Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I'm ridiculously happy today.

I don't think most people can understand just how happy I am:
First, I got to talk to most of my closest friends from NY today on Aol Instant Messenger. I logged on to wish Vivian a happy birthday and I was talking to best friend Debbie about her coming out in 5 days!!! Then Kristin and Mario said hello and I was talking to 4 of my best friends! Then my sister Angela said hello and we never get to talk. So I was having a bunch of conversations until we all joined a chat room! You have no idea how great it was to talk to everyone today, I need to go on IM more often. If only Tina and Dwight were there. :O) It woulda been a party.
So then I did telephone interviews tonight. Usually, staying late at work is not something to be happy about. But... the kids had me rollin on the floor as usual. One kid (Alfred) is SUCH a character and though he's cute as a boy possibly can be, he annoys the hell out of me. I spend at least 20 minutes a day yelling at him. Tonight was my 1st phone interview w/him and he was suprisingly very good. Until I asked him to make a sentence using the word "hat". He said,
" I hat my baby sister." (she's cute too! a younger student, maybe 7 years old?)
Then I asked HANS what he had for dinner. In the most confident voice, he said, "Octopus and rice and kimchi and soup and nothing." He's too much. Then he couldn't tell me what a rainbow was but when asked what the sun was he explained that it was a ball of fire. I asked if he was talking to someone b/c he sounded distracted and he said, "No, computer game." BOYS! Both Alfred and Hans are in the group photo from my birthday blog.
Then I called Alice..... the girl who gave me strawberries..... from my cell phone on my walk home. She specifically asked me to call her last so we could "talk". She started every sentence with "TEACHER, ...." and kept me on the phone for 49 minutes! I love it! She told me how she made the perfumes she gave me today, using water and flowers and about her dad's pig meat restaurant and about the designs of the wall paper at her house. She LOVES talking now. She even put her mother on the phone towards the end of the conversation who said "Gaum-sa-ham-ni-da" (the most polite, respectful way to say thank you) and Alice told me her mother is so happy she's getting to learn English because SHE can't. Then she asked me if it's true that kids in America really get to sleep and play after school. That breaks my heart.

Anyway, most of the kids did very well for their telephone interviews. Sara (the girl next to me in photo) is moving in April. "My mom and dad say change the house." We've exchanged emails and all necessary information, but we're both very sad about this. However, I told her we could have a snack party and play JENGA on Friday. So she's very happy!

oh yeah, let's not forget Paul from my first class. He's about 8 or 9 years old, very clever.
We teach the kids to say, "May I get some water please?" OR "May I go to the bathroom please?"

Paul: "May I get some bathroom?"
Nicole Teacher: "No."
Paul: "May I get some bathroom pleeease?"
Nicole Teacher: "No."
Paul: "Ah, may I get some RESTROOM, please?"
Nicole Teacher: "No."
Paul: "Why?"
Nicole Teacher: "I don't have a bathroom to give you."
Paul: "I want to get some restroom."
Nicole Teacher: "really?"
Paul: "Yes. Maybe I want to EAT a restroom... is that ok?"

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mario Invades Korea

As I've mentioned, my good friend Mario flew in to surprise me for my birthday. I was in absolute SHOCK! I couldn't put 2 and 2 together when I first saw his face at my school. It's so like Mario to top off any gift idea and pick up for a spontaneous adventure. I must say, it's very reassuring to know I can be found, here in the middle of a country on the other side of the world.
Mario was only here for 3 days, but they were 3 amazing days! Of course, we went out all 3 nights. The 1st night was a local pizza place where we ate with my co-workers and ordered huge pitchers of beer. We told them it was my birthday and received the customary Korean "celebration": they blast this song and everyone in the place claps. This particular restaurant has chandeliers that turn into disco balls and the waiters pop party favor graffiti at you. Woo Hoo!

The 2nd night wasn't so low-key. We hit every bar in town, starting with a huge Korean night club called "NEWS". We were the only foreigners in the booking club. It's supposed to be a match-making place, but the staff let us alone because we were already co-ed. I was the one who'd suggested the place, knowing they have great entertainment. (bands, D.J.s, extravagant shows put on by talented Russians...) I wasn't expecting STRIPPERS to come on stage. Neither were the boys! I think they were happy with my choice. This place also did the Happy Birthday bit (hundreds of people swinging their white hand towels around while the "celebration song" blared) It was great! Mario also told the DJ to wish me a happy birthday over the loud speaker and he did, while singing along with "I like to move it move it". Does it get any better?

Yeah it does. You might think I'm referring to my Konglish Party the following night. No, I'm referring to my actual Birth day. The last 3 classes I teach are kids between 10 - 12 years old. They brought me tons of presents... really really thoughtful presents!

Alice used to be incredibly shy. She wouldn't talk and appeared to be nervous most of the time. Then one day I brought my puppies to school. That night for telephone interviews I told the kids they BETTER ask ME a question. No one-word responses, I want actual conversation. Well Alice asked me if I had dogs back in America. She then talked my ear off for 15 minutes about pets. Usually the interviews run 5 minutes at most. Ever since, she's been an extravert and TOP of her class. She kicks ASS now! For my birthday, she remembered me saying I love strawberries during our fruit/vegetable lessons. I LOVE HER!

Sara shares my love for writing. She always comes up with innovative stories and tries to be creative in her work. One time I asked the kids to write about somewhere they'd been over the summer. Every kid said, "ZOO" or "BEACH". She struggled for the longest time, trying to tell me about some lili-pad festival she'd been to. Finally I just said, "I don't care! Just make something up." She's extremely sensitive and hangs on every word I say, so she ended up crying. I felt like the biggest JERK. Then she wrote me a Christmas card saying how much she loves me and that she was sorry for crying in class 2 times. (her classmates weren't cooperating for a puppet show once). Well she gave me a journal for my birthday that says, "Don't borrow from tomorrow, live each day to the fullest." Wow. Some other girls brought me notebooks, pens, candies, and notes thanking me for teaching them. One girl even brought me a georgious butterfly necklace (another favorite of mine is butterflies) and I just started teaching those girls a couple weeks ago. And to top it off, Mario got to spend the day with my kids. They asked him all kinds of questions about his job, America, and where he was sleeping while here in Korea. They loved him and he even brought them snacks and post cards form New York. Thanks Mario!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Zani Girl

Last week I received the best compliment ever my life. I was sitting on the floor in our school's hallway, making fun of the five-year-olds I used to teach when my supervisor came and sat beside me. She asked if I've ever seen the film "Dead Poets Society". She then went on to tell me I'm like Robin Williams, when he makes the kids stand on their desks and shout.... breaking the rules of their school. An idealistic teacher stirs up the conformed waters of a 1959 prep school, inspiring his students to "suck the marrow out of life". A wonderfully acted and beautifully told story of the quest to maintain your individual identity and follow your dreams. He was their inspiration. He made their lives extraordinary. You have no idea how much that means to me. I'm different than most because I like to have fun and I love making others have fun. Some may perceive my behavior as bait for attention, but really it's just my fear of living inside the box.
So do yourself a favor, and live a little.

By the way, the same day I was told that I "look like Spider Man movie girl". I'd much rather be compared to Robin Williams than Kirsten Dunst.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

More Konglish Shirts
my photo albums can be viewed at

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


My friend is on his way back to Canada right this minute. I'm gonna miss him. Lots of kids liked him, despite his unique teaching style. He named them things like "toast" and "pepsi". He told the kids to call him "Demon" and picked on them a lot. A bunch of us went out last night for his last night in Korea. We ate at T.G.I.Fridays and then hit the bars. We used to all frequent a local pub around the corner from my apt, called BEER HUNTER. They have 50% Tuesday specials. The group there is great though (see above): Troy and Alwyn from Australia, Mike from Texas, Ben from Canada, Dan and Greer from New Zealand, Ken and James from Canada, Danien from hell, and Me from Heaven. ha ha. I'm an angel. Danien and I have a hate/love relationship (as you can see). He's so mean to me, and I love it! We have a very immature-bickering relationship, but when it comes down to it, Daniens a really good guy. A genuine heart and endangered morals. Hopefully one day we'll meet up again and drink til wee hours of the morning. Take care Danien! I wish you the best!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Konglish T-shirt party

Well it was a hit. I managed to round up all the coolest people in Korea (from Seoul to Busan) and throw a party so fun the neighbors came up 4 times! I negotiated with the little bit of Korean I know and it's all good. She went from screaming that she was gonna call the police to laughing when I told her she keeps me up many nights yelling at her husband. We compromised on a time I had to leave for the bars (3:30am!!!)

We all went to Jenny's bar afterwards and continued the party. "J-Rock". She had cake and a hat for me. Jenny's a blast, she came to my apartment with a korean drink I've never tried and I loved it. It had green olives in the bottom. (my favorite)

Everyone was incredibly sweet, from bringing me the most incredibly thoughtful birthday gifts, to fun party favors and food to share. The crowd meshed TOO well, I don't think we could've had more fun. The mix consisted of: the girls I usually go out with, all my co-workers and teachers in the area, the people I met on the trip to China, and my good friend Mario who flew out from New York to surprise me for my birthday. (I'll post pics later from my actual birthday.) You might be wondering what a "Konglish T-shirt" is. Well it's a T-shirt with a silly phrase that's supposed to be English, but it's grammatically incorrect, or just doesn't make sense. They're everywhere here in South Korea and we find them hysterical. People excuse this by calling it "konglish" (combination of Korean and English). No, it's just poorly constructed English. So everyone was to find the funniest shirt they could and wear it to the party. The girls above wore the same shirt: Greer is wearing red and Heather is wearing Blue. The shirt is more appropriate for Greer however, because it's a bunch of jibberish, then says "Dan Gregarious Unit" and her fiance is Dan. Dan wore a shirt with bananas all over it, which is pretty Dan-like.

Big sizes are rare to come across in Korea. So, many of the big guys had to impovise: Josh here wore an apron that said "Don't cry squirrel". At one point his girlfriend, Steph, was looking for him and said, "Have you seen my squirrel?" cute.
Mike actually found one covered with sports logos, which is perfect for him. Mario refused to wear the pink shirt I found with 2 cowboys holding hands, so he got a white T- shirt and everyone wrote their own Konglish messages on it. (top of page) Most of the shirts were hilarious, which means "causing boisterous merriment or convulsive laughter".

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Acrobatic show

Well this is my "grand finale" of blogging on the China trip. However, this amazing performance was something we were lucky enough to experience on our 1st day in Beijing. (the ladies above are spinning plates on each stick, while they manage unbelievable moves.) According to our tour guide, these incredibly talented people start training at approximately 3 years old and may retire as young as 18. If I weren't in the 1st row, I never would've believed the stunts they pulled off to be physically possible. I was in awe. I think I was the only one to buy a DVD at the end of the show - it was 95 YUAN = a little over $10 U.S. dollars.
The same night we got to experience something else amazing in Beijing: "4th of July on crack"
For 12 years the citizens of (urban) Beijing were not allowed to light fireworks. But this year, Beijing rescinded the ban. As soon as a family set the dinner table, they would set off firecrackers letting their neighbors know the New Year's celebration had begun in their household. Keep in mind how crowded China is. The capital EXPLODED! There was so much noise and so many lights the 1st 24 hours of fireworks, it seemed as if night never fell upon us. Some members of our trip went out in the streets, buying firecrackers and setting them off with the people of China. I stayed in and haven't heard the end of it since. But I had a nice, safe view from my huge window at the Holiday Inn. The hotel we stayed at was REMARKABLE! (highly recommended next time you're in China) I was asleep at midnight when the most heart pounding scene ever errupted outside. I woke right up and it felt like I was a reporter in the middle of a war at first. Then I smiled and appreciated the colors as they burst freely throughout the sky, symbolizing perhaps what is a small sign of civil liberties. Firecrackers are traditionally believed to be a symbol of happiness in China. So I was happy for them.

Unfortunately, the fireworks pictures wouldn't come out, but here is another acrobatic shot:

There are 10 people riding ONE BICYCLE. My friend Miki told me they fit whole families on a moped over here, but this is ridiculous. :O)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Back to China

No silly, I'm not going back to China (ever probably) just apologizing for the brief interlude in blogging. So we boarded the plane as strangers and now we're a big group of friends. 3 of the girls I originally went with, waiting in the airport (early morning): Jordana, Lindsey, & Heather.

I took this photo of the plane, then Jordana went to take one and got yelled at. Somehow I ended up with the window seat both ways. I'm a lucky girl. Then everyone's food was pretty nasty, except for the 4 who ordered vegetarian meals.I rubbed it in Lindsey's face for a few minutes, then gave her my salad. Hee hee. Vegetarians are kind-hearted. We had to fill out lots of paper work on the plane; one of the questions on the health declaration form was, "Have you had close contact with poultry or bird in the past 7 days?"

We were waiting for our luggage at the airport in Beijing when I said, "I always have these strong urges to do things I'm not supposed to." Jordana asked, "Like what?" I told her I really wanted to sit on the conveyer belt and ride with the luggage. She hopped right on!

Another red building, in case you didn't get enough.
And a cool blue dragon: