The end of the innocence

29 07 2010

Their chubby cheeks, broken English, and awkward dispositions make them appear cute and innocent, but I’m on to them!  Beneath their cocoons of deception are inquisitive little minions of Satan just waiting to escape.  The following is brought to you in part by Grand Theft Auto and the World Wide Web.

Me: “Where is Elliot today?”

Students: “Teacher, he suicide.”

Me: “Oh, he committed suicide?  Again?”

Me: “What is a ring?  Where does a ring go?”
2nd grade class: “Here!  (*points up middle fingers*)  Here, on the f*ck you finger!”  (*giggles uncontrollably*)
  • A middle schooler’s hangman on the white board:  “SUN OF A BEACH”

I stole this gem from a friend of mine:

Teacher(on the topic of jail/prison):  “What do you find in prisons?”
Kids:  “Black people!”

T-shirt of a 8-ish year old boy walking around town with his father:  Cartoon picture of Kermit the Frog with the caption “Pig F*cker”.  Wow.  WOW.

  • Yesterday I was given a detailed lesson by one of my middle school boys on the hierarchy of  English cuss words, complete with a labeled graph.
“Teacher, what’s English, uhhh… Cigarette!.. uhh… This!” (*dips finger and sticks in lip*)
Me (quizzically):  “Where do you come up with this stuff??”  (Side note: no chewing tobacco in Korea…)

All on seperate occasions:

“Teacher, MAFIA spelling?”
“Teacher, COCAINE spelling?”
“Teacher, SUICIDE spelling?”
“Teacher, AIDS spelling?”

Excerpt from a “Get Well Card” I had my 5th graders write to one another:

"Dear Jake, I hope you get very sick, and I hope you die of AIDS."

I don’t even want to try to recall how many times I have been Dong Chim-ed by the kids…. (meaning “poop-needle, which describes the common action of them sticking a finger or two up your ass in the middle of the crowded hallway.  This is perfectly okay behavior, by the way..)

And for my personal favorite:

Side note: I know some people are/will be alarmed by this piece of writing in the picture,.  I have brought it up to the other teachers in my school with the only response being “Oh yeah, her brother is a bad boy”.  Being a relatively new teacher, and a foreigner at that, I believe that is all I can really do on the matter.  At this point if the school is not worried about it, then whether I like it or not, that’s the bottom line for me.


“Invincible Spirit”

26 07 2010

Texas Street was flooded with US Military on Saturday, as Busan welcomed them to South Korea the day before the scheduled military exercises.

Texas Street has long been a popular spot for military men stationed in Busan. This area is a proclaimed ‘red-light district’ in the city, hence receiving its name for being a “wild, frontier area” as Texas is to America.

Quarter-year Anniversary

23 07 2010

Some things I have learned in the past 3 months…

1.  You can’t always be self-reliant.

This one remains a constant struggle for me.  I am very independent and insanely stubborn (I said it..), so it is difficult to admit that I can’t do everything on my own here.  An intense language and cultural barrier stands firm in the way of things that could be easily solved at home.  This includes simple, day to day tasks, including (but not limited to):

– Calling Water, Inc. to switch back on the water to my apartment after 2 days of wondering whether I will get to shower or flush the toilet today.

– Heading down to a hardware store for a spare key when one gets lost.  (As the key gods have and always will thoroughly despised me..)

– Arguing my way out of a full legged hard-cast for a measly broken toe during summer vacation.

Yet this also includes deeper, more frustrating social and relationship issues, like understanding things said to you through a skewed grapevine of translation, perception, body language, and your mind ultimately believing whatever the hell it wants to through it all anyway.  A sense of humor and the keen ability to not take yourself too seriously is crucial here.

2.  I’ll believe it when I see it.

There is no better form of judgment than your own.  Don’t rely solely on information relayed by any source other than your first-hand senses to tell you anything about the world.  Take ideas, information, and advice anywhere you can get it, but be careful not to construct solid opinions without seeing for yourself.  Which brings me to my next point…

3.  Objectivity isn’t always as easy as it seems…

It is easy to construct ideas based on things you know, things you grew up knowing, and things everyone you know, knows.  What isn’t easy is accepting something without judgment that is completely foreign to your common sense, mindset, and seemingly innate ideas.  Silencing this naive habit from even private mind is something I continue to work on..

4.  And my final reflection (just had to throw this one in here..):  “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”

My mom had this quote up on the refrigerator while I was growing up, and I never really took it seriously until recently.  Nothing could be more true.  Give up the “but this, but that” mentality and do what you want to do.  Life is what you make it.

Ode to the Rooftops

15 07 2010

I write this post in appreciation for the little individual freedoms that still exist in Korea long after they have ceased in so many other countries thanks to those few idiots who go and blow it for everyone.  Possibly one of my favorite among these is the insanely easy access to nearly any roof of any building in the country.  I have indeed taken advantage of this perk and am no stranger to rooftop shenanigans, but I must say we discovered a real winner last night.  While escorting some traveling Hungarians about town, our eventual boredom of the ocean view from the sand led us to head out in search of a better place to enjoy our soju.  By this time it was rounding 2AM, businesses were closed and the flicker of neon lights was beginning to diminish from the water’s reflection.  There are twin towers to the east of the beach – the tallest buildings on the skyline.  We made the short stumble to the front doors from the street, and to my partial amazement the front doors were unlocked.  Too easy!  Up the elevator 20-something floors, through a few corridors and unfinished rooms, out another door and up a few ladders, we were taken by the most stunning view I have seen in Korea.  We were up high.. VERY high.  Convenience store drinks, a stunning view, and good company.  As they say in Hungary, Egeszsegedre!

This is me, procrastinating.

6 07 2010

I only have a few measly words left to hammer out for this paper I need to get done, but since it is something attached to the dreaded deadline, it has become something I ‘need’ to get done and therefore spend more mental energy convincing myself to do than simply doing.  Blast!  The best thing about deadlines is there is always that last minute; it is always there for me, waiting patiently until I finally catch up before delivering that necessary swift kick in the ass over the finish line.

Wait for it… waaaait for it……

Today was long considering I had to be in a few hours early to squeeze in my few extra minutes of kindergarten classes, but still not “long” by comparison to the average American (or any other country in the real world) workday.   If there were a career to be made from juicing the lazy fruit and still getting pretty much everything I want from life, I could probably retire early in my great success ( far.. don’t jinx it!).  Although, if you don’t mind, I prefer the term “ingenuity”.  [Puh-tey-toh, Puh-tah-toe].

On a more “grab the bull by the horns” note, I got to play superhero again for my 2 favorite students, Jake and Elliot by trapping a giant fly (eeeeeek!!) in the blinds and saving the day.  “Aaahahahahahaha!!!  Korean girl scream at bug, but Teacher!” – (..succession of vocal and animated ‘capturing bug in the blinds’ gestures..).  I get such a kick out of stuff like that!

Coppee, ju-say-yo

1 07 2010

This photo doesn't really have anything to do with this post, although it is VERY Korean, just like this coffee shop. I am also pretty sure this man does ads for nearly every Western brand of everything out here..

There’s a reason Westerners in Korea stick with Western style coffee shops if there is “coffee shop business” to be done. I am over 2 months Korean now and have yet to come upon a Korean coffee (or coppee) shop at an opportune time; there are plenty in the area and I have made many mental notes to “check that one out”, and am finally putting that archive to use.

The window of Viola Coffee Shop from the street suggested good people watching, coffee, and maybe, just maybe, some internet at a public place that isn’t a Starbucks. Koreans all think Starbucks is cool enough without actual real-life Westerners reinforcing that speculation.  So to back up that ever so subtle anti-corporation innuendo, here I am supporting the little guy, and at the same time feeling rather nostalgic of college with my crappy diner-style instant coffee, hopeless yet repeated attempts at stealing wireless from surrounding businesses, and the desperate resort to Microsoft Word. Ahh, the good ‘ol days. Except in college I didn’t have a full window view of neon glimmer and a street bustling with Asians… I’ll take it I guess.