Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The End of an Era

Music Bank is no longer one of my students. He graduated from Seed 1 into Seed 2, but unfortunately isn't in my class (I only have one Seed 2 class). He has come a long way since the time he used his glue stick like ChapStick to earning 'Best Creativity' for his level this term. So proud.

Anyways, so far I'm enjoying my new classes and I have a lot of the same students again. A lot of the students I had when I first got here during winter term so it has been about six months since they were in my class. It's amazing how much they have matured and how much their English skills have improved.

In other news, there's a typhoon heading straight towards Korea within the next few days.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Point Party!

As a reward system for the kids, throughout the term, we give them points for good behavior, high test scores, homework, etc. At the end of the term, the students come to a points party and can spend their points on food, games, and various items in the store. This past Saturday was the point party, we had a good turn out and it was a big success. I wanted to take pictures of my classes before the term ended, but I forgot, so here are a few pictures I captured at the point party.

This is Sean. He was a super smart boy in my Seed 2 class. It looks like he's strategically thinking about what stick to pull while playing, Tumblin' Monkeys.
I didn't have any of these students this term, but I've had them in the past. There's Michael, Jina, and Jane.
A few of my students waiting in line for the store. There's Samuel (used to be SM7, a car brand), Sophia, and Jenny.
This is Fire Dragon! He looks so serious, but he was more concerned about playing his DS rather than smiling for the camera.
This is Peter and his blue tongue.
Two of my Sapling 2 students, Sally and Barbie. They both leveled up into Junior Master which is the highest level at April.

Spel Chek

Growing up, my dear friend, Whitney, always wore a headband with her name puffy painted on it. She was so proud of her craft, wore it practically everyday, and loved showing it off. Obviously, school pictures were a big deal. I mean they are printed in yearbooks that last forever and are framed on fireplace mantels until the following year.

Well, Whitney wore her favorite headband in her school picture that year, but it wasn't until she got her pictures back that she realized her name was spelled wrong. Unfortunately, she forgot the 't' so instead of 'Whitney', in big, puffy painted letters (hopefully, neon and glittery) it said, 'Whiney'. I think she was more upset that NO ONE told her that her name was spelled wrong on her headband, not even her mom when they (obviously) laid out her outfit the night before school pictures. I have yet to see the picture, but I practically cry from laughing every time I hear the story.

Whitney's story reminded me of one of my students the other day. This little boy, Kevin came to class wearing a bright, orange baseball hat. He was so proud of his new hat and was showing it off to everyone (that's a little exaggerated), but I noticed he had his name stitched on the side of it in white letters. Unfortunately, there was an extra 'e' in his name so instead of 'Kevin' it was spelled 'Kevien'. I didn't have the heart to tell him. I just hope he doesn't wear it in his school pictures this year.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

La Tee Dah

I forgot to mention that my Seed 1 class changed their names (again). There was about two weeks left of the term and I went to take attendance and noticed their new names...

Ice Dragon (Tommy)
Fire Dragon (Lion)
Music Bank (Hedgehog)

Yes. Music Bank. I guess it's a singing show on TV. It's like me changing my name to American Idol, no big deal. I'm sad I only have one more class with them, but hopefully they'll be in one of my classes next term. I also just found out that Fire Dragon received the 'Best Student' award and Music Bank got 'Best Creativity' for their level this term. So proud.

Anyways, funny story. Today as I was heading back to my classroom after getting some water, I saw Ice Dragon standing outside of my classroom. As I walked closer, I noticed he was flicking me off! His middle finger was pointing straight up. Before I could say anything, I realized he wasn't actually giving me the middle finger, but he had a cut on it and needed a bandaid.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Food for Thought

My brother had his annual beach bash this past weekend and luckily, I was able to catch him and Liz, some of his friends, and baby Adam on Skype. I guess he brewed some new beers and of course, they had a delicious menu planned for the weekend. I'm proud of myself for lasting this long, but I'm getting so sick of Korean food. The thought of all of the food that was at Camp C this past weekend made me so jealous. I feel like Korea lacks variety in terms of food and the same spicy, red sauce is on everything. P.S. I just watched a preview of a new cake decorating show on Oxygen and those shows always make me want to become a cake decorator ha. Oh, P.P.S. Perez posted a picture of Miley Cyrus at Benihana's in Troy which just happens to be the restaurant I always went to on my birthday! Anyways, here are some examples of typical Korean food.

When in doubt, get mandu. You can get them steamed or fried and it's a dumpling filled with meat, vegetables, kimchi, or seafood. I also love dumpling soup.
Kimbop looks like sushi, but it doesn't taste like it. It's vegetables rolled up in rice and seaweed and you can get tuna, beef, or cheese in them.
Kimchi is served at every meal. Many students claim it's their favorite food. It's a pickled cabbage with a spicy, red sauce on top of it.
Dak galbi is grilled chicken, cabbage, and rice cakes cooked right in front of you with a spicy, red sauce on top.
Here's an example of Korean rice cakes with the (same) spicy, red sauce on top. They're really chewy and sometimes filled with cheese. Korean rice cakes are often made into decorative desserts.
Bipimbop is Korea's version of a salad. It comes with a variety of vegetables and egg over rice with the (same) spicy, red sauce underneath.
Bulgogi is a sweet beef served with rice.

Did you notice a trend with the spicy, red sauce on everything?! Luckily, I don't mind it, but if you aren't a fan of spicy food, good luck. Currently craving: Leo's greek salad, extra feta, olives, and banana peppers with light Greek dressing and a steamed pita... sigh.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Swear I'm 20 Something

G insisted that I got this pink, dolphin headband at the COEX Aquarium.

Boring Post

Sorry, I've been slacking on blogging this month. There's only one more week of summer term and it's hard to believe it's almost over. Since we only have a few days left of the term, I had to write 75+ student report cards last week. I'm glad that's over and tomorrow is my last day of intensives. I'm anxious to see my new schedule and I've been told I'm teaching seedbed which is the lowest level. It will be a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it. This weekend was the first weekend I actually stayed in Daejeon and didn't have any plans. It was nice to relax and catch up with friends. I finally saw "Inception" last night which was mind boggling. If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend it. I feel like no matter how many times I see it, it will never make complete sense, and I really want to find out more about how they made it. Anyways, it has been super hot here, so thank goodness for AC, or air-con as they say it here. That's about it. Peace.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Say Kimchi!

My big adventure on Sunday was a visit to the Kimchi Museum at Coex Mall in Seoul. I learned everything there is to learn about kimchi and even got to taste a few different kinds.

The most popular type of kimchi is a spicy, pickled cabbage dish that's served at every meal. As I learned at the museum it can be cooked in many different ways, it's low in calories, helps with digestion and is delicious!

G jumping out of a kimchi pot!
In the test tasting room, they had pretend refrigerators filled with bags of kimchi.
Who knew there were so many different types of kimchi?!
Perfect photo opportunity.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Phantom Phail

... but it all worked out in the end.

So it all started when Gretchen got her apartment cleaned and the cleaning ladies threw out the envelope with our ticket confirmation in it. However, my lovely Korean co-worker who booked the tickets for us was able to fix it easily and luckily it wasn't a big deal.

We were excited for our Phantom adventure and weekend trip to Seoul (ie: the Coatel, Mexican food, and shopping). Even though everyone kept telling us that it was going to be in Korean, we assured them that it was in English. Side story: Gretchen's bff was in WICKED, she has seen it seven times (best seats in the house), gone backstage, met the cast, no big deal... Anyways, her friend mentioned that Wicked was going on an Asian tour and would be in English so we assumed the Phantom would be the same.

We were wrong.

It was definitely all in Korean except for the words Christine, Phantom, and opera. However, with my advanced Korean skills (ha) I was able to understand a few more words such as yogi (here), ne (yes), aneyo (no), saranghae (I love you), and kamsamnida (thank you). Luckily, we were in the third row so we were able to see the details of the costumes, sets, facial expressions, etc. Overall, I absolutely loved it. It was kind of like we were at a real opera with it being in Korean. The leads were some of the best voices I've ever heard and my favorite scene was the beginning of Act II, "Masquerade." Because of our great seats, during the famous chandelier dropping scene, it literally felt like it was going to fall right on top of me.

It fulfilled my musical withdrawal and Seoul is hosting some great shows coming up such as "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Billy Elliot," "42nd Street," and "A Chorus Line."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Same, Same, but Different

While all of my friends were in Chicago at Lollapalooza crowd surfing with Lady Gaga, I was on Naksan Beach at the Summer Week and T music fest featuring Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco. Unfortunately, when we bought the tickets we assumed both Kanye and Lupe would be performing on Saturday, however, Kanye performed Friday and Lupe was Saturday so I didn't get to see Kanye (boo). With that being said, Lupe was well worth the trip and he was great live. I was about two rows from the stage, but didn't get any great pictures of him. Getting there took a lot longer than expected. We took an hour KTX ride to Seoul and then what we thought was an hour and a half bus ride turned into a four hour bus ride to the beach. We ended up staying the night and headed out early Sunday morning. Next weekend I'm going to Seoul via KTX, but after that I think I'll take a little break from extensive bus/train/plane rides. Peace.

Lupe Fiasco!
C, G, and I.
First concert in Korea!
G, G, and I with our tickets!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Best of the Best

I took 500+ pictures and somehow narrowed it down to ten to post on here. Enjoy.

Yum... chicken pad thai.
Buddha's at the Grand Palace.
Pretty column at the Grand Palace.
So hot.
Snorkel fail.
It doesn't get much better than this.
Unfortunately we ran out of time to ride elephants, but I saw plenty and I really was this close to one.
The Full Moon Party in full effect: neon, face paint, glow up hair accessory, soaking wet.
Sporting our neon before the Full Moon Party.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Land of Smiles

I can definitely say I maximized my time spent in Thailand. I had such a good time and there's so much to say about it, but here's a list of some of my favorite parts:

1.) The Grand Palace- Even though it was 106 degrees the day we went, I'm glad I had the chance to see the Grand Palace. We had to rent sarongs outside the gates to cover our legs and had to wear shirts with sleeves to cover our shoulders. The buildings were gorgeous and the details were amazing. People from Thailand respect their king to the fullest. It was common to see mini shrines outside buildings and homes with flower chains draped on them. We even took a tuk tuk (open air taxi) to and from the Grand Palace.

2.) Food- Thai food is delicious. The first meal I had was chicken pad thai off the street for less than $3. It was made right in front of me and definitely beat Sy Thai in Birmingham. There was tons of western food which was a nice change from Korean food. I had lots of fresh fruit (the mango was my favorite) and fish. Every night at our hotel on Koh Phangan they would catch huge fresh fish and BBQ it right on the beach.

3.) Koh Phangan- Koh Phangan was the first island we went to. After a ten hour overnight bus ride, three hour boat ride, and lots of waiting in between, it was a relief to be surrounded by white sandy beaches and turquoise water. The island is off the east coast of Thailand and is the host to the Full Moon Party which brings me to the next thing on my list of favorites...

4.) The Full Moon Party- This beach party only happens once a month so I was lucky to attend. DJ's lined the beach, there were fire dancers and jump ropes, body painting, glow up accessories, and tons of neon. Even though it was pouring rain the majority of the night, it was so much fun dancing in the moonlight.

5.) Khaosan Road- Khaosan Road is the main tourist area in Bangkok. We stayed at two different hotels right on the street and were instantly surrounded by other foreigners, tons of shopping, delicious restaurants, and rooftop pools. I even became an expert bargainer!
6.) Travel Agents- Thailand was the first country I've traveled to and didn't have a plan. We had hotel reservations for the first two nights in Bangkok, but that was about it. I had heard from friends that it was easy to find travel agents that are helpful and will get you good deals, and they were right. Since Thailand heavily depends on tourism, every other store was a different travel agent company. We shopped around for a bit, trying to find the best deal and luckily we came across a great one. The agent booked all of our travel arrangements (taxi/bus/boat) to Koh Phangan, hotel on the island, and even offered to let us keep our luggage in her office (we didn't do that though). The other agents right in our hotel(s) were just as helpful.

7.) People- One of the best parts about traveling is meeting new people. I was surprised by the number of Europeans and they were just as surprised to find out we were from the US. I envied their European lifestyle. They believe in time off work to relax with family and in return they'll receive more effective work and better attitudes. I was also ashamed to only know English. I felt like every person from a non-English speaking European country knew at least three different languages. For example, we met an Italian family of three on our (long) journey to Koh Phangan. They had a five year old boy who already knew Italian, English, and Spanish. Also, the exchange rate for the pound to baht was extremely high so it makes sense for them to travel there. We definitely missed the backpacking memo. When changing locations, we were always surrounded by backpackers. I felt a little ridiculous rolling around my huge suitcase, but I guess Thailand is a popular backpacking destination. Most people we met had been in Thailand (and surrounding countries) for at least a month and had plans to do more traveling around SE Asia. Their stories inspired me and made me want to [win the lottery] and travel more.

8.) Snorkeling (or lack there of)- While on Koh Phangan, we went on a private boat and had the chance to explore more of the island. Unfortunately, there was a storm rolling in so the water was a bit cloudy for snorkeling, but we still went to three different beaches, went hiking, and swam at the bottom of a waterfall. The beaches were straight out of a postcard. The turquoise water, white sandy beaches, and bright, blue skies were unreal.

9.) Koh Samui- We stayed on Koh Samui only for a night, but it was nice to check out another island. This island was a little more family oriented and touristy, but we stayed in a little beach bungalow and enjoyed relaxing on the beach.

10.) Airports- I went to four different airports in a matter of nine days. The Koh Samui airport was the cutest airport I've ever seen. It was all outdoors, nicely landscaped, and had a little trolly straight out of Disney World to shuttle us around.

11.) Massages- The first "massage" we got in Thailand was from the fish doctor. You stick your feet in a tub full of fish and they eat the dead skin off of them. They weren't very hungry when we went and it tickled a lot so it's probably better I didn't have a lot of fish nibbling on my feet. I got a thai massage, two feet massages, and a facial. Amazing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thailand by Numbers

  • Number of KTX rides: 2
  • Number of different flights: 5
  • Hours in the Beijing airport at one time: 6
  • Number of different hotels: 4
  • Number of different airports: 4
  • Temperature outside the Grand Palace: 106 degrees fahrenheit
  • Number of boat rides: 2 (well, 3 including the snorkeling boat)
  • Longest boat ride: 3 hours
  • Number of bus rides: 2
  • Longest bus ride: 10 hours
  • Number of tuk tuk rides: 2
  • Number of islands visited: 2
  • Number of buckets consumed at the Full Moon Party: pushing 4
  • Number of pictures taken: 500+
  • Number of times I ate chicken pad thai: 5+
  • Number of neon hair accessories: 4

Hedgehog Strikes Again

Every four weeks we start a new book. So this past Monday, after a week long vacation, we started book three. Most students receive all three books at the beginning of each term, or the Korean staff hands them out ahead of time. Unfortunately, Hedgehog never received the new book before class even though his parents told him he would. It's always tough getting back in the swing of things after vacation, achievement tests, and starting a new book on top of all of that, so not having the right book is no big deal.

However, Hedgehog thought it was the end of the world. He burst out crying and at first I had no idea why. Luckily, a Korean staff member was in my room at the time and explained to him in Korean that everything was going to be ok. I went over to comfort him and he put his head inside his backpack and started to cry harder (I'm laughing out loud right now picturing him doing this). I later found out that he wasn't really crying over not having the new book, but he was crying because he thought his parents lied to him.

Poor kid. I don't want to be around when he finds out Santa Clause isn't real.

P.S. Tuesday he got in trouble by a Korean staff member for trying to kiss another boy.

Thank You

On Monday, a student slipped me a note on her way out of class. Printed on pink paper covered with different desserts it said the following:

To: Michelle teacher

Hi Michelle teacher? My name is Vanessa. I was always think teacher teach hard to my study. Very thank you. From now on I will study hard and always do my homework and pay attention.

And I was funny during class time presentation and acting. that was very interesting (especially acting, thinking prozect) Until now I'm happy. Thank you Thank you Thank you so much. I will expectation your smile face and cool, funny study time.

I say one more time...

THANK YOU (in big, bubble letters)


from your students... Vanessa

Besides a few spelling and grammatical errors, how adorable was that letter?! It's definitely a keeper.