A Korean Wedding

I’ll never forget the first wedding I went to here. It was about 3 weeks after I arrived in Korea. One of the teachers at our school was getting married so we all went along. I put on a nice dress, makeup and generally made an effort to look good. We show up and there were people in jeans, we ate lunch 3 times and only saw the couple walk up the aisle before leaving. Since then I’ve been invited to a tonne of weddings and they all generally go along the same lines.

In Ireland, people generally get married in churches. In Korea,  while they get married in churches, more often they married in wedding halls. These halls can have several weddings going on simultaneously and really are like factory production line of weddings. The most recent wedding I went to was in one of these wedding halls and here’s how it went.

I arrived with my co teacher and we found the area that our couple were in (there was another 2 couples there also). The bride and groom were having their pictures taken so we stood watching before eventually being allowed jump in for a picture with the bride.

Then it was lunch time. A buffet lunch, we made our way around eating whatever we fancied. All around the room were projector screens where you could see the rooms where the couple would walk up the aisle. As we sat down for dessert, we could see our friends exchanging vows.

After lunch, my co teacher and I left. That was it. I didn’t actually attend the ceremony and it seemed like I wasn’t expected to either. This was possibly the most heartless wedding I’ve been to.

About 2 years ago, another co teacher got married in a more upmarket wedding where she rented a wedding house, invited only a certain number of people and after the ceremony was a seven course meal that everyone ate together. So every wedding is different.

We also don’t buy gifts in the same way. Most people give money on the day. The amount depending on how well you know them. In the case of my co teacher, we all threw in 30,000won and my boss gave it to the money collectors on the day.

All in all, I go away from every wedding here thinking how strange and somewhat unimportant it feels. Different countries, different ways I suppose.

 

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How to use a Korean washing machine.

You’ve come to Korea, you have a job, apartment, things are going swimmingly until…………………….you need to wash your clothes. And then you see this (minus the carpets);

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Excellent. You throw your clothes in and then you see this;

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It’s all in Korean and you don’t have a clue. Well fear not. I have translated the words to make it easy for everyone.

급수; Water Supply

온수; Hot Water

냉수; Cold Water

물높이;Water level

;High

중;Middle/medium

저;Low

코스; Course

표준;regular cycle

이불; duvet and bed clothes

절약; Economic cycle

울;wool, fragile cycle.

불림; Soak

세탁; Wash

헹굼; Rinse

탈수; Spin dry

전원; on/off

동작; start your cycle

일시정지; Pause.

So you simply press the big buttons until the light shows beside the  option you want. Every machine has the buttons designed slightly differently but they always mean the same thing. Also, since my Korean is middling to so so , I might have made mistakes. Apologies if I have and be sure to point them out so I can fix them.

Pharrell Williams – Seoul is also HAPPY!

My friend Janet just finished this great video. Take a look and be happy!

Journalist On The Run

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With the help of my amazing friends, and quite a few total strangers, I just finished filming, editing and uploading a Seoul remake of the Pharrell Williams HAPPY music video. Considering all filming was done on smart phones and the entire video was edited in a few hours, I think we did a pretty good job. Let me know what you think! 🙂

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1st week of the new term.

This isn’t my first new school term. I’ve been teaching here  long enough to know what to expect. As a kindergarten teacher, the first days of the new term bring out the best and worst in every child. It’s an adventure to say the best and in my opinion these first few weeks are the most important. It’s your chance, as a teach to get them into a good routine and good habits in the classroom and hopefully they’ll learn a bit of English along the way.  Students are generally one of three types;

1. The usual suspects– Have been in the school for several years already, possibly since they were 4 and now at 7 they’re well used to the teachers, classes, layout, expectations etc.

In some ways, these children are the hardest to teach because any bad habits or behaviors they have are almost impossible to reverse. This year, the English program focuses a lot on speaking so I spent all my free time this week making rules which we talk about every day and eventually the leader will talk about it. So far we’re only having problems with numbers 1,2, 3 and 4

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2. The new students– These are students who have already gone to kindergarten for  a year and are now at our school. Generally they are 6 years old and luckily for me they can recite their ABC’s and know what their name is etc.

3. The very new students– These are the 4’s and 5’s. These are the criers. The children who have no idea where they are, why they’re here or what’s actually going on. Sometimes, I wonder if four year old’s should even be sent to school. It is next to impossible to keep their attention, that’s if you managed to get in the door without putting the fear of God in them with your golden locks, blue eyes and white skin. Tears is a good word to describe these classes. Full of tears. And if your class is after lunch, you can expect most of them to be asleep on the desks.

This is how is looks during quiet time (i.e. no students)

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Here are some of the conversations I’ve had this week;

Me; Good morning!

Student 1…………………………………………………………………………

Me: Hello! What’s your name?

Student 2 Hello! Nice to meet you (there is hope after all)

Me; How are you?

Student 3; How are you?

Me; How are you?

Student 3; How are you?

Me; Yes, how are you?

Conversation continues in this fashion for a long while.

Me; 안녕!

Student 4; 엄마!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *TEAR TEAR SOB SOB*

Me; Hello!

Student 5; Happy!

Me; Hello! How are you?

Student; ……………………………………………..(.just strokes my arm and looks into my eyes.)

Taking a break just consists of hiding in the teacher’s room listening to the hysterical crying and sobbing.

Today, I came to school and there was a tv crew doing a program with the father of one of our students. When the students saw the activity, zero work got done.

Home time cannot come fast enough………

An Uber Irish Partnership for Paddy’s Day

Another great reason to come to St. Patrick’s Day in Seoul.

Irish Association of Korea 한국아일랜드협회

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Need a ride to the St Patrick’s Day Hooley or want to ride home in style after a day of festivities? We’ve partnered with Uber, a mobile application that connects passengers with drivers at the tap of a button, to have you riding in style!

Use the Uber app and special promotion code PADDYSGOTSEOUL to request a comfy ride which will be free up to 20,000 won. With the code, a ride from the Festival venue in Sindorim to The Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon will be about 8,000 won or less!

Here’s how you make the most of this amazing deal:

uber st patricks day seoul
For questions contact supportSeoul@uber.com.

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Apps for everything.

Here’s the backstory.

I needed to do a Costco run and so did my sister. She finished work at 7pm so to save time I told her to take the bus home. “Which bus” she said. “Aaaahhhhh the 9710”, I said. 15 minutes later she texts to say she’s in Wollong. Excellent, that’s just out the road. I picked up her partner and we drove to meet her at the bus stop. 15 minutes later she text me again with the words “this is taking too long”.

Sharp intake of breath as I realised with a certain dread and fear that perhaps the 9710 didn’t go to Geumchon, it was on the road to somewhere else. So I did what all people would have done in that situation, told her to get off the bus.

Now we had her at a bus stop who knows where and me sitting in Spuddy in Geumchon. Never fear. The thought of having to tell my father how I lost my sister somewhere between Wollong and the 9710 destination, forcing her to speak Konglish to strangers and sit on a cold bench until she wasted away because I told her to “just wait there” had me thinking of a solution.

So here’s what we did. I called her to describe the bus stop and surrounding area. The best she could do was “there’s a petrol station across the road and a green building over there”. Wow! Thanks. That really narrowed it down. Fail.

This being Korea though, I figured there was an app for finding her.  And there was. It’s called Seoul Bus. First, I got her to read the number of the bus stop. Then, I went on Seoul Bus and typed in 9710, scrolled down until I found the number she said she was at.

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Each bus stop is labelled with the name of the stop so I typed the name of the stop into the Sat Nav in my car and headed on the short 11km drive to find her. And did I? Of course. The sat nav brought me to literally 100 metres of where she was standing.

 

So what did I learn from this experience?

1. The 9710 doesn’t go from Munsan to Geumchon. It goes from Munsan to Seoul.

2. She was about halfway to Seoul before we realised it so the bus doesn’t waste any time getting you places.

3. The Seoul Bus app is the business. You can search the bus number to find out where it stops, the bus stop number to find out what buses stop there or you can search the map for bus stops nearby. The downside to this is that you must be able to read the Korean.

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4. She would have stayed lost ( or would have had to take the bus back in the opposite direction) if I didn’t have Sat Nav in my car. I have just discovered the t- map app on my phone. T map is exactly like sat nav but it brings you the fastest route at the time you’re travelling. Again, it’s in Korean but apart from typing the destination, it doesn’t take a genius to follow the arrows.

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We did eventually make it to Costco and our evening was completed by some 500won colas and dinner off plastic plates. What a life.