Friday, May 21, 2010

석가탄신일 (Buddha's Birthday)

석가탄신일 (Buddha's Birthday)
Lanterns decorating Jogyesa Temple in Seoul on Buddha's Birthday, May 21st.

Happy Birthday, Buddha! Glad to see you made it another year. Thank you for the day off and I had a great time at the party. It was the sort of day that left me with a pleasant buzz of happiness in the pit of my stomach and good will towards mankind, which is probably a fitting way to celebrate the birth of The Enlightened One. Granted my dinner of sausage/mashed potatoes/beer wasn't typical Buddhist fare, but it was delicious.

PS. Loved the decorations!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

#%$@* Sink-Shower

So, I read this delightful webcomic called ROKetship which cheerfully pokes fun at expat life here in Korea and it's uncanny just how well the artist captures my experience here. I can pick a comic at random and, nine times out of ten, something similar has happened to me in the past few days. I saw this comic this morning and just, this? THIS IS MY LIFE! This is my TODAY! TWICE!

My Bathroom

This is my (newly renovated!) bathroom. Please note the hose running from the shower head to my sink. To turn on the shower, I turn on the sink and pull out the button on the faucet and - presto! - it's a sink. The logical thing to do would be to, after a shower, push the button back in, turning my sink-shower back into a sink, but the chances of me being coherent enough to do that first thing in the morning are non-existent. I try to remember and check the button when I go to use my sink, but sometimes I forget, and so I live a life of occasionally getting sprayed in the face with cold water when I go to wash my hands or accidentally drenching my left side when I go to brush my teeth, usually on the days when I'm running late and it's most inconvenient to suddenly need to change clothes.

Effin' sink shower!

On the plus side, though, sink-shower makes it very easy to clean the bathroom.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Children's Day!

Wednesday was Children's Day. I spent last week telling my students how in America, we don't have Children's Day. At first, they were pretty horrified, but then they started thinking of things America DOES have (a list that included Halloween, hamburgers and no hagwons) and I lost all the sympathy I had garnered.

The best moment came courtesy of a group of particularly vocal sixth grade girls. I stopped at their table during class to check on their progress and the boldest of them said, "Teacher, give me vitamin!" (We occasionally give out vitamin C tablets as prizes, which I think is hilarious, since that WOULD NOT FLY back home.)

"I don't have a vitamin," I told her, pulling out my pockets to demonstrate that I had no vitamins.

"Then give me candy, Teacher."


"Teacher, pleeeeeeeease give me candy!" she begged.

"I don't have any candy," I told her.

"But Teacher, we want caaaaaaaandy!"

"Why should I give you candy?" I finally asked.

The girls thought this over and finally said, "Teacher. Next week Children's Day. Give me Children's Day present!"

I thought it over and decided that was a pretty valid reason for wanting candy, with bonus points for actually vocalizing their reasoning in English. "In two weeks," I told them, "it is Teacher's Day. Will you give me a Teacher's Day present?"

"Oh yes, Teacher!" my students chorused.

"Okay," I said. "Come to my office tomorrow and I will give you a Children's Day present."

They came by my office the next day, almost giddy with excitement, and I gave them each a fun sized Twix bar, which was like hitting the jackpot. They thanked me profusely and promised me lots and lots of flowers on Teacher's Day. I grinned for the rest of the day.

Since Children's Day is a national holiday and Tuesday was my school's anniversary, I had a five day weekend, which was AWESOME! I had originally planned to do some traveling, but ultimately, in a very this-is-why-you-can't-have-nice-things sort of way, I stayed home so I could finish unpacking and clean my apartment. BEING A GROWN UP IS SOMETIMES NOT FUN!

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Monica dropped off the seven or eight boxes she'd been storing for me while I was home. I immediately rooted through them, looking for my school shoes and gazing lovingly at all my books, and then left everything sitting in a heap the middle of my apartment, just to make things a little more interesting when trying to navigate my way to the bathroom first thing in the morning. This weekend, I *finally* unpacked the boxes, reorganized my wardrobe, yarn stash (no more yarn in the kitchen!) and kitchen; cleaned up the mess that sprung up around the boxes; and cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom. Not as much fun as jetting about the Korean countryside, but looking at my apartment no longer makes me want to weep and/or claw my eyes out, which is a good thing.