Stories from inside the classroom.

There are days at school when the students annoy me so much that I want to walk out the window and take my chances. But other days, they are so funny, I almost can’t remember the bad days.

I’ve learned so much from the students and whether they learn anything is beyond me. When first I started at this Kindergarten, I didn’t speak much Korean. Since it’s a Korean kindergarten and I’m the only foreigner, I wasn’t too long learning!

One day at the start, I had a five year old class and no assistant. Everything was going really well until this boy kept repeating something to me in Korean. I had no clue what he was saying so I just ignored him, hoping he’d stop. But he didn’t, he got out of his chair and made a gesture which made it quite clear that he needed the bathroom. I let him out and three minutes later, he’s standing at the door, butt naked holding a piece of tissue! Of all the days not to have the assistant!

 

I’ve learned that no matter how close to five the four year olds are, you probably shouldn’t give them scissors. I learned this the hard way. To be fair, they get scissors in art and other classes so I thought it was a fairly ok idea. I just let them off to cut the paper and when I turn back around one child is holding a clump of his hair. My only thought was ” I am such a failure”.

That’s a thought I have every day though. When one child is spread eagled on the table and another looks like he’s going to use his pencil as a weapon, I feel like a failure.

Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder what the children are thinking about when I give them a task. Today, their task was to draw their family. Ryan called me over and said; “Teacher, this is what people look like on the inside”

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He went into some serious detail about how the blood works with the veins and arteries so I looked at him and said “What does this have to do with your family? It’s my father”, he replied. Insert a shocked silence here.

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Just when I think I’m getting through, I realise I’m totally not. The above is supposed to say “This is my father” etc. But the student just did it phonetically, as in Korean so it ended up as “deesmebab” Quite clever if you turn the B’s around. At least he’s making an effort.

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This picture is the “family” of another student. I think that’s him in the middle, the dominant male. I have no idea who the other people are although the person on the right yielding what looks to be an axe looks a little malicious.

The most enjoyable time of day is just after lunch.  The children line up, class by class and brush their teeth. Since the staff room is on the 3rd floor where the four year old’s hang out, they are who I see most of. It is the funniest thing you’ll ever see. They get toothpaste on their faces, in their hair, on their clothes, they let it fall on the floor and then pick it up and brush their teeth, everything. If they eventually manage to brush their teeth, they “rinse” their mouths with water. This means the water ends up on the mirrors, on the floor, they just drink it, they spit it at each other, they try to talk with the water in their mouths, everything. At the end of it all, most of them have soaked themselves and their clothes have to be changed. Funny times.

You should see what happens when they get to play soccer in gym class. The gym teacher throws the ball to them and they try to kick it. What actually happens is that they just miss the ball and then they can’t figure out where it is so they run in circles looking for it. It cracks me up!

I know I’ve made it out that I work in a jungle or somewhere but we have a lot of fun and despite what I actually think, they do learn English!

 

 

How to make Galbi Onion sauce.

When I go for Galbi, I eat the onions in the sauce by the bucket load. For so long, I’ve wanted to know how to make the sauce but I could never get it right. I’ve finally got it down so I decided to share it here.

 

What you need;

1. Soy Sauce

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2. Apple Vinegar

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3. Onions. (You know what they look like.)

The quantity to use depends on you. I pour more vinager than soy sauce but I don’t use an exact measurement.

Simply mix the two together until you find the taste you like, add the onions and enjoy!

 

 

Oh to have some relish!

I’ve been in Korea long enough to not miss any food too much but there are some times that I could really go for a bottle of Lucozade or a double decker bar. Or when I’m on the first train home from Seoul on a Sunday morning, I’d love to know that a big fry up was waiting for me at home, but sadly it never is (*sob sob*)

Here are a few of the foods I miss from Ireland:

Relish:Let’s face it. Ssamjang is a fairly poor substitute for relish. Nothing says sandwich like a good spoonful of Ballymaloe Relish. For anyone who has no idea what I’m talking about, you can check it out here. Eat that sandwich with a packet of cheese and onion Taytos and a cup of tea and it’s a perfect meal.

I’m quite partial to relish at the best of times and did bring some back with me at Christmas that I’m rationing but to have a constant supply of relish would be like all my Christmas’ in one.

While stalking the internet looking for relish the other day I found this on the Viking.ie website of all places.  All that relish in one basket……

Clonakilty fry making materials: Burnt sausages, a few rashers, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, brown bread are all the perfect Sunday morning breakfast. Any substitutes are just not the same here…..

Brown Bread: Nothing goes better with a cup of tea than a slice of Mammy Browne’s brown bread. Of course I could and have made it myself but it’s just not the same.

Barry’s Tea: This one technically doesn’t count since you can get Barry’s tea here. There has not been a time in the five years I’ve been here that there hasn’t been a supply of Barry’s in my press. Boxes here are the small ones but I think I could somehow convince someone  to bring me this one………..http://www.vikingdirect.ie/catalog/catalogSku.do?id=0465&cm_cat=2000000361

Double Decker Bars & Curly Wurly’s: Double Decker bars and curly wurly’s eaten straight out of the fridge are perfection.  Other Asian countries stock Cadbury’s so whenever I’m on holidays, naturally I stock up on such items, tell myself I’ll ration them out but then have 75% eaten by the time I land in Incheon.

Cheese: Some mature dark cheddar from Kilmeaden is exactly what Emart needs to start selling. Cheese here doesn’t even come close to what it is back home.

Coleslaw: Here’s a random one. Coleslaw from Supervalu Roscrea is my favourite by a very long mile. It’s perfect and my attempts to replicate it have failed miserably. I got “coleslaw” with a meal I bought here once and what I got was nothing more than a dob of mayonnaise and a piece of cabbage. Imagine a sandwich with Bernie’s coleslaw and Ballymaloe relish. Since I try to keep things going to Tipperary and Roscrea in particular, here’s a link to their Facebook page

Fizzy Drinks: Or “minerals” as they are sometimes referred to in Ireland.  As mentioned above, there are times when you would just love to have a bottle of Lucozade or some club orange. So delicious, it deserves a picture;

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If anyone should so feel the need to buy and send me one of these, I would be your friend forever. In the meantime, I’ll continue eating this poor excuse of a sandwich while sobbing quietly in the corner……………..

All things beauty.

If my mother taught me three things about taking care of my skin it was cleanse, tone and moisturise. That was it. That’s what would make my skin great and for the years I was living in Ireland, it worked.

When I moved to Korea however, that all changed. There were stores every few metres selling products I’ve never heard of.  For me “essence” was a word that proceeded vanilla, “serum” was the cure for a random disease and although I had no idea what “emulsion” was, I would have guessed it had something to do with paint.

After reading an article on the uses of all these products by the author of The Wanderlust Project, I decided I would try a more Korean approach to skincare.

Skincare products in stores like Etude House, The Faceshop and Missha are extremely affordable so I figured there wasn’t much to lose.

Now my skincare regime goes like this;

1. Wash face with a cleanser.

2. Cleanse (using a cream cleanser)

3. Tone.

4. Apply Serum. A serum has a specific function more than what a moisturiser can achieve. For example brightening, whitening etc.

5. Apply Emulsion. An emulsion is a very light, thin moisturiser.

6. Apply moisturiser.

7. Apply sunscreen. If your moisturiser has an spf, this isn’t necessary.

8. Primer. Prepares your skin for makeup.

9. BB or CC cream. Here are some of the ones I use;

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10. The rest of the makeup. However, if you’re just going for a normal day the CC and BB might suffice depending on the type of skin you have.

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It’s slightly exhausting to do it all the time and frankly it’s a little time consuming. I’m sure I’ve actually skipped some steps because I’m lazy so don’t take the above as the gospel of using Korean beauty products.

Has this new regime actually improved my skin?

I’ve always been really lucky to have good skin. There has been a definite decrease in breakouts (possible due to the higher level of attention I pay my skin) and my skin feels more moisturised.

Disclaimer; All opinions here are my own. All products shown are simply personal preferances and no commission has been received. 

 

 

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.

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………