Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sports and Spirits and Abs, Oh My!

It was a slow week in the beginning this week, but man, did it pick up at the end!

I come across the best things on my way to work.

I'm sure you are, dude.
For no reason at all, Monday was the best lunch ever, Why?

Looks simple, right?

But look at this soup. Meat. Without bones.
Without joints. Without a bunch of fat. 


And I went through my normal routine of buying groceries and starting to make dinner. On Tuesday, I was getting ready to cook spinach. I was separating it and washing it, and juuuuust about to put it on the stove to cook it, when I saw this.


Kinda freaked out. Couldn't eat it after that. Then, I couldn't get the jar of pasta sauce I bought to open, so I guess dinner was just not gonna go my way this week.

Dinner debacle aside, this week was easy because the kids were doing last minute practices for Sports Day. My school's 30th anniversary is this year, so this Sports Day apparently had to be big. So, they've spent most of the last few months practicing tirelessly, and skipping my English classes to do so haha. 

Here are the 1st graders practcing

They did a fan dance

One of my and Young Ah's students
baked everyone cookies for her birthday
and she gave us some!

That one on the left is Blueberry Pizza... Yum?

Finally, on Friday, Sports Day arrived. The weather was beautiful, the kids were excited, and I was basically excused from doing anything cause I am practically useless, since I can't understand the instructions of anything. I hung out with Young Ah while she worked the sound system, and took lots of pictures and videos (which I'm still sorting through. I'll make a separate post with those later. Maybe).

Even though I felt a bit useless, I did help clean up, and the head teacher and multiple other teachers stopped to tell me "Good work!" or "Good job!" The head teacher even hugged me. I swear, I'm going to get a complex here. Never have I been praised for doing so little haha.

So, here's sports day in all of it's glory.

There are sports events like tug o war

My sixth graders mustered some enthusiasm for the day

Each grade had a special performance to show us

second grade

cuuuute umbrella dance

With games intermixed

a sprint where they had to roll on the matt first

5th grade race/obstacle course. My poor co teacher on the
left had to work hard for all of the games.

1st grade fan dance

5th graders waiting for their turn 

tunnel race

3rd grade pom pom dance to Hey Mickey!
So excited to see my hometown/college colors!

2 of my sixth graders led some cheers in the stands

The parents joined in for a game of tug o war

sometimes my students spotted me getting pictures
of them 

Janggu intro to the second half of the day

5th grade pass the ball race

4th grade drum dance. Loved the outfits!

another parent 'push the ball' relay

4th grade watching intently

sixth grade flag routine

One of my favorite students wanted a picture. She's so sweet
and likes to chat with me!

confetti got caught haha

the students did morning warmups and a cooldown

they have a national exercise routine that they do

a game where they had to throw bean
bags at the ball till it broke open.
Poor teachers holding the pole!

Some of my class clowns in their element

5th grade getting ready for their hula hoop dance

sixth grade tug o war

5th grade

the music teacher leading chants in her
fabulous matching tracksuit
Afterwards, we had an awesome staff dinner. Everyone was in a good mood from a successful Sports Day, I can understand a little more what's going on, and I impressed some other teachers in my office with my soju skills (compared to some other drinks I've had, soju shots are a piece of cake...) and what little Korean I know. I'm getting better at interacting during these dinners, and it feels less like a chore or that I need to be babysat now. It was a great night, and I escaped with only minimal soju drinking. 

On Saturday, I met up with Cesca and we headed out to Abgujeong for a special show. We had some time beforehand, and we're hardly ever on that side of town (it's clear across the city from Hongdae), so we stopped at a special spot. Known as the 'Moms Cafe,' 3 of the moms from Super Junior own this Kona Beans cafe. We had to wander a bit to find it (people's directions SUCK), but we found it and enjoyed it immensely. Janell met up with us there. 

The coffee was delicious, and they play awesome music (cause it's all Suju music!), and if I lived closer, I'd probably come more just to chill, because the vibe is really nice. And there's a lot of Suju stuff too. Not wanting to be too touristy though, I refrained from taking toooo many pictures. That'll be for my trip with Sarah! Since obviously, we will go back.

Some stuff for Leeteuk

I just thought it was cute

Kona Beans is Hawaiian, so they vaguely
try to keep that theme going

Enjoying her hot choco while SUJU looks
on from the back wall

The reason we were in Apgujeong was particularly important. You all may remember me talking about the Mr. Show a while back. Well, it toured the country and arrived back in Seoul. I had promised Cesca that if it ever came back, we would go and see it. Not knowing if we'd have another chance to see it, we decided to go across town. (FYI, it's coming back to my side of town. We will have to pop in again haha).

Ironically, this area has a lot of churches.
The show was on the 7th floor. There was a church
on the 3rd floor. 

The message was clearly "Ya'll need JESUS."

The cast was slightly different, but overall it was essentially the same show. We got excellent, second row seats. 

Much to my dismay, Cesca had to step out during the show. We thought she had ample time to get back and that they'd let her in when the MC was talking, but the staff were major dbags and didn't let her back in for an important part of the show.

What part?

The audience participation part. 

Now, for this part, you may remember me saying that we got Janell on stage for her birthday. The MC walked out on the other side of the stage and brought an ahjumma up. Then he meandered to our side. As he was walking past, he paused, said "oooooh" and walked up to me. He asked where I was from, said "WOW, I love NY!" as I've given up on specifying at this time in my life, and asked if I could speak Korean, to which I answered "a little." In Korean. Apparently impressed by either my Korean or my blonde hair, he grabbed my hand and invited me to the stage. 

I'm really curious about what else he actually said during this whole process, but I guess I will never know. I hope he wasn't making fun of me!

Moderately mortified but excited, as I knew what was going to happen, he spoke quite rapidly and asked if I had a BF, to which I responded I didn't. He let the ahjumma pick first, and then asked me which guy I liked. I picked Chris, cause he was cute and also our names are similar so that's really all I could think about. I don't do well with snap decisions in front of tons of people!

Our close proximity got us noticed by
probably all of the performers

The MC got another ahjumma to come on stage, and told us to get ready. To my surprise, Chris swept me up bridal style and carried me across the stage. Deciding to embrace it, I fist pumped before he set me down. I ended up on the opposite side of the stage from Janell, and so I only made a few faces at her before the, er, dance started. 

This is the guy I chose. I think I made
a good choice!
If you told me 2 years ago that I would have gone through with this, being on stage getting a special dance from a scantily clad man, I probably would have thought you were nuts. But today, remembering how much fun it was watching Janell last time, I decided to embrace it, and dance along and ham it up. During a pause, I gave a big thumbs up to the Korean girls in front of me, many of who responded with enthusiastic cheers. 

Apparently one of the ahjummas was mortified, the other tried to laugh along. For the life of me, I could not look this guy in the eyes, because it's just pretty awkward, you know? It wasn't anything lewd or crazy anyway, I got to just feel his abs and such. Definitely a more risque Korean style, which means it was pretty modest. We're not talking Chippendales here.

Anyway, after the dance, which is kind of a blur of me being awkward but happy and hoping I didn't look like a maniac or anything (Janell assures me I was entertaining and enjoying myself, which I was), the MC brought us back up. The mortified ahjumma could only say "it was good" and then he asked me how I felt. I said "It was really fun!" and he said "You don't have a boyfriend right, how about Chris?" So of course I responded with "Good!"

The MC asked if I was on holiday, and I said "No, I'm an English teacher," to which he responded 'ooooh Chris wants to learn English!" and I said "I'll teach him!" And after a final bow, we were sent back to our seats, where I was promptly greeted by smiles and waves from my fellow audience members. 

Mind you, this was all in my hopefully adorably accented Korean, but the audience seemed to like me. Sadly, Cesca only got to see this final interview. I'm sad she couldn't be part of the show (she was the one who was more keen on doing it), and I would have tried to get her picked if she had been able to be. She came in after the dance, and so it made us both sad, because she couldn't see me enjoy it either. Guess we will just have to go again and get her chosen!

After the show, I was smiled at, waved at and even greeted with "Brava! Good job!" by lots of Korean women. I'm not normally one for attention, but here it wasn't really attention for being a foreigner. Ok, maybe it was, but it was more of a "we all had a good time" thing, rather than a "look at that out of place waygookin" thing. Because all of us ladies can enjoy a good man show, right?

Ranting all the way home about the ridiculousness of the attendants, the show was a little bit soured for us, but still awesome. We both know there's nothing we could have done, and it really wasn't anyone in our group's fault, but it still sucks that Cesca missed out on that part of the show. Since it is coming to our part of town again, if someone else wanted to go, I'd totally be up for it, since they often discount the tickets. Plus, we have to get Cesca up on stage so she knows what she missed! I'm sure the audience will find her endearing like me! We're cute! We don't know what's happening! We aren't terrified to look at a guy! It's a win, win win!

Sunday afternoon, we headed out for lunch at a mexican place, which Cesca has been craving. Then it was off to the far north of Seoul, where Young Ah had invited us to a janggu performance. This was a ceremony that I went to last year. It is about inviting good luck in and getting rid of bad spirits. 

It was fun this year because I wasn't the only foreigner (I'm sure people thought we'd just wandered in from nowhere until Young Ah sat with us), and because I knew more about the performance. Young Ah is like my favorite Korean ever, so it was great to come out and support her.

We couldn't get her attention for a while
because we didn't want to be obnoxious


Introduction dances

drumming while people prayed

fan dance encouraging enjoyment
of life

They fed us kimchi jeon and ricecake!
And makgeoli!!!

Young Ah got us to write out wishes for the future.
Cesca's was for Health, Happiness and Love.
Mine says "Good Life." Check out
those mad Korean skills!

Another dance encouraging enjoyment
and liveliness

Another janggu group played a rhythm from Busan, which
is apparently slightly different from the Seoul rhythm

party in the square!

Cesca was excited to get good pics

Burning the wishes. I hope ours come true!!
We got pulled in to dance, of course. Because we stick out like
sore thumbs.
People even asked to get pictures with us during and after
the show. Celeb status haha
Clearly Korea is helping me learn to deal with being the center of attention haha. It happens so often to Cesca and me... 

I'm so happy I got to see Young Ah perform again. Performances like this move me every time. I don't know why. I just find it so exhilirating to see something so grounded in years of tradition. We just don't have anything like it. It's fun and free spirited, and I love to support the people I love. Young Ah lives far from her family and friends, and I know how that feels, so I wanted to show support since I could.

she's my faaaaavorite. So sweet and fun!

I thank whatever force in the universe
for pairing me with an awesome
teacher and person like Young
Ah for this adventure.

So it was a busy weekend, with major events Friday through Sunday. This week should be more normal with Korean class and the schedule settling down. I'm excited for some rest and for some routine again, but man, did I have an excellent weekend.

I also managed to watch like 5 episodes of Outlander (OMG so awesome. I LOVE IT), as well as watch the premiere of The Walking Dead. Here come the zombie nightmares, and I can't waaaaaait. 

This is a new group and I'm OBSESSED with this song. Catchy and fun, I cannot get it out of my head!

It's called "Why did you come to my house?" (우리 집에 왜 왔니)

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