A weekend in Gyeongju

We visited our friend Jenn who lives in Gyeongju, a hourish away from us. We wanted to go to the Seokguram Grotto. It has a very famous Buddha, and in 1995 was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Of course we had to have our galbi bbq

Sesame leaves are divine

The immediate car accident we got into when we jumped in a cab to go up the mountain. That should have been enough to deter us from continuing. Fools!

Guess how long it took us to get here? That was enough time for the cab driver to get us completely and utterly car sick.

Jenn and I

Great shot of Whitney

Roof tile art

Becoming part of it

The overview

We actually could not take pictures inside the grotto so I’ve added some I found from travel websites.

The site was considered a place for monks to live out their hermitage.

Inside the dome


On our way home:

Nice way to end the day

Random vid:


The School Rules Change

I‘ve been getting into a lot of conversations with teachers about students and how they have changed over the year. It reminds me of that Baz Lurham, and specifically the lines,

“Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.”

I experienced it myself teaching in City Year. I thought, “Heck, I was never like this in school! Back in my day…..” Though I think I made a legit point when I would say no elementary school kid would cut class back in my day, unlike my students during City Year.

I was informed that as of last week, school corporal punishment finally became illegal in Seoul. Some of my older teachers were disapointed..I could see it in their eyes how they don’t know how to formally react to this. How else would you control them right? And I think of this…coming from this new teacher perspective….and I kinda sympathize. Day in and day out I am trying my best, blood sweat and tears right? And then I have those students who could care less and will sleep through class and not pay any attention. Or the two classes I had in a row that basically ALL failed to do the homework. What do I do with that? I can see why teachers feel the urge to just take it out on them physically. Not that it’s right or works for that matter, considering some of the boy’s at Jodi’s school just take the beating and not care if it means carrying fewer books to school.

And I say all this, coming from a school that doesn’t hit it’s students….being an all-girls school has its perks. Jodi’s students do not fair so well. Though it seems its usually the same bunch getting punished day in and day out.

Teachers blame poor parenting. Parents blame society. It’s a sick cycle that doesn’t seem stoppable. Because of the extremes that can occur when you give a teacher this small amount of power, it becomes a danger to students and their safety.What started this review of school corporal punishment was an incident in which a teacher and a student ended up physically fighting in the classroom.

When the teacher tried to take the notebook, the student protested. The teacher hit her on the head and the student revolted, saying, “Is it right for a teacher to hit a student? Just teach!”

 The ban only applies to Seoul, a move that urges teachers to discipline students by giving them community service, or take extra classes.

“Some could say that corporal punishment may be temporarily effective but it cannot be a fundamental solution,” Chung said. “Only a small number of students cause troubles and we aim to help them truly revise their behaviour on their own, rather through a stopgap physical measure.”

 I say this all, with my American-colored glasses. My perspective, my experience and my culture. I try and see it from their perspective, and conclude that usually because of the extremes (as with most things) you cannot blame a whole system, just individuals. But the danger to students and the lack of regulation in this circumstance require the law to step in and protect them.

When words are too similar

Scene: In my office, unofficial Korean language lesson with one of my forty-something year old teacher.

Teacher: Ok Alex, try writing the numbers now in Hangul.

Alex: Yea…..one….two…three…..four…..five………..

Teacher: Good, good…watch the strokes….

Alex: …..six….seven…..umm ……eight….

Teacher: [explosion of laughter and giggling]

Alex: [blank stare, it’s been a long day] What’s wrong? Did I spell it wrong?

Teacher: You wrote the word “f*ck”!

Alex: What??! I’m so sorry!!!

Teacher: HAHAHHAHAHAHAAAA so funny!

Alex: [shamed] ……oooooh.


Bargain Shopping in the Skies

Jodi and I have been planning our vacation ever since we got to Korea. But we couldn’t really decide since we didn’t know when we would actually have it. Needless to say, our plan for Japan fell through once we learned our friend Jay was not going to be in Tokyo like he had planned. So we were throwing ideas around and the idea of New Zealand came up.

Out of curiousity we look up flights. I almost choked on my coffee when I saw the prices. Then my coteacher came to my aid and I felt a WHOLE lot better once she helped me with the Korean search engine to look up tickets.

Big difference huh? You can find out more info about this site by clicking on the “Shopping in SK” tab above.