Monday, May 24, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

I realize I'm about 2 weeks behind on my blogging plus I skipped a really exciting weekend that took place about a month ago. So first that and then a bit on some upcoming things.

About a month or so ago, Jon, me, and a bunch of people from our training group went on an Adventure Korea trip. It was a caving and ferrying expedition, and I proudly told people I was to spelunk though that turned out to be a major overstatement. Overall, it was nice to get out of the Seoul area and into the countryside, but it kinda sucked that I had to spend about 5 hours on a bus and then 2 hours on a ferry in order to get there. We had to leave the apartment at around 6:30 AM to get to the Seoul bus terminal at 7:30. There, we got in one of the two buses that were going on the trip.

The actual caving part of the trip took about an hour and was actually more like walking along a well-lit, paved path with photographers set up at convenient stops along the way than any sort of exploratory adventure. It was pretty cool nonetheless as I had never been in a cave before. Afterward we went to some special 3-rock island place* and then went up a bunch of stairs to this pagoda. It was very pretty. The Adventure Korea people all got together to do a group picture, which Jon and I fiendishly managed to avoid.

The last few weekends have been very casual with a lot of Rock Band and Scrabble going on indoors. While the weather has finally warmed up a bit, we have unfortunately been doomed with rain. I'm really hoping to go hiking next weekend though.

And this week is the last week of the term! Yay! I'm actually going to miss my students, I didn't really have any bad classes this time around. Tomorrow I should get my new schedule. *Here's hoping for less work*

 *See, if I have written this earlier I could have told you what it was called and where we were. As it stands now, I have no clue.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Excellent Question

We did a lesson on Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi this week and we were going over the Montgomery bus protests when I was asked an interesting question by one of my students. Keep in mind, this is Bridge level (low-level) and elementary, so young kids with limited English skills. I was explaining that the word "segregation" meant that they separated black people and white people. Black people had to sit at the back of the bus while white people could sit wherever they wanted. Then, a student raised his hand and asked, "Teacher, where did the yellow people sit?"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Children's Day, Teacher's Day, and a birthday!

It's been a while since I've posted, mainly due to laziness on my part, so I thought I'd do a quick update on recent goings-on.

Two weeks ago we had level-up tests at school, which are the end-of-term exams that decide whether a student will go to the next level next term. Unfortunately, Children's Day happened to fall smack in the middle of test week, so while most of the students were able to skip out on their regular school, they still had to come to English Academy to take a 3-hour test. And their poor teachers had to show up too to administer the test. Sigh. I actually think Children's Day is a pretty sweet invention (and is also a Japanese holiday). Because the kids get the days off, so do their parents (so that they can spend the day with them) and their teachers. Pretty much everyone wins!

And then, to make things better for students and teachers of regular schools, Teacher's Day is just a week later. This is the day where students write letters to their teachers and give them gifts. Many students have that day off too in order to give their teachers a break. It happened to fall on a Saturday this year so I did not get an extra day off, but I was fortunate enough to receive a bottle of perfume from one of my students.*

Last weekend was the lantern festival for Buddha's birthday, which I believe is this Friday. I wasn't able to make it to the lantern parade, but I will try to take some pictures of the lanterns that are up in my neighborhood park and upload them here. Next weekend I'm hoping to go check out the lanterns in the old downtown area.

In other news, I officially have a plane ticket home! I'll be heading to Beijing on August 21st, then Shanghai on the 27th, and San Francisco on September 7th. Yay!

*It was actually from his mother, which was evident from their embarrassed way he handed it to me and muttered "My mom told me to give this to you" before scampering away.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Heat is On

My dad was here for four days, and I got a chance to spend a weekend with him. We were very fortunate that the weather had finally heated up and it was supposed to be a beautiful weekend. Not wanting to waste any time, we hit up the palace area, then checked out the stream, and finished Saturday with a ride up Namsan Tower. On Sunday, we went somewhere I'd always wanted to go but hadn't yet had the chance:

The main World Cup Stadium in Seoul. In 2002, South Korea and Japan co-hosted the World Cups, with 10 stadiums built in each country. We were hoping we'd get a chance to peek inside, but when we got there it appeared that you could only see the World Cup museum. Then, we realized that the stadium was part of the museum tour. It was amazing, they let you go pretty much everywhere except on the field (although, we did stick our toes onto it while the security guard was asleep).

After the World Cup Stadium, we went back to that temple across from the Coex Mall to check out the lanterns. Buddha's birthday is coming up soon (I still don't know what to get him) and there are lanterns everywhere commemorating it.

Happy early birthday, Buddha!