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Monday, February 28, 2011

Diary

One of the highlights of my new job is grading diaries. My upper elementary and middle school students have to write in a diary once a week. Some of the things they write are priceless. Here's one I corrected today. Quite bizarre and I don't understand but I don't ask questions...

Angela.

To Rabbit

Hello my name is EunHi Oh.
I killed you. Maybe you are in the sky now.
I'm sorry. But I think you were good to me...
Weren't you? But I liked you ~
I hope you went to the sky.
I was very sad about you.
Because I saw your body.
In Your body... your intestine...
You know? Your intestine is very long.
Um... well it is about 2 meters?
Very very big... Goodbye ~

Not sure if she disected a rabbit in science class or what... Who knows. But thought I'd share!

Adventures on the bus

There are moments I've experienced in Korea that I will never forget. Had one of those last night on the bus, going downtown to meet friends for a birthday dinner... Here's how it went...

So Jenn and I get on the bus. A few stops up, some more people get on. Maybe four people total are on the bus. Korean city buses have one long bench in the back then a single row of seats facing front on each side (and an open middle area to stand). Jenn and I are sitting on the back bench and there are obviously plenty of other seats open. This old man gets on and where does he sit? Well right next to me, of course. And he gets comfortable.

We discover quickly that he's quite drunken. But don't worry, he wears a face mask to be healthy and prevent germs from getting into his body... (I've stopped trying to understand...) Older Koreans, especially out where I live, don't see foreigners very often. Most of them don't like us. My Korean friends claim it's because they can't understand us. Umm hello, we NEVER understand ANYTHING you say... Anyways... not only do they not really like us, but they stare at foreigners. Sometimes they're disgusted stares, other times just out of curiosity or amazement - like they've only seen one on TV, never in real life.

So the drunk ajashi (Korean for old man) is staring at us as Jenn is putting on lip gloss. Then I put some on. He starts to lean into his stare. So naturally, I look at him and *POP*. Smack my lips together. Was about to offer him some. The more I experience it, the more staring irritates me...

Jenn and I are having a conversation. Not loudly. The bus is quite, there's no reason to talk loud and we're sitting next to each other. All of a sudden the ajashi hits me! I look over and he's Shhh-ing me. Really? So we continue talking. He hits me again, harder! I about lost it. The drunk ajashi have an argument - each speaking in our prospective language. I tell him we were there first and he can go sit somewhere else on the bus. I interpreted in Konglish that he was telling me that he's drunk and we should move so he can lay down. I won. He moved. But not without continuing to grumble in slurred Korean under his face mask.

Grumble grumble grumble... Jenn and I are still talking. Then he gets up, stumbles a bit, sits back down, stands back up and goes up to the bus driver. To tattle on us!! The bus driver puts the bus in park, gets out of his little compartment (doors are wide open) and spends about 5 minutes yelling at the ajashi. He tells him he can either sit down and shut up or just get off the bus. (Again, Konglish interpretation) And while he's lecturing him, he's imitating him stumbling around. Was quite hilarious but I didn't want to laugh because I didn't want to get kicked off the bus too!! The ajashi lowers head like a hurt puppy and sits quietly for the remainder of the ride.

Wish I had my camera to take video.

Crazy!

This article is from The Korea Herald.

A 26-year-old South Korean man died on Thursday when an explosive he had apparently bought on the Internet and tied to his body exploded, police said.

The man identified only by his surname, Oh, had complained of his personal woes for four hours at a local police stand earlier in the morning while claiming he was carrying an explosive, according to the police in this eastern port city of Pohang.

The police said they could not immediately verify Oh's claim that he had an explosive on his body, and kept others at a distance from him.

Oh's parents later appeared and took him home, but in the afternoon he was found dead on a breakwater near his home with the wreckage of an explosive littering the site, the police said.

Police said Oh had remained unemployed since the latter half of last year, adding that Oh appeared to have illegally purchased the explosive from an Internet site. (Yonhap News)





Note... This took place in Pohang - where I live. Another article from the Washington Post, published in April 2010 reported on Korea's suicide rate. Suicide is the leading cause of 20-30 year olds in this country. Thirty-five people on average per day take their own lives. Yet in Korean culture, it's better to just kill yourself than to seek help to cope with suicidal thoughts. 


I find that any kind of "mental health" is just not common at all. A fellow teacher had booked a trip home for a month but the higher-up education board didn't approve it. To find a loophole, her boss took her to the doctor and said "Look sad." The boss explained to the doctor that the teacher is depressed because she missed her family. The "medicine" prescribed was a month at home. 


I don't think anti-depressants should be the first treatment for someone who might be feeling a little overwhelmed or depressed, but it really does help some people. Well, not in Korea. The biggest...mmm...challenge... we teachers face is the "non-existence" of attention deficit disorders altogether. 


Maybe in America we over-medicate children who don't necessarily have ADD or ADHD but simply act out because they aren't challenged or might need a different learning technique. As a teacher of children in a country who doesn't believe in disorders, I can tell which children would genuinely benefit from Ritalin. One of my former students, Josh, is a prime example. He is super bright and very smart. One week when I taught him one-on-one he was delightful, but when other children are in class his attention span goes from perfect to zero. He is loud, obnoxious and at times a little manic. 


Anyways, that's my rant on Korea and mental health. Maybe if they believed in it, the poor chap, Oh, might not have blown himself up. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Best. Coffee. Shop. Ever.

I had a glorious Coffee Sunday with the girls today. Usually we spend our Sundays at one of two coffee shops: Starbucks or Seven Monkey's. Starbucks has comfy chairs but it's a bit overpriced and Korean's point and stare through the glass wall. Seven Monkey's has a stamp card to get free drinks but there are only a few drinks I like there and the seating isn't that comfortable.

Today my Jenn introduced me to a FAB "new" place. It's actually been in Pohang for over six months now but it's off the beaten path and doesn't have an English sign. Well it's wonderful. I'm still not sure of the name but there are several reasons it's my new fav:


  • Free refills! I bought one vanilla latte and got two refills (regular black coffee, but still but it's GOOD coffee!)
  • Free toast! They have a platter of bread out and a toaster and jam for your toast!
  • They have reward stamp cards too!
  • Special treats! The barista approached me and The Fran with a wine glass. (What?!?!) And announced that it's Dutch coffee.
  • The atmosphere is so cozy! It has a vintage, chic style. The tile is mismatched prints and parts of the walls and ceiling are covered in different printed fabric. There are several types of vintage light fixtures. It's super cute.
  • They have heated toilet seats. This Korean feature surprises and excites me every time. 
  • They give away coffee beans and ground coffee. Unlike some chain coffee houses, this place roasts and grinds their own beans.
And let me explain more about our iced Dutch coffee in a wine glass... I noticed on one wall they had these burette-type contraptions set up. That's how they cold brew specialty coffees. The water comes out one drip per second, into a beaker of coffee grounds and goes down through a filter into another beaker. We were told it takes 12 to 24 hours for one batch to brew! It smelled kind of like wine and chocolate... It was really good. They shall get much more of my business and Coffee Sundays!!



Saturday, February 26, 2011

Quick Update

It's a cozy weekend in for me this weekend. Spent today (Saturday) in Daegu. I went with my friends Jenn, Conrad, Frances and Tanya. Great city, great company, great food. We started the day at the bookstore. After watching Shakespeare in Love I decided I'm going to like Shakespeare - so I bought "The Comedy of Errors" and "The Merchant of Venice" as were recommended by Tanya, a well-educated Lit professor. Next, we ate our hearts out at Holy Grill. It's a Canadian owned restaurant and since Pohang doesn't really have decent American food, it's always a must-do on Daegu days. The trip ended with a visit to Cosco. My list was short: Salsa, Turkey and Cheese. I spent about $120 on way more than salsa, turkey and cheese...

Now I'm enjoying a fulfilling night in with dinner, wine and Glee with my friend Kenton.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SNOWWWWWWW!

Korea has pretty similar weather to what I'm used to back home - for the most part. Summers are hot and humid. Winters are cold, with the occasional light snow but nothing major. UNTIL this year... Pohang to be specific has gotten more snow this winter than it's had in the past 60 years (I've also heard the last snow like this was over a century ago!!). Crazy!

The morning of January 3 it started snowing (before I woke up). And it continued to snow and snow and snow. School was canceled and the streets were filled with I'd say 8 inches after all the precipitation was finished. And then night came which froze all the snow to ice... Another day off school then fast forward to early February. All the ice is FINALLY melting from January.

Then Valentine's Day... Not much love was spread in the 'Hang because we got like two feet of snow. Like January's snow storm, it started snowing early in the morning (anything before 9 am is early for me these days) and continued for 15 hours!! Crazy, right?!?! I finally ventured out of my cozy apartment around 10:30 and the snow was literately up to my knees. And I'm a fairly tall gal.

This time it didn't get cold so the snow is melting much quicker. But the second day, the snow was still to high for cars/buses to get out. Sooo I had another snow day. By Wednesday it was back to work, tromping through the new slush that covers my path.

There's not much else going on to report in my khronicles. I'm planning two international trips right now. I'll be jetting off to Okinawa, Japan in May, then in September I'll be touring China! While everyone back home is enjoying Spring weather, I'm stuck in yucky cold winter still. I'm eagerly awaiting rising temperatures so I can finally enjoy being outside to stretch my legs.

I'll post pictures (of Busan still and the recent snow storm) when I can. My boss, the gem that he is, took my computer and said he'd take it to a shop to be repaired. (Wonderful!) But a week and a half later it's still sitting in his office. Not sure when I'll ever get my beloved back...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Computer crisis

Just when everything else in life is blissful, my computer breaks. Those close friends and family members who know how good I am with electronics (well, all expensive things, cars included) shouldn't be surprised. I don't know exactly what's wrong with it. It just won't charge. I bought a new power cord but that didn't help in the slightest.

Although having a computer wouldn't help as the internet in my building has been out for nine days and counting now.

So as soon as internet is back up and my beloved computer is functioning again I shall post pictures of beautiful Busan.

I'll also take a moment to update on rather mundane happenings in my life.

  1. I LOVE my apartment. I'm sure I've mentioned that already but seriously, it's true love. Not sure why... It's just cozy. And now I have my oven!
  2. I LOVE my oven. After my return from Busan I thought I'd try it out. I roasted a chicken. After the initial burning smell, the roasting bird created savory smells in my little abode.
  3. I discovered the joy of Tom N Toms. A friend introduced us. It's pure lust right now but could quite possibly turn into love. I was instantly addicted to the cream cheese pretzle. I was then tempted to try my own luck at perfecting pretzles. Not perfection quite yet but I'm on my way. The regular one tasted like bread. Then I made a pizza pretzle and after that a deli one. I thought they were decent. I'll need a third party taster to critique and/or compliment. Any volunteers?
  4. I've started P90X. We'll see how long I can stick to it. The Keno video was fun and the core strength kicked my butt the next day. Literately. My butt was super sore.
  5. My family back home in St. Louis, Missouri was recently "blessed" with mounds and mounds of snow. Love you all but I'm NOT JEALOUS!! Our snow in Pohang (from January 3) is finally almost all melted and we've been having gorgeous weather. This week it's supposed to be upper 50s! Did Punxsutawney Phil not see his shadow this year?!?!
  6. I'm writing right now from a PC-Bang. Kind of like an internet cafe. Only it's Korean after Korean (go figure) playing computer games. No clue what games they're playing but most seem to be playing the same one. You could stay in a PC bang playing games for 24 hours straight (or more) and have food delivered and everything. I'd even take it a step further and say you could probably LIVE in a PC-Bang. To the Korean next to me: If you have to leave to buy eye drops at the GS, you've been gaming too long. Go home.
That's it for now.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Boo-ya, Busan

Happy New Year, all! Out with the year of the tiger, in with the rabbit. According to this website, the year of the rabbit, "A placid year, very much welcomed and needed after the ferocious year of the Tiger."


If you're a rabbit, this is how you're described:


"A person born in the year of the Rabbit possesses one of the most fortunate of the twelve animal signs. The Rabbit symbolizes graciousness, good manners, sound counsel kindness and sensitivity to beauty. His soft speech and graceful and nimble ways embody all the desirable traits of a successful diplomat or seasoned politician.

Likewise, a person born under this sign will lead a tranquil life, enjoying peace, quiet and a congenial environment. He is reserved and artistic and possesses good judgment. His thoroughness will also make him a good scholar. He will shine in the fields of law, politics and government.

But he is also inclined to be moody; at such times he appears detached from his environment or indifferent to people.

The Rabbit is extremely lucky in business and monetary transactions. Astute at striking bargains, he can always pop up with a suitable proposal or alternative to benefit himself. His sharp business acumen, coupled with his knack for negotiation, will ensure him a fast rise in any career."

I'm a DRAGON! (Next year) And this dragon is spending the tranquil five day weekend in Busan. It's only an hour and a half bus ride from The Po' and has a lot to offer in terms of tourism, food and nightlife. 

I checked out the aquarium by myself (my friends didn't have any desire to see it) and it was fantastic. The next time I go I WILL be diving with the sharks. I promise. I might have been a little more excited than the small Korean children to see all the fish and other sea life. Unlike them, though, I waited patiently for my turn to look and touch the starfish and whatever else there was to touch (my Konglish wasn't able to translate...). 

Also checked out Yongungsa temple. Kind of like European cathedrals, once you've seen one temple you've seen them all. But not this one! It's built on cliffs overlooking the sea. Quite beautiful. 

My fab vacation isn't over yet so more insight and pictures to come!