Monday, February 27, 2006

What do I do now??

Dear Jessica,

I am writing to you as Graduate Director in the Sociology department at the University of Western Ontario. The department's graduate committee has met to review the applications to our graduate program, and we are unanimous in our desire to admit you. You are a strong student, and we would love to have join you join our MA program in the fall. We are currently putting together a funding package for you, and securing the approval of our Faculty of Graduate Studies.

In the next few weeks, I will be sending you a formal letter offering admission, detailing our funding package, and outlining any conditions on your admittance. I wanted to contact you first to let you know our decision, and to urge you to contact me if you have any questions or concerns, or if there is anything I can do to make your decision an easier one.

I will be in touch again soon.

Good things

I'm still really happy and basking in success. It certainly feels good to know I'm in the clear. I guess my alternate plan will have to wait for another time. Pretty sure at this point that I'll go to U of T, but I guess I'll see what the other schools have to say and what my trusty ex-professors advise.

I can't wait. But I'm sure I'll miss Korea when I'm plugging away at a paper the night before it's due, or hating grading pathetic student papers. Then again, pathetic student papers provide great blogging material...

Here I am, unsuspecting of this news, on Friday night with two of my favourites in Korea. That's Scott and D'Arcy. We went out with the whole staff to celebrate my belated birthday and Scott's departure, which happens on Wednesday morning. It will be sad to say goodbye to good ol' Scott, but he's heading for greener pastures in Japan and beyond. And he has Barbie on his shirt to keep him warm.

So, all you knowledgable folk, who's got a connection to a cheap bachelor apartment within five minute's walk of the subway, the gym, and the campus?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Holy majoley

In my inbox this morning:

Dear Jessica,

I am pleased to inform you that your application to the sociology MA program at the University of Toronto has been accepted. While we receive a large number of applications each year, we accept only a limited number of students. I congratulate you on the fact that you are ranked highly by the admissions committee.

You will soon receive a letter of admission with detailed information. Meanwhile, do not hesitate to contact me if you have any question. I am more than happy to discuss with you the details of your admission.

Once again, congratulations on your admission.

Then I burst out crying and called my mom. I can't believe it. Yay!!!!

Struggling to keep my hopes at bay

Yesterday Scott told me that I always think about all the possible outcomes of any given situation before they actually pan out. Is that true about me? I always find it interesting to hear about myself.

This eventual phone call has been occupying my mind constantly since I heard about it, and especially since Katie said that when she got a telephone call from her department head last year it was to inform her that she'd been accepted. All I've got to say about that is.. AAAHHH.

I am almost certain that whatever they're calling about is positive because if anything rubbed them too much the wrong way on my application it would be tossed in the trash immediately. Right?

So the question remains: are they (specifically, it is the acting head of the department who also happens to be a prof that I named as one who could be my supervisor) calling for more information or are they calling to congratulate. It seems rather early, just shy of a month after application duedates, for decisions to already be made.

Let's entertain the idea that I have been accepted at U of T. This changes everything in my "what if" plans because I really never thought I'd get in here. My order of acceptance has always been Western, then McGill, then Carleton. U of T was just for kicks. Imagining I get into all options, let's say, what would I do?? U of T doesn't have the strongest demography program but it does have professors with very similar interests and demography where Western does not, and it is located in the city I most want to live in. Should I let city be a determining factor considering it is just a one year program? Maybe. Connections count too.

Western has the best demography program in Canada but it's in London and I'm not all that sure how much I care about demography. I've chosen it mostly because of its practicality and my own strengths. University of Toronto is a more internationally accredited university, I think, than Western.

I'm really not sure what I'll do. I shouldn't even bother thinking too much about it at this point, but that's what I do, so I'm told. I can't help having visions of living along the subway line and a year full of spring in Toronto. Or living in Montreal and spending time with my grandparents and getting free tickets for all my brother's really great concerts.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Some news

My father emailed to tell me that the Graduate Sociology Studies head at the University of Toronto called to speak to me.

My father told him where I am and gave him my email address so we can make arrangements to reach each other.

I did not expect to hear from any university by telephone, let alone U of T, the school I thought would immediately laugh in my face and throw my application into the reject pile. Does this mean they're interested in me? What else can it mean, right?

How should I prepare for this telephone call? What might they want to know?

I better make sure I remember what kind of interests I made up for this application.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I'm a gypsy

My kids are driving me slightly insane, probably because I've gotten lazy in this "two days to go until the end of school" time frame.

I'm a pretty good detective so I'm almost sure of my new class. I'll have three from my current class, including two favourites, Yoon and Mindy, and then Alice who I could live without. There are three other names on the list and I think I've met all three boys when they came to sit in on my class. But I also heard that I have a class of four. So I either have six or four kids for now which sounds dream-like but really it's a pain in the butt when they bring in a new kid whenever one signs up.

I'll also be switching classes, so it seems. No longer will I be Happy. Instead I think I'll be Smile. It's too bad since Happy class is the most spacious of all the clssroom's, I believe. D'Arcy and Kevin, according to my snooping, have the two corner classrooms which boast two walls of windows. Sweet deal, I say.

Isn't it completely ridiculous, though, that nobody has told us anything about what will happen next semester?? The new semester begins on Thursday and none of the teachers has any idea what they'll be teaching. Ahh, we're not real teachers anyway so who gives a damn.

Why am I a gypsy? Because my dear dear Wendy sent me some bracelets for my birthday that jangle and I love them. Thanks so much Wend. Your package made it just in time to cheer me up. My kids said "Mexico!" when I wore them to class.

Hmm.. what else have I got?

I went to the gym today after work. I've been going three times a week for the last few weeks and am starting to feel a difference. I can do thirty full situps on the second incline bar of the situp board thing without even a struggle. In March I'm lifting the bar up one rung. My arms and legs have more definition, underneath the layers of blubbery white rice fat, that is. Just kiddin'. Seriously, though, if anyone is curious about whether or not a person might gain or lose weight during a year in Korea, I'd say it's impossible to generalize. I eat a lot of foreign food all the time, as well as Korean food all the time. Basically I eat food all the time, regardless of where I am. I don't think I've gained weight here, and if I've lost any it's minimal. Other people I've heard gain some or lose some so really... there's no answer. Now, don't you feel more enlightened?

I ate about twenty oreos today, but I'm happy to say they're all gone so there's nothing more to worry about.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The day

Yesterday I had until 2:30 off and I think the change of schedule threw off my equilibrium or something. Today I was in an irritable mood and felt like enough is enough. I was just ready to head home. Not that I would, of course, but I felt a little bit sick and tired of being away from home.

I'm fine now, though. Nothing some delicious pho can't fix. Pho sho.

Over the almost eight (!) months that I've been here I've gone through stages where I think a lot about the time that I'll be heading home. I used to think a lot about the clothes and things that I won't bother to take home with me. The thought of leaving it all behind here in Korea and heading home empty handed really made my day. These days I've been thinking about the end of winter and what I can ship home when the mild weather finally arrives. Goodbye winter coat, excess sweaters, and whatever else I can part with for now. Apparently shipping is very cheap (albeit very slow) if I select 'surface' on the form and send it on its way. Anyone know of other shipping alternatives?

Hopefully when I get my new class settled beginning next week I'll have a fresh start for the remaining time here. That's only four months. Four months!

I spend too much time thinking about time.

I hope I get into grad school.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Another Happy Class success! Man, these kids perform under pressure! They were flawless and cute and the show went without a hitch. I think all the parents must have been satisfied.. how could they not be?

Here are the kids in their costumes.

I'll admit it. I bribed with oreos and my chew and it worked like a charm.

Oh, notice Wendy's horrific eye? She's the girl in the yellow and she arrived at school with a pussy nasty shiner like no other I've seen. Poor girl. I thought for sure she wouldn't talk in the show but alas, she did, pussy nasty eye and all! You go, Wendy!

And here are the parents taking pictures after the show.

Like parents all over the world...

Monday, February 20, 2006

I have a poll

Take a look at my poll, located on the right side of this page. I need some advice regarding where to travel after this whole Korea business is finished with. I want to hear from everybody. What do you think? Comments are more than welcome.


The weekend passed by quickly with a few things of note.

I went on Saturday to Rocky Mountain Tavern, the Canadian bar that serves huge nachos with cheese and sour cream, even. We went to watch team Canada play Switzerland. No, I'm not particularly into hockey, or any sports for that matter, but I like excitement and emotion, and national pride ain't so bad either. I've been watching a lot of the Olympics - it makes time on the treadmill pass by in a jiffy! (You should see my iron pumping arm muscles, by the way. They are sort of visible, even.)

Anyway, the live game was to begin at 11:30pm so we got there early because we expected the entire Canadian expat community to show up. That's a lot of beer guzzling maple syrup suckling so-called English teachers. We got a prime table at about 8:30 so by the time midnight rolled around, a half hour into the game, I looked up from the ever-dangerous (and not played since first year university) game of Kings to realize that the big screen wasn't even working. We left soon after and later heard that Canada lost. What?

On Sunday I went to Moran market, this sprawling event occuring on any day of the month with a 4 or a 9 in it. I went there months ago and took pictures of kittens and puppies for sale. Remember? This time I took a stroll down the live animal aisle meant for consuption, not household pet. I didn't have the nerve to take out my camera but it was more disturbing, I think, than the Bangkok pingpong show.

Most of you are well aware of the fact that people eat dog in Korea. It's not all that common or frequent a meal, mind you. I never really thought this was a big deal - how is it any different than eating other animals? I've seen the dogs they use and they're big, brown ones I can't say I've seen at home. I can't even really compare them to a breed that I know of. So I never thought it was so bad.

Yesterday I saw a dog get killed. They used an electric current on its neck and he slowly crumpled to the ground. It all happened quite fast, for I was just walking by and hardly slowed my pace. I wonder if he was yelping and that's what drew my attention, but I'm not certain. I looked at the other dogs with their deep, intelligent eyes, crammed in their cages on top of each other with huge roosters handcuffed above. I don't know whether dogs are more intelligent than cows or chickens, but I'm sure Kwinter or Oliver wouldn't feel too comfortable in a cage where one by one their cellmates were electified in plain view. It was pitiful and repulsive.

You know those pigs that are roasted or cooked somehow so they look shiny and charred? I don't know what that process is, but I hope I never see another dog like that again.

And that's all about that for now.

Tomorrow is the big festival day and I'm nervous for the sake of my kids. And myself, I guess. I'm pretty sure at least one kid will freeze and they all might not sing or speak loud enough. On the plus side, I only have to go into work at about two thirty! Wish Happy Class some luck!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Nothing is ever certain

The other day I thought I was keeping most of my kids after the big change in March. Now I don't know, once more.

At today's staff meeting el directoro presented his slight dilemma. There are four classes without assigned teachers currently. One six year old class with a full year of English experience, one six year old class with some time of English experience, one new six year old class, and one new five year old class. There are four teachers without classes assigned: a new teacher, D'Arcy, Sara, and myself. D'Arcy's current kindergarteners are very advanced (she talks to them like they're native speakers), Sara's are near beginners who had been in school for a few months before she arrived, and mine are beginner five year olds that started their English careers with me back in July.

The dilemma is whether or not the director should cut me (and Sara) a break and give us the more experienced classes to make us happy, or instead give us the beginner five and six year old classes again because we are now experienced with it where D'Arcy and the new teacher are not.

On the one hand I realize that for the sake of the children, experience (at least some) is better than none. My poor kids discovered that with me. D'Arcy has had no experience with kids who can't speak English, even with her elementary classes. Every single class of mine is low level. I bask in my misfortune.

On the other hand, I don't want to deal with all the shit again. It was a tough go and I was struggling with them through hurdle after hurdle. Learning to be in school, learning to use scissors and glue, learning to hold pencils and write their names, to fill in sheets, to listen, to keep from speaking Korean in the classroom. They've come an impressively long way. It's easy to forget how trying it was to not be able to communicate with them, and it's even easier to take their level for granted now.

And really, I kind of want D'Arcy to feel what it's like. I know it's terrible, but I must admit, I would love to see it. She knows my secret, and probably hates me for it. Mwa ha ha!!!

If I get the five year olds again I'll manage and it'll provide for some exciting reads, won't it? What do you think will happen?? My wager is I'll get a beginner class; whether or not it's the five year olds I can't say.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sarang Hay

Today in my elementary class my kids taught me a Korean lesson (with a quiz and everything!) and we did not English work. Now I know how to spell the numbers from one to ten in both the hana, tul, set way and the il, i, sam way.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day here but things are done slightly differently here. Apparently, girlfriend's give boyfriend's a present now and then in a month or so it's the boy's turn to give the girl a present. I guess it's a good idea so there is a general ballpark figure to follow. Some of my kids brought me chocolate and I feel like I've been eating way too much of it these days. Check out this box of "Ferrero Rocher's". Ahh ha ha. I love Korea.

To celebrate Valentine's day, Sara and I went out to a Chinese restaurant in Suji that we'd never been to which was a bit overpriced (compared to two dollar mandu) but tasty nontheless. Then I went home and watched a documentary about the Great Wall of China. Now I can say I climbed it AND I know a little bit about it. I know I mentioned I had a date the other day but it's not Valentine's Day serious so don't get too excited, folks.

Today for the first time ever in Korea I did this....

Please forgive me, belly. And thanks mom and dad for the cute green sweater!

Monday, February 13, 2006

You know you're Korean when...

The following email forward will only be funny to some of you, and funny is an understatement to those lucky few. To the rest it will be boring, mysterious, or insulting.


You know you're Korean When:

1)You're 12-years old and you don't go home until 10 pm.

2)And yet when you're unmarried at 25, you have to be home by ten.

3)You wrap kimchi around your rice before eating it.

4)You stare like a blinded deer in headlights at anyone different.

5)You attempt to go into the subway or elevator before the people get

6)If you ain't chewing and slurping your food at a loud volume then
you obviously ain't enjoying it.

7)You "slightly disregard" traffic rules. Like stopping at crosswalks
for those pesky pedestrians.

8)You go home and everything smells bad.

9)You think having 4 seasons is really special.

10) You describe any girl over 110 pounds as "fat."

11) Your closet is full of black, brown, and grey clothes.

12) You suddenly want to go to Prague or Bali because you saw them on a
Korean drama.

13) You drive out of a blind alley at 60 km/h.

14) you're an "expert" at making ramyen noodles.

15) You try the doorknob instead of ringing the doorbell or knocking

16) You eat more off your friend's plate than your own.

17) You answer the phone with a loud warbling

18) Your favorite teacher is the one that beats you the hardest.

19) The national hero you admire most is the one who has a nuclear bomb
pointed at you.

20) You watch "Planet of the Apes" and you really identify with the apes
or it hits too close to home. Either way, deep down you don't like the

21) You appear to be thinking you look quite dignified while drinking
your shooter of 2 cent booze after noisily slurping octopus.

22) You're dropping a log in the squatter and spit on the floor in front
of you, thus clearing two orifices at once. Korean multi-tasking.

23) You jump out of the shower at the local gym and stand naked in front
of the mirror blow drying your family jewels.

24) You grab the communal toothbrush at the gym and take it into the
shower with you!

25) Even though you weigh 120 you have to try and out bench the 190
pound guy, because he's a foreigner.

26) You think that your mom's kimchi can cure your grandma's halitosis
and your grandpa's cancer.

27) Your cell phone has more than 20 pictures stored on it...of

28) There's more toilet paper in your dining room than your bathroom.

29) You believe that flushing toilet paper down the toilet will clog up
the plumbing so instead, throw your shitty paper in a bin next to the

30) You are no longer bothered by the old Korean lady (ajumma) shoving a
mop between your legs as you stand at the urinal.

31) You view the handicapped-ramped crosswalks as a perfect place to
jimmy your car into at an angle. Pedestrians and handicapped people be
damned- you need to park!.

32) You hang a plastic glove filled with water in the window because you
believe mosquitoes and flies are scared of their reflection.

33) You look at thin blonde women and assume they are Russian hookers.

34) You open all of your windows in the middle of winter and crank up
the heat.

35) You're standing in the shower at the Sauna and offer to scrub a
total stranger's back.

36) You don't think it's at all weird to share a hot tub butt naked with
a grandfather and his two grandsons.

37) You open the window a crack when your fan is running, just in case
because you think running fans can kill you!

38) You've traveled to various places in the world and when asked about
whether you liked the food or not, you say, "I don't know." "Did you try
the food?" "No. Well, only the chicken. The only food I ate in Germany was

39) You dial a wrong number, proceed to yell at the people on the other
end of the line for not being the people you were trying to call, hang up
on them in a huff......and then hit redial.

40) You do exactly what your boss tells you to do, no matter how stupid
and idiotic.

41) You would never dream of asking to get paid extra for the overtime

42) You feel well rewarded for the long hours and sacrifice if you get
taken out for sam-gap-sal (Pork BBQ)and a few hours in a singing room once
or twice a year.

43) You sleep under a piece of oversized gauze and call it a sheet.

44) You put sweet potato on pizza.

45) You think picking your teeth or nose in public isn't polite...unless
you oh so discreetly do it with one hand covering up your activity.

46) You push, claw, and elbow your way to position yourself to be the
first to exit the subway car, and then right after you exit, you walk at a
snail's pace.

47) You go on a nice beach vacation, where you sit under the beautiful
shade of your huge umbrella fully clothed, wearing a Darth Vader visor,
covered in sun tan lotion, refusing to go near the water.

48) You eat dog because it supposedly gives your four thrusts instead of

49) After going to the washroom, you wash your hands for 1 second under
ice cold water and dry them in your hair.

50) You open up a new business with an arch of balloons and two dancing

51) You proudly adorn your new business with a sign that reads:
"SINCE 2005"

52) You close the business two years later after realizing there were
already ten nearly identical businesses on the same block.

53) You would rather park on the sidewalk than the huge parking lot 5
feet away.

54) You drive for 5 hours to spend 30 minutes at some over crowded
tourist trap.

55) You order a side of kimchi to go with your steak.

56) You ask the foreigner next to you if he can use chopsticks, while he
is eating with chopsticks.

57) You deny that Koreans still eat dog, after the foreigner next to you
has just said, "Last night I went out for dog with some Korean friends, it
was better than I thought it would be!"

58) You think eating eel will give you a hard-on, but eating bean
sprouts will make you lose it, and the reasoning behind both is: "the

59) You correct the pronunciation of the American in the back of your
cab, by saying: " meaneuh Joji Bushi..."

60) You think your foreign co-worker's fridge is full of coca-cola,
burgers, ready-made sandwiches and spaghetti.

61) You think the messages of the Buddha and Jesus are perfectly
compatible with the statement: "Koreans are a superior race."

62) You base that superiority on being a descendent of a bear that ate

63) And you claim the above is only a myth, but you believe it. And that
makes sense to you.

64) No one in your country has AIDS, but "kimchi" can cure it.

65) You are a young man who really believes in a future Asian
revolution, after which you, as a Korean, will be administering an Asian
dominated autocracy in which Chinese labor and Japanese technology are
under your boot. But whitey is way under that, and Africa and Southeast
Asia have somehow disappeared. You perform self-love to this fantasy

66) You laugh at your foreign co-worker's "Brooseuh Williseuh" shaved
head, while pressing down your comb-over with a hand covered in your own

67) Your students try to convince you that Catholics are NOT Christians.

68) Your students tell you that they are devout Catholics but don't know
who the Pope is.

69) You order pizza and it comes with corn and mayonnaise as well as a
side serve of pickles to put on top.

70) You think that smoking in a crowded restaurant (with a no smoking
sign) or any other place is perfectly acceptable behavior for men but
woman who smoke in public are clearly prostitutes.

71) Your students are convinced that music by The Beatles is hard core

72) You see a flashing green walking man in the distance indicating that
pedestrians may cross...and you run at full pelt, as though you were
running away from a T-Rex, to cross the road. God forbid having to wait 2
minutes until the next one.

73) You think that the sink in the bathroom/public toilet is for fixing
your hair and appearance and NOT for washing your hands after going to the

74) You have a terrible cold and it doesn't occur to you that coughing
in other people's faces and food will make them sick too.

75) You honestly believe foreigners care about whose island
takashimi/dokdo is!

76) You think an ambulance with a siren blazing is just another car.
Therefore, you need not make way.

77) You hear the monthly air-raid sirens you are totally unfazed and go
about your business.

78) You stick a needle in your thumb to relieve indigestion.

79) You wear an undershirt with a t-shirt.

80) You own a cell phone with a built-in breathalyzer.

81) Your main purpose of going to the office everyday is to persuade
your colleague(s) into a night of drinking.

82) Low cut, v-neck, floral print, pink t-shirt, shiny jeans, and Paris
Hilton-esque sunglasses are perfectly acceptable items for a heterosexual
man to wear for a night on the prowl.

83) You put corn on/in any kind of Western food.

84) You warn your visiting friends/family about how hot ALL Korean food
is... and check to make sure they can eat it when they're half done.

85) You understand why prior to a given date there will be no heat and
after a given date there will no longer be heat, regardless of the

86) You cover your mouth when you laugh or smile but not when you cough
or sneeze.

87) In the winter (-10 degree weather), you wear short skirts, but in
the summer(in +40 weather) you cover all skin with jeans and a sweater
because that's the fashion.

88) You don't wear deodorant because 'Koreans don't sweat.?>>

Who made it this far?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I'm not a little one anymore

I've only ever met one other teacher here who was younger than me. Besides that the youngest is usually 23 (and even that is kind of rare) because you need a university degree to work in Korea, legally at least.

Today I turned 23 so I'm not longer a novelty. Oh well.

To celebrate I did a little shakin' last night, ate some brunch in Suji, and went on a date. With a boy, even, not just D'Arcy.

Last year for my birthday I had a wine and cheese party. The year before, a pizza party at Pizza Hut. The year before I was heading to Cuba. The year before... well, I can't remember anything further back. But I don't really care so much about birthdays in the end.

To answer your question, Carina, no I haven't received any birthday packages just yet(except the one mom and pop sent a month ago) but on Friday I did receive Jordana's Chanukah package which was just on time for my birthday. Isn't that sweet!

And I just got a telephone call from Rena which was really nice and also completely unreal to hear her voice calling from Israel while I'm in South Korea and we're friends from little ol' Thornhill. The connection was clear as a bell.

I also heard and saw my grandfather over webcam today. Kind of neat. Hi Bubs and Zaids!

So that's it. I'm 23 which feels significantly older than 22 somehow. Luckily everyone I know in Korea is closer to 30 than 20 so I'm still young and hip. I just used that same exact line on MSN.

Another week is just about to begin.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Rah, rah, rah!

For some reason D'Arcy's videos can easily be imported into Windows movie maker and then uploaded onto YouTube without that damned time delay. My camera automatically puts my videos into Quicktime and that is not WMM friendly. What do I do?!?!

Here is a video without time delay thanks to D'Arcy.

Today I found out that I will be keeping five of my own kids come March. That's Wendy, Elizabeth, Mindy, Yoon, and Alice, and getting the remaining kids from the other five year old class who are good kids too. Sara is stuck with either the five year olds or a six year old beginner class (sucker), and D'Arcy doesn't have a class just yet. She's losing her kids to another teacher. The director, for some reason, wants the seven year old classes to have teachers who will be around for longer periods of time, and since D'Arcy, Sara, and I are the next to ship out, we will face some changes. Not me, though. I'm happy with this decision. Sara, needless to say, is not.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I just can't wait

These days I'm really missing one particular thing about home. Maybe the passage of time has skewed my memory of this thing at home, but I no, it hasn't.

I miss bathrooms!! Yes, good ol' bathrooms. Why, you ask? Well, Korean bathrooms are the worst. The worst ever!!

Let's start with the bathroom in my apartment. I can stretch my arms across it and touch all four walls without changing my footing. I think. I just double checked and I can - without even full arm extension. This isn't a huge problem, considering the limited activities that take place in this particular room. What really bothers me is that first of all, my shower head, which is attached to my sink faucet (and switches with only the push of a button) leaks. I can never trust that when I'm brushing my teeth my jeans will stay dry. Second of all, and worst of all, is the water temperature of my shower. When I turn it on it is scalding hot for about thirty seconds so I must watch myself or I'll get scorched. Soon the water gets to a manageable temperature and it is at this point that I must jump in and go all out, because I only have one or so minutes to enjoy the warm water before it loses all sign of heating. I repeat this process numerous times until all showering duties are completed. I hate it.

If you think this is bad, you should see public bathrooms! Women's bathroom often smell like an ashtray because of the social stigma attached to them smoking women (those sluts). You're lucky if there is any toilet paper so if I haven't developed the habit of carrying my own around with me by now then I'm a damn fool. If there is any soap, it's usually a nasty, filmy bar that just doesn't sit well with me, and there's never a decent hand drying mechanism. Oh, how can I forget that there's no heating in these bathrooms, so not only do you freeze your buns on the seat, but there's no heated water and there's nothing more uncomfortable than ice-cold hands in an ice cold bathroom with no hand towels or anything.

I dream of bathrooms as high class as Tim Horton's... Four months and eighteen days to go.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Give it time to load

Did you know?

Did you know that the quickest and fairest way to solve problems or make decisions in Korea is a quick game of kai, bai, bo, better known to the Western world as rock, paper, scissors? Today I secured a Friday afternoon off with the brilliant selection of paper over rock. Assa!

Did you know that Korean boyfriends carry their girlfriend's purses regardless of color or style. I just saw a guy toting a lovely purple bag while his girlfriend trotted along, hands free.

Did you know that the cook at school is trying to starve us to death with kimchi and rice ONLY twice this week for lunch. Today she did us a favour and served spam in ketchup as well. I never actually ate spam before. I only ever made fun of the idea of spam. What's happening to me?

Speaking of which, did you know that this evening I bought meat at the grocery store for the second time ever since I've been in Korea. That's right, I never buy meat here. I eat meat at school, in restaurants, and everywhere else I go, but meat in the store is so damn expensive and all I have is a gas stove so I can't bake or grill.

Did you know that I eat fake crab regularly, sometimes just on its own as a snack? Mmm.. fake crab.

Today one of my elementary students brought me a huge bag of tangerines. Maybe it had thirty or forty of them. I'm not sure why he brought them because he can't speak English.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I hear ya, sistah!

About a month ago the Backstreet Boys performed in Seoul. Later that night they were drinking and partying in Itaewon. I was there that night too but didn't see them. Imagine that. Six years ago my highschool self pictured the chance meeting of me and the boys. I pictured myself pretending not to be excited. Incredible.

Next week Oasis is coming. In eighth grade we sang "Wonderwal"l while working on art projects in Mrs. Baskin's art class.

Stupid Beitleman made fun of me for having a lazy eye. (I have a lazy eye).

"You should lay off the LSD," he said.

I replied with a killer comeback that I haven't since forgotten.

"You really shouldn't make fun of people for things they can't help. I could make fun of you for being short or ugly, but instead I choose to make fun of you for being an asshole."

Nearby, Kevin shouted "I hear ya, sistah!"

Ahh, I still bask in the glory of that moment, and it was almost ten years ago. Holy shit... ten years ago.

Monday, February 06, 2006

It's 9:42. Do you know where your children are?

Why are there so many songs about rainbows?
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions
But only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

I never would have thought, seven months ago, that my kids would be able to memorize this by now. But, they have.

I have a video of myself as a five year old singing this song so I thought I'd pass it along to my five year olds. My good ol' five year olds who are going to leave me at the end of the month, most likely. I'm sad.

I found out that not only Elliot but Peter, Molly, and Brian are all leaving too. Elliot and Brian to America and New Zealand, and Peter and Molly to new schools. Why new schools??? Molly came to Kid's College without any English and now she's a superstar. Ahh well. I don't know what will happen to my class. I guess we shall soon find out.

It's disappointing to work hard, make real progress with the kids, and then lose them.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A snowless winter

Another weekend's done gone. Nothing much to say about it, either. The brittle cold that crept up on us prevented any exciting adventures. I can't even account for yesterday or most of today.

Oh, yesterday I brought two pairs of pants to a tailor to be shortened. He didn't actually measure me or properly figure out the length so I'm slightly concerned. There's nothing worse than too-short pants.

Then I went out to eat as Pasha, this pretty fantabulous Turkish restaurant in Gangnam area. I love bread and dips, particularly yogurt dips. I don't like sharing dips, however, particularly with groups larger than two or three.

This is a group of eight enjoying our Turkish feast. Around the table: Diego, Ed, Sara, Dragos, Jess, D'Arcy, Cara, and Jennifer.

Today I went to Lottemart to get a few pictures developed. I've been filling a photo album/scrapbook as I go along and am constantly impressed by the pictures that fill its pages. Maybe impressed isn't the word, but slightly surprised. I never thought when filling in the first few pages that pictures of bungy jumping, elephant riding, the great wall and Tiananmen Square would follow. After that feeling of surprise/impressed-ness passes, I wonder what will come next in the empty pages ahead.

On Friday my boss threw a happy wedding/happy birthday party for some coworkers. Jennifer got married last weekend and Sara turned 24 on Thursday.

My birthday is a week from today. El Directoro had a serious talk with me earlier this week. Would it be okay if he celebrated my birthday with Scott's goodbye party at the same time later this month? Too many things in February. No, it's not okay. I want my own party. What does he think? He has a sweet apartment that I would love to have for myself, in Canada or anywhere.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhog day

Today I tried to teach my kids about groundhog day. Here is my simple ESL kindergarten explanation:

In Canada there is this animal. He's like a squirrel, or a brown pig. When it is cold he sleeps, sleeps, sleeps. December he sleeps, January he sleeps. Then in February he wakes up! He goes outside. It is sunny. Everyone is happy.

They didn't ask any questions. They didn't even realize I lied to them. Sunny means everyone is sad, technically speaking.

In case you're wondering, two out of three groundhogs did not see their shadow, which, counterintuitively means that there are only six more weeks of winter. I think...

I learned that tidbit on the CBC, which I recently remembered broadcasts via the internet. It's funny to listen to the traffic reports of Toronto. It's funny to hear the morning news in the evening. Right now there is a rip-roaring debate about the appropriateness of Howard Stern's programming. I'm so enlightened.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The count up ends and the countdown begins

Five months to go! I can't quite believe it.

About one night a week at the beginning of this thing I would crumple in my bed and wonder how I'd pssibly stay in this cell like apartment for an entire year teaching the little cretins.

That ended pretty soon after I arrived.

I then said that if I got fired I wouldn't much care.

That's definitely not the case now.

Now I feel like it's smooth sailin' until the end of this thing. Except for all the catastrophic changes yet to happen at the end of this month.

In honour of seven months in Korea I will copy word for the word the letter my elementary student Julia wrote for me. She is the best student I have.

To. Jessica teacher
Hello! Jessica teacher.
I am Julia.
I like teacher
I like test
I went Seolrak mountain.
It was very fun
teacher neck sick?
Do you like hamburger?
I like hamburger.
Do you like Jam, toast?
I like toast.
teacher Goodbye~
I lover teacher
Happy Now!
Mang? mang?
2006 1 23

She likes me, she likes me! She also likes tests. Then again she likes hamburgers and jam toast so I guess for the most part she has good taste. As for the neck sick comment, I think it's quite clever of her. My voice was lost when she wrote this. Who knows what is mang mang???

Happy anniversary to moi.