Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Million Pieces

Drama club practices continue, now with some costumes

I didn't have 4th grade on Monday, which was nice, so I got to watch some rehearsals for the talent show. It was an easy day, and I was in a pretty good mood, but I knew something was up when my sister messaged me and asked if I'd be able to skype soon, as my mom had some bad news. I knew our lovable giant, Bandit, was getting thinner and my parents were worried about him, and when I got that text, I knew it was time. 

I spent a good part of the evening and night crying, since Bandit was a gentle giant and since last year, Smokey had died as well. 2 years away and 2 of my babies gone ;(

I took this pic of him before I left for Korea

He got a lot thinner, and he wasn't eating. It was time, but it
was hard to say goodbye.

On my walk to work, there were two cats.
Black and white, like Bandit. Cue the waterworks
I was exhausted and upset Tuesday morning, and so I was vaguely relieved when my first period was cancelled, though the distraction probably would have helped. I was sitting in the office trying to just be calm and get ready for the day, when Young Ah came in and said good morning. We sit diagonal from each other, so she said hi to me and then asked me if I didn't sleep well, because my eyes were puffy. I couldn't hold back the tears as I said, "My cat died." 

After my burst of tears, Young Ah went to get tissues for me and came back. I showed her a picture of Bandit and told her how he was over 16 years old. Seon Kyeong, my 6th grade co teacher, sits next to me and was just getting back to her desk, so she looked over and gasped. 

"This is your cat?" she said, "He is very fat!" and I burst into tears again. 

Young Ah reached across my chair and swatted her, "He just died!" she admonished, and Seon Kyeong gasped, "I wondered why tears came so suddenly!"

Then I sobbed a bit and the news spread through the office. I heard some of the teachers not quite understanding why I was crying still, so Young Ah, who had admitted she's never had a pet so she doesn't know the feeling, was explaining for me that he was my pet since 2nd grade and he was old and had just died. A few minutes later, I saw something out of the corner of my puffy eyes. Wordlessly, Seon Kyeong was sliding over some Ferrero Rocher chocolate to me. So sweet. 

Thankfully, everyone left me alone pretty much for the day, since they knew I was upset. 

bye bye, babies...

Thankfully, my 6th graders were mercifully attentive and we had lots of work to do for the talent show, so I was relatively busy during the day, even if my poor cat wasn't far from my mind. School events mean the dreaded process of making balloon flowers, which I am fairly useless at, given I can tie about 1 balloon every 5 minutes. I'm terrible. I simply took up balloon size measuring duty and handed the balloons to someone else to tie. 

Seon Kyeong decorated her desk with an extra haha


some artwork

Inexplicably, my school also has a parents' art section, which the subject teachers of course had to set up. And then hear the complaints about from parents who weren't satisfied with it. WAMP.

One dude made a paper mache T Rex

One of the teachers brought in Cheer Up! Yogurt
cause everyone was stressed out

we bought snacks to celebrate round 2 of balloon making being
complete on Wednesday.

Wanna learn some Korean?

4th grade art

4th grade art

My 4th graders doing a cheer. Didn't get
any more pictures cause I was relegated to
Keep The Kids Quiet duty

Have you heard? The pollution came early and was
so bad this week that I could stare at the sun
in the middle of the day without a problem.
Gotta put that mask on yo

I stopped for coffee with Young Ah before
Korean class for a nice coffee

This bug wouldn't leave me alone at class

My American born student, Serah, wrote me
a lovely thank you note for me (mostly my mom)
sending her some Cheetos after she'd mentioned them to me
in class one day. She drew me a picture my first week here
and is always helpful, so mom wanted to thank her.

Friday was school talent show/festival day, which is tons of work for the other teachers, but I'm mostly left out of the complex stuff, so I helped Young Ah with her drummer kids' costumes. 

4th grade janggu class

There were some booths to play with too

5th and 6th grade 

There was also another drum class. Check out those outfits!

I got to see some of the 5th grade talent show, where one of my classes performed a cute role play about the history of Korea.

We had cheesecake to celebrate

On Saturday, I needed some cat time, so I went over to Lauren's to see Oliver. He's getting so big!

Our friend Jeanie was having a birthday party, so we headed out to Itaewon for some BBQ and fun.

On Sunday, I was woken up by Cesca reading an invitation to go to brunch. I love brunch, so we got up early and headed out.

It rained Friday night, so the pollution cleared up a lot

Got a giant coffee while waiting for our friends.

Brunch buddies- Lauren found the brunch
invite, so we got free mimosas

We call ourselves The Brunch Bunch! The place is just testing their brunch menu,
and it wasn't amazing, but the company was stellar!

Cesca and I had too much time to go straight to class, but not much time to do anything else, so we just headed to my house for a catnap before dance class. We practiced Bang Bang Bang again for our dance studio Halloween party, which was exhausting but fun. It was fun to be able to play around with the dance more, so we will see how it goes Friday!

I had to run some errands after class, so after wandering around Hongdae looking for cheap stage makeup materials, I headed home pretty content. I hadn't really wanted to go to class today, because I was feeling lazy after brunch, but it was fun to hang out with my dance friends and get some errands done. 

Now I'm getting ready for my admittedly easy week. My school has a vacation this week, but since none of my friends are off and my drama club has practice later, I am not using my precious vacation days. That means I get to go to work all week and pretty much be alone the whole day. As an introvert, it will be nice to hang in the silent office, though all the teachers have fun plans and feel bad for me. Oh well. That's life as a contract teacher in Korea. Gotta get some study time in, I'll have plenty of room for it in my schedule!


Kyuhyun from Super Junior recently had a comeback, with a second solo album. Lots of ballad albums come out in the fall, and this one is gorgeous. I prefer his first solo, At Gwanghwamun, but A Million Pieces is also beautiful. 

The video was actually filmed in Zurich, Switzerland, which is a gorgeous, beautiful place that I've actually been, making the song even more special.

 Now, as a woman who has traveled alone, I would still be wary of the handsome stranger who kind of follows me, but hey, it's a music video and maybe Koreans would feel more comfortable with it. Of course, it's a fall song, so it's bittersweet, but gorgeous. Kyuhyun has one of the best voices in Kpop, so it's not surprise that he turned out another winner. 

I'm repeat listening to A Million Pieces and At Gwanghwamun this week. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

La Vida Roca

It has been a wonky week at school. The weather is cold then hot, the kids have field trips and talent show practices, and there are constant surprises every day.

On Monday, this was placed on my desk as a thank you for helping one of my co workers mourn the death of her father. Now, I didn't go to the funeral, nor did I actually participate in really anything related to this, but I am often included because that's just how Korea is. I think a sympathy gift from my office was made, so even if I wasn't participating, I'm in the office so am therefore included in reciprocation.

Because so many of the staff at school contributed to the memorial fund or went to the funeral, that person sent us all gifts in response. In Korea, after a funeral or wedding, you often send gifts to people to say thanks for coming.The usual fare is ricecakes, but the new trend is actual, physical gifts. 

I got this lovely, high quality umbrella basically for existing

I had no special plans for Monday, when Lauren texted me and asked if I wanted to go to a makgeolli meeting with the group we sometimes do tastings with. Apparently, some news station needed footage of one of the meetings and, because of schedule changes, almost everyone dropped out, so they basically needed bodies to fill some chairs. 

We ended up at the restaurant super early, and so we started with a kimchi and samgyeopsal (pork belly) jeon and a warm up drink.

it tastes so good with the meat in it

Makgeolli monday with this lovely lady

After waiting for foreverrr for everyone to come, we got to try some more premium makgeolli (I can't tell the difference haha. I like what I like and have no idea which one has earth tones or was brewed for longer) and we got to hang out with some of the makgeolli club members, who are all awesome people from all walks of life and all types of jobs in Korea. 

we got some bossam, which is SO GOOD

Getting my tasting and evaluating on

Good food and friends. Yessss.

It was a much better Monday night that the night at home I had planned for myself (my Korean vocabulary review would just have to wait!)

On Tuesday, I actually had a good time with my 6th graders, who, at this time of the year, normally devolve into uninterested zombies. I love my group this year, so we're still having a good time. We played Heads Up 7 Up, which is a game I think I played in like 2nd grade. They'd never heard of it, and thought it was hilarious and awesome. I loved watching them play.

I'm pretty perpetually exhausted at school these days, because we have extra drama club practices ALL THE TIME now, because our performance is in about 2 weeks. I have no idea how ready the kids are... Only time will tell. 

Tuesdays are a long day, and often, for some reason, the lunch that day doesn't quite suit my fancy. 

This week was no exception.

thing at the top is the only think I really liked. Rice was nothing
special and that other thing is soy sauce soaked lotus roots. 

Because I've been at my school for so long and had many discussions about lunch, my co workers know what my favorites are, and lamented that, while they didn't love lunch, they knew it was the worst for me. I found this pretty adorable and sweet. "What will our Christina do? She doesn't like this stuff!" they sighed, while my heart kind of soared. I'm having a little bit of a "I want to go home, what am I doing here?" patch, but having caring co workers really helps when I'm down. 

Lunch was so bad that they ordered (seafood fondue) pizza in the afternoon, because everyone was starving. 

featuring mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, fondue cheese sauce,
scallops, crab, shrimp, potato, bacon chips
, mushrooms, peppers, onions and parsely

Not my favorite pizza, as it's got way too many things, but it was alright, especially since I was hungry. Everyone also insisted that I have the last piece because they were so worried about lunch. It was nice to be taken care of. 

They also asked me to compare Korean and American pizza in terms of saltiness, and while I cannot for the life of me remember the real taste of American pizza, I don't recall ever thinking it was SOOOO salty. I think Koreans just like sweet pizza, so by comparison, our pepperoni pizzas just taste strangely plain and salty. It was a nice way to wind down in the afternoon with them.

Because it's cool in my apartment at night, despite still being about 80 degrees in the afternoons, I broke out the cutest sweater I acquired from Sarah before she left for Germany.


Lunch redeemed itself on Friday with beef soup

Sometimes when I get mad at Korean, I remind myself
English sucks too haha

On Saturday, I met up with Cesca and we got lunch at the market near her house, because there was a special thing happening this weekend. We ended up grabbing some handmade mandu as well as some other snacks and random things.

We met up with Lauren later to attempt to go to the Itaewon Global Festival, which included the Great Korean Beer Festival, but, as we should have realized, it was a bust because it was overcrowded and disorganized. There's only so long I can take of people carelessly walking into you or separating your group that is clearly together because, hello, we have the same face, but whatever. 

The lines were waaaaaay to long

We headed out of the festival to a different part of the area that wasn't as mobbed, and ended up at Cali Kitchen, a new restaurant with adorable decor.

The owner explained it was like this
when he bought it. It was cute and the food was great!

Lauren and I grabbed fall flavored cocktails at Southside as well

On Sunday, I had to wait for some lady to check something about my gas, and she told me I was great at Korean on the phone. I had to confess that Young Ah called to set up the appointment, haha. My Korean isn't great enough to inquire about strange notices on my door yet. She came late but whatever. 

Liz is visiting Casey and Andrea in Colorado this weekend, so we decided to group Skype, since I'm terrible at arranging it myself. I miss them a lot, and while I keep up with their doings on facebook, I wish I could visit them. And my parents. And America in general. I think part of my meh-ness about this school year right now is that I'm pretty homesick sometimes, just because I haven't been home is crazy long. I've also accomplished a lot here that I wanted to do (just gotta keep studying), and I'm feeling a bit frustrated with the system as a teacher. I'm wondering if it's time to start looking for a new job here or at home, but I have plenty of time to decide, since I'm signed till August anyway. 

Cesca and I headed out to dance class, where we caught an interesting ad on the subway. 

I'm not sure what eskimo down is... like, foxes have fur. But...

We also saw this beautiful sweater after class. Tempted to buy
it, but it's one of those things you need to explain to people who
don't know you taught in Korea. Still, HILARIOUS.

We practiced the song Bang Bang Bang again today, because lots of people missed that class and wanted to learn it. It was fun to do it again, and I think I worked harder because I already knew it. I'm tired, but it was another awesome week. 

I then spent the evening grocery shopping and organizing my life for Monday, which seems to always come so fast. It's just after 9 but I'm already tired enough to go to bed haha. 

This week involves a lot of Talent Show prep, so be excited for my next update!!