Hi! Last week was a good week :)
Wednesday I tried out a new dance studio, called Soo Dance. I took a class with Soo, who is the owner of the studio. She's danced all over the world and speaks English really well. She ran the class in a mix of Korean and English which was so helpful to me. I absolutely loved her class, but the downside was that its an hour and half each way on the subway. The class is intended to be a three-day-a-week class. So that's a bit much. She recommended another studio that was closer to me. I checked that studio out tonight. Little did I know, she had already called the studio for me and told them I was coming and they recommended a great class for me. Amazing. She will be getting a big thank you from me! This studio doesn't have instructors who speak English, but like I said before, its really not necessary. They all attempted and it was pretty funny, but definitely appreciated.
Thursday was Thanksgiving. We had our little get together up in Dongducheon. Out of all the people there, only 4 of us were American. There was one Korean, 5 South Africans, and 2 Canadians (party was hosted by a Canadian). That's the great thing about being overseas and having friends from all over the world...more holidays!! Everyone brought something to share (someone ordered a pizza) - but mostly we tried not to let no oven big enough to cook a turkey and no turkey anywhere get us down. I made deviled eggs - aren't you proud mom?!
Making a mess in the kitchen
Being Korea and all..forks were hard to come by so we ate our dinner with chopsticks. Even the apple pie and the "dirt cake".
Eating dirt cake with chopsticks
Here's a pic of the whole crew that we attempted to take with a timer. Sort of cut some people off but you get the idea...
Overall it was a great celebration. Someone even brought sparklers (must've been one of the non-Americans confused about Thanksgiving traditions).
Saturday I met up with Sara and Rebecca to go to Hongdae. We met up in the early afternoon to check out the Free Market (free because you don't need a permit to sell stuff...not actually free stuff). The free market is every Saturday morning from March-November. Hongik University is a big art school and so on Saturday mornings all of the art students are out selling their artwork, jewelry, clothing, etc. Its really great because you know that everything you are getting is one of a kind and most likely hand made. This particular Saturday was the last Saturday before it shuts down for the winter, so we were able to bargain and get deals on things. Awesome!
Free Market in Hongdae
Kids in Hongdae
Shit is Art...who knew
As we were walking to find somewhere to get a few drinks, we were stopped by some people filming some sort of Korean commercial. Apparently they needed some foreigners and we were the first ones they happened to see. We had to put on the same t-shirts and yell something into the camera about Reebok celebrating its 20th anniversary in Korea. Hm? Hopefully we're on TV or something because really how cool would that be?
After our commercial we found a place called...Charlie Brown cafe! We couldn't resist taking a picture with Charlie Brown given the whole Thanksgiving thing. Then we walked around looking for a place to grab some food. On our way we discovered an alley that had some interesting graffiti on it and stopped to take some pics - Korean style.
We couldn't resist being all artsy and emo...but really we just look like a Delia's catalog.
We went to a restaurant where we ordered some food and prepared to get our night started.
Kimchi pancake and tteokbokki
After visiting one bar and getting kicked out of another we met up with some friends at our usual hookah bar and then went off to another place to dance. We got kicked out of one bar because they were randomly carding people and Sara didn't have any ID on her. She recently lost her wallet and didn't have anything to identify herself with. We didn't think we looked under 19 (the legal drinking age here) but apparently we did. They explained that with high school students finishing up exams, many of them try to sneak into bars so they have to be more strict about IDs. Hm...last time I checked we don't look like Korean high school students? But whatev. We still had a great night.
Things are still good at school - only this week and next week of class and then the students start final exams. I'm so confused because even after the students finish exams, they still have to go to school. They do a "winter camp" but it doesn't make sense to me because its not graded and they don't get credit for it. Sooo...I don't see the point. What is their incentive to learn? I'm supposed to teach it but I have no idea what I'm going to do. I don't know how I can possibly get the kids to listen to me when they have nothing to lose by not listening. Its not like they get graded or tested on this information so I really just don't understand. Apparently the Office of Education mandates that the kids need to be in school for X amount of days...but then why have exams when they do, with days of school still left to attend? Why not teach actual class for 2 more weeks and then have exams? Its just so backwards to me and nobody can explain it very well other than "its normal" and "that's just the way it is". I get that...but really do these people not question the senselessness of having school that way? It doesn't make any sense at all. Am I right? Tell me if I'm being all snobby American about this - but I've found that other foreign teachers agree with me, and not just Americans. I. Don't. Understand.
Sara's mom is coming to visit this weekend...she'll be here for 10 days or so. Friday night she's being kind enough to get 2 hotel rooms...one for her to sleep off her jet lag in, and one for Sara and some of us to spend the night in so we don't have to be out until 5:30am. Its true, we could all go in on a love motel on the weekends, it wouldn't be too expensive. But eventually it would add up and it saves us money to just stick it out for that extra hour or two. This will be an actual hotel though, not some sleezy love motel, so I'm looking forward to that.
Here's your K-Pop update for the week. This is by a group called SHINee. The song is Ring Ding Dong. Yeah...I don't know. The guys range in age from 15-19 sooo Courtney and Meghan take your pick because they're definitely too young for me. Some interesting facts about K-Pop boy bands/girl groups. Apparently most of them have work done on their face. Koreans tend to have rounder flatter faces. So to make them "more attractive" by Korean standards, they get nose jobs to make their noses higher (interesting...people do the opposite in the US), cheek implants, surgery to make their eyes bigger, and some even shave their jaw line to make it more defined. Nearly every Korean celebrity has had work of some sort done to their face. They're literally plastic. Kind of sad actually. One of my students actually asked me the other day if I had had surgery on my face. Uhhhh no? Its sad that its so common here that they would think I had cosmetic surgery. Yeeeesh. Most of the boys have it in their contracts that if they gain weight they will be kicked out of the group. Skinny is really in for men in Korea I guess. Not my type but that's what's in here.
Countdown to Thailand is on...46 days!
"Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken." -- Frank Herbert