Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Crime and Punishment at Sungmoon Middle School

I started off my this wonderful Thursday morning with my third year students.Oh joy! Let me say, they are NOT my favorite students by far. Most of them are lazy and barely want to participate in activities. What is it about third year students? They feel like it's their last year of middle school, so they better just sit here and not learn anything. Ugh! Usually I would dole out some sort of homework punishment, however that just doesnt wok with these kids. So as the saying goes " Let the punishment fit the crime".
Today my favorite group of slackers decided that they wanted to put on a show by shredding long strips of toilet paper and waving them in the air. The ring leader was a boy who gave himself the English name "Lisa". ( why correct it? too many hrs of laughter) Unamused by their creations but inspired by their need for attention I called their whole table to the front of the class. Interrupt my class will you?Well Tippani teachuh can put on a show of her own. I proceeded to make them put on an interpretive dance for their class while saying the phrases of the day. Boys leaped and arms flailed while they twirled tissue streamers about reciting " We walked across the bridge", We are very different from each other", " Do you understand me?". I even put on a little music. Now that was a show! You would think they had enough public embarrassment. Not quite after playing a few rounds of a vocabulary game they decided to be extremely noisy and steal orher students' materials. I called over one of my co-teachers over.I have since named him "the enforcer" from his physical discipline techniques. I ordered the boys to the back of the class, and told them to do 50 push ups. Afterwards  "the enforcer" made them sustain their own weight in a semi push up position until the end of class. Then as I was lecturing them on the importance of listening during class, he administered a communal spanking. In awe, I had to take a picture. I haven't seen anyone get a spanking in school since Darius Woods in the fouth grade. One after the other " the enforcer" doled out spankings while translating for me. What a muti-tasker! Just when they thought they were done " the enforcer" came back for one more round as I said my final words,rubbing their behinds the boys apologized and filed silently out the classroom.
Now that's what I call discipline! Did I mention I love teaching in Korea?

Confucius say: Beware of making spectacles inTippani Teachuh's English class, because the price you pay might be your ass


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Are you Serious..?

So the other day after work I took Kate care for a " feel better I know your school sucks and your students are slow and bad as hell" dinner. Because sometimes Korea takes you there! I know my co-teacher has a number of times.  We went to Namo, a restaurant recommended by one of my coworkers. The menu was all in Korean. So I really had to work for my dinner. After perusing the menu I decided to order the spicy chicken pasta and Kate picked a cream pastae . We called our non-English speaking waitress over to clarify a few things on the menu. Just to be cautious Kate asked " Gogi Isoyo?"  (Is there meat in this?) ""Borago?" She looked confused " gogi" Kate replied. Still, our waitress was at a loss. She then said "Ah! " and did a wiggle movement. Wtf? Kate and I looked at one another. She repeated the movement, then said the Korean word for prawn. "Oh okay, Igoyo" said Kate. After leaving the table, Kate said" Did she even speak Korean? I shrugged my shoulders. Namoo was a cute little restaurant over looking a park in Anyang. Stylish yet cozy... it was complete with pointsettas and Christmas's March. My favorite,was the sign in the window saying,Wishing to you! Wishing me what? We got our obligatory pickles because nothin' says Italian like pickles. Let me just say I was less than impressed. Remind me never to take a Korean's recommendation on Western food ever again. As our meal was winding down Kate was pulling apart a jumbo prawn on her plate when the waitress grabbed Kate's fork and pasta spoon out of her hands and began beheading Kate's prawn for her. Wow really? She was like " Here, let me take that silly wagukinim, you do not know the proper way to eat the prawnuh"  Kate still baffled as to why the waitress thought it was okay to take her silverware and  was clearly annoyed. I couldn't help but laugh. "  You know they think we are retarded right?" she said. "Yeah I know, a whole bunch of special needs wagukinim teaching their children...all you can do is laugh"
Across from us sat a group of girls taking cutesy pictures in true Korean fashion. They ordered the Pasta and "Picha" set-uh which is very popular in Korea. Within minutes they were nomming on pickles and chewing so loud, I'm sure the pedestrians in the park heard them. Our lovely waitress came back and asked if we wanted dessert. I said yes, she gave me the menu then quickly took it back. I guess maybe she thought I should do without he dessert. " Service Coppee" she said " Ney" I replied.When the coffee arrived Kate and I asked for milk. "Ooyu" Kate said. Confused once again. 'Borago?" said our waitress. Kate repeated herself one more time. The waitress cocked her head to the side and did the Korean "sccchhhhhh" "Ande" she replied. "Hmmm no milk or cream in this restaurant? I'm sure they used milk or cream to make that sauce... but whatever" Just as I resigned myself to drink black coffee, our wonderful waitress returned with a small steaming silver pitcher. Cream! Asaaa! Then suddenly she shoved it in my face putting it under my nose. " chuaheyo? Really you wanted to make sure I smelled it? She then poured the cream in our coffees and waited. I looked at her... she looked at me..." Oh " I took a sip. " Mmmm...delicious" she said " Ney" I said as I shook my head.  She handed us the check and walked away.Wait she knew delicious but not milk. wtf? Dining out in Korea is always interesting experience, gotta love it.

Confucius say: Pasta is not pasta without the pickle-uh,  better have them or Korean taste buds will be fickle-uh!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Korean parking wars

So the other day on my walk to school  I saw little adjuma jumping out of a truck taking pictures of vehicles. At first I was confused. Why are these little old korean women getting picture happy with cars at 7: 45am in the morning. Did I miss something?
Then I saw them pasting parking tickets on vehicles and then snapping photos. These adjuma were speedy like samaurai and getting with it. An agishi came out of a convenience store yelling obsenities...too late for you agishi, they got it on file!
Too bad, soo sad. Better get up early if you're going to outsmart the parking adjumas.

Sorry Philadelphia Parking Wars, Koreans have one up on you they take pictures of the cars with the ticket on it. " Oh what's that? you never got a ticket? Sike your mind ! Take a look at exhibit A agishi!"

Confucius say: beware of  speedy parking adjuma and their cameras too, next ticket they snap might belong to you!

Metro Munchers vs. Drunken Agishis

My experiences on the Korean metro system are always filled with ridiculousness. I'm not sure why things still surprise me. It's Korea after all. The other day on my way back from  Seoul late night, I took a seat on the blue line next to a sleeping agishi. He was suited in his best hiking gear. Kate had told me earlier how Koreans go hiking and get saucy. Drinking bottles of soju instead of hydrating with you know ...water or perhaps gatorade. After looking closely I was sure that this agishi was not only tired from his long day of hiking but also drunk.
As the train sped from station to station, the agishi slowly leaned over and put his head on my shoulder. He smelled like a magical combination of sweat, kimchi and a vat of soju. After a seat opened up next to Kate I quickly left my new agishi and sat on the bench across from him. Not having me to lean on, the agishi swayed back and forth. But as most Koreans partaking in social sleeping on the train I figured he'd be fine. I thought wrong~ Well the Soju got the better of him, because as soon as the train stopped he came tumbling forward head first and landed centimeters away from my feet. ( Iwanted to take a pic, but I didnt want to seem insensitive)Shocked Kate and I reached down to help him as other Koreans barely glanced his way, as this is the norm. A somewhat worried Agishi in a shiny suit came over and help his countryman back up on to the bench. With a bleeding head, a concusion and possibly needing new front teeth the agishi went back to sleep, swaying in his seat for a few stops, then randomly waking up long enough to check if his teeth were still intact and shaking his head. Unexpectedly the agishi got up and staggered off the train. I'm not sure if he knew what stop he was at ,but I'm sure the fresh air did him some good. the moral of this story is " Maybe drinking and hiking do not mix. Next time opt for the Pocari Sweat agishi!

( This picture does the rice cake no justice)----->
Let's talk about the metro munchers, shall we? I love how Koreans are so quick to call someone fat,but somehow publicly eating somewhere near 3 pounds of rice cake in one sitting is acceptable! While on my way to Seoul as usual, I came across  a beloved metro muncher. His snack attack was in full force. At first I wasn't sure what he was eating as he rolled back the plastic bag inconspicuously. I then realized he was eating the biggest piece of rice cake I had ever seen. Really though? He thought " Hmmmm...I'm hungry, better go with this rice cake that weighs more than a text book. oh mashiseoyo! nom, nom, nom" . The metro muncher devoured almost half of this glutinous snack in minutes in between taking this picture and cracking up  he had almost finished it. Whoa! Easy there killer! I promise you there's a rice cake vendor at the next stop. I sooo wanted to be real Korean and go over to him smacking and say " Ooooh what is thaaaaat, it looks delicious!" however, I was afraid I might loose a limb.
Next time I will bring own glutinous magic.
Like I said before Korean metro rides are always filled with utter ridiculousness from drunk agishis to metro munchers, there's never a dull moment.

Confucius say: snack vendors and seat belts might truly be a Korean metro system necessity

Friday, March 5, 2010

Get your hands off my goodies...I mean it!

Yesterday I received two wonderful care packages from my mom and my cousin. Asaa....It was Christmas in March. When I got to school yesterday the packages had already arrived. Great... now they could mock me ALL day.  This was my thought process all morning, I should do some work ( packages) let me get some tea (packages) go to lunch with co-workers( packages)..  you get the idea. My school handyman even dropped them off at my house later on that day while he installed my new sink ( that's a story for a later date). I was soo pumped to open them, that I couldn't stand to wait for the bus, so i took a taxi home. I got home and tore through my boxes like an ADHD kid on Christmas. Asaaaa...everything I wanted a more.  Minutes later my Korean friend called me ( trust me it's important that I identified her as such) and asked if I wanted to do dinner. She said she'd bring some food over so I could cook. I told her to give me a ring when she was on her way. Kate arrived minutes later and I told her of the dinner plans. She agreed and we snacked on a few Reese's Pieces as I showed her my booty.( booty: being treasure not the new baby dunk I've acquired since living in Korea) We smiled deviously the goodies. " Oh I need to put some of these away "I said as I moved to put most of my American Junk in the cupboards. "She's a snacker"!
A little bit of back story on "the snacker":When Fran came to visit she brought me snacks my first month here, one night " the snacker" came over to hang out and crushed my Cinnamon Toast Crunch ,Cheez-Its and some of my Twizzlers. ( I told you she was a snacker)
So to combat her American Snack attack I started storing the goodies away.
There was a knock at the door and wouldn't you know it was her, and she didn't call.
Unfortunately a bag of reeses, a box of Hot Tamales and a fresh box of BIG Cheez-its( the only one I received) were left on the refrigerator. Big mistake! As she sat down, I positioned myself in front of my mini fridge and hoped  to block my Cheez-its. I know that might sound really fat, but I LOVE Cheez-Its especially the BIG ones and you have a hard enough time finding them in the states. So sorry if I didn't feel like sharing. After a  short conversation I proceeded to make dinner thinking the snack crisis was over. I spoke to soon. " Oh what are these?" she asks. "you know what they are "  I muttered under my breath. She read the box opened it up and helped herself to a few generous handfuls. Now in America one wouldn't just help themselves to another's snacks ...they would generally ask first. Yeah well this is Korea. That doesn't happen."Nom, Nom, Nom" she ,"these are so delicious".. ." I know" I snapped " you can't get these in Korea" " Nom, Nom, Nom" she says with a mouth full of Cheez- Its. " Uhuh , I know" I say stirring the Tofu as I  started to feel a small twinge of  anger as she went back for a 5th handful. Debating... do I say something? do I not? Is it rude since she brought over food for dinner? As soon as I had reached a resolve to say something she folded down the bag and put the box back on top of the fridge, ( a sigh of relief, there should be some sort of handbook that cover etiquette in awkward situations like that. What you want to say is get your damn hands off my snacks, but what's the best way to convey that without snatching the box?)
As I started to cut veggies  for the pork she made her way to the bathroom. I fumed at Kate in a whisprer voice " did you see her going hard on my BIG Cheez-Its... I only ate one...I frowned... I didn't want to ruin my dinner" Kate cracks up... " I hope you're making all that tofu" she giggles making sure she didn't get out scarfed by " the snacker". I hid my Cheez-It box behind noddles and other groceries on the fridge . ( another bad move on my part). As dinner wound down and everyone had their fill , Kate did the dishes, as I tried to hook up my new DVD player. This left the snacker" unoccupied. She made her way back to the fridge found the box between the noodles and the pancake mix ,  and helped herself to a few more Cheez-Its and a handful of Reeses Pieces that were open. Kate looks at me and giggles.Ahhhh! screamed the 5 year old inside me... "get off my damn snacks. Those are MY snacks from AMERICA". Breathe, keep your cool I said to myself!
Now let me say normally I don't mind sharing just about anything with anybody, hell I share Mai chu with little Korean children on the train, but this is different, I cant just pop to the shop and buy another box.
My care packages were still sitting by my bed, " Oooh what's this from America too,?" she asked a chipper voice . As looked through the boxes she quickly lost interest... they were sans snacks!
The three of us chatted a bit more then " the snacker" jumps up very Korean style and says it's time for her to go. She puts on her shoes and the snack fiasco is over...or so I thought.
On her way out the door she grabs the box off my fridge and pops four more Cheez- Its in her mouth and then nicey closes the box" Oooh so good! Nom, Nom, Nom"! "Bye...See you girl" shes waves and just as swiftly as she arrived she was gone.
I looked to Kate, and at this point all I could do was laugh. I opened the box of  Cheez-Its to find half of the box gone!
" I only ate one" I whimpered, shook my head and laughed.
Good thing my mother will be here next month with reinforcements. The next boxes are going under the sink. So cracking up I munched sparingly on my BIG Cheez-Its and called it a night.

Confucius say: Foreign snacks are to  be closely watched when snackers are about. If they are left to long to their own devices you will surely pout.

Monday, March 1, 2010

" Do you know the Pashion Bag-uh?"

First off let me just say, when I first arrived 5 months ago I thought Korean "pashion" was oh so strangee. I think I've said before that Korean "pashion"  reminds me of the 80's and the 60's having a special needs child. But after a while  Korean "Pashion" is like an ugly boy, at first your like " Oh hell no! Don't even think about it";  but after persitant exposure you're like " well Maybeeee it's not that bad". It wears you down I'm tellin you. All the ridiculous things like, tacky phone charms, all the glitters, bows, opaque colorful tights, not matching at ALL, winter short-suh, or even an outfit that was put together for many occasions I dubb this " the sampler". For many reasons unknown Korean women and men throw together outfits and accessorize without  a conscious thought to color, sensibility or season. For instance I saw a woman on the subway with crazy permed hair, a glittery bow accessory, a pink hobo bag with a huge picture of Hello Kitty's face that said "Wink Cat", black curduroy short shorts,  navy blue tights, a lacey baby blue camisol over a black turtle neck coved by a white blazer  with a coat of arms patch ,  light weight hot pink scarf looped around her neck and topped of with a red puffy parka and brown stilettos with rhinetones on them. Where could she have possibly been going? Skiing, the gym, to work, out dancing? I got nothin! Oh she was definitely the "pashionista" ladies and gentleman.
 One of my most recent discoveries is the "no name korean purse". Koreans love their accessories and notably love their bags. You can get bags of all shapes, colors and sizes in  train stations, on street carts, or at random cutesy stores for.. wait for it only 10,000 won which is roughly about $8.70 USD. Not a bad buy right? What's in a name anyway? Now they may not be name brand but they are super cute. Speaking of a recent "pashion"  purchases, did I ,mention that I love Konglish on fashion items (Konglish is bad Korean Englishee, which you see often, on store fronts, accessories, and clothing) Case and point, in Myeongdong I bought the cutest blue leather satchel with the words" New York 5th Ayenue" stamped on it. Wow Ayenue? Really? I love it. Or a shirt I saw at E-mart-uh that said " Ther is a smile of happyness, I love the world in your heart. It shine forever days"  One of the most I.T. savvy countries and no one even thinks to do a spelling or grammar check before printing.Oh Korea!I love the korean compulsion to everything cutesy. Even if your aren't, you will be after living here. Oh and  just for your edification PINK is a universal color in Korea... it's not just for the ladies.
I'm going to blindfold myself in my closet and pick out a killer outfit with the go hard approach to "pashion" here.Who knows I might start a trend. From this day forth would deem Korean "pashion" as "retarded sophistication". Bryant Park eat your heart out!

Confucius says: when in  "pashion" doubt,  just turn the lights out, make a go for random clothes, You will be the "pashionista" as far as Korea goes

Oh the semester begins

Today started like any other, I got up, got dressed, had my obligatory cup of coffee, put on my ipod which was freshly updated (thank you Pita) and headed for the bus stop. Since today starts the new semester I'm sporting a my sparkly starfish earrings, a cute mini charcoal skirt, a white blouse, a black sweater, black opaque tights and chucks,. ( hey, it's Korea) On the walk I stepped out to Beyonce's "Diva", yes I was feeling myself this morning. I hopped on the bus, and few stops down the bus became filled with passangers. I love how in Korea they try and pack 90 people in a vehicle that is only meant for 45. Adjumas and agishis are backing their way onto the bus. "Ooohs, Ahhhs, and  Aishhh!" can be heard from the front of the bus. Shaking my head at this common transportation debacle, I pushed my way to the door and exit. While more Koreans piled on to the already packed bus,I walked by my favorite vendor, picked up some dak and prepared myself for the hike up that monstrous hill. By time I reached the top, I had almost sweat out my press and curl. Ugh...sometimes natural hair is not best. " I'm too cute to be sweating like this, this early in the morning" I mutter to myself as I reach the last set of stairs to the middle school. But I digress. I went to the restroom and tried to salvage my hair. Afterwards I went into the teacher's communal office to greet my coworkers. My new co-teacher  told me I looked  pretty in a skirt and thinner ( the usual) then asked me if I was ok and how my apartment was doing. I told her fine, and that the school office was sending someone by tomorrow to remove some mold that has taken up residence on the wall by my TV. "Mold?" she asks " what material is this? for decoration?"  " No you know mold, fungus?" I say. " Hmmm...sssch...molding?" as she points to the crown molding in the office " No!"  " You mean it is the paper?" she says . I shook my head. I asked another teacher who knows the situation to explain. " ahhhh..." finally she gets it! " "I will call the office and complain to them for you?" she asks " No they are coming tomorrow" I reply and shake my head "Nevermind". If this is any indication of what the new semester is going to be like, lord help me.  Did I mention she just got back from half a year of Intesive English Language study. You only understand 20% of what I say, and this was your university major and your intensive study focus...WTF?
Well there are also two new teachers in the English department, Mr. Kim seems a little strangee in the ( I'll cut you in into little pieces and put you in my kimchi freezer strange) while Ms. Park seems quite nice. She lived abroad in Polland for some time so she speaks English quite well. Asaaaaa! I have an ally. After settling in , I found out there was no class today! Ugh another day of desk warming and a wasted outfit.
Thank goodness I now have a class schedule, so I actually know who I'm teaching and at what time. They were very bali, bali with it. I was thoroughly impressed. The first day of the semester is always chaotic, and full of Korean ridiculousness. I am nervous and excited for classes tomorrow.Wish me luck!

Confucius says: When in doubt that your translation is understood, use lots of hands gestures, you should be all good!