Sunday, November 21, 2010

English Festival and Flaming Lips!!

Last week/weekend was pretty nice. The week was easy cause i didnt  have school on friday cause it was the day of the Korean SATs. But the Korean SATs are REALLY intense here! They only get 1 try at it and it pretty much determines the rest of their life. This test determines where they will be able to go to school.. and therefor where they will get a job.. which pretty much means for Koreans how happy they will be. The test is so serious that the country stop all air traffic during the time of the test!! But yah, no school last thursday for me. Wed night me and some friends went into Itaewon so my friend could pick up this fitted suit that he had made.. and then i started looking at the suits and well one thing led to another and then I decided to get one!!! Im REALLY excited for it :) Tomorrow i am going in to have it altered and im pretty pumped about it. Now i just need to have reasons to rock a suit... anyway after the suits we grabbed some dinner and i found out my cousin was in soul at some bar where he and some friends were gonna do some stand up.. since i didnt have school the next day i met up with them and it was a pretty fun night.

The rest of the week went by pretty easily.. fri night i just chilled cause i had to be up early for the english festival.. So the English festival ended up being really really awesome!!! We get there and the kids put on these song and dances and they were hilarious!! Little koreans are really cute and funny!!! Here are some pics from the performances.

So after their song/dance i went to my room where i was running a color/shape/body part game.. they would repeat after me and i would say the names of colors/shapes/body parts as they would come up on the screen..  and then they would listen to my instructions to color in a picture like 'color the hair blue.. color the pants green' etc.. it was a kind of nice change of pace teaching the little kids opposed to my high school kids. The little kids are cuter but are a lot more work.. so it was nice for the morning but i think i am happy that i teach high school. Heres me teaching the kids the word 'shoe'.

After a few hours of that we were finished and the school provided an AWESOME lunch for us!! Soooo much food! It was fun helping out at the festival because everyone was soooooo thankful that we were there and were like waiting on us for whatever we wanted.. the principal was so happy to have us and everyone was just really nice.. and they paid us like $100 bucks which was a great bonus!!

SO, after the festival/lunch we headed into seoul and met up with some people that we were going to the concert with.. we grabbed some food and drink and then headed into the show. I was SO excited to see the flaming lips!! I had never seen them before and i had wanted to for a long time.. They did not disappoint! They put on an awesome awesome show. They played almost all of the songs i wanted to hear and it was just wild. The lead singer came out in this big ball and was rolling around the crowd which was sweet and that had so many balloons and confetti and lights!! And it was cool cause it wasnt at a huge venue so we got to be pretty close to the action. It was a great time.

After the show we went to this hookah bar that i like and i ended up running into my cousin and his gf and ended up chillin with them for the night. Pretty solid. It was a nice, eventful weekend in Korea!

This week my kids are taking their written test so i pretty much have 0 teaching i have to do.. just sit around and grade their papers which isnt so bad.. and this weekend we are having a Thanksgiving potluck which im looking forward to. Im kinda bummed that i wont be home for thanksgiving and will miss out on seeing all of my friends.. but im glad that we get to do something here as well. And now all of the sudden ive been in Korea for almost 3 months and its almost december!!! Crazy crazy crazy. Oh yah.. MELANIE GOT INTO MADISON!!!! Fiiiinnnaaalllllyyy!!!!! Im sooooo proud of her and i am glad that i will have two more years after jeremy is gone to still have reasons to visit madison!!! AND not Dori is coming in 5 weeks!!! Its crazy that it is almost starting to get to be 'soon'. The time has been going by pretty quickly so even thought it still feels like a long ways away.. i know itll be here before i know it!! Our whole trip is pretty much planned at this point and i could not be more excited!! Another thing, i found out last week that Koreans CAN tell the difference between Koreans, Chinese and Japanese (in case you were curious). Well i think thats about it for now.. I hope you have a great thanksgiving and i wish i could be there!!! Thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yangyang Surf Festival

What a weekend! Soooo glad that I decided to make the trek up to North East Korea for the Yangyang surf festival!! It began on friday with kimball and me catching a 3 hour ish bus to some city where we transferred to another bus which took us the remaining hour to yangyang. The bus there was fine.. i just watched episodes of The Wire which is getting really AWESOME by the way.

So we get to Yangyang and call the guy that was directing the festival and find out that we are in yangyang CITY and the beach was somewhere in yangyang COUNTY. On the phone the guy made it seem like it was SUCH a big deal.. but it turned out we were only like 20 min away.. regardless we decided just to stay the night where we were and make the remainder of the trip the next day. We are starving cause we kinda skipped dinner so we sit down at this place for some soup (Koreans LOVE soup). Right after we sit down, this old, drunk Korean man starts trying to talk to us (probably the millionth time this has happened in Korea). We are being polite and nice and after a few minutes he asks us if we know where we are staying that night.. me and kimball exchange glances and answer a hesitant '' Then this drink Korean tells us in broken English that he owns a motel and we can stay there FOR FREE. We werent sure if this 'motel' even existed.. or if it was a dump.. or if he was trying to kill us but we eventually decided.. what the hell. So we finish up our meal and then we follow the korean man a short walk away to his motel (which DID exist) and showed us our room (which was actually pretty sweet!).  Here's me in our FREE room :) (I won the coin flip so i got to sleep on the bed too!)

Anyway, Kimball and I get settled and are just relax for a bit while we wait for two of our friends
(Quinn and Greg) to meet us at the hotel. Once they arrive, they decide that they are hungry and want to grab some food.. so we all walk out of the motel right past the owner korean guy that we met earlier. We tried to explain to him that our friends were staying with us too.. and at first he didnt seem too pleased. But he did point us in the right direction of a restaurant and even decided that he would join us!! So we sit down the 4 of us at a table.. and the korean at a table next to us.. and Quinn and Greg order food. After a few minutes, the korean has a pizza given to him from a restaurant across the street! And then he motions for Kimball and me to join him! So we do, and the pizza actually wasnt too bad.. And then he decides that he wants to buy us beers too! So there is me and kimball getting this free beer and pizza and chillin with the drunk korean motel owner.. and greg and quinn are just eating their soup haha. (The korean eventually bought beers for them too) After beer and pizza and a lot of laughs.. we crash back at the hotel.

The next day we hop in a cab that takes us to the beach. Once we get there, we drop our stuff off in a room and attend the opening ceremony for the event.. followed by lunch. The waves dont look so great and it is pretty cold.. but we are determined to surf! We decide it would probably be a little warmer if we drank a bit before so we grab some beers and chill on the beach and watch the other surfers. While we are chilling, we meet some of the other people attending the event. They are (like almost everyone i have met in Korea) really cool! They are, of course, english teachers and were just good people. We chill with them for a bit and get realllllyyy excited to actually surf and one of the dudes we met hooks us up with wetsuits and boards and then we are off! Heres us in our wetsuits. I know.. were pretty badass.

Anyway, then we hit the water! With the wetsuits it really wasnt so cold. And it was just awesome to be out in the water!! The waved kinda sucked but i caught a few and it was still just really fun to be out there. After a bit, my toes started to get numb and i decided to get outta there.. So i had a nice loooonnngggg warm shower (probably the most amazing shower of my life) and headed back to chill on the beach. They served dinner which was LOTS of chicken skewers and there was FREE BEER! There was music and one of the dudes that we met earlier performed and it was real cool/chill. So we all chilled around bonfires and ate our chicken and drank beer until we decided to go to sleep.. overall REALLY solid day!!

Heres some Korean cooking the skewers over one of the fires.

The next day we woke up.. grabbed some breakfast (kimchi mandoo and kimbob) and then headed back to the beach to try the waves again. The waves were MUCH better on sunday.. they still werent that great but were so so much better than the day before. So we get wet suited up and go back out there and it is AWESOME! We all catch a bunch of waves and just have an awesome time winter surfing in Korea!!! When our feet started to get numb again, we decided we were done and showered up and headed home..

The 4ish hour trip there turned into like an 8 hour trip home!!! Seoul weekend traffic SUCKS!!!!! It would have been no problem but my computer died like 3 hours in so i was stuck, The Wire-less, for the majority of the trip >:( But whatever.. we eventually made it home and the trip was well worth it. We got contact info for some of the people we met there and are hopefully gonna meet up with them again and go surfing another weekend!

This weekend is the FLAMING LIPS!!! Sooooo excited for that!! I cant believe that it is the middle of november.. this month has FLOWN by.

Hope all is well and thanks for keeping up with me while im over here

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Korea Update

So its been about two weeks since I last posted.. and this weekend I am going to this surfing competition that should be worth writing about.. so I thought before that I would just update on what has been goin on the past few weeks. A few weeks ago was Halloween.. which was fun but not quite the same as Madison. We went out in a part of town that is popular for foreigners so there were a decent amount of people in costume.. but it just didnt have the same feel as Madison Halloween. Im both happy and jealous that Jeremy got to enjoy another halloween in Madison.. but hey there is always next year for me! For hallowen i 'dressed up' as a panda.. and i sad dressed up because i just bought this pretty silly panda hat and wore it with a black shirt. But what is the funniest is that the hat, in korea, is just an ordinary hat.. while i thought it was pretty hysterical. Jeremy would have loved it (kinda like his penguin hat), maybe ill send it to him...

Anyway the next weekend was fun.. it was Wolfish's birthday and he rented out a bar which was pretty cool. Before we met up with him at that bar, me and Kimball ran into a friend that we met on Jeju (this german guy who is studying at a university in Seoul) and ended up joining him and his friends for some food and a little bar hopping. It was cool hanging out with them because they were so international. In our group there were germans, and italians, and french, and dutch, and spanish and swiss... and americans (us)!  It was cool to talk with all of them and it was also cool to 'add' to the international-ness of the group by being american.. there havent been a lot of situations where me being american has added to the globalness of the group before and it was kinda cool. They were all nice people and well probably go out with them again.

Uhh.. lets see what else.. school is going fine.. teaching is easy and getting easier. I am getting better at putting together and executing lesson plans and the kids still LOVE me. I know ive said this a million times but it is really cool being an actual celebrity here. And its nice if i am ever feeling anything less than happy about teaching or anything, i just walk into class to about 45 screaming/smiling 'HI NATE-UH!' and its pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on my face. Another funny thing that i like is seeing students outside of school (which happens pretty frequently) when i am walking to/from the subway or the gym or getting groceries and they freak out! They start giggling and poking each other and always give me a BIG bow :)

I was kinda sick this week.. just a really bad cold (sucked!). And so on tuesday i went to the korean doctor.. it was fine. I was in and out of there in like 10 minutes and they gave me some unknown pills to take and now i am feeling much better. I wanted to take a day off of school but decided not too to try and score some points with the koreans who dont take off school for ANYTHING. For example, my co teacher had his wisdom teeth taken out a few weeks ago after our morning classes.. AND THEN HE CAME BACK TO SCHOOL IN THE AFTERNOON!!! I thought he was crazy.. and decided i could 'show' them that i will come to school when i am sick too!! (And i didnt want to waste a sick day cause i plan on using a bunch while Dori is here and I dont want to them give me shit for it)

Some other random funny things.. so this week part of the lesson was working on pronunciation (koreans have trouble pronouncing certain sounds that are very common in english.. such as z). So for part of this lesson.. i was working to get them to say 'ZOO' which in Korea, often is pronounced 'JEW.' It was pretty hysterical trying to get them to make this seemingly easy distinction. Individual students would stand up and i would have them repeat after me and i would say 'zzzzzzzzzzzoo' and then they would say 'zzzzzzzzz jew' haahaha some of them just could not say zoo!! I actually was cracking up in class.. and the other kids were laughing too!! Id try and have them say 'the jew went to the zoo' and it would come out 'the jew went to the jew' HA! Koreans.. so koreans also have trouble saying pizza (pija) coffee (copy) rice (lice) bee (pea) and they add certain sounds to other words like they add an extra 'y' such as fish(y) or finish(y) and they add -uh also such as nice-uh or NATE-uh. All of these things the students had SO much trouble correcting!! It was a pretty funny lesson..

Haaaa Koreans also refer to dreadlocks as 'reggae hair' and whenever they say medicine it comes out 'madison' ... that one gets me nostalgic.

So im going to this surfing competition this this weekend and it should be pretty cool. Hopefully ill be able to go surfing (they said that wetsuits are available) and there is some beach BBQ and some live music and yah.. should be a good time.

Ive started watching The Wire. I have 1 episode left in season 2.. im definitely enjoying it and im looking forward to watching a bunch of episodes on the bus ride to the surf competition (like 3ish hours away). My fantasy bball team is doin pretty well.. im pretty pumped for this year and i am so glad to have the NBA as a fun time waster during my seemingly endless hours of time on my computer here.. Dori comes in like 6 1/2 weeks and im trying hard not to get too ahead of myself but im getting REALLY excited!!! We have pretty much our whole cambodia/thailand trip booked and its going to be ridiculous. I CANT WAIT!! My fam is going to NY this weekend.. wish i could be there and see everyone.. And i cant wait for Melanie to hear back from Madison!!!

Alright i think thats most of it.. hope all is well back home and thanks for keeping up with me!