Monthly Archives: May 2011

And the Living is…Easy?

We are on the brink of summertime in Gwangju.The trees are green, the skies are hazy with heat, the street cats are shrieking to breed beneath my window. The shorts are getting shorters; the heels, higher.

Jacket longer than shorts? HAWT.

For most, summer is a time of splashing and beaches, tans and pina coladas. And sometimes my summers are like this too. But guys, I fear the coming season as I fear few other things (ie: death, tight spaces, death inside tight spaces, Kate Hudson movies, etc). You see I was here, if only briefly, LAST summer. And I remember it all too well…

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Passion for Pashion

Korea is obsessed with fashion (known here as “pashion”). There’s an entire Style Channel devoted to America’s Next Top Model, Korea’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, Korean Project Runway. Like fashion itself, Korea is all about Western imitation. Which is why clothes with “English” words scrawled all over them are especially popular.

As a native English speaker walking around Korea or chillin’ in your classroom, you see a lot of this:

Courtesy of Amanda M.

Shirts with English (sometimes Konglish). The English is invariably mispelled, misused, and/or completely misunderstood. Sometimes the English is all correct, but the idea is totally bizarre (see above). Most of the time it’s really funny stuff. Occasionally it’s offensive, but the person wearing it doesn’t actually know what they’re wearing, so it’s still comical.

Lately I’ve been trying to keep a record of these crazyass shirts. It’s challenging though because you can’t very well take a picture. The whole ‘must save face’ thing would come into play if you suggested to a Korean that their English shirt was wronginteresting enough to document; they’d melt into a big mortified puddle. So instead I’ve tried to write a few down and recapture them for your viewing pleasure via Microsoft Paint. Continue reading

Ugly You Ain’t Got No Alibi

Along with new lessons and new activities in this year’s English textbooks came new cartoons and animations. They seem generally improved, less 1990’s and more 2000’s, which I appreciate if only because it keeps the kids’ attention a tad longer. But then I started teaching 5th grade Lessons 4 and 5, where a bumbling pair of ginger-headed waygook tourists help demonstrate how to comment on landmarks (“What a tall tower!”) and get directions to said landmarks (“Where is Gyeongbokwuilhswgkhs?”).

Meet the Mr. and Mrs. Waygook. Continue reading

Fun with 공책

The Wanderlust Diary has a slight obsession with these crazy English notebooks (공책) in Korea. Last week we found one that may take the silly cake.

Before we delve into a good old fashioned WTF?! Analysis, we’d like to invite you to study this notebook cover and see if you can find 7-15 things that are wrong with it. (7-15 because there are at LEAST 7 but could be more depending on your definition of ‘wrong’).

How many did you find? Continue reading

Sound Defense

When I’m finished with work, when I’m done saying “Hello” 3000 times to the sincere and wicked students alike, when I’ve been stared at by the old men on the bus, harassed by the ajummas on the street, when all that is through, some days I just want to go to my teeny apartment and forget that I’m in Korea for a little while. Just be for a few quiet hours. It is the simplest of desires. And so it is the most difficult to achieve.

I am all too aware that I, Erin, am in the beginning phases of reclusedom. Meh, don’t worry about sweeping the floor today, no one else can see your cracker crumbs. Don’t worry about that t-shirt with the food stain on it – it’s only one food stain. You don’t have plans – maybe don’t put pants on today. Or tomorrow. Maybe you should start collecting newspapers and stack them from floor to ceiling, like reinforce the ceiling with newspaper pillars…make a newspaper pillar maze that will one day collapse on your body only to be found 3 years later…

Aaaaand I may have done this once or twice, but never with a Snuggie:

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No Laughing Matter

Quiz Time! Ready?

#1. Who is this?

If you answered Martin Luther King, you are correct. Pat yourself on the back for being educated and racially sensitive.

If you answered “OOOBAMAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!”, you are incorrect and you may also be a Korean 6th grader.

Reviewing American holidays in class this week, I got the answer “Obama” from all but one student out of 120. I gave them the correct info in a ten second spiel, you know, about how Martin Luther King led one of the most important civil rights movements in America and how, as a result, he has his own holiday on January 17th. Over the course of those ten seconds my students’ faces went from disappointed (that it wasn’t Obama), to confused (there are other black people?), to completely disinterested (I think I have a wedgie). Continue reading

Picture This

Like most native teachers in these parts, my classroom is coated in teaching materials. The walls and windows are covered with shades that double as  huge, fully-illustrated English vocabulary flashcards. IT’S RAINING. BADMINTON. TUMMY. HAMBURGER. Useful? Only kind of. But certainly more so than the…extra-curricular shades printed with pictures of American culture. (I do hope this irritated my Canadian predecessor fiercely.)

USA! USA!

USAAAAAAAA!!!

.....usa?

Let’s just zoom in on this one for a moment, shall we?

Once you spot him, he's all you'll see.

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