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Eating a quick breakfast on this rainy Wednesday morning. ^^...

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Eating a quick breakfast on this rainy Wednesday morning. ^^ #먹스타그램 #삼각김밥

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yoshi-bella reblogged your post and added: “Anyone get any info on the August 2015 EPIK...

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yoshi-bella reblogged your post and added: “Anyone get any info on the August 2015 EPIK...

You should post OOTDs!! That top looks gorgeous, and you're very beautiful as well!

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I am not embarrassed to admit that I had to google OOTD LOL! >_< I’m not down with the slang...

Farming Reading List

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You’ll excuse me for saying so, but there are an awful lot of books out there written by middle class white women who give up their lives in the city and move to the country to start farms, and then write books about it. I know this because I’m reading some of these books.

The first one, I was really excited to get my hands on -- Kristin Kimball’s The Dirty Life – and it was alright. Pretty much what it says on the box, a memoir that, in the way that memoirs do, informs on the subject matter but isn’t really instructional or informative by nature. I enjoyed it for that. But the writer, a New York native, had an annoying habit of finding her new rural neighbors to be at least as much a source of amusement as they are human beings. She doesn’t completely screw it up, but the tone gets a little too bless their hearts at times. As does her amusement with herself for being in the country and running a farm. But she has respect for the occupation (anyone would, after doing it for more than a year) and a lot of gratitude for the kindness of her neighbors, even if she does paint the town a little Mayberry at times.
But I have to give her some room, I guess, because she’s city folk, and it is what it is.

Mostly, it was a sweet story about how she met a farmer and fell in love, and how her life ended up taking a sharp left as a result, as well as all of the things she learned along the way. It’s well written and very readable. Maybe especially people who grew up in the city would find it amusing – I don’t know. But I connected to some of the issues that lay in the margins of the book, about how she gave up ‘her world,’ in some ways, to move to his, and how that didn’t always feel fair or good, whether it was a result of her own free will or not. I don’t know why I might find that easy to relate to. It’s a mystery. 

She also didn’t go out of her way to paint some pretty picture about life in the country. She told the truth, which is kind of rare among the influx of homesteading-type writers and bloggers that are popping up everywhere. Some of my favorite passages in the book were about her frustration and struggles with trying to get used to plowing with horses, as well as the love she came to have for the animals. One review I saw for the book expressed disappointment that it wasn’t more about the escape from city life and the tranquility of the country, since that’s what the reviewer sits in her cubicle and dreams about every day – She just writes a lot about farming. Well. You know, the funny thing about living in the country is that you still need to eat and sometimes even buy things. It’s not a permanent vacation.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is the book I’m reading now, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I knew what I was getting into with it, thanks to a ton of reviews calling the book preachy. It is preachy, and it’s also pretty condescending at points, in the way that foreigners who have been in Korea for one whole year can be condescending -- it seems like a lot of her assumptions about what “Americans do and do not know about food and farming might be based on things she didn’t know until she started her own farm. It just has that tone about it, instantly recognizable to any long-timer in Korea with an internet connection or who has had occasional close encounters with The Foreigner Who Will Explain Korea to You.

She can also sometimes slip into a weird prose style that can be really distracting. She’s likes hyperbole and uses some strange turns of phrase that I suppose are meant to be poetic. A little cheesy. Sometimes really dramatic. 

She can also, surprisingly, be really into the hokedy-hoke ‘we country folk’ thing. She grew up in farming country, so I’m not sure what that’s about, but she uses the phrase, just another day in/on/at in an ironic way, way too often. 

I’m sorry. I just feel like agricultural communities have enough of a stereotypical burden to carry without people yukking it up from the inside.

That all having been said, the book is positively packed full of great information – about plants and animals, farming, sustainability, the politics that surround all things agricultural, the history of farming, the politics of eating, canning, slaughtering ... all kinds of stuff. And it’s worth it, in my opinion, to try to squint through the hokey to get to the good stuff. 

I am saving the best for last, though -- a kind of bookend to this particular reading spell, which started with The Third Plate, which was definitely better and more informative than either of these two -- Wendell Berry’s Bring it to the Table. Dan Barber offers a great look at sustainability and organic farming from a chef’s point of view, but Berry is a farmer who’s been at it from that end for five decades (as opposed to a few years, like the yuk-it-uppers). If I barrel through a little bit, I can be reading it by the weekend. 

By the way, deadline is officially over, so I also plan on giving homemade mozzarella a try for the first time, sometime this week. Wish me luck. Cheese freaks me out, but damned if it ain’t delicious. If all goes to plan, mozzarella will just be the first step. 

I'm No Picasso
This is a tale of the seaports where chance brings the traveler: he clambers a hillside and such things come to pass.
In Imminent Danger
Bits and pieces about Korean literature and translation philosophy


Teaching Mixed Level ESL Classes

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conversation class
Mixed Level ESL Classes are a Big Problem!

One of the negatives of teaching at a university in Korea is that students are often grouped according to what major they take and not what their level of English is. This results in classes having one or two students who are semi-fluent (having studied overseas perhaps, or private institutes for years) mixed in with a few students who struggle to say their name and how old they are. The instructor is then supposed to make one class fit all. This not only happens in Korea, but in all countries around the world due to administrative constraints.

Teaching Mixed Level ESL Classes: What to Do

It’s not easy teaching multi-level classes. I struggle with it, even after years of teaching in Korean universities.

What I usually do is teach to the middle 80% of the class. The top 10% will be bored with what I’m teaching, but it’s hard to help them in a mixed-level class without actually setting up completely different things for them to do on their own outside of class. If the student has studied overseas and is way above the class level, I’ll often excuse them from actually attending and just make them do the homework and tests, if the situation is really extreme such as having attended an American middle and high school.

I know that the bottom 10% of the class will often not be able to follow what I’m doing or participate in a useful way, no matter what I do. These are usually the students who have given up on English years ago and I often leave these students to do their own thing as long as they don’t disrupt the class.

What about Grading Mixed Level ESL Classes?

These multi-level classes make testing a challenge. For example, on a midterm exam a few years back I did a speaking test where I gave the students some sample questions that I would be asking. I asked some questions straight off the study sheet word for word but changed some questions slightly for the mid-higher level students.

An Example:

What’s your plan for after graduation? —> What’s your plan for tonight? What’s your plan for after English class? —> What’s your plan for winter vacation?

For the top students, the test is almost edging into the ridiculous because it’s so easy. But for the lower-level students? Instead of asking some questions that have been changed slightly, I would ask ones that came straight from the study sheet. That way, if they really did study they would for sure be able to give at least some answer. Kind of unfair I guess, but there really was almost no other way and a memorized answer is better than just silence.

Speaking activities for your conversation classes

This will be your go-to book for years to come: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults. I’m always doing my best to help make your ESL teaching life easier, my readers!

The post Teaching Mixed Level ESL Classes appeared first on ESL Speaking: Games and Activities.

Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


My Life! Teaching in a Korean University

University Jobs



Importance of being myself

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Another quote which jolted me into activity and put me in the driver's seat of my own life: .

I fully intend to live my own life completely without any regrets and enjoy every moment of it!

I find this 3 Day Quote Challenge an interesting way to reaffirm my goals and set me on the right path yet again. Do join in the fun Archana!

The Rules 
  1. Post a favorite and a different quote of yours for 3 consecutive days, from any book or author of your choice. It could also be your own quote.
  2. Nominate 3 bloggers with each post to challenge them.
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.

Relaxing in the English room in between classes. #teacher...

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Relaxing in the English room in between classes. #teacher #english #셀스타그램

Gyeongju - fit for a Queen

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This past Saturday I had the opportunity to travel to Gyeongju with some passionate history students from Dong-A University in Busan.  
They're our friend Joe's students (from G's birthday yachting experience) who wanted to share their Korean pride, culture, and history with Koreans and foreigners alike.  This trip was an absolute steal at KRW 50,000 ($50 Canadian) inclusive of a luxury coach bus, 7 cultural sights (including lunch at one of Korea's most famous restaurants!), a series of student tour guides telling us about each and every stop, not to mention the fantastic photographers/ videographers who have already posted a few photos AND an entire video detailing the trip!  We had an amazing experience that can't (and won't!) be distilled into one post, so get ready for my series on Gyeongju - an action-packed day fit for a Queen (...I mean - if the crown fits, right?).

We started off at the crack of dawn (well...7:30 AM) leaving Hwamyeong (our neighbourhood in the Westernmost point of Busan; almost in Gimhae).  We trekked out to the Jagalchi Market to meet up with our tour group, narrowly making it in time for my first trip to Starbucks in Korea.  I was a Starbucks addict in Toronto, but it is ridiculously expensive in Korea.  No more delicious skinny venti bevvies, that puppy was a tall decadent(ly-priced) skinny vanilla latte (yes - I went basic B*) that I sipped sparingly before boarding the bus.


When we boarded the bus we were given name tags which we initially put on with a groan, but then noticed the entire trip's time-specific itinerary was listed on the back.  For planners like me it was a total bonus to know exactly where we would be at what time.  While there was some fine print stating the schedule might change throughout the day, I found that we stayed true to the minute on most scheduled stops.  We began the trip with a fun little "Scavenger Hunt" through our bags/ purses to find novelty items, keys, mints, hair elastics, and other non-mentionables for some wicked prizes including the Elsa (from Frozen) socks I won (for showing off my key first), and our Doctor kit for my hair elastic.  A Starbucks giftcard was won by none other than G for the prophylactic in her purse.


With all the fun and games the trip out to Gyeongju was a blur (as you can see!).  We arrived ready and excited to venture into the ancient tombs of Daereungwon, where twenty-three tombs of Kings, Queens and ancient nobility of the Silla Kingdom (some 1,500 years ago) are located.  I couldn't get over how green everything was - in Busan was have tons of trees, grass, rivers, and lush mountains, but the vibrant green colour you'll see in the majority of the photos to follow just completely blew my mind.  I felt like we were visiting somewhere entirely different from my "new" home.



I don't think I took a bad photo the entire day.  Everything was so tidy and well-managed.  The Daereungwon Tomb Complex (home to Hwangnamdaechong and Cheonmachong tombs) are well-respected and taken care of with great detail.  Next, it was time to visit Cheomsungdae.  Well...kind of...

On the bus we were told an ancient tale of the first King of Silla.  When I saw the white horses I knew we had to go visit them.  Here's an outline from

"To the southeast of the royal tomb, is a small monument that has been erected among the pine trees; next to the monument is a well called Najeong. According to Samguksagi (Historical records of the Three Kingdoms) and Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia from the Three Dynasties), Park Hyeokgeose, the founding monarch of Silla, was born by this well. In 69 BC, Sobeolgong, the head of Goheochon Village, saw a white horse on its knees by the well. When he approached the well he found that the horse had magically disappeared and that a large egg was left in its place, from which a boy was born. When the boy turned 13 years old (57 BC), he was appointed king by the village chiefs and began to rule the area then called ‘Seorabeol’. A memorial stone (2.25 meters high, 45 centimeters long, and 21 centimeters wide) was erected in 1803 in the third year of King Sunjo's rule (Joseon Dynasty) detailing the historical origins of the founding father of Silla."

We ventured off from the group (briefly!) to check them out and take a couple quick snaps before heading across the street to marvel at Cheomsungdae.  Along the way we joked around with one of our awesome group leaders (S) and met some new, regal pals:

We stopped at the oldest surviving observatory in Asia: Cheomsungdae.  At first it may not look like much, but this building was designed with painstaking detail representing the days of the lunar year as well as the days in a month.

"Cheomseongdae is the oldest existing astronomical observatory in Asia. 
Constructed during the reign of Queen Seon-deok (632-647), it was used for observing the stars in order to forecast the weather. This stone structure is a beautiful combination of straight lines and curves, and was designated as National Treasure No.31 on December 20th, 1962. 

Cheomseongdae was built in a cylinder shape with stones 30cm in diameter. 362 stones were piled up to make 27 levels. Roughly 4.16m up from the bottom there is a 1㎡ square entrance and a space to hang a ladder under it. 
The inside is filled with soil up to the 12th level, and the 19th, 20th, 25th, and 26th levels all have long rocks hanging on two areas, shaped as the Chinese letter '井' (jeong). 

It stands 9.17m high and the base stone on each side measures 5.35m. 
The Vernal Equinox, Autumnal Equinox, Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice and the 24 solar terms (also known as the astronomical solar year) were determined by the observation of stars. The pavilion stone is believed to have been used as a standard of deciding directions, north, south, east and west. The 362 stones used to build Cheomseongdae represented the 362 days in a lunar year."

- Visit Korea Cheomseongdae Observatory


We stuck around the observatory for a bit with our tour leaders and were coaxed into trying on traditional outfits - free of charge!  Never have I ever heard the sound of so many shutters going off in fierce syncopation.  We had at least 5 photographers taking photos of the silly Waegoogins (foreigners) all dressed up.  I'm a little bitter that that crown didn't make its way home with me.  I feel like it would have been highly appropriate attire for rowdy nights in KSU or Gwangan...

Even if you haven't researched there are a variety of interactive ways to get around the grounds and learn about the history (we stopped into a little air-conditioned space with a media wall in various languages for tourists, but there are also bike tours and walking tours available).  After 30 minutes wandering and taking in nature it was lunch time - but we'll save those side dishes for another post coming your way soon ;)

Dear Korea #123

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Dear Korea #123

Well, this is awkward..

Jen Lee's Dear Korea

This is Jen Lee. She likes to draw.
She also likes green tea.

Got any questions, comments, or maybe even some delicious cookies you want to send through the internet? Feel free to contact us at dearkoreacomic at gmail dot com.

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