Monday, January 17, 2011

Hamsters in a Pencil Case

I haven't updated the blog in a month. This obviously means I could tell about all the fun and exciting things which have occurred in that stretch of time. I could write about Christmas, New Year's, my trip to China, the new semester at school, etc...but I'd really rather just share some random things from today. Happy Monday.

First, this happened:

Yes, those are hamsters in a pencil case covered with pictures of Korean boy band members (their beautiful, feminine faces soon to be smeared with hamster waste), and yes, a girl brought these to class. The oddity of this occurrence is undermined by the fact that she has done this before. The hamsters involved in the last incident are apparently now dead at this little girl's hands. She is the young, female, Korean version of Lennie from Of Mice and Men. She just wants to love the hamster and pet it and squeeze it...We all remember how that story ended for Lennie.

Next weird occurrence: I have a new student who enrolled on Friday. She didn't have an English name, so after several minutes of telling her it was fine if she wanted to go by her Korean name, offering her anglicized versions of her Korean name (수원  = Su Won. How about Susan? No. How about Sue? No. How about Juan? No.), and offering to let her choose any English name she knew, she finally settled on deciding over the weekend and returning on Monday with a name. I arrived in class today and "Kesha" was written on the attendance sheet as her chosen name. Tragically, she didn't even spell it right; everyone knows Ke$ha is spelled not with an S but with a $...duh.

Lastly, I discovered this train wreck of an excuse for music. This pretty much sums up everything that is hilarious about Korea. First, the name of the band is F.cuz. What in the world does that mean you may be asking? Who knows, but it's pronounced "Focus," and I have a feeling Kpop is contributing to my students' inability to spell or punctuate. Additionally, the man love runs deep throughout the video (no pun intended). Lastly, I don't think I even need to comment on the wardrobe.

Those were the fun things that happened in my day. I'll try to update more, and, because it was an amazing trip even though I didn't write anything about it, here's a picture from my China trip for the road. Au revoir.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Do you know what a chick sexer is?"

My kids were, on the whole, terrible this week. I don’t know what their collective issue was. Perhaps they got together unbeknownst to me and created the first annual “Make Kimbelly Teacher’s Life Terrible Week.” As I think I’ve mentioned before, I am a terrible disciplinarian. As a result, I now have two classes who simply will not listen to me at all. I spend a lot of time imploring children, “Ok, please stop hitting each other....Ok, no, really, please stop...Ok, I’m serious get off the window ledge and stop hitting him....Ok, please get off your chair...No, really, please get off the window ledge...No, get off the window ledge and sit in your chair...Ok, actually, can you please put your head outside your jacket so you can see what we’re doing...No, really, please come out from the inside of your jacket and stop kicking each other.” It is not a pretty situation and at times I just get so exhausted by them not listening, particularly in terms of them talking ALL THE TIME! I have one class that just will not stop talking and they drive me insane. The problem is exacerbated by the language barrier, as it’s a lower level class, and disciplining them in English is much less effective and much easier for them to ignore.
    While they are so naughty sometimes, they also crack me up a lot. Kids are weird. Kids become extra weird when they’re attempting to communicate in a language they speak poorly or barely at all. This is an example of one of the finer moments of learning in one of my classes. The essay topic was “Write about the most amazing thing you have ever seen.” This was the result:

Dietary restrictions are not really a part of Korean culture like they are in the US, so people here often think that not eating meat or seafood is very strange and even unhealthy. People always ask me here, “You don’t eat meat or fish!? What do you eat...bread?” Bread is always the go to. There are apparently an appalling number of people who think that three foods exist in the world: meat, seafood, and bread.

Here’s another little gem for your reading pleasure. This is out of one of the lower level reading text books. Read the text.

This is the question page for that inexplicable reading. Take special note of question three.

In case it proves difficult to read, question three is as follows: "A ______ determines the gender of chickens.  a) chick sexer   b) chick lover   c) chick player"  I can just picture a bunch of stoned foreign English teachers here who decided they possessed the ability to read English at a 3rd grade level and therefore the ability to write and publish a series of textbooks. This was the result, and I now have to read this to groups of children with a straight face.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Riding the Short Bus

I can’t believe it’s December already! I didn’t go out tonight, so I’ll update everyone instead. My only real exciting news is that one of my coworkers and I have booked tickets to Beijing for New Year’s, so I’m quite excited about that. Other than that, my life is boring. I’ve started taking a pottery class which is fun. I’m doing it with the same coworker who I’m going to China with, and she’s an awesome girl. She stepped in a dead cat the other day on the way to the post office to mail our visa applications. I would say stepped on a dead cat, but really it was just sort of a flat wad of cat in the middle of the road, so it was more of an in a dead cat moment than an on a dead cat moment.

That’s really all that’s new with me. I’ve been keeping track of some of the better moments with my children though.

This one requires a little bit of background. The kids come to English Academy in a “bus” which is really just a large van. It’s very similar to the vans which transport convicts from the prisons to the sides of highways to collect trash or the vans out of which child molesters offer candy to children outside schoolyards or the van into which Buffalo Bill stuffs the girl he’s going to kill in Silence of the Lambs. You get the picture. Anyway, the kids have a speaking section on their monthly test. A portion of Harry’s test went like this:

Me: “Ok, number 7, ‘What’s the best way to learn English?’”
Harry: [long silence]..... [joyful childish light appears in his eyes] “Ride the short bus!”

Yes, Harry, many of you belong on the short bus, but unfortunately the special ed method of learning English really isn’t working for you or your peers.

A group of the younger kids saw the cover of a book about Martin Luther King Jr. and all started yelling, “Obama! Obama!” No, children, not all black people in the US are Obama.

Kids aren’t supposed to chew gum in class, but I think that’s a little silly. If they’re not chewing with their mouths open like a herd of disgusting cows, I don’t really care about it. One of the children from my class from hell, eager to tattle on another child in the class from hell, stands up in his desk, points to a kid on the other side of the room and yells, “Teacher! Colin’s chewing cum! He’s chewing cum!”

And on that lovely note, I’m off to bed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Some Pictures of Ulsan

I finally took some pictures after being here for six weeks. Me and two of the girls I work with attempted yesterday and failed to find the beach in Ulsan. We did find ocean at least which was pretty, and I took pictures which conveniently edited out the industrial, rocky, dead fish ridden area in which we actually ended up. Here are some pictures:

Here are the carefully edited pictures that could make one assume that we were at a nice beach...if one disregards the smog in picture one and the garbage in picture two.

 These are the pictures that more accurately represent the area we found. There were a lot of dead fish, particularly fish heads.
Here's me with my one seashell and the ugly industrial background. I'm making my "Where's the real beach because this one is atrocious and hideous" face.

 This is the park across the street from my apartment building. It looks really pretty with the leaves right now. One night i was walking home for work and an emo Korean teenage girl was having a mini fire on that bench and burning things in front of her. Teenage angst knows no language.
 This is looking down my street from the from the front of my building. Again, it looks pretty with the leaves. The park is to the left of where the picture ends.
This is on of the main streets near where I live at nighttime. There are cooler areas for nighttime pictures, with more lights and buildings, so I'll try to get some pictures of those at some point. This gives you the gist.

So anyway, those are a few pictures so people can see a bit of Ulsan. I also finally have internet in my apartment now, so I can update about all sorts of silly things more regularly. On that note, I bid you adieu.

Friday, November 5, 2010

This Seriously Happened

Friday is essay final copy day. Kids write an essay each week for Monday. I collect and grade the essays and return them to the students. The students then type and submit the final copies of their essays on Friday. This is seriously something that was handed in to me today.

For a sense of scale, the "essay" is sitting on the side of my computer. It is the same width as approximately four keys. As for the picture which inexplicably serves as the background....I have no words.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Hospital Saga: Part III

I missed three days of classes while trapped in the hospital, and some of my students made me Get Well cards. These are some of the best ones:

 This one included a sweet picture of me rocking the power eyebrows and quite broad shoulders. At least I'm more proportionate than poor Kevin views himself. Also, this is not "Oh. Teacher. No. Dirty!" Kevin. I have two Kevins and two Harrys.
 When I first saw this one I was appalled. My oldest students are about 13, and this would not be appropriate for school...then I realized it was from one of my coworkers and the world was right again.
 This one is from Sophie, who insists that ET lives on Mars. Apparently one thing which makes people in the hospital feel better is Playboy Bunnies. I'm sure there are some people who would feel a lot better if there were Playboy Bunnies in their hospital rooms, I, unfortunately, am not one of them. I still love the juxtaposition of the bunny and ET Love though.
 This is my favorite. The sick picture is actually pretty accurate. I didn't leave the hospital with those awesome, juiced out, Popeye muscles though, so I am not the model of health in Harry's eyes or my own. :(
 The muscle picture also came folded in this snazzy way.
 Rachel likes me because I'm nice and pretty. Guess who gets an A on their essay this week, Rachel?
This one depicts a person in a red sweatsuit bleeding from the eyes under an apple tree.

Those are the best ones.

The Hospital Saga: Part II

Being trapped in the hospital in a foreign country for two and a half days while feeling completely fine provides a lot of opportunities for both boredom and observation...but mostly boredom. I should say here that my coworkers were so, so great. They came and visited me multiple times, and packed me up bags of magazines, crosswords, snacks (they didn’t know that milky medical IV feed sack it the most delicious snack), and sodokus. Despite my bag o’ fun, I still spent many hours lying in bed watching the women around me. All the rooms had multiple people in them. There may have been single rooms somewhere else in the hospital, but all the ones I saw has 4-6 people in them. Anyway, the cast of characters is as follows:

Frog Lady: This was the loudest and most outspoken of the characters, so named because of her frog-like appearance. She did not posses the ability to chew with her mouth closed, ate excessively, and seemed to be self declared master of the remote and room lights. She also had a strange predilection for pulling her hospital outfit pants up to under her boobs every time she stood up from her bed...I know this because she would pull her shirt up to reveal her exceedingly saggy boobs resting on her pants each time she did this. Frog lady’s bed was situated kitty-corner to mine across the room, and she was therefore the person in my direct line of vision the most frequently. This woman was my secret nemesis.

Monkey Lady: I wish so deeply that I had a picture of this character. She stood about 4’8” and weighed in at perhaps 80 lbs. She also had the squeaky, high pitched yet gravely voice of a cartoon character and hair that stuck directly out from her head in what would have been an afro if she had about eight times more hair. Not only did she lack the ability to chew with her mouth closed, she frequently made sucking and smacking noises with her mouth for no apparent reason which made me want to leap out of my bed and end her. Monkey Lady’s bed was situated directly across from mine, which hindered my view of her from my frequently horizontal position.

Barfing Lady: This was the only character in the room who actually seemed ill. She spent most of the time barfing, hence the name. I did not hear her speak. Ironically, Barfing Lady was significantly less annoying than both Frog Lady and Monkey Lady.

Old Lady: While both Frog Lady and Monkey Lady were old, Old Lady was the oldest, and thus earned the title of Old Lady. She was not a hospital patient, but seemed to be the mother perhaps of Barfing Lady who was staying in the hospital to attend to Barfing Lady 24/7. She, like Frog Lady, was quick to comment on everything happening in the room. My final morning in the hospital, when I could eat for the first time in four days and sat looking at the Korean style breakfast of kimchi, soup, rice, seaweed, and two other things I couldn’t identify, she came over to my tray and took all the little lids off for me and unwrapped my seaweed for me. I must have had that stupid-foreigner-who-only-knows-how-to-eat-out-of-milky-medical-IV-feed-sack look about me. Old Lady and Barfing Lady’s beds were next to Frog Lady’s bed, also facing mine, so they were also frequently in my frame of view.

Next to Me Lady: This woman did seem ill sometimes. She was unremarkable. Additionally, because her bed was located next to mine, I couldn’t stare at her and observe her without it being very obvious.

I wanted to keep a war-style journal:
Sunday 2:28pm, Day 4, Frog lady stares at me, speaks to me for the first time
Sunday 4:14pm, Still Day 4 Right elbow has lost any concavity it once had and is filled to a disgusting swollen blob with milky medical IV feed sack fluid
Monday 11:32am, Day 5, Frog lady eats for the fourth time before lunch
Monday 12:58pm, Still Day 5, Monkey lady climbs on top of her bed to be able to reach her IV bag, detaches from the holder, balances bags atop her sparse afro and leaves the room with bag on head...seriously
Tuesday 9:09am, Day 6, Korean soap operas causing IQ to drop

...and in this manner I spent Sunday, Monday, and part of Tuesday. Well, this and trying to talk my way out of being stabbed with more needles, which did not, on a single occasion, work. Part three shall include pictures of the best of the Get Well cards from my students.