Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Solnal...umm Sollal.....ummm..Solnol...sigh...Lunar New Year

Say hay boke-mahn he pah du say oh! (Happy New Year)

No matter how many times we tried to pronounce the Korean name for Lunar New Year/ Chinese New Year, Koreans never understood. Our students looked at us blankly when we asked them what they were going to do for Solnal. We finally just changed it to "What are you doing for New Year?".

Lunar New Year, also called Chinese new year is one of the most important days in many countries, including Korea, China, and Vietnam. The celebration involves many days of food preparation, wearing traditional clothing, and showing respect to your elders by bowing. Families drink gui balki sool together, which is a liquor that is supposed to allow you to hear clearly the whole year. Sometimes I think we need some of that as well!

Lunar New Year was a four day holiday for us. So we decided to search for something we both love....snow! We traveled 3.5 hours to a city called Gwangju. It is a "small" city of 1.5 million. The bus ride there was almost intolerable. The guy beside us was on his very loud cell phone for the entire trip (who knows that many people?) and then the bus had some sort of problem which caused it to beep like an alarm clock for over an hour. Ahhhhh. But when we saw the snow, we knew we had made the right choice. YAY! We spent our four days exploring this new city and trying to keep warm. Lots of fun. We celebrated Australia Day (also the 26th) and Lunar New Year with lunch at Outback Steak House (yum!) and then a dinner of ramyen (instant noodles....what could be more Korean?).

Friday, January 23, 2009


Here's a sample of what we've been teaching our conversation classes. Keep in mind that they wrote these plays themselves.....and picked the subject matter.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

You Are a Fish With Large Fin

You have to be pretty thick skinned to be a teacher in Korea. Everyday we face a barrage of comments about our appearance, personality, teaching style, and anything else the children can think to comment on. For the teachers at our school, this has become something to brag about. The person that received the most horrendous or hilarious comment earns the most laughs from the rest of the group.

Today I put my hair in a pony tail. As I did this I thought about how it would cause quite a lot of discussion from my students. Any tiny change will cause a major reaction from them. But I had no choice. My hair was doing a very good impression of a wild lion's mane.....so I knew a pony tail would receive less attention...or at least I hoped. I walked into my first class and they burst into a giant "Whoah!!!!! Teacher!!!! Wahhhh!! What you do???". A major overreaction...but this is the case every time I do anything different, no matter how small, and no matter the age of the students. Just today I heard the following:

You are a fish with large fin.
At least you look cleaner.
Your eyes are stuck out.
Your boyfriend looks like a pencil.
Are those your real eyelashes?
Why you wear a fat shirt?

And in the past month I have heard:

You are old like grandma.
You should have diet resolution.
Your hair is very cutie but too many.
Your nose is like pig. I call you pig teacher.

I have spent a lot of time trying to explain that if you don't have anything nice to say then you should not say anything at all. Apparently they do not agree. A few weeks ago, two 11 year old boys were talking away in Korean in my class. One boy used his fingers to hold his eyes wide open and said something in Korean, followed by "put your hands on your head". I knew straight away they were imitating me. It made me laugh.

My favourite comment was received by a coworker. He had a student who actually used the dictionary to come up with good insults to say during class. One day the boy looked at him and said "You are a tree fern".

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Happy Birthday

Christmas, NYE, birthdays... nothing ever really feels quite the same here in Korea. Maybe its the fact that for only the 2nd time in my life I actually had to work (I know, I know, I don't deserve any sympathy) or maybe its the fact that back in OZ temperatures would usually be in the mid to high 30's and here in Daegu were hoping that it will creep back up over zero!

Regardless, I still had a great 26th. Birthday eve was spent with friends at an all you can eat and drink buffet with a live band that played everything from Korean pop songs, to The Black Eyed Peas, Queen and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".

Tonight we avoided rice and kimchi and headed to out local Outback Steackhouse. While Cindy opted for the Alice Springs Chicken, I couldn't go past the Australian Sirlion Steak with steamed vegies, chips and gravy plus a glass of Aussie Cab Sav. Later, Cindy managed to top it all off when she produced a pig/cow ice-cream cake for dessert!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


We would like to wish everyone a happy new year and give you all our best wishes for 2009. We hope you have enjoyed our stories over the past months and promise to keep our Korean adventures coming in the year of the cow.

Brett and Cindy. xoxo