the oddities continue…

Here are few more pictures we’ve collected over the last few weeks.

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We walk by they sight every day on our way to work. Check out that crack!  No idea what this store is selling.

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Korea loves to have English on their products and in their restaurants or clothing stores.  Most the time they don’t make sense or there are misspellings like, ” Enjoy every moment of erery day”.

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This one says, “Just like your life so soft and clean for your facial”.

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This is how Koreans take a load off when they don’t have a seat handy.  This guy was right in the walkway!

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The above picture explains why they have these “squatty potties” in public restrooms.  Super weird when you really gotta go.

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Saw these little girls peddling around town with their little pup passengers just hanging out in the front baskets of their bikes. So cute!

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This was in Namhae, we needed to shower from our camping on the beach so we found this “love motel” / castle to rent a room for one hour to use their showers.  We had to make a deal with the owner since there were three couples all wanting to use the same room for showering.  These motels are all connected with the same symbol… it looks like a steaming loaf of bread or bowl of soup.

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No sunlight for this lady.  It’s common to see women carrying umbrellas on a sunny day , they believe the sun makes you look old.  They do everything they can to stay in the shade including face masks.

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People pull these carts around to collect random junk and cardboard to try and resell but this guy snagged an old lady!  ha Probably his mother or wife, just out for a spin.

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Never know what to expect while at the super market, these live crabs were just hanging out in a box of sawdust.

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This is a parking lot under an apartment building.  Crazy that almost everyone lives in an apartment!  The buildings aren’t inviting looking either.  They are all the same and labeled with 101, 102, 103…

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We saw this on our trip in Namhae.  Korean style banana boating….real safe.

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Hula hoops are a big deal here.  They even have them on top of mountains.

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They’re huge!

Koreans also love SPAM…breakfast, lunch, dinner, whenever!  These were Chuseok gift sets from our boss.  🙂

Our First Chuseok

Hello All!   September 28th – October 3rd we traveled across the country (which would be like traveling across a state in the US) to visit 2 couples we went to college with.  We had time off school thanks to the Korean holiday Chuseok.  It’s basically the Korean Thanksgiving.  There is also a mass exodus of Koreans traveling to their hometowns.

However, we didn’t actually celebrate Chuseok.  We all met on an island in Southern S. Korea called Namhae.  Our friends teach in Southern part and this island is about midway between them.  We got to make the trek from the north along with the masses of Koreans leaving the cities to go to their hometowns.  After a 2 hour trip up to Seoul and a 5 hour bus ride, we made it to Namhae.

Our first order of business was to get a bus ticket back.  We had success and then decided to ask around to find a cheap hotel for the night.  They are called “love motels”  here cause apparently you can rent them out by the hour.  We were in luck.  There was a hotel just above the bus terminal.  The hotel owner was very helpful despite his minimal English.  Our accommodations were fair for one night.  However, Korean beds are very hard (we bought a mattress topper for our bed at home).  We spent the night doing a little exploring around town and playing games back at the hotel.  Our friends were going to arrive the next day.

After spending the next morning exploring and playing more games,  our friends started arriving.  Derik and Amanda have a car so they were our transportation for the rest of our trip!  They were such a blessing along with all the necessities they brought with them (food, grill, pan, …).  When Steph and Josh got to Namhae we decided we should find a camping spot for the night.  We drove and took a taxi about 30 minutes further down south to a beautiful beach with a grove of trees where we pitched our tents.  We soon realized that there seemed to be more foreigners on this beach than Korean though.  They were quite rowdy and sadly lived up to the stereotype most foreigners have in Korea.  Although, we did have a few interesting encounters with them throughout our stay.  Our night and next morning were filled with cooking (you know how camping meals are a process) which gave us plenty of time for much-needed catching up.

Throughout our stay at this campsite, we got yelled at by various Koreans telling us we couldn’t camp there or cook food on our grill.  We never really found out what we were or were not allowed to do.  However, in our defense there were at least 20 other tents pitched around us.  The next day we decided to venture up to a Buddhist temple that was perched on the side of a mountain.  The temple was quite busy and the little car we were in was pushed to the limit driving up and down the steep mountain with all 6 of us but the trip was so worth it.  
We’re not in Kansas anymore…

This paraglider was adding to the scenery.  I think he is hired out cause there were ads on his sail.  

The cove down there is actually our beach we camped on.  

(Derik and Amanda Grove,  (us)  Ethan and Sandra Lagerquist, Josh and Stephanie Klein)

It was really bright so, that’s why some of us don’t look very happy but really we were having a blast!

After 2 days and nights of camping, we were starting to get a little stinky cause we didn’t have showers at our campsite.  In fact, the closest restroom was the squatty pottys (as Ethan and I call them).  We had the brilliant idea to try to rent out a love motel for an hour and take turns showering.  However, between the closed hotels and the hotel owners who didn’t know what 3 couples wanted with 1 room for 1 hour, we were having a hard time finding a shower.  Finally, on our way back into town we stopped at a castle looking love motel and convinced the owner to give us a room.  Really it was Steph and Josh because they have been here the longest and therefore know the most Korean.  🙂

Josh and Stephanie had to go back a day and a half early so we drove them into town and ate some yummy Korean BBQ and Baskin Robbins ice cream.  We spent the remainder of our day light driving through the gorgeous coast and mountains of Namhae.  This island is mostly a farming and fishing community.  The little villages were quite picturesque with the locals working in the fields and the sun setting in the background.  This is what I would picture Korea as before all the industrial development where everyone moved to cities and now lives in a high-rise apartment.

We actually have a co-worker that is from Namhae.  Her parents still farm there.  I asked her if one of her siblings is going to take over the farm.  She said no and that is a common problem in Korea.  Farmers never have very much profit, so, most farmers are old Koreans who have been doing it their whole life.  It’s true you will see 70-year-old women out in the field harvesting rice.  It’s really sad too because  everyday we go out we see older people in a permanent hunched over position from years of back-breaking work.  Another thing we saw was rice spread out on tarps on the side of the road sometimes half the road. Occasionally, there would be someone walking through it and making rows with their feet.

We ran across “American Village”  and had to take a little drive through.  The houses really did look American especially cause they had yards.  I think all of the houses were Pensions (vacation houses to rent).  Of course we had to take a picture with Lady Liberty.

The next day we wanted to kayaking and check out “Oktoberfest” going on in The German Village.  Kayaking ended up being rather expensive so we just strolled around German Village.  There we tons of people mostly Korean but maybe 10% were foreigners which is actually is a high ratio!  There was a Korean band playing mostly Western songs beside the infamous Gangnam Style (if you don’t know what I am talking about here is a link to a YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0 ).  This song is a national phenomenon right now along with the signature dance move.  I’d say we get asked at least twice a week if we like Gangnam Style by our students.  Back to Oktoberfest… there we a few choices of beer and lots of bratwurst to go around.  I guess the town was built for Koreans who had gone to Germany in the 1960s seeking work and later Korean-Germans returned. The architecture of the houses is German-style, and even the construction materials were imported from Germany.

 

All and all our trip was incredible!  We got to spend time with two really awesome couples and share our funny stories, struggles, and make new memories.  That was so comforting because anything familiar here is a treasure.  To have friends that can relate our journeys of where we’ve been, where we are, and the unknown future was so refreshing.  It seems as if most of the foreigners that are here don’t share all of our values (or at least we haven’t met many in our town yet).  This proves to be a challenge in making friends.  So, Ethan and I have been spending almost all our free time just the two of us, not bad, but it was wonderful to share time with genuine friends.  We are looking forward to trips in the future with hopefully both of theses couples.

Josh and Stephanie are actually back in the States right now.  Their contract ended in October and they are in the process of looking for jobs in a public school to come back in February.  Be praying for them!  Also, here is a link to Derik and Amanda’s blog http://derikandamandagrove.wordpress.com/.  She does a really good job and has some awesome posts and more pictures of our trip.

I will leave you with some sunset pictures from our campsite. 

Teaching little Koreans

So, we didn’t really know what to expect when taking a job to teach Korean children English.  I know we got lots of questions of how we would teach English without knowing Korean.  Well, now that we’ve been in the groove for a month we’ll give you a little taste.  Our class ages range from 8  to 15 and their English levels from basic words and phrases to debating various issues.

I (Sandra) have a class that is quite the handful.  It is only made up of  5 kids but the 3 boys make up for the small number.  It is hard to be stern when the kids don’t understand what you are saying and then on top of that they can say whatever they want to about you because you don’t know what they’re saying either!   Those boys come in at least 30 minutes early everyday and play hide and seek.  Then they come in to class sweaty, you would think they would have gotten all their energy out…think again.  Sometimes they stampede me up against my desk, trying to get me to grade their assignment first.  I am still trying to figure out the best way to handle those little boogers.

Pronunciation is something we work on quite frequently.  They have trouble  with letters like W, L,  P, V, F plus many other combinations.  They also like to add a hard “ed” or “a” on the end of most words.  For example wood is “ood” and finished is “finish-id” or house is “house-a.”  We are constantly saying, “It’s not house-a, just house!”

Another funny communication barrier comes up when we ask them questions and have to clarify.                                   Example:  Teacher-T/  Student-S

T:  Do you have your notebook?

S:  No, I don’t?

T:  You don’t?

S: Yes.

That confuses us every once in a while but in Korean I guess that’s how you would answer that kind of question.  So, we’ve had a few mini lessons on how to form a consistent English response.

Now, I know we are ragging on these kids but they have an even longer day than we do.  They get up and go to school; then after school come to see us and possibly 2 other hagwons (private afterschool academy).  So, they have their regular school homework plus ours!  I understand if by the time they get to us they are done sitting in a classroom.  Other hagwons they attend could be math, Korean, music, science, art and so on.  It is a tough balance wanting to do a good job but cutting these kiddos some slack.

Another big shocker was that swats for kids are still given here.  Our students have “listening time” at the end of every class.  During this time, they hear various conversations or monologues that they are then required to memorize.  At the end of the 2 week period if they did not do their minimum requirements,  they get swats on the palm of the hand or arch of the foot.   I think swats are given out for behavior issues too.  However, our whole grading system is based on an incentive program.  They get points for homework and participation and then can turn them in for prizes.

Ok, finally we will leave you with a little journal entry, one of Ethan’s 12-year-old students wrote about his favorite family event.

“My Family Event is

many read book is reading

so game plese  and birstday

party but, birsthday  is a sometime

and many reading a book

a game cash give

And I love a reading a book

but no watch a tv

And a night go to the

mom At a home math ak home

very happy”

 

Some diaries are even harder to understand and consequently, harder to grade. 🙂   We’ll try to get some pictures next time to go along with our stories!