I’m Kind of a Big Deal

Guys! I’m in a blog! That’s not the blog I write! I’m not mentioned by name, but I do get a couple of photo credits. And I’m even in one of the photos. NBD. Here’s a hint: I’m scissors. It doesn’t make much sense now, but it will when you see the blog.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes…

With Halloween falling on a Wednesday this year, we did what any responsible adult would do – we partied the Saturday prior. Joe, Emily and I went with a group costume that I’d wanted to do since the previous Halloween but did not yet have enough friends to pull off: Rock, Paper, Scissors. I’d seen it on Pinterest and when I came to Korea and saw how hugely popular the game is here, I knew I HAD to do it. In fact, wanting to do this costume in Korea makes up an irrational percentage of why I extended my contract. Seriously. The costumes took us four tedious days to create, but they were totally worth it. They looked great. We were nervous because it had rained all day and our costumes were made out of cardboard, but the weather gods smiled on us and the rain ceased before we went out and didn’t return for the remainder of the night. Getting in and out of taxis was still a bit precarious, however. I thought our core concept was pretty obvious, but somehow, even when the three of us were standing RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER, people still managed to be slow on the uptake. In some cases, there was no uptake at all. People kept asking Emily if she was a notebook. Yeah, I know, I can’t believe it either. We ended our night at a fairly packed bar, and I was alarmed to find how quickly my cohorts were willing to jump ship on the costume because “it was getting in the way.” I, alone, remained dedicated to the costume because a) I have no problem getting in other people’s way and b) you go big or you go home. I will keep this in mind when choosing costume partners in the future…

Our school Halloween party was in similar fashion to last year’s. We began, as any good party should, by scaring the shit out of small children. The kinders were the worst. I had one whose head was buried in my stomach and one grabbing on to my leg so tightly that I looked like I was walking with a peg leg. It took almost 10 minutes to calm them down. I felt TERRIBLE. Other teachers, however, were undeterred by the hysterics and continued to scare the bejesus out of kids for the remainder of the day. One of the Korean teachers seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it. Even after the haunted house portion was over, she hid at the end of the hallway scaring children as they walked by. One of my kinders, Daisy, had to go to the bathroom and was too scared to go by herself, so I had to walk with her and hold her hand. She got halfway down the hallway when the teacher came out from a doorway and Daisy immediately turned around and bolted back from whence she came. Attempt #2 was much more successful. However, while we were in the bathroom Daisy asked me, “Monica teacher is what are you doing?” This is 5-year-old Konglish for “What is Monica teacher doing?” I responded, “She is scaring children.” Daisy thought for a minute and then said, very matter-of-factly, like the following was a total normal question, “Monica Teacher is eat children?” I laughed and informed her that no, she was only scaring children. And that’s when Monica came in and ate Daisy. Just kidding! No children were eaten that day. Promise. The second round of students that went through the haunted house were also pretty hysterical. I thought comforting them seemed like the best approach. My Korean counterparts had their own way. They, after being the ones that scared the holy living hell out of these kids, yelled at them that if they did not stop crying they would take their party money away and that they would have to go through the haunted house again. Oh Korea, I have so much to learn about your ways…

After we finished tormenting students, they went around to different classrooms and played games. I hosted a dance party wherein we listened to Gangnam Style ALL. DAY. LONG. Listening to Gangnam Style for 8 hours on repeat changes a person. I may look, sound and act like the Megan you all know and love, but know that something inside of me has been forever altered. And may cause me to dragon kick any radio that plays Gangnam Style. Consider yourselves warned.  During the second round of kids, Monica came into my classroom and when the music in the song pauses, she turned of the lights. Bad idea. These kids clearly hadn’t fully recovered from the earlier trauma and looked like they were having Nam flashbacks. Megan Teacher gave LOTS of stamps at school the next day in an attempt to buy back some of their affection.
Note: I have umpteen adorable videos from the Halloween party, but cannot figure out how to get them from my phone to my computer. Will update when more technologically advanced. Until then, enjoy the photos.

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Halloween in Korea

A couple of weeks ago, Americans nationwide celebrated my second favorite holiday – Halloween. Children observed this holiday by dressing up in adorable costumes and binging on sugar, adults by dressing up in the sluttiest and/or most inappropriate costumes they could find and binging on alcohol. I usually enjoy participating in such festivities, but it was not in the cards this year. Halloween has only recently begun to gain popularity in South Korea. Mostly, the Americans living and working here pretend like we’re still stateside by dressing up and drinking copiously, while the locals stare at us like we’re idiots, thus perpetuating the stupid, self-absorbed American stereotype. However, the younger generations seem more willing to embrace the excuse to dress up and act a damn fool. At my school, we had a Halloween party all day. I was informed approximately 3 days prior that I was required to wear a costume, which didn’t bother me much because I was planning on dressing up anyway. I was completely oblivious of the quest that would soon begin. Because Halloween is not that popular, and Koreans hate fatties, trying to find a costume was like trying to find a job in California. Borderline impossible. I got excited when I learned that there was a party store near my house that had costumes, but my excitement was short lived.  The selection resembled that of a drugstore (say, CVS or Walgreen’s); mostly cheap crap for kids. They had few adult costumes that were one size fits all, but in Korea, “one size fits all” really means “one size fits fun sized.” So I struck out on a journey both far and wide, on a quest for an appropriately fitting costume. I searched fervently online for a DIY costume (tragically, I am not clever without my sewing machine). I went to both Emart AND Homeplus. Such a costume was not to be found. I ended up with with a $4 pair of bat wings made for a child that came with…wait for it… bat horns.  Which I totally rocked. At the Halloween party, only the kindergarteners dressed up, which I thought was kind of a bummer. Two little girls came dressed as Tinkerbell (which if you know me, you know totally thrilled me). I said to them, “How cute! I love Tinkerbell!” In return, I got a blank stare followed by, “Who is Tinkerbell?” A travesty. The Halloween party consisted of turning off the lights and scaring the shit out of the little kids until they cried. Seriously, many a child called out, “OMA!” (mommy). Two teachers were going out of their way to make this happen, but I just felt terrible watching those babies cry. I wouldn’t have minded making a couple of the junior high boys cry, though… After we calmed them down, they got to go to different teacher’s rooms to play games. They spend all year collecting stamps in class and get to trade them in for play money which they, in turn, spend on crappy food and lame toys like it’s the greatest shopping spree of their lives. In my room, we played “Pop Goes the Balloon,” in which the student is blindfolded, given a sharp object, and made to pop a balloon. The number inside the balloon is how many pieces of candy they get. This was seriously poor planning on my part. Not only did I grossly misjudge the amount of work this would entail, but I managed to forget the fact that I LOATHE the sound of balloons popping. So that was special. Other teachers did face painting, or had games like “Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin” or, my favorite, “Candy Pong.” I did go out with some friends Saturday night, but it wasn’t the same. I missed home. =(

I have decided to end every blog post with something I love about Korea and something I miss about the good ‘ol US of A. Right now I am loving the weather (still wearing jeans and a t-shirt most days) but missing the stars. There is so much smog here that I am lucky if I can spot one at all at night.

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