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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bitter Sweet

Top: My Liaison (Michael), boss and his wife all out on Saturday night
Middle: tubing/sledding at Family Land
Bottom: Bank of Korea Field trip... me in the face of a 500,000 won with my Pre-K class



I made it out for a fantastic weekend…. thank God I recovered from the stomach flu. I actually felt 100% by Thursday; Korean medicine definitely works wonders.

As I told you before, my good friend Dominque had a birthday party this weekend. Saturday started out with some good clean fun and ended with too many gin and tonics…. my drink of choice (while I'm on the subject, let me remind you that this country does not have limes- their substitute is a lemon and a gin and tonic is not the same with a lemon). On Saturday, a large group of us met at the bus station where we took a couple taxis to Family Land: a big amusement park (went there once before with the Kindergartners). Koreans pronounce "F" with a "P" sound so when I told the taxi driver, "Family Land jusaoh (please)"… he looked at me like I was crazy. Luckily I had some friends with me that knew you needed to say "Pamily Landa!" The 18 of us got there and sledded for a few cold hours. This sledding was the most organized sledding I've ever seen. I was sure it would be madness… you know, kids running up and down the hill, flying all around, maybe even a few crashes… bloody noses. I was wrong! Once you get your tube, a moving ramp takes you to the top where you wait to slide down. An announcer gives direction and a new group steps up to the starting line… hanna, doo, say (1, 2, 3). You just wait till the electric pushes sends you flying down the ice coated hill… what a blast then it's back up for some more rides. At one point during the day, we told the announcer that it was Dom's birthday. We had everyone singing Happy Birthday… well, those who knew the English version that is. The Korean's were all laughing as they stared in amazement… 18 foreigners, that had to be the most any of them had ever seen at one time. After freezing our tushes off, we warmed up with one of the most delicious Korean dishes- duck fried rice, duck soup and duck pate (reminded me of Honey Backed Ham but better). We all went home to rest and get dolled up for the evening.

We reconvened downtown around 11. I invited my liaison out and to my surprise he brought along my boss and my bosses wife… a good surprise of course- they are always good company. Seth drove his car which was nice… that's 8,000 won there and back I get to keep in my pocket. The night was spent bar hopping… dancing, singing, laughing…just having a really fabulous time with so many wonderful friends. This whole experience is so bitter sweet, ya know… whenever you meet another wonderful friend, you find out that they are leaving in a month… a week, it's sad to have to say good bye all the time. The great thing is, you have friends all over the world who you can visit. I am already planning a trip to Canada when I get home. After several hours of the downtown scene, my boss took the TN English crew (5 of us including myself) out to eat. Seth (my boss) drove us home. He probably shouldn't have been driving but that's just something Korean's with cars do. I'm half asleep in the back seat of the car, dreaming of my warm, cozy bed when finally we stop… we get out , but wait a minute? We aren't at TN English, why the hell did we stop in this alley way? Maybe someone had to throw up or maybe Seth realized he was too drunk to drive. "Where are we you guys… what's going on… are we lost?"… "It's okay Em, we are getting massages." That sounds nice… no complaints out of me. We went into this very classy building and into these little rooms where we changed clothes. All the women wore these little pink outfits and all the men wore orange ones- was this a cult? They forgot to give me my pants so I walked out in my tights with this big pink T-shirt on. The Korean women freaked out and quickly sent me back into the room with pants/shorts. The language barrier always gets me…. haha, well really, I was kinda drunk and it was 3 am. We all got escorted into this big room with that was sectioned off for each person. We laid on tempurpedic mattresses while getting the most incredible massages. After this one.. maybe two hour long body massage, we went to sleep. Odd… I've never gotten a massage before but I am pretty sure your not supposed to sleep there. I kept peeking across the way to see if Iian was still laying there. I didn't want to get left at this place. Morning came and we all woke up, got dressed and hit the road. I accidentally saw a reciet for our time spent there…. close to 600,000 won for that massage trip- good god! I feel pretty lucky! The niceties still weren't over… my boss took us out to breakfast. When I think breakfast, I think bacon, eggs, toast, pancakes, etc… not in Korea. We had spicy egg, bean spout and onion soup with rice. It sure did cure my hangover, maybe that was the idea. Sunday was spent relaxing and reminiscing with friends about our good times. I love weekends in Korea.

Work has been going well. I did not realize that with my pre-K class, I am not supposed to let them speak ANY Korean. I just figured in the beginning it was alright because I was trying to get them comfortable with their surroundings and with each other. I have never taught ESL so i have no idea how it works.. it's a learning process. After telling the girls that they are not allowed to speak Korean, it's amazing to see how much more English they are picking up. I guess they understand that if they want to talk at all, it's got to be English. They repeat everything I say.... like I said before, repetition is the best method right now. Since they are such quick learners I am pushing ahead and teaching some more difficult things. I've got them counting all the way to 20. They know shapes, farm animals, zoo animals, fruits, vegetables, colors, ABCs, body parts, ohhhh and so much more- I am a very proud teacher! Classes are going well but the planning process/test making is a bit stressful right now. The main computer at work crashed and the hard drive was not able to be recovered. This mean that 3 years of work is gone... and we do EVERYTHING on the computer. It's beyond me why they never backed up the work. So, on a lighter note, we went on a field trip last Wednesday to the Bank of Korea. It was the Kindergarten classes plus my pre-K class that went. I was so proud of my girls, they were very well behaved and had their listening ears on. I am not exactly sure what was discussed at the bank because it was all in Korea but it seemed interesting... the kids seemed pretty enthralled in what said/shown.


Korea Facts/ Randomness:

- My trip to Hong Kong is getting closer and closer. The city we are going to be in is called Kowloon. Here's a little information about this area: Bearing the meaning 'Nine Dragons', Kowloon, which is only a few square kilometers, is one of the world's most densely populated urban areas with both residents and tourists. At the peak of the peninsular is the neoteric shopping district of Tsim Tsa Tsui. Further up north are Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok, both more traditional with street markets and old buildings. Tsim Tsa Tsui East and Hung Hom on eastern Kowloon are noted for the milieu of luxury hotels, shopping centers, expensive restaurants, and trendy nightclubs.

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