Thursday, 18 November 2010

Sports Day!

I know it doesn't really count, but this is the speed I got from my school :o It's also not relevant to this blog post...

Anyway, SPORTS DAY! :D

The day after the festival came Sports Day... And it was manic. I knew I was in for some trouble when I heard the blowing of horns and chanting as I wandered into school for the day at about 8:15am. In an almost tribal fashion each homeroom class had their own 'uniform' that the kids bought themselves, their own chants, warpaint, and rivals. Also, each class had their own section on the school playing ground to cheer on their team in, I presume to minimize fights.

I chose to stick with my co-teacher's homeroom class - class 1-8 - for the entirety of the chaotic Sports fest. Kitted out in pink t-shirts and animal-ear headbands, we looked pretty badass :P

For the record, I did not wear a pink t-shirt... although I was forced to wear a cat-eared headband for about 10 minutes by one of the more... assertive/scary students :P

This is 'one of the more assertive scary students' leading the tribe:

It's not really surprising that our team won the 'loudest class' award, is it? :o

After a few words from the Principal and the Korean national anthem, the games kicked off. First up!.... jump-rope.

Now, jump-rope is really popular amongst kids in Korea. When I ask questions in class like 'what are you good at?' they often come back with 'jump-rope'. And, yeah, they're pretty good at it.

The kids line up diagonally with two kids working the rope. Then, yeah, they jump over the rope... Tough stuff eh?

Next up was tug-of-war! Apparently, my co-teacher had a lot of confidence in our team. Remember the girl who forced me to wear the headband? Hye Lim her name is, and according to my co-teach she is 'strong' lol.. Needless to say, 1-8 won the tug-of-war, mainly thanks to Hye Lim I'd say. Good times :)

The next event was mental and would definitely be banned under 'health and safety' in the UK.

The game involves all the students in the class. Two students (it helps if they're tall) train another student (it helps if they're small) along an ever replenishing line of students' bent over using their backs as stepping stones for the small kid to run across... I'll just upload another video:

And then after this an even more mental game reared it's head! I'm not sure what it's called, but I'm gonna call it 'Charge at your friends and get rope burn game'...

One kid actually got rope burn and he wandered off crying while the chaos continued... :o Genuinely looked liked amazing fun though...

After this there was what I consider to be 'real' sports: relay race and... er thats it. So plenty of tug of war, rope based games then but a cheeky bit of shot put or high jump is out of the question :'( Ah well, it was better than any sports day I've ever had on all accounts.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

My otherworldly net connection

Just because :)

Go to and test to see how yours compares to my beast of a net connection here in Incheon, South Korea :P

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

School Festival!!

School festival day was a couple of weeks back now - I've just been too busy to whack up a blog about it... Well, let's say a mixture of lazy and busy. Anyway, the school festival is when each homeroom class ('tutor group' in the UK) sort out a theme for their homeroom and kids can go in and out of each room and check out what they're friends are up to. It was really fun :) Unfortunately, I couldn't really wander the classrooms myself as I had to do my own theme game! I called it 'Lee's Treasure Hunt' but the Korean teachers changed it to 'MISSION' 'cause apparently the student know what this means - you have to say it in a Korean accent though otherwise they won't understand (roughly said like 'Mee-shun').

Basically, what the 'mission' involved was the students running around the school looking for clues and each clue would then lead them onto another clue. Each clue sheet had a letter written on it. Once they had collected all of the letters and worked out the anagram that the letters formed, then they had completed the mission! I thought only a handful of students would try it and then I could pack up early and wander around the school enjoying the festival with the kids... However, tons of students turned up and, to my surprise, actually worked out the clues quite quickly - a lot of the clues weren't easy, for example 'look underneath the staircase to the first floor' requires a bit of work for some of the less able kids. The prizes were pens that one of my co-teachers gave me to give away. I think one guy thought he was going to get candy or something really special because he was away for ages and when he finally came back with the answer and I gave him the pen as a reward he looked like a man who'd just been ripped off at the bookies :P Like he was gonna give me a 'piece of his mind'...

These are some students who took part in the mission:

They completed it pretty sharpish.

Class 1-7 had a cool game room going. Needless to say, this was my favourite room. I turned up and a couple of girls were dressed in cool costumes, there was music blaring, and it was packed full of kids getting keen about games like Jenga and Chess :) Great fun.

I played (and won) a game of Jenga versus this girl hehe >:P Owned her.

(Of course) There was a Starcraft tournament in the computer room. Again, packed full of kids. They were clicking the mouse faster than I could do with my elderly 23 year-old fingers...

A selection of creepy masks that the students made for the festival :)

Next up: Sports Day! :o

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Korea F1

This weekend just gone me, Sarah, Chris and Amy (two mates from England who came over for the race and a holiday) all went down to Mokpo to watch the F1. Took the KTX, which was hassle free, played Trivial Pursuit on the way down on Sarah's iPod touch and slept on the way back because it was gone midnight... We turned up at the race track after a great night at the hotel with the friendliest hotel manager in the world (he had a small Paris Baguette cake waiting for us when we turned up, gave us a lift to the shuttle bus AND when Sarah left her phone at the hotel he posted it to her a couple of days later... great bloke) at around 11am ready for the Hyundai series race an hour or so later.

This is when things started to go wrong.

It had rained quite hard the night before so it was all muddy. Very muddy. We had to buy cheap plastic ponchos because there was a constant light rain that wasn't going away. There was also a long, arduous walk around the track to do anything, i.e. get the tickets, get food/merchandise etc. But we couldn't get any food in the end because no one was selling any... thousands of people and not ONE food vendor. Apparently, a lot of people had got wind of this and brought their own food (either that or they thought that food would be too expensive and cleverly brought a lunch of their own). So we were starving. And wet.

The track was so sodden with water that the race was delayed by an hour to see if it would dry up. It never really but they started the race anyway, albeit behind the safety car for like 20-odd laps. As soon as the safety car buggered off though the race was awesome :)

Here are some pictures:

Yes, Dad and Ryan, we had a flag :) Were we on telly? I doubt it.. I never saw one TV camera the whole race...
Good close up picture of some of the racers that Sarah took. Alonso looks smug. It's like he already knows he'll win.

Nice picture of me and Sarah in our ponchos and F1 lanyards :)

F1 gets underway!! It was seriously so exciting. Saw a few cool overtaking maneuvers down the straight and saw a couple of crashes and this:

Uh oh... Vettel's out. His car was on fire and after he got out of his car he hopped on the back of a moped and zipped off lol.

This was the view for a long time :P As you can hear the cars are soooooo loud. They gave us ear plugs, which I didn't use because I'd feel lame if I put em in, but they were definitely needed. This video was taken when they were going 'slowly' behind the safety car too, so you can imagine the noise when they are going full throttle... and we were on the huge straight. Great experience it was.

Still, an awesome race weekend at Yeongam, Korea! Let's hope Korea gets it's act properly together for next year and spruce up the place a bit :P

Friday, 15 October 2010

Sports day preliminaries

Turned up to class today (class 2-5) to find no bugger there and a load of kids shouting at me to go outside and watch the football. This took a while for them to get across because I initially thought that they were winding me up and their English was shocking. I also thought I might've got prior warning that I got to watch football instead of trawl through the textbook with the kids, but this is Korea after all and I've gotten used to it :P

Here's a few pictures I shoddily took of the game:

The kids, and even one of my co-teachers who was sitting next to me, were well keen about the game. My co-teacher kept like slapping me on the back when things happened, cheering really loudly... It was the Final of the group to see who progresses into next weeks Sports Day. Serious stuff.

The game ended in a goalless draw with penalties to come and it was pretty tense, as you can see by all the nail biting going on in the picture above :P

This is our glorious playing field. Almost as dusty as my apartment :P

The game ended 5-4 on penalties with class 2-5 (the team I was cheering on) beating class 2-3.

If this was tense, imagine next weeks Sports Day...

Cool Korea: Update

I haven't seen the show, but for all you One Piece fans out there (Sarah and Tea Leaf..) here is a particularly time consuming piece of graffiti that I found on one of my students desks:

I asked the girl sitting behind it if she had done it and she sort of nodded sheepishly in that kind of 'I'm gonna be honest in the hope that my honesty saves me from punishment' way. Then I asked her if I could take a photo and her face beamed :)

One of these days I might get around to teaching...

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Cool Korea, Part Three: Stargate and Gorillas

I found the extra pictures that I was going to use for this blog, so here I am writing it as the class I was supposed to teach got cancelled because of Sports Day preliminaries.

Starting off with a mug. No, it's not a picture of myself... It's a mug that I was given in a restaurant months ago that I thought was, and still is, hilarious. I took 4 pictures of the mug from different angles.. Can you spot the odd one out?

They aren't hiring thousands of native English teachers for nothing you know... I wouldn't be surprised if this mug was designed by a native English guy for his own amusement actually.

Coolness rating: 8/10 - I cracked up.

Koreans love their manga (Japanese comic books). I took this photo in a manga rental shop (that also hired out some DVDs). Here they didn't just have the standard shelving to house their massive collection, oh no, they had two extra layers of shelving behind the normal shelves that you could slide away to get to the hidden manga behind it.

Also, it's mostly quiet at lunchtime here at Myeonghyun middle school because there are about 200 kids in the library reading manga... To be honest, I'd be reading it too if it wasn't all in Korean :'(

Coolness rating: 9/10 - there's nothing uncool about a shop full of manga :P

In Korea there are many frilly little, girly places dotted around that you stroll into when your on a date and have some cake, papingsu, and/or coffee. They are essentially desert places where you sit in relative comfort in your own little booth and have a chat with your woman about whatever over desert. This is one we went to in Bucheon. It was larger than most we've been to, looked as girly as ever, cheesecake was nice... Wait a minute... is that a f-ing Stargate?
Yes. Yes, it was a Stargate. I was sitting there eating cheesecake and sipping at coffee for 20 minutes without realising this pansy-ass place had a bloody Stargate as the entrance. The glass door was even frosted to make it look like the event horizon... I don't know why or how, but it's there.

Coolness rating: 10/10 - Bit of Stargate while I'm having a cheeky coffee never hurts :P

This is my desk at work. I'd like to say that it isn't usually this messy but that would be lying (as I'm writing this blog I have a half eaten ddeok just sitting there in it's packet sitting on top of a pile of lesson plans, my headphones strewn across the desk, and an old newpaper from last week...). Anyway, this picture shows how much they've been plugging Starcraft II over here. I've seen ads everywhere from the side of Lotteria (the Korean equivalent of McDonalds) drinks cups (pictured) to on the side of buses. I've been suckered in and bought the game.. I'm really bad at it :/

Coolness rating: 6/10 - Everytime I ask a student what he did on the weekend 9/10 times the conversation goes like this:

Lee: What did you do on the weekend?
Student: Computer game.
Lee: Which computer game did you play?
Student: Starcraft? (In that 'you probably don't know what game I'm talking about' kind of way)
Lee: Of course you did.

It's starting to get annoying.

Finally, here is a picture of a drunk/crazy guy on the subway. Notice no one is helping him or even looking at him (except us, of course). He was staggering around trying to sit down next to that poor girl in pink but kept falling over. He was shouting at people and ended up emptying out most of carriage :P

Coolness rating: 7/10 - I see it all too often...

And that concludes my lame little series on what I've called 'Cool Korea' :)

Friday, 8 October 2010

Cool Korea, Part Two: Student Stuff

Figured out how to transfer pictures. It was slightly tedious :/

Part two of my little series on what I've called 'Cool Korea' (I've tried to make it sound professional but is basically whatever pictures I found on my camera phone that I deemed to be 'cool') is on things that my students have done and mostly centers around graffiti... :P

Most of the graffiti I saw in my school in England seemed to focus around three things: someone is in love with someone else '4eva', anything to do with Pompey FC, and, last but not least, the standard drawings of a mans privates... Although I have found the same stuff in Korea (minus the stuff about Pompey, unfortunately :'( ) I also discover mini works of art that I assume could only have been drawn in my classes as I think they like maths and science too much to bother in those..

In a first grade class I found these anime drawings on some kids desk. Didn't tell him off because I was impressed... bad teaching, sure, but I don't want to be the guy who takes the paintbrush from Da Vinci :/ To be honest, I've found better graffiti, but I thought it was cool :)

An improved version from what must be the same kid sitting at a different desk. Looks like he's almost perfected it. Also, is this a Pokemon or a Digimon?

Now this is a work of art. Different uses of colour, shading, and it's pretty creative... This must've taken a good hour at least to do, so definitely drawn in my class then... My favourite by far.

Coolness rating: 9/10 - if your gonna graffiti, you might as well draw a Digimon or a flying fish :P

By the way, I see plenty more stuff drawn on kids' desks (mostly anime) but I'm not keen enough to snap all of em - the students thought I was weird even taking photos of the Pokemon.

Guess the art teacher got the students to make papier-mache masks because the office was littered with em. This kid clearly done the best job though... Ichigo ftw :P

Coolness rating: 6/10 - Haven't seen Bleach in a while..

Drawing of a beaver I quickly scrawled on the board to show them that a beaver is not the same as a squirrel... Everyone was cracking up :'(

Coolness rating: 1/10 - although professionally drawn, accurate and almost unidentifiable from an actual photograph of a beaver, it's shit.

Finally, graffiti my co-teacher showed me on the wall by the stairs leading to the first grade. It means 'native teacher is the best' :)

Coolness rating: 10/10 - love how students risked being punished to declare that I'm the best :P although I don't condone it... much ;)

Part three coming up sometime next week :o

Monday, 4 October 2010

Cool Korea

I've been here around 8 months now and so I think it's about time I showed you some cool pictures I've taken since my arrival. Ok, they're not the most professional photos (they're semi-pro at best) but I think they're pretty cool anyway :P

During my time in America, and the two hours I spent watching 'Bowling for Columbine', I learnt that you can buy a gun and ammunition in Walmart, just a few aisles down from the kiddy bikes. The Korean equivalent is that they sell martial arts equipment in Home Plus right next to the board games. It's not quite as mental as selling things that might later be kept as evidence from some kind of shopping mall killing spree, but I'd say it's cooler. I wasn't even remotely shocked to find that they were running low on aluminium nunchucks in my local Home Plus.. I just thought it was pretty cool. Anyway, this is training gear, but it still could cause some damage, and I bet there is plenty a chav in the UK who would give up his last bottle of Stella for a chance to wield that solid steel baton in the centre of the picture around the streets of Portsmouth :P

Coolness rating: 8/10

Cool thing I saw near Sarah's place in Nonhyeon-dong: A 'robot' with a movement sensor of some kind bowed at you and said something in Korean. I think it was on a cycle of 'Anyong haseyo!' and then said something about a phone deal :S

Coolness rating: 9/10 (Sarah didn't really like it but I loved it :P)

Anime is so big in Korea that they even use it on the front cover of the Twilight books :P

Here is Edward and Bella looking particularly emo on the front of 'Eclipse'. It looks like Edward is doing that thing where you hold your hands together and blow into em to make the sound of an owl hooting :o

Coolness rating: 6/10 (it's pretty cool, but doesn't reach the dizzy heights of nunchaku and training swords)
Kids having a Pokemon battle, again, in Home Plus, apparently the home of coolness. The guy in the gray hat on the right was well keen and definitely over 18. I had a closer look and he was playing a kid of around 7 or 8 with cards that were in little plastic sleeves as if they were valuable :P

Coolness rating: 4/10 (would've been higher if the keeno hadn't shown up)

Part two coming up whenever I figure out how to transfer photos from my phones internal memory to my micro SD card..

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Second Birthday Away from England

23 years-old now and I'm starting to feel it.. It seems I can play computer games for only a couple of hours now before my eyes start to hurt and I can only eat half a birthday cake until minor belly flab begins to develop (and don't even mention the Paris Baguette egg tarts). Seriously though, if I wasn't with Sarah my birthday would've just passed me by. So here is an account of what my birthday this year was like (with pictures, of course):

On my birthday I had gifts from three students who are in my after school class, Han Sol, In Hye, and Hye Jin. They gave me a Hershey's white chocolate bar with cookie bits in it and a box of cookies! When I later thanked them - for the 3rd time because I was so grateful - they told me that they were expensive and they're glad I liked them :) The gifts were accompanied by these letters:

Not even born in 1985.. Think I should tell her? :P

They've got neater writing than me...

Next day (the 10th) I wander into work and see these letters on my desk from students:

Unfortunately, I have no idea who these students are.. I probably know them but everyone has the same name here and I've never heard of a 'Jina' :S I think they're all from class 1-7 (the hint is on the note..) which makes me feel a bit bad because I forgot to say anything in class today. It'd be a bit embarrassing for them though, seeing as they're Korean and all, if I just thanked them in the middle of a class... That's my excuse anyway.

Anyway, I came in from work and Sarah had set up a treasure hunt in my apartment! Probably the coolest thing anyone has ever done for me and so much effort went into it too. She had clues on the go, wrapped presents, cake... It was brilliant :)

It didn't stop there because my 'birthday weekend' was about to strike and Sarah had a few surprises in store for me.

First up was a nice Han River boat trip.. which would've been great if the Han wasn't flooded:

Those steps are supposed to lead to a path.. but instead they lead to the brown waters of the Han. 'I ain't swimmin' that'.

So with the Han river tour called off, Sarah, being the amazing girl that she is, had a backup plan which was a trip to the nearby 63 Building, Yeouido, to the world's highest art exhibit. These are some of the pictures I took of the view from the building (notice none of them are of the art.. It's not that the art wasn't good, a lot of it was brilliant, in fact, it's just I don't really like taking a picture of a picture or of art.. I think it's strange :/).

Traffic in Seoul and the flooded Han river.
Me and Sarah in front of a view of Seoul.

We couldn't stay there too long though because Sarah had another surprise for me. We took a longish subway ride to see 'JUMP', a comedy martial arts performance show that I've wanted to see since I saw posters for it about 4 months ago. Sarah remembered and it was a brilliant show :)

After the show we went to an underground massage place that Sarah knows (my 3rd massage in Korea and of my life so far - all since I've met Sarah... she's a massage fiend). Next day we went to Gwanghawmun Kyobo bookstore, had a curry and that was us :)

Again, if I wasn't with Sarah then I would've probably been sitting on my arse playing Starcraft II all weekend, which, although awesome, wouldn't have been ideal :P Thanks babe x

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Casper the Kitten

As requested, a blog about Sarah and I's cat, Casper.

A few things before we start. Casper is roughly 3 months old (I can't remember his exact birth date... Sarah knows. I'm not good with dates. Probably should have chose something other than History to study then really).
He is a boy ;) His testicles are starting to drop so, according to Sarah, we've got to get him neutered in the next few months otherwise he'll pee everywhere, marking his territory.
He likes to bite and scratch but he does it in a playful way and is rarely ever aggressive, if at all. I actually like it when he bites on my finger because his face is so serious when he does it and it cracks me up. His biting doesn't hurt me about 99% of the time but it hurts Sarah so we are conditioning him with a spray bottle. We're getting to the point that we only have to show him that we are wielding the spray bottle and he gets all submissive and bottles it.

This is Casper when we first got him about 5 weeks ago. Probably the cutest picture of him.

This is him wandering the apartment. You can see his litter tray in the background. I need to get one with a dome-like lid because he leaps in and out of this litter tray and gets litter everywhere :/ It's clogging up the vacuum cleaner.

Another cute picture of Casper looking all innocent.

This is Casper nowadays. As you can see he is getting larger now, which means he can jump higher... This is him eyeing up the amazing pancakes on my desk with a peach maple sauce that Sarah made. It was an amazing breakfast. No wonder Casper wanted a bit (he got none ;) ).

(You can also see my new laptop glistening just next to him :P Macbook Pro, innit).

Casper sitting on the towel that Sarah turned blue in the wash. I put the towel under his litter tray to hold some of the litter he tosses everywhere. It doesn't really do the job :/

Casper has really blue eyes, which is one of the reasons why we fell in love with him from the get go.

An 'I-Can-Has-Cheezburger'-esque picture. In fact, this picture cracked me up so much I went all keen and made an 'I-Can-Has-Cheezburger' pic of it :P

Oh yeahh..  I ate all ur chickenz

Keen eh?

Some info on getting a cat in Korea. Everywhere I've looked they are more expensive than dogs. With the litter tray, food, I think his first bout of injections, and some toys to start with it cost around 500,000 won, which is about $500 or 300 GBP. I put this down to the type of people in Korea who buy pets: women who want something cute and cuddly to carry in their handbag, which you cannot do with a cat so they are not in as much demand. It's not a sexist stereotype, I see it everyday (remember the fire alarm blog with the woman carrying her tiny dog in her arms?).
Also, bringing him into the EU will be a nightmare. And it's not bright and dandy when taking him to the U.S. either. South Korea isn't on the EU's 'listed' country list for being able to bring pets into the region. If he does enter the UK he will have to spend 6 months in quarantine, which we don't want to happen. So the plan is we take him to the U.S., where apparently he will only have to spend 3 months in quarantine, and then hold onto to him in America for 6 months from the time his blood is tested - we have to do this otherwise he cannot come to the UK without the 6 month quarantine as he hasn't spent enough time in a 'listed' country prior to entering the EU. Then we have to get him a Pet Passport, and proof that he has had the correct shots.
Imagine having this bureaucracy 100 or even 50 years ago... wouldn't have happened. It's a headache, but, as Sarah keeps saying, we don't have to worry about it for a year :D!

Didn't mean to end on a downer, but he's an awesome cat, not boring, very active (a bit too active at times) and he's loyal (he follows us around the apartment and runs to the door when we come in :) ). I think me and Sarah have done well :)


just made another one...

srsly give me pancake

Oh I almost forgot. Here are some videos I took of Casper. Yes, I get bored in my apartment a lot:

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