Thursday, January 13, 2011

Brrrr. Winter in Korea!

Well we are in the full throes of winter here again.  You may remember that last year we got slammed by a huge snow storm last January.  Ten inches on the first day of winter camp was WAY TOO MUCH SNOW for Seoul to handle.  Though it has snowed many more times this year, the accumulation hasn't been more than an inch or two.  It comes down, people sweep it around, it turns to ice, I slip on it, it melts, then it snows again the cycle continues.  Winter here always threatens to force me into hibernation mode.  The fact that I'm trying very VERY hard to save for my upcoming trips to Taiwan and Bali/Kuala Lumpur has made me pretty anti-social since the holidays.  I've made it out once or twice to meet for coffee/dinner and I have had a few memorable outings.

The first was ten of us hitting up a luxury noraebang (karaoke room) in Cheonho.  Amazing times...the room we had was GIGANTIC and any time you add ten ridiculous people + alcohol + 80s hits you are sure to get a quality good time.

It's rainin' men... HALLELUJAH, its rainin' men.

This occurred during an absolutely ridiculous "Kung Fu Fighting" inspired dance off.

I am pretty sure Chrissy could take Erich and Joseph.

Look at the size of this room!  And it was only $3/person an hour!  We could host events here.

The noraebang crew.  We are bringing group pictures back in style.
Melissa, Frank, Shannon, Jamie, Joseph, Josephine, Erich, Chrissy, Julia and I

Later that week (the week I had off during Christmas and New Years) Laura organized a trip out to Cheong Wa Dae, or the Blue House.  This is basically the Korean White House, as the president lives and works on the complex.  The Blue House itself is a symbol of the Korean president and pretty easily recognizable by the traditional blue tiles used for the roof.  Long ago the office of the king had blue tiles, and the tradition has continued on for the president.  After departure point confusion that led to FIFTY-FOUR MINUTES of walking around in the frigid cold (and completely circumnavigating Gyeongbokgung Palace) we began the walking tour.  I have to say, having grown up outside DC, that the security measures were absolutely laughable.  I don't even think that metal detector worked.  After getting some swag (free Blue House mugs!) we took our walking tour of the complex.  Though they told us about 100 times there wouldn't be translation services, they had these nifty little free ear piece things that we could listen to in English.  And they gave WAY more information than the tour guide.  So that worked out swimmingly.  It was kind of cool to see the palace and the Blue House with snow on the ground.  I'd like to go back in spring (maybe when my brother comes to visit) when it is a little more pleasant to be outside.  Moral of the story, the Blue House is definitely worth a visit.

Gyeongbokgung Palace all snowy!

It looked so pretty. (Yes, even with the mud showing through...)

This picture was the only benefit to the trek around Gyeongbokgung in search of the meeting point.

Famous tree on the grounds of Cheong Wa Dae.  If you look closely you can see two little deer sitting under it.  A small herd of about six deer live on the complex.

Blue House!

Building used for hosting events.  We weren't allowed in because they were preparing for an event that evening.  Sad face.

After the tour we went into the museum where they had this English speaking robot.  It would interact with you and even give you a tour if you let it.  It was kind of terrifying.

The last exciting recent event in my life was a trivia night that I set up with Jamie and Shannon at Bunch, our local brunch place.  It was great!  Over thirty people came out and we played 25 questions with Jamie acting as Quizzard.  They were HARD!  The winning team got to split a pot of about 90,000won, so it was a great night (no, sadly we did not win).  We are going to try and repeat it in the future.

Last Monday (January 3), I started English camp.  Thankfully I got placed at Cheondong Elementary again, where I worked this summer.  The school is a 10-minute walk from my house, the staff is great, and the kids are lots of fun.  I wish I could work English camp all year!  I get to school around 8:30am and I'm done at 12:30pm.  Then I go home, get into my nice, warm, cozy bed and sleep/watch West Wing obsessively/generally vegetate.  It is pretty sweet.  At our first winter camp meeting we had to choose co-teachers and pick subjects.  Immediately when SoMi (the coordinator) said we had to choose co-teachers one of the women pointed at me and said "I WANT SHANAHAN."  Um...ok.  Her name is Ellie and she was there this summer too.  I didn't know much about her outside the fact that her English wasn't real strong and she didn't get along with her summer camp co-teacher at all.  So I was...less that excited.  For the most part it has worked out alright, though.  

Photo courtesy of a student who stole my camera.

Ellie, my co-teacher.

Our classroom (same one I had this summer and the nicest one in the bunch).

Another view of the classroom.

One of my kids from my homeroom, John, with the animal he created.  
"It is a dinosaur, with the horn of a rhinoceros and the feet of a CHICKEN!"

Jasmine (also from my homeroom) with her rabbit-bird hybrid.

These three are a trip.  Paul, Jeff and Eric are all in my homeroom class.  I'll miss their antics.

Eric (pictured above) wants to be a chef or a baker.  One day he brought in these cookies for Ellie and I.  After taking a bite (they were good) I asked if he had an oven.  "No teacher, you make cookies in the skillet.  And cakes in the rice cooker."  Of stupid of me.

One day I walked onto the fourth floor hallway where my classroom was and thought "Man, its especially cold today."  Soon I found out why....the construction on the roof had come inside!  They used a jackhammer on the roof and chunks of rock crashed down into the stairwell.  Snow fell through this exposed hole during the day, too.  I love that it was not blocked off from the kids at all.  Aigh.  Lawsuit much?

Our main subject (taught in two 80-minute periods to all the students) was Storytelling, and our minor subject (taught in one 80-minute period to half the classes) was Architecture.  Yes, architecture.  That was my dumbass idea.  Never again. I had big plans for architecture....and slowly they fell apart, haha.  After learning building/house related vocabulary and doing a few activities we were going to read an article about the world's tallest building, and then slip seamlessly into three building challenges.  First, teams of four would see who could build the tallest tower out of popsicle sticks, straws, tape, and newspaper in 10 minutes.  Then, teams of three would have 10 minutes to see who could build the tallest tower of cards.  Last, each student would make a "gingerbread house" using graham crackers.  Easy peasy.  UNTIL EVERYTHING WENT WRONG.  The cards that were purchased were NOT normal playing cards and they were so flimsy that you couldn't build a damn thing with them.  Graham crackers are extremely obnoxious to buy in Korea and I ended up spending $40 out of pocket to buy eight boxes.  And, perhaps most of all, eighty minutes is just NOT ENOUGH TIME to finish all of that.  The first class was an utter disaster.  By the third class, I had whittled it down to ONLY the vocabulary activities and gingerbread house building.  I am glad the kids didn't stage a coup...apparently they actually had a good time (even though I nearly lost my mind each time I had to teach it)!

Let's learn house related vocabulary!

Gaaaah Korean children and your lack of fine motor skills.  WHY would you take the top OFF a bottle of glue?!  They all did drove me crazy.

Such attention to detail.  
(Note glue bottle again.)

Using M&Ms like a pro.

Gluing the damn things together.

Some did really come out cute.
(Yes, they are decorated with marker and glued together.  No, the children cannot eat them.  Yes, I'm over it.)

Little architect striking a pose.

Showing off his creation.

Almost perfect (note WWE symbol on the roof...apparently this is a wrestling house).

In our storytelling class, I built the lessons once again off an old favorite: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. We did a whole bunch of activities about storytelling in general (using emotion, cause and effect, parts of speech) and that specific story, culminating in them writing their own.  The kids at my last winter camp definitely GOT this assignment more...but to be fair they'd had a whole week of 40-minute lessons leading up to it, rather than one 80-minute lesson the week before.  Whatever, the kids worked hard and produced some hilarious (if nonsensical) stories.  Also, for being kids from grades 3-5 they had some pretty awesome illustrations if you ask me.
Kids taking turns reading "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie".

Planning our own stories. I wrote such gems as "If You Give A Cat A Cupcake" and "If You Give A Spider Spaghetti".  NY Times best sellers for sure.

 Her cats were adorable!

Small house cat indeed.  (This was the lowest class.)

Wow, I didn't realize how popular cats were in this class!

Kids hard at work.

I took pictures of some of my favorite stories and made them into mini-slideshows.  Sorry I can't make them bigger...

If You Give A Rabbit A Watermelon

If You Give A Dog Rice

If You Give A Dog A Marshmallow

If You Give A Cat Pizza

If You Give A Lion a Lemon

1 comment:

  1. On my way to my camp, I walked within four feet of a jackhammer. I think they depend a little too much on everyone using their common sense and caution.

    Love the little slide shows and it's so cool how your kids have no problem with you taking pictures of them.