Published: July 12th 2011July 10th 2011
This is how I will always remember Itaewon.
Dear Blog Readers,
The penultimate week of curriculum teaching has been relatively uneventful. Mr Oh walked into the teacher’s office on Tuesday wearing a surgical mask. This isn’t that uncommon for Koreans but he wasn’t wearing it because he had a cold. Nor was he worried about the students sneezing violently with no hand in front of their mouth (I actually saw a student sneeze into his water bottle and pass it to his friend who was happy to drink out of it). Mr Oh had disturbed a bee hive and had been stung on the lip. Under his surgical mask was the evidence of this in the form of the biggest top lip I’ve ever seen. The students found it hilarious and kept asking him to put the mask back on because it visually offended them.
Korean exams are all multiple choice. They hardly ever have any actual writing to do, and furthermore, if they consistently mark one answer then they are guaranteed 20% because each answer is weighted evenly. If this wasn’t ridiculous enough, at the end of the lesson on Tuesday, the second graders had to sign their name next to their PE mark. I found
Laura with some of her students.
it mildly amusing that the fattest kid in the school managed to get 98% in his PE exam and the kid who does every single sport imaginable barely scrapped a pass.
One of my Grade 3 students started chatting to me in the corridor,
Me: How are you?
Student: I’m not fine.
Me: Oh. (*stunned by the improvement of, “I’m fine, and you?”)
Me: What’s wrong?
Student: Today. Erm. Condom lesson. Changed. Now next week. I am sad.
Mr Oh picked up a book in the lesson on Friday about Post Modernism. He asked me to describe Post Modernism to the class at the end of the lesson. I have absolutely no idea what it is but this didn’t matter. I fumbled my way through, “Well, if now is modern then after now will be post modern.” I think the students sensed my lack of knowledge on the subject. After some research (Wikipedia obviously) I realised what I’d just said was complete nonsense. Let’s hope it doesn’t make it into the English exam next year!
I was pleased with the sign up for my Summer English Camp. I’ve been spending the week thinking of ideas and
Complete with norraebang, massage chairs, PCs and Tekken 5. What more could you want?
putting some plans together. One first grader who is small, bespectacled and a bit nerdy but who is great fun came up to me and said:
Student: Simon Teacher. I want to change my name.
Me: Oh ok. What do you want to change it to?
Student: I’m not sure.
Me: How about The Terminator?
I notice came around the wires on Friday morning but I was notified at 3:28pm that the Korea National Ballet were doing a performance at the Arts Centre which is two minutes walk from our school. You may remember it as the venue for my first ‘gig’
in Korea. It was lucky it was two minutes walk away since I had to be there by 3:30pm. I’ve never seen a ballet before; probably because I’m male, however, I thought this was too good an opportunity to miss. I mean, they are the national ballet so they must be good and why on earth are they performing in Boeun!? I arrived to a packed performance hall. I managed to grab a seat at the back.
People kept streaming through the doors. In typical Korean style, it was more chaos than organisation. Safety precautions
Caught some 66's on the way.
were thrown out the window as the 500 seat venue easily had over 750 people inside it with anybody coming in late resorting to sitting in the aisles. The other odd thing was that people just chatted all the way through the performance. I didn’t even realise the ballet had started because it sounded like a football match. Unfortunately I have absolutely nothing to compare it to, but I’d probably say it’s the best ballet I’ve ever seen. Absolute perfection, once you get past the whole emaciated anorexic skeletal bodies flying through the air like a feather or pirouetting on toes made of solid steel (or verruca’s). It was only about an hour long so I guess it was a ‘taster’ version of the real thing and their touring around the arse-ends of nowhere in Korea to spread the word. If ballet were prescribed as a medication, then it was just about the perfect dose for me.
Laura turned her laptop off on Friday night as usual. On Saturday morning, it didn’t turn on. Nothing. Kaput. The battery wasn’t working, no lights were showing and the laptop simply would not turn on. It was no more. It ceased to
Some models in front of some cars. Everybody was taking photos so we did too. How Korean of us.
be. We checked Laura’s warranty status – it runs out in five days. After scouring the internet pages for advice, it was decided we’d have to phone Dell Customer Service. They might as well just call it Complete Waste Of Time And Money. We did the premium international call via Skype and it went something like this:
Electronic Woman (EW): Hello. Welcome to Dell. What is your Express Service Number?
EW: Did you say 7-W-G-X-Z-9?
EW: Ok. Is it a problem with software, warranty or hardware?
EW: Ok, I’m sorry you have a software problem. Do you use the laptop for personal or business use?
EW: I’m sorry. For business use, you need to contact this number….
It was decided that we’d go to Seoul and try and hunt out the Dell Shop. When we got there, we found it was closed. Talk about being kicked whilst we were down. Luckily, a man in the techno mart had a quick look at it and said he’ll see what he can do. It was better than anything Dell could offer to be honest. To sugar coat our misery, we
Could be best described as Laura's Money Drain.
decided to brave it to Itaewon and found a traditional English pub. It smelt like a pub and did pub food. It was phenomenal. I had a steak and ale pie whilst Laura had some BBQ chicken and chips. It was luxury.
Tink and Laura
There are more photos below