Wednesday, April 30, 2014

O long-awaited nerdy grammar post...

Every day I receive dozens of messages on the school computer messaging system, and I skim them without really reading, because they're all in Korean, obviously. Sometimes my co-teacher will send along a message in English, especially if she wants my opinion on a question of English grammar. From time to time a non-English teacher will try their hand at English, too, to remind me about teachers' volleyball in the gym after school or ask about the teachers' English class I run.

But I disregard almost all of the Korean messages. If they're short and I have a spare minute, I'll translate them for the purpose of practicing Korean. But the information is usually mundane: administrative stuff, our school in a local newspaper, whatever.

The other day, however, I got a message from one of our secretaries, whose short message included lots of emoticons and an announcement about a new shipment of botttled water for us to take at our convenience. It had been a while since we'd had bottled water, for some unknown reason, so understandably, the secretary was excited. But I couldn't make head or tail of the very first phrase of her message:

아기다리고기다리던 물
a gi da li go gi da li deon mul

The last word, 물/mul, means "water". The rest of it was gibberish to me. If you can't read Korean, it's probably also gibberish to you. But I was mystified: it looked like one very long, nine-syllable word that had some crazy internal rhyme. Having studied Korean for two years, I wondered if this was a new word I'd never seen before, or really just some nonsense sounds thrown together to represent excitement onomatopoetically.

Agi... dali... gogi... dali... deon? 고기/gogi means "meat"... 다리/dali means "bridge"... and I know that 던/deon is a grammatical particle that marks a verb used as a modifer in the past tense. But this still made no sense to me, and I almost laughed out loud because of my confusion and the apparent absurdity of the phrase.

Then Google Translate came in to save the day! Google Translate generally does not work very well for Korean, but I gave it a shot this time, and the algorithms spit out, "Oh awaited". Suddenly, it clicked! Let's break this down:

아 = ah, oh, "O"
기다리고 = from the verb kidalida, which means "wait"
기다리던 = from the same verb, this time with the modifying particle

The sense, then, is that the water is something we have "waited and waited for". O long-awaited bottled water! I can brew tea in my office once again!

I realized that what confused me about the message was not just the unexpected (but completely normal in Korean) repetition, but also the fact that the secretary had neglected to use proper spacing. I see my students do this on Facebook from time to time, and it makes an already difficult-to-decipher wall of text even less compelling to try to read. I mean, imagineifijuststartedwritingmypostsonfacebooklikethisjustbeacuseiwasreallyexcitedoremotional! Um... no thanks! I'm glad that English has CAPSLOCK for that very purpose. AT LEAST WRITING IN ALL CAPS STILL PRESERVES SPACES BETWEEN WORDS.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Small Story That Illustrates Why I Love My Job

Flexibility is a must when you teach in South Korea. Schedules change as the wind blows, and random responsibilities are dropped into your lap as often as random snacks and gifts from the main gyomushil are. Today I was gifted a package of rice cakes in celebration of a co-worker's new baby boy (yay!) and an entire unexpected evening of English presentation coaching (boo!).

On the bright side, the nearly three hours I spent with just two students turned out to be some of my most productive hours so far this semester. In fact, I didn't regret a single minute.

Here's what happened. After my last class ended at 4:30 today, I was chilling at my desk, doing mindless computer things until 5pm rolled around so I could hit the gym. But at about a quarter 'til, my two co-workers stood up and said, "It's time to go." They told me that two students were going to participate in an international science competition and needed to practice the ten-minute presentation they were going to give in English. It was assumed that I would drop into rehearsal to give feedback. I nodded and joined them. See you later, treadmill; hello, science seminar room.

To make a long story short, my students' presentation was a mess. Poor YJ and DH had hardly caught up on work after last week's midterms; it was obvious that they hadn't prepared very well. Their script had quite a few grammatical errors -- for not having ever given it to me to proofread, it was passable, but still -- and DH hadn't memorized his part completely. Even worse, their presentation style had nothing going for it: butchered pronunciation, no eye contact, no gestures, no intonation whatsoever. It was like two robots reciting a Google translated research paper. And they droned like this for a minute over the time limit about a new kind of anode material for lithium ion batteries. Not the most scintillating subject, to boot.

I felt bad for my students because it was obvious even to their research adviser, who hardly understands English, that they had a lot of fixing to do. My co-teachers excoriated them as kindly as they could: you should have given us your script to proofread weeks ago, you should have practiced making eye contact, you should have added some sort of interesting introduction, but it's pretty late for that. Why? It was then that I learned that the competition is this weekend, and my students are leaving the day after tomorrow for Houston, Texas!

As excited as I was that they were going to visit the US, I realized to my sudden dismay that they had less than 48 hours to get their beached whale of a presentation back into the ocean. We all realized time was short, and my co-teachers turned to me to ask the inevitable: "Could you stay a bit later tonight?"

Now, I routinely stay at school for dinner and work late, sometimes until 8pm or later. This is for a variety of reasons: I don't like to take work home, so if I'm correcting a big batch of student journals, I don't mind staying at my desk to finish them even after everyone else has left the office. Also, during the winter, my office was much warmer than my apartment... But tonight, I was planning to get home early, maybe catch up on some TV, take care of miscellaneous chores... Nope. I calculated how much my students needed my help, weighed it against how much I needed to watch the next episode of Glee, and chose to stay.

I spent the first hour giving feedback on their first presentation and editing their script. After dinner, I met with YJ and DH in my classroom and coached them for another hour on pronunciation and intonation. It was especially funny trying to get YJ, who is naturally extremely quiet, to exaggerate the stress and enunciation in phrases like, "in other words" (in UHHH-ther worrRRDS!) or "as a result" (AS a reSUL-lll-LT!).

I also made them use their hands to indicate relevant charts and graphs on their poster, remembering how their adviser had berated them: "What's the point of having a poster if you never give your audience a reason to look at it?" They had to move their heads with their eyes while making eye contact, keep their bodies pointed toward the audience, and, most of all, smile! Smile at the audience! Smile at their partner! Smiling makes you calmer and more confident, but I don't think they realized how true that really is until I forced them to smile until they laughed.

After an hour and a half, my co-teacher came back to evaluate their progress. They were visibly nervous, and I was nervous for them. (And also for my own sake, I'll admit: what if my coaching hadn't been helpful?) But as my students presented for the third or fourth time that day, a wondrous change took place. YJ smiled. DH looked calm and composed. Both of them were miles more interesting this time around. And best of all, my co-teacher clapped enthusiastically for them as soon as they'd finished, exclaiming with genuine surprise that their presentation had improved dramatically. She praised YJ and DH; I think the solid ninety minutes they spent focused 100% on their goal paid off tremendously. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Now, YJ and DH still have quite a bit of work to do, particularly preparing for the Q&A and maybe tightening up the speech so that it falls under the allotted time frame, just to be safe. But I'm relieved. I'm happy that even though my evening was unexpectedly snatched away from me, I was productive and helped two students make visible progress in their language skills. I love coaching presentations; it's fun to work with small, focused groups and gratifying to be the cheerleader tossing confetti when all the other teachers hurl criticism.

I'm wishing YJ and DH the best of luck when they go to Houston. It'll be the first time in the States for both of them. During tonight's coaching session, I stopped for a bit to ask DH if he was excited about his trip. "Not really," he said, "because this -- because English is so difficult!" Sympathy for the kid whose nervousness about language is clouding the awesomeness that is international travel, please! I told him that no matter how well or how badly he does in the competition, he should relax and try his best to enjoy being in the US, since even just going there is an opportunity most people his age don't get.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fulbright Spring Conference 2014

Just a few photos from Fulbright's Spring Conference held at the beginning of this month. Hard to believe April is almost over, now that I think about it... Anyway, the conference was nice. Good to see my friends again. The programming was long and pretty tedious since a lot of it I'd heard before (last year), but if I'm honest with myself, you can never learn too much or prepare too well. Satisfaction with one's current performance is mostly a lack of desire to keep growing and improving, and that leads to complacency. So I took notes. Said notes are in my office at school, so I'll type them up later. But without further ado, here are some of the aforementioned photos!
Spring Conference peer-led workshops. I led one that was a panel discussions for first-years wondering about what doing a second-year is like.
Spring Conference is when the Fulbright researchers present the contents of their research projects, so we also had discussion small groups with them. The cool researchers held their small groups outside!
I went to my friend Adam's small group. He's been studying street dance and performance art in Korea, so our "discussion" mostly revolved around him teaching us some basic hip hop moves. Ha! All the other small groups may have been more professional, but ours was more fun.
And this was the view from our hotel on Jeju Island. Gorgeous. Perfect weather. I want to go back!
On Friday night, there was a fundraising game night that involved an "ice cream pie" contest. Contestants had to search for a missing gummy bear inside a dish of ice cream... using just their faces.
It got pretty messy pretty quick. Entertaining, though.
Our winners! Or did everyone lose?
Saturday night, we had a special dinner of Jeju's specialty, black pork. We ate a ton! I'm really going to miss Korean barbecue when I leave. (Actually, I think I'm going to go back to being vegetarian in the States...)
Saturday night was a fun event at a local club called Monkey Beach: "Fulbright Prom", organized by some Fulbrighters as a fundraiser and a party just for us. I never went to my high school's prom, actually, so it was kind of funny for me to go. L to R: me, Ashley, Amy, and Anna.
Seogwipo's Monkey Beach is so legit! It was huge, for one, and had game rooms, arcade rooms, karaoke rooms, a stage, and even a waterslide! I had a really great time.
Having a great time at Fulbright Prom! L to R: Cait, Patrick, Katelyn, Jennifer
The club's actual waterslide! It was ridiculous and amazing!
Jake and me. Hm... I've got to stop making it a habit to put my arm around the shoulders of people taller than me.
Our fearless Program Coordinator, Andrew, and Executive Assistant, Liam. Props to them for putting together a great conference!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Everyday Sexism

This. Emma Stone called out Andrew Garfield on an unintentionally sexist remark he made. I chuckled to myself and thought, "Good for her! Good for them!" Good for everyone who benefited from that teachable moment.

Then I went and proved that I'm just as capable of everyday sexism as the next guy.

Dialogue A
Me: [catching the song playing in the cafe] Oh, this is Taylor Swift's "22"!
Friend: Wow... Divergent, Hunger Games, and Taylor Swift. I'm totally judging you right now.
Me: Yeah, I know, right? What am I, a seventeen-year-old girl?
Friend: ... Oh, honey, that's not okay.
Me: ... I'm sorry.

It's so easy for me not just to toss out stereotypes but to toss them all the way under a passing bus in order to validate myself or crack a joke. Not cool. And while being called out for it was uncomfortable and embarrassing, I'm glad it happened. Privilege must be checked, and responsibile women out there are making sure the prejudice is identified and weeded out regularly.

Now if only the same could be true of heteronormativity, especially here in Korea.

Dialogue B
Me: [sitting down in a bar with some new Korean friends] Hello.
(new) Korean Friend (whom I barely know): So, do you have a girlfriend?
Me: What? No.
Friend: Oh, nooo! Why???
Me: ...
Friend: Why don't you have a girlfriend? How old are you?
Me: 25 in Korean age.
Friend: Oh, nooo! You're young and handsome. It's too bad.
Friend: So tell me again, why don't you have a girlfriend?
Me: *sigh* I... don't have time.
Friend: You don't have time? Oh, that's too bad.
Other friend: He's very busy.
Me: Also, I don't need one.
Friend: What, you broke up?
Me: No, I said I don't need one.
Friend: When did you break up? That's so sad!
Me: ... [thinking] I would like this conversation to end.

It never ceases to amaze me how zeroed in on relationships Koreans are in general. Even my friend Ashley's elementary school students (6th graders) were convinced as soon as they saw their teacher with a male that I was her boyfriend. "Do you have a girlfriend" is a question I am asked every single time I meet a new Korean, especially one who is older than me. Like a kind, concerned auntie asking after my health. Every self-introduction requires name, age, employment, and relationship status. People in the States tend to consider the relationship question to be something too personal to ask about right away. And it's not just the obsession with relationships, of course -- it's also the inability to conceive anyone as anything other than straight. Come on! I don't have a girlfriend because I don't want one. But I can't say that.

Chalk it up to cultural differences! I'm used to the personal questions now, but being able to expect them every day does not necessarily make them less comfortable to answer.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

5-Day Weekend in Seoul and Daegu!

I took some time off during midterms, which meant that I did not have to attend school on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday this past week. That may seem excessive, but I really needed the break.

Sung Min, seafood pad thai
Snow beer -- like a beer slushie!
On Saturday, I went to Seoul to visit my friend Monica, who is recovering from an accident. She was discharged from the hospital that day and moved in to a new apartment, with the help of her parents. I really enjoyed getting to know her mother and father and tried to be as helpful as I could. Over the weekend I actually visited several times, and we listened to music, played Settlers of Catan (finally!) -- which Monica won her first time playing, naturally, and dreamed of all of the world's most delicious smoothies.

That evening, I visited Sung Min, who is currently in med school in Seoul. It was great to catch up with him again. I haven't seen any fellow Swatties recently, though I know a few are around. Sung Min's just the easiest to get in touch with, because he's not ensconced in the library all day. ;)

We went to a Thai grill restaurant in Wangsimni whose name I forget and won't bother to remember, because the service was crappy and I don't intend to go back. To its credit, the food was good, but in the end, not worth it.

Better, then, was the snow beer and fries at a small bar near the school called Pommes Frites (French for "French fries"). I've never had snow beer before. The head of the bear is actually frozen, like a beer slushie. That's how it gets its ice cream shape. It's really good! And at this particular bar, it was also really cheap.

Sunday morning was Easter. My sixth Easter away from home. I've gone to services in Swarthmore, Philadelphia, Grenoble, Daegu, and now Seoul. A rather large group of Fulbrighters ended up at Jubilee Church in Sinsa-dong, Seoul. This is the church I attended regularly during the month I lived in this city last year.

I was glad to see that it hadn't changed much. Still a very young, hip, fairly diverse congregation, a great worship band, and a very passionate pastor. His message about focusing on death in order to understand the importance of resurrection was on point. To follow the cross, die to yourself and your desires. A lesson I can never hear too often.

Laura and me by the Han River
Galumph about the grass
After church, five of us had an excellent lunch at Deli Heinzburg in Sinsa-dong. This is a neighborhood I've never had a chance to explore. It's near Seoul's 가로수길, which usually means expensive, trendy cafes and such. But dang, there looked to be a feast waiting just inside every door on these streets. Deli Heinzburg lived up to this expectation: delicious paninis and sandwiches, plus a shared pitcher of fruity iced tea. I'll be back.

Lunch was followed by a nice walk in the park. Seoul's famous Han River park system is the real miracle on the Han, in my opinion. The parks are so beautiful and full of activity on a perfect spring day like this. I just wanted to frolic. Cameron and Connor went ahead and frolicked. All the afternoon needed to be perfect was a picnic blanket and a good book. Or a guitar.

Janet and me with delicious Street Churros
On Sunday evening, I met up with a friend from high school, Janet, whom I have not seen in six years. I'm serious; the last time we saw each other was probably the summer of 2008. The funny thing is that though we had both grown up a lot since then, I didn't get the impression that much had changed. We were comfortable friends in high school and went right back to being comfortable, six years and 5000 miles later.

Janet's teaching at a hagwon in Seoul, so we could relate to each other about teaching. I'm about to close this chapter of my life, but she's just begun. I'm glad that she already enjoys it so much ad excited about the opportunities she'll have with her students in the months to come.

We had dinner at Don Charly Taco in Itaewon, which was good for Mexican in Korea, but pretty pricey. I even miss Costco horchata at this point... Oh, and dinner was followed by excellent churros from a streetside stand called Street Churros. Also, chocolate truffle shots. Enough said.

Ashley and me in Daegu

At night, I hung out with Liam, Jake, and Monica and also gave myself a haircut, though you might not be able to tell from the following photos. It was fun -- I've gone to hair salons more times in the past two years than I have in my entire life prior to Korea, but that doesn't mean I'll still have my friends cut my hair any chance I get. I did the sides -- "two-block" is the most trendy style in Korea these days -- and Jake helped with the back.

And that was the weekend proper! I slept well on Sunday night, knowing that I wouldn't have to go to school on Monday morning. Instead, on Monday morning, I made pancakes. Then, I went to Daegu to visit Ashley at her elementary school.

Her school is so colorful and cute! And her students are kind of cute too, I guess. Sixth graders. Some are nearly as tall as me, and others still look like babies. Puberty is a weird thing. Every one of them assumed that I was Ashley's 남친 (boyfriend), which I cheerfully denied. Then, I got to help out with the lesson on giving directions, which was pretty chaotic, but in a good way. I definitely could never be an elementary school teacher. I don't think I have the requisite energy. My students are always half asleep, which makes them easier to control. :)
Lolomiel ice cream sundaes! Honeycomb, chocolate Oreo, and strawberry
After school, we made dinner and then I tagged along as Ashley went downtown to her various hagwon classes, including a dance class where I watched my friend blend into the group of high schoolers doing some pretty awesome jazz dance in a very dark studio. I wish I could dance like that! The treat for an hour and a half of sweating was a big bowl of green tea bingsu from Nunpat, which we will return to soon because it was so darned delicious. 연유 (condensed milk) with green tea ice cream and 떡? Yes, please. The evening ended, of course, with Pirate Scrabble.

Tuesday dawned bright and early, and since I didn't have to go to school (again!), I made it a lazy morning, prepared lunch, Skyped with a friend, and simply enjoyed having nothing to do (while knowing that in
reality, I was merely putting off everything that I had to do). Ashley's school was having its Science Day, which meant a lot of 2nd graders ran around blowing bubbles, the 5th graders launched water bottle rockets, and general chaos reigned, as is the custom at an elementary school.

Sophia and our amazing 팥빙수!
A little after noon, I met up with Sophia, another Daegu ETA, for dessert at a cute cafe called Mary Poppins. Although I didn't know Sophia too well before today, we clicked well and talked about blogging, writing, travel, grad school, and lots of other things. It was pleasant, and our bingsu and melon cream puff were wonderful.

One of my regrets this year is not having taken the time to get to know the batch of ETAs who arrived a year after I did -- the "class of 2013", so to speak. Since I'm the only ETA in my city and I am already very close with other second-year ETAs, I never had many opportunities to get close with the first-years. But through conferences, trips to North Korea, and various meet-ups around the country, I've made many new and close friends out of the "betas", as we affectionately call them, and Sophia is no exception. A pity there's so little time left in the year now...

Ashley got out of school around 3pm, and we went downtown to look for a pie shop we'd wanted to check out. Unfortunately, and strangely, the pie shop was open but closed. Windows open, lights on, music playing, delicious smells emanating... but the door was locked and nobody was inside. Though the owner might have just stepped out for a minute, the situation was off-putting enough that we left and got ice cream at Lolomiel instead. Honeycomb ice cream is the biggest trend in Korean desserts right now, I think, so Ashley got some for the first time, while I settled for chocolate Oreo, and Sophia got strawberry. We filmed ourselves a bit for Sophia's vlog.

I had to leave shortly after that to catch a bus back to Changwon. (Note to future self: West Daegu Bus Terminal has the buses that go to Changwon. East goes only to Masan. Actually, depending on timing, the train might be a better option.) So that was the end of my long weekend travels. I felt refreshed, well-rested, well-fed, and just happy to be where I was at each moment. Just what I needed... before spending all of Wednesday reading, writing, and working from home. Yup, I can only hold off the torrent of to-do's for so long. As pathetic as this sounds, I'm glad the weekend's almost here again!
Sophia, Ashley, and me in the 2.28 memorial park in downtown Daegu.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Students' Blog

My third-year students' semester-long project is a class blog. You can find it here.

The most recent posts are part of a series called "Introduction to CSHS", where they write about various aspects of our school, including the science departments, students' fashion, and sports.

I'm happy with their work on the blog so far. It's equal parts funny, serious, and incomprehensible. The best part is that my students' personalities really come through in their writing. Please read and leave a comment! They really appreciate notes from strangers, and they actually do pay attention to their page views.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Jindallae (Azaleas)

Last Wednesday, all the teachers at my school hiked a local mountain, Cheonjusan (천주산), which is famous for its azaleas. Every April, one side of the mountain becomes carpeted with delicate purple flowers, called jindallae (진달래). A small festival draws locals and some tourists to the mountain every spring, and since I missed it last year, I was eager to join this hike.

The school outing was meant to be a sort of picnic (소풍) near the peak, but since I got there a bit late, and my hiking buddy, the super-fit earth science teacher, was determined to make it all the way to the top, I missed the picnic part. (It was soju and Korean-style sashimi, neither of which I care for in the least, so no great loss there, anyway.)

But we did reach the peak and were rewarded with a hazy view of the city (much like my previous trip to this same mountain). Snap one photo for evidence, then head straight back down... with a few pauses to get more photos of the beautiful flowers... I really regretted not bringing my camera with me on the hike, but I had headed off right after my afternoon classes, so I wasn't even in "proper" hiking gear (운동의류). All of the other teachers had come prepared; every Korean has a spare sweatsuit and neon-colored running shoes stashed away somewhere handy, it seems.

After the hike, we all went out for dinner -- fortunately the fish and liquor was just the pre-game -- at a duck restaurant. The soup was spicy but it wasn't just my burning tongue that kept me quiet. Although it was nice to be in the company of my colleagues, I find myself talking with them rather less these days. I feel that mealtimes are now just a tinge awkward. After two years, I'm no longer a novelty at school, and only a few dedicated non-English teachers are still willing to strike up conversation with me (though they are consistent and friendly in their efforts to improve their English). The others I just smile at while they speak in Korean, or play volleyball with weekly while they speak in Konglish. It's small stuff, but I've got to cherish it because my time with them now has a clear -- and fast-approaching -- ending date.
Such a gorgeous view, and such a pity I only had my phone on my to capture it!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sewol Ferry Sinking Accident

Search and rescue efforts for the sunken Sewol off the southwestern coast of South Korea (from the Hankyoreh)
침몰사고 -- A Korean ferry bound for Jeju Island sank off the southwestern coast of the peninsula on Wednesday; 14 confirmed dead and 282 missing*. Many of the passengers were high school students from Ansan on a school field trip.

All day today, footage of the rescue operations and some videos taken by the trapped passengers on their mobile phones played over and over again on the news. I kept my eyes trained on the TV screen in my school's cafeteria all throughout lunch and dinner, barely able to understand what was being said but knowing that something awful was transpiring.

It's such an overwhelming tragedy; I can't imagine what it must be like for the friends and families of those lost. I don't even know what to say to my own students. I just keep repeating, "It's so sad, it's so sad." And I ask them to translate the news reports for me. Every teacher in the country is thinking, "It could have been us."

I can't think about this any more. 뭐라지 위로에 말을 해야할지 모르겠어요. Thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, and to an entire country in mourning. 편히 잠들기 바란다.

P.S. Some more news articles: Reuters, TIME (with video), BBC (with photos), and CNN (with video). The news reports about the "final text messages" are the most harrowing. But there's slim hope left yet: the story is not completely over.

- - -

*Update as of May 11th, 2014: After one month, out of 476 passengers, 172 were rescued, 275 are confirmed dead, and 29 are still missing. One civilian diver has died during the rescue attempt.

*President Park Geun-hye and her office are coming under increasing fire for their perceived responsibility for the disastrous emergency response and general incompetence. Meanwhile, Chonghaejin Marine, the company that owned the ferry, has been revealed to have, simply put, done a lot of dangerous and illegal things for years; their CEO has been arrested and their owner is under intense investigation. The captain and crew of the ship at the time of the sinking have all been arrested, as well.

*People are wondering whether Korean culture is to blame for the tragedy, and one analyst offers a perhaps-unexpected perspective. And Children's Day this year was a somber affair, as families and children remember the children lost one month ago with yellow ribbons in public spaces across the country.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Haedong Yonggungsa, the Temple by the Sea

View of the temple grounds and the shoreline from the top of the hill.
Most Buddhist temples in Korea are nestled away high up in the mountains, but Haedong Yonggungsa (1), standing sturdily on a rocky shoreline on the northeast side of Busan, is down by the sea. It was first built in the 14th century, destroyed during the Japanese invasion, and reconstructed eighty to forty years ago.
My parents at me in front of Haedong Yonggungsa
So what's the story behind it? My knowledge of Buddhist mythology is paltry, but I learned that the Goddess of Mercy lives by a southern sea and, in some iterations, rides on the back of a dragon (용/yong), perhaps the famous Dragon King of Korean folklore. This dragon king may or may not have appeared to a faithful monk in a dream during a time of severe drought, telling him that if he built a temple in a certain location and prayed, he would send rain.
Goddess of Mercy statue at Yonggungsa
So, I guess that's what happened! The temple continues to a be a popular tourist attraction. It gets thousands of visitors a day, all crowding along the bridge to toss coins into wishing fountains, lounging on the rocks to listen to the waves crash, exploring the small grotto, or just walking around the rather small temple grounds. There are nice beaches and hiking trails nearby, currently bursting with azalea flowers and royal cherry blossoms, because April's beauty just knows no bounds. When I came with my parents, we spent a good hour just walking around the temple, taking photos and taking in the scenery. There isn't much to do in the area besides visit the temple and a fishing science museum next door. As Buddha's Birthday (2) approaches, however, things will only get much busier around there!
I'm very curious to know what "fish liberation" is.
- - -
(1) 해동용국사 = 海東龍宮寺 = East Sea Dragon King Palace Temple
(2) 석가탄신일 celebrates the traditional birthday of Buddha, and beginning a month earlier, colorful lanterns are hung all around the nation's temples. In this way, it's a bit like Christmas.

Directions to Haedong Yonggungsa: from around Haeundae (Haeundae subway station/Haeundae bus stop are good), take bus #181 and get off at Yonggungsa/National Marine Science Research Center (용궁사국립수산과학원) -- 19 stops, 30 minutes, and 1,200KRW. From the bus stop, go back behind the restaurant and follow the arrow on the giant rock sign: take the upward-sloping path for about ten minutes, past the parking lots and into the temple grounds. Or just follow the crowds of people. Or follow the lamps if you're visiting around Buddha's birthday in the spring.

View Larger Map

These buddhi caught my eye, as I am about to begin my graduate studies this fall... 복전함 = fortune telling?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jagalchi Fish Market

Augh, this crab has acne!
The freshest fish you can find in Korea, as I've heard, are sold daily at the Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan. I went there with my parents on Sunday afternoon because I assumed that they, being Asian, would enjoy the sights and sounds of an authentic market. I mean, every Taiwanese person I know raves about Taipei's famous night markets, right?
Jagalchi Fish Market's indoor vendors, who cheerfully prepare any fish you choose right out of its tank.
Well, it was drizzling and the fish were so fresh they were still alive and flipping their fins in buckets too small for the dozens of them. All in all, it was very wet and none too exciting, so we slipped inside to a part of the market where fresh fish become fresh lunch. It was kind of crazy: vendors are lined up all along the length of a huge wet, noisy room as fish go nuts in their tanks. If you want Korean-style sashimi, they'll just grab a fish out of a tank, slice it up, and hand it to you on a plate as you sit crammed back-to-back with other patrons on bright yellow MacGuyvered benches. Not your normal dining experience.

Since I didn't really know the names of any of the various marine creatures I saw, I pointed to some clam/scallop things (조개), a large black fish, and some weird-looking crabs. I didn't want anything raw, and the fishmonger assured me that the clams would be buttered and grilled, the fish grilled with salt, and the crabs steamed.
Our fishmonger fed scraps of leftovers back to the fish themselves. Fish cannibalism...
Everything was absolutely delicious. I normally am not a huge fan of Korean seafood dishes, but I had no complaints here. They even gave us free bowls of 미역국 (perhaps because we were amusing foreigners, or perhaps in apology for taking a long time) -- appropriate since seawood soup is traditionally eaten on one's birthday, and my dad's birthday was just last week!
맛있다! The grilled clam/scallops were amazing.
After our large and extremely satisfying meal, we were slapped with an exorbitantly high bill. I hadn't bothered to ask about any prices, but maybe it was five bucks per clam or something. Feeling bad about this, I bought my parents dessert (honeycomb ice cream!) and took care of all of their transportation for the rest of the day.

- - -
Directions to Jagalchi Fish Market: take the subway line 1 (orange) and leave from exit 10. Take the first right, pass the parking structure, and you will come upon streets with awnings where the market begins. You will smell it before you see it, I promise.
- - -

I'm going to post really haphazardly over the next few days because there are a lot of things in the backlog: my weekend in Busan, the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival (which I visited twice), Fulbright Spring Conference, and linguistics research on Jeju Island, not to mention the recaps of my backpacking trip in Southeast Asia which I haven't finished yet...

Monday, April 14, 2014


Before I came to Korea, I disliked playing soccer; I was no good, and games felt like running laps on muddy grass while everyone else took care of the fancy goal-scoring business. After two years in Korea, I can honestly say that I now actively hate playing soccer. Of course, "hate" is a very strong word which I don't use lightly, so before all my students gasp in horror at my admission sans context, let me explain.

Specifically, I hate the weekly games of indoor soccer that we play at my taekgyeon gym. I have been training in taekgyeon for a little over one year now, and I go five times a week. My goal is to obtain my black belt before I leave Korea, and my only chance to pass the test is in June. So, time is precious, and I want to spend every minute bettering my forms and roundhouse kicks. Instead, however, we section off one day each week, usually Friday, for casual games of indoor soccer with a small purple rubber ball and cushions stood up on end as goalposts. Our gym is small, only about twenty by forty feet, so with four to six grown men running around in this space trying to score goals on each other, the possibility of injury is high.

Yes, they're supposed to be casual games, and they always start out that way, but we're a competitive bunch. After half an hour, things can get nasty. We get tired, lose our balance, kick each other accidentally, then kick each other not-so-accidentally... A stubbed toe here, a mat burn there; the outside of my right foot is constantly sore because of soccer. My newest pair of glasses is sitting on my desk bent completely out of shape because of soccer. I have allowed outbursts of anger, pain, and every negative emotion in my arsenal because of soccer.

And tonight I was finally called out on it. Thank goodness, but also: aaargh.

I've asked my trainers several times why we play soccer when, every week, someone is injured. 관장님 (gwanjangnim, my gym director) replies that it's for building up endurance and stamina, which are required in taekgyeon matches but aren't easy to develop without holding constant scrimmages. So, I have silently endured injuring my feet in a different way every week for an entire year, but it's finally come to a point where I can't hide my frustration and anger.

관장님 and 사범님 know that I don't like playing soccer. I've complained to them several times about how I always get hurt -- 맨발로 축구를 하면 다치는 편이에요 -- but they insist on playing every week. Two weeks ago, I stubbed my toe pretty badly and yelled, "I quit!" before storming out of the gym. When I returned from my short tantrum, I played like a zombie and my team lost. Last Thursday, we played again, even though I was hoping they'd wait until Friday since I'd be out of town then and I could miss soccer with a legitimate excuse. That was not to be; I strained the outside of my right foot, which throbbed the entire weekend.

And today was the final straw -- in more ways than one. It's Monday. We never play soccer on Monday. But 관장님 cheerfully announced that today would be our very last day of soccer for a while. When I smiled and asked why, he said that we were getting a new trainee tomorrow, a woman. Since women can't really keep up with soccer the way we play, he explained, we were only going to play whenever this new trainee didn't come to the gym. Ignoring that bit of sexism, I silently prayed that our new member would come every single day.

But then we had to play soccer again. Our last game. And it started off fine -- my team quickly found itself losing 8-0, but we made up the difference eventually and held off 관장님 and the kind-of-violent ahjussi for a while. And then I just started screwing up. I kicked a sharp corner. I fell and got a mat burn on my foot. I accidentally scored on my own goal a few times. I began to get frustrated again and felt really fed up with this whole thing, even crying out, "아 축구를 싫어해요!" (Ah, I hate soccer!) once. And my demeanor changed, as it usually does near the end of the hour: I went completely silent and became more aggressive.

The good thing is that my heightened focus helped me score four or five goals in the span of ten minutes, and I brought our team to a tie. The bad thing is that I was obviously unhappy and not being a good sport. I kicked an opposing player and halfheartedly apologized. I made absolutely no eye contact, and my face probably looked like I was ready to bite someone's head off. My team lost the game.

I immediately sat down and began stretching; no high-fives, no bows, just me being letting my bitter aura fester. The thoughts continually running through my mind: "My feet hurt. I don't come to taekgyeon for this. My feet hurt."

관장님 came up to me after I had changed and gave me some straight talk. "When we play soccer," he said, "everyone gets hurt. And in taekgyeon there are some things that people like and some things that people don't like. But the rest of us know how to 참다." -- I didn't know what 참다 meant, but I assumed it meant to hide one's feelings. I was about to brush this off, but 관장님 clearly had his serious face on, so I got out my phone and looked up the word he'd used. 참다 means "to tolerate".

He went on: "Here in this gym, we understand that you don't really like soccer. But we like soccer. You need to control your feelings, otherwise other people will misunderstand you. Again, we understand you, but others might not."

I was speechless. I wanted to reply, to argue back. "But I'm in effing pain!" Obviously, I didn't say that. I wanted to explain the frustration I felt, but I realized that I didn't have the language skill to do so. And then it occured to me that I actually didn't completely understand why I felt the way I did -- even if 관장님 could understand English, I wouldn't have been able to articulate myself well enough for him to comprehend.

So I said nothing but, "I'm sorry." I was forced to admit that 관장님 was completely right. I was being a dick, and I knew it. In essence, he told me off for spoiling everyone's fun and being immature about my own inconveniences. Want to know how not to piss off your friends? Don't yuck their yum: don't be openly antagonistic toward the things you know that they enjoy. And want to know how to build character and grow despite a difficult situation? 참다. Tolerate the things that hurt you and build up a thick skin. The pain is temporary, but the extremely negative impression I've been leaving on my fellow trainees is going to last quite some time.

Yeah. I literally hung my head in shame after 관장님 talked to me. I apologized and couldn't think of anything else to say. Language barrier and acute embarrassment united to rid me of all pretension, so I tried simply to look as worn-out as possible. Everyone knows I've been busy and stressed lately... but deep down, I knew I needed to learn that lesson.

Well done, Andrew: you've done a horrendous job of representing America, as well as Christianity. Now, although I want to repair my image, I still really hate soccer! In the future, if our new trainee doesn't show up on a Friday and I walk in to find the goal posts set up, it'll take all I've got not to apologize and walk right back out. I don't want to risk blowing up again for the possibility of actually playing a decent, friendly game. But how can I prove to my teacher that I've learned and matured if I don't give myself another chance?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Parents in Pusan!

Or, in Korean, 우리 부모님들께서 부산에 오셨다! In either language you get some neat alliteration; my first-year students will appreciate that since I've been teaching them poetry.

Anyway, my parents came to visit Korea! They're in Busan for the weekend. We visited Haeundae, Haedong Yongkung Temple, Centum City, Jagalchi Fish Market, and Busan Tower. Later today we'll go to Changwon, where my Korean homestay parents will meet my actual parents. It will be joyous and very awkward!

Here are some photos from my phone: my parents and Gwangan Bridge at night (Busan's 야경 is beautiful), a selfie at the temple by the sea (this photo has 135 likes on FB and counting... 헐), and my dad flipping through the physical photo album I got him for his sixtieth birthday. (Happy birthday, Dad! )

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Picture Day

School picture day! Props to CB in the second row, who is so ready for this candid shot. I'd forgotten that it was picture day, but I happened to be wearing a bow tie, so the other teachers commented on my style. "So handsome," they say. "Clothes make the man," I reply.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Baking for 드림s

Did I mention that I love to bake? I never did much of it before I began living on my own in Korea, but now, I only need the smallest of excuses to make good use of the big oven in my small apartment. Last weekend at the Fulbright Spring Conference, some ETAs held a bake sale to raise money for a special school in Cheonan called the Drim School (드림, pronounced "dream"). This school was established for North Korean defector students to help them obtain the education they need to compete with their South Korean peers. Often, young defectors who begin attending school in South Korea are at a disadvantage due to poor education in North Korea or no education at all during the years of their escape and refugeeism.

I was happy to be able to contribute a little bit to the bake sale. As I mentioned before, I pulled an all-nighter (from 2am until well after sunrise) baking a ton of cookies, cupcakes, and cakes. Here are some photos:
Soft chocolate chip button cookies! Also, pre-frosted strawberry cupcakes in the back.
Double chocolate chip cookies -- these were a hit. Tracey said they tasted like chocolate snickerdoodles!
Walnut maple syrup bread with cinnamon sugar. This is super easy to make; I might just do it again for breakfast.
And lastly, the seasonal specialty: strawberry cupcakes with strawberry frosting! Real strawberries used all the way.
Although I didn't keep close track of my sales during the fundraiser, almost everything I made sold out, which puts my contribution at over seventy dollars. Success! My next step will be to bake cupcakes for the Drim School students themselves. :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

What are you doing next year?

The Question.
I've been mulling this over for a few months now and still have trouble answering.

I haven't talked about my future plans on this blog very much. In the past, this was because I didn't have any future plans. But I decided last year that I wanted to obtain a PhD in Linguistics, so I applied to graduate school programs in the fall. At this point, I've heard back from the six schools I applied to, and now, well, the silence about my decision stems not from the absence of plans but from simple reluctance to think about it.

You see, I do a lot of my thinking by writing. Without this blog, a lot of the thoughts I have day to day would never be processed. I like to get these thoughts out somehow, and making them public on this platform encourages me to be honest and straightforward about them. Does that sound counterintuitive? Surely a private journal would allow for more truth and less self-censorship. But what I mean is, I like to imagine that I have an audience, reading what I type here as if I'm telling them in person, so for their sake I can't write anything that I wouldn't say in a casual conversation... and for their sake I can and do write everything that I usually want to say in those situations.

The point is, I am at a moment in my life where I need to make a very big decision, and I feel unprepared to do so because I haven't thought about it enough. (And I haven't thought about it enough because I haven't blogged about it yet, see?)

The last two weeks have been busy and exhausting for various reasons. Right before I left for conference, I was feeling considerably 답답해, a unique sentiment to Korean culture that refers to the inability to say what one wants to say, the mentally suffocating discomfort that stems from not expressing one's true thoughts satisfactorily, or even just the confusion of not knowing what to say or think in a difficult situation. Due to my stress and uncharacteristic lack of sleep -- topping off a week of 4-to-5-hour nights with an all-night baking party of one -- I resolved to spend my time at the Fulbright Spring Conference getting as much rest as possible. In between napping and enjoying the wind and sun of Jeju Island, I thought that I'd also have the opportunity to ponder and pray about my future.

Fortunately, I did have time to do this over the weekend. Actually, I did not end up getting much sleep. There was also very little time in the schedule for personal introspection; I guess it was assumed that we ETAs would use our odd free hours for that... but I spent my free day conducting fieldwork. That's another story for another post. The important thing is that during the conference, I finally got to talk about my future plans with my friends, and that was when I finally began to get a clearer picture of what they might look like. So, I'm very thankful that going to the conference allowed me to process the ideas bouncing around in my head in a different, albeit obvious way: seeking my friends' input. Rather than writing things down and clicking a button to send them into the void, I simply sat and talked. I don't often just sit and talk anymore; isn't that a bit sad?

Anyway, now that I have returned from the conference, I figure it couldn't hurt to, once again, write things down and send them into the void. If you're interested in where I may possibly end up going for graduate school, read on.

The Applications.
My dream is to be a linguist. I want to work with endangered language communities and teach them how to use the tools they need to preserve and revitalize their language and culture. I don't know exactly how feasible this dream is, but it's where I began when I applied to various top Linguistics programs around the country. I set my bar particularly high: Stanford, Yale, MIT, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Santa Cruz. All six of these programs are very good and very difficult to get into, though not all necessarily focus on language documentation.

What I also found was important -- a bit to my own surprise -- was location. I felt like if I was going to spend another five to six years in school, I'd only be willing to do it in a city or region that I could thrive in. Hence the many schools in California. I'll admit it: as the winter chill set in and I wrote those neverending personal statements, I was pining for my home state and its perfect climate and food.

Almost absurdly soon, I heard back from Berkeley and SC! An offer of admission from the former in late January and an interview with the latter, which soon became a second offer of admission in early February. This was a fantastic way to begin my decision-making process, and I was optimistic. Alas, this y turned out to be a negative x, and in the week that followed, I bombed an interview with Yale and received two rather impersonal rejection letters from MIT and Stanford.

In mid-March, I learned that I'd been waitlisted at Yale (while a fellow Swarthmore linguist had been accepted, which likely slims my chances of getting in) and also received news of my funding packages for Berkeley and SC. Berkeley's is better, no question about it. Also, they somehow secured me an extra scholarship on top of the standard five years of full funding. UCLA remained oddly silent, and the suspense would have been unbearable had I not already learned from a friend there that my name was not to be found on the list of admited students. I found out just prior to leaving for the Fulbright Conference that I was waitlisted at UCLA.

The Dilemma.
So, that's where I was before my weekend retreat: 2 Yes, 2 No, 2 Maybe. Now, the question you'd think I'd be asking is, "Which will you choose, Berkeley or SC?" Actually, the question I began to ask myself -- weeks ago, even, after my late-February screwups and before I got any news on the funding front -- was, "Which will I choose, grad school or another year (1) in Korea?"

As soon as the semester began in early March and I resumed teaching, I realized that there are so many wonderful aspects of my life in Korea that I couldn't imagine giving up in a matter of months. I had just begun volunteering with North Korean defector students. I was beginning to get more involved in the expat community in Changwon, after a year and a half of being a quasi-hermit. I was really enjoying the work I was doing for the Fulbright Infusion, our literary magazine. All of these things I felt considerably more enthusiasm for than the distant prospect of furthering my own education. Also, I realized that my Castleberry research project on Jeju-eo was turning out to be a much bigger project than I'd imagined at first. Although I had to scale it down, I began to wonder why I couldn't just stay in Korea a bit longer -- maybe a year longer -- to continue my research uninterrupted. After all, the dictionary project is very much in the same line of work I dream of doing for a career.

Most importantly, when I went back to school and saw my students -- my old second- and third-years and a new crop of fresh-faced first-years -- I knew that leaving them in July would break my heart. When I mentioned to JH that I speak French and could teach her in her spare time, she excitedly said that it would have to wait until after she is finished with college applications in the fall. I didn't tell her that I might be gone by then.

And it's kind of a silly thing, but after my very first semester of teaching, back in 2012, one of my favorite students, truly a standout in her class, wrote me a note asking me to stay at their school until she graduated. This is an odd request, since normally, native English teachers at public schools don't stay longer than one year. Students get used to them cycling in and out in the middle of their school year. But I'm not quite normal; I've stayed for two years. And DH isn't quite normal, either, for a science high school student; while 90% of her classmates were awarded early admission to college last fall, she was not and is now completing the final months of her educational prison sentence. If I leave, I'll have to break the silent promise I made to her one year ago when I read her special note.

I'll admit it: I'm jealous for my students. I love them. I feel like I know them pretty well, and I like to think that I've had a positive impact on their lives, even if some of them still sleep in my class and write in their journals that they hate journaling. I couldn't bear leaving them, especially leaving them in the hands of another NET I don't know. But since I'll have to leave them eventually, what exactly is the difference between leaving this July and leaving next July?

Here's an analogous question: what exactly is the difference between entering graduate school this August and entering next August? As I considered my graduate school options and weighed them against renewing my Fulbright contract for the second and final time, I asked the graduate departments about my options for deferment. I am allowed to defer matriculation: that is, I can wait one year and enter without having to re-apply in 2015. However, I am not allowed to defer the funding I've been given, especially not the additional scholarship I received from Berkeley. Deferring for a year puts me back into limbo regarding money; I could get the same amount next year, or more, or less. It's a gamble.

Is it any surprise that in spite of all my feelings, my goals, and my desires -- or rather, in spite of all the careful consideration I'm putting into these abstractions -- it really is just going to boil down to the issue of money?

Who can walk away from such an amazing opportunity? I'm looking at you, Berkeley. The best public university in the country is willing to throw thousands of dollars at me so that I can become educated within its hallowed hipster halls. What fool chooses a low-paying, non-career-advancing, intellectually dissatisfying job any twenty-something with a bachelor's can do over that?

... But what fool willingly gives up living more freely and comfortably than he ever has before, yet growing, learning, and being stretched in many wonderful ways, developing precious and unforgettable relationships, and helping people's lives directly and tangibly every day... for an excuse to scurry back home and bury himself deep in books for five years?

The Discussion.
So here is where talking with my friends came in. I asked friends back home what they thought; I asked my old professors for advice; I talked to a lot of people here in Korea, too. More people than I expected to, since I was initially unwilling to divulge a lot of information to anyone who might inform my students that my time with them was now possibly limited.

It seemed that a lot of people from back home (2) were very supportive of my desire to stay in Korea, to continue doing what I love. After all, you're only young once. There's no hurry to move on to something different or more "adult" if where you are now is where you most strongly feel you should be. Even my Linguistics professor advised asking about deferment, along with the note that I'd spend my extra year continuing my self-directed research project.

On the other hand, most people I spoke to in Korea, including my fellow ETAs, other expat friends, and my Korean friends, took the opposite stance: why turn down all that money? An American education is expensive, and if you risk losing the scholarship, Korea might not be worth it. You may enjoy what you're doing now, but you shouldn't get too comfortable. (3) And at the very least, Korea isn't going anywhere: you can finish your studies and then come back.

"Why did you apply to graduate school in the first place," my Korean friend asked me, "if you didn't actually want to go?"

I do want to go, but the strength of that desire can wane, can't it? It's a little scary to consider how easy it is to make huge, life-changing decisions depending on an arbitrary lingering mood. If I had just had a string of crummy experiences in Korea, I'd probably be counting down the days until the end of my contract. But that mindset could just as easily be reversed by a classroom miracle, a completed bucket list item, or simply a day spent counting my blessings. Thus, it's all about the timing: when it comes time to make my decision by the deadline in mid-April next week, how much will I love Korea? How excited will I be about beginning graduate school? Which future will prevail in that moment?

The Decision.
I don't know. But I'm learning toward Berkeley.

Good night!

- - -
(1) Fulbright Korea uniquely allows its ETAs to renew their contracts two times. Most Fulbright commissions in other countries cap the grant duration at one year, maybe two. Three is the limit for us ETAs at Korean schools.
(2) The exception, of course, being that my family wants me home as soon as possible, especially my parents. They are extremely uncomfortable with how far away from them I've been for the past six years.
(3) Other factors that may take the luster out of a third year in Korea: our ETA contract is slated for some drastic and potentially unpleasant changes. Pretty much all of my Fulbright friends are leaving the country in July. Also, I miss going to a real church.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Blossoms & Stress Baking

Wen Ni and me at Yeojwacheon in Jinhae last week, just before the cherry blossom festival began.
The same stream about one week later, with the trees in full bloom.
The city I currently call home is gorgeous in the spring, as streets and hills turn pink with cherry blossoms (벚꽃) blooming all over. I'm very happy in Changwon now, and I'll be honest: I couldn't bear leaving my city and my school. But graduate school beckons... I have a tough choice to make by mid-April. Naturally, I'm worried out about it: add Decide Future Plans to my huge to-do list, right after Stress Bake All Night, which is what I'm doing now. It's 5:46am and my apartment smells like chocolate chip cookies, maple-walnut bread, and strawberry cupcakes. I'm headed to the Fulbright Spring Conference on Jeju Island in a few hours, and the treats I've made are for a bake sale there. Hopefully I can find some time this weekend to take a deep breath, relax, and ponder the future.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bonjour, classe!

La cloche sonne.
Moi: Bonjour, classe !
Mes élèves: ???
Moi: Quand je dis "Bonjour, classe!" vous disez "Bonjour, monsieur !" Alors: bonjour, classe !
Mes élèves: Bon... jour ? Ils se discutent en coréen, perdus.
Moi: Quelle est la date aujourd'hui ?
Mes élèves: ???
Moi: Encore une fois, quelle est la date aujourd'hui ? Aujourd'hui, on est... (J'indique la date que j'ai écrit sur l'écran.)
Mathieu (lisant): On est mardi, le premier avril, deux mille quatorze ! (Mathieu a étudié au Canada pendant trois ans.)
Les autres: ?!?!?!
Moi: Très bien ! Alors, maintenant, c'est le temps pour révoir vos journaux! Lisez ce que j'ai écrit, et si vous avez des questions, demandez-moi, s'il vous plaît!
Mes élèves: ???
Moi: Est-ce que vous avez des questions ? Des questions ?

Poisson d'avril ! J'ai commencé mon cours aujourd'hui en français, et mes élèves ont été complètement surpris ! Ce poisson en particulier, je l'ai fait l'année dernière avec des autres classes, mais pour les victimes de ma farce pour le premier avril cette fois, c'était le plus amusant choc du semestre. En fait, ma petite blague les a vraiment réveillé pour le permier cours du jour, à huit heurs cinquante!

Malheureusement (ou heureusement, d'après le point de vue), je n'ai que ce cours le mardi, donc je n'ai pas eu l'occasion d'essayer la farce pour mes autres classes. Tant pis ! En générale le premier avril passe sans trop de drame dans un lycée des sciences comme le mien. Personne n'a pas fait une farce à moi, mais j'espère que quelqu'un a essayé, sur mes conseils, à parler en anglais seulement dans le cours de coréen ! Cela aurait été vraiment rigolo !

A propos des langues, j'ai quelques élèves qui voulent apprendre le français, et elles savent que je peux le parler. Je les ai dit que je suis leur prof d'anglais, alors il faut que j'enseigne l'anglais en classe. Mais hors de la classe, c'est possible, bien sur !