Well, lovelies. I had a 나이스 weekend. That only a little bit involved a bar, and not talking to boneheaded, personality disordered randoms.
First order of business is to pimp the new Mexican restaurant in Bucheon. It was totally empty on a Friday night, which is a sin against mankind (and the very kind owner who handles absolutely everything himself, cooks like a total pro and gave us tortilla soup on the house).
Here's the deal kiddos: Take the train (line 1) to Sognae station. Go out exit 2 and walk toward the Toona building (in front and to the right if you are facing away from the exit 2 steps). Walk past the Toona building in a direct line away from the station (perpendicular, not parallel) past the Paris Baguette and toward an eyeglasses shop called Eyemax. Keep walking straight past the Eyemax and before you hit the next block, it will be on your right. The place is called Taco Ria -- the food is authentic, big and ridiculously well priced (5000 won for a massive beef burrito).
Please, please, please help us keep this place from closing.
That night was finished off by heading to No. 10 bar with J, C, Garfield, Smalltown and Smalltown's girl. A nice, well-rounded group, if I do say so myself.
Sunday was the Sudoguksan Museum of Housing and Living, where the shanty town lifestyle that resulted from the Japanese occupation and, later, the Korean War is preserved. One of the most interesting things I've seen since I've been in the ROK. You know your Liz. Anything to do with the disenfranchisement and suffering of the working class, and I'm right in there. Me, S, C and a guide whose name I never did catch made a (freezing ass) day of it in Dongincheon, eating a nice lunch, exploring a used bookstore, winding our way through the museum (where I got a rubberband gun just like the ones we used to get from the State Fair when we were kids) and having coffee afterward.
I really like having S around, because he always pushes the conversation forward. Conversations about a lot of things I haven't talked about in a very long time, thanks to the language barrier and a general lack of interest in such things by those around who do speak English natively. Given that S speaks both Korean and English, he enables everyone present to follow on both sides. His Korean is much easier for me to understand, being foreignly accented, and because every now and then he mixes in a English word or phrase, because he doesn't know quite how to say it in Korean. Which makes it a lot easier for me to stay tuned in when the conversation does switch to Korean, instead of getting a headache and giving up and getting bored halfway through.
I have noticed that I have a creepy tendency to stare far too intently into the face of a speaker when I'm trying to understand their Korean, though. I assured S that I'm just concentrating, and not contemplating killing him and wearing his skin or anything. My eye contact is a little strong even when I'm just casually listening to someone talk, so when things get kicked up a few notches, I can imagine it can be quite uncomfortable to be on the other side of it.
Today at school we continued working on designing our robots in my first grade classes. Such fun. I love, love, love watching those boys be creative. It makes me extremely jealous, though, that I can't teach (listen to, talk to) them in their native tongue. The third graders are stressed out and in exams, and the second graders are continuing to come around. It's funny because I've realized there are two different problems at play with the second graders, since they've been split into A and B levels. With the B levels, as I discussed previously, it's that they don't understand a goddamn word I say, and haven't been able to follow me at all. With the A levels, it's that the material is far beneath their level, and they aren't they type to suffer foolishness kindly. Now that they are split up, I'm able to address both problems, instead of being stuck somewhere in the middle, not meeting anyone's needs.
It's making the A level co-teacher a little uncomfortable, though. The students have gone completely rogue on her, and now that they are seeing me as on 'their side', they're trying to play me against her as well. I know it can't be easy seeing me get cozy with these kids who act like total little assholes to her, just because they can. And because she's old, and they can't relate to her at all. Today, one of my favorites (a kid who has some serious behavioral problems) grabbed my arm.
"Students... must... study."
"Ahni... uh.... students have to study."
"Yeah. That's great. Where's your book, then?"
"No... students have to study but two students... outside."
He pointed to the hallway where the co-teacher had two of his ill-bred buddies with their arms over their heads.
"What, you think I'm going to bring them back inside and ignore the other teacher?"
"Liz Teacher very smart teacher. Liz teacher know students have to study. No go outside."
"Liz Teacher is a very smart teacher. You're right. But that teacher is a lot smarter -- she's been teaching a lot longer. She knows that those students aren't studying. They are stopping other students from studying."
"Yes, you. You have no idea.... do you know how hard a teacher's job is? It's not easy to teach you little monsters."
"Yes. Monsters. Every single one of you. Complete monsters."
"'Oh no!' is right. Now. Do your worksheet. Students have to study."
I also got asked how much money I make today. That was easy enough to answer: "Not enough."
Oh, six class Mondays. They keep me on my toes, they do.
Oh, noes! Photos!