User-agent: Googlebot-Image Disallow: / My (edited) Journal

My (edited) Journal

Observations, events, comparisons, thoughts, rants, linguistics, politics, my students, and anything else I care to write about.

Monday, June 13, 2005

New Blog

What do English teachers do when they return to their home countries? Well, I decided against teaching, at least for the time being. The local public school district didn't impress me and I don't have the qualifications to teach in a private school. Plus there are frequent stories in the news about students assaulting teachers, parents causing problems, legislators telling teachers what they have to teach and what they're not allowed to mention, etc. etc. etc.

I got tired of not writing anything, so have started a blog about my new job. The new blog is completely anonymous, though. If you're interested in reading the new blog, email me at

Friday, October 01, 2004

One More Goodbye

The trip was average and my first 3 days home have been less jet-lagged than in the past. Sure I'm sleeping practically 12 hours every night, but they're 12 hours that most people on the Western side of the world sleep at. No crazy stuff like falling asleep at 7 PM--I think the hurricane shutters blocking out all of the light might be helping my body adjust faster!

The yard is a mess of tree limbs and leaves, while there's a lake behind the house and the pool is a nice green color with more tree limbs in it. There are fallen trees all over the city, some smashing cars or houses, some blocking roads, others knocking down power lines. More of the traffic lights are working now, but Grandma and Grandpa T. still don't have power (day 6). The latest storm (on Sunday, Jeanne) hit Lakeland harder than the others.

It's weird being home, but nice. I went to Cody's high school football game tonight and played with Hanna a lot while there. She has to be the cutest and smartest almost-2-year-old ever!! I've done some yardwork and cleaning in the house the last several days. Yesterday I unpacked most of my stuff; now I just have to find room for all of the new books. I suppose I'll get the process for applying as a substitute teacher started next week, as I've heard it takes as long as 6 weeks to get approved (background check, fingerprinting, drug test, physical, besides all of the normal job paperwork). Once I get that going I'll get more into life here. I need to get new health insurance, as my old policy expires in 2 weeks but I can extend it for another month. Car shopping should be fun, then there's that insurance. Grandma P. is letting me drive one of her cars for the time being. I haven't driven yet, though. I need a more professional wardrobe than I wore at the hogwan--outlet malls, here I come! Then there's stuff like eye doctor, dentist, dermatologist, etc. that I couldn't or didn't want done in Korea.

I've thought about it for the last several days, and decided that this blog has reached its end. I'll continue a paper journal, though it won't be quite as long largely because things here are more normal. Reasons I've reached this conclusion:
  1. I expect the re-entry shock might be quite an experience and interesting to hear about, but I don't want my family to read about my feelings and feel responsible for how well I might or might not be adjusting.
  2. If I'm going to write an online journal, I can't help but be detailed. Now that I'll be working in a place where people speak the same language as me, there'd be more chance of them stumbling upon this. I don't see pseudonyms working well for me. I don't want to get in any trouble with hurt feelings or worse, a lawsuit for libel or breaching a student's privacy or anything like that.
  3. I enjoyed sharing my experiences with people and hearing your reactions from time to time, but now that I'm around people who speak English and I can communicate with my family face-to-face or by phone more easily than before, writing a blog wouldn't be nearly the priority that it was while I was in Korea.

So instead of having a randomly updated and not very detailed page, I decided to not have a page at all. Thank you for reading and goodbye!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Saying Goodbye

The week of saying goodbyes. There were too many to say!!
Sunday the 19th started the week. Because a ton of people would be traveling during the Chuseok holiday, they did the customary sending-off then. Bill and Dave said some nice things and they gave me a framed Psalm 121:1-2 in Korean and English. Many people wrote messages on the back. I gave a short speech which I managed to stay composed for.

At Shinbok there were 15 kids, so it was pretty chaotic. Octavia gave me a gift certificate to Lotte. After the kids left, Octavia, John, and the other guy stayed and talked for an hour. I followed the conversation decently, I guess, though couldn't add to it.

I went home for a short time before meeting people at Pizza Hut for my official goodbye party. A total of 11 people were there. It was loads of fun and we eventually got kicked out for being too loud. Oops. Miran, Danica, and Moses had to leave then; the rest of us stopped in a store with a major sale and then went to a coffee shop.

More fun there, a lot of it at Ryan's expense. He was the first to order, so everyone was still at the counter when he got his coffee. There was a container of red and blue packets of (presumably) sugar on the counter. He opened a red packet of white powdery stuff and put it in his coffee. Shelly very believably and with a perfectly straight face asked him, "Why did you put salt in your coffee?" Ryan looked at her to see if she was serious, then turned to Dave and asked, "What's in the red packets?" Dave (who acted as if he hadn't been listening) replied, "The red packets are salt and the blue ones are sugar. Why?" With an exasperated voice, Ryan answered, "Because I just put salt in my coffee! Can you ask [the employee] for a spoon so I can get it out?" Dave asked for the spoon and handed it to Ryan, who dipped all of the whipped cream off of the top of the coffee. At that point Shelly admitted that it wasn't salt, and I asked Ryan why would a coffee shop have salt! For the next 1~2 hours Shelly and Dave must have worked about 10~15 "salty" jokes into the conversation. Poor Ryan!

Saying goodbye once again—hard! Dave, Katie, Shelly, and Kendall—such a good part of my time here. Then I stood outside talking with Ian and Jodie for practically another hour. At one point the owner came outside to say hello to Ian and expressed some concern about how his business is going. It's been open for 5 months but being near the university, there are tons of other coffee shops around. We made some suggestions on how to get more people to buy from him. It was great standing around brainstorming how to make his business more profitable. What American business owner would listen to youngsters' advice?

Tuesday the adult class took me out to lunch at a traditional place in downtown. The atmosphere was great; the food was strange. There were 20~30 side dishes so although I didn't like any of them very much I was able to sample enough to get full. One dish looked like seasoned green beans. I took one, put it in my mouth and started chewing—oops—green pepper, and an especially potent one—I almost died coughing. The day was good, but I wasn't sure how to tell the kids I was leaving and what special thing to do for them.

Miro's 4 PM class that has been one of the most challenging asked me if I was leaving Korea to go to Iraq and fight. Certainly not! They reminded me that my name was "E.T." and acted as if they were glad to be rid of me. Well, I was somewhat glad to be rid of them, so if the feeling is mutual, fine! I asked them what they would do for the Chuseok holiday and one of the boys told me that he would bow and get money. Another kid proclaimed, "Babo! That's New Year's Day, not Chuseok!" First kid: "Oh yeah!"

In Mona's 5 PM class (long one of my favorites) I bought them snacks, since Friday would be speaking tests. We talked a lot, studied a little. Sure we didn't quite finish the book, but I would rather enjoy my last time with them than rush through the last chapter (which they didn't need for the test).

Thursday and Friday I brought out the camera for a few pictures—Miro's 3 PM class with Ally, Jenny, Cindy, and Ju-young; Mona's 3 and 5 PM classes.

The last adult class was awkward, as none of us knew exactly how to say goodbye. I gave them my email and mailing address, then Jennifer asked for my phone number. I hesitated, not sure of why she wanted it. After making sure she realized the time difference, I gave it to her.

Tomas asked if I liked his card, and told me that Mona had helped him. Then he said "Don't forget Tomas! Don't forget Korea! Don't forget Korea talking!" I explained that I don't have anyway to practice Korean with at home, so I'm sure to forget some of it.

On Friday from 5~7 it was a little insane with fitting in some speaking tests I didn't finish on Thursday plus doing Friday's tests. At 5 the kids knew the material so well that I was able to get through all of them and still have time for pictures and a tiny bit of talking. The girls all gave me gifts—Luby gave me coasters she had made herself from traditional Korean paper—very nice, along with a sweet letter; Laura and Sally also gave me wonderful letters and candy; Lily (after asking me on a couple of different days what my favorite Lotteria food was) brought me a shrimp burger set and insisted that I drink the cola while giving them their test because otherwise the ice would melt and it would be disgusting.

In the 8:30 class after the speaking test I told them goodbye, made sure they knew my email address and asked them to email from time to time to tell me what they were up to. They seemed pleased that I was interested in them.

Despite all the tests, I only had to stay 10 minutes later than normal to finish everything. I had started the evaluations about 10 days before, and flew through grading the writing tests. I did the last of my computer work, got rid of a few last things off my desk, and was struck by the sudden thought that I'm now unemployed!

Miro said a nice goodbye—after all, I was her main co-teacher. Lisa nearly started crying, which nearly got me going. Jane translated for her. It's weird—we haven't been able to talk very much because of the language barrier, yet I like her better than some of the teachers. We always greet each other, do a little simple conversation, and show concern for each other. She's often the only one there when I come in for adult classes, and I think we have a mutual respect for the work that the other does. Julia (the secretary when I came) rarely did any work—she preferred to gossip all day long. She made no effort to speak with me—at all. The next secretary was tons better, but, and perhaps it was only because of personal problems, she often seemed unorganized and distracted. Lisa does a good job yet still manages to be friendly to the students and teachers.

Mr. Kim gave all the teachers Chuseok gifts—a huge box of shampoo, soaps, toothpastes, etc. and he gave me a going-away present of pottery. I gave both of them away—too big and heavy to carry home. I thanked Mr. Kim for my time at his school, saying I'd enjoyed it and learned a lot. As I left he was on the phone, but I bowed to him and he, although seated, gave me a low goodbye bow.

Jane offered to drive me home, since she was meeting her friend in Mugeo-dong. Joelle was going to go along with us, too, but after waiting in Jane's car for awhile Joelle text messaged Jane that she had to stay and talk with Mr. Kim, so we were to go on without her. So no goodbye to Joelle—too bad, I'll forever regret it….yeah right! I can't even begin to pretend about that!

I stayed up pretty late writing thank-you and I'll miss you notes to some of the students, then did some packing. It must have been around 2 AM when I went to sleep, then got up at 8 AM to meet Octavia to go to Busan. I haven't gotten back to a normal sleep schedule since then.

Saturday Octavia drove John and me to the Nampo-dong area. I expected her to do what she's done in the past and just drive to Nopo-dong and take the subway from there, but later I understood why she drove all the way to Nampo-dong.

We did some shopping Korean-style. In the past I'd only visited the outdoor markets or the 1st-floor shops. I had no idea there was a maze of shops on the second floor! Up a steep staircase and down narrow halls, hoping the building had been properly constructed. Open rafters above, uneven flooring below. Steel walkways from one building to the next. Not a place to be if a fire broke out!

We had a quick lunch at the street-side vendors. I never eat on the street by myself, but I figure that with a Korean it's safe—they know what to look for as far as cleanliness and the type of food that's safe to eat even when it's been sitting out all day. We had an appetizer of dukbokki, and then had some noodle-ly dish at another vendor. Slurp, slurp, slurp, seated on low stools surrounding the woman who dished out the food for us. People scurrying past, an old man shouting at people to buy his fruit and/or get out of his way. Finding a hair in the noodles—yuck, but get it out and continue eating—can't get behind in this race. No talking at all during the 10-minute-or-less meal. We then walked to the area I was more familiar with and into an older (for Busan) hotel to get coffee. We sat for over an hour and talked as we rested. Then Octavia and I headed to her friend's store while John returned to Ulsan via the subway and bus to help his mother get ready for Chuseok. Shopping with them was OK, but I felt like a child shopping under mom's watchful eye, as if my purchases were being evaluated as to their practical-ness or value.

Around 4 PM we met Octavia's friends. One was the same one from the Haeundae Beach day who brought her daughter and niece and we went to the Pet Café, etc. Today it was only adults. Three, then later four Korean women in their late 40s or early 50s chattering up a storm and me. I understood very little, as they were talking so fast. The fatigue that suddenly hit me contributed as well. On the way to the big bridge we got in a traffic jam and I fell asleep for a bit, but the nap didn't help at all.

We went to a raw fish restaurant. I didn't like it very much. Perhaps it was because it was only 6 PM and my stomach was still digesting the half-chewed noodles from our 1 PM lunch. The actual raw fish was good, but the side dishes weren't appetizing. The thing that really turned my stomach was the whatever-it-was that was still moving. I tried one because they urged me to, but didn't eat much after that. Memories of the last time I had raw fish with Octavia and spent the next 12 hours puking went through my mind—the last thing I needed was to be sick when I should be packing or too weak to make the long trip home. My stomach felt weird for the rest of the night but no further problems. The bridge was really nice—huge and lit up with green and blue lights. Gwangali or something like that, built before the 2002 World Cup. Driving around, a bakery, another coffee shop, and finally arriving home after 11 PM and going almost immediately to bed. That meant I was fully awake by 8 AM Sunday morning.

I did a ton of cleaning and packing. I made a new stack of things to take to church with me. Mostly a few canned goods and the Chuseok gift from Mr. Kim. I found that most of my stash of medicine has expired or is close to it, so that takes care of not having to pack that! Sunday mornings are usually quiet, but this week it was like a ghost town. I wasn't looking forward to more goodbyes. There were only about 20~25 people there, with so many people traveling abroad. Roger gave a sermon—he was dressed up and was quite serious, in contrast to his normally joking personality. At the end Pastor Cho did some announcements, including the September birthdays yet to come, and his was one of them so David called out, "Happy Birthday!" and Pastor Cho joked, "Where's my gift?" David suggested giving him the gift set and I said sure, but I wasn't going to do it. So David jumped up and ran it up to the front, to a very embarrassed Pastor Cho!

I was hoping to see Mrs. Yoon, but she may be traveling. We said goodbye last month, but with the expectation that we'd see each other again at church. Oh well, it didn't work out.

At Shinbok there was a small crowd. We didn't study, but the 4 girls (the 2 boys disappeared early on) sat and asked me a lot of questions (with help from John). I didn't realize that two of the girls (the talkative elementary school one with the really positive attitude and her older sister who is constantly whining) were the pastor's children. The younger one gave me a gift, so afterwards Octavia took me to their mother so I could thank her. The family actually lives in the church. I'd never met the pastor before. He took Octavia and me into this study, where we chatted a tiny bit with Octavia as translator as needed and then he prayed for me, thanking God for the work I'd done there and asking blessings for my future. He talked entirely too fast for me to understand, but Octavia told me later. At the time, though, it was one of the "language doesn't really matter" experiences because I could hear the passion with which he prayed and feel the power of his words.

As she drove me home I wondered if Octavia was going to cry—her eyes were certainly damp. Again, it was awkward because we didn't know when we would meet again.

I walked down to the market to buy another big trash bag, and then wandered around the neighborhood. The last few days I've been more observant about the differences. It's almost as if since I'll soon be home, that I'm seeing things with the newcomer's eyes once more. People out working, kids perfectly safe out playing by themselves, grandmothers squatting and sorting through the trash.

Jodie called to ask if we could meet later; I agreed and then lay down for a short nap. After I'd been up for a bit Sandra called to ask if she and Lee could come by. Mr. Kim had told them they could take whatever they wanted from the apartment after I was gone, so she wanted to make sure they could find it. They came in and visited for 20 minutes or so, and I gave them the pottery set, the bread from Octavia, and the thank you notes to deliver to the kids. Sandra again said how she'd miss working with me, and I said I felt the same. Another goodbye.

Jodie came around 8:00, and stayed until after midnight. Go away! She's a little strange, but I was so tired. And hungry, actually. I ate lunch at around 2 PM at Shinbok, and then Sandra came, then I kept expecting Jodie to come, so I had put off eating dinner. I finally had yoghurt and a sandwich at around 12:30. Jodie took quite a few things with her; I felt good that some things would get some more use out of them.

That brings me to the last day of Korea. More packing, more cleaning. I took the remaining unwanted clothes outside to find the donation box gone, so I left the clothes where the box used to be in the hopes that an ajumma will find it and do something useful with the clothes. I went down the Lotte Department Store to spend the gift certificate. At first I spent 38,000 won, thinking (as Octavia had told me) that they'd give me cash back. Well, they did—12,000 won, and a 50,000 won gift certificate. Ugh, more shopping! The actual department store part wasn't too crowded, but the discount store was. I finally found some more stuff to buy, but ended up spending the entire thing plus 1,000 won.

Back to the apartment, again being extra-observant on the bus ride and walk home. Another nap at home, more cleaning, more packing, and pleasantly surprised to find that everything seems to fit (tomorrow morning will be the final test!). I hope neither of the bags is too heavy! I'm also hoping there won't be a problem with the carry-ons. I have my computer bag, a purse, and a shopping bag with the framed verse from Simin (with the frame and glass cover, I didn't trust it to be checked, even if I sandwiched it between clothes). If need be I can stick my purse in the shopping bag to say that I only have 2 bags to carry on, right?

Has it really sunk in that I'm leaving? The apartment is looking pretty bare, I'm excited to be going home, yet I feel as if my goodbyes were insufficient. A week of saying goodbye somehow doesn't seem enough for a place that's been my home for over 2 years. I guess it's the whole leaving-and-probably-never-coming-back thing. Now that I'm leaving, I feel as if I know Korea so well. In some ways, I think I know it better than my own country and culture. Reverse culture shock—how bad will it be?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Internet Censorship

Well, blogs are inaccessible again, but I'll be gone soon and the Korean government has shown how (not) concerned they are about foreigners. With my American brain, my first thought is that Korea can't expect to advance much within the international world or as the desired hub of Asia when they do stupid things like internet censorship. However, some things recently have put it in perspective.

First, the Brainysmurf's writings about internet censorship in China show me that some countries have it worse off.

Secondly, I've learned some things that show me just what a new democracy Korea is. Octavia said that prior to the 1988 Seoul Olympics, they had a midnight to 4 AM curfew. She got caught once, and got some sort of ticket. Things I read in the newspaper about the 70s and 80s and how they were filled with demonstrations and assassinations and if you said something against the government something bad might happen to you. Octavia said that because Koreans didn't have to fight for democracy they don't value it as much; women didn't have to fight for the vote so it's not very important to them. How about the Korean War? Wasn't that fighting for democracy? All the protests?

Economically the country has come a long way, too. Octavia said (primary sources are the best source of information!) that even 15 years ago her apartment complex had 300 families and only 4 of them had a car.


That's within my lifetime! (Public transportation in the form of buses and such were used to get around.) Nowadays nearly every family has one car, and more are getting second cars.

Korea as it is today doesn't seem that far off from the USA, yet it's come to this point so quickly that minor setbacks are bound to occur from time to time. As the kids grow up with freedoms, setbacks will occur less often. The political system has a long way to go, though, with lots of growing pains along the way as Koreans strive to achieve their own national identity independent of the Americans, Japanese, and Chinese.

As to how/when unification of the peninsula will occur.....I'd love to see it happen within my lifetime, but the difficulties are immense. Anyone feel like assassinating Kim Jong Il? The longer they stay separate, the harder unification will be. The longer the North stays isolated, the more out of touch the people will be with the international world that the Southerners live in.

I loved Korea Unmasked by Won-bok Rhie. It explains things pretty well without the academic jargon.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Webpage Edit

I can finally access the blogs without using a proxy--only 92 days of blockage! I still agree with the Benjamin Franklin quote, but it's time for it to come down, too. "He who sacrifices freedom for security is neither free nor secure." President Bush could do well to remember that.

Ramblings on Getting Ready

I began packing today and determined that I don't need to ship anything home. I practically filled up one bag with books and such; I'm pretty sure the other bag has room for my clothes and everything else. Of course I'll be rearranging things at least a time or two for both the fit and the weight--right now the bag with the books is a little heavy. But how heavy? Still under 70 pounds, certainly, but by how much? I can lift it to waist-level without much difficulty, so I'm thinking it's around 40~50 pounds. I'll move some of the books into my other big bag, though, to even things out. The clothes weigh practically nothing. Shoes--they're all worn out, excepting sandals and the pair I'll be wearing home. I went through clothes to throw out the ones in bad repair--no use transporting them across the Pacific Ocean. Every little bit of space/weight helps.

I've found some more things to take to school with me today and more for the church people on Sunday. I'll email Jodie and have her come over perhaps Sunday night to take anything she wants--fans, shelves, a nice plant, winter clothes, etc.

Last night I wrote thank-you notes to the kids who gave me gifts. I tried to use easy words, but their Korean teachers might have to help them understand. I can't believe it's the last day! I have 3 classes to teach, 3 classes to give speaking tests to, several classes of writing tests to grade, and the bank to visit during my break. Things are coming together. I'll have to buy one more 50 liter trash bag, as this morning's wild mess-making practically filled up the one that was only a quarter-full. My apartment hasn't been this clean in quite a while!

Tomorrow Busan, Sunday church and Bible study, Monday Lotte shopping (gift certificate!) and perhaps out for one last look at Daewangam, then Tuesday I say goodbye to Korea--take my last taxi, see the last of the Taehwa River, take the last airport bus, give up my resident ID card, change the last of my won into dollars, and get on the plane for the long trip home.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

One Day Left

The day was insane, but in a good way. There was a never-ending stream of kids into the teachers' room to give me cards and gifts. Only one day of work left--I can't believe it. So far no tears, but I don't know how much more I can take!

Mona helped him, but Tomas wrote:

Dear Beth teacher
Hello Beth
America live Beth to Beth I love Beth
Thank you for teaching me. Don't forget Korea and don't forget
Tomas. My Beth Don't forget USA Beth. a gain meet good bye to your home town bey Beth I love you and Monna take Beth to your homtown surpereg bey pretty (heart) Beth (heart) (Tomas' name in a heart) I'm miss you
From Tomas (another heart)

He obviously hasn't learned punctuation yet! He's one that barely knew the alphabet when I started teaching him--how far he's come! (Me patting myself on the back) He still has his moody days, but has the potential to develop a really high level of English (he's in the 3rd grade now).

The other cards and letters were similar: "I love you," or "I'll miss you," or "Thank you," or "Don't forget me." I wager they'll have me crying before I leave tomorrow. I was pretty close after reading all of the cards from Mona's class!

Mina's 2 PM class (Kate, Danny, Maria, Penny, Clint) came to say goodbye again, with fake tears. At 3 PM the four girls (3rd grade) had gifts for me, and happily received their gifts from me. Ask and you shall receive! They're one of the few classes that asked for gifts, and it's small enough that I could do it. I told them that I didn't buy gifts for the other classes, so it was a secret. I worried about what to buy, but little girls like anything pretty; they were happy with the rings. Ally gave me a pen and a picture frame with a picture of her on the beach; Cindy gave me lip gloss (which Jenny put on me, then they tried out, then they put more on me--I know, Mom, not very sanitary) and a Harry Potter pen; Ju-young came back to school later to give me lip gloss, a cell phone accessory, and a hair band. We did absolutely no study from the book, just talked in an odd mixture of English and Korean. Ally and Jenny performed a play for me that they'd made up before class. Jenny played herself and Ally played me, and it consisted of Jenny begging Ally not to go to the USA and trying to go with her, but then finally saying goodbye. Then when she was 20 years old she came to the USA to see me and I was pregnant and she had to help me to the hospital. I'll miss their silliness.

Later in the day Elaine and Sera (from Mona's class) returned to school with gifts for me: a hair pin, artificial flowers, and huge hat. Mona liked the hat, so I gave it to her--is that terrible? I told her not to tell Sera. It's just too big to get home without squashing it beyond recognition.

The other crazy part of the day was the speaking tests. Even with the big classes I was able to get most of the students finished. I should be able to finish in the 10 minutes between classes tomorrow. I practically ran over to the photo shop to have the pictures developed, then have reprints made so I can give Ally, Jenny, Cindy, and Ju-young their picture tomorrow. I expected the reprints to take longer; the man had me wait, which put me back to school late. Oops! On my next-to-last day when Mr. Kim was there, too!

Mr. Kim signed the letter of recommendation that I wrote for myself, as well as using his name stamp. I had hoped that he wouldn't really look at it, but he read it all. It's embarrassing to "toot your own horn," as Tanya put it. I was busy later and he had to leave so he had Lisa (the secretary) give it to me. She also gave me some school envelopes--that's a nice touch. Matt suggested that perhaps I should have Mr. Kim sign more letters for me since most places want the original letter. I guess I could do that since I have to talk to him tomorrow to find out what to do about the apartment keys and to make sure he pays me early tomorrow so I can go on my 4 PM break and change the money into American cash.

The last adult class was awkward, as none of us was quite sure how to act. Melissa gave me a note and slippers, while Grace gave me a letter. Tanya later told me that Grace's daughter (the university student who Tanya is teaching a special one-on-one class to) called her this morning to ask how to spell my name. Tanya said it sounded like the daughter wrote the whole thing!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

My Students

I am going to miss my students!!

Today Mina's 2 PM class that I used to teach came into the teachers' room and gave me goodbye cards. They were really sweet:

Thank you Beth Teacher
I will miss you Beth Teacher!
I am sad.
very very sad.
Beth love you
I am very very sad.
name: Maria (and Korean name)

I will miss you Beth Teacher!
Thank! you Beth Teacher.
Good bye!
I love you!
From: Kate

I thought that it was so out of character for Matt to have them make cards. I thanked him, and he explained that it wasn't his idea. He told them that I was returning to the USA, and Kate suggested making cards. These are kids that have only been studying English for perhaps a year! She was able to explain to him what she wanted to do, then explained to the other students in Korean. Matt then got the supplies, and they wrote the cards themselves. They mimed "miss" for him, and asked how to spell a few other words, but otherwise it was on their own--the ideas and English are theirs! Matt said that I must have done something right. Hooray! Part me, part their positive attitudes, part Mina threatening to beat them?

Jenny brought in hair pins and a letter for me. I guess it's a reminder to give them a gift tomorrow!

Dear Beth...Teacher! How are you? I'm very sad. Becaus your going to the U.S.A. But we are not cry. We want your happy. Your going to the U.S.A. Your school teacher...speaking I'm
listen. Your gift is a hairpin. Than happy CHUSEOK!! Goodbye teacher. Korean your think Korean come on please....Jenny

I can understand what my professor (Dr. S) was talking about near graduation time. He said that he often wonders what happens to his students and how they're doing. I thought he was being all sappy and I thought it was out of character for him, but I suppose even big grumps can be sad when their students leave and go out into the world, worried about what will happen to them next. He wasn't on campus the day I visited in March. I'll make sure to see him when I get back.

Kyungju and a Play

The weekend was great, as I've already said. Saturday we left around 9:45 (after meeting at 9 AM--had some sleepyheads meeting us!). It was overcast in Ulsan; by the time we reached Kyungju it was drizzling. Dave suggested returning to Ulsan for lunch and an activity like bowling or a singing room, but most of the foreigners didn't mind the rain (as it was only the slightest bit chilly). We're in Kyungju, so let's see something!

As that was being agreed on, the vehicles were moved from one parking lot to another and back again. At some point Kendall and Shelly had a motorcycle accident. Nothing major, but a bus changed lanes without signaling and because of the wet roads he couldn't stop in time so had to swerve off to the side too sharply, so tipped the bike. Shelly had a scraped elbow and possibly fractured collar bone (an x-ray that evening showed nothing); Kendall had a gash on his arm and another on his leg. The Koreans in our group yelled at the bus driver for a bit, but because the bus and motorcycle hadn't actually hit each other and there were no witnesses, they couldn't call the police.

After Kendall got patched up at the firehouse we entered Bulguksa and spent an hour there. There was a special event so tons of people were there and dressed up. Monks and nuns were out everywhere walking with umbrellas. In one of the temples loads of fruit and rice cakes were being delivered as offerings either to Buddha or the dead monk's picture. Shelly told me that they don't eat any of it!

I asked Roger's wife if she knew who the man in the picture was. She doesn't speak much English, but she seems to be comfortable speaking with me. I think she thinks I know more Korean than I do. Of the Koreans that I've heard speak Korean, I understand her better than many people--is it the tone of her voice, or the fact that she repeats the important words several times, or something else? I also understand Dave pretty well—he tends to speak slower than many people, and perhaps an easier vocabulary??

Anyway, she went into this long story about how she used to be Buddhist but then she met Jesus and became Christian but her family was still Buddhist. I don't often hear all the church words in Korean, but she was able to make me understand "trinity" and a couple of other words. My church vocabulary in Korean was limited to words like God, Jesus, prayer, church, and love. Then the story got weirder as she used yet new words. I understood the word "ghost" and from her body language that she was scared. I also understood the word "Satan" (in Korean it sounds a little the same as in English). Later I asked Miran what another word she kept saying meant. I had guessed correctly: 마기 means evil spirit or demon. I didn't understand everything she said, but got the idea.

Next we went to a buffet-style Korean lunch, then to Seokguram Grotto, which was incredibly foggy. On the 15-minute walk to the temple and then as we looked around I talked with Jo, a new teacher from Ireland. Her accent wasn't strong enough to be difficult to understand, but was just strong enough to be adorable. She's only been here for 2 weeks, so had lots of questions about everything.

Then the bus ride back to Ulsan. We arrived at 5 PM. Pastor Cho dropped people off along the way (it helped that most of the people in our vehicle lived in Mugeo-dong). Euri went shopping while I went home for a short time.

At 6 PM Euri, Miran, Danica, and I met for a "girls' night." We ate at the new Italian place near the university, then went to the first ever play by foreigners in Ulsan. About 200 people showed up, at least 60~70% of them foreigners. The play was written by one of the 6 actors. Owen helped with music, someone else collected money (3000 won) and handed out programs. It was really well done. The play itself was just under an hour and a little strange, yet entertaining. The title was "Twenty-four five," referring to how the workday is always the same and people are tired of doing the same thing over and over everyday and thinking that their lives have purpose when it's really just an endless pursuit of nothing. On second thought, how depressing! After it was over Miran met some people from her academy and Danica, Euri, and I went to Baskin Robbins. Their newest flavor, "alien mom," is pretty good, but what an odd name! Finally we said goodnight.

Hacking Test

Monica (7th grade) really hates tests! The students have to memorize words from a book called "Hacking." It's pretty much a waste of time because they don't know how to use the words and the words are entirely too complicated for their ages, so they forget the words immediately after the test. Occasionally I'll say a word and it will ring a bell that they've seen that word before. The student will dig the Hacking book out of his bag and flip around to find the word (as he can't remember the Korean meaning without his book). From three of Monica's journal entries:

Tomorrow I have to hacking test I hate hacking I will see the made the hacking book man I fighting the that man Why made a hacking book? I don''t know exactly Hacking is mess Very not useful I don''t see hacking book anymore hum..... I don''t want to hacking hum...

I have to test schoo test,academy test... I have many test I hate test always.. I hate academy test very much. because I don''t like English and other subject My favorite hate test is a hacking test I hate remember words The every is for me, but I hate test

I will kill made a english books Maybe I see him I will kill him I anglry very much Why did he made a book? Just because a money? It makd me a offend I will kill him

My adults mentioned this story to me, but I couldn't believe them. I thought there must have been some kind of misunderstanding. However, it's true! The dog was worth 70,000,000 won ($61,000) and the owner's employees took the dog and ate it. The men won't face criminal charges, but a civil suit is being filed.

Time is flying! I'm working on my "to do" list, but there's still a lot on it! Six days left.