Today, a student came into the gyomushil with an English survey in hand from her English hagwon teacher. Usually when people bring things to me, they’re asking me to check them for errors (coteachers do it all the time).
"Teacher, can you…?
"Check it?" I asked.
"Yes!" she said, relieved.
I told her of course, and I sat down with a pen and began to fix the few errors I saw. It was pretty good, but it was written in a more academic style (it was for the teacher’s dissertation), so it took longer to sort through. After about 10 minutes, the student ran over to my coteacher and started saying something in Korean, asking my coteacher to translate.
I was supposed to FILL OUT the survey.
Not correct it.
hahahahahah, embarrassing…That teacher is going to think I’m such a tool. bahahah
So I have a love/hate relationship with google translate.
HATE, because it leads my students into writing things like “I like clothes, shoes, and accessories, bitch!” to their American pen pals. And because sometimes when they skype me, I have no idea what they’re talking about when they say “You is not it? Mouse game to avoid.” (AKA, 5 minutes ago, talking to a student).
LOVE, because of today.
I’ve been keeping it up this past week to use in last-ditch attempts if there’s a key word we (students and I) can’t figure out when we’re talking… Today, a slightly wild class of first years came in for class. I got distracted up at the white board, watching as Se Hyeon and Hye Min taught me how, if you breathe on white board marker on the board, it peels off in a line (I was seriously fascinated), Ha Yeong was holding my hand and telling me how hungry she was, and So Jeong was asking why class hadn’t started yet (I promise you I have control of my class. hahahahah). I felt a poke on my back, and turned to see In Hye (one of our athlete girls- she runs track!) sitting at my computer desk, pointing to the screen.
She had typed Korean into the Google translate. I read the English translation, which, surprisingly, was in fine form. It read: “I want to know you better and be close.”
GAH, heart melt! I said, “I want to know you, too!!”
She grinned, erased her previous writing, and started typing again. Google translated: “What should I do?”
I told her to come talk to me anytime, that I want to know her better.
Again, typing.: “But my English is not good.”
I told her her English was great, and not to worry. I noticed she was blushing slightly the whole time, clearly embarrassed, but had decided to be brave.
It was SO freaking ADORABLE. Writing her a letter right now to give to her tomorrow. ^.^
Looking up from your desk to see Ye Ram staring at you awkwardly, nose pressed against the glass, from the other side of your classroom’s door. When you smile and wave, she blows on the glass to make it foggy and draws a heart. Then smiles. And walks away.
What on earth am I going to do without you next year??
Sunday morning, host mom calls me up while she’s running errands and asks if I want to go to a Korean wedding in a couple hours.
Sounded promising, so I agreed.
In typical Korean-aversion-to-advanced-notice-fashion, host mom shows up 40 minutes earlier than planned, asking if I’m ready to leave right now… Umm?!? I was in pajamas. So I threw on something in a panic and we were off.
We sipped on some canned coffee by the riverside before heading over to the wedding hall.
"Oh!" I exclaimed. "I need to turn my phone off before we go inside!"
Sunny laughed and said “You don’t need.”
…That should’ve been my first clue that what was to follow was going to be unlike any wedding I had ever been to.
Unfortunately, this post will be devoid of pictures because I realized once I was there that I had left my memory card in my computer. :/ So sorry!!
ANyways. We walked to a huge wedding hall that was right next to the bus station (not exactly the prettiest part of town… surrounded by love motels. haha!) Sunny stopped in front of a billboard that looked like the ones at movie theaters that list the films and their times- but I realized that it was listing weddings and what floors they were on! And here I thought that there were just a ton of family and friends coming to the wedding… There were, in fact, EIGHT weddings going on at the same time, and the board had slots for a potential eighteen simultaneous weddings!
Sunny muttered, “Third floor,” and we were off.
When we got to the third floor, there were a ton of people milling about and chatting. There were seats up at the front, and a ton of beautiful flower stands in the back. After Sunny went to a desk and bought tickets, we went into a side room, where it turns out was the ‘take a picture with the bride’ room. It really felt like Disneyland, where you go into Ariel’s grotto and wait in line to take a picture with her. And I think I just aged myself with that reference, because Ariel’s grotto is now out and Tinker Bell’s fairy land is in. Oops.
Anyways. They ushered the bride (who was covered in glitter from head to toe) out, and she took her place at the back. What was really interesting to me was that the bride was in position in the back… but the groom was nowhere to be seen. Then the whole room lit up in multi-colored neon lights (I am not kidding), and a spotlight landed on the groom… who was carrying a bouqet… and he walked up the aisle. And oh yeah, I guess the bride did, too. But let’s all look at the groom in his fancy white gloves!! ^^
He was greeted by two sword-bearing women who were wearing train conductor-like uniforms (red hats, short skirts, …it was bizarre)— they crossed their swords in an X formation that he walked under. Meanwhile, people in black uniforms wearing headsets were running around (during the ceremony), adjusting ties, collars, etc.
Meanwhile, the lights in the room kept changing neon colors.
I can’t find a picture online that does it justice, but this is the closest I could find:
The weirdest thing for me, though, was the fact that… essentially nobody was watching the wedding. The people in the back were chatting, laughing, yelling… And the people in the chairs were moving chairs around to get a better chatting angle, playing with their cell phones, waving Pororo balloons around (okay,that was just one kid, but it was super distracting. haha). Sunny was right. If my cell phone had rung, I don’t think I would’ve even heard it!
I have to admit I giggled a little bit when the bride’s walking down the aisle song was Celine Dion’s “Because you loved me”… hahaaaaaaaaa
There was a lot of bowing to the parents, some words spoken in Korean, and then the ceremony concluded with a pouring of champagne into a fountain of wine glasses. And before the bride and groom could even finish walking down the aisle, Sunny and I, along with a majority of the guests, were already heading down to the first floor, where the buffet was. Turns out the tickets Sunny bought when we arrived were for a big buffet room, where people from every wedding eat and mingle and then go home. I had the impression that this was the real reason people go to weddings in Korea.
Now, I want to be careful not to say that all Korean weddings are like this. I’ve only been to one. But I did ask Sunny if that was a normal wedding and she said yes, fairly normal. I know that weddings have a second, more traditional ceremony (and when I say traditional I mean Korean traditional, like this):,
But I didn’t get to see that part. (Actually, do other people get to watch that, or is that a family thing? Not sure.)
Memorable to say the least. Sunny told me that you only have 30 minutes for the ceremony in that hall, because they’ve got another wedding right after it. Get ‘er done.
The Jeju conference was a great time, mainly because I got to room with Lucy Swecker and Lisa Porter and see my apartment mates again… :)
Lisa communing with her aquatic friends.
Being near the ocean again was lovely as well. Mostly we were indoors listening to lectures and small group discussions, but on Sunday we had a tour of the island. We hiked a Sunrise Peak that afforded us some beautiful views:
Went to a folk village, where we could engage in some traditional games:
And waded through ankle-deep ocean water that reached far as the eye could see:
Perhaps what I will remember most, though, is the Kpop bus. Our tour bus played Kpop videos whenever we were driving, causing everyone’s attention to be glued to the TV the entire time. I truthfully don’t really know what Jeju looks like, apart from the places where we stopped and were forced to leave our Kpop bus… hahaaa.
We also listened to over 7.5 hours of lectures from the Junior Researchers. Fulbright is made of two programs: the ETA program (what I’m doing), and Research (the real brains of the operation). The people who get research grants are BEASTS. No, really. Lucy, Lisa, and I found ourselves seated at a table of only Junior Researchers, and my brain hurt afterwards. During the very first lecture, I slipped Lisa a note that simply said: “I AM SO DUMB.” haha
On our final night together, we went downtown. What better way to end a conference than norebang-ing (karaoke) with your friends? So that we did.
I just reblogged a series of photos from the awesome “ispeak” Korean project. To see them all (I reblogged 12, along with the link to the entire website), click on ‘archive’ on the right hand side of this page. :)
Everyone, even if you only have a few minutes please check out this new project from a group of Fulbright English Teaching Assistants here in South Korea.
These are all real students from all over the country, given a piece of paper on which to write whatever they are feeling about school and life. There are a range of messages, from lighthearted to amazingly powerful.
Please check out the site and get the word out about this exciting new project!