Thursday, April 26, 2007


There are a few Western restaurants (say that ten times fast) over here in Korea that are very popular and T.G.I. Friday's and Outback Steakhouse are the two biggest. It's quite funny, because in a city of this size and architecture, the restaurants are inside other buildings and usually have small storefronts. When I first got here I thought for sure that these couldn't really be authentic Outback Steakhouses. They looked dark inside, were only a small storefront in large buildings, and they were EVERYWHERE. Well, even in our neighborhood we have one, and Stephanie and I have been there a couple times. They are actually just like home except that a lot of the menu is in Korean. But, luckily, the menu still says "Ribs on the Barbie" and I don't need any help reading that.

And speaking of ribs: the other day my kids were making a paragraph and they had to use the new words "rib cage". So, I was trying to explain what that is, modeling it with my fingers, and one of the boys in the back said "ah, ribs on the barbie". And I pointed to him and I said "you, my friend, must eat at Outback Steakhouse."

I enjoyed that.

Monday, April 23, 2007

More Market talk

Saturday we were at Namdaemun market in central Seoul. It seemed as if Namdaemun had a lot of shops. We saw quite a few tourists and travelers, and the shops sold things like food, glasses, handbags, Korean souvenirs, etc. Stephanie saw these turtles and wanted one for a pet, but our friend informed us their futures would not be as companions, but as dinner:

On the same day some of our friends were Dongdaemun market, which apparently is in one of the old soccer stadiums and is really more like a flea market. They say you can find really random and offbeat things there. What great friends they are, because they found and bought us a used shirt! If you can't read it, it says "What is an Oregonian?" and on the back there's a definition. Nice! Thanks Carrie and Will (pictured) and Carolina!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Namdaemun Market

Stephanie and I aren't really market people. We know that we can go to these markets and get great deals on things and buy souvenirs and such, but we really aren't that interested. So even after 7 months here we had never really been to Namdaemun Market.

Well, today was our lucky day! I wanted to get some new glasses and our friend Kathy said a good place to go was Namdaemun because there are so many shops. So we made our first visit to Namdaemun and it was just like I thought it was going to be.

But anyway. We went glasses shopping. Here are some pictures.

Me and Steph just being silly:

The glasses I REALLY wanted to get, but were ridiculously expensive:

The glasses I ended up getting. I look sad in this picture but I am actually really happy about them. And Stephanie reassures me that they don't look this big on my face in person. So rest happy in that thought.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nature Style

Last night, as my students were writing some sentences, and I was standing there, I leaned over to one of my students and said, "Peter... do you have a perm?" as I touched his hair. He swatted my hand away and didn't answer, but kept writing. I touched again, and jokingly asked again, "Peter, is this a perm?" but he moved his head away from my hand and gave me no answer.

Somehow this led to me telling my students that my hair was not a perm (I have been wearing my hair wavy lately, for those of you back at home). It was really funny to see their responses, even from the boys.

Henry: "no perm?"
Me: "No, it's not... cool, huh?" (as a put my flat palms under my hair to act like I'm modeling it).
Henry: "hmmm... uhh no perm?"
Me: "Nope!"
Andy: "Ahh.... Nature style."
Me: "Haha. Yes. Nature style."

So there you have it folks, my waves are "Nature style" and not a perm, a wonderment to my students. Though, I never found out if little Peter had a perm or not.

It's amazing that even though I am a half a word away from this, the Virginia Tech shooting still sends chills down my back and makes me uneasy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This Weekend

First of all I found this article in the New York Times about the globalization of English. It's an interesting read. You might have to sign up for the New York Times online in order to read it, but that is really easy to do.

We had a busy Saturday. We spent our morning with the middle school school kids we hang out with on a regular basis. We went to Namsan mountain (a short walk from their place), and went to the science museum. It was free, all hands-on, and fun for the kids.

Don't they look like they are having fun?
The Namsan tower:
Charlie watching the marbles:
Stephanie and HeeJong on the phone:
Here is a video of Steph, HeeJong, and me playing with the funny mirrors at the museum:

The girls (Laura, Steph, HeeJong):
The boys (Charlie, John, Joseph, Michael):
On the walk home Charlie hid in this stairwell of an apartment building and peeked out at us:

We met up with our friends Brian and SoYoung, and met SoYoung's friend who got us tickets to the Seoul Auto Show in Ilsan! I've never been to a car show (save for collector car shows), and so this was a fun experience. It was Saturday afternoon, however, and so it was hard to take pictures because there were so many people wandering around. But, of course, I did find myself able to take pictures of my favorite brand:
You know, Volvo's all about "safety first" and I think they were the only car with this sort of "see inside" car, boasting of its safety:
The Volvo S80:
Inside a Volvo XC70 (though you can't even tell):
Us girls (aw, SoYoung has her eyes closed!):

They had all kinds of cars there, but sorry Joel, I am now realizing that I did not see one Toyota! If I had, I would have taken a picture of that new Land Cruiser for you!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!! Part 2

"On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine --
the best of meats and the finest of wines.

On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all people,
the sheet that covers all nations;

he will swallow up death forever
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.
the LORD has spoken.

In that day they will say:
'Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him and he saved us.
This is the LORD; we trusted in him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.'"- Isaiah 25:6-9

For Easter Sunday Stephanie I thought we looked pretty springlike, so we took a "happy Easter!" picture:

A group of us also took an impromptu picture on the steps in front of the church's chapel.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Easter!

Yesterday (Saturday afternoon) we spent they day in a very touristy, springy way. We went over to Yoeuido Island with some friends and went to the Cherry Blossom Festival. First though, we stopped by the 63 building.

We walked to the 63 building from the subway station, which was a long and very nice walk. For some reason, I felt like we were in New York City somewhere, though it was probably my mind playing tricks on me. Yoeuido is said to be the financial district of Seoul, and is a large island in the middle of the Han River. We rode up to the "Skydeck", on the 60th floor, and here are some pictures:

You cannot escape the apartments!

As you can see the day was cloudy/smoggy and so you couldn't see that far, but it was still a very cool view. View of the Han River toward the north side of Seoul:

Looking down from the 60th floor:

In the "Sky Tunnel" (which amounted to a pass through that was dark, with psychedelic lights):

Koreans take SO many pictures that any sort of sightseeing attraction has built in picture taking opportunities. Here are some lovely ladies at one of those:

After the 63 building we walked quite a ways over to the Cherry Blossom Festival. We went down by the waterfront and through the park. It was really busy with a lot of people and it was a nice walk to see all the people out on the warmer day. Lots of picnics, bike riding, rollerblading, etc.

We walked past a group of girls who said "hi!" to Stephanie and I, and I said "go take your picture with them!" So Stephanie did and the girls were really excited about it. The girls are wearing the typical style of Korean school uniforms.

This is the National Assembly building, by where the Festival was:

And, oh yeah, we saw some cherry blossoms:

The Festival was really a huge closed off street that is lined with cherry blossom trees. There was some art, and also some performances.

On our way back through the Festival we got stopped and a guy asked Stephanie to take a picture. Stephanie said "sure, I'm a great photographer!" and then after about 2 awkward minutes we realized this group he was with wanted a picture WITH us. So that was kind of strange, but we did it and we all laughed about it.

And to top off my pictures for the day, here's a picture of a typical Korean street treat. I've never had the guts nor the stomach to get this close (it doesn't smell too good), but Will took this picture. These are larvae that is cooked at little stands are the street, and are a very popular snack. But, I do know a lot of Koreans who won't eat them, as well.
Yummm :)

I hope everyone has a great Easter Sunday!

Some of my plans changed this week and I will be heading back to Portland earlier than scheduled. I will be back at the very end of May. I'm looking forward to it, but also trying to pack in as much time here with my friends and seeing as many things as I can.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

BIg Fun

You know what's fun? When your not-so-great class loses their snack privileges because of their mess. And then Stephanie Teacher comes upstairs and we eat candy in front of them. That's fun.

Yellow Dust has invaded the city. Well, not invaded, exactly. It's a big topic that every spring Yellow Dust blows over this way from the Gobi desert. Apparently it's bad for your lungs, bad for your body, etc. Sunday we had our first big hit of it, except Stephanie and I had no idea. We went running, went to church, and then our Korean teacher mentioned it. We said "Really? That's Yellow Dust?" and she confirmed. I guess it's hard to distinguish smog from Yellow Dust. Some people here wear masks to protect themselves. I don't think we'll go that extreme. By Sunday night we could tell the Yellow Dust had been there as a fine layer covered the cars in front of our building.

You can read more about Yellow Dust.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It's That Time Again!

Time for another round of "What did Meghan's high achieving students write this week?" I believe their question was "What are the characteristics of a good student?" and so here are some of the prize answers I found:

"I think a good students´s characteristics are in the school they center about class work and their teachers. And, they makes a study schedule and follows it. So, they interest at the learning."- Rina

"What do you think about about what is good students´ characteristics? I think good students characteristics are read books in odd times. For example, most of famouse and great guys´ life when they was young, most of their commonness hobbys are reading books, It means, reading books makes people great."- Daniel

"sometimes after class was very boring so some students sleep bur good students didn´t sleep. no, never sleep. their eyes were like star. they listen very carefuly and question ar answer to teacher." -Belle

"They don´t forget about must have preparations and review. Then don´t need to hastily like other student. Because they study overscrupulous. " - Jaina (you can tell someone was using their Korean/English dictionary)

"They listen carefully to teachers´ explanation in class because they think to listen carefully is very good for studying. Maybe if we listen carefully to teacher´s explanation, we can know why it is, how it becomes and how to do. So maybe they do these things."- Louise

"First, they are actively participate in take lessons. They are announcing , ask their teacher about class and always listen what teacher said to everyone.
Therefore they are studying well,and that can chum up their teacher." - David (chum up! yes!)

"A good student has many different characteristics from others. I think a natural gift is also very important. Nevertheless, I think there are more important characteristics than that. For instance, a good student has a dream and the strong desire for victory."- Hannah

"Do you know the characteristics of good students? There are two characteristics of good students. The first characteristic is they are popular, positive and clever . Second, they try to make an effort to improve their weakness."- Brian

" I think reading books everyday and making a schedule are characteristics of a good student.
First reason is because, nowdays if we want to go to the nice university, it is important to read books everyday." - YunJi

"Second reason is in middle school the good or samrt head don´t need,( but need few head or idea)also you need listen your class very hard and do your homework very well, and have a your mind fire!"- Lisa

And the best entry:
"And back to the studying before the test. They even cry if they don´t get a good grade on their test! There is a girl that is really a smarty pants. and if she doesn´t get good grades, she cries.
I really hate her because she acts like she is the smartest girl on the universe. would you like her?" - Christine

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The DMZ and BBoyz

Stephanie and I had a full Saturday. We were up entirely too early on Saturday morning (before the sun rose), and were over to the USO for a tour trip to the DMZ (demilitarized zone). To save myself a lot of writing, you can read extensively about the DMZ here. In short, the DMZ is a 4km wide strip of land that runs from the West coast to the East coast and divides North and south Korea. In the middle lines the MDL (military demarcation line), which is the actual separation of North and South Korea, I guess. The boundary was made in 1950.

We rode to the military base and taken first to slideshow presentation about the history and layout of the area. It gets a little confusing as to whose watchtowers are whose, but then we went to the actual line and it made some more sense. We visited a huge building, and behind it were a row of small buildings where United Nations people meet. Incidentally there is very short concrete line that indicates North and South Korea, and it divides the buildings in two. In this picture, the short buildings are the meeting rooms, and the huge building across is a North Korean post. The soldiers in green are South Korean soldiers:

At the same area, this is a North Korean post:

Our day was overcast and cloudy, so the pictures aren't that great. This is the view over into North Korea. This is Gijeong-dong, or "Peace Village", so ironically named. There are a lot of buildings, but very few people live there, and they think the buildings are just for show. The flagpole is gigantic and their flag is so huge that it cannot be flown in stormy weather or else it will tear. Someone said the dry weight of the flag is 600lbs.

The bridge of no return where after the war captives could choose which side to go to.
Afterward we went to an observatory (which wasn't that great because the fog was so bad), and the "3rd Tunnel". There are 4 known tunnels where the North Koreans have tried to dig into South Korea. This 3rd one you can down into and see.

We really enjoyed our trip. The DMZ and the North/South Korean relationship is such a tense and interesting one. When the North/South divide occurred many families were divided and it is interesting to think that this was once one nation with the same cultural and ethnic background but is now divided so intensely.

Saturday night after the trip we headed over to a performance called "B-Boy and the Ballerina". B-Boys are breakdancers and the performance was a mostly nonverbal story of a ballerina who falls in love with a B-Boy. It was a lot of fun and we had a great time, especially because the performance was in such a small place and was very intimate. Breakdancing is really popular here. If you're interested, here's one of the videos I took Saturday night: