ask the other employees how to spell things. We should have known better then to trust what she said…but we followed her directions, and ended up 20 minutes off our target. Mind you, I had all my stuff with me. Carrying a 20 lbs. backpack for 40 minutes while lost is not my idea of pleasant. Finally, we gave up and took a cab. Kyoto has very small side streets. It’s almost like little cramped alleys. So it would have been hard to find the hostel even without the woman confusing us. After getting to the hostel and settling in, we went to the Imperial Palace. You can’t go inside without permission, so we just walked the gardens surrounding the compound.
At night, we were chatting with the hostel owner and told him about our hellish experience in Osaka. When we told him which district we stayed in, he told us that was a bad area in Osaka, were the Yakuza operate out of. If you go to the street vendors who sell clothes/food and ask them for “vitamins” they will give you amphetamine injections….
FRIDAY:
The next day we used the bus system to get to the silver pavillion. In my mind, if you’re going to call something “silver” it should be leafed top to bottom with said silver. Otherwise it’s false advertising. We walked the gardens and almost left before we realized that the big wooden structure with the tiny silver top was the famed “silver pavillion.” So it was a little disappointing. Also, to get into any of the shrine/temple/castle compounds you had to pay $5 or $6. We thought we’d be able to walk around the perimetere of the sights without paying to go inside, but in fact, you have to pay to even get a peek.
After the “silver” pavillion, we went to Gion to search for geishas. We managed to snag a picture of one all done up. In a week she becomes a real-deal geisha.
After walking around a bit more, we headed back to Osaka. At tourist information, the lady had a hard time finding us a cheap hostel since it was a busy weekend with a holiday. She set us up in a decent businessman hotel that had kimono robes in the rooms. Sarah and I now have kimonos 🙂
SATURDAY:
We went to Osaka Palace on Saturday. I thought since it was a palace, we could get to see what the rooms looked from the ‘old days.’ It was set up like an exhibit, detailing how the palace was constructed over the years. I was actually disappointed with the whole thing. The outside of the palace was beautiful and the view from the observation deck was nice, but overall, it wasn’t what I wanted to see. After the castle, we took a boat tour back to our hotel area. It was a pleasant ferry ride with a jazz band playing a few songs. Not all the ferrys were open topped and with a band, so we got lucky.

We spent the rest of Saturday shopping in the Namba subway walk. The clothes were really cool, and I spent all my money on sweaters and shoes for fall 🙂
SUNDAY:
We did some more shopping, and got a train back to the airport. My bag was considerably heavier and my wallet lighter. Overall, the trip was a success!

Korean folklore doesn’t disappoint. Recently, my coworkers and I have become enthralled with The Old Fox. She goes by many names; 구미호, or Kumiho being the most popular.

Kumiho is a fox with nine tails, who transforms into a beautiful blue eyed woman who seduces men in order to eat their livers. My M5A class once wrote how they are scared of kumiho, and Jenny (blood tree) has taken to calling herself the old fox. When I asked her who she was, she very passionately told me “I AM THE OLD FOX! I EAT YOUR LIVER!”

Ryan Teacher had his kinders draw pictures of monsters. Jenny’s did not disappoint. She drew a vampire man with fangs and a cape. Along of bottom of her picture was a 9 tailed fox with the caption “the old fox Jenny.”

So my plan now is to call anyone with blue eyes Kumiho….

Or threaten my kids who don’t do their homework with Kumiho 🙂

구미호

Today we had our monthly kinder field trip. It was sports day, so we just took the kids to a park with a skate park and basketball court. PE teacher was there (looking fine) and doing games with the kids. After an intense round of frizbee and playing hacky sack with a pompom device, we had lunch and headed back to school.

During the day I noticed my rowdiest boy Duke having multiple Thoreau moments, which included walking through the trees with his hands in his pockets contemplating the meaning of it all. I figured since he was out of the classroom and away from books, he would’ve been having the time of his life. But he was very quiet and didn’t play with the other kids. During lunch when he sat with the teachers, Yvonne said he was feeling sick. He looked like he was feverish, and his body looked slumped and achy. Rafaela teacher said all he wants to do in class is play, and when he finally can play, he’s too sick to do so. I put my arm around him and told him “this is what we call irony.”

Every week, the elementary school kids have to write speeches. This week, their topic was “three wishes.” Pretty standard right? Lauren teacher had the honor of correcting this entry:

I really hope Willy’s mom doesn’t check his homework…or speak english.

I thought I’d take a moment to share some of the hilarious things my kids do.

I teach the kinder art classes. One day, we were doing indian ink and crayon drawings. I asked my one girl Jenny what she was drawing. With a completely serious face she told me it was “blood tree.” I didn’t think much of it, until I peeked through her other sketches that she did with Megan Teacher. On the page that they drew giraffes, her giraffe was struck by lightning and on fire. The good news: he was smiling.

For international day I picked Kenya as the country to teach the kinders about. I figured elephants, giraffes, white tigers, etc. the kids would love it. I also made a Go Fish game using safari animals. All the classes had a lot of fun holding their cards “in secret” and displaying their animal pairs. The thing they loved the most though, was telling their classmates to “GOLD FISH!” It didn’t matter how many times I said “no, GOOOOOOOOO fish” they all just wanted to shout ‘gold fish’ at each other.

Lauren does main classes with Nemo. Her daily journal topic was “Tell me three things you learned from International Day.” Apparently, all the kids were bragging about Italy and making pizza as their Italian activity, or playing Canadian Bingo with Alex. One student – Owen, in all seriousness, wrote ” Kenya people have the brown faces.”

My Tweety boys Duke and Harry are OBSESSED with natural disaster/fire hybrids. During circle time, I asked everyone what their favorite weather was. All the boys informed me they love tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis. That escalated to “I love fire tornadoes” and “I want fire hurricane.” Now they always talk about fire tornado this, fire tornado that. So today in art when Duke drew a dinosaur, I figured I knew where this was going, so I asked him “oh, fire dinosaur?” He looked at me like I was crazy and went back to coloring. Guess you can’t win them all.