Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Off to France

In a few hours, I depart from Incheon for Paris. During my three weeks in France, I probably won't have many opportunities to post on this blog. However, I plan to take loads of pics and write up a storm. So, mark your calendars for July 14th when I'll return to this space with beaucoup anecdotes and photos.

Au revoir, mes amis! See you again in mid-July.

Paris in Korea

As promised, I'm posting a few more snapshots of references in Seoul to Paris and/or France. Based on my observation, it seems like Paris is the most commonly referenced foreign city around here. Here are just a few examples:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Kick-Off

I've spent a near-perfect day in Seoul, and it was a splendid way to kick off Summer 2011.

Highlights included:
  • a pedicure date with AS at ProNails in Itaewon
  • strolling through Insadong for Korean souvenirs -and stopping off at Amandier for a salty caramel macaron
  • dinner with HG at OTB
Where does one go after experiencing such an excellent day in Seoul? Paris, bien sur!

Time to get packing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Where Am I?

Okay, I'll clear up the mystery:  I'm still in Korea. But, with my departure for Paris two days away, I'm especially focused on all the references the City of Light gets around here. The photo above is but one of countless examples. To illustrate the point, I'll see what else I can round up photo-wise before I leave town.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Carpe Diem

Amazing how certain aphorisms endure, transcending geography and time.

This picture was taken near my apartment, in an alleyway that I often walk through on my way home. Not a very scenic place, but I always smile when I see that wall.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weekend Thanks

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  -Colossians 3:17

When I'm tempted to grouse about having to work over the weekend (after an incredibly hectic week), I try to remind myself it wasn't very long ago that I was unemployed and eager to work in virtually any capacity. And besides, I've still managed to squeeze in some pockets of fun today.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

So Tired

I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink.
I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink.
I wonder, should I get up and fix myself a drink?
No, no, no.

You know the feeling:  so tired your mind feels like Jello. You're not fit to operate a moving vehicle. Your vocabulary is reduced to mostly monosyllabic words, and you're certainly not much use at a keyboard.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Impromptu Evening

Sometimes it really does pay to be spontaneous.

After what has already been an exhausting week of administering students' oral exams and calculating grades, I was in need of a mental break. What better way than an impromptu evening with friends from work?!

We dined on delicious Korean beef and beer and then played a few rounds of video games. Turns out I'm not completely terrible at Mortal Kombat, and I can still hold my own in Pac-Man... phew!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Poster Girl

I have unwittingly become a poster girl (teacher?) for Konkuk's upcoming English Immersion Program. One of my colleagues tipped me off, saying she saw my face plastered on posters around campus. I imagined the worst, though fortunately, the image of me is relatively small. The posters, however, are concentrated around the Language Institute, thus I encounter them often, much to my amusement.

detail shots; I'm on the left in the pink DVF wrap dress

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jazzercise, Seoul-style

You just never know what you'll see at Children's Grand Park.

I went walking there tonight after work and stumbled upon all these women doing some sort of aerobic dance. There were two ladies on stage leading everyone as dissonant chanting music played in the background. I wanted to stay and join in the fun, but I've never been very coordinated, and all the participants seemed to be in sync.  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Statue Junkyard

I've long been curious to know about the venue to which this statue guards the entrance. I pass by this area often when I'm walking to Children's Grand Park and finally decided to satiate my curiosity yesterday. Except now that I've checked it out, I'm still in the dark.

Here's a few snapshots taken last night with my phone. Maybe you can determine what goes on here... Is it a statue junkyard? A driving course for learners?  I'm not being cute. I really have no idea what this place is.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ceramics Cemetery

It was tempting to post this picture without any explanation. But since we've established decent trust and rapport, I didn't want to freak out anyone.

I stumbled upon these creatures tonight while strolling around campus. They were outside one of the arts buildings, in an area which I think of as the ceramics cemetery. I've been over there a few times before, and there's always a pile of bizarre and/or misshapen pots, vases, and sculptures. This was the first time though that I encountered such alien-esque pieces.

One person's rubbish is another's treasure.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bad + Good

And now for another installment of:  I Can't Believe It!

As I was grading all those essays earlier this week, I noticed that two students submitted papers that were 80% identical to each other -as in, the first 4 paragraphs of their 5-paragraph essays were exactly the same. Today when I handed back their papers, I pointed this fact out to them. Neither apologized or seemed the least bit concerned. Even after I mentioned that this behavior was cheating (i.e. wrong), I still got nothing. In fact, one of the students walked away without saying anything at all -not even goodbye!

On a lighter note, several students demonstrated marked improvement in their 2nd essay from their previous one. Naturally, their grades reflected such progress. It was endearing to observe several of their faces light up when I handed back their papers. I received a few bows of gratitude, and one girl thanked me for the sticker which I'd placed on her essay.

I'm starting to get it. In teaching as in life, you take the bad with the good.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Great Expectations

Tonight I received a most unexpected phone call. Normally I never answer my phone if I don't recognize the caller, but I was caught off guard while checking out at E-Mart, and thus it happened.

Anyway, the caller was one of my students. He was curious to know his score on the final exam -which he took yesterday. (Since he's one of the more dependable and conscientious students, I didn't initially freak out over his call, although I did find it bold and presumptuous.) I told him that he had done well and from what I could recall, scored around 95%.

His response? I'm disappointed. Was hoping for a better score. I want an A+. Then he mentioned his class rival and wondered aloud about his grade. 

At this point I was totally flabbergasted, and it took all self-control to refrain from telling him that calling his teacher period, let alone the day after the exam, was not a smart way to go about getting that A+.

Instead, I tactfully said that phoning about his grade was not appropriate since, as a teacher of 170+ students, I'm not in a position to field calls from all of them regarding such matters. He seemed surprised.

I can't help but think back to my own college days. It would have never crossed my mind to:
  • call up a professor (under any circumstances)
  • challenge the professor about my grade -without even reviewing the exam or my mistakes!
  • state my expectations for any grade, let alone an A+
Kids these days...! I feel like an old-fashioned granny in some bizarre time warp.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Imminent Rest

Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness. I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest.  -Psalm 55:6-8

T - 14 days.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

180 Day

Today did not start off well. 

Anytime there's a trip to the Immigration Office on your agenda, you know it's not going to be fun. It's not so much that the office itself is bad (although it can be frustrating, particularly if you don't know Korean), but the commute from my place is ridiculously long. To top it off, I felt incredibly down as I went through the visa renewal process (can we say homesick?).

I made it to Omokgyo and back in relatively short time. Granted, I took a taxi back to campus, but it was money well spent (barring the two near-collisions we experienced). The day, however, picked up afterward.

Nothing like an email or letter from home, an impromptu chat with a friendly colleague, or a well-timed gift from a student to brighten the day. I experienced all of these blessings this afternoon, and they did wonders to boost my spirits. 

I must give all the praise and thanks to God. I remain perpetually astounded at how well He knows me -what challenges I can handle and when I need extra-reinforcement and encouragement.

This verse sums it up best:
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  -Psalm 139:9-10 
When I returned home from work, I went on a brisk walk. So many pretty flowers caught my eye. Here's a sampling:

I capped off the day in my favorite fashion -cooking up a storm. Ironically, the meal's components were essentially all one color, but they complemented each other well and tasted delicious. Curious about the menu?
  • baked chicken breast, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
  • mushrooms sauteed in white wine, olive oil, garlic, and a dash of butter
  • a glass of French white wine
Bonne nuit, mes amis!

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Cook, Therefore I Am

Something about cooking really makes me feel alive. 

Perhaps it's a combination of the dicing, chopping, seasoning, experimenting, and tasting that relaxes, and ultimately satisfies, me. And there's definitely something to be said for any outlet that enables me to produce something tangible (and edible).

After clocking more than 15 hours of essay grading over the weekend, it was essential that I unwind in one way or another. It was thrilling to do so in a productive and meaningful manner.

For the curious, tonight's menu:
  • baked eggplant
  • sauteed tofu
  • penne with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, and a hint of Haverti

Sunday, June 5, 2011


When it comes to mosquitoes, consider me armed and dangerous.

Though they've got a cute sounding name in Korean (mogi), I am fed up after endless rounds of battle with these parasites. Today I beefed up my artillery.

Up until recently, my primary weapon was this little device pictured below. I still use it, but it emits a nauseating fragrance (intended to drive away the mosquitoes) and leaves me feeling queasy. Plus, it seems like a passive way to address the problem, and given my frustration level, the time was right to take a more active stance.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Energy Source

I've graded 75 essays in the last 27 hours and have another 100 more to go.

With my energy levels nearly depleted, I got quite a laugh today when I ran across the slogan of a local gas station: 

Is unleaded now safe for human consumption?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sound Candy

With the end of Spring semester rapidly approaching, the object of the game right now is PACING. So glad I opted to take a break from essay grading to attend a marvelous concert, the 7th Annual Yanghwajin Concert in Hapjeong.

My friend HG invited me to join her for what turned out to be an unforgettable evening of classical music, performed by incredibly talented and internationally diverse musicians. There was Kari Kriikku from Finland who plays the clarinet like no other (at one point, even lying down on stage); Wen-sinn Yang from Taiwan who breathed passion into his cello; and Mi-kyung Lee who excelled on her violin.

I was fortunate my parents raised me on classical music, and tonight I was treated to some beloved pieces by Mozart and Bach, in addition to works previously unfamiliar to me by Rossini, Mendelssohn, Vieuxtemps... and more.

And now, back to reality. Essays await...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Glocal Swans

There are at least three funny things about the above photo:
  • glocal (presumably a hybrid of global + local)
  • the only one (as a modifier, it sounds awkward and redundant)
  • the swans aren't real

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Diet Ramen

In a land where countless varieties of ramen exist, I tend to get into a rut and buy the same two kinds whenever an insta-noodle craving strikes. Today I branched out though and am sure glad I did.

The photo above depicts my latest find. Tasty glass noodles and only 120 calories... hooray!