Friday, September 28, 2012


Now that I've got a fancy phone I thought I could start documenting my school lunches. Here's what I ate yesterday. 

It's Chuseok this weekend, and to ease us into the holiday all classes were cancelled. Most of the kids were on a school trip or having a mini sports/cooking day. The school paid for us to order takeout and as we sat and slurped our noodles, a parade of 6th graders came into the classroom bearing different types of gimbap. Below is the cluttered table, this is food for 5 people. 5 people! Ack.  

After lunch I went back to my job *cough* watching bad TV shows *cough* and an hour later the principal walked in with a large box of apples, followed by my co-teacher and her husband who had an even larger box of rice cakes. Awesome!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hovel Tour, Take 2

We're going apartment hunting this week (praise be!) but in the mean time here's what our living situation looks like pre-move. If you'd like to refresh your memory, the apartment tour I filmed on the first day is here.

Invisible corner/my wardrobe/bench.
Kitchen - we took the curtain down as it was too ridiculous.
Tom, standing up in our bathroom. 
Bedroom, same-same except we have lamps now.
Living room w/park bench couch. IT IS MADE OF METAL. Metal   ≠   comfort.
Living room part 2.
'Herb Garden.'
Grotesque laundry area.
I cannot wait to move. A note on the pre-clean grossness of our apartment, this is an actual conversation Tom and I had while cleaning:

Me: Is that your blood on the floor?
Tom: *too long of a pause for that question.* Yes, I think it is.

On a happier note, two weeks ago we went to Busan and participated in a scavenger hunt. It was awesome! Our lovely friend Noelle wrote about it and you can read her excellent blog post if you click here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Google Translating

My school (along with most other schools, I think) has an instant messaging service used instead of email. Last time I was here I didn't sign up for it for reasons I wish I could get my past self to explain. This time I've signed up although my login-name is still 'David,' apparently the last two English teachers were called David and the Office of Education has inconveniently hired an Anna this time.

The messenger system is fairly helpful, although as I don't read Korean well I have to rely on Google Translate. Here are the best translation fails so far:

Check colorectal overtime trail.

Am sludge official letter will be sent out tomorrow afternoon until just ask

1 Rot teachers helper so that students around the school trash Joule life helper map
2 Events when teachers so you can sing along anthem degree

Temperatures big time. Take a healthy note.

Meetings of the Secondary computer security relationship with the computer, 2 indeed change.

Hi executive offices high steal.


(clothes that are not loud)
Farmer hat seems to be bad in the eyes of the sports day, parents.

To all of these I say: Indeed.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Scenes from our apartment.

In lieu of an interesting blog post, here are some pictures I've taken recently.
DIY air conditioning - two bottles of frozen water in front of our fan.
Doesn't really work, fortunately autumn is here now and the godforsaken heat is easing off. 

Our apartment block featuring woman drying chillies and noisy-ass children. 

Saucy car at Noelle's apartment building. 

Sunset from our kitchen. 

Kitchen, again. The grate was removed for the moving truck/crane thing, and all of our terrible 'new' furniture came through this window. 

Kimchi mandu (dumplings) steaming on our stovetop. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Out with the old, in with the slightly less old but just as broken.

Yesterday we got our "replacement" furniture from the office of education. As we've whinged about previously, almost all the furniture in our apartment was broken when we arrived. So yesterday a delivery of some new stuff arrived. New to us anyway, I'm pretty sure they just drove around and took the old stuff from one apartment to the next one and pretended it was new. In one case I had to argue with the supervisor so we could keep our table because it was less broken than the new one. Happy days.

The worst thing we got was the sofa. When we arrived there was a weird one-and-a-half-seater thing that only had an armrest on one end. Also, the vinyl stuff it was covered in came off in little flecks whenever we sat on it. It can't get worse than this, right?

The new one is made of metal. It's a metal frame with rock hard cushions. To give credit where credit's due, the metal does not come off in flecks. But it's still less than we had hoped for.

So we're furniture shopping, which like most shopping here is done online. To anyone who has heard me complaining that Korean couches are like park benches, I offer the following screen shot from the sofa section of Gmarket (a Korean online mall).

Not the general furniture section. Not even seats. Sofas.
The stuff was all moved in using this bizarre crane thing. They lean it against the wall of the apartment building and than the cage thing runs up the track to our kitchen window. Note that we are on the second floor (first floor in NZ). I think two people could've moved all the stuff by hand in less time then it took to set this up. 

Anyway, thanks to some arguing it looks like we may have a new (or at least different) apartment soon. I don't want to jinx anything but I think my co-teacher is taking us apartment hunting next weekend.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Teaching Materials, Part Three

Part one and part two.

It should be noted that this was the FIRST lesson I looked at when I opened up the CD-Rom for 5th Grade. I'm used to teaching students how to ask to go to the bathroom, however I hadn't seen an animated version of them actually going. 

This graphic was accompanied by loud, wet, fart noises usually reserved for stupid movies and ... not educational material. The farting was repeated three times and the scene ended with one final explosion and this relieved face:

Target Language: May I go to the bathroom?

ALSO - a long, long time ago I posted about a lesson where 'a bug FARTED on a small child and made her fall over.' I'm amazed I didn't post more about this as TomTom the evil farting bug became a regular fixture in my lessons. I've finally got proof. In this scene, TomTom's farts broke the TV and the children were forced to stop and clean up his fart dust so they could learn again.

Target Language: The Giraffe is Eating!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Daily Cute

One of my students doesn't know how to spell 'pretty' but sure knows how to suck up to the new English teacher.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Teaching Materials, Part Two

This is the second in my new series cribbed from the teaching materials I use every day at my Korean elementary school. You can read the first part here.

The textbooks have changed since I was here a year ago. The number of topics per semester has shortened but there appear to be more lessons per topic. As a part of this, there are a number of 'quiz' rounds meant to fill up the 40 minute lessons and, I guess, test the kids on what they've learnt.

The quiz sessions are presided over by a variety of hosts, from an artist to a pirate to some Mortal Kombat type rivals and an Olympian (topical!) who cries if you get the answer wrong. Really.

The hosts which have troubled me the most so far have been an 'Explorer' and the 'Savages' he encounters. This jars me as being very culturally insensitive, but I do realise it's just the tip of Korea's racist iceberg. Korea, I love you, but you can be SO racist. The previous English teacher from my school left under suspicious circumstances, my co-teacher suggested he was 'too sensitive' because the students called him 'King Kong.' 

This is what happens if you 'win.'

If you lose:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Welcome Party

I went to a couple of school dinners when we lived in Buan. I don't remember them being entirely fun but they were an experience. Once, I was relieved to have the other English teacher with me for dinner - she was Korean-Australian, spoke perfect Korean and (bonus) managed to hide any frustration when asked to translate. Unfortunately, about 15 minutes into the dinner she received a phone call from her room-mate who told her their apartment had been broken into. She left for the police station while I soldiered on, untranslated. 

My principal in Buan was terribly fond of giving me high-fives, and would regularly walk into my classes and administer a hand slap that would break the arm of a small child. On the evening of this dinner, he'd had a few sojus and his eagerness to high-five multiplied tenfold. The head kindergarten teacher (who wasn't very sober either) noticed my wincing and after a few minutes of heated Korean discussion the principal was cradling my palm like the most delicate of baby birds and gently blowing on it to make it better. I should mention that the kindergarten teacher and the principal were engaged in a sort of seated piggy-back, with the kindergarten teacher latched on to the principal and her arms around his shoulders. As I walked out of the restaurant, dazed, one of the teachers I'd known for months yelled 'NICE TO MEET YOU.' Indeed. 

One of the other teachers was kind enough to give me a ride home, and although she'd lived in Buan her whole life, she'd been to our apartment several times before and Buan is slightly larger than the computer screen you're reading this on, we spent ten minutes waiting for her GPS to boot up so she could input my address and get directions. 

Last night I went to my first school dinner at my new school. My co-teacher gave me a ride to the restaurant. I sat next to her at our table and prepared for an evening of quietly eating my dinner and making small-talk with my co-teacher while everyone else chatted in Korean.

I couldn't have been more wrong. I was introduced to the teachers where I stood up, awkwardly said hello, awkwardly said 'nice to meet you' and awkwardly bowed and this amalgamation of awkwardness was greeted with riotous applause. The teachers at my table made sure I had enough to eat and took turns talking to me and pouring me soju. The vice principal made me guess his age and called me crazy when I said '21.' 

After we'd eaten a ton of barbecued meat, about 25 people moved on to 'Part Two' - a noraebang (karaoke room) nearby. I was wedged between the vice principal - who kept assuring me that New Zealand is beautiful - and a new teacher who speaks very good English which he attributed to his Filipino wife. Soju after soju turned into beer after beer from almost all of the teachers in the room. 

I was urged to dance and then sing, I almost fell for the Celine Dion trap but after one of my co-teachers assured me it was her favourite song, I went for Aqua's Barbie Girl. It's not entirely work appropriate but nobody seemed to care. Two of the PE teachers completed an amazing rendition of Gangnam Style (complete with dance moves) and dedicated it to me, because it's my favourite K-Pop song. I think it's everyone's favourite K-Pop song but that's beside the point. I had an amazing evening and went home at around 9pm feeling welcomed and more than a bit tipsy - on a MONDAY.  

This morning, I think in part to aide the teachers in their recovery; the first lesson was cancelled so the students could stand outside and do some sort of rhythmic gymnastics on the school field. Unfortunately, for those of us in the office this meant listening to really loud muzak and the screams of small, excited, non-hungover children. Worth it.