Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Office Etiquette

So, this is a story about something I love about Korea. Today, I am tired. I'm not entirely sure why I am so tired, but I am incredibly tired. People here don't sleep as much as we do in America (8 hours is prime, all that jazz), but they are constantly in motion. I find that really interesting. Anyway, I walked in from lunch, and my head teacher has just got his head laid on his desk, passed out asleep. Now, in America, we'd be like "Whoa, look at him, he's sleeping at work." Here, no big deal. People just see it as a normal thing- if you're tired and you aren't needing to be in class at that moment, just sleep! I have to say that I really like this on days like today. I was sleeping at my desk about 10 minutes ago, for about 15 minutes. It was great, and it gave me the energy I needed to keep going with my day! It's so funny how different things become "bad etiquette" in some form or fashion in given cultures and not in others. For example, I can sleep at my desk here, but I wouldn't dare hand someone money with my left hand. I can eat off of other people's dishes at a restaurant together, but if I wore my shoes into the house....wrong. That would be just wrong.
So there's my little thought of the day. I love that I can sleep at my desk when I'm tired here. One thing that I do NOT love about "proper etiquette" here is the fact that chewing with your mouth open and making noise while you eat is no big deal. I know that in some cultures, the louder you are when you eat it, the better it is. Well, that's not the case here. And yet, people still chew obnoxiously loud while eating anything and everything. And we eat a lot here...I feel like when I'm around Koreans, I'm constantly eating. So the fact that my biggest pet peeve EVER is mouth noises, I am really being tested here.
By the way, I believe you are seeing the effects of that cat nap I took at my thoughts are a little scatter brained here, and I do apologize for that! Anyway, I should probably go now and do something productive with my time...but I hope you've enjoyed my rant about etiquette and some of its entities here in Korea. As I type this, the lady across from me is picking stuff out of her teeth. Yum. Ok, gotta go. Have fun reading!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You're for me and I'm for him... I sit here and think about what to write on my blog, my co-teacher's phone rings in his desk. It says "You're for me and I'm for him. She's for him and something something something...that's the way the story goOOOES." Ha. And it sounds like a maybe something you'd see on a commercial in the 1950's perhaps? All I know is that whenever it rings, I get a big smile across my face, because it makes me laugh like nobody's business.

So, yesterday was a very up and down sort of a day. It's funny how those kind of days can just stick out in your mind...I'll probably never forget that classes 7,8 and 3,4 made me SO angry one time. Yesterday I just couldn't get control of these two classes. Now, I could talk about the fact that I think a lot of it has to do with who my co-teacher is (as I don't have NEAR this many problems in any other teacher's class), but I'm not going to do that. I am just going to say that those two classes yesterday were the kind of classes that make you question why you teach. Don't get me wrong...I KNOW why I teach. I know that I love to teach but geeze, somedays. And do you know what the hardest part about having an abnoxious class is here? You can't have the "I'm disappointed in you" speech. I mean, you could have it, but it wouldn't be effective like it would be in America. Why? Well, because the "I'm disappointed in you" speech kind of uses a lot of bigger words. You know, disappointed...expectations...respect...those kinds of big words. :P So, my kids don't have a clue what I'm saying and just zone out if I try that. So yesterday, I got to the point where the only other thing I could do punishment-wise was hit the kid, and I wasn't gonna do that (although it would've been completely accepted here), so I just reached my point of frustration.

There. Now that I have that out of my system, I can talk about the good parts of yesterday! Weeeeee! So, a teacher who NEVER speaks to me spoke to me yesterday, in English! I was pretty stoked about that. It's always fun when someone new works up the courage to talk to you in English. It makes you feel like they care to talk to you that much because they are going WAY out of their comfort zone by speaking that language to a native speaker. It takes guts amongst the adults. So I was pretty excited when that happened! Also, I had Bible Study tonight. I just have to say that I love Bible study. My reason is that it's people that I don't get to see that often, and even if I do see them, I get to see them in a new light. So much of our lives here together with foreigners is witty humor and such since we don't get to do that in our everyday conversation. So it's nice to have time where we intentionally dig deeper into the Bible to really discuss it and get something out of it. Plus it's a study on the Old Testament which is a total challenge for me. Aside from Psalms, I never willingly read the OT. I stick to the newer stuff. So this is a total challenge for me, but it's fun to read it through new eyes and really get something useful out of it. THen of course after Bible study a few of us went to coffee. I do love myself some coffee!! (good thing I don't teach my kids to talk like that!) So, coffee and good conversation is always a plus, and a great way to end a day! Speaking of ending, I'm going to end this entry so you all don't start dozing off. Later!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Did I Think

So, there are things that I've been thinking of since I've been here that I never thought I'd like or appreciate that I've come to find as a regular part of my life. I thought I'd share that list with you all.

Never did I think that I'd be living somewhere that every single person had three syllables to their name.
Never did I think that I'd be sitting at lunch picking bones off of a piece of fish to eat it...and actually enjoy it!
Never did I think I'd be craving rice and tuna wrapped in seaweed (참치김밮) for breakfast every morning.
Never did I think kids would be saying that they wanted to be a teacher because they wanted to make a lot of money. Lol.
Never did I think I'd find it so comforting to see someone on the street that was white or black, knowing that I could say "hello" and that it would be understood.
Never did I think that the "broken English" feeling that Ashley and I fought all through Europe would be a constant in my life.
Never did I think I'd find one specific type of people so kind and endearing.
Never did I think that I'd be able to put up with as many mouth noises as I do here without blinking an eye.
Never did I think that I could feel so ignorant, yet so loved all in the same day...or moment at that.
Never did I think I'd be walking as much as I do here...
Never did I think I'd live in a constant state of sweat. As in I sweat....ALL THE TIME here.
Never did I think I'd be making a list like this that consisted of my everyday life circumstances...that's all!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Catch up

So, since I'm 10 days into September and haven't blogged once, I'm going to play catch up. I am just going to give some pieces from my journal so that you know what's been going on in my life! Enjoy!

September 4-

So I'm sitting in my office right now...and it's Friday. Somehow I've let an entire week slip by without journaling. Go team go! :P School was pretty normal this week-lots of people talking about stuff that I didn't understand, know, the usual. So Moon taught me a phrase last week, ma ja, which means "correct" or "I agree." So at lunch this week, the opportunity came up for me to use this when speaking to Olivia (one of the Korean English teachers). So, around a bunch of Koreans, I said "Ma ja." Turns out, that's the way you say it to a friend, not a teacher who's older than me. So after an awkward pause, a guy that was sitting there said "Ma ja yo." Red with embarrassment, I buried my head in my jjajamyeong (Chinese black bean and noodle dish). Oh've gotta learn some way right? If not through error, then how? :)
I had dinner with Kyungran this week which was a blast. She's someone from the International church, and she's Hals' head teacher. She's hilarious, and she loves when I speak in a Brittish accent! Anyway, I think I'm going to start teaching her daughter piano...that should be interesting, especially depending on how well her daughter speaks and understands English!

September 5-
Well, today was exhausting, but really fun! Jordan and I got up, got Rotiboy and headed out to Yawoori to meet Ben. From there, we hopped on bus 24 and headed out to Taejo San (a mountain in the Cheonan area). We made our way up to the huge Buddha statue which is the marking of the bottom of the mountain trek. Then we headed up a path that I haven't been on before. We saw a bunch of rock pile/shrine looking things which were kind of cool...I wish I knew their significance though! Then we came to this resting place where there was an ajusshi (old man) just chillin. We communicated with him a little, but mostly just sat around with him. He and Ben became best buds...he even rolled up his pants like Ben had his! Haha. We also climbed into some cave that had candles and bricks in the end of it, which we saw by taking pictures and watching when the camera flashed! So, the next couple of hours consisted of choosing a random way and somehow ending up on a completely different side of the mountain...possibly even a different mountain all together. We walked down a huge street, taking a break in the stream which was super cold and amazing, and walked around a lake to a part of Cheonan that we've never seen before. It was very countryside-esque, with a random factory, guard tower, and taxi thrown in every once in a while. We just kept walking though, until we found a street that had a bus stop on it. I thought that the numbers 200 and 201 sounded like ones that went to Yawoori (I found out later they all go to Yawoori, lol), so we waited for the bus. We stopped into a local shop and got some 매실 which is like a plum tea. The lady working at the store gave us from free pears also. Now, pears here are unlike any pears I've had before. First, they're HUGE....second, they're so delicious...just the right amount of sweet...anyway, we hopped on bus 200 which came first, and headed off to Yawoori. There was a lady on the bus that held our bag for us and then started getting an English lesson! Haha. She was trying really hard to use any English that she knew in order to communicate with us!
As if this fun filled mountain day wasn't enough, our bus ride home on our beloved 12 bus was the most interesting bus ride I've been on before. First the bus driver started talking...a lot. We had no idea what he was saying, so we were just quiet. Then he turned the radio back on...then he talked, then the radio...then he talked, then the radio. It was like he was dj-ing the radio! Then the bus driver started shouting something in Korean about Americans and goes "Michael J!!!" Then he asked in Korean if we spoke Korean, wondering if we were understanding what he was saying. Then he just kept saying "Ok? Ok? Ok? Michael J, ok?" Once we finally said ok, he continued by playing the song Billy Jean. Good work bus driver man. He is the stereotype of most Koreans in that they believe that we all LOVE Michael Jackson...and that we were probably friends with him.

September 6-
Today was a good day! It started with worship practice at 8:30 this morning. I am going to be observing practice for 3 weeks and then start playing the keyboard. Su jin is certainly an interesting leader to follow! She has her own style of doing things, and it's always an adjustment getting used to someone else's leading techniques again. Also, Su hee/Emily came to church today...she's the new Korean English teacher at my school that replaced Ashley. She's super sweet, and I think she really liked church, so she'll probably be back! I went to McDonald's today with Moon and some of the teenagers. I actually haven't been to McDonald's for a while, so it was alright. The thing I like at McD's here is called the Shanghai Chicken tastes like spicy chicken from back at campus center! Tonight we had a "barbeque"...more properly titled as a grill-out? Haha. It wasn't barbeque, it was hamburgers and hotdogs...maybe I've lived in KC for too long and I'm just sticking my nose up to that, I don't know. Anyway, I sat with Jolie and her husband Yeong-ju. I've never really talked to him before, so it was nice to get to know him better since I adore his wife so much! They're great people. :) To end my night perfectly, Jordan, Julie, Su in and I went to a practice room and sang a bunch of worship songs together. It's so good for my soul to do that sometimes, especially with other singers...the harmonies and stuff just add so much. I love it. Anyway, I have no idea what I'm teaching tomorrow, but I'm so happy I took the time to go and sing with my girls. :)