Wrapping up at our Hogwan

Well, it was a wonderful year teaching kindergarten and elementary kids, but it was time to move on. (Plus, our kindergarten kids were going to go to different schools starting March 1, so we couldn’t have taught them anyways.)

So, we have moved on to bigger and better things. Public schools, that is. Literally bigger (approx. 800 kids per school I think vs. 30 for kinder!) and literally better (benefits, working hours, teaching hours, vacation etc.). But we are going to miss our Hogwan students so much!!

I remember when the kids first climbed into our laps. You do NOT do that in Canada. But in Korea, it's encouraged

I remember when the kids first climbed into our laps. You do NOT do that in Canada. But in Korea, it’s encouraged.

There was a BIG graduation performance for the kinder students. They even got to wear little grad caps and gowns!

Graduation day Graduation, even from kindergarten, is very important in Korea. The kids who graduated out of kinder and started elementary school on March 1 were taken for photos for the occasion (mutiple shots, different outfits, group and individual portraits!) and all the kids at our place sat for a group shot with all the teachers as well.

The performance was on a big stage with a sound system, inflatable castle/fairy tale themed background set and multiple costume changes!! Multiple!! The set and costumes were rented from one company and I heard through the grape vine (does anyone even use that phrase anymore? Me, apparently) that there was over $1000 spent on those two things alone.

Children’s events like these really are JUST for the parents, aren’t they? It wasn’t spectacularily fun to do these constume changes and for them to learn many different songs, dances, speeches and miniature scripts. It was stressful even to watch! But, some kids were so incredibly proud of themselves and that was good to see. They sure deserve the credit for what they pulled together.

These kids were our life for a year. (Literally, a year as we only had 9 days off in total.) They will never know how much they affected us. They made all the hard times in Korea worth it. Some days it is hard to get out of bed and go into a workplace you are unhappy with. But we always did it for them. We wanted to be the best teachers we could be, for them. At the beginning (and for months) they drove me (Tracy) to tears – kindergarten teacher is the hardest job I have ever had (which is not surprising,  is it?) – but they also gave us our most treasured memories of Korea. I can say honestly that there is not one kid-lit of this group that we disliked. They were all wonderful little people! We are so thankful to have had them in our lives.

UPDATE:

Meet up with the Kidlits!

This past Sunday we were able to get together with half of the students we taught in Osan. We hadn’t seen them since the end of February, and it was so wonderful. We went to a great café that has all these areas for the kids to play in. Parents pay $5 and must buy a beverage and/or food and their kids get to play in the space: there were areas to play ‘house’, a ball pit, jungle-gym-thingy (like the big ones at McDonalds) and even a bouncy castle! They had so much fun (and us too!).

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Around Osan: Sweeties

A nice grocery store find:

Sweetie Grapefruits

Fruit is so expensive here and these were 2 for 1 so I was able to get $8 of these bad boys for $8. I figured, they look like green grapefruit…I like grapefruit….what do I have to lose?

Turns out these are called “sweeties” or “oroblancos” and they are a cross between grapefruits and pomelos.

They are the size of a large grapefruit but have very thick porous skin so that the size of the fruit inside is much smaller.

Oroblanco size before and after

The flesh is a yellow-y colour. The way Sandy and I would describe it is a mild taste of orange with the sour/bitter (me: delicious, Sandy: horrific) taste of a grapefruit.

Food adventure #6282 deemed: Me — Successful!! Sandy — Unfortunate.

Around Osan

Here are some quick hits from around Osan:

Here are some pictures of the beautiful Lily flower/coffee shop we go to.

It’s nice on a day when you have been inside for hours and hours and you can take a walk to the store and it smells deliciously of flowers and plants. Mmmm, I like when the inside smells like the outside!

Suspiciously, however, ALL the plants I buy from there die. And that’s like 4 plants! What’s up Lily? What IS up?

One day on our way to said coffee shop we saw these two friends.

A bird mid-flight. And. A praying mantis! And this is no regular mantis! The coolest thing ever was seeing him fight off this BIRD. He raised his arms and unfolded his wings and stood tall and stared that bird down. The bird kinda hopped from one side to another, a little confused at his desire to eat something that was fighting back, but the mantis turned with him. I think the bird was about to go for it when we walked a bit close and the bird took off. I was like, Yes! score one for the ‘little guys’ and then… he was squished by a car…. I feel a little responsible… sorry guy…

Lastly, a little while ago we took a walk down by the river and although it was grey, it was pretty. Nice and green. No valley with this river, though! It’s pretty flat!

On our way home we stopped in a park and noticed these lovely ladies.

I was impressed to see such bootylicious women considering how small and skinny most women are here. It’s great that these gals are in the park and perhaps they will get kids thinking that there are people that come of all shapes and sizes!

Well, I hope that gives you an idea of what we generally see walking around Osan.

Around Osan

One more flowering plant that is just fantastic! Absolutely gorgeous and seen in a number of places around our community.

Next post we will report on the Seoul Lantern Festival celebrating Buddha’s birthday that happened this past weekend.

Around Osan

For another edition of Around Osan I present: FRESH fresh seafood restaurants. Walking in restaurant areas of town you will see a number of these places that are made so distinct because of the big tanks out front.

There is one place right near where we walk to work, so I always look to see what kinds of new fish they have as the big tanks change regularly. This past week, we were in for an unusual surprise; in the process saying “oh look, there is a really big fish today” I realised… that’s no regular fish. My exclamation developed into, “oh look, there is… a shark!” Wow.

I won’t go into the ethics of all of this as that conversation is for a different space aside from a travel blog, but I will say that if his fate is to be eaten, I hope he gets eaten soon so he can get out of that small tank!

I’ll leave you with a pic from a different restaurant than the above mentioned and pictured. At this place, the tanks were lit at night and made for a pretty effect!

Around Osan

Here is the park across the street from our hogwan that is transforming into a beautiful space with its new leaves and blooms.

The park lies between two apartment buildings and is actually smaller than these pics suggest.

We were not expecting so much beauty in our community but there are lots of flowering bushes and great young trees. While I could not find any information online, my understanding is that Osan is trying to market itself as a green city – aesthetically pleasing as well as environmentally sound – which is why there are many trees and parks.

AND, just for fun, here is a picture of a guy playing arcade darts (or arcadarts as Sandy so creatively said…. awkward). Kinda a cool alternative to Buck Hunter.

 

 

Around Osan

For another edition of Around Osan, I have a few pictures from over the weekend.

A man on stilts with a big sign advertising what I can only expect to be a big sale at an electronics store. There were three stores on one block having big sales and in addition to this particular stilted man, all had loud speakers out front and a person on mic saying the deals they had in store (I would think).

They often have people who announce what they are selling, even in the grocery store. Almost every single aisle has two people, one person standing at either end, to help you find and pick a product. Speaking of which, here are the two main grocery/department stores close to our apt. They are huge!!  I think I will do a post or two about these types of stores soon, so this is just a sneak preview.

I had a short video I wanted to post that went along with the pic I posted last week of the signs on the buildings in the core of Osan but I am having trouble getting it up. It is of the many moving and flashing signs seen at night. Even down side roads there is advertisement like this, so much so that even though our windows face a seldom driven road, the signs from the businesses light up our bedroom like it’s dusk. Definitely no need for a night light!

To end off, here are some of the flower arrangements that we have seen around the city. I think they are to commemorate an occasion as I saw these ones outside of a newly opening store. They have both artificial and live flowers. Very pretty!

Have a good week!