Top:A woman at the Food Festival making traditional kimchee
Bottom: Gwangju International Food Festival (outside vendors/tents)
I've gotten into the habit of blogging every Sunday. I really love my Sundays. Typically, I sleep in, jog in the park (sometimes, if i'm not too hung over of course), get a pizza, watch movies, and mess around on the internet. This Sunday, I did not get the chance to blog… my apologies! I was far too busy hanging out with a gorgeous man instead… not just any man, a German man! I guess i'm like my big sister… we are both attracted to cute Germans. Who is a "Twilight" fan? Well if you are, let me just tell you what this boy looks like. He's a cuter, older, version of Jacob (the werewolf)… with better hair, not that bullshit spiked up hair. I met Nick at the bar on Friday night, we danced, talked, exchanged numbers and then had a great date on Sunday afternoon. I really enjoyed his company, what a nice guy he was. If nothing else, I met a great new friend.
Sunday night I went to the Lotte Mart (Walmart) with friends. I finally got some jogging pants… it's getting cold here.. BRRRR! I was shocked when I tried these pants on and they were actually long enough. So, not only did I buy some great pants but I got a months supply of groceries and a soccer ball (YES.. I can't wait to get out there with Laura and kick around the ball). I love the Lotte, all their fish is half off in the evening, and you can try multiple samples of everything. It kicks Walmart's ass. It's a nice mix of Walmart, Target, Costco, Harris Teeter , The Dollar Store and Trader Joes. As you can see, the Lotte Mart is a joy in my eyes, especially that night. Ohhhh, but wait…I got ahead of myself… as we were walking out of the store Ryan's bag broke open and his 6, 2 litter bottles of Mountain Dew rolled away. Once again, the Koreans are looking at us like, "oh, you silly Americans." Not only that but, I always, always forgot that my refrigerator is a third of the size of a normal one.. WHY.. I don't know? I get home to unpack all of my things and I realize that there's hardly enough room for it all.. UGH! I guess my problems could be worse… I made do!
I'm backtracking here… I was just so exited to talk about my most recent stories. Let me start with the work week. Last week, all I did was bitch, bitch, bitch about work so, i'll try not to do that so much. This week I had a wonderful connection with my students. I don't know what it was but I feel so much closer to them now. As a teacher, I feel that it is extremely important to find that connection with each of your students. I love getting to know them on a personal level.. it really benefits their education in so many ways. Back home, I did most of my teaching with Kindergarten. I absolutely love the little ones, they are such a hot, happy mess. When I got here I was really nervous because they told me I was going to be teaching older students. I had no experience with 4th, 5th and 6th graders… whoaaaa!! I should have more confidence in myself because I went in there on day 1 and i've been doing great ever since. I teach 3 different classes… students ages range from 8 to 13. Ya know, I thought I would never like teaching the older students as much but I love it just the same, it's just different. These kids actually look at me as a person, not as just their teacher. They respect me and admire me and I adore it because I feel the same way about them. Now of course there is always problems… whining, complaining, confusion, frustration, exhaustion.. you know, it's life! Over all, I really love these kids. I love the down time we have… oh yea, now that i'm teaching older students who I can joke with, i've turned into that teacher who constantly digresses away from the content. Yes, it sounds bad but we always make sure to get our work done and I find that the digression is very beneficial to their education… and mine ;) . We always talk and compare our cultures, it's a great learning experience for them to hear about America and American culture and for me to hear about Korea and Korean culture. Not only that but they are practicing their speaking skills which is key! We have a huge flat screen computer on the walls of every classroom so we always have a reference to use- yay Google!
This week one of my students told me she was having a birthday party this weekend. I was so excited for her… after class, she came down to my office and I gave her some candy, a silly band and a Godiva candle (thanks Aunt Susan). We started discussing the details of her birthday and she told me that her real birthday was a few weeks ago. I was so confused as to why she was just now having her party. She casually told me that her mom had forgotten her birthday… AHHH- WHAT! How can a mother forget her 8 year old daughter's birthday- sad, sad, sad!!!
I determined the reason of this forgetfulness.. I think: Clara has 1 older brother. In Korea, the favorite child is the first born son. Now, when I saw favorite I mean FAVORED, in every way….. NO exaggeration! I am assuming that her family forgot her birthday because she is not the first born son… just a girl! In Korean culture it is known that if you marry a first born son, you have many responsibilities for the rest of your life. For example: for any type of family gathering, holiday, etc, the festivities are held at the first born son's home… which means, the wife has to cook and prepare for everyone. As a woman, you know that it is a lot of responsibility to marry a first born son. Some woman loathe it but others love it. Back to Clara, if it makes you feel any better… she was not sad about her mother's forgetfulness at all…. only me! I think she, as well as all Koreans are just used to it. That's the way it is!
Work was nice this week, other than some of the people I work with… actually, it's just one dronish sluggard! This person, and I won't bother to say his name, is making the entire staff look bad. He comes in late to work, he can't take constructive criticism which is just too bad because it's beneficial when it's coming from someone who does know how to do their job, he fell asleep in class (we have cameras on us… not only is management watching but parents as well), because of his lateness and his work not being completed in a timely manner, management got rid of our 40 minute breaks. Thanks a lot jerk!!!! Now, we work from 1 to 8:35- no break for dinner, nothing! the list goes on..! He's like a burning building… eventually, it will fall! It's really unfair that he is making all the English teachers look bad…we all reflect on each other. American's are already stereotyped as being lazy and it doesn't help when one of your colleagues is making that stereotype true! The fire is burning….FAST!
On Saturday Laura, Ryan and I went to a International Food Festival at the convention center across the street. It was outside and it's a good thing because the weather was just incredible. Outside, they had a bunch of little tents/vendors set up for about 10 to 15 different countries (Greece, Indonesia, China, Thialand, North America, Nepal, Japan, etc.). For each one, you could buy a small portion of food. It was really fun and delicious. The best one was Greece. While we stood in line they gave us a sample of fruit with greek yogurt. After about 20 minutes of standing in line, (this was the most popular tent) we enjoyed a colorful, delicious Greek salad and a hearty Greek kabob. The only downfall to the food was North America's random, lazy selection. They decided to give samples of macaroni and cheese, snickerdoodle cookies and perogies (I am pretty sure perogees are not even an American dish.. maybe Italian). All the other places had such yummy, exciting food… why couldn't they impress people with some barbecued ribs or some cheese burgers!? Inside the convention center was a huge assortment of foods and other miscellaneous things that were being sold or sampled.
This week should be fun… I volunteered to go to an adventure park with the Kindergarten students, Ryan's birthday is on Saturday as well as a big art festival that we all plan to go to!
-At the schools (not ours), the students have to serve the food before they can eat
- People here are very generous in some ways but when it comes to letting you cross the street or holding open a door, forget it… just wait to be run over or slammed in the face with a door- it doesn't matter if your hands are overflowing with groceries!!
- Probably, a third of the people living here, especially the women who work out, wear sars masks over their face. They are just afraid of germs…
- If you go to a store, it's impossible to find actual napkins, as well as tissues. I don't know what that's all about but I sure am tired of using toilet paper as a napkin. I buy paper towels but most places (school, restaurants, homes) don't have them.
- Koreans don't really drink with their meal.. it's strange but it's just not necessary for them. If there is a drink then its beer.