Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Merry Christmas and "Letters to Santa, the Best of" Edition

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!
I'm a polar bear

Ack I'm getting so slow at this blogging thing. It was a pretty normal week for me, besides the random Christmas break in there. And by Christmas break, I mean that we literally only had a break on Christmas, and then I had to go back to work for one day. Wamp. Definitely doesn't feel the same over here during the holidays.

Mom posted this picture and it was too
cute not to save. Bambinaaaaa, I miss you!!

In good news, on Monday, Cesca and I bought our flights to Japan (we grabbed Sarah's since she had Korean class), even though the process took foreeeever, we felt accomplished and are super excited!!! AAAAAAAAAAh

So, the 21st was the winter solstice, which is also a big deal here in Korea. As with most special days, we got special food for that day.

Apparently bad spirits don't like red bean, so you
should eat red bean porridge on the solstice
to scare away bad spirits
I'm actually not a huge fan of red bean, because it's sticky and pseudo sweet. Koreans think it's really sweet, but to me it's kind of bitter sweet in an "almost chocolate but not quite and therefore useless to me" kind of way. Hence I took the smallest amount possible so I could still eat some. I can't risk having bad spirits hanging out, can I??

Anyway, for my sixth graders, I didn't feel like making Christmas cards again (I couldn't find a new one, and they did the tree one last year), and letters to Santa seemed too childish for them, so I decided to show them How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The animated one from the sixties. None of that Jim Carrey monstrosity in my class, thanks.

I worried that this, too, would be too childish, but it turns out, they were quite intrigued. I told my mom recently that it was really fun to watch them discover it for the first time, since I've known that story since I was very little. I don't remember what it was like to see it the first time, but I got to see their first time with it, which was fun. 

They though the rhyming was really cool, since it makes the whole thing rather musical. Korean doesn't have as much rhyme in it; they really only use it in rap, and that's because they imported that style from the West, where rhyming is super prevalent. 

My other favorite comments were that the Grinch doesn't have ears, how can he hear? when he puts his hand to his ear. There were quite a few indignant complaints at the realism there. 

Cindy Lou Who's appearance sparked a chorus of "Wow she's only 2! Her English is so good!" in about 3 or 4 of my 5 classes. 

The 'stealing the decorations' sequence was a favorite, what with all the methods the grinch uses to steal things. The pool/ornaments sequence was a favorite. 

Not only was it a nice break from English teaching, but I think they really enjoyed it. I know I did, because I love that animation, moreso now that I'm away from home.

They ran out of R's but it was super cute

I was sad when I only had one day left
on my advent calendar...

Christmas Eve was a relaxing day for me. I did't get invited to church, which was kind of a relief.

I mean, blue and purple are ALMOST
red and green, right?

I thought I'd get out early, as I did last year, but sadly some people from SMOE were auditing schools nearby (talk about some real Grinches. Auditing the day before vacation!?!?!?), so we couldn't leave early. 

After Cesca braved Costco, we met up and headed to my house. We ordered traditional Dominoes pizza (haha) and enjoyed it's almost Americanness, what with stuffed crust and topping selection options. You can't modify food here like in the states (no hold the pickles, hold the lettuce here), so it was nice to be able to customize our pizza. The people at the restaurant complimented my Korean, even tho the only thing I said was "I ordered online" and "Ok" when they told me it would be 5 minutes. Oh Korea and your low expectations for foreigners, thanks for the ego boost haha. 

We skyped our family in the morning and were able to open our presents together. It was sad not to be with them on Christmas Eve/Christmas, but it was a lot better this year, since Cesca was here with me and I wasn't super sick. Yay!!! Our presents were a hit back home. I ordered chocolates for my dad, and send some Korean cosmetics home to mom, who has told me that they work miracles and that she already found how to buy them in the states when she runs out (I can send more if you need it Mamma!!!). I got Ted a gift card because, after all these years, it's just easier to let him pick his own stuff haha. 

I got some really great gloves, some Alex and Ani bracelets, a beautiful scarf and jacket, and CANDY. Thanks family!!! It was a great Christmas!!!

After a loooooong chat in the morning (with no heat, as my water heater shut off again, thankfully AFTER I showered), we headed over to Lauren's for a Holiday Extravaganza. 

Costco had provided us with lots of snacks and a great meal, so we gathered, watched Elf, discussed old holiday memories, played games and just had fun. It was a nice way to spend Christmas. I couldn't spend it with my loved ones at home, but getting to spend it with my favorite people in Korea definitely helped. 

It was almost traditional. But YAY MASHED

excited for cake!!!

so was Ga Hyeon haha

Sadly, I had to go back to work on Friday to prep for winter camp (don't get me started on how often my vacation schedule changed in the past week...), but I got a lot done and ready for my camp, which actually doesn't start till the 5th. 

Afterwards, I met Sarah and Cesca in Hongdae for some dinner, shopping, and planning Japan again. We had the flights, so for a few hours in a coffee shop, we hammered out our schedule, transportation and hostels. Now we just have to get there and get going!!! Can't waaaaaaaait!!! But man, I forgot how exhausting planning a trip can be!!

After that, Cesca and I hung out most of the weekend and watched Liar Game, which she detailed extensively in her blog haha. It was really good. We also went grocery shopping (easier when you have 2 people) and I studied. I have my TOPIK exam coming up, so the next few weeks probably won't be too interesting, since I have to spend a lot of time studying. Meh. Sorry fans.

I put my free time to good use this week by reading and documenting some more of my favorite responses to my "A Letter to Santa" activity with my 5th graders. Please enjoy them as much as I did.

small mistakes, but I'm happy!

Most of the kids ask for money haha.
I liked that he wanted to leave coffee
for santa, who must be tired from flying all night

Santa, please bring me a steak. Medium rare.

This one knows that investing in gold
is a good financial strategy haha

Her English is super awesome!

I don't know where she learned about polymer
clay... but I like the idea of chocolate tea

not just 1 ice cream. 1000.

Someone likes history haha

Pretty sure that there's some story about wishing every
day was Christmas and how that's a bad idea... maybe?

I hope they mean romantically and not
like, in general. I love you!!!!

Steak, a trip to the USA and oney. Also, they're
leaving Bob and Kimchi for santa hahaha

This girl is super friendly and loves to chat
with me and tell me about how pretty my hair is

Honey Butter chips are like, super popular here
now? All of the stores are sold out of them.
They're alright, kinda sweet for me...

Specifically 15 cm of snowy

I liked her drawings

This student is really good at English, and was
adamant that Santa can't come to his house
and that the presents must be given another way

No milk for you Santa, orange juice all the way!

uh, yum?

I hope Santa likes Ramyeon (ramen) as much as
you guys do!

a bunch of them wanted "technical pencils' which
I later figured out meant 'mechanical pencils'

This student turned a little Irish there, I think. 

Yes. Infinity money. And a super power. Not
sure Santa delivers those...

Infinity money AND a cheese cake 

Going for practical here. Maybe Santa is
sick of cookies

Waaah I hope you get some free time this year

I thought their answers were cute

10 billions and I'll give you some bread, santa.
To be fair, Koreans call everything from
brownies to cookies 'bread'

Not greedy nor are they braggy.

They were worried that Santa is too fat

This student is really sweet

simple wishes this year

It was a super fun activity, even though it was hard for the kids to be creative and think of what they wanted, since Christmas isn't really a present giving, family holiday here. 

I had a great time teaching them about Christmas and doing some fun activities with all of my classes!! I can't believe this is my last update until 2015!!! Aaaaah!!!

Happy Holidays, my lovely friends and family!!!

Have a very Happy New Year!!! My 2014 was great, and I'm hoping 2015 only gets better!!!! 

In the Christmas spirit, I've been listening to some Christmas/holiday music. Check out some remakes of the classics with some Korean artists!

I've mentioned Sung Si Kyung before, but damn his English is awesome and I love his voice. Ailee is a Korean American from NJ, and she's just awesome.

I just love this song. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Keeping Up with the Family Traditions

Well, it was the last full week of the semester. Cold and busy, I'm still prepping for the winter and finishing up lessons. Because it's right before vacation, we had to do some time waster activities like playing speed English  and making Christmas cards.

Speed English is a game made popular by the show Star Golden Bell, where they give the guests, usually Korean celebrities, a word to describe to someone who isn't that amazing at Korean. 

Basically, I was the guesser. It was hilarious. The kids got really into it and it was a great break from the textbook. I got some cute Christmas cards from 4th grade, and today, we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which my 6th graders insisted they were too old for and then proceeded to sit through with their eyes glued to the TV. Kids. 

Winter colors! Too bad I've needed to retouch
them like 15 times. I cannot keep nice nails...

Young Ah is super sweet and bought me some
gloves cause she saw my old ones were
getting worn out. D'aaaaw.

touchscreen capable!

mmmm American vodka?

I bought new fur lined boots because it's too
cold here walking to school without them.
They're awesome and I love them.

Spaghetti at lunch. I gave up. I can't eat
spaghetti with chopsticks.

I taught my 5th graders about Christmas and had them write letters to Santa. The creativity was hard for some of them, but I got some really awesome answers. I'm still going through them (I have like 130 to read), but these are a few of my favorites so far.

Letters to Santa. This student is really sweet and
good at English, but made a common mistake I hear
Korean speakers make. She meant "people having
a hard time." I hope.

This student had pretty intense requests haha

This is my student who was born in America.
We often discuss how much we miss turkey.

4th grade made Christmas cards.

brb crying. 

After having a decidedly stressful week (camp schedule changes- don't ask, vacation planning, end of the semester stuff), Sarah, Cesca and I decided that a visit to the cat cafe was long overdue. The lady even remembered us, even though we haven't been in a month or two!

We were there for less than 5 minutes before this lil' guy
cuddled up to me. 

My dad told me to take more pictures with me in them when I
go to these places. Here you go dad.

this is Derp Face, one of our favorites

he didn't want her food. Just to stand like that
for a while.

I thought this cat liked me. NOPE.


The kitten, all grown up!!!  He was Sarah's
baby when we went back in August

This one looks like my principessa Nymeria

We checked out some of the winter festival lights on the street before we got too cold and called it a night.


Mom sends us the best stuff in her care packages!!

We had a chill day Saturday. We met Sarah for lunch and tried to hammer out some details for going to Japan in Feburary. So excited!

We got 닭갈비 (Dak galbi) for lunch, which is like, spicy chicken mixed with veggies, rice and cheese. We even added cheese filled ddeokbokki.

This place allows us to skip to our favorite part, the fried rice part. Some places cook the chicken and veggies first, and then once you eat a bunch of that, they make the fried rice. Buuuut this place puts them together, which makes it awesome.

It's also super cheap. Each portion was like 6,000 won, and with the extras, the meal was still only like 8,000 each. 

To me, it looks deeeelicious. If it doesn't to you,
don't knock it till you've tried it.

Cesca and I experimented with taking the bus to her apartment, rather than the subway. It wasn't faster, but it was nice not having to go bus --> subway --> subway transfer ---> walking.

Instead it was bus --> bus --> short walk

We saw some fun things on the way

Womanly studio...?

The name sounds funny, but it's really just a place
where you pick out the beer bottles you want
and pay at the end. 

On Sunday, we ventured to Costco with Lauren, Janell and Ga Hyeon to gather things for Christmas. This was a terrible idea and I do not recommend it.

But we got lots of goodies for Thursday, because nothing gets rid of the expat holiday blues like hanging out with other expats. Better than spending it alone. I'm so excited for this year, especially since Cesca is here, and I'm hoping I don't get deliriously ill this year...

After a harrowing adventure shopping at Costco, we met up with Sarah in Hongdae to hang out for a bit.

Seriously some of the best I've had in Korea

an effing delicious peanut butter cupcake

my Tiramisu cupcake

Living up to the "monster" part

Their drink sizes were really big and awesome.
I will definitely be going back.

Then the 3 of us met up with Janell to go see the Nutcracker! Janell had never seen it before, and so we really wanted her to come. Sarah and I saw this production last year, and it was a.) beautiful and b.) cheap, since they offer a foreigner discount. 아싸!!

Cesca and I used to go with my mom every year when we were younger, but kind of tapered off after like, middle school. Since Cesca and I are finally together for a Christmas season, we decided to try and revive the tradition. 

The show was, of course, gorgeous, and it made me reaally want to start taking ballet again, if just for the health benefits. I do really miss it though. I always felt so elegant and graceful (which is ironic, because outside of class, I'm the clumsiest person I know...), and I felt really good health wise when I was doing it in high school. Maybe I should look into it here... 

Channelling her inner ballerina

trying to be cute- did we succeed?

The creepy rat king who kept poking me with
his GD nose. Ugh. weird. 

Gotta make silly faces

And show off. I'll always take an opportunity
to show my splits and impress random passersby

Of course we had to meet the Nutcracker himself

They wished us a Merry Christmas and a
Happy New Year! 

We could only get tickets together Sunday night, so I got home late and subsequently did not have the time or energy to blog until Monday at school.

Can't believe Christmas is almost here! I can't wait for my family and friends to see what I got them for Christmas, and I can't wait for a few skype dates and some time with food, friends, and this year, family, in Seoul!!! Woooo!!!

Half of a week of school (an easy week, too!!! YAY!), and I'm free! (Until camp but whatever). Yess!!

Merry Christmas, or at least Happy Holidays to all my friends and family, near and far!!! 


There hasn't been too much kpop wise this week. I've been listening to more Jekyll & Hyde recently, to prep for seeing the show in a couple of weeks, and also because it's awesome.

There is one Korean song I've been listening too, because I've been into ballads lately. 

Sung Si Kyung is super popular in Korea (he's also AMAZING at English- he studied for a while at Magdalen College in Oxford, but basically, he was just really interested in English and wanted to communicate with his German brother in law, so he studied hard and mostly taught himself. Which is pretty cool. 

The title of the song is kind of mistranslated or just not exactly what I would think. It's a song about running into someone you used to love and the chorus basically says "it's ok, it's ok, it's something from the past..." 

The title is "난 좋아 (Even Now)" but Nan jo-ah, to me, means something like, "I'm good" or "I'm fine" or can sometimes mean "I like,"  which is more accurate than 'Even Now.' The last line of the songs does mention "even now" like, 'Even now I still like you, if you want to come back' kind of  a way. But the Korean title and English translation don't exactly match up. I wonder why.

It's kind of fun that I can start catching the differences in the way something is used vs translations. Yay!