Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas and Skyping and Dramas OH MY!

Ok, so I lied in my last post when I said I would post again. Oops. Be glad you’re getting a post before New Year’s, haha.

On Tuesday I went into school and they confirmed that not only did I not have to teach, but I had a half day because “they aren’t serving lunch in the cafeteria.” Um…I’ll take it. I spent the morning lounging around in the office and then So Young told me it was time for all the teachers to have a meeting and I should come down and say goodbye to the VP and Principal. So I followed her downstairs and we went over to the VP’s desk, where he proceeded to talk for about 5 minutes in Korean, gesturing at a calendar and in general making me EXTREMELY NERVOUS that he was saying something about taking my vacation days back/changing them. Thankfully, it was a simple issue of not having enough paperwork filled out (I swear to god, SMOE brings unnecessary and repetitive paperwork to alarming new heights) so I sat through the extremely fast teacher’s meeting and then talked with So Young about what exactly the Principal/VP wanted from me. Apparently they wanted a rough plan or outline of what I would be lesson planning on Monday when I was “working from home.” I explained to So Young that I’d basically just be looking at the first couple of lessons that we teach when we get back and doing lesson plans/powerpoints for those. She then told me that the VP wanted me to make “general lesson plans that could be used with any grade.” What? She basically wanted fun lessons that could be used if there was extra time or if there was a sub (aka- the 20+ lessons I already have done for Fun Based Activities at after school….). I asked if that was absolutely what I needed to do or if I could do what I had suggested and make lesson plans that I will for sure use. We went around and around for about 15 minutes in a haze of language barriers (and So Young’s English is GREAT). In the end it was decided that I would make two “real” lessons and two “any grade” lessons. So freaking random. I feel bad for So Young because I know that she didn’t sign up for this (Eun Kyung did, but she’s been out on maternity leave for over a month) and its been a ton of extra work for her. I made sure to give her an extra big thank you.

I headed out early and got home around 12:15pm, which was nice because I got to do some food/ingredient shopping before my 2:20pm doctor’s appointment. The doctor said my sinus infection is about 2/3 gone (praise the lord) and put me on another 2 weeks of antibiotics and Sudafed. I also got 3 months of Allegra, a thing of Nasonex nose spray, some and some sleep aides for the nights when I can’t breathe for a whopping $24. And of course it is all name brand (as opposed to the birth control my mom is sending me from the states that cost me almost $200 and is actually a generic of a generic). I love health care here.

Then I came home and baked and baked and baked. And watched some Law and Order: SVU. And baked. On Wednesday I slept in and did some more baking and SVU watching. It was great.

On Christmas Eve I had to actually be productive since I hadn’t yet made it to the big store down the street (which I find totally overwhelming and mentally psych myself out for it) nor had I bought my Secret Santa gift. Hey…I’m a last minute shopper! I powered up to Insadong to get the gift for Dana and a new scarf for me (I love that scarf stall so much) and then hit HomePlus to get the rest of my ingredients for the things I was bringing to the potluck. I headed home and made mashed potatoes and the sketchiest sweet potato casserole in history. Like seriously. It tasted alright, but it was a weird color and not as sweet as home because the sweet potatoes here are very, very different than those we have in the states. Oh well. It just makes me look forward to eating my Mom’s sweet potato casserole again at future holidays!

At 5:45pm I had Angie (lifesaver!) help me carry my stuff down to a taxi and headed over to pick up Erich. When I showed the taxi driver where we were going, his response was “Ohhhh….very far. Very, very far.” ONE HOUR AND FORTY-FIVE MINUTES (and several frantic text messages) LATER, we arrived at Ayzia’s. The traffic was horrendous. Not only was it Christmas Eve, but it was also rush hour on a work day. Terrible. But the ride only cost us 30,000won (about $26) which was amazing. And our cabbie was so sweet that I gave him a 5,000won tip (you never tip in Korea) and he was very happy with that. We headed up to Ayzia’s roomy apartment and started the saga of getting all the food heated up for dinner. SO. MUCH. FOOD. It was amazing. We would all eat a bunch, veg out for a bit, eat some more. Play some games. Eat some more. Ugh, it was so good.

Julia is star struck by all the food.

Chicken, pork cutlets, salad,japchae, macaroni and cheese, two kinds of mashed potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, sweet potato casserole, green beans, garlic bread, and stuffing. Followed by 5 types of cookies. And cheese and crackers. And lots of wine, soju, and makoli.

After we were done eating dinner we played some drinking games (oh Kings, the more people I meet the more random rules you have) before the food coma really set in. Then we turned on Just Friends and most people fell asleep as the movie played. Laura arrived after church around 11:30pm, so that woke us up a little before we actually went to sleep around 1:00am. Ayzia’s apartment was the perfect setting with lots of room, so I’m really really happy we had it there. My apartment would have been WAY too cramped.

Christmas morning we all got up (thanks to Dana being an impatient kid and wanting to open gifts, haha) and indulged in some cold leftovers and watched a little TV before doing Secret Santa. Everyone seemed pleased with their gifts and it was just so nice to not wake up alone on Christmas morning. Julia was my Santa and my gifts were awesome.

Our awesomely ghetto Christmas tree made of a drying rack, tinsel, and Christmas cards.

Sloth mode.  This was pre-gifts, post-pigging out on leftovers.




Boram (Julia's boyfriend)



My loot.  Clockwise from top left: vaguely offensive "English" socks, FT Island CD set (lead singer is Jeremy from You're Beautiful...the adorable little blondie), a green tea face mask, super cute sad panda socks.

We all got our stuff together and headed out around 1:00pm. The cab ride home took us only about 25 minutes. MAJOR difference from the night before! I came home, uploaded pictures on Facebook, used the face mask Julia gave me (hey, I’m impatient), and took a nap before meeting up with Ayzia to see “Cirque Nut” (name still makes me giggle) which was an acrobatics infused performance of the Nutcracker. Getting there was hellishly confusing and I had the times mixed up (to be fair the internet had the times mixed up) so we got there an hour early, but it was awesome. The troupe was from Belarus and it was super cool and unique. They did crazy stunts and the dancing was beautiful as well. When we came out of the theater there was a lovely layer of clean white snow on everything and it was really nice. This was the first white Christmas for a couple of South African girls I know, so that was cool.
Face mask.

A performance for MEEE? Thumbs up.

Illegal photo of cast from Cirque Nut.

Soon after I got home it was time to get online and video g-chat with my mom and grandparents. But lo and behold, their computer is jacked up and g-chatting wouldn’t work. Since they have Skype thanks to my enterprising cousin who is in college, I downloaded Skype and a few hiccups later we opened our gifts via web cam. It was really nice and I got some sweet stuff that I’ve been wanting/needing. Crocs for school! ShamWOWs! True Blood: Season 1! Etcetera. It was great to see them also. After we were done I used Skype to call a bunch of people on Christmas morning and wish them a Merry Christmas. An absurd number of voicemails later, I had only talked to Lyndsay and Jo Anna. That’s what Skype gets for making their calls unknown on caller ID, haha. I headed to bed after a great Christmas here in Korea.

Then began my descent into sloth. And how sweet it was. Saturday I watched the entire first season of True Blood again. And you know what? It was just as awesome this time around. Then came the K-Dramas. Oh and how glorious they were. Tina Hu, a girl I went to high school with, has been suggesting dramas for me to watch since she saw how much I loved Boys Before Flowers and You’re Beautiful. Laura showed me where I could watch full episodes online that weren’t all broken up like on MySoju (, but if you’re in Korea you have to download a IP blocker so it doesn’t know you’re here…fun fact: Netflix still knows you’re not in the US and won’t let you use watch instantly….it’s sad). First I watched The First Shop of the Coffee Prince. It was AMAZING. Now I’d heard it was good from everyone, teachers, friends and students, but it was sooooo awesome. It was refreshing after the other K-Dramas, because it was significantly more risqué. There was premarital sex! There were babies conceived before marriage! There were two ostensibly naked people laying in a bed together! DRAMATIC! Hahaha. It was also touching and sweet and funny and just generally well done. I am also still surprised about the way they approach the issue of homosexuality here.  In Korea being gay is still pretty unacceptable.  Yet we have these dramas (You're Beautiful, Coffee Prince) where the lead girl is dressed as a guy and the lead male falls for her without knowing she's female.  They really battle a lot of issues because they think they're falling for another guy and they don't know how to handle it.  Easily the most touching scene of any drama I've watched was the end of Episode 10 of Coffee Prince when Han Kyul (the guy) tells Eun Chan (the girl dressed as a guy) that he doesn't care if he's "a man or an alien," he still loves him.  It was squeal worthy. I watched the entire 16 episode series in a (very long) day.

Here you have your basic story of a spoiled rich guy with parent issues is forced by his grandmother to take over a failing coffee shop.  During this time he meets, becomes friends with, and eventually falls in love with a girl who everyone thinks is a boy.  Hilarity an heartwarming ensue.  It is seriously so good.

Monday and Tuesday I watched the entire 24 episode Princess Hours/Palace series. Also really good. The main actress from Coffee Prince was the main actress in Princess Hours, so it was nice to see a familiar face, haha. I would rank Princess Hours at number 3 (after Coffee Prince and You’re Beautiful, ahead of Boys Before Flowers). One thing I really loved about Princess Hours was the costume and set design. Super beautiful. One thing I really hated about Princess Hours was the finale. What a letdown! Aigh! Another shining moment in Princess Hours was when they featured “Prince William” in an episode. I was laughing SO HARD. I could just see the planning meeting “Okay, we’re going to need a tall, goofy looking, blondish guy who can fake a British accent. I know the perfect person!” It was hilarious.

This drama takes place in a fictional 21st century where Korea still has a monarchy, an idea which I love.  Here we have a Cinderella story where a common girl marries a crown prince based on an arragement their grandfathers made.  Enter the former crown prince who was basically banished from Korea and an ex-girlfriend who just won't give up and its easy to see where the drama is rooted.

Anyway, in roughly 72 hours I watched nearly 44 hours of dramas. I lounged in bed, basically just leaving the apartment for nourishment. It snowed a fair amount the week, so I was also treated to lots of sweeping and shoveling sounds out my window. It’s like the snow waited until juuuust when I was ready to go outside to get some food before striking. When I went down to Pizza School on Sunday it was jam packed with more people than I’ve ever seen there. Moral of the story: Best week off ever.

View out my window to the right.

View out my window to the left.

Today I actually did some stuff around the house and watched a Korean movie called Seducing Mr. Perfect which was pretty adorable (and featured the ridiculously handsome Daniel Henney from X-Men Origins). I think it’s time to switch to some English language TV/movies…my eyes are tired from subtitles! Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve (unbelievable) and I think I’m (everyone brace yourselves) going out clubbing in Seoul. This will certainly be a first. But I figure that if you’re supposed to do on NYE what you want to do for the upcoming year, being surrounded by friends and trying something new (and questionably exciting) seems as good a plan as any. Aaaand I really want to complete the Korean tradition of watching the sunrise and making a wish (instead of a resolution). However my resolution happens to be not watching more than 4 episodes of a drama back to back in the new year. We’ll see if that happens, haha.

During my frequent stalking of other expats’ blogs, I found the following poem on Simi’s Straight From the Curls. It is from a Blackberry ad she found in a magazine. I agree that it is “simple yet profound.”

Don't just like.
Like is watered-down love.
Like is mediocre.
Like is the wishy-washy emotion of content.
Athletes don't do it for the like of a sport.
Artists don't suffer for like of art.
There is no I like NY t-shirt.
And Romeo didn't just like Juliet.

LOVE. Now that's powerful stuff.
Love changes things.
Upsets things.
Conquers things.
Love is at the root of everything good that has ever happened and will ever happen.


And that is what I wish for you in the new year. I hope you love what you do, do what you love, and surround yourself with people and things that you love. I am overwhelmed by, and so thankful for, the sheer number of opportunities I’ve been given in my life. Take some time to take stock of all your blessings as we head into the new year.

Christmas 2009 from Meaghan Shanahan on Vimeo.

I put this little video together (shout out to Shannon on the music) showing just a few of the things and people I’ve been thankful for this Christmas season. I hope you have even more.

Love, Meaghan

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Season!

Okay, okay, I know.  New record for being too lazy to update a blog goes to Meaghan.  I was telling Renee that I hadn't really updated because my life hasn't been that exciting.  "What am I going to write?  'Then American TV shows went on their winter hiatus so I started watching Law and Order: SVU from the beginning.  I switched to using only Google Chrome for my web browsing.'?"  But as I think about it, I have done some exciting things, I've just been too lazy to get it together and write about them.


First, however, I'd like to air some grievances.  As previously stated, on multiple occasions, I love living here. However, there are a few (namely three) things that DRIVE ME INSANE.

1. Lack of Personal Space
Korea, as a society, doesn't really give a crap about personal space.  And coming from America, where my bubble is FIERCELY defended, this is tough to get used to.  The worst violators of personal space are the little ajummas, or Korean grandmothers.  They push.  They shove.  They stand uncomfortably close.  They bump into you with intent.  Its totally obnoxious.  Koreans are also just touchy feely people by nature.  Kids hold hands all the time.  Boys hold hands with boys.  Girls hold hand with girls.  They hug each other.  They hang on each other.  They punch each other.  Its really just a hugely tactile society, which definitely takes some getting used to.

2. Staring
When I think about my personal space being violated its not always physically.  People here stare a LOT.  Its as though I have a huge sign floating over my head that says "Oooh, she's different.  Stare at her."  The other day I met Dana, a friend who is Chinese American, and I was telling her that I was bitter than I had left my Kindle/iPod at home because that left me nothing to distract me from the stares on the train.  She seemed surprised and said "Really? People stare a lot?"  Um...yes.  20 minutes later as we still stood waiting for someone to meet us, she was like "Whoa, seriously, like everyone is staring at us!  Oh my gosh!"  I had to laugh.  Welcome, Dana, to the world of the foreigner who doesn't blend in.  And the thing is that when people are staring here and you look back at them, they KEEP staring.  Then I end up looking away because I feel uncomfortable.  Julia said she just stares them down until they look away, but no way can I do that!

3. Child "Janitors"
Our schools don't have full time janitors here.  The kids do most of the cleaning.  They empty trash cans, sweep the floors, clean up the playground, etc.  Kids will come into our office about once a day with little brushes and dust pans to collect some of the dust.  (Note: Some.  The schools are still super dusty.)  That is all well and good, but the one thing that TOTALLY GROSSES ME OUT TO NO END is the "mopping" that occurs.  Basically kids drag around dirty, nasty mops, full of god knows what diseases all around the building.  They "mop" the hallways, the bathrooms and the classrooms....I would guess without washing the mops out with any kind of chemicals or cleaners.  It is so disgusting.  I hate walking through the halls and seeing the little slug trails of kids pulling the mops.  I know they drag it through god knows what in the bathrooms and then right out into the hallways.  ACK!  I would rather they never mopped at all.


OKAY now on to more positive things.

Last I left you was a Tuesday afternoon as Seoul turned into a winter wonderland.  That evening I had my first open class for after school.  Basically they let the parents come in and sit in the back of the classroom and see what they're paying for.  I had everything extra planned out and made all sorts of extra materials.  When I got to after school, Mrs. Hwang told me that Evan (the teacher from Aju) was sick and she was going to combine his class with mine for the last period.  So, all of a sudden, instead of teaching a group of 12 higher level kids, I have a group of 29 really mixed kids.  And I ended up with 14 parents!  Too many people in the English room.  But it all went fine, and I'm going to take it as a compliment that she decided to combine Evan's class with mine rather than someone else's.  But it could just be because I'm fun based activities and simply THAT awesome.

On Wednesday, the night after our first snowfall, we had a district wide meeting we had to attend.  Basically all of the elementary school NSETs and our co-teacher were told we had to go to a mandatory meeting from 1:30pm-9:00pm.  And this was after teaching all morning.  Needless to say, I was DREADING it.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  The first hour and a half I thought I was going to die I was so bored.  We started late (and all of you who know me well can attest to how much I love that...not). They put us all in a room and said everything once in Korean and once in English.  It was also a verbatim, slide by slide exactly the same, presentation that we had just seen at the August orientation.  Tedious.  Before going to the meeting we each had to fill out a questionnaire.  The results were reviewed in a VERY fast PowerPoint that I actually wish we'd had more time to discuss.  One question, for instance, asked how useful we thought co-teaching was.  FOUR PERCENT of Korean teachers said they felt that co-teaching was USELESS.  Not a single NSET put useless.  Those are the kinds of things I would have liked to address.

After the first meeting we were split into the Korean teachers who stayed in the auditorium at the Gangdong-gu Office, and the NSETs who went to the auditorium in the elementary school next door.  I am not entirely sure what the Korean teacher talked about, but our session was run by a hilarious guy from New Zealand and it was all about "loving life in Korea."  He gave us some great tips for places to go, things to see, and places to eat in our area and outside Seoul, so that was a pretty useful hour and fifteen minutes.  Then we went off to a (very delicious) buffet dinner.

At this point, tons of people left.  It had been a really long day.  I, however, stayed and I'm very glad I did.

The next session was an "Olympics" of traditional Korean games/activities.  We were all split into teams (GO LIGHT BLUE!) with a mixture of Korean and Native teachers.  Actually, Candice from down the hall and I were the only two native speakers on our team.  So Young was on our team, and so was one of the teachers from Aju where I work after school.  We did various activities, including a Korean wrestling game where you hold one foot and jump around trying to knock the other person down (terrible), top spinning that you keep going by whipping with a stick that has a string tied to it (absurdly hard), "tuho" where you throw arrows into a pail (made more difficult by the nonstandard weight and size of said arrows), "yutnori" a game where you throw round sticks with one flat side in order to advance around a game board (I was actually pretty decent at this and it was fun), "jaegi chagi" which is a lot like hackey sack, but you play individually and have to keep this pompom in the air (I was horrid at this!), and a chopstick contest where you had to see which team could move the most uncooked beans from one plate to another in one minute (Candice and I DOMINATED and won a set of chopsticks each, hahaha).  It was a whole lot of fun.  Then we spent an hour doing super random "English Recreation" games with a crazy Korean man who I swear was a cruise director in a previous life.  Andrew's co-teacher gave us a ride home and I crashed.  While it was way better than expected, it was still a super long day.  I was a little bitter when I heard that the middle school teachers in our district actually got to go on a 2 day retreat to Seoraksan...until I remembered that in a few short months they inherit the sixth graders that have been annoying the crap out of me.  Fair trade.

Our team.  Can you spot the foreigners?

On Saturday, I met up with Laura, Julia, Erich and Dana to lay out some plans for our trip in February.  From February 12-24 I will be visiting Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.  I am going to visit the temples of Angkor, veg out on the beach in Phuket and visit the PoP schools outside Luang Prabang.  And get three new stamps in my passport!  I am beyond excited.  However, due to ticket prices, now it looks like only Erich and I will be slugging out the whole trip.  My brother is meeting us in Thailand and Dana and Laura are going to start in Beijing and try to find some cheap tickets to come meet us.  Julia is also going to try and meet up with us in Laos.  Anyways, we basically spent the afternoon researching fun stuff to do in those countries and hanging out in a coffee shop.  It was a pretty chill day.

Sunday I met up with Natasha and we headed over to Gwanghwamun to check out the Big Air World Cup snowboarding competition.  This is the first time a major snowboarding event has ever been held in Asia, let alone in Korea.  Korea is really trying to mold themselves into a winter sports haven as part of the big PyeongChang has submitted for the 2018 Winter Olympic games.  In order to host this event, they built a giant ski jump directly in the center of town.  Gwanghwamun Plaza, you may remember, used to be home to fountains and thousands of flowers.  Well the fountains were closed down and the flowers were torn out to put in an ice skating rink and a snowboard jump.  The jump was 100 meters long, and 34 meters high.  It was this crazy man made mountain right in the middle of busy streets and office buildings.  They kept pumping snow out to cover it, but it was a beautifully sunny and warm(er than it had been) day, so it was difficult for them to keep up.  Still it was a bizarre and awesome thing to watch.

Awesome new statue of King Sejong in Gwanghwamun Plaza.  He was the king who created Hangul, the written component of the Korean language.  This thing is huge!  Think Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial.  Its really quite beautiful.

Ski jump right in the middle of the city.

Flying through the air.


Clean landing.  Please note the blue tarp peeking through the snow.  Looks...dangerous.

Last week was bitterly cold.  And my heat broke.  So that was fun.  I woke up and it was 14*C in my apartment!  I like to sleep with it chilly, but that is downright FREEZING.  It was painful to walk out of my bathroom after my shower and have my hair feel like it would turn immediately to an icicle.  Thankfully they fixed that by Thursday night.  Its been super cold and windy.  The other day it was only 9*F!  Brrr!  Sadly no snow (unlike my friends and family on the east coast!).

This Friday Julia Facebook messaged us and said that her coworker had free passes to Lotte World and wanted to know if we wanted to go.  I was scheduled to have dinner with my co-teachers but we weren't meeting at Lotte World until 7pm so I was in.  First my coworkers and I went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant on top of Home Plus near our school.  The food was delicious, the atmosphere cozy, and the conversation hilarious.  It was a very good time.  Then I headed over to meet the girls (Julia, Dana and Laura) at Lotte World.  Julia had been under the impression that she had 6 free passes, two in each of three envelopes.  Since there were only 4 of us coming, we decided to give away the one envelope to a woman in line so she wouldn't have to pay.  Seconds after she went in, we found out that the envelopes, in fact, only had ONE free ticket in each.  We all chipped in for the fourth ticket (which was only 12,000won to begin with) and headed in.

When we walked in, it was clear that this was not just your average night at Lotte World.  The ice rink had been turned into a huge seating area and there was a stage with performers that were being projected on big screens.  There was also a super random petting zoo set up.  We spent a little time looking at/touching/getting depressed about various animals before we spotted an area where they were letting people hold something and taking Polaroids of them.  Dana and I headed over to investigate and found...


Say whaaat?  He was tiny and soft and had huge eyes and little man hands.  It took everything in me not to shove him in my hoodie pocket and run out of there.  The girls working could see how much we loved him (a major hint was probably how much we were fawning over him) and let us hold him longer than the other people.

Picture of a picture of me holding a lemur.  And CHEESING.

Giving him some TLC.

After we were done playing with the animals, Dana and Julia went on a ride and I tried to figure out what was going on downstairs.  While I was waiting, I got to see 2NE1 perform on the big screen.  They are a K-pop girl group and they are really quite good.  I especially appreciated that they didn't lip sync like some of the other groups (ahem, ahem, Brown Eyed Girls, ahem).  Soon after they were done with the ride we headed downstairs to watch more of the concert.  We saw lots of BIG K-pop people, including 2NE1, Brown Eyed Girls, 4Minute, Kara, Psy, and G Dragon.  It was just so unexpected and therefore even more fun.  There were TONS of people there.

Stage with crowds and the big screens on each side and on the ceiling.

Stage (you can see G Dragon on the side screen).

G Dragon performing a slow jam.

4Minute singing their song Music/Muzik.

After the concert started to wind down we found some chairs and just chilled, took a bunch of random self portraits, and listened to the rest of the performance.  Then we headed upstairs to snap a photo in the Christmas section and head home.

Aforementioned self portraits, showing off our free passes.

It looks like a postcard!

For real, we could be a Lotte World advertisement.  Love it.
(Dana, Me, Julia, Laura)

Saturday I slept in and cleaned a little before heading out to the USO travel agent to make the final payment on Erich and I's tickets for February.  In total it is 7 flights:  Seoul, South Korea - Siem Reap, Cambodia; Siem Reap - Bangkok, Thailand - Phuket, Thailand; Phuket - Bangkok - Luang Prabang, Laos; Luang Prabang - Bangkok - Seoul.  It cost us $1476.00, which I think is a pretty decent price.  I am so far beyond excited that I can't begin to describe it.  Look forward to hearing me gush even more about it in the future.

After hitting the travel agent, I met up with Ayzia at the Cheongnyangni train station in northern Seoul to catch a train out to Cheongpyeong (seriously, they could not make these two names harder for a foreigner to pronounce).  The ride was about an hour long and cost 3,100won, so less than $2.50.  Then we took a taxi out to the Garden of the Morning Calm to check out their Lighting Festival.  It did NOT disappoint.  There were lights EVERYWHERE!  It felt like some crazy lit up Willy Wonka funland.  It was absolutely beautiful.  And FREEZING!  We walked around the garden for about 2 hours total, enjoyed some dinner while there, and then took the 9:09pm train back to Seoul.  It was totally worth the trip.  And its there until February, so check it out if you get the chance!

Church will all kinds of things floating around it in the Heaven Garden.

Pretty pathways all lit up.

So beautiful.  (I especially love the light up grapes on the arch, haha.)

The Sunken Garden, my favorite area.

Such a beautiful backdrop.

Sunday I awoke looking for adventure.  Haha, not really. I awoke intent on doing some shopping for the stuff I'm making for our Christmas potluck/sleepover.  I headed out to HomePlus (the medium sized one near me) where I actually ended up buying an oven!  I really miss baking (something my mom and I always did around Christmas) so I decided to buy it as a Christmas gift to myself.  It is a little electric convection oven that only set me back 95,000won or about $76.  Not too shabby.

There she is!

Yesterday I baked all afternoon and made about 4 dozen peanut butter/chocolate cookies (using a Lotte Ghana chocolate bar instead of the much more expensive Hershey Kisses, haha) and 2 dozen small pieces of almond bark.  I took them into school today and they were a big hit!  I will probably spend most of Wednesday baking since I'm done with school.  That way the cookies will be extra fresh for our Christmas Eve sleepover.  I am pumped!

As far as I know, today was my last full day of teaching until March!  That is exciting news.  Tomorrow I have to go to work, but we don't teach and the kids go home before lunch (seems like a waste of time to me...).  Then I'm off until January 4th when I start camp.  I work camp for three weeks half day, have 4 days off, work one day, then work 2 weeks.  Now So Young told me that the special subject teachers don't usually teach during those two weeks, but you never know.  Then I have my 2 weeks off (and my trip!) and the new school year starts in March.  I cannot believe how fast it is flying by.  I am often startled to realize that I've been away so long.  It seems impossible.

I'll update again before Christmas, but in case you don't see it, I hope you have a fantastically Merry Christmas, and a wonderfully happy and peaceful New Year.  Much love.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's Snowing!

Snowflake decorations my third graders made adorning the windows of my English room.  I love that you can see them from the playground as well

That is the title of third grade's chapter 8.  Since third graders only have English once a week (for now), I spend a month on each lesson.  For the past three weeks we've been exclaiming about various types of weather and discussing things you wear and thing you do in each season.

Today when fourth period was wrapping up, a third grade boy said "Teacher! It's snowing!"  I have become so desensitized to this phrase that I just nodded until I looked out the window where he was pointing. WAS snowing.  Within an half-hour it was REALLY snowing.  Like blizzard mode.  And within a full hour, it was over.  But it was great while it lasted.  The kids all went outside and lost their MINDS.

Here are some pictures I snapped out the window of their snowy adventures.

"The childen are FREAKING OUT."  - This coworker as she looks out the window.

You thought umbrellas were just for rain?  Silly! In Korea they're for rain, sun, snow, wind, you name it.

Check out the kid in the gray hoodie in the bottom left quarter of the screen.  He's holding a GIANT snowball (filled with mud, I'm sure) that he managed to scrape together from that little bit of snow.  Industrious!