Category Archives: Students


When one spends everyday at school with students who still don’t know how to ask to use the bathroom or employ the past tense of ‘go’, it is sometimes easy to forget that these kids are actually pretty smart. Today I was reminded of their intelligence, though, when they tried to tell me a joke and I was the reh-tard who couldn’t understand because I only know nine words in Korean.

First, they were trying to get me to agree that I know what “stwaaaws” is. I insisted that I do not, in fact, have any clue in the freakin world what “stwaaaws”, and so they reenacted a great battle scene with swords and head chopping. I thought, okay “stwaaaws” is “swords”. They were happy I had identified their miming as weapon-wielding, but then indicated that “stwaaaws” is a movie.

…Sword in the Stone???


I don’t know what finally gave it away after four more minutes of their desperate attempts to inform me, but someone must have muttered “Skywalker” or “Han Solo” or something, so I eventually hollered, “STAR WARS!!! YES I KNOW STAR WARS! YES! I AM AMERICAN DAMN IT,” and everyone was excited and I was relieved that the game was over.

But it wasn’t. There was another battle reenactment, this time with lightsabers, obviously, and mad lightsaber sound effects.

Girl Student: Chawwohhhhngngng!

Boy Student: Teacher! Chwwwwooongngngg!

Girl Student: Teacher, what color rightsaber?

Me: Err…um…green? And…red? And…blue? Maybe?

Them: No teacher!

Me (more defensive confident): Um, yeah-huh guys.

Them: No! Rightsaber oranchee! HAHAHA!  Chwwoongngng Chwwoongng 주황!! 주황!! HAHAHA!

I stood there completely bewildered (what the hell is so hilarious?) while my coteacher laughed and asked, “Do you get it?” I scowled and waited for the explanation. (This conversation had been going on for like 9 minutes).

주황 is ‘orange’ in Korean. And it is also phonetically pronounced “choohwang”. Thus, “rightsabers are oranchee”.

Clever. Clever indeed.


Well our time here in the ROK is seriously winding down. Something like 77 days left? (But who’s counting? Moms?) My giddiness over being in the homestretch (IPAs…I’m coming home!) is overshadowed by how quickly time is passing. When people from home ask if I’m excited that August is so close, I’m unfailingly overwhelmed by the never-ending list of things that need to happen before then. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Visiting at least three places that I haven’t visited in Korea (like Jeju!)
  • Crossing off a few random but important things on my Korea bucket list (live octopus damnit)
  • Organizing and financing trips to Thailand and Hong Kong (traveling pre-final-departure from Korea).
  • Planning and executing weeks of English summer camps.
  • Navigating the Korean bank system so I can get my due money when I leave.
  • Extending my visa so Korea doesn’t detain me on my way out.
  • Deciding where I’m going immediately after Korea (Europe for two weeks? Europe for two months? Straight home?)
  • Arranging undecided journey.
  • Buying a ticket out of Korea, Destination: Still Unknown.
  • Packing up all the crap that can’t come to Europe with me.
  • Figuring out how to send home all the crap I will have packed.
  • Finding a job so I don’t have to turn tricks when I return to the U.S.
  • This is the list that never ends….it goes on and on my friends….

Not to mention my many mundane daily responsibilities like: Continue reading

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

Before Korea, I Never Thought I’d…

…sing in public all of the time.

And I’m not even talking about a norebang. I’m talking about in class. In front of hundreds of kids. And a coteacher. Everyday. It’s not a big deal when I’m singing along with the book CD or with the class. But one of my coteachers had the brilliant idea to turn everything we do into a song. Before my kids tell me what day it is, they must sing “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday” to the tune of “Oh My Darling Clementine” twice. And after we’ve determined the entire date, I must lead them in a rousing verse of “Today is Monday, Today is Monday, April 23rd, April 23rd, 2011, 2011, That’s the date, That’s the date” to the tune of “Frère Jacques”. I have a really hard time not singing off key at the higher parts, and it’s rough to squish “February twenty third” into like three syllables. Awkward. But I do it. Four times a day. Five days a week.

…eat Spam.


I made it to the age of 25 without ever seeing a can of Spam in real life, but August 2010 that all changed because Spam is everywhere in this country. Continue reading

Shitty Teacher

One of my 5th grade vocab words this week is “city”, which seems pretty benign right? Except that in the Korean language the sound “see/si” does not exist. When an “s” or “x” or soft “c” sound is followed by a short “i” or a long “e”  sound, they automatically throw an “h” in the middle. Seat is sheet. Mexico is Mek-shee-ko. Can you see where this is going?

<Begin today’s  Bingo game.>

Student #1: Towah.


Student #2: Pickauneek.


Student #3: Shitty.

Me: <pause> What?

Student #3: Shiiittttty.

Me: <pause longer> Wh-shi—ah! CITY.

Guys, it’s really hard not to laugh at this. Like really, really hard. And it’s even harder when you remember the South Park City Wok Guy. I should feel bad about this (I once heard that South Park can be slightly offensive??), but I’m an asshole so I don’t. Also, I shouldn’t laugh at my students, but I’m a shitty teacher so I do.

Update: Englishee

Remember this: Englishee? Erin’s awesome analysis of the comicality that is the Korean English Notebook?

B) Something must be smiling. Not a person. Photoshop as necessary

I’ve scared up a few more notebooks to add to the collection. Continue reading

Update: Biography: The Life and Times of Our Washing Machine

Remember this: Washing Machine Douche Baggotry?

Last week one of my coteachers asked for five minutes at the beginning of class to take care of some admin stuff that needed to be explained in Korean. That she formerly requested this time was laughable because a.) I’m not in charge of anything enough to say, “Yeah, no, I’m sorry but I don’t think that’s possible today,” and b.) I’m incredibly lazy and OF COURSE want something/anything to eat up five minutes of class. Makes my job easier, duh.

Anyway she filled the time by talking at the kids solemnly for four minutes and then passing around some small stickers that were from Office of Ed. It wasn’t a fun sticker, rather it looked like a single sentence written in both Korean and English that they were instructed to affix to a page in the back of their text books. I was a little curious at first, but it taxes this coteacher to explain things to me and this didn’t seem like a situation worth the hassle, so I ignored it and went about my day.

This week I sat at the computer with my Awesome-O coteacher lamenting our date with the Washing Machine when she whipped out a page of those same super boring mystery stickers.  “Look!” she said, “This is for English textbook, for Washing Machine story!”

I*#%@(*% &@!

She proceeded to explain that the publishers of the textbook had failed to credit the Washing Machine Story’s author and in a very serious effort to rectify the situation, they distributed these stickers with his name to be added to the contributor’s page.

If I were responsible for this anathema  I would do everything in my power to make sure that my involvement was kept absolutely Top Secret. That said, only someone as douchey as the Washing Machine story itself would make a big fuss about recognition for said douchery. DOUCHE.