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Busan Begins


Trial and Hair-er – Getting A Haircut In Korea

Getting a haircut is usually a rather mundane part of everyday life. But when you’re an expat living in another country and you don’t speak the local language, it suddenly becomes a much more exciting and emotional experience. Every snip of the scissors and buzz of the clippers sends a rush of trepidation down your spine; because beyond uttering a few broken words of Konglish and showing the barber a picture of your desired style, there’s really not much you can do but sit back and watch in a state of helpless paralysis as he begins to sculpt your scalp. We all like to think “it’s only hair, it will grow back if I don’t like it,” but when we’re suddenly faced with having to practice what we preach and live with the consequences, our thinking drastically changes.


Jeongwol Daeboreum 2015

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The Jeolwol Daeboreum festivities date back hundreds of years and it is still amazing to see just how many people come out to these celebrations. This festival is held on the first full moon of the lunar year. The typical celebrations will start in the afternoon with singing and dancing until the final main event. Here in Ulsan, the main event is the burning of the Daljib. The Daljib is the large pile of straw and branches that gets burned to ward off evil spirits and misfortune in the new year.


Student Writing Sample: Goals for the New School Year

What are your goals for the new school year? Think of two large, general goals and three small, specific goals. Tell me what those goals are improtant to you and what you will do to achieve them.

“Fighting!” is a common expression of encouragement in Korea.


Playing with Fire – Korea’s Great Full Moon

The Great Full Moon Party (대보름날 Daeboreum Nal)

Not so long ago – before Korea was divided into commie and capitalist-puppet halves and before it was annexed into a fascist empire – Buddhism and the folk traditions of the peninsular reigned supreme. I have no idea what the folk religions were, but they have to be way more fun than worshipping a skinny jewish guy who was nailed to a cross and whose father cares way too much about where people stick their genitals. Of course there was Confucianism, which isn’t so much a religion as it is a set of strict societal rules.


The Beauty In the Ugly

Gajisan - Yeongnam AlpsWoody Allen is quoted saying, “Eighty percent of life is just showing up.” But after coming to teach English and live in South Korea, I’ve come to believe it’s about much more than that. One-hundred percent of life is about showing up with the best version of yourself.


A cross-country endeavour!


The Sounds of the Jimjilbang

I recently mustered up enough courage for my first trip to a Korean spa, locally known as a jimjilbang. Lots of public nakedness was had by all, and I left feeling relaxed and squeaky clean. While parts of it might be a tad exaggerated for comedic purposes, this song I made pretty well captures the experience, which was great but also slightly scarring. Apologies in advance for my mediocre singing voice, ‘guess I need to hit the norebang more often. Enjoy!

The Sounds of the Jimjilbang

 


10 Reasons Why Ulsan Rocks!

With only about 1 million people calling it home, Ulsan is not the biggest city in South Korea. To many, it’s also not the most “happening” place. But, as I said previously in a similar post, there are still a number of things that make it a GREAT place to live!


23 Times Your Expat Life Was Like An Episode of Friends

 


Donut Miss Your Flight

8: 25 AM

2/14/15 – Incheon International Airport

“Excuse me! Sorry! Excuse me! Excuse me!” Trying to keep up with my sprinting legs, these words flew out of my mouth as I barreled through the bowels of the international departures terminal. My 40-liter backpack bounced awkwardly with each massive stride, despite the white knuckle grip I had on the straps to keep it as close to me as possible. Families and businessmen came into focus only long enough for me to gauge whether to weave right or left. Unwilling to rid my side of the cramp that had developed since passing the food court, I held my pace as I closed in on Terminal E – Gate 6, hoping like crazy that Terminal E – Gate 6 wouldn’t close on me


Registration for 28th February Meeting Open!!

We’ve got an unusual one for you this weekend Mamas & Papas!  For anyone that has been to one of our meetings, one of the regular makgeollis we order is Seong Myeong Sub.  It’s a dry, chalky brew that is aspartame free and has a lot of character behind not just the brew but also the brewer.


13 Terrible Things About Travelling in Southeast Asia

by Chris Tharp

(This is the time of year where many of us head to SE Asia on vacation. I haven’t been able to for the past couple of winters and am rightfully bitter about it it, so allow me to continue what has become a Sweet Pickles & Corn tradition and post a cynical list in order to convince myself that I’m happy to be in drab old Korea right now. This piece was originally run on my currently dormant personal blog Homely Planet about three years back. Enjoy.)


Vlog Entry #12: Student Video Projects

In another post I explain a little bit more about how these awesome videos came into the world. So if you want to learn more, you can check that out. Othewise I’ll just get out of your way and let you enjoy yourself!

A comedic introduction to some of the sports students practice at my school.

 


How 20% of the School Day Got Me 100% Success

Presenting Their ProjectsThe leaders at Google believe that people are happier and more productive when they spend 20% of their time at work on a personal project, something that interests them, gets them fired up and invites the creative juices to flow. So, for part of Winter Camp 2015, I gave my students the opportunity to do just that! For two weeks they worked one hour each day on an independent project of their choice, and finished by presenting to their classmates. The only catch was that they had to use English in SOME WAY. From creative music videos to a detailed analysis of different educational systems arond the world, they produced some amazing work!


The Bucket List


An unexpectedly Korean night in Toronto

Last year I was fortunate enough to have been given tickets to one of Toronto's most successful charity galas: Motionball.  When I found out that they were looking for volunteers this year I thought I should probably step up to the plate and give back a little.  I was a day of event manager for the registration and coat check areas.  The event had been expertly planned and my job was really easy because of all the work the committee had put in, and after about 8 hours of participation I got to enjoy the party!

Put 6 Photographers in a Room for 6 Hours and this is What Happens

 

What does creativity mean to you? That is a HUGE question for photographers. Dylan Goldby reached out to a number of photographers in South Korea to put together a presentation on that topic.

I spent a weekend in Seoul exactly what creativity means to me. It started with a conference and then ended with a tip inside my own motivations. I walked around Olympic Park and then unexpectedly stumbled into an exhibition of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work. I left Seoul with a clearer vision of my own creative motivation.

On January 31st, 6 awesome photographers met up near Topgol Park to spend the next 6 hours talking about what drives them forward, what makes them keep going and the challenges they face. It was an eye-opening experience.


“Korean Age”: Old Before My Time

by John Bocskay

People say age is just a number. Koreans say it’s just a slightly larger number.


 


“Shake It Off” Music Video Contest Winner


Everyday Life in Direct Translation

A little look at linguistic and cultural differences via three everyday situations in London vs Korea.

Some quick notes:

Korean syntax (the order in which words and phrases are put together, basically) is pretty much the opposite of most European languages. This is very tricksy, as is the rule that you have to specify the topic, object and subject of your sentence by putting a particle after them. Except sometimes you don’t say the subject at all, especially if it’s a person. Like ‘I’, for example, or ‘you’. Yeah.


Useful Or Not? Foreign English Teachers In Korea

 

 

During the last few years, the number of jobs available for foreign English teachers in Korean public schools has significantly decreased. According to an article on The Korean Observer, the number of foreign teachers has dropped from over 9,000 to 6,785 in three years. Meanwhile jobs at hagwons are becoming more competitive between foreigners. The question is whether these cuts are beneficial, or detrimental, for Korean students.


A Blessing in De Skies

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It happens abroad

Feeling homesick

To explore is a great gift

But the tug of the deeply familiar in the midst of differences

Emotions too hard to deal with

Sometimes can be a blessing

Away from home will help you to remember that you love home



Monoculture?

This post started life months ago as the third in a series about clashing cultural norms. After more time in Korea and (hopefully) more understanding on my part, it turned into something a bit different…you can read where it all started here.

Here are some criticisms of the UK according to other Europeans:

1. Opaque communications: Our morbid fear of conflict makes our language indirect and gives us a reputation, amongst our continental counterparts, for being dishonest and sneaky. The rest of the English-speaking world, too, complains of the bafflingly high incidence of coded language in British English. For those new to this phenomenon, this handy chart should help:

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Apologies...

Bit of a long absence, sorry!

Since I last wrote, quite a lot has happened, including but not limited to:

  • One trip to Tibet
  • One gruelling semester of teaching,
  • One gruelling period of Korean language study,
  • One engagement
  • One crash-course in Korean family politics  .

The final three points may be related.

Two weeks of desk-warming before I scurry off to be wed should provide lots of time to fill you in, but first, HELLO! It is lovely to see your lovely faces and I promise never to leave you for so long again.

Much love,

L xxx


Big News!


The Madness That Is Winter Camp

Last Friday was a very good day for me: it was the last day of Winter Camp at school, and the start of a 5 week holiday. So it’s not surprising that I was in a pretty good mood. But, distracting me from my happiness was the horrible feeling of an entirely achey body, eyes which would barely stay open, and a general ill-feeling. Why? Because after 10 days of Winter Camp, I was exhausted.


Colouring in the Favelas of Busan

The past six decades have absolutely transmogrified South Korea from poorest nation on Earth to one of great opulence and wealth. Busan has benefited mightily from the country’s change in fortunes, but like cities the world over, booming Busan has its fair share of poor neighbourhoods. Pushed out to the margins of the city, these hidden districts face a similar situation to the famous favelas(shantytowns) of Brazil. With rising costs of city living, it seems that Busan’s incoming tourist and business dollars are forever out of reach for these communities. But a few of these rustic areas are using colourful street art in hopes of attracting visitors.


Wait for Me Until I Become You

Recently I’ve been giving my students mini essay assignments each week on various topics to improve their persuasive and creative writing. Below is the work of one of my strongest students. I asked him to write a letter to his future self in the year 2020. Check it out! It’s pretty great!

future

Dear myself in the future,

Hello, myself. I’m yourself. Precisely, I’m yourself in the past. I heard you’re 23 years old. Though you are older than me, I will not treat you politely. I have many questions. Most of all, what is your college? Seoul University? Really? You did a good job. And, did you go the army? Where? Katusa? Oh, I think you’re very good at English.


Picky Eaters Can’t Be Choosers

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