August 15, 2010

Swimming field trip, cat, and Daegu National Museum

Its been a little bit since my last update, which I apologize for, but now I actually have some friends (!) so I have had things to do, and also writing September's lesson plans, which has had me a little overwhelmed/less interested in sitting around after work to type.

It has been a fun week though, because we went on a field trip! We took the kindergarten classes to a pool on Thursday, and it was probably the cutest thing in the world. This is me with most of my "homeroom" class, looking incredibly adorable. All the kids wear swimcaps, most brought huge tubes and squirt guns. The next picture is my co-worker and friend Corinne and her class, you will hear more about Corinne later in the post, though (also, the Korean woman in the middle is Michelle, the director of my school). I'm really glad I brought a one piece swimsuit, most women in Korea wear them, from what I've gathered. Also, a bikini wouldn't have been very effective when I was running through the water dodging kids splashing and spraying water at me while dragging two tubes of screaming kids behing me. It was a great time. Since the trip some of the more shy students seemed to warm up to me, and the kids I don't have a class with now run up to me and say hello. I feel lucky to start with a field trip, it has for sure helped the kids and I to get to know each other better.

After swimming the Korean staff (the teachers with the girls, and even the bus drivers with the boys), took the kids to shower and dry off. Yes, I did say that the bus drivers helped the boys shower, which would never, ever happen in America - the parents wouldn't allow it, the bus drivers would charge extra by the minute. In Korea, its just accepted as normal, which is nice. I haven't lived in a place were it is assumed that people are intristically good and trustworthy. Then we all had a picnic, the close up is me with Suzie, one of the students from my first class of the day. She is one of the sweetest kids I have ever met.

Back to what I was saying though, friends. I have some. Corinne for one, she's been here for 9 months, and is really supportive and inclusive with me. Inviting me out with her friends and helping me get around the city. It is really nice to feel like someone understands what I am going through, as she did it nine months ago, and since she lives in my building and works at my school, she knows the area well. She is someone I feel like if I met her back home I would be her friend - which is saying something, really.

Corinne put me in touch with her friend who was leaving Korea this month, and gave me my cat! My cats a girl, and is starting to get more friendly with me, I've had her less than 24 hours so far, but she seems darling. She is very "vocal" as in, she meows all of the time. I am debating naming her Trenton, which is kind of a masculine name, but am not sure yet. Suggestions?

Another friend I've made is Chris, who is a Korean guy living semi close to me in Daegu. This is us at Burham's Burgers with Western style burgers and beer. We met because he followed me at midnight down the side street to my house and asked me to get a drink with him so he could practice his English. I said yes, and laughingly informed him that to befriend Americans he should be aware that if I was in the US I would have called the police, because you just don't follow women around at night! He's learning English for his job, which is something with designing phones. Chris is smart, and his English is actually pretty good considering how recently he started learning. There are times when I will say something and he won't understand, then its a short game of charades, miming, drawing, Chinese writing (some Korean words are still based off of Mandarian), and dictionary searching. He doesn't get frustrated and give up when he struggles to find the words for what he is trying to express. This weekend we went to the Daegu National Musuem together. It was a lot of fun, he helped me, since the captions were mostly in Korean, and we went to the kids' area and did traditional Korean printing.

This is wet printing. He was okay at it, I was kind of terrible, but basically you take thin handmade paper, lay it on the metal plate, wet it down, use a cloth and then a bristle brush to press it down, then take the stamp pad in the top left to imprint the image. I was much more interested in the (much easier) dry printing. This you had a metal plate that you rubbed ink on, then set a sheet of regular paper on, and rubbed the paper to print the image. We spent about an hour doing a ton to send back to some lucky people in the states. I was hoping I could just buy some in the gift store, since mine were flawed, but alas, we could not, so we did our best. Luckily Chris was a sport and helped me make a bunch. Interestingly, the museum was free to get into, and two slices each of thin and regular paper were just 500 won, so it was a steal.

There was also whole room full of clothing from around Asia that was just beautiful. Most of the pictures didn't turn out, but here is one of a traditional Japanese wedding dress and the Confucian monk's traditional robes.

Alright, that is all for now. I will update on Daegu's night life soon, but its monsoon season, and I haven't bothered taking pictures downtown in the rain. I got my ARC Friday, soI should have the internet in my house on Thursday, which means Skype soon!

Also, packages. People who mail me things get things in the mail back, because they are special. This is related to the fact that I did not bring my address book to Korea. If you do not know my address, you can email me, and get it from me. I am most interested in handmade art and things that would remind me of you. You don't need to ship frames or anything of that nature, just something small and light. I am also interested in packages containing Kraft shape mac and cheese and Reese's cups. There is no need to mail me books, as there is a huge English bookstore here. There is good snack food here, and the chocolate is different but not bad. They have lots of American candy bars, even Mr Big, my favorite Canadian candy bar that I couldn't even find in the US! Bye for now!


  1. ** if you click the pictures, they get bigger :]

  2. I'm sorry my package is taking a bit longer than I had original anticipated. I've been querying what the hell I should be sending you. I have a list of small inexpensive but awesome things, most of them already purchased. It'll be in the mail soon, i promise!

    By the way, I must say, that is one bad-ass bathing suit you have there. Is Suzie that girls real name?

    "We met because he followed me at midnight down the side street to my house..." Alright, honestly, what was going through your head?

    So glad to finally see pics, but what I REALLY want to see is where you're actually living - your apartment.

    PS: You sure that cat doesn't have mange or something? It's lookin' a little scruffy...

  3. That was rude, about the cat... sorry... after seeing the bigger pic, she doesn't look too shabby. Definitely an interesting look to her, though. I'm a simple man, so I would just call her "cat" or "kitty."

  4. Alec, I am excited about the package. I cannot wait. Suzie is her English name. Most Koreans have one, and they really internalize it, calling each other that even when talking to each other in Korean, which seems strange to me. Only a few students use their Korean names in school. Honestly? I was worried, but Korea is a REALLY safe place. Its such a change. As for my apartment pictures.. I will take some, it just is pretty plain still. It doesn't feel like mine yet, but I am working on that. Adding little things, personalizing it. My cat is just fine. This was two minutes into her being MY cat, after an hour bus ride. Shes feeling much more friendly and looking less uncomfortable now.

  5. I think it's cute when animals have names that are of the opposite gender.

    And it's pretty exciting that you can use your Mandarin for something there! I didn't realize that it had any influence on the Korean language.

    When I start working again (Monday) and get paid again (September 3), I will mail you a package of fun things. Until then, however, letters will have to suffice. I need your address though, so if you could, send me it in an FB message! :) Miss you.

  6. So, I mailed you around 8 boxes of mac-n-cheese today, it was going to cost $43, so I took one was over $30. eat them slowly..

    I think you should name your cat "Mommy" so whenever you talk to her you will think of me!!
    love the pics...take care.

  7. Pat, Cat is for sure Trenton, I love it. I will wait with bated breath for your package<3

    Mom, I think of you when I call her Trenton, don't worry. Shipping is expensive, but I am making a very exciting package for you now. Might need to wait until the 2nd to send it out though. I'll let you know <3

  8. I am fine with know I tease...I thought it very cleaver!!I laughed...