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.


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!).


Busy, busy

Well, we have been super busy over the last month to say the least.

We wrapped up our contracts with our hogwan (private after school education centre) and have moved on. To Uiwang, to be exact!

But before we get to that! I have a few quick food related things to post!

1. Maaaamoth Mandarins

Related to my last post about sweeties, here is a new treat we were able to try. I can’t find any information online as to their origns but, as you will see, they are quite impressive:

On the left is a 'regular' orange of average size. And on the right, a mandarin looking orange of mammoth proportions.

On the left is a ‘regular’ orange of average size. And on the right, a mandarin orange of mammoth proportions.

It peeled and tasted like a particularily delicious mandarin orange. Wonderful!

2. Cute Crabs!

Check out these crab flavoured chips. I love all things in fun shapes.

Once you get over the fact that they do indeed taste like crab, they are pretty good.

Once you get over the fact that they do indeed taste like crab, they are pretty good.

Oh, and my nails were painted like penguins. Why? Why not!

3. Chicken noodle soup – Korean style

The last time I had a cold I was directed to check out a ‘rice soup’ or ‘rice porridge’ restaurant. I was happy to try it! It is supposed to be very good for your health. It is about the consistency of water-y oatmeal (D you would hate it!) with a mild flavour of chicken and ginseng. It is served hot with all the traditional Korean side dishes. It was perfect to have when I was feeling sick.

Chicken and ginseng porridge

We will update you soon about what is going on in 2013 for us!

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.

Things the Same: The Movie Theatre Edition

There is a surprisingly large amount of movies from the US that come to our area, but sometimes it feels like disappointingly few. (First world problem)

We were so excited to see the new Bond movie and after a few weeks of it out, we went into Suwon to see it. But guess what was playing… not Bond, no, no. It was Twilight! Noooooooo! Common! Twilight!? Bond was taken out early for that?


Anyways, we were not going to let that happen again, so we were set on seeing The Hobbit as soon as it came out. Plus, we were pretty excited  to see it (okay, very, very excited).

Hobbit size!

Fun facts about movie theatres in Korea:

1. They serve beer. They do look at you strange when you buy one in the afternoon though. What? If you can buy beer, you have to buy it at least once! No? Just me?

Can you see? That’s 2 beer and 2 hot dogs for your movie going pleasure. $9 well spent

2. No lines! Okay, well, there are a lot of people but everyone takes a number and kind of mills around until their number comes up. It’s nicer than being confined to a line, though.

You can wait about 5 min to buy tickets from a person. Or you can use the machine (with an English option) for your convienence

You can wait about 5 min to buy tickets from a person. Or you can use the machine that has an English option

3. When you buy your ticket you will notice that there is a seat number! All tickets are reserve seating which I think is pretty awesome. But, it has its down side, too. If you want to go to a popular movie spur of the moment, there may not be any good seats left. I think the reserve seating is related to the next fun fact:

4. You are not allowed to go into the theatre until 10 minutes before show time. Rather, you wait outside in the lobby area where they have seating and a big screen with trailers/ads. When it’s time to go in, it will show up on the sign (yellow and green in the picture) in Korean and English. Reserve seating helps prevent a mad rush for good seats.

Waiting at the theatre

5. They have ‘Sweet Heart’ seats which are essentially love seats with cup holders. They cost about $34 in total, but you get a wickedly comfortable movie spot that has great views and no arm rests digging into you when you try to hold hands.

6. There are Korean subtitles! Not surprising of course. All the big Hollywood movies are subtitled but have original audio. I have heard that you may come across dubbed Korean movies but we haven’t stumbled onto any except for childrens movies which we can only find dubbed (we wanted to see Wreck-it Ralph!) but that seems pretty reasonable.

7. Tickets are cheaper than in Canada! A typical movie will cost around $8 and only slightly higher for 3D or Imax. If you want to go Sweet Heart seats though, those tickets bump up to $17.

I hope you enjoyed learning about movies in Korea!

추석 Chuseok

Hi everyone!! We are still here! We have been very busy and so haven’t had time to post! But here is some interesting stuff from the beginning of the month.

The end of Sept. early Oct was Chuseok, THE most important holiday in Korea. People all flee the cities and go to visit their extended families back in the country side. Towns and cities are deserted!

The preparations for the holiday were quite impressive. Something like Christmas I guess but without the decorations. Everywhere you see gift packs! I understand that giving these gifts is more the rule than the exception. But don’t worry, there are a lot of options to choose from!

You can see that some of the staff are wearing traditional dresses

I think one of the best parts of Chuseok for us foreigners was getting to see some 한복 hanbok – traditional Korean clothing. There are entire stores dedicated to custom made hanbok but they also sold ‘cheap’ ($50-$120) hanbok for kids at the grocery/department stores.

THE best part chuseok was that we were honoured to have the chance to wear some of the clothing when a student’s mom and our co-worker’s husband leant us their hanbok.