Kids Say the Darndest Things Part 2

In case you guys haven’t had enough of the hilarious musings and mistakes my kids make, I’ve got some more for you. The last entry focused on things they said, and this post will be mostly things they’ve written. A lot of these come from diaries they have to write every week on a topic of their choosing. They often just tell me what they did over the weekend. Some of it comes from homework or in-class assignments. But I also remembered some more funny things they’ve said, and it would be a shame to keep them to myself, so I’ll probably add those in as well. Enjoy!

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So my first kinders and I would go through this routine every week where I would give them their new vocabulary word, ask them to spell it and then ask them what it means. After awhile, it got to the point where I would say, “What is a _________?” And they would respond, “You are a __________.” One week one of their vocabulary words was tool. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

Me: What is a tool?

Heidi (7): You are a tool. (Well played, small child, well played.)

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My kinders and I were reading a story about – well, I don’t remember what. But the important thing is that there were ROBBERS in the house.

Homework Question: What was in the house?

Alfred (7): There were rubbers in the house. (I understand this means something very different in other English speaking countries that makes it significantly less funny. In America, rubbers are condoms.)

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Ellie (8): I want stank (steak) for dinner.

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One day in class, we were learning about jobs. I was asking them all what their parents did. Robin (aka my 7-year-old love guru) tells me that his dad made Orlando. I was like, “Uh, I’m pretty sure that’s not true. That city has been around a lot longer than your dad. And it’s in America. I’m pretty sure your dad’s never been there.” He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “My dad is an engineer. Orlando is a car, not a city.” I informed him that it was, in fact, a city (Which he found hilarious. I mean really, who names a city Orlando? I’m looking at you, Gangnam.). So then later on in the week they had to write about what their parents did. This is what Robin wrote:” My dad made Orlando (not a city, it’s a car).” Just in case I was still unclear on the subject.

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Amy: I also gave a love massage. (love message)

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My older students have to write summaries every week on a topic of either my choosing or my supervisor’s choosing. The topic question is almost always followed by, “And why?” to encourage them to expound upon their answers. One particularly lazy student named Haley (11) – which is pronounced Hallie. God forbid you should actually call her Haley – in an effort to reach her required assignment length, ended every summary by directing the question towards me and following it up with, “And why?” Like she fully expected me to answer. Sometimes I did.

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John (11 – about his trip to China): It was very fun but the foods were sucks.

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Lauren: Your hair is popular. (Isn’t it just?)

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Diary: I slept with my cousin. (had a sleep over)

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Diary: I slept with my family. (Families often sleep in the same room in Korea, or at least multiple family members will.)

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Diary: I went to clarinet institute because my mother said, “you are good at blowing on things.” (I know, I have the mind of a 12-year-old boy.)

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Diary: My parents procreated me.

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Amy (12): My friend is stupid. I want her to be smart. If she gets smart I will make her my best friend at school.

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Diary: Because my points looked like really excrements.

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Spencer (11): I have a long rod, so I will sell it. (Again, mind of a 12-year-old.)

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Aspen (12): I would like to eat the famous French. (She means the famous French cuisine.)

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Gloria (11): My body was uglied. (I was sick)

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Diary: I am heartaching.

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Jack (12): New Year’s Resolutions:

1. I will study harder than now (important).

2. I will play guitar and practice harder than now.

3. I won’t fight with my friends (important).

4. I will take care of my dog (important).

5. I will save money for my future (important).

6. I will fatten and grow taller (very important).

7. I will meet my girlfriend (not important).

8. I will be more kind than now.

9. I will play computer games until I reach level 120 (not important).

10. I will obey these resolutions.

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Diary: I am spew very hard. (I threw up.)

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Spencer (11): First, I want to be a lawyer so I can rake in the money so I can be rich.

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Robin (7): Homework is the worst study ever. (No doubt, kid.)

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David (8): I am as happy as happy can be. (Seriously, where do they get this stuff?)

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One of my older kids wrote this on a sentence test. The word they had to use was loneliness.: He feels loneliness, so he drinks wine.

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I realized in class one day that instead of saying yes, I often say, “Yeah.” It occurred to me that I had never explained what that meant. I just kind of assumed they knew. So one day I decided to ask them if they knew what “yeah” meant. To my surprise, they told me they didn’t. So I explained that it simply meant yes. They seemed to think I had just taught them the most amazing word in the English language and began shouting it for no apparent reason. Except when they say it, it comes out more like, “Yaw!” So it really sounded like they were trying to wrangle cattle. I wish I’d gotten a video of it.

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Ryan (10): I like one girl. She is pretty. She like to me. She is very pretty. She is nice girl. She not speak F word. (Never mind this kid “speak F word” ALL. THE. TIME.)

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One day I was handing back tests to my older students. I gave Lindsay (11) hers back and she puts her hand over her face and says, “Shitty!” I looked at her and said, “Excuse me?” She looked at me and said very matter-of-factly,”Shitty. It’s like shit. I made it up.”

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And there you have it, friends. Those are all of my stories for now. But I’ve just signed a contract for next year, so there will be more to come!

Engrish/Konglish

During my year in Korea, I saw and heard more than my fair share of both Engrish and Konglish. And lucky for you, I took lots of pictures! I want to start by illustrating the difference between the two (I know! I thought they meant the same thing for ages, too!). But Engrish is a term used to describe the misuse of English by native speakers of Asian languages. It is derived from the common pronunciation of an “L” as an “R.” As in, “dericious.” Which, by the way, NEVER gets old. Konglish is more Korea specific. It is the adoption of English words into the Korean language. For instance, cheese in Korean is “chee-juh.” Cellphone is “hand-uh pone” (hand phone). My greatest accomplishment as a teacher will be to get them to say phone instead of pone. It may never happen. Also, because I probably sound like a douche right now making fun of people  who actually, on the whole, speak a vastly different language from their own incredibly well, I will point out some of my own language mishaps. For instance, in Korean, no is “aniyo” or “ani” and yes is “nay,” which is SUPER counter-intuitive. So often I say yes when I mean no. And vice versa. Also, I have just been made aware that what I previously thought meant “right” and “left” actually means “right foot” and “left foot.” So when I am directing a cab, I tell him to turn right foot. And once I asked a waiter to take me. Because the words for take me and bring me are very similar and I use take me so frequently in cabs. So that was awkward. Flip through the pictures to see some of my photos of the weird verbiage I have come across. Some of them aren’t necessarily Engrish or Konglish, but just culturally funny. Enjoy!

Kids Say the Darndest Things…

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, my kids are hilarious. Almost as hilarious as me. Maybe. I guess I’ll let you be the judge of that. I had to start keeping post-it notes in my teacher basket to write down all of the hilarious things they said. Throughout the course of the year, only one class got hip to my note taking. I’ve been saving them since last year (I seriously have four pages of quotes typed up) and have been meaning to do a series of posts about them, but like I said in my last post, I’ve been lazy. So I guess the series of posts begins now. Some of the quotes will need a little translating. I only learned a little bit of Korean last year but, fortunately for you guys, I’m totally fluent in Konglish. I’ll start you off with some of my favorite misspellings:

canrats = carrots

apple tite = appetite

Catorick churche – Catholic church

French flies = French fries

cocorage = cockroach

umvellibubble = unbelievable (totes my fave)

Lingkyn = Lincoln

bulad = blood

vagitavle = vegetable (a very close second)

roerrcoaster = roller coaster

once upond = once upon

blowme = bloom

mitten test = midterm test

Earth ball = globe (not a misspelling, but still hilarious)

 
And now for some of my favorite quotes. I am putting their age next to their name to give it a little more context. I should probably preface this by saying I have some classes that I blatantly lie to, as you will see.  Also, some students are clearly much funnier than others. Those of you familiar with my Facebook posts should note that Robin is the kid I usually refer to as my 7- year-old love guru (you’ll see why shortly).

Me (to Robin after misbehaving): Do I need to make you stay for 2 minutes after the bell rings?

Robin (7): That means you are killing me one more time!

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Anthony (8): Statue of Lavratory (Statue of Liberty)

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Me: I like tall boys.

Amy (7): Maybe you should marry giraffe.

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Me (teasing a boy who is usually really on top of things): Sean, get your life together.

Robin (7) (in mocking voice): Sean, don’t just get your jacket, get your life, too. (What? Who is this kid?!)

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Mitchel (8): What the devil?! (Seriously, where on earth did he pick that up?!)

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Robin (7): Megan will destroy students with lots of homework.

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Sally (10): Rest in space (peace).

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9 Class (7): Homework, homework, no one wants to do the homework. (To the tune of Beat It)

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Spencer (11): Shut up your mouth!

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Anthony (8): Look at my new butthole (bottle).

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Me: I’m never wrong.

Amy (7): You are smart, but you can’t see everything. (Ouch, kid.)

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Sean (7): Amy is touching Robin!

Me: Amy is touching Robin’s pencil case. Let’s be clear about that.

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9 Class (7): Sean is the meth king (math king).

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Spencer (11): God loves us. God is gay.

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This next ones stems from me calling them slowpokes:

Robin (7): Girl is fast poke, boy is slowpoke.

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Sean (7): Die person go to…die person go to hell!

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Ben (8): I go bitch (I went to the beach).

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The two are playing a one-upping game:

Sean (7): I will be the god. (And by the god, he really just means God.)

Robin (7): I will be the… godfather!

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Spencer (11): Romance movies are so buttery(cheesy).

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Me: I’m the king of everything.

Robin (7): I will call to Obama and tell him to think about that.

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So, this next quote came about because the class was using waited in their sentence and I was trying to prompt them to change it to waiting. After several incorrect guesses, Eliza (8) raises her hand VERY enthusiastically and says, “I know! Waited-ed-ed!” Sorry kid, better luck next time.

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For the next one, we were learning about sports, and I asked them what was their favorite sport to play in P.E. Robin (7) told me that he doesn’t like any sports. I said, “None?!” He said, “I like fighting.” I responded, “They let you fight in gym class?” He told me proudly, “Yes. I am the best boy fighter in my class.” I teased him, asking. “Wait, there is a girl that is a better fighter than you?” He responded (with an evil grin on his face), “She had (has) a lot of power, but I can mess with her.” No doubt kid, no doubt.

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I was trying to explain election day to my kindergarteners (bear in mind their limited vocabulary) and I said, “Today is a very special day in America. Today we choose a new king.” Angela, my favorite of the little nuggets, shouts out, “I choose Megan!” Sorry Obama, I’ve got news for you…

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This was my very first quote. I had only been teaching for a few weeks. I was hurrying my then kindergarteners through something because we were running short on time. Robin (7) looked up at me and said, “Megan, you are not being patient with me.” I was stunned. I responded, “Fair enough. Take your time.” A week or so later, Robin was hurrying me because he knew that if we finished early we were going to play a game. I turned to him, fully expecting this to go right over his head, and said, “Robin, you are not being patient with me.” He looked at me for a second, and then busted up laughing. I couldn’t believe it! It totally became a long-running joke between the two of us. I heart this kid right in the face.

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That same class also liked to discuss (at great length) my love life. After what they think is several months of me being single (they would be SO disappointed in Megan Teacher if they knew how long it had really been), Robin (7) gave me some advice. He told me, “I will give you ‘Megan’s Project.’ Number 1: Be clean.” Apparently my showering skills leave something to be desired. “Number 2: More this (as he waves his hands over his face).” I ask, “You mean make-up?” “YES! Number 3:Wear beautiful clothes.” Clearly, my wardrobe is also quite lacking. “Number 4: Diet.” Ouch. “Number 5: Give to him a rose. Then you can kiss to him, marry to him, and lay a baby.” Yes, you read that correctly. And everyday for nearly 2 months they asked me if I was working on my project. Eventually I think they, much like my mother, decided it was an exercise in futility and accepted my future as a crazy cat lady. So I lied to them and told them Joe was my boyfriend. I hated letting them down. So now they think Megan Teacher is off in America planning her wedding and then I’m moving to England. At least my imaginary life is awesome.

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I should warn you that this next portion is rated R for adult content. I’m sure you’re thinking, “They’re children. How bad can it possibly be?” Bad. I assure you. This is the class that is mad at me because I won’t tell them what word is worse than the F word. Also, after telling this story numerous times, I’ve discovered that there are an alarming number of people that don’t know what that word is. If you don’t know, I’m not telling you, either. Anyway, here’s how the conversation went down. Spencer (11) asked, “Teacher, what does fuck mean?” To which I responded, “I canNOT tell you that and for the love of god and all that is holy, stop saying that in class.” His classmates proceeded to explain to him in Korean what it was in terms of “that’s how babies are made.” So he asked me, “So I can do this when I want to make a baby?” I replied, “You can do this when you are married.” He said, “I want to get married, but I DON’T want to do that.” Wait a couple of years kid, wait a couple of years.

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Stay tuned for for Part 2 of Kids Say the Darndest Things…

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Hanok Village

I know what you guys are thinking. Aren’t you in America right now? Why are you still posting about Korea? Well, kids, here’s the thing – I was kinda lazy when I started this blog, so I didn’t get to write about everything I wanted to. Also, since I’m going back for a second year, I might as well keep it going while I’m home, keep you guys interested and such. I mean, you are interested, right? Of course you are. So you can look forward to a couple more posts about Korea and maybe even a couple about my time stateside. Lucky you.

Hanoks are traditional Korean-style houses. A Hanok Village is a bunch of hanoks that have been turned into either shops or restaurants or have been preserved to reflect the ways of the past. Jeonju Hanok Village has over 800 houses you can stroll  through. I’ve been there several times and every time I feel like I’m wandering a labyrinth. There are numerous tiny alleys that lead to new parts of the village to explore. Or sometimes they lead to me right back to where I started. I’m not very good with directions. So I guess, really, it could be a very tiny place and I just keep getting lost. I choose to believe the former. Amidst the shops and restaurants are mini-museums usually dedicated to one aspect of the Korean culture (paper, alcohol, fans, games, etc.). It’s a great place to try Korean food and pick up souvenirs. The majority of the souvenirs I brought home may or may not have come from there… This particular Hanok Village also has a bamboo forest and a one room gallery of portraits of famous Korean kings. But the best thing about it is a guy known as “The Magkeolli Man.” The foreign crowd refers to him as Casanova. I don’t know why. He’s not a ladies man by any means. He runs a small restaurant and has a table out front where he lures people in (mostly foreigners) and plows them with free alcohol. He seriously just shouts, “Hey, foreigner! Come here! Free magkeolli!” at every foreigner that walks by. If you stay for a long time, he’ll even give you free food. Don’t ask how I know this. No one can figure out how he can afford to do this (because he does it every day), but there are lots of rumors flying around town.

The village is also host to an abundance of festivals, like the bibimbap (a food Jeonju is famous for) and hanji (traditional Korean paper) festivals, where you can watch taekwondo performances, traditional Korean song and dance performances, and even contemporary performances. Or you can visit one of the many vendor stalls and try their food or scope out their wares. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and get some fun photos.

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There’s No Place Like Home

So, I am currently writing this during my bajillion hour long layover in Beijing. I am, however, going to have to post it later as the Chinese clearly hate me and Facebook and WordPress because it won’t let me on either of those sites. Or any site that might amuse me/keep me from being bored out of my ever loving mind for the next 5 ½ hours. Suck it, China. If it were not for that gargantuan wall that I so desperately want to see, I would NOT being coming back. Despite the introduction, this post is not actually about how crappy my journey has been so far, or even about the further crappiness I expect to endure until the glorious moment when my plane touches down at SFO. As my year is up, I wanted to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly that Korea has to offer and also what I’m most excited to return to in the good, ‘ol U.S. of A.

Despite my everlasting love for Korean food, my kids are what I’m going to miss the most. Especially my kinders. I can’t believe that I didn’t get up this morning and go shake my sillies out with them. Or that I’ll never pinch those adorable little cheeks of theirs or hear Angela call me “Beautiful Rainbow Princess Megan Teacher.” (That’s my official title now, in case you were wondering, and I expect you all to start using it post haste.) I wish that I could watch them grow and see the wonderful people they will become. That, I think, is reason numero uno that I’m not sure teaching is for me long term. As much as I love my job, I get so attached to those adorable little faces and it’s so hard to see them go. I’m not sure I could handle that year in and year out. I am also going to miss my amazing coworkers (both waygookin and Korean) who have helped me navigate the world that is being a foreign teacher in Korea. I have learned so much during the past year, and am excited to see what year two has to offer.

I will also miss the food horribly and terribly. I have been spoiled by the amazing cuisine in Jeonju and am worried that wherever I end up next won’t hold a candle to what I’m used to. Guess I’ll be making lots of trips to Jeonju next year! I will miss how friendly and helpful the Korean people are, on the whole. The taxi drivers that ask a million questions or the random stranger that comes up and starts talking to you because they are so eager to practice their English and want to know more about you. I will miss my ghetto apartment. It was my home for over a year and it holds so many great memories. I will miss how cheap everything is here. Like, SUPER cheap. And I’m cheap. So it works out pretty nicely. I will miss the “yogio button” at restaurants. Best. Idea. Ever. It’s a little button at your table that you press whenever you need something from your waiter. And other than that, he/she never bothers you. No, “Hi! I’m Kimmy! I’m going to be your server this evening and check on you every 15 seconds and annoy you so much that you regret leaving the house!” Or, conversely, “Hi. I’m Brad. I’m your server. You probably won’t see me again for, like, 20 minutes. Hope you’re not too hungry…” It makes the dining experience much more pleasant. I will miss hanging out in front of convenient stores having a few drinks with my friends. Seriously, that’s a thing here. A socially acceptable, not at all white trash thing. And it’s surprisingly fun. I will also miss all of the wonderful new friends I’ve made this past year. I hope to stay in contact with them all, but am sad to know that in reality, some of them I will probably never see again. Thank goodness for Facebook! (Except in China.)

I will not miss being gawked at. I will not miss being given the disapproving once over because of my weight. I will not miss being told I’m fat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m FULLY aware of what I look like. But it still sucks to hear, like, on a daily basis. And it makes it really difficult to feel good about the 35 lbs I’ve lost since I’ve been here. I will not miss the smog. I will not miss the grocery stores here. Unless you go right when they open or really late at night, they are insanely packed. And they have people yelling out specials all the time trying to get you to buy things and it’s super obnoxious. If I’m solo, I just put on my ipod and tune everyone out. I won’t miss the few Koreans who don’t like you because you’re a foreigner. On the whole, my experience has been really good. But the negative experiences seem to make a bigger impact than the positive ones, sadly. I will not miss my last class on MWF. Seriously, they were all jerks. Middle school teachers – I don’t know how you do it. You have my utmost respect because if I taught kids that age, I’d end up in jail. I will not miss the lunch lady. She was massively unpleasant. Even the Koreans didn’t like her, but they have to tolerate her because she’s older than they are. Homie don’t play that. Respect is a two way street. She was really nice to me on my last day and gave me an extra sandwich and I spent the entire day being worried that she’d tried to poison me. She’s that kind of awful. I will not miss my shower. Or my bathroom on the whole, really. I will not miss my college dorm room sized fridge. And I will not miss surprise tentacles in my food.

Of course, first and foremost, I am most excited to see my family when I get back (read cats). I especially can’t wait to see my sister. She won’t get home until almost Christmas, which will make almost a year and a half apart. Which is balls. She says she’s going to come visit me during year two, and if she doesn’t I might cut her. Because a year without your sister is just too long. Are you reading this, Kristin? If you don’t make a Korea trip happen, I WILL CUT YOU. And you’ve been warned, so I don’t even think I can get in trouble for it. Wait, maybe that’s not quite how the system works… Whatever. The point is, make the damned trip! I can’t wait to see my kitties and poopsies. Especially Abby. I have been waiting over a year to have some couch cuddle time with my favorite dog/sasquatch hybrid. I can’t wait to have good Mexican food. A year without Mexican food is also too long. I can’t wait to see the stars again. You can almost never see them in Korea, and that sucks. I can’t wait to drive (providing I get my license back, but that’s a whole other story) and sing in the car. I can’t wait to experience the holiday season properly. My mom is going to kill me by the time Christmas is over and probably wish I’d just stayed in Korea. I can’t wait to drink decent beer without having to offer up my first born to the bartender. I can’t wait to watch TV. I have kept up on a few of my shows, but I have not just sat in front of a TV and vegged since I got to Korea. And I super-dee-duper cannot wait to go shopping. It is very difficult to get my size clothing in Korea and the selection is pretty limited (read unattractive). Also, all of the bottoms I have saw fit to die two weeks before I left. I am currently sitting in the airport in my last pair of yoga pants that are slightly too big and in the last 24 hours have sprung a hole on the inner thigh. I just pray they make it until I get to San Francisco or things are going to get really awkward…

So, there you have it. The good, the bad and the ugly. Korea friends – I miss you already and can’t wait to see you again! Friends and family stateside – it’s been too long! I can’t wait to see you all and share my amazing adventure with you! Also, I’ve posted a few of my favorite photos from the last year for your viewing pleasure.

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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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Jeonju Style

Since I’m leaving in, oh, about two weeks, I thought it was high time I told you guys a little bit about the town I live in. The city is called Jeonju, the capital of the North Jeolla province. It’s located in the south western part of South Korea. It is famed for it’s cuisine, and for good reason. I’ve had food all over Korea, and it’s by far the best (And the cheapest, hurrah!). It is known for its bibimbap in particular. If you don’t know what bibimbap is, this is it. Actually, that picture doesn’t do it much justice. Check this one out. Alright, it turns out bibimbap doesn’t look that appealing. But trust me, it’s totally delicious. And Jeonju makes it better than anyone else. Word on the street is that when Michael Jackson had concerts in Seoul, he had his people bring him Jeonju bibimbap. That is a six hour round trip drive. For rice. At least that’s what I heard, anyway… There is a restaurant just around the corner from my place that makes the best bibimbap I’ve had. I frequently order take out from there. Unfortunately, I have no idea what my actual address is, so I have to go to the restaurant, order my food there and show them the slip of paper that has my address written in Korean. Then I go home and they bring the food to me. The ridiculousness of the situation does not escape me.

Jeonju is also known for it’s Hanok Village – a traditional Korean village. Many cities have these, but Jeonju’s is one of the best. It has over 800 hanok style buildings, tea shops, restaurants and souvenir shops. It’s a great way to spend a weekend afternoon, and I swear, I’m totally going to do a post on it soon. They often hold festivals there, which are always a good time. But the best thing about the Hanok Village is, far and away, the magkeolli man. Known to the foreigner community as Casanova, he plies us with alcohol whenever we pass by. Literally, if foreigners walk by he starts shouting, “Hey, foreigners, come here! Free magkeolli!” He lures you over and you think you’ll just stay for a minute. But four hours later, you’re still there and the group of foreigners has tripled. How he does this and manages to make a profit, I’ll never know. There are many rumors that have spread amongst the foreigners, each more far fetched than the last. But, this is Korea, so really, anything is possible.

That’s about all that distinguishes my town from any other town in Korea. They really do kind of all look the same. Any decent sized town is going to have an Emart, which is kind of like Walmart, and a Homeplus, which is kind of like Target. Most people do their grocery shopping there or at the street vendors. It’s kind of like a small scale farmer’s market that’s open every day. I prefer to get my veggies from there, because it’s insanely more cost effective. Every town also has street vendors selling chicken and pork skewers, deep fried tteok noodles (one of my personal faves), tteokbokkki, and deep fried corn dogs (Which are totally a heart attack waiting to happen. And for some reason, they just call them hotdogs.), amongst other tasty treats. These are great for eating on the cheap, on the run, or just for a quick snack. Cities here also have parks left and right, I imagine because most people live in apartments and therefor have no yard. It’s really awesome, but their parks are a bit different than ours. They still have the requisite swing sets, but they also have these giant, raised gazebos that old people just hang out on. Like all day. And well into the night. I’m not really sure what they do there. I think just wait until foreigners pass by so they can judge them. Also, the parks are pretty devoid of grass. There’s, like, shrubbery, and stuff. So there’s some greenery. But if you want to do cartwheels or somersaults or whatnot, you’re shit out of luck. Interestingly, all parks also have workout equipment. I mean, it’s cool that they’re all health conscious and stuff, but it’s still a little weird to see. Almost as weird as the ajumma’s doing aerobics to Kpop in the parks at night.

We’ve also got a zoo, a river that runs through town with a walking/biking path, an amazing park called Doekjin Park and, like any good Korean town, coffee shops and noreabangs on every corner. And dare I forget to mention the 7 story department store?! Sounds like heaven, right? Not so much. It’s crazy over priced and it’s really only good if you’re into Great Depression Chic. So, that’s my town in a nutshell. It’s a great starter town (not too big, not too small), but I’m ready for bigger and better things next year!

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One Year and Counting…

It’s finally here. The day I’ve been waiting for since this day last year. My one year anniversary in Korea. To mark the occasion, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and ruminations about the last year. So here goes… I am so very thankful for all of the amazing, new friends I’ve made this year from all over the world. They are such a big part of why my experience in Korea has been so wonderful. And if any of said friends are reading this, know that I WILL be taking you up on your offer to couch surf in whichever super awesome country you hail from that I totally want to visit. No takesies backsies! I have experienced so many new and wonderful things, and I feel like I’ve grown so much. I have stepped WAY farther out of my comfort zone than I thought I ever would, and have loved (almost) every minute of it. I have really enjoyed fully immersing myself in another culture. It has taught me so much about both myself and the world around me. My students are amazing and, as trite and cliche as it sounds, they have truly taught me way more than I could ever hope to teach them. Although I did teach them how to do thumb wars and to say, “You’re killing me, Smalls!” So I feel pretty good about that.
Knowing that if I had wanted to, I could actually be home with my family right this very moment is making the day just a little bit tougher. I really miss home and can’t wait to go back (48 days. But hey, who’s counting?), but know that the choice to stay until closer to the holidays is a good decision, financially. It is probably the first decent financial decision I have ever made in my life, and let me tell you – I don’t see it becoming a pattern. It’s no fun at all. Staying longer also means that I get to hang with my BFF a little longer and that I’ll have a travel companion on the way home, since Joe is going to come back to the states with me for a bit. So I’m trying to focus on the silver lining and not the fact that I would kill for some decent Mexican food in and around my mouth. And that I could be snuggling with my kitties RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE. They miss me. Terribly.

Enough of my whining (for now). Here is the highlights reel from my last year: going to Thailand, going to the Expo, eating live octopus, discovering one of my new top 5 favorite foods – dak galbi, volunteering at/for the orphanages, Mud Fest, playing Harry Potter with fireworks on the beach in Busan, my students, my mom’s visit and, of course, meeting my best friend. Korea year 2 just won’t be the same without my bestie with testes.

MTV Cribs Korea Style

So, this is it. The one you’ve all been waiting for. My Korean apartment. The demand for this blog has been overwhelming. The pressure has made it such a daunting task that it’s taken almost a year for me to tackle it. Not really, I’m just SUPER lazy. And I’ve been waiting for a good time, when my apartment was clean and orderly and the ceiling wasn’t falling off. And I’ve finally accepted the fact that the ceiling will ALWAYS be falling off. C’est la vie. This is probably the topic I researched the most before I came to Korea. I watched videos until I got motion sick from all of the Blair Witch style filming (I apologize in advance if mine is shot similarly). And no amount of time on Youtube could have prepared me for this. My Pepto-Bismol palace. It looked like it belonged in Hello Kitty’s playhouse. I know what you’re thinking, “But Megan, you said in your very last blog that you really liked pink.” It’s true, friends, I do love me some pink. But I’ve never been inclined to decorate anything but a nursery in that color. My bathroom is pink, the “tile” in my kitchenette is at least 3 different shades of pink, my refrigerator is pink, my wardrobe has pink, sparkly flowers on it and the original bedding was an atrocious shade of pink. Add to that my insanely pink luggage and almost no other furniture to speak of. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed. I immediately stripped the bedding and replaced it with the quilt I had brought from home. I relocated the fridge next to the kitchenette so at least all of the pink in the kitchen was is a designated area. I keep the bathroom door closed so no pink can escape from it. And, over time, I have added furniture and decor so that it doesn’t resemble it’s Barbie’s Dream House beginnings. Much. Aside from the bedding, the other great change I had to make right off the bat was the toilet seat. Who knew a toilet seat could be such a house warmer-upper (or whatever)? My original toilet seat was puffy, like the kind at your grandma’s house. *shudder* Also pink, it had an image of Hello Kitty on top and mold all over the underside. *double shudder* I couldn’t even clean it. I just had to go buy a new one. I spent 55 freaking dollars on the least hideous toilet seat I could find. It is clear, hard plastic (a definite must in my books) with glitter and pink flowers inside the plastic. Don’t judge me. Like I said, it was the least hideous I could find. Just about the time I made my apartment feel home-y, the kitchen ceiling started peeling off. It has now been about 8 months and, despite my greatest efforts, no one seems to care about fixing it. I’m afraid one day I’ll come home and have to duck under my ceiling to get into my bedroom. Don’t suggest duct tape. I’ve already tried that.

Some other fun facts about my apartment: I have a 2 burner stove and no oven. No dishwasher or garbage disposal. I have to manually turn on the gas if I want to turn on the stove (And then remember to turn it off so my apartment doesn’t explode. Sometimes I have trouble with that part.). My refrigerator is shorter than any member of the lollipop guild. The heating is in the floor. I have to turn the heater on and wait ages for the heat to come up through the floor and heat my whole apartment. Needless to say, my heating bill in the winter was out of control. I have to turn the hot water on before I can take a shower. In the winter, I have to wait a good 15 minutes to take a shower. In the summer, I can pretty much get in immediately, except that it’s started doing this thing where it likes to shut off mid-shower and I have to get out and try and fix it, shampoo in hair and all. Today I got to do it twice, so that was special. My washing machine is in my bathroom. I have no dryer. Thank god I live around the corner from a laundromat, because otherwise I would have to use a drying rack like most people in Korea do. And homie don’t play that. I NEED for my clothes to be dried in a dryer. So I’m a little prissy. Whatever, I’m over it. My walls are made of concrete, so you can’t really hang anything from the walls. I managed to find one sweet spot in my bedroom so I can hang my calendar. The sun shines directly into my room in the mornings, and there is also a streetlight that shines into my room all night long. Since I sleep about as well as the princess and the pea, I had to find a way to block that light out. The sheets I originally brought with me were too small for the bed, so I pinned them into the faux crown molding above my window and ghetto rigged some curtains (since I couldn’t get actual curtains, as they don’t attach easily to concrete walls). Again, I know what you’re thinking, “Megan, surely an eye mask would have been an easier solution?” True, dear reader, true. Except that I kept waking up thinking I was blind. So that, my friends, is my apartment in a nutshell. Click the following link if you’d like to see the video I’ve submitted to MTV Korea in an attempt to revive the show “Cribs”:check it out.

Disclaimer: To anyone that might have stumbled upon my blog researching Korean apartments, nothing will prepare you for what you get. From what I have seen, there isn’t a uniform apartment style. Every apartment I have seen has been vastly different from every other apartment I have seen. I have never seen any other like mine. By all means, continue researching. Just don’t get any preconceived notions of what you’re going to end up with. Also, your apartment is probably going to be pretty ghetto by American standards. You’ll get used it.

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

So I recently turned the big 3-0, much to my dismay. My initial plans were to have a grande fête, paint the town red and drink until I forgot how old I was. However, last minute I decided I’d rather do something a little more low key at night and spend the day wandering the Yeosu Expo with Joe. Must have been the old age setting in… Joe and I had a great, albeit tiring, time at the Expo, and we arrived back in Jeonju just in time to hit the bars for a few drinks with some friends. They were all already at the bar when we arrived, with cake, tiara and birthday glasses in hand (do my friends know me, or what?). This particular bar gives you a free bottle of tequila on your birthday which, as I’m sure you all know, only leads to trouble. Or in this case, to noreabang. We migrated to the noreabang when it was definitely still dark out, so you can imagine our surprise when we emerged and it was light out. I guess you could still say that we painted the town, but I’d say it was more of a magenta than a full on crimson. But that’s okay, I’m more of a pink girl anyway…

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