Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jeongja Market

One Saturday I decided to venture out to try and find a new drying rack for laundry, because mine broke (right after I pulled the second load out of the washing machine!) Andrew was in Seoul, shopping with Lainy, so I was roaming around on my own. I accidentally stumbled upon a street market which is very close to our house. Its kind of amazing just how many people are packed into such small areas. Our little block alone probably has at least 1,000 people living in it.

So it is very easy to be walking and every few blocks you find completely new things. The market I stumbled upon is called Jeongja Market. It is about a 4-5 minute walk from our apartment. It was the first very cold night in Korea, dipping below freezing. (I later saw about 15 snowflakes) There were also strong winds, which made it feel even colder. I loved the area so much, I couldn't help but dawdle.

Once I got to the market I wished I had my new camera on me... but I did have my regular digital camera and took a few pictures. I will for sure be going back to take better pictures another time!

Farmers brought their trucks loaded with food to sell on the side of the road.

Mandarin oranges...

A meat shop!

There was stand after stand of fruits and veggis on the road.

Eggs anyone? I really don't think I want the eggs on the bottom! All of the eggs here are brown. They also sell a lot of robin's eggs. They are sold in containers a lot like these, but are much smaller. I'm not really sure of any recipes that call for teeny tiny robin's eggs...

This is a seafood restaurant. There are a ton of the restaurants that have the tanks on the outside. As I was walking back a second time past this restaurant, I saw a worker come out with a big net and catch two fish. It was kind of fun to watch.

The tank on the upper right had a bunch of squid swimming around!

Again, I don't think I want the lettuice that's on the bottom of the pile!

Another meat shop...

Once I got to the end of the market, I crossed the street and found a little bakery shop. I was feeling a bit chilled and wanted to thaw a bit; I also thought I might find something for breakfast the next day.

Paris Baguette and Tous Les Jours are two very big chain bake shops in Korea. I was happy to find a smaller named place. I fell in love with it instantly. (Partly because everything had taste samples!) There was also a very nice lady working (I'm assuming she is the baker because she kept running back to tend to the oven).

This is the shop from the outside.

One wall had a ton of beautiful cakes. I asked her if I could take a picture, and she said yes. This is a cake model of the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress wall that we love!

This is also a cake! Even the branch and flowers were made out of frosting.

I decided I wanted to buy Andrew a cake, just because. So I took a look at the small cakes and chose one that looked like it had a coffee flavor. She pulled it out of the case to wrap it up. She showed me a birthday candle, asking if I would like one. I tried to whip out some of my Korean skills...

"Ah nee yo" (no)

She looked at me, confused.

"Uh... sah rong hahm nee dah... cake." (It's an I Love You Cake).

"Ah... sah rong hahm nee dah... hmm..."

She seemed genuinely confused as to why I would buy an I love you cake. Maybe people just don't buy random I love you cakes in Korea. So, with out any more questions, she whipped out a "Happy Birthday" sign, and put it on the cake, anyway. I decided not to press the issue and took home my Happy Birthday Cake.

When I got home, I sang Happy Birthday to Andrew (three months early) and we enjoyed the delicious cake.

Pepero Day!

November 11th was Pepero Day. Pepero Day is a lot like Valentine's Day... except everyone gets Peperos. Peperos are like a sweet pretzel dipped in chocolate. Our students brought Peperos for the other students in class (and the teachers!). A lot of the wrappers say "I love you" on them.

The Hallmark-esque holiday was placed on November 11 because, when laid out, Peperos are long sticks that look like 11/11.

After work, Andrew and I went to Home Plus. Our taxi driver was eating the tasty treat on the way there. He then said 'PEPERO DAY!" And shoved a few in our faces to eat. We also saw lovers walking hand in hand, the girls carrying large stuffed Peperos.

Two weeks later and I still have Peperos left in my desk!

One million won!

Alright, so I realize I've been very slack on my blog lately... so I'm going to try and give a brief update in the next few posts. (Shorter posts are always easier to read, right?)

So I hadn't been writing, mainly because it felt like nothing had been happening, but looking back on the last two weeks, a lot has actually happened!

Andrew and I ventured to Yongsan in Seoul. Yongsan is a basically a neighborhood which has the electronics market. It was like we had died and gone to electronics heaven. I wish I had taken better pictures of the market, but I know that we will probably be making frequent trips there!

The Eiffel Tower in Korea?

One teeny tiny booth compared to the rest of the market.

A boy takes a food break.

This went on and on in five story tall buildings... one after another... with winding hallways and more electronics crammed in there than you could ever possibly imagine. (I'll take better pictures next time, I promise!)

I bought a new SLR digital camera! For those of you who aren't familiar with camera terms... it basically means a professional digital camera. So I definitely will be taking higher quality pictures! I couldn't be more excited. This is something I've wanted to buy for years.

I got a really good deal on the camera... and it came out to be One Million Won! I went to the ATM to get out the cash... Korea's biggest bill is 10,000 won.... so it was basically like pulling out $1,000 in $10 bills.

That's a thick wallet! That's my Alien Registration Card... and a fortune cookie that says, "you will travel to many exotic places," which I keep with me at all times.

The next day I went back to Seoul with Lainy to go shopping... I had told her I would go before I had gone and spent 1,000,000 won... but had promised I'd take her. She hadn't been to Seoul yet so I was showing her the way. We got to the subway and tried to cram ourselves in with all the other people. The doors started closing as I was heading in and my arm got stuck in the door.

Now, when this happens on US subways... there is a sensor that opens the door back up. NOT IN KOREA! Here I am stuck with one arm and my purse on the outside of the door, while the rest of me was on the inside! I pulled and pulled (and started freaking out a little because I didn't want to loose an arm). I managed to pull my arm and 1/2 of my purse inside the train before it started moving. Luckily, my camera was on the inside of the train, so Lainy took a picture of my purse stuck in the door.


Friday, November 6, 2009


So, people have been asking me how Koreans are handling the H1N1 virus. (Or, HiNi, as my coworker innocently calls it.) Well Koreans are absolutely crazy over the H1N1 virus. Everyone is geeking out about who has it.

As many people might recognize from pictures of China or Japan, Asians wear face masks when they are sick. A big part of this (and I'm thankful for the masks) is because they do not cover their mouths! Grown adults will look at you and sneeze right on your face. (And they don't say bless you, or any equivalent here).

Andrew and I were out for for dinner at Outback Steakhouse the other night, and our waiter brought us a loaf of bread, then open-mouth coughed on it, and walked away. If we could speak better Korean we probably would have asked for a new loaf.

Apparently, about 1/2 of the public schools have closed down due to the virus. Most of our students come to school wearing masks. It is very hard to understand who is saying what in class when you can't see any one's mouths. Nor can you correct their pronunciation if you can't see how they are moving their lips.

As I've said before, our classrooms are under surveillance. A parent was watching one of Lainy's classes and then got mad that she wasn't wearing a face mask. The T.A. then came in and told her that the parent was insisting that she wear a face mask. How are we supposed to be able to teach pronunciation to kids when our mouths are muffled and we can barely breathe?

They are also taking every student's temperature before they go in to the classrooms. This is a little troubling for us to watch because they are ear thermometers, and they do not use a fresh piece every time. Everyone gets the same thermometer rammed in their ears... so if someone has a funky ear fungus, everyone gets to share it.

We are also supposed to go around with hand sanitizer at the start of every class. We have been doing this since the first day of classes, however sometimes we forget. One of my classes calls the sanitizer their "jelly friend". "Ooh, where is my jelly friend?" they will ask. Or if the sanitizer drips off their hands and falls on the floor, "ooh, jelly friend die."

There is something about Korean logic that is off. For example, Sean told us tonight that he got a call at 10pm from his school telling him that he needed to wear a mask to class the next day (at 7:30am). He didn't know where to find a mask in the middle of the night, so they told him they would provide a mask for him. When he got to school the next day, he asked where the mask was. (Keep in mind Sean has been here for 6 years) Their response? "Oh, you're Canadian, and there is no H1N1 in Canada. You don't need a mask."

All in all, we have a lot of kids out of our classes right now with the flu. Most of the staff is sick in one way or another. Andrew and I both have sinus congestion, headaches, stiff necks, and sore throats (but no fever!). I am really hoping that it doesn't progress too much further because the doctor we have gone to a few times is laparoscopic happy. About a month a go Andrew and I both were sick. Andrew went to the doctor and he put the laparoscope up each nostril and down his throat. Lainy lost her voice and he shoved the laparoscope down her throat. I went with an ear problem and he shoved the laparoscope in my ear. I'm really not wanting any more camera action any time soon!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween at LanGCon Academy

Koreans don't celebrate Halloween. However, because we are an English school, LanGCon decided to have a Halloween festival for the kids. In the few weeks leading up to Halloween, our school was obsessing over what games we would play, what costumes we would wear, and how to decorate the school.

When the first schedule came out Lainy was assigned to "Spinning and adjusting the donkey's tail". Somehow "Pin the tail on the donkey" got lost in translation.

Andrew was assigned to "find the candy in flour". We figured this had to be a mistake. When we had our nightly meeting with our principal we told her we didn't understand. We were asking is it flour, or flowers? She said, "oh yes, flour you make cookies with." The three foreigners exchanged looks of horror. Is she serious? Shoving your face in a pile of baking flour to try and find candy? Its like bobbing for apples, but more dangerous? We told her we didn't think that was a good idea. And all of the Korean teachers told us it was a traditional Korean game. WHAT?! How is this safe? We told them we though it was disgusting and not smart. They insisted it was a game and they must play it.

(As Halloween grew closer, and H1N1 breakouts in Suwon and in our school, administration reconsidered and thought it wouldn't be a good idea to swap germs in mass piles of flour, thank goodness. The game was rescheduled to musical chairs.)

And, because people got wind of the fact that I was an art major, I was in the face painting room with the boss's wife (who was also an art major in college).

We spent days cutting out decorations and preparing for the festival. Another note about Halloween in Korea... because they don't celebrate it, they don't understand that you can be whatever you want for your costume. So whenever someone would as us what we were going to be they would say, "Are you going to be a witch or a vampire?"

I decided to throw them for a loop and be an angel. (I was going to go as hangman because the kids love that game, but when the boss offered to buy us costumes, I told her to grab me some angel wings). I was the only one the whole day who wasn't wearing black.

Sunny and myself.

Andrew was asked to wear a scary mask so he could scare the kids... so I painted his eyes black so it would be scarier with the mask on.

Gina and Sunny.

Howard was going to have a super lame costume, but we fixed that. And that's Kevin on the right. We couldn't stop laughing at what he was wearing. He had a shiny witch hat, a cape that said Happy Halloween, and a laminated arm band. Nice.

The decorations and "photo zone"

My face painting room. Whenever we didn't have students in with us, it was a very awkward silence because the boss's wife doesn't speak English and I don't speak Korean. Usually one of us would just get up and walk away as to avoid the awkwardness.

Howard decorated the two mascots outside the school.

Vampire teeth for Lang!

This is the front desk area. That's the boss's daughter Jully (Julie) on the right and her cousin on the left.

Lainy and I with the boss's daughter and niece. (his daughter is on the right) Andrew and I both teach her.

Staff photo. From back left: Howard, Kevin, Diana, Lainy, Andrew. Front Left: Tony, Rosella, Sunny, Gina, and Myself. This is everybody except the boss, his wife, and the two secretaries.

Face painting room.

These are four of my students in Andrew's musical chairs room. From left: Arthur, Sally, Ashley, Vicky. Arthur is one of my biggest trouble makers.

This is Nicole. She is one of my favorites.

Two more of my trouble makers. Brian on the left, and Sunny on the right.

Andrew is manning Musical Chairs. From left: Vicky, Nicole, Brian and Sunny.

These two are wonderful and really fun to have in class. Vicky and Nicole.

This is one of my classes going down the hallway to the next room.

This is Howard's balloon popping room. Disaster zone. One of the little girls got so scared from the balloon pop that she peed her pants and the started bawling. After about 30 minutes she was back in my room and got re-painted because it had washed away.

This is one of Andrew's old students, Billy during Pin the Tail on the Donkey. (We have been switching around classrooms, so he doesn't have him anymore).

Three of my students: Sally, Vicky, Nicole.

From Left: Sunny, Arthur, Sally, Ashley, Nicole, Vicky.

These also used to be Andrew's students. From left: Tommy, Jason, Cindy.


One of the room's activities was making trick or treat bags. These are all my students.

Okay, I shouldn't pick favorites, but its hard not to when they come as sweet as Nicole.

Howard is pushing down on this little girl trying to pop the balloon. She was too tiny it wouldn't pop.

The little boy in the front right (red hat) is Chris. He is Andrew's student and is now in my story telling class. He is sooo tiny and adorable.

These are more of my students that I see later in the day. (except for the girl in the white glasses). The girl in the Green is Rachel, then James, Jeff, and Alice.

Me with some of my students. From left: Jeff, Alice, James, Grace, (girl I don't know) and Rachel.

This is Angela.

This little girl is a little sweetheart. This is the girl who was Eunice, then I renamed her to Rachel. Last week her mom called and informed us that she wanted to switch her name back to Eunice. (really?) oopse. Notice she is wearing a facemask by her chin. When people are sick they are supposed to wear these. Well, most students come to school with them on now because they are afraid of H1N1. They also are taking every student's temperatures before they come in to the classrooms.

The boy on the right is one of my new students, Justin. The boy on the left is his brother. (The kids were allowed to bring family or friends for the day). Justin was very proud because he made the cape himself.

The two in the front used to be the two kids in my favorite class. Now Andrew teaches them. The older looking girl in the back is Helen. In the front is Amy, and on the far right is Max.

Once Amy and Max found out that Andrew and I were engaged they always tease us. Amy has a mega-crush on Andrew. (Max told him so). She always strokes his arm in class and puts her arm around him. I have competition! She is a big sweetheart, though.

Here's Max! One of the most polite kids I've ever met. I miss having that class.

Sweet cape, Justin.



Helen on the left, Amy on the right. (Maria is covering up her face in the background).

Lainy is spinning Maria. She is embarrassed to be in pictures because she is in 6th grade, and that's how middle schoolers are.

Everyone wanted Howard to try the game. He failed.

Popping the balloons!

Ahhh the end of the day. My wings were made with real feathers!