Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Schedule for the Next Month

Starting tomorrow, I am going to be so busy for the next month. I'll have ten classes a day because the kids have a month off from Korean school and so we offer extra classes for them. Our Tuesday/Thursday classes will move to mornings on Monday/Wednesday/Friday and then we will have only Winter Instensive courses on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have to be at work at 9:00 am at the latest and then classes start at 9:30 and last until 12:35. Then, our afternoon classes start at 2:30 and run until 7:10. It's going to be busy, busy, busy. I've never taught more than eight classes in a day and so by the time I get everything done, I'll be dead tired.

Answer to the Previous Poll Question

What Public Holiday falls on October 3?

  • National Foundation Day-0 (0%)
  • Constitution Day-0 (0%)
  • Liberation Day-2 (100%)
  • Independence Movement Day-0 (0%)
  • Memorial Day-0 (0%)

The answer is National Foundation Day. Constitution Day is July 17, which is the day that the ROK was founded in 1948. Liberation Day is August 15, which was the day that the Japanese surrendered to the Allies during World War II. Independence Movement Day is on March 1. This was the day in 1919 that the Koreans started protesting Japanese occupation. Memorial Day, June 6, is for the people who died serving their country.

Pogs: How Stupid!

When I was in elementary school, pogs were the popular toy. If you don't know what pogs are, look at the image on the right. They are little pieces of cardboard with pictures on either side. Kids would bring them to school and play with them during recess. I never played much because I did not have very many. They would put them out on the floor and play with a heavier one, usually metal, which was called the slammer. I remember that you could get them in Snyder's bread sacks. I had a cousin with a five-foot licorice tube full of them. Eventually the stupid things went out of style and some other toy became popular. Pogs have become the toy of Korean children right now. The kids bring them to English academy and play them before class and during the breaks. A couple of times, the kids came to me and wanted me to solve their disputes over the pogs. I told them that if they were going to fight over them then I was going to take them away. They then stopped fighting over them. I had a student who would bring a metal lunchbox to class. I thought it had his lunch in it but I saw what was in it and it was full of pogs. Another boys brings a bag full of pogs to class everyday. I have had to take them away from students because they were playing with them during class. Other teachers take them and then throw them away after class. In one class, I took away a couple and cut them up so they would not be a problem again. In that same class, a student gave me a couple becasue he wanted me to see them cut up. The stupid things are so annoying.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Boys Don't Cry

That might be true in America, but it is definitely not try here in Korea. In my classes, I have had several more boys cry than girls. In several classes there are more boys than girls, but if boys did not cry, then it wouldn't matter how many boys and how few girls there were, there would still be more girls who cry than boys. I once asked somebody if Koreans thought it was okay for men to cry. He said that if a man were crying, then people would ask him what is wrong; they would not think he is a sissy or anything like that. As far as there being more boys than girls, it is because there are more males than females in Korea. Most people prefer sons over daughters because sons carry on the family name and the oldest son takes care of the parents when they are aged. Koreans do not have big families because educating children is very expensive here. People who have a son the first time around might stop having kids but people who have a daughter first do not stop at one. Every only child that I know of is male.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I heard that from people in places that I went today. After work, I went to the subway station and people from the nearby church were passing out flyers and pieces of candy to people in the station. One of them told me Merry Christmas and I thought that she said it in English because I was a foreigner. Later, I went to Outback Steakhouse (no other foreigners were eating there) and while I was waiting, I heard Koreans saying it to other Koreans so I figured out that they were speaking Konglish, which is Korean that is borrowed from English and pronounced with Korean pronunciation and written in Hangeul. That is what I typed two posts ago. There were so many people on the subways that several people had to stand out of necessity, not by preference. Home Plus was pretty crowded as well with holiday shoppers.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What a Political Class!

Sometimes, the kids come up with strange things they want to go by. In one of my classes, a student decided he wants to go by Human, instead of his previous English name, Kevin. Today, one of the boys told me he wanted to go by Obama. Another boy wanted to go by Hillary. Another student in the class is Michelle, but she was not there today. As far as the US elections, I really only heard about them from the kids. They knew that Obama was going to be the new president. Shortly after the elections, one of the boys told me that Obama's father was from Kenya. Then, he told me that people in Kenya do not go to school and then he did some gesture that told me that he thought that Kenyans were primitive. This boy is a third grader and I don't think he had seen many Africans in person. Since I came here six months ago, I have seen probably fewer than a dozen people of African descent.

메리 크리스마스

I had to work today on Christmas, but instead of working in the afternoon, I worked in the morning. Many of the kids were not there because they were either sick or were traveling. Yesterday and today we had a party for each group of kids in their last class of the day. The party was only 10-15 minutes and the kids had to bring their own snacks. The school provided Coca-Cola and one small Crown brand choco pie for each child. Last week when the kids found out about the party, they complained that the party was going to be so short. One student told me that 10 minutes wasn't enough time to eat one snack. The parties were just in each classroom and so it was up to the teacher to decide what to do with the kids. At first, I was just going to play Christmas songs and as I was looking for some on YouTube, I decided to show Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, narrated by Burl Ives. As it was playing during the first class, I realized that the language was very advanced and they speak quickly. However, the kids seemed to be entertained by it and paid more attention to the movie than they do during class. Today, I decided to play the cartoon version of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. During one of the classes, I was standing in front of the class so I could pour the drinks and one of the boys told me to move so he could see the screen. I wonder how much of the movies the kids could understand, but they got some entertainment value out of them.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I can type in 한글

I bought a new computer today. I just got the Internet hooked up in my apartment. My other computer had to be formatted for it to work so before I took it to the place, I took all of the work that I did in college and put it all on a flash drive (or a little cigar, as Dad calls them). Nothing that I had on it before was on it anymore. In addition, the mouse was not working the way that it was before. I could live with that, but then, for some reason, I decided to put a password on the computer. I don't know why I did it because I'm the only person who uses it. Well, when I got the computer back, the default setting for the language bar was Portugues. I got annoyed with it switching from English, so I deleted Portugues from the language bar, but before I did that, I put the password on the computer. I'm sure that it was on Portugues when I did it, because later, when I tried to turn on my computer, I typed the password, and it would not work. I decided to cut my losses on that computer, which was 40,000 won to have it formatted, and just buy a new one. The computer is four years old, which is old for a computer. Luckily, I live in South Korea, which is home to LG and 삼성 (Samsung), so finding one would not be a problem. The ones in the stores seemed a bit expensive though. The cheapest ones that they had were very small, but there was no way to put CDs or DVDs in them. I bought a computer at the third place I went. I did not want to buy one at the first place I went because I wanted to look somewhere else. At the second place I went I felt very uncomfortable because the salesman was following me around everywhere I went. It was pretty obvious that he was working on commission. The third place I went, Hi-Mart, was where I bought my new computer. I was free to look at the computers without somebody breathing down my neck. I found one that I wanted. It cost 970,000 won. I told the salesman that I wanted that one and he asked me why and that it was a bad model. In addition, I would have to pay with cash. He talked me into buying a different one that cost about the same. The only thing that was better about that first computer was that it had Windows Vista Premium and this one has Windows Vista Basic. Everything else on the one that I bought was either the same or better. The salesman told me that the computer had the Korean version of Windows. I told him that was fine. I figured that it would; the computer that I use at work is the Korean version and everythink is in Korean. The computer was set up for use at the store and I was able to have the language on this computer put in English instead of Korean. I got a Samsung bag and Samsung mouse as free gifts for buying the computer. The language bar is normally set for United States English, so the keyboard is just like any keyboard from the United States. If I want to type in 한글 (Hangeul), I can just change the language bar to Korean and start typing the way that Koreans type (actually, I have to do the hunt-and-peck method of typing when I type in Korean). When the language bar is set to Korean, there is a button that I can push to go back and forth between Korean letters and Roman letters. There were probably things that I could delete on that other computer, but did not because I might have wanted it later. Now that everything was deleted for me, I really do not miss it much. Sometimes, that's the only way that you can get rid of something.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas!

Christmas is not as big a holiday here as it is in the United States, but one cannot come here to escape it completely. About 25% of Koreans are Christian and so there are Christmas lights here. There are also a few Christmas trees. I see Christmas trees in several of the subway stations. Tonight I went to Home Plus and all the women (few men work at the check-out stands and at E-Mart, the men do not take people's money) at the check-out stands were wearing Santa hats. E-Mart sells a few Christmas trees and other decorations and there are toys in the Christmas section. I will have to work on Christmas, unlike most workers in the United States. Normally, our Thursday classes are from 3 to 7:45, but on that day, we are going to work early so that we can finish earlier in the day. We did that one other time, and it was nice to be done early. Other than that, Christmas will probably feel like just another day.