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I’m an Irish girl and I lived and worked in South Korea for five years…

Korea flagAnd I’ve only ever experienced any kind of direct, to-my-face discrimination because I am Irish twice.

And it was in Korea.

And it was from another Irish person.

Well, two, in fact. It happened twice on separate, years apart occasions. It was because I am from Dublin and they were from Northern Ireland. They didn’t like that and once it was discovered, the people in question promptly ignored me completely. I found it highly odd.

So here’s the thing, I’ve been sent / involved in offline conversation / watched my newsfeed fill up with this particular article that came out over a week ago now and have been waiting and watching the ‘wow, that escalated quickly’ nature of Internet threads with sad bemusement. If you don’t want to click the link, let me sum it up for you. Irish girl Katie Mulrennan applies for job in South Korea. Recruiter responds with ‘I am sorry to inform you that my client does not hire Irish people due to the alcoholism nature of your kind’.

A short time later, a story appeared in the Korea Observer about Sean Jones (who clearly skimmed over the first rule of resume writing being have a professional email address…) and his recent run in with racism in Korea. Jones was on the way to a job interview when he received a text that said ‘Sorry, they just told me they actually want a white teacher’ and then two days later, received a Facebook message that said ‘I’m sorry. I just found out today my school is one of ones [sic] that won’t hire black people’.

Now, I’m a white Irish girl who lived in South Korea for five years and The Canadian One worked as an in-country liaison between Korean schools and American recruiters of ESL teachers for part of that time so I’m very familiar with the ins and outs of people Koreans will or will not hire for schools. It makes sense people would bring both articles to my attention and expect comment. But I, for the most part, stayed out of it.

Looking at the second article though, over the years I’ve had non-white friends apply for jobs in Korea and ask me what I think their chances are. It’s a hard situation to be in because I know, no matter how qualified you are, the sad fact is more often than not it comes down to what you look like. It’s not right. It’s not fair. But it happens. And I’ve seen it over and over and over again.

1923802_33000761345_5717_nI’ve been declined for jobs in Korea for one main reason, my Irish accent, which is non-existent as I worked hard on Americanising my accent to make sure I got jobs. I started putting in my cover email to recruiters that I have a neutral accent and they should call me before rejecting me. Most, however, just write back that they are looking for an American. Equally, I’ve been offered jobs in Korea for a wide array of reasons ranging from my Irish accent, (again, non-existent), my British accent (I don’t have a British accent), the fact that they think I’m British, I’m white, I’m ‘pretty’, I’m not a vegetarian (that was VERY important to one school) and that I’m a girl.

The weirdest reason I ever got a job though was because of Enya, an Irish singer…

No, seriously.

I later quit that job in the middle of the contract as I started to slowly come to the realisation that my director was just a teeny bit crazy, had no money and we were pretty sure he was going to just stop paying us at some point. Afterwards he sent me several emails, including a goodbye email:

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 00.08.15

His name was the next thing on the email. And that was it. When he’d picked me up from the airport six months earlier, we had listened to his Enya CDs in the car all the way to Incheon.

After that, I got a job in Cheonan and then later moved to Seoul. Three years later, the school I was at was shutting down and I was on the job hunt again. I interviewed with a recruiter on a Thursday, was offered the job on the Sunday, and asked to come meet the school on the Tuesday at 3pm. I worked 1:30-5:50pm, so this was not going to be a possibility and it’s a situation I’d never come across before where the school is not accommodating to a teacher’s schedule. I made it clear I could go to the meeting if it was arranged before 12pm. I was starting to get the sense of the dramatics from the recruiter, who would be in charge of my visa, contract and pay for the time I was dealing with the school so it was important I got along well with him.

Our texts went like this:


There were phone calls. There were emails. And finally, my school confirmed I had the day off and I could go to the meeting at 3pm.

Then I get this:


An unpublishable swear word comes to mind.

And look at the time of that message…

While all this was happening, my current manager was arranging to get me a Letter of Release to transfer my visa to a new school. She wasn’t delaying giving me my letter, she’d told me the date she’d give it to me and I had agreed to it.

The recruiter wanted it earlier, even though I was due to get it Wednesday and my immigration meeting was set for Friday.

He insisted on calling her…which he did. She then promptly called me and told me he was nuts. Even in Korean, he was nuts, dispelling my reasoning that maybe my suspicion of his behavior was a lost in translation problem. She liked me and didn’t trust him and made that very clear.

Despite this, I met with him and the school to sign the contract and then decided to rescind my acceptance of the job offer, mainly due the my distrust of the recruiter and the fact that he couldn’t tell me much about the job and had ‘forgotten’ my contract on the Wednesday contract signing meeting (before the Monday start date) and could only show me a ‘sample contract’.

Our later correspondence after I declined the offer confirmed my suspicions that I didn’t want to work for him:



IMG_1684 (1)

Again…the times of these messages…

With three days left on my current contract and facing certain unemployment and risking my visa status, The Canadian One and I started to come up with contingency plans. Would I go home? What about my Canadian visa application? It hadn’t been approved yet. Would leaving Korea jeopardise it? At around 10pm that same night, my manager called me saying that his friend had recently had a teacher leave suddenly and that she needed a teacher starting Monday. Needing a job, I gathered my documents and applied before 11pm. My phone rang 20 minutes later. It was the school inviting me to come in the following morning (Thursday) for a meeting.

I went to the interview – and was told I look ‘better in person’ than in my resume photo (!) – explained what was happening with my job status, met the principal, got the job, went to my immigration meeting on Friday, changed over my visa and started on the Monday.

On my first day, the school told me they discovered the teacher had a criminal record and he was fired, which is unusual as you need a criminal record check to get a visa to get to Korea in the first place but I accepted it as an answer and moved on.

I later found out the parents were told the teacher only worked there for two weeks before leaving for a family emergency.

Curious, I asked the kids about their previous teacher.

They told me he was black.

Going back to the school’s response to Mulrennen, it was a bad choice of words and reason, no doubt, but as I read the BBC article I began to remember something that happened four years ago.

With every job application in Korea, you apply with a resume and a photo. I usually used a standard passport-sized photo of me smiling which was rendered unusable as an actual passport photo.

But I went to a job interview once and found the school had a completely different picture of me than the one I’d sent the recruiter. It began to slowly dawn on me that the recruiter had trawled through my Facebook photos – back when my privacy settings weren’t as high – and picked the one she thought best represented me and sent it to the school.

She’d chosen this one:

Wine Train (1)

The photo was taken when I went on a wine train trip where you go on a train through the Korean countryside to a vineyard and have a tour. It’s awesome. I recommend it. You taste test wine all the way there, while there and then all the way back. When I got on the train, I was operating on almost zero sleep – having stayed out until 4am doing shots with a friend at a local bar – was very quickly drunk again after the wine tasting breakfast on the way TO the vineyard. Once off the train, I pounced at the chance to take the photo that would later be included in my resume package to the school by my recruiter.

I was offered the job but declined it.

On a side note: I was supposed to go to a music gig in Seoul later that night but didn’t make it due to extreme wine consumption. This was November 2010 and it was my friend’s band playing. It would have marked the first time I met their much-heard-about-but-never-actually-met-yet guitar player but alas, it was not meant to be and it would be another month before we were to met for the first time, fall in love, move to Canada and get engaged.

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‘Do you Obama?’ – Quote Friday – 12/21

The best of this week’s quotes from my elementary students in South Korea (and some thrown in from friends too)

Official photographic portrait of US President...
Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The world didn’t end and Korea has its first female president elected into office this past Wednesday…so that happened.

ALSO it’s vacation next week so The Ketchup War is on hiatus while we relocate from The Land of the Morning Calm to The Land of the Shamrock for some festivities but fear not, we’ll be back in the new year with more quotes and timewasters and an all new Thursday weekly post. YAY!

Oh and before we move on, you should know The Canadian One has taken to writing down the things I say that I don’t post in an attempt to take over Quote Friday one week…o.O…We shall see, Canadian One, WE. SHALL. SEE.

Moving on.


Kid: ‘Ireland’s Obama who?’


Kid: ‘Do you Obama?’ – She meant do I vote.


While explaining what ‘shelf’ is to my grade ones, a kid starts shaking his head.

Kid: ‘No. No no no.’

Kid 2: ‘Yes.’

Kid: ‘No!’

They hold a brief discussion in Korean with the first little kid pointing at my scarf and yelling, ‘JENNY TEACHER, LOOK!!’ at the other kid.

Kid 2: ‘NO! SCARF!!!’

Kid 1 looks at me.

Me: ‘He’s right, this is a scarf.’


This week we read a story about Mully, Skulder and an alienjust sayin’.


A kid returns from English camp.

Kid: ‘I love a boy. He look like Harry Potter.’

I laugh.

Kid: ‘No really.’

Her friend: ‘He’s the foreign teacher.’

Me: ‘Ahhh, that makes more sense. Haley?’ (Haley’s their male foreign teacher who works in the school. His office is next to my classroom and he looks NOTHING like Harry Potter.)

Kid: ‘NO! Not Haley. Other teacher. Michael.’

I look confused.

Her friend: ‘English camp teacher.’

Me: ‘Ah, not Haley then.’

Her friend: ‘No.’

Kid: ‘You know Haley teacher?’

Me: ‘Yeah.’

Kid nods like ‘Of course, all you white people know each other.’


My co-teacher told me no Christmas party for the kids this year.

Kid: ‘Teacher, Christmas party?’

Me: ‘No.’

Kid: ‘But Halloween party!!’

Me: ‘I know, I’m as confused as you are!’


I hiccup in class. From the other side of the classroom, I hear:

Little Boy: ‘Bless you.’


I’m explaining ‘roll over’ to my students. They all nod.

One smart-alec little kid: ‘I can’t understandDo.’


Me: ‘What pet would you like?’

Kid: ‘A giraffe. A small giraffe.’


We read a story about a girl who wants a puppy. Afterward, a little boy puts his head on his desk.

Little Boy: ‘It’s so sad.’

Me: ‘No, it’s not!’


Sentence: ‘Having a dog is just like having a friend/cat.’

Me: ‘Cat!’

Kids: ‘FRIEND!’

Kid 1: ‘You think cat. Only you. We think friend. You circle cat. We, friend.’


Me: ‘Cats are better than dogs.’

Kid: ‘No. Cats are annoying!’

Me: ‘Dogs are more annoying!’

Kid: ‘No, meow meow is more annoying than yeop yeop. It’s true.’


I have no idea what happen to cause this but I came back from the bathroom and a little boy was pointing at another little boy shouting: ‘I FOOLED YOU!!!’


Kid: ‘I wanna go home.’

Me: ‘Me too.’

Kid: ‘Go ahead.’


Me: ‘What’s a vegetable?’

Kid: ‘Obama.’ (and he KNOWS what a ‘vegetable’ is)


Kid, staring at my hair: ‘Teacher, Jenny Teacher, rockhair crazy…’


Despite teaching one of my classes for three months, I still call them by the wrong names sometimes. They’ve realized that whenever they’re raising their hands to answer questions, I call on people when I’m positive I know their name. On Tuesday, they started raising their hands and SAYING their own name at the same time. Clever.


Once again, here at The Ketchup War, we like to give back so we’re continuing our RANDOM KOREAN PRIZE giveaway. Will it be a packet of Psy sponsored ramen? A cute, kitschy phone dangle? Or something more awesome? (probably not that last one!) All ya gotta do to be in with a shot to win is to ‘like’ a post published between December 18th 2012 and 23:59 (KST) January 18th 2013. Why the 18th? Well, why not the 18th?

For more Quote Friday’s, check out:



‘He’s on a date.’ – Quote Friday 12/07

loveThis week has seemed extraordinarily long considering I wasn’t in school on Wednesday. I needed to day off to accompany someone to the hospital. My co-teacher, however, took the opportunity to prove she wasn’t the most caring person in the entire world. After me explaining why I needed the day off and her explaining how I couldn’t have the day off unless I found someone to replace myself, our conversations got ridiculous:

At 12pm:
Me: ‘Why if I was in the emergency room and I was really ill?’
Her: ‘You would call me very very early in the morning and send a replacement teacher.’
Me: ‘What if I can’t find a replacement?’
Her: ‘Then you must come to school.’

Her: ‘I don’t understand why you want to go. In case it is bad news?’
Me: ‘Well, yes and because I should go.’
Her: ‘Well, what if it’s good news, then you don’t have to go.’
Me: ‘Yes, but how will I know that unless I go?!’

At 2pm, after my first class:
Her: ‘Did you find somebody?’
Me: ‘How would I have found somebody? I’ve been teaching my class!!’

At 4:30pm:
Her: ‘If you really want the day off you have to go down to the principal and get permission to take the day off and then get permission to get another teacher.’
Me: ‘OK.’ I started to put on my cardigan to go out of my classroom.
Her: ‘You will really take the day off?’
Me: ‘Yes.’
Her: ‘You want to tell them now?’
Me: ‘Yes.’ (they go home at 5pm)
Her: ‘You did not find anybody.’
Me: ‘No. But I can tell them I won’t come in and then if I don’t find anyone and I do come in, it’ll be a nice surprise.’
She stares at me blankly.
Her: ‘So you will come in?’
Me: ‘No, if I don’t find anyone and I come but I tell them I’m not coming, it doesn’t matter, does it?’
She stares at me.
Me: ‘If I tell them I won’t be here. And then I do come in, no one will care. But I will have told them I’m not coming in.’
She stares.
Me: ‘I’m telling them I’m not coming in.’
Her: ‘I will tell them.’ (the office speaks NO English)
Me: ‘Great.’

At the end of the day:
Her: ‘Did you find somebody?’
Me: ‘No.’
Her: ‘I guess you just have to come to school then.’
Me: ‘Maybe.’
I’m standing in her classroom holding my mug, my jar of coffee, my dice box for games, my giant foam dice and my school cardigan I wear when I’m cold. Having made it clear to me earlier in the day that I would be fired if I didn’t come to school the following day, even though I spent the entire day telling her I wasn’t coming in, I opted to take home all of my stuff just in case I did get fired and couldn’t get back into the school to get all my things.
Her: ‘Please don’t make me stay awake all night worrying you will not come to school tomorrow.’
Me: ‘I’m not coming to school tomorrow.’
Her: ‘But you have to.’
Me: ‘OK.’
Her: ‘You will come?’
Me: ‘Probably not but we will see tomorrow.’

My old manager calls as we’re walking to the train station to tell me one of his subs at his company can do it.
My co-teacher: ‘I did not know you called him! Why did you call him?!!’
Me: ‘Because I worked there for two years. I know they have spare teachers in case someone goes sick.’
Her: ‘You really want the day off?!!’
Me: ‘Yes!’
Her: ‘You know, I had bird flu and the medication didn’t work but I came to school everyday because we can’t take any days off. It’s not allowed.’
Me: ‘That’s…nice.’


Regarding the masses amount of snow that fell, a kid comes into my classroom.
Kid: ‘Teacher, I fell in the snow. My bottom hurt!’


My replacement teacher on Wednesday was a South African/Nigerian man.
Kid, on Thursday: ‘Teacher, in your classroom, yesterday…who was the dark man?’


Me: ‘What’s your favorite day?’
Kid: ‘Friday.’
Me: ‘Tomorrow?’
Kid: ‘No. Fri. Day.’
Me: ‘So tomorrow?’
Kid 2: ‘Today is Thursday.’
Kid: ‘Oh yes, tomorrow.’


Me, to kid: ‘Why are you late?’
Kid: ‘I’m just late.’
And then he sat down.


During a spelling test:
Me: ‘Soap.’
Kid: ‘What soap spelling?’
Me: ‘REALLY?!!’


Me, calling attendance: ‘Duke?’
Kid: ‘On a date.’
Me: ‘What?’
Kid: ‘He’s on a date.’ (the kids are 11)
Duke walks into the classroom. I look at him and then back to the other kid.
Kid: ‘It finished.’


I honestly think my students take waaaay too much pleasure in ratting me out when I run in the hallway! ‘JENNY TEACHER IS RUN!!!!’


Last week I said ‘I’m not running. I’m walking fast.’
Today, I saw a kid running.
Me: ‘No running.’
Kid: “I no running. I walking fast.’
Dammit. Why’s THAT the thing they choose to remember?!

comedy funny humor kids quotes South Korea

‘I am NO potato.’ – Quote Friday 10/19

The best of this week’s quotes from my elementary students in South Korea (and some thrown in from friends too)

Two kids are calling each other names in Korean before class. Suddenly one of them stands up and screams, really offended, in English:

‘I am NO potato!!!’

LEGO logo


Me: ‘What’s your favorite holiday?’

Kid: ‘Children’s Day.’

Me: ‘Why?’

Kid: ‘I make Lego.’


Yesterday, I walked into class. A little boy is sitting among the 13 students I already have in my grade one class. I point at him.

Me: ‘Who are you?’

Other students: ‘New!! New student!!’

I sighed, having not been told I was getting a new student. I head to my co-teacher’s classroom next door to ask about him.

Me: ‘I have a new student?’

Her: ‘WHAT?! No!’

We both head back to my classroom where she beckons the little boy over and speaks to him briefly in Korean. The kid then goes to fetch his cell-phone and returns. My co-teacher looks at me.

Her: ‘He wants to try the class for today.’

Me: ‘Ok.’

Her: ‘He has to call his mom and let her know where he is.’

Me: ‘O..k…’

He goes off to call his mom to tell her he’s testing out an English class, returns and is perfect in class.

It’s worth noting, he’s 7.


At The Canadian One’s kindergarten school, one of the other male foreign teachers has curly hair.

Kid: ‘Your hair is like ramen.’

Teacher: ‘So?’

Kid: ‘I want to eat it and make you bald.’


The Canadian One while teaching about space shuttles and space stations: They’d just watched a video about a space station.

Kid raises hand.

‘But where’s mission control?’

He’s 6!


The Canadian One and I make up tongue twisters on the way home from Costco:

‘I can’t believe how much I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter we own.’

Say three times fast…we were useless at it!



For more Quote Friday’s, check out:

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Tuesday Timewasters – Gangnam Style – 10/09

(Photo credit: KOREA.NET)

Mam calls me all excited a few weeks ago:

‘Jenny, there’s this song on the radio and you’ll never guess!!! You’ll never guess what it is!!’

‘Is it in Korean?’


‘Is it Gangnam Style?’



‘Do you know it?!!’


While for me, hearing ‘Gangnam Style’ over and over and over again in every establishment in Korea that has working electricity is pretty annoying after the first 5 million times, for my mother all the way in Ireland, I’m willing to bet it was a bit of a head-f**k to hear a Korean pop song on her radio in her house in Dublin.

Last night she rang to ask if I’d seen this week’s X Factor. When I replied ‘no’, I got told:

‘You’ll love it. They all came on stage to Gangnam Style!!!’

Regular readers may remember, I live in Gangnam. The actual Gangnam. The one in the song. Except I live in the part with the hookers and the meat restaurants. Regular readers will also notice Duck Boats make an appearance in the video, as well as the merry-go-round from my Cherry Blossom Date.

So here, for your viewing timewasting pleasure are my favorite ‘Gangnam Style’ videos from around the web, excluding the original which has racked up an impressive 412,216,320 views at time of writing.

Happy Timewasting!


First up, and in a nod to the upcoming ‘Cat Week: Like Shark Week But Fluffier’ (more details below), some genius decided to mix cats and Gangnam style. Sent in by The Canadian One.


In what is quite possibly the BEST EVER cover of ‘Gangnam Style’, an acoustic version by a Korean band called ‘Ra-On’:


Over the years, the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) hasn’t shied away from controversy, the most notable being centered around it’s dancing exercise program. Located in Cebu Province, Phillippines, the prison’s inmates learn and perform dance routines as part of their rehabilitation. The most famous dance routine the inmates have had was ‘Thriller’ in 2007, causing Time Magazine to place their viral video fifth in their ‘Top 10 Most Popular Viral Vidoes.

Though the inmates have largely stayed out of the public eye in recent years, on September 29th 2012, they returned to our You Tube screens with their rendition of ‘Gangnam Style’.


Then there’s the Oregon Marching Band rendition:


Even Britney got in on the action, getting a lesson in dancing from the man himself.


And so did this mom and son…OMG I love them!!


One of the more random parodies I came across: ‘Gunman Style’. Though it’s racked up almost 10 million views, so that’s impressive.

‘You can’t run from sweet justice.’


Meanwhile, in Indonesia, 1,000 people jumped into a fountain and went all ‘Gangnam Style’:


14 lifeguards make a ‘Gangnam Style’ video. Then they are fired. Then their story goes viral. Man, all that video does is kinda make me wanna visit the water park! Check it out:


And finally, courtesy of Jewish News One, comes the story of a 10 month old kid who won’t eat unless ‘Gangnam Style’ is playing…And that’s quite possibly one of the best sentences I’ve ever written!


And don’t forget, coming Oct 29th-Nov4th, ‘Cat Week: Like Shark Week But Fluffier’. Have YOU got a cat story you wanna share? Send it to us (no more than 500-600 words with two pictures) to


Still got time to waste? For more Timewasters, check out:

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‘Oh teacher, your font is very good.’ – Quote Friday 09/21

The best of this week’s quotes from my elementary students in South Korea (and some thrown in from friends too)

I write something on the whiteboard.

Kid: ‘Oh teacher, your font is very good.’


flag of Denmark

I draw a window on the board.

Kid: ‘Ou, Denmark!’


During a test, two boys are talking:

Me: ‘What are you doing?!’

Kid 1: ‘A test?’


Two boys are fighting while a girl watches. I look at her. She points at them.

Little Girl: ‘Gay style.’


Rumors spread through the school that the school had hired a ‘hot, Chinese-American boy’ as the new official school English teacher. This is two days later:

Kid 1: ‘Oh teacher, we have new English teacher.’

Me: ‘Really?’

Kid: ‘Yes, Haley Teacher.’

Me: ‘Oh, a girl?’

Kid: ‘No, a boy.’

Me: ‘Haley’s a girl’s name.’

Kid 2: ‘No, it’s not.’

Me: ‘Fine.’

Kid: ‘Oh, teacher, you and Haley teacher, together, love.’

Me: ‘Um…no.’

Kid: ‘Do you have boyfriend?’

Me: ‘Yes.’

Kid: ‘Is he Korean?’

Me: ‘No, he’s Canadian.’

Kid: ‘Oh, Haley teacher too! Oh, teacher, boyfriend change. Canada. Canada. Boyfriend change!!!’

Me: ‘I don’t think my boyfriend would like that.’

Kid: ‘Think about it.’

Me: ‘OK.’


Kid: ‘You have smart eyes.’


Me: ‘Do you like the beach?’

Kid: ‘No, I don’t like jellyfish but they are nice in salad.’


A kid tries to hand me something stupid.

Me: ‘No thanks.’

Kid: ‘In Korea culture, you should take a gift.’


I hand a kid a piece of candy. She looks at me, smiles and says: ‘Always look on the bright side.’


I throw the pen onto the desk after marking the homework as I didn’t need it anymore.

Kid: ‘Oh teacher, bad habit!’


A kid is messing about in class. I tell him to stop.

Kid sitting in front of him: ‘Hit him!!’

Me: ‘I can’t hit students. I’m not allowed.’

Kid 1: ‘I’ll do it!!’

Kid 2: ‘Me first!!!’

Me: ‘Stop, no…No-one’s hitting anyone!’


At pub quiz, answering a question regarding who sings the song that was just played:

Me: ‘Kelly Rowland.’

The Canadian One: ‘From X Factor?’


Me, upon receiving a text, to The Canadian One: ‘Ou, Ursula and Amy invited me over on Saturday to watch Magic Mike, eat pizza and drink vodka. I’m in!’


Me: ‘Magic Mike is the stripper movie.’


Me: ‘I don’t think they actually appear naked in the movie. I think it’s just about a dude who is a stripper.’

The Canadian One: ‘It’s OK. I don’t think stripper Mike is gonna jump outta the TV and rape you.’


For more Quote Friday’s, check out:

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You want me to insert that…WHERE?!

First Aid Symbol

Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: ‘I feel like I need to write a blog post about this. I SHOULD WARN OTHER PEOPLE!!’

The Canadian One: ‘Lol. Civic duty!’

Me: ‘I know!! IT’S MY DUTY TO WARN THE OTHER FOREIGNERS!! Have you ever heard of anyone having this done?! I HAVE NOT!’

The Canadian One: ‘I think so..or I might be thinking of when I worked at the pet store!’

This was Wednesday morning and I had just been for my mandatory yearly Korean-job medical check to get my medical certificate to work. Every job I’ve ever been in in Korea has made me have a medical test during my first week on the job.

The first time it went a bit like this. Myself, my head teacher from Canada and our school director’s husband who spoke no English other than ‘Get out of the car’ and ‘Take off your clothes’…No comment…all took the trip together. I had a chest x-ray, I peed in a paper cup and I had a blood test. Now, the first thing about getting tested in Korea is this: you pee in a small paper cup that is identical to the ones I drink my teeny coffees from at school each day

Once half full, you take the open-topped paper cup back to where you got it, in the room full of patients waiting to get their own paper cups to urinate in. You place it on a tray with a plethora of other paper cups filled with liquid in various shades of the yellow spectrum.

Then you go up to a desk next to two other people and have your blood drawn, trying not to cringe too much because the two people on either side of you are getting the same thing and there’s an entire room full of people watching you, impatiently waiting for their turn at the needle.

The next thing to be done is the chest x-ray. You change your top half into a gown and proceed to stand, arms in the air, hold your breathe and it’s done. It’s worth noting always always remember to wear a skirt and top or jeans and a top. You do not wanna confuse them by wearing a dress and have the nurses mildly panic at what they’re going to give you to wear on the bottom once your dress is off.

My second test a year later was the exact same, different hospital, but also included a vision test, a hearing test and a blood pressure test.

My third almost didn’t happen. Having been told I didn’t need it, I happily went home for two weeks only to return and be told I was to head to the hospital that week for my medical check-up. Knowing I already had my visa, I enquired about what exactly this test was for, specifically.

My Manager: ‘Drugs…and AIDS.’

Medicine drugs

Of course. I should have known. Ireland: Known for their drugs and AIDS. I made my appointment, went for my test and was surprised the total came to 150,000won ($135). Luckily, it was one of those things my company had agreed to reimburse me for in advance so I wasn’t exactly out of pocket for too long.

This fourth time, I’m working at a public elementary school and as I’m the first foreigner the school has ever hired by itself and not through any sort of program or third-party, they’d had me trying my best to adhere to the Korean application process. All my application forms were in Korean. All information I get from the school is in Korean and translated into English by my co-teacher. All my contracts and official visa processing documents are all in Korean too which has made that Google Translate App on my iPhone all the more useful.

On Monday, I got a list of documents I have five days to find, gather, copy and hand in. On the list are the usual suspects: degree, bank details, CELTA certificate, Alien Registration Card, worker certificates (apparently something every Korean has and it’s incredulous that I, the foreigner, don’t have one from every job I’ve ever worked at…ever….) and finally, a clean health certificate dictating I have no illnesses, AIDS, drugs or disease that will affect my working ability.

Knowing what getting the certificate entails, I agreed to go to the local community health center next to my school to get it done. Firstly, when I walked in, I was greeted by a security guard who made a beeline for me. While trying to help me fill in my forms, he took to yelling at me in Korean because God knows if someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying while you’re using your indoor-voice, the next logical step is the yell at them loud enough for the people on the 6th floor to hear.

A receptionist came to my rescue, took my ID card and did everything for me. I was due to have three tests: blood, pee and chest x-ray I assumed. I was handed back over to the trusty security guard who brought me to my first test: the chest x-ray. Luckily, no English wasn’t a problem as I’d done this before and knew exactly what to do. Five minutes later, it was off to the blood test in a small little room nearby.


An old Korean man sat behind a desk drawing blood from a young university aged girl while I sat on the chair nearby waiting. When it was my turn, I went to the desk, sat down and gave my name. He printed out three stickers with my details on them. He stuck one to a blood vile, one to a paper cup and one to a small tube with a long Q-tip in it.

I stared at it.


I had my blood drawn and was handed the paper cup. The man then took the cotton swab out of the tube and stood up.

This is exactly how it sounded to me:

Man: ‘Korean korean korean korean korean korean korean ANUS korean korean korean.’

Me: ‘I’m sorry…what?!’ (exactly what I said)

Man: ‘….Tip…’ (pointing to the tip of the cotton swab) ‘…anus….insert…tip…anus…’

….And then he did a demonstration over his clothing.

So, here I am, 10am on a Wednesday morning watching an old man demonstrate how to put a Q-tip in my ass while an old male security guard watches with a serious look on his face.

First thought: How am I gonna do this?

Second thought: I can’t wait to tell The Canadian One about this!

I wandered off to the bathroom and return five ten minutes later, having walked across the floor of the health center with my pee in a paper cup and my tube of…Q-tip.

I was then deposited back to the reception area. I’m returning Tuesday to pick up my results…of what I don’t know.

As I work a public school, I knew I wouldn’t be reimbursed for the medical certificate costs and began to despair at the fact that now not only was I beginning to think I may have done the butt test incorrectly and would be called next week to redo it, I was also about to be out $135.

When it came to pay, I was charged 1,500won ($1.30).

Uh huh, ONE dollar and THIRTY cents.

I often wondered what I’d do to save myself a bit of cash, or rather save myself $133.70 in cash. But alas, now I have my answer:

I would happily swab my ass with a Q-tip…Oh come on, like you wouldn’t!

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‘Giraffe is no tall.’ – Quote Friday 09/14

The best of this week’s quotes from my elementary students in South Korea (and some thrown in from friends too)

Guy to girl who’s just explained how a guy she recently went on a date with used the ‘let me tell your fortune’ line on her to hold her hand: ‘Uh huh, and then he’ll be like I wanna tell your fortune…from inside you…’


Same guy, during dinner in a fancy hotel: ‘Am I making too many orgy jokes?’


Guy: ‘There are plenty of girls who want to see my Google history.’


A kid draws all over the board messily with a board marker.

Other kid, gasps, ‘Teacher!! White board terror!!!’


Me: ‘What’s tall?’

Kid: ‘A giraffe.’

Me: ‘Very good!’

Kid 2: ‘Teacher, giraffe is no tall. Giraffe has long neck. It’s no tall.’


Some pictures from April Lynn Amador and her 6 year old Kindergarten students!


I call mam at 12:20am.

Mam: ‘I’m knitting you a hat. I wanna know what kinda hat you’d like.’

Me: ‘One with ear flaps. Like flaps that cover my ears.’

Mam: ‘Ok. Do you have a hat like that already?’

Me: ‘Yes. It’s got stuff inside it.’

Mam: ‘Oh lining. I can put lining in it.’

Me: ‘No, not lining.’

Mam: ‘Like the stuff in the hat I got you at Northface.’

Me: ‘No, it’s fluffy.’

Mam: ‘It’s lining.’

Me: ‘No, it’s not the same. It’s fluffy. It’s like…3D…I can pet it.’


Mam: ‘You can pet it? Does it have a name? Do you feed it?’

Me: ‘I don’t want a hat anymore. Go away!’

We end the conversation and The Canadian One comes into the bedroom.

Him: ‘What was that about?’

Me: ‘She’s making me a hat. I was trying to describe that hat to her (pointing to my hat on the ground). I told her the fluff was 3D.’

Pause. He takes a deep breath.

Him: ‘You do realize the entire hat is 3D, right? I mean everything you touch is 3D.’


Me: ‘Shut up!’

Mam calls back at 9:19am.

Mam: ‘I made you a hat. I sent you a picture.’

Me: ‘ALREADY?!!’

I check my phone.




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Tuesday Timewasters – Did You Know About THIS?!! – Korean Theme Parks 09/11

***This article contains sexual references…if you think this will offend you, we suggest you stop reading now…OK, wait, you can read the first half of the article pretty safely but after that, you should probably leave. Don’t say TKW didn’t warn you and don’t email us complaining, please…Hi Mam!***

Did YOU know that there’s a park dedicated to toilets and poop near Seoul? Or a theme park dedicated to sex down south?…South Korea that is.

If not, then read on, my friend, read on.

There used to be a time when I would scrunch up my face at the mere mention of going to a sculpture park. I would say, ‘Ew, what? A sculpture park? And what can we do there? Will there be a rollercoaster? Candy? Alcohol? No? Then what’s the point?’. But alas, no more. Now, ohhhhh now, living in Korea has changed all that. Now, when someone mentions an excursion to a sculpture park I say, ‘What kinda sculpture park?’

Let me explain. You see here in Korea, we have a plethora of weird and wonderful sculpture parks. From the wonderful ice sculptures of Taebaek:

‘Luke, I am your ice sculpture’

To the weird bronze sculptures outside shopping malls:


And then there’s the newly opened park revolving around toilets and Loveland, a theme park dedicated to sex.

…No, seriously.

Let’s start with the toilet park.

Based in Suwon, a mere 40 minutes from Seoul, and opened this past July 4th, ‘The Restroom Cultural Park’ is a park dedicated to all things…well, toilet related. There are bronze statues of people doing their business in the open:

And in a traditional house:

Also included on the trail around the park are ancient Korean flush toilets, Roman-style toilets, European bedpans and all the fun facts about poop you can just about stand.

Now, you maaaaaaay be thinking, WTH? But alas, this actually does have an interesting backstory to it. Firstly, the park is dedicated to the former mayor, Mayor Sim Jae-Duck, who died in January 2009. Mayor Sim was lovingly nicknamed ‘Mr. Toilet’ by the Korean people and not without its merits. Word has it, Sim was born in a toilet in his grandmother’s house and while in office, he became obsessed with public restroom cleanliness and hygiene. Everyone’s got a hobby, let’s not judge.

He founded the World Toilet Association in 2006 and devoted his life to ensuring everyone had access to clean public toilet facilities right up until his death. He was so enamored with toilets and all things toilet-related that he had his original house demolished and rebuilt as the world’s only toilet-shaped home.

Although that’s not where the toilet-fun ends on a trip to Suwon. The town also boasts many public restrooms as tourist attractions as seen in this tourist map:

I do have to say, having gone to pee in many a bathroom here in Korea, my favorite one was the one at the top of Seoul Tower. Not only is the view FANTASTIC, the place is clean and has some kinda glittery, disco ball feel to it. The Canadian One tells me in the men’s, the urinals are against the windows so you can go about your business and not miss any of the view.


Another interesting park Korea has to offer is, Loveland, a sex theme park situated on Jeju Island, an island off the south coast of Korea.

‘As the only sexual theme park in Korea Jeju Loveland is a place where sexually orientated art and eroticism meet. Jeju Loveland breaks the traditional taboos surrounding sex, and is a place where the visitor can appreciate the natural beauty of sexuality.’ – from their website

That pretty much sums it up really. I went there on an organised trip during a five-day break to Jeju around two years ago and found it an incredibly intriguing experience. Opened in November 2004 and designed by Hongik University students, Loveland truly is a MUST-SEE attraction if you’re in Jeju!

Giant Marble Penis which squirts liquid every so often…It’s worth knowing, there’s also a picture of me having climbed on top of it and standing on it but I didn’t wanna have to caption a picture ‘Me on top of a Giant Cock’…My mam reads this site! Hi mam!

I also once went to a sex museum in Amsterdam but that’s probably a story for another time.

Still got time to waste? For more Timewasters, check out:

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‘Teacher’s head is sad.’ – Quote Friday 09/06

The best of this week’s quotes from my elementary students in South Korea (and some thrown in from friends too)

Photo by Constantina Dirica

This week I started my new job. So far, so good….


Me to The Canadian One: ‘I don’t understand. If the sun is a star and all stars are suns, why aren’t the stars yellow and not white?’


While discussing people coming over to the house unannounced when the house is a mess:

The Canadian One: ‘Surprise visits aren’t surprised at all. They’re intrusions.’


Me: ‘I didn’t wanna hit you.’

Guy: ‘That’s not the first time a girl’s said that to me.’


Regarding Facebook pokes:

Guy: ‘The Internet: Made for being gay.’


Me: ‘What’s an adult?’

Kid: ‘A big human.’


Some kids are messing about in class.

Kid sitting behind them: ‘ACT YOUR AGE!!!’


On my first day:

Me: ‘What do you think a class rule is?’

Grade One kid who’s been learning English for 6 months: ‘PAY ATTENTION!!’


Kid looks at my frizzy hair.

Kid: ‘Teacher’s head is sad.’


Me: ‘Where am I from?’

Kid: ‘Mexico!’

Entire class stares at her.

Other kid, slowly to the first kid: ‘Ireland.’


Kid puts her hand up to answer a question. The kid next to her puts her hand up too. I pick the second kid.

First kid: ‘Oh teacher, I am disappointed in you.’


In Korea, all teachers are called by their first name plus teacher. So I am ‘Jenny Teacher’. While doing an introducing yourself unit in the book:

Me: ‘What’s my first name?’

Kid: ‘Jenny.’

Me: ‘What’s my last name? ‘

Kid: ‘Teacher!’


While doing a ‘What does she look like?’ task, the question is to fill in the blanks about your teacher.

In the book: ‘Mr. / Ms. ____________ is _______________.’ They’re supposed to write tall or short.

Me: ‘Ms….’

One little boy: ‘Mr?…Oh wait…no….wait….noooo….Ms….’

Me: ‘Eh,yes…Ok, Jenny is….’

Kid 2: ‘Friendly.’

Me: ‘Ha, thanks but tall or short?’

Kid 1 again: ‘Jenny is a she.’

Me: ‘I AM!! Well done!’


Kid: ‘I have Green’s homework….’

I look at him, confused. He looks at the book in his hand.

Kid: ‘Glenn’s….I have GLENN’S homework.’


Ridiculous Parental Interaction of the Week:

The basic points system in my class works like this: Get five points, get a stamp. Speak Korean, minus two points. Annoy me in general, minus one point. 42 stamps (co-teacher’s doing, not mine) and they get a present. Each class, the kids start with zero points and go up and down in points throughout the class. It’s a simple concept and kids take no more than five minutes to grasp it.

My second day, Tuesday: A kid, Nikita, speaks Korean to Ted, the kid next to her. I deduct two points from each of them. That afternoon I’m called into my co-teacher’s (CO-T) classroom.

Her: ‘Do you know Nikita? She was sitting with Ted?’

Me: ‘Yeah, I remember her.’

Her: ‘Her mom called. You minus her two points?’

Me: ‘Yeah, she spoke Korean.’

Her: ‘She went home and cried and she said it was the little boy next to her not her. So her mom called Ted’s mom to complain about Ted and then called us to complain about her minus points.’

Me: ‘Ok.’

Her: ‘She says she did not speak Korean. You must be mistaken.’

Me: ‘I’m not. She did.’

Her: ‘No, Nikita is a good student. I don’t think she would.’

Me: ‘No, I wouldn’t have deducted points from her unless she spoke Korean.’

Her: ‘I talked with her mom and she said Nikita says she didn’t. I told her it was your first time with the class and you confused the names and should have minus points from someone else. She wants you to give her her two points back.’

I look at her with a look that clearly says ‘Are you f*&king kidding me?’.

Me: ‘O…k….but it doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t mean anything. I took two points but it’s just in class. Like, I give points and then if they get five points they get a stamp. She didn’t have many points, it didn’t make a difference.’

Her: ‘You must give her two points.

Me: ‘But it doesn’t work like that. I mean, each class they start at zero.’

Her: ‘Give her two points. And comfort her.’

Me: ‘O…k….’

I leave.

I don’t teach that class on Wednesday.

Thursday: My CO-T comes into my classroom.

Her: ‘Today, you must give Nikita a present to say sorry.’ (Bare in mind, the kid got punished for speaking Korean in class when she knew she wasn’t supposed to, then went home and lied to her mom about it and now I had to give her a present to say sorry)

I blink and stare at my CO-T.

Me: ‘What kind of present?’ (I look around my desk) ‘I don’t think I have anything to give her.’

Her: ‘Just something. I told her and her mom you would give her a present today.’

She leaves and I find a chocolate cookie still in date in my desk.

I go into my CO-T’s classroom.

Me: ‘How do I give Nikita a present without all the other kids freaking out about not getting a present?’

Her: ‘They know. I explained to the class yesterday that you would be giving Nikita a present.’

I nodded slowly, wondering exactly what she told the kids I did wrong to warrant giving Nikita a present.

She takes out an empty stamp sheet and holds it in front of me.

Her: ‘When they are good, they get stamps. They like stamps. They are important because when they fill the stamp sheet they get some kind of present…’

Me, cutting her off: ‘I understand that.’

Her: ‘And you minus two stamps…’

Me, cutting her off again: ‘Points.’

She looks at me.

Me: ‘I took two points not stamps.’

Her: ‘You didn’t X out stamps?’

Me: ‘NO! I minused her two points. In my class they earn points and five points gets a stamp.’ I start drawing it on the board. ‘If they are naughty, I take away two points, not stamps.’

Long pause.

Her: ‘So this doesn’t matter? It was just two points?’

Me: ‘Yes!!’

She nods slowly, then laughs, then shakes her head in disbelief.

Her: ‘It doesn’t matter…’ (mainly to herself)

Me: ‘No. It doesn’t. Every class they start at zero. Nikita didn’t have enough points to get close to getting a stamp. It didn’t matter that I took two points. It made no difference to her.’

My CO-T shakes her head.


Her: ‘Remember to give her a present.’

I sighed, nodded and left.

Class time rolled round. Nikita got her present. I turned my back to write on the board, I hear kids talking in Korean at the back of the classroom where Nikita, Matt and Ted are sitting. I look at them. Matt looks guilty.

Me: ‘Matt!’

Matt: ‘Nikita!!’ (pointing at Nikita)

I look at Nikita who looks sheepish. I look at three other students also pointing out Nikita as the culprit. I sigh and continue with class not bothering to punish anyone the entire lesson.


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The Typhoon That Wasn’t

Preparing for the typhoon

The Canadian One shows me a message on his phone.

Him: ‘KC says it depends on the typhoon. What typhoon?’

Me: ‘The one on Tuesday.’

Him: ‘There’s a typhoon coming?’

This was Saturday and the answer to that question was yes….and then eventually kinda.

The original warning for Typhoon Bolaven

On Monday, while Facebook was busy letting all the ex-pats know a typhoon was imminent, to batten down the hatches and prepare for the worse, some of us were more fixated on the news making announcements that all the schools were to be closed. Was my school going to be closed? Was I going to have a day off??

Korean schools rarely close. Ever. Apart from that freak snowstorm that happened over two years ago, no school I’ve ever worked for has had an unscheduled day off. And even on freak-snow-day, I went to school, sat around and was then eventually sent home. It’s so unusual people that still talk about it now in the same way they speak of leprechaun or government conspiracies. They adopt hushed tones like their day off will be revoked two years later.

‘Hey, were you around when all the school shut for that snow day?’

Although, the downside to that is, classes have been paid for and must be made up and so we all had to drag our asses into work on a Saturday to make up the missed classes.

Student: ‘I am not happy. I want to go home and play computer games.’

Me: ‘ME TOO!’

A typhoon warning was issued on Monday and by Monday night, most schools had announced closures except The Canadian One’s school who waited until 8am the following morning to make their decision.

I called my mam to warn her about the typhoon. The news in the UK and Ireland tend to dramatise everything that happens in Korea and I didn’t want her waking up thinking The Canadian One and I were going to be trapped in the apartment running dangerously low on beer water, with no power, no internet connection and with us both having iPhones, well, they’ll both be battery dead before midnight 10pm it gets dark.

Windows were taped up. Flags brought indoors. Texts sent by our schools with warnings to ‘stay indoors for safety’ and ‘not to go outside’. The Canadian One and I stocked up on emergency water, bread, milk, beer, cigarettes, soju and Doritos, the staples in life.

It was due to hit at 2pm.

2pm came and went.

3pm came and went.

The Canadian One and I ventured outside to buy coffee and check out the weather. Nothing was happening. A lone orange taxi crawled up the deserted street searching for customers. A beauty shop employee stepped through the automatic doors onto the street and looked up. She turned back to her colleague and shrugged.

We took pictures of trees and clouds. We bought our coffees and a new umbrella just in case.

Along the way, Typhoon Bolaven became Tropical Storm Bolaven and the streets of Seoul were deemed safe to wander. Not that I did any wandering of any kind. I stayed in my air-conditioned apartment watching 30 Rock.

We were lucky. We were safe in Seoul. Other parts of the country weren’t so lucky. Friends had their apartment windows smashed in. Others living on the 15th floor of an apartment block felt their building sway in the wind. For some, flooding was the order of the day.

Another typhoon warning was issued on Wednesday and yesterday and today we’ve been experiencing Typhoon Tropical Storm Tembin but alas it didn’t stop us venturing out for chicken and beer and moseying home at 1am on a school night.

In Tropical Storm Bolaven, we ventured out for coffee.

In Tropical Storm Tembin, we venture out for chicken and beer.

I guess it’s all about the important things in life, right?

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‘Ah, do you live Gangnam Style?’ – Quote Friday 08/17

The best of this week’s quotes from my life in South Korea 

Around three weeks ago, I was informed that the English teaching program at my school would no longer be continuing and I would have to search for a new job. Now, searching for a job is fine. I’ve job hunted lots of times in my life. I’ve job hunted when I had a job just to see if there was anything better out there. I’ve job hunted in Ireland, in England, in various other European countries but nothing, nothing, compares to job hunting in Korea. Nothing.

What’s important here isn’t qualifications. It’s isn’t experience, references or personality. It’s are you pretty and are you white, and mostly, are you male?

Questions I’ve been asked by recruiters:

Recruiter: ‘Are you a vegetarian? It’s very important to the school that you’re not a vegetarian.’


Recruiter: ‘Are you religious? They like Christians.’


Recruiter: ‘Do you have lots of friends?’


Phone rings once. I pick it up. It cuts off.

I get a text: ‘Call me for interview.’

I head to the desk to get a pen and paper to call the number back and write down any information the caller gives me.

Phone rings again.

‘Hello. I message you. You get my message?’

Me: ‘Yes, just now. I….’

‘Do you have Kakao talk? I only talk on Kakao talk.’

Me: ‘Ummm, well, yes but I don’t use it. Can’t we just talk on the phone? Like we are now. On the phone.’

‘Why you no use Kakao talk?’

Me: ‘I usually just talk to people on the phone. We can’t do that?’

‘No, we will communicate by email.’

And then he hung up. He’s since emailed me three time, called me four times and text me twice. He’s been flagged on my phone as ‘Crazy Person’.


I turn up to a job interview at a ubiquitous looking glass building.

Recruiter: ‘This is the 3rd largest church in Korea.’

Me: ‘It’s…what?!’


Recruiter: ‘Oh, I see you are Irish. I have Irish friends. When I go drinking with them, I always wake up and think f**k!!…Do you drink?’


Me: ‘I would like a job in Seoul.’

‘I have a job in Suwon.’

Me: ‘Suwon is not in Seoul.’

‘Suwon is in Seoul.’

Me: ‘No, it’s not. It’s far from Seoul.’

‘Suwon IS in Seoul.’ (Note: Suwon is NOT in Seoul)

Me ‘No, it’s too far.’

‘You can get to Seoul easily by train or subway. It’s very quick. It’s in Seoul.’

‘It’s not in Seoul…I lived in Cheonan. I know where Suwon is!’


Her: ‘I will call you back.’


‘You have an apartment.’

Me: ‘Yes.’

‘You will move.’

Me: ‘No, I don’t want to. I want to stay in my apartment. It’s my apartment.’

‘You don’t want to move?’

Me: ‘No. I live in the apartment. I don’t want to move.’

‘Hmmmmm, but if you move you will be 2 minutes from school. Now you are 30 minutes.’

Me: ‘That’s ok.’

Loooooong pause like I’d just said the sky was green and it was about to rain kittens.


Trying to convince me to go to Cheonan, a 90 min journey south, to work.

Him: ‘Cheonan is not that far away.’

Me: ‘Yes it is. It’s a bus ride. A long bus ride. And I’d have to be with the kids 9 til 9.’

Him: ‘You will have Korean teacher.’

Me: ‘That’s not a help. It’s too far.’

Him: ‘It is short. Short bus journey. And then we will pick you up at the train station.’

Me: ‘I lived in Cheonan. I know where it is.’

Him: ‘You….you lived in Cheonan? Before?’

Me: ‘Yes, for two years.’


Him: ‘You don’t want to go to Cheonan?’

Me: ‘No, no I do not.’


And finally, asked during an interview when the interviewer noticed I live in Gangnam, an affluent area of Seoul’s elite (except I live in the part that’s not rich and elite and is full of meat restaurants and hookers):

‘Ah, do you live Gangnam style?!!’

Referring to this video, with it’s addictive beats and disco style, it’s been played constantly over here:

Now, while I don’t actually live ‘Gangnam-Style’, regular readers will notice the Duck Boats make an appearance in the video, as well as the merry-go-round from my Cherry Blossom Date.


This week, The Canadian One and I ventured to see Snowpatrol.

Mam: ‘I dunno why you like Snowpatrol.’

Me: ‘They’re Irish!’

Mam: ‘So is Jedward!!!’


Me: ‘I think I’ll have some peanut butter.’

The Canadian One: ‘We don’t have any peanut butter.’

Me: ‘I saw some in the fridge.’

The Canadian One: ‘Oh, that’s empty.’

Me: ‘Then why’s it in the fridge?’

The Canadian One: ‘To make the fridge look less empty.’


For more Quote Friday’s, check out:

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‘BUT I GO TO THE SEA!!’ – Quote Friday – 08/10

The best of this week’s quotes from my elementary students in South Korea (and some thrown in from friends too)

Yesterday was The Canadian One’s birthday and on Tuesday, I taught an Art Class in which we made ostriches.

Me: ‘I made you something at school for your birthday.’

Him: ‘Is it an ostrich?’

Me: ‘…No.’

Him: ‘It’s an ostrich, isn’t it?’

Me: ‘…No.’

Him: ‘You made me an ostrich, didn’t you?’

Me: ‘I did not make you an ostrich.’


Him: ‘It’s an ostrich, isn’t it?’


An Ostrich: Not made by me but by a seven year old


On Wednesday:

Me: ‘We made cats!’

Him: ‘Did you make me a catrich?’ (cat + ostrich)

Me: ‘Yes, yes I made you a catrich….tomorrow frog….oh wait….I was trying to combine frog and dog….but it’s already a word.


I did, however, make him a cake.

What kinda cake do you make a diabetic for his birthday? A Cheese Cake!


Stupid Moment of the Week:

Me, after drinking two glasses of milk: ‘I feel like a cow. Oh wait, cows don’t drink milk. Nevermind.’


Me: ‘How are you?’

Kid: ‘Me?’

Me: ‘Yes.’

Kid: ‘Now?’

Me: ‘Yes.’

Kid: ‘I’m everything.’


Turns out I say ‘Ok, so…’ A LOT.

I stand in front of the class and open my book.

Entire class: ‘Ok, soooooooo…’


Me: ‘There is one flower.’

Grade Ones: ‘There is one flower.’

Me: ‘There is one cloud.’

Grade Ones: ‘There is one flower.’

Me: ‘No, there is one cloud.’

Grade Ones: ‘There is one flowd.’

Me: ‘CLOUD!’

Grade Ones: ‘Cloud.’

Me: ‘There is one cloud.’

Grade Ones: ‘There is one flower.’

Me: ‘I give up.’


Kid: ‘Me minus one sticker!’

Me: ‘You have no homework!’



Kid 1: ‘I lost my homework book CD.’

Kid 2: ‘I lost my homework book but I have the homework book CD.’

Me: ‘Well, then together you can do homework!’


Calling attendance:

Me: ‘Tony?’

Kid: ‘No.’

Me: ‘Where’s Tony?’

Kid: ‘Tony is…his home….’

Kid does a little dance.

Kid 2: ‘At the disco? His home is disco?’


From Kindergarten class submitted by April Lynn Amador:

Kid: ‘Um teacher? Sometimes I have a fart when I do the study.’


For more Quote Friday’s, check out:

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‘Give me your coffee’ – Quote Friday 07/20

The best of this week’s quotes from my elementary students in South Korea (and some thrown in from friends too)

It’s my birthday today!!

I just wanted to point that out before we begin.


Me: ‘You’re like a domesticated puppy.’

The Canadian One: ‘I’m like a half domesticated puppy that still pees on the floor sometimes.’

Me: ‘Can I put that on my blog?’

The Canadian One: ‘Not out of context!’

Context: I was sitting on the floor of the kitchen with a teapot cosy on my head while he was cleaning the top of the fridge.

No, I didn’t think the context would help either!

To be fair, after this happened, he said this about me:

The Canadian One: ‘I think of living with her the same way I do living with a puppy, one day I’m gonna come home and she will have broken something I really like.’

A mere seconds later I saved his life. Saved. His. Life. Who’s the puppy NOW?!

Moving on.


Kid: ‘Teacher, ummmm, tomorrow happy birthday…ummmm, do you like pencil?’

Birthday Cupcakes (neither made by nor eaten by me!)

Me: ‘Yes! I love pencils!’

Kid: ‘And sticker?’

Me: ‘Yes, I love stickers.’

Kid: ‘Teacher, you Korean yes?’

Me: ‘No.’

Kid: ‘Ummmmm, happy birthday card korean me…you no?’

Me: ‘Korean teacher can tell me.’

Kid: ‘OK!!’

She runs away smiling.


Describing a picture:

Kid: ‘He is scared because his bride’s face is ugly.’

Kid 2: ‘She is sad because she doesn’t love bridegroom.’


Kid points to candy on my desk.

Kid 1: ‘Candy!’

Me: ‘The candy is for grade six.’

Kid: ‘I’m great! Kitty’s great!!’ (pointing at her friend)

Me: ‘No no, GRADE six. Not great.’

Kid: ‘Kevin is grade six!’ (pointing at another boy sitting behind her)

Kevin looks up at me.

Kevin: ‘Yes, teacher, give me your coffee.’


A kid has no pencil.

Me: ‘If someone gives him a pencil, I’ll give you a sticker.’

Kid, being mean to all the other students: ‘No, no, I have a pencil.’


Someone hits my door during a lesson. I open the door to find kids scattering and one boy standing, staring at me like a deer in headlights.

Me: ‘Who hit my door?!’

Kid: ‘I don’t know…I don’t know…’

I stare at him.

Kid: ‘I don’t know…’

Me: ‘Come here.’

Kid: ‘It was Tony!!’


Kid talking to me randomly about food.

Kid: ‘Oh teacher, I see, the jungle man say eat this and the people eat and then bleeeeeh…’

Me: ‘What did they eat?’

Kid: ‘Thin white ants and iguanas.’

Me: ‘Ewwww…’


Me: ‘It’s big and brown. It has a big head and four legs.’

Two kids put their hands up.

Kid 1: ‘It’s a bear!!!’



Kid: ‘Oh teacher, do you know sweater?’

Me: ‘What?’

Kid: ‘Sweater?’

I look at her, skeptically.

Kid: ‘Sweater? No? Wait…’ (to the kid next to her) ‘…Sweater? Sweater?’

Kid 2: ‘No, Twitter!’

Kid: ‘Ohhh, do you know Twitter?’


Me: ‘What country do you live in?’

Kid: ‘Japan!’

Me: ‘NO!! This is Korea!!’

Kid next to her, pointing at her: ‘Japan spy!!!’


Me: ‘What do you not want to be?’

Little Boy: ‘I don’t want to be a mom!’


Me, trying to get a kid to move to a different desk and pointing at am empty desk: ‘Move it!’

Kid, looking at me quizzically: ‘Movie? We watching movie?’

Me: ‘No! Move it!’


Kid: ‘Move it…? I like to move it move it?’

Me: ‘Come sit here!’

Kid, gathering his stuff: ‘I like to move it move it! I like to move it move it!’


Me: ‘Your final text will be in three weeks.’

Kid: ‘What?! Test last week!!!’

Me: ‘I know, it makes no sense to me either but it’s on the schedule so…we’re having a test.’


Submitted by Michael Holman:

When talking about good/bad habits:

Me: ‘What’s a bad habit you have?’

Girl1: ‘What is ‘habit’?’

Me: ‘Something you do every day.’

Girl1: ‘I have a bad habit of hating my baby brother.’

Girl2: ‘Me TOO!!’

At least she decided it was a ‘bad’ habit.


For more Quote Fridays, check out:

comedy funny humor kids Korea South Korea Uncategorized

‘I am McGyver!!’ – Quote Friday 07/13

The best of this week’s quotes from my elementary students in South Korea (and a couple thrown in from friends too!)

Random Compliment of the Week:

While at an art show, Girl to me: ‘You’re pretty, can you go pretend to look at art and she can take your picture?’

Random Blog Compliment (?) of the Week (just before surpassing 20,000 views in 4 months!):

Guy: ‘You know, I thought when you posted it on Facebook you were just reposting a blog that was much more popular than something you would write. I didn’t know you wrote it.’

What the WHAT? of the Week

The Canadian One teaches kindergarten to 6 year olds.

TCO: ‘Hey, my kids had show and tell today and they all brought in something to show and one kid brought in something in a Victoria’s Secret bag!’

Me: ‘…WHAT?!’

TCO: ‘Yeah! I’ll take a picture tomorrow.’

And he did:

Really?!! of the Week:

Guy, regarding his favorite pick-up line: ‘Let me touch your ovary.’

Followed by

Same Guy: ‘On a scale of 17-49, how annoying am I?’


Quote Friiiiiday! : Best Kids’ Quotes of the Week

A kid breaks and then quickly fixes a toy in class.

Kid, hands in the air triumphantly: ‘I am McGyver!!!’


A kid is playing with a crocodile toy. He’s pinning it to his ear.

Me: ‘Don’t do that, you’ll hurt yourself!’

Kid: “But it’s MY ear!!’


Me: ‘As you know, your test is on Thursday.’

Kid: ‘Oh the stress!!’


During the test:

Kid: ‘Teacher, give me a pencil and eraser.’

Kid next to him: ‘Teacher, give me money….and your house. Give me your house.’


Kid 1: ‘Teacher, how do spell crocodile?’

Me: ‘C-R-O-C-O-D-I-L-E.’

Kid 2: ‘SLOWLY!!!!!’

Kid 1: ‘C-R-O-C-O-D-I-L-E!!’


To a kid who was late for class:

Me: ‘Why are you late?’

Kid: ‘My friend was dancing.’


To three kids late for class:

Me: ‘Why are you late?’

Kid 1: ‘I was at home and I walk.’

Kid 2: ‘I was at library.’

Kid 3: ‘I was waiting for my brother.’

I look at them.

Me: ‘And how did you all find each other and arrive here together?’

All three: ‘Ummmmm….’

Kid 1: ‘We come together….(smiling)….I have homework!’


My grade two student and I have communication issues.

Kid: ‘Zebra spelling?’

Me: ‘Zed-A-B-R-A.’

Kid looks at me for a moment.

Kid: ‘Zed? Like Zee? Same?’

Me: ‘Yes.’


Kid: How do you spell crab?’

Me: ‘Crab?’

Kid: ‘No, crab.’

Me: ‘Crab?’ (doing an impression of a crab)

Kid: “NO, CRAB!!!’

Me: ‘Crab???’

Kid 2 looks over at Kid 1’s book.

Kid 2: ‘Giraffe.’

Kid 1: ‘Oh, yes, giraffe. How do you spell giraffe?’

5 minutes later:

Same kid: ‘How do you spell crab?’

Me: ‘Crab?’ (doing the same impression of a crab)

Kid: ‘Yes.’


Kid looks at her test: ‘All lines writing?’

Me: ‘Yes, of course.’

Kid: “But it’s very hard!’

Me: ‘No, it’s not!’

Kid: ‘It’s very hard!! We are Korean!!’


Kid: ‘Test is unit 1 and 2?’

Me: ‘No, units 1 to 6.’

Kid: ‘SHIT!!!’ (grabs her book)


For more Quote Fridays, check out:

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‘They think we’re American.’ – Quote Friday 07/06

Quote Friday: A round-up of the best quotes from my elementary school kids in South Korea this week!

Ridiculous WordPress Stat Notice of the Week:

Someone Googled ‘in what part of canada the strippers earn more money?’ and found me…

What the WHAT?! of the Week:

While walking through our neighborhood on Wednesday on the way to watch The Amazing Spiderman, The Canadian One and I (The Shamrock) had a woman and her son jump out at us, waving their arms in celebration and wishing us:


I smiled politely while The Canadian One did what I should have done, leaned away slightly with suspicion and caution. While the incident confused The Canadian One, I came up with only one explanation:

‘They think we’re American.’

REALLY?!?!! Conversation of the Week:

I walk into my classroom to my co-teacher, who has her own classroom, messing about with my clock.
Me: ‘What are you doing?’
Her: ‘Changing the time.’
Me: ‘It’s five minutes slow. I know. I did that.’
Her: ‘The parents complain you let the students go home five minutes early.’
I look momentarily confused.
Me: ‘I don’t. I let them go at the right time.’
She changes my clock to the correct time.
Me: ‘No, no, I changed the clock because all the students start packing their stuff too early and I don’t want them to so I changed the time on the clock…about three months ago.’
Her: ‘The parents complain.’
Me: ‘Ok, but…I’m changing my clock back.’
Reluctantly, she hands me back my clock and I change it back again.
And onto Quotes…Happy Quote Friday!
During a tick-the-boxes worksheet:
CD: ‘It’s warm in spring’
Choices a) A snowy picture or b) A spring picture.
Me: ‘What’s the answer?’
Kid: ‘B.’
Me: ‘And what’s the sentence?’
Kid 2: ‘IT’S B.’
I look at him.
Kid 2: ‘It’s a sentence!’
Me: ‘Your homework is pages 34-37.’
Kid 2: ‘I want my money back!’
During a break, the younger kids are messing about. One kid tries to kick another kid from the other side of a desk but misses.
Kid 2: ‘Hahahaha, you have short legs!!’
We had literally just learned body parts, etc in the previous class. I was so proud!…Until I had to break up the ensuing fight.
Kid: ‘He goes go camping.’
Kid 2: ‘NO!’
Kid: ‘He goes go camping.’
Kid 2: ‘NOOOO!’
Kid: ‘It says!!! He goes go camping.’
Kid: ‘He goes…camping?’
Kid 2 exhales.
Me: ‘Today we will do all of unit 6.’
Kid: ‘No thanks.’
Me: ‘That wasn’t a question.’
Kid: ‘Oh…’
I immediately regret the page in the book that says: ‘Interview your English teacher and write up the interview.’
Among the questions I got asked:
‘Do you have a Korean name?’
‘Are you intimate with Korean teacher?’ (who’s female and works in the next classroom)
‘Do you have boyfriend?’
‘Do you like fruit?’
‘What are you weight?’
‘After school you do what?’
‘England and Korea which is better?’
‘How much you get monthly salary?’
‘Will you marry me?’
Luckily class ended before I answered….well, any of them! Thank God for well-timed classes!
comedy entertainment funny humor kids Korea quotes South Korea

‘He said I am sweet potato!’ – Quote Friday 06/29

Quote Friday: A round-up of the best quotes from my elementary school kids in South Korea this week!

Some school-related news: this week marks Open Class being upon us…today in fact…in T-60 minutes. For those who don’t know, Open Class is where all of my classes I teach across two days are combined into just 5 classes via time not level…where’s the logic, really?!!…and then the parents and other teachers from the school get to come in, watch the classes, take notes and grade me on how well I do…yep….so that’s happening today. Due to this, Quote Friday is being posted now, as oppose to later as the plan for today is 1) Do Open Classes, 2) Do Not Freak Out, 3) Go home, get changed, get The Canadian One to buy me dinner and copious amounts of alcohol….4) Wake Up Saturday Afternoon.

And so I present: Quote Friday!

I get the sneaky suspicion my kids are getting tired of my reminders that Open Class is almost upon us.

Me: ‘Ok, so on Friday it’s Open Class.’

Kid: “WE KNOW!’


Giving warnings about Open Class, pointing to the three naughtiest boys in my class:

Me: ‘You, you and you…’

Kid: ‘Shut up?’


Me: ‘Well, yes be quiet.’


Me: ‘What must we remember for tomorrow?’

Kid: ‘Speak in medium voice.’


Talking to my Grade Twos:

Me: ‘Ok I’m going to take your books…’

Kid: ‘You take my book??!!!’

Me: ‘And give it back to you tomorrow.’

Kid: ‘Why?!!!’

Me: ‘Because I think you will forget your book.’

Kid: ‘No. I remember.’

Me: ‘Ok. You won’t forget?’

Kid: ‘No.’

Me: ‘You’re sure?’

Kid: ‘Yes.’

Me: ‘Ok but if you forget your book I’ll minus you three stickers.’


Kid: ‘You can have my book.’


A kid walks into class, eyes the newly decorated back wall of the classroom and looks at me.

Kid: ‘For mommy and daddy?’


Me: ‘For Open Class, you will work in pairs. There will be 15 students…’

Kid: ’15 people? One people solo?’


Me: ‘Write down a problem and two solutions.’

Kid: ‘I don’t have money. I really want money. Let’s call my mom.’


Me, telling a kid off: ‘You know if you say what what what it’s very bad, it’s not very nice.’


Kid, eyeing me suspiciously: ‘But…teacher just say…’


Me: ‘I said…’

Kid: ‘You sad?!!!’

Me: ‘What?’

Kid: “Why teacher sad?!!’

Me: ‘What?!’

Kid: ‘Teacher say, I sad.’

Me: ‘I SAID…not SAD…I’m not sad, I’m fine.’


Kid: ‘In fall, I go hiking.’

Kid next to her: ‘Ouuuuu leaves!’


Kid: ‘Teacher, look I make!! At school! It’s a Christmas card.’

Me: ‘It’s June!!’

Kid: ‘I know. At Christmas I give to mommy!’


Regarding Open Class:

Kid: ‘Mommy and daddy books?’

Me: ‘No, mommy and daddy don’t get books.’

Kid: ‘Mommy and daddy stickers?’

Me: ‘No, mommy and daddy are watching the class not doing the class.’

Kid: ‘No stickers?’


Me, describing a spider from the book: ‘It has big, black eyes. It is small. It has fur. It is cute…’



Regarding a ‘hamster’ flashcard I’d just given him:

Me: ‘Where’s your flashcard?’

Kid: ‘I don’t know.’

Me: ‘Give me the flashcard!’

The kid takes the flashcard out of his desk and holds it up.

Kid: ‘But I want. I can have?’

Me: ‘No, you cannot.’

Kid: ‘But it’s so cute!’


I come back from the bathroom and the giant TV mounted on the wall is shaking.

Me: ‘Why is the TV shaking?!’

Kid: ‘It’s happy! It’s happy so it shake!’

She’d run into it accidentally but still, good answer.


A kid yells an answer at me.

Me: ‘Why are you yelling at me, I’m right beside you?!’

Kid repeats answer, whispering.


Kid: ‘Teacher, smell my pencil.’

Holds out pencil.

Me: ‘Um, no.’


Kid, looking at my coffee: ‘Is it like medicine?’


I hold up a picture of a hippo.

Me: “What is it?’

Kid: ‘People…no…wait…no…’


From a written task: ‘This is my mom. She’s in the dad.’


I hold up a picture of a whale.

Me: ‘What is it?’

Entire class: ‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’

One kid: ‘Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaale. Whallllllllllllllle. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaale.’


From a written task, describing her friend: ‘She likes brutal.’

Me: ‘She likes brutal? What?’

Kid mimes killing and stabbing.

Me: ‘Oh, violence….v-i-o-l-e-n-c-e.’


Kid: ‘Teacher, Friday, Open Class, I don’t come.’

Me: ‘What?! Why not?! You have to come. I need an even amount of students!’

Kid: ‘I am the only boy.’

Me: “You’re the only boy everyday, that’s not a valid excuse!’


Me: ‘What can you do in Winter?’

Kid: ‘Ohhhh ummmmm teacher….ummmm….it….snow….and ummm….ohhhhhhh play……….snow……..SNOW SURVIVOR!!!’
Kid 2: (looking at her friend) ‘Snowfight.’
Kid: ‘My school teacher called me…um….고구마….It’s potato’s brother.’
Me: ‘고구마 is a sweet potato. Your school teacher called you a sweet potato?!’
Kid: ‘He said I am sweet potato!’
Me: ‘Why?’
Kid: ‘I DON’T KNOW!!’

By the time third period rolls round, I usually have an iced latte in the class and all the students know the unspoken (and occasionally very spoken) rule of DON’T TOUCH TEACHER’S COFFEE…which also encompasses Don’t knock over Teacher’s coffee and Do not drop anything into Teacher’s coffee.

This rule especially comes into play when we’re playing ball games in class or the kids are running about.

On Wednesday, a kid wrote on the board and on her way back to her desk, bumped into the desk with my coffee on it. The kid was fine.

Me: ‘Be careful of the coffee.’

Her Friend: ‘TEACHER….(pointing at her friend but looking at me sternly)…Are you ok?!!’

Me: ‘Sorry, yes, are you ok?’

Kid: ‘Yes.’

Me: ‘Good. Be careful of the coffee.’


 Find more Quote Friday’s here:

And many more in the Index and on The Wall!

comedy entertainment funny humor Korea South Korea

‘I just forked my hair’

English: A hairbrush with metal bristles

The relationship I have with my hairbrush is like a relationship with a bad boyfriend, never around when you need it and you unexpectedly step on it in the middle of the night.

Akin to stepping on a rogue Lego piece or bubble wrap in a half asleep jaunt from the bedroom to the bathroom, a hairbrush crunching under my feet always elicits some kind of mangled swear word from my mouth. Although, it is less heart attack inducing than the bubble wrap, which was more of a fight or flight reaction.

The amount of times I’ve been late for work/dinner/drinks at the bar due to the prolonged search for my hairbrush is astronomical. I usually resort to just grabbing a fork in an attempt to convince my hair that ‘fluffy’ is not a good look on me.

I regard both the mystery of the disappearing hairbrush and women’s beauty products in the exact same light, with bewilderment and suspicion. I find the shear range of different women’s lotions and potions to be overwhelming and equally frightening. I mean, besides price, what really makes Product A different from Product B…in the long run…at the end of the day….really….?


I rarely wear make-up. In fact, I don’t actually think I own ANY make-up at all. I have a limited amount of moisturizers and toners littering my bathroom shelves. My face cleanser is a bar of soap and I’m pretty sure my facial moisturizer is just body lotion.

The reasons for the lack of make-up isn’t due to a girl power notion that women shouldn’t have to wear make-up in their daily lives when men don’t. It’s more of a….well….a laziness aspect. I wore make-up before my arrival in Korea on a daily basis. I was one of those people that couldn’t venture to the mall with her foundation and blusher on. Arrival here, however, changed that.

Summers here hit high humidity factors causing make-up to literally melt off your face and the winter…well, in the winter I’m normally trying not to freeze to death so I generally don’t care about what I look like in survival mode. Consequently working out I could gain an extra 10 minutes in bed each morning if I went with the sans make-up look caused me to give up my morning make-up routine altogether.


In Korea, as far as beauty products are concerned, there are two brands staples in my bathroom: Lush, an English company, and Skin Food, a Korean brand. The only problem with buying Lush products is this: they smell so frikkin’ good.

‘You’re very quick at showering.’ – The Canadian One’s idea of a compliment.

But alas, no more. With the recent bonus I received from work and my splurge at the Lush store, my bathroom is now filled with honey and divine smelling products just waiting to be unleashed. Thanks to my shower wash being named ‘It’s Raining Men’, I find myself not only smelling like a princess who fell into a bee hive and didn’t get hurt but also, I tend to break into a dance while singing the old Weather Girls song of the same moniker. Not caring that a slight misstep in the wet-room shower and splat on the tiles I go, my showers have become longer and The Canadian One’s complement no longer applies.

To be fair, you’d think I’d be a little more precarious about the booty shaking in the shower given my history of bathroom related accidents. Having once fallen, knocked myself unconscious and knocked my front tooth clean in half while showering. THEN a year later having a glass shelf of decorative candles fall on me while I was relaxing in the bathtub covering the bathtub, floor, wall, door and my clothes in blood…only required 8 stitches though. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, The Canadian One just last year slipped in the very same shower I dance in, fracturing his elbow and putting him out of commission as a guitarist for a while. It’s worth noting, he was not dancing…or so he says. I wasn’t in the house when it happened. But really, you’d think I’d have a little more sense. Every time I even slip a little, it’s heart attack time…and then, like a goldfish, two seconds later I’ve completely forgotten about it and break into song again.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s quite early in the morning and I’ve got some dancing showering to do. If you don’t hear from me again, you should assume I’ve fallen down.

But before I risk that death-defying feat, first I’ve gotta find that damn hairbrush!

comedy entertainment funny humor kids Korea quotes South Korea

‘A SNOOOOOOW PERSON!’ – Quote Friday – 06/22

Quote Friday: A round-up of the best quotes from my elementary school students in South Korea this week!


While trying to help another kid spell ‘quiet’, the kid writes a ‘p’ on the board.

Kid 2: ‘No, NO!! Q!!! Q!!!! No P!!! Q….it’s P’s friend!!’


A kid runs into my class with a certificate of achievement.

Kid: ‘Look! Look! School king give me!!!’


Me: ‘What do lions eat?’

Kid: (without missing a beat) ‘Teachers.’


We read a story about a detective cat called Cleo.

Me: ‘What’s a detective?’

Kid: ‘Like Sherlock Holmes.’

Me: ‘Great, so what’s Cleo?’

Kid: ‘…Sherlock….Cat?’


I explain to my class that my next class (my 4:10 class) has been cancelled and so they are my last class. They are faffing about not working so I tell them I can stay alllllll day and teach them the three pages we have to finish.

One kid screams and plays.



While explaining to my class during Open Class they will be required to work in pairs, something this particular class loathes. One boy is shaking his head in disgust saying ‘No, no, no.’

Me: ‘Ok, but for Open Class, your head can say no, but your face must say yes.’

Kid thinks for a moment.

He smiles, nods and says: ‘No.’

Me: ‘At least you’re smiling.’


While teaching grade one ‘How are you?’:

Me: ‘I’m good.’

Little boy, mishearing me: ‘I’m cute??’ (looking at me skeptically…and shaking his head)


I hold up a picture of a polar bear:

Me: ‘What’s this?’

Kid: ‘A penguin’s friend.’


Me: ‘What’s a pet?’

Kid: ‘A easy animal.’


I’ve just finished explaining for open class next Friday (06/29), they need to bring a pencil but do not need a book.

Me: ‘To recap, what do you not bring?’

Kids: ‘The book.’

Me: ‘Great and what DO you bring?’

Kids: ‘A pencil.’

Kid 1: ‘And our…inside our heads.’

Me: ‘Yes, your brain!’


Me: ‘Do you have a pet?’

Kid: ‘No. My friend have hamster but it die. It live on veranda and cold and die.’

Sad but really, all I could think was, ‘how do you know the word veranda’?!!


Me: ‘Where’s your book?’

Little Boy: ‘In my handbag.’

Me: ‘You don’t have a handbag. That’s a backpack. A handbag is for girls…usually.’

Little Boy: ‘I am handsome?’

Me: ‘What? No, handbag…not handsome.’

Little: ‘I am not handsome??’

Me: ‘What?”

Little Boy: ‘You say I am ugly?!!’

Me: ‘Where’s your book?!!’

Little Boy: ‘Here!…I am handsome?’


Me: ‘Ok, so for Open Class this class and that class (next room) will combine and be one big class.’

Kid: ‘WHY?!!’

Me: ‘Because I’m only one teacher and there are two classes.’

Kid: ‘No cut and be half teacher?’

Me: ‘Ummm, nooooo. So, there’ll be 15 students…’

Kid 2: ‘FIFTY?!!!’ (he starts manically counting the 16 desks in the classroom)

Me: ‘One five. Fifteen.’

Kid 2: ‘Ohhhh.’


And many more in the Index and on The Wall!

comedy entertainment funny humor Korea random South Korea

Thursday Short: What I SHOULD have done at Costco today

English: Costco Wholesale Corporate Logo

Fearing imminent laptop overload, I went to Costco before school today to pick up a new hard drive. I figured it would be a lengthy process as A) I live in Korea, B) I’d lost my card and was trying to figure out how to explain that to the customer service staff in English and C) statistically things you have to do in a hurry will always take twice as long.

Now, whereas I made the elementary mistake of buying a coffee right before I went into Costco thus requiring the staff to frantically hand signal to me that drinks weren’t allowed leading to me having to knock back half the coffee and then throw the rest away, what I actually should have done for the ten minutes that I was planning on being in the store was this:

Checked the damn thing into a locker and resumed drinking it on my way out roughly TWELVE MINUTES LATER.

It was one of those moments of walking out of the store, catching a glance at the locker area and thinking….ohhhhhhh…yeeeeahhhhh, that’s what I shoulda done with the $4 coffee I just bought.

Lesson learned.

comedy entertainment funny humor internet Korea random South Korea timewasters websites

Tuesday Timewasters: The Viral Edition – 06/19

Ohhhhh Facebook, you are the BIGGEST timewaster in my life currently!! THE BIGGEST!

Although, thanks to Facebook, in the past few weeks a lot of things have appeared in my interwebosphere…that’s a word, right?!…No??

Oh well, here’s a selection of my favorites anyway:

Happy Timewasting!

First up, ohhhhhh MBC MBC MBC, what a silly little mess you’ve managed to create for yourself here in The Land of The Morning Calm…or rather not-so-calm in your case. A video that spawned a Facebook group that garnered over 8,000 members within the first week or so of it’s inception and a public…eh…statement by the TV channel that broadcast it. It’s been dubbed ‘racist’, ‘xenophobic’ and ‘demeaning to both foreigners and Korean women’ but you should, of course, check it out for yourself and form your own opinion.

The Shocking Reality About Relationships with Foreigners (in Korea)

For anyone wanting to read the transcript of the video, Zackary Downey has very helpfully posted a full script and subtitled version here.

The only good thing to come out of this whole mess and uproar is the pictures of the happy multicultural couples appearing all over the web. They just make you wanna say ‘Awwwwww’.

Next up, another Korean video and I dare you to get in touch with your juvenile side and make it through the entire video without a giggle…or two….or three. (If watching at work, headphones are your friend)

Now, for my favorite site of the week, kikinitinkorea and oh my good God, if you’ve ever lived in Korea YOU. WILL. LOVE. THIS.

My top two posts from the site are these two and trust me when I say, it was hard to choose just these two:

Crossing the street in Korea

Trying to blend in as the only foreigner in my Kpop dance class

Just to note, the site is based on another site called whatshouldwecallme, my favorite two of that site, adapted to suit me, are:

How I wake The Canadian One up: 

When people ask me if teaching crazy kids in Korea will drive me to alcohol:

I’m like:

And now moving on to a word from Henry Rollins:

Aaaaaaand finally, a site that I read about in The New York Times yesterday and CNN this morning and dedicated to anyone living in Korea and who does the happy dance whenever it’s Bibimbap Day!

Now, personally, I don’t eat lunch at my school. I bring my own. Our lunches tend to consist of spicy soup, a mystery stew containing both octopus/fish/squid AND beef/chicken, plain rice and sometimes a piece of fruit. I was told by my company that I ‘must eat lunch at the school in order to seem like I’m trying to assimilate into Korean culture‘. NO mention of me living here for the three years prior to me starting there nor the fact that I’m not a newbie and I know which Korean foods I DON’T like. It lasted all of four days before I opted to risk being fired over having to eat plain rice for lunch each day and being stared at in the canteen for being the only foreigner. On day four when the questioning, translated through my co-worker, of ‘You don’t like Korean food?’, ‘Oh, you’re not hungry?’ and ‘Here try it, you’ll like it’ started, I bailed.

On that note, have you heard about Martha Payne? Well, this little Scottish 9 year old is taking the world by storm. Unhappy with the state of her school lunches, she decided to start a blog, Never Seconds, about it. She started taking a picture of her lunch everyday and posting them online. She rates the lunches based on her own ‘Food-O-Meter’ scale and the site has generated worldwide attention with over 5,800,000 views in just 7 short weeks. SEVEN. SHORT. WEEKS.

Last Thursday, the council unfortunately decided to ban Martha’s camera from her school thus signalling the end of her blog. Martha posted a ‘Goodbye’ message to her fans and that was it…until 24 hours later when the council leader, responding to worldwide public outcry including statements from celebrity chefs Nick Nairn and Jamie Oliver, overturned the senior officials’ order and Martha’s blog shall resume normal business on Monday…with the time difference, she’s probably still at school right now.

Martha is also using the blog to raise money for Mary’s Meals, a charity which sets up school feeding programmes for children in some of the poorest countries in the world. Initially aiming to raise £7,000, Martha’s JustGiving page records that she’s currently made £83,479.46 for the charity!

What do / did YOU think of your school lunch? Lemme know in the comments.

For more Timewasters, check out:

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Operation Freedom: Complete

Lemme tell you about Lotte Mart.

Lotte Mart, the equivalent of Wal-Mart (US) or Tescos (UK), sells all manner of pets which you can buy along with your weekly groceries, the latest DVD and a summer dress, all for a low low affordable price.

I’ve never not had a pet. I’ve had cats, a dog, hamsters, a gerbil, birds and countless fish. With the recent departure of my turtles and the death of my 14 year old cat, I’m left, for the first time ever, petless.

When I first arrived in Korea, my housemate quit within moments (literally) of me turning up. Nothing to do with me, mind you, but she quit and left and I was left behind in a three bedroom apartment to care for her turtle during her absence. When she returned 6 weeks later to live in a different town, she reclaimed her turtle and I began to miss it. Left alone for months in a huge apartment, I decided I needed a pet with a short lifespan. It was a toss-up between a goldfish or a turtle.

I eventually decided to buy two turtles so they wouldn’t be lonely when I was at school (which is ridiculous as apparently they don’t get lonely) and a small tank. I was assured that turtles ‘only grow to the size of their tank’ (bulls%$t!) and as they were from Lotte Mart, ‘their lifespan is probably that of the average goldfish’ (double bulls$%t!!).

I picked out my turtles, one with spots, one with none so I could tell the difference, took them home and named them Gir and Zim.

At first they had pink stones:

Then purple stones:

Then, as they had a penchant for eating their stones, they got no stones.

As time went on, they got bigger. They would run around the apartment. They would flip out when they spotted me coming home from work. They learned how to get my attention if they wanted food.

They grew bigger.

I bought them a bigger tank and they continued to grow. My year was up, I needed to leave. A friend on the coast offered to house them and Gir, Zim, my new roommate and I all travelled south to drop them off.

I left.

I travelled to Ireland to study.

I travelled to England to work.

I travelled to Italy to ‘work’.

I returned to Korea 6 months later and reclaimed the turtles.

During their second time living with me they moved apartment three times. They went through four tanks eventually ending up being separated into bigger tanks. They came to own lamps and heaters and basins and towels and a scrubbing-brush. They ate shrimp and kitten food and tuna and fruit.

They grew and grew and grew and became more quizzical about life outside their tank. They grew from the size of an average bottle cap to the size of The Canadian One’s hand in four short years. They attempted ill-advised escapes.

As the time to move to Canada approaches, we needed to decide what to do with them. They’d outgrown their current tanks and were in need of bigger homes. As we are flying via Ireland to Canada, taking them with us wasn’t an option. Ireland doesn’t allow ‘exotic animals’ from Korea to be brought into it and the UK would allow them but only after 6 months in quarantine. They were growing in tanks that were too small for them and were looking more and more unhappy by the day.

I either needed to find someone to house them after we’d leave but that left that person in the same predicament as us, ‘what do I do with them when I leave?’

I decided I needed to set them free.

After months of internet research and reading turtle forums, scouting locations and trying to get my head round the idea of setting them free, Operation Freedom was a go.

I picked a date and choose a lake in Cheonan, 90 minutes from our apartment, as it was a contained area. Other turtles have been spotted there on many occasions and there was plenty of plant and fish life to keep Gir and Zim in food. Although we don’t leave until March, the turtles would have to have lived a summer in the wild in order to eat enough to survive hibernation in winter, something I couldn’t guarantee I could do.

This past Sunday, after 20 minutes of crying, I finally gathered them up, placed them in their box and prepared them to leave. I gathered their rocks too, one from each beach I’ve been to in Korea and brought back as a souvenir for them.

The Canadian One, Gir, Zim and I all got the bus and headed south, making Gir and Zim’s homes around Korea: Cheonan – Mokpo – Bupyeong – Cheonan – Seoul – Cheonan.

Zim attempts an escape on the bus

We walked around the lake, taking in the beauty of the turtles’ new home. We found a nice secluded spot to sit alone by the lake and set them free as The Canadian One insisted we don’t just plop them in and run away.

And so I did it. I put them in the water.

Gir swam out into the water immediately. He popped up to take in his surroundings and then disappeared into the water, never to be seen again.

Zim, on the other hand, stayed close. She ate some plants near us and although she swam around a bit, she always returned to the spot where we put her into the water, popping her head out and staring directly at us. She was my favorite of the two turtles, the most interesting and the most engaging of the two, who continually tried to get our attention in the apartment and took a special liking to The Canadian One. She’d often stand up in her tank to peer over the edge and watch him playing the guitar or sitting at his computer.

They were inquisitive little creatures with two very distinct personalities. They were much more interesting than goldfish, which I originally thought that they would be like, and although I hadn’t really done much research before diving into turtle-ownership, buying them was the best thing I’ve done in Korea.

I loved them and I hope, wherever they are, they’re having more fun that they would have ever had living in a little plastic box in my apartment.

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‘I did my homework with a paintbrush.’ – Quote Friday 06/15

Quote Friday: A round-up of the best quotes from my elementary school students in South Korea this week!

First up, a non-school quote:

Girl at party last weekend: ‘Where are you from?’

Me: ‘Ireland.’

Girl: ‘Oh, Ireland, Texas?’

Me: ‘No, Ireland the country.’


Girl: ‘You must think I’m really stupid.’

Me: ‘Actually, I’ve been asked that exact question before.’


In the middle of repeating vocabulary:

Kid: ‘Teacher, I’m hungry.’

Me: ‘That’s nice. I don’t care.’

Kid: ‘You don’t have food??’

Me: ‘I’m not giving you food!’

Suddenly, a piece of candy hits him on the side of the head. We all turn to see one little boy has throw a candy at him. The kid picks it up and throws it back at kid 2. I take it away from them both and put it on my desk.

Kid 2 has a funny look on his face. I look at him, quizzically. He lifts his hand to reveal a second candy, smiles and then bursts out laughing.


Me: ‘What’s skipping?”

Papa Smurf
Do I look like I skip to you?!

Entire class, breaking into The Smurfs theme song: ‘La la la la la la la la la la la!!’

Me: ‘What? That’s The Smurfs! Skipping is this.’

I skip across the classroom.

Kid: ‘Yes, you look like a Smurf.’

Me: ‘Did you just call me a Smurf?’

Kid: ‘Yes, look.’

He gets up and skips across the classroom just like I did.

Kid: ‘See, like a Smurf.’

I look unconvinced.

Kid: ‘I’ll do one more time.’

He does.

Kid: “See. A Smurf.’


Kid: ‘I did my homework with a paintbrush.’

Me: ‘What?’

Kid: “I didn’t have a pencil.’


One kid touches another kid’s arm.

Kid: ‘Teacher, he’s touching ME!!! Teacher, he’s GAY!!’


While studying ‘like’:

Me: ‘What does your mommy like?’ (options on the page include a variation of fruits and vegetables)

Kid: ‘My mom likes money.’

Kid 2: ‘My mom doesn’t like dad.’


Two boys are hitting each other with pencils.

Me: “What are you doing?!’

Kid: ‘We’re swordfighting!!’


There is paper ALL over my floor.

Me: “What the hell is all this on my floor?!!’

Kid 1: ‘Oh my God, you said a bad word!!’

Me: ‘No, I didn’t.’

Kid 1: ‘Yes, you did! You said ‘what the hell’!’

Me: ‘No, I didn’t!!’

Kid 1: ‘I hear you!!!’

Kid 2: ‘The fan and the paper and whoooosh and paper on floor.’



From The Canadian One and his Kindergarten students:

I was teaching my students can and will.

One wrote ‘I can ride a bike’ and then, ‘Soon I will smoke.’

That’s a good goal!
While I’m checking off a name, a kid grabs a marker and proceeds to write on the board. She’s written the first letter, a ‘C’, when I grab her hand.
Me: ‘WAIT!’
The kid looks down to see she’s holding a permanent marker.
Kid: ‘Oh no!!’
Me: ‘Oh my God!’
Kid: ‘Wait, I can fix.’
Me: ‘What?’
The kid grabs a normal board marker, colors in the ‘C’ and erases the whole thing off the board. It’s spotless and no trace is left.
Me: ‘Wow, that’s magic!!’
Kid 2: ‘It’s no magic, it’s SCIENCE!!’ (shaking her head at me!)
A kid is looking under the desk and making a disgusted face. She puts up her hand.
Kid: ‘Teacher, come here. Look.’ (pointing under the desk)
I look at her skeptically.
Kid: ‘It’s ok. No bug.’
A kid speaks Korean in my class several times so as punishment I make her stand up with one hand on her head and the other over her mouth. She’s wearing a green sweater. Her friend next to her bursts into laughter.
Kid: ‘Hahahaha, she look like a cactus!!!!’
For more Quote Friday, check out:

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On Days Off We Ride Ducks!


This past Wednesday was Memorial Day here in Korea which, if you’re a regular reader you’ll know, meant one thing to me, all together now: DAY OFF SCHOOL! Our second four day week in a row was a welcome addition to the first week of June and allowed us ample time to hypothesize on the positive sides to having a two days of work – day off – two days of work – two days off week.

Students taking a test at the University of Vi...

Meanwhile, back in The Land of the Shamrock, Wednesday June 6th marked the first day of the 2012 Leaving Certificate exams. Now, for anyone who doesn’t know, the Leaving Cert. is the 2 week series of exams you take in order to complete Secondary School (High School) in Ireland. For two years, we study our chosen (and not-so-chosen) subjects and it all culminates in this one 3-hour exam in each subject at the end of year two (English, Irish and Maths I recall are two exams each). In all, over a two week period, you would probably sit 10 or more exams depending on your subject choices, the results of which determine, not only which university you qualify for, but which courses you qualify for. Unlike USA or Canada, in Ireland you apply for your degree you want to end up with and that’s the only thing you study for your entire time at university. And it all comes down to the Leaving Certificate. The whole country sits them at the same time and fail them, you must wait a whole 12 months until the official exam days come ’round again.

Failed every exam up until the Leaving Cert. (like I did with Business Studies) but passed the final exam (like I did with Business Studies), you’re fine. Passed every exam up until the Leaving Cert. (like I did with Physics) but failed the final exam (like I did with Physics!), you’re not so lucky. Although in my case, I’d predicted I’d fail at least one exam and knowing only your top 6 exam subjects are counted, I took seven. I took Maths, English and Irish (compulsory), German (my compulsory European language), Physics (my compulsory science subject) and then Business Studies and Geography, which teaches you about caves and the sea and not so much about different countries and world geography.

The reason I mention the Leaving Cert. is this: This week, 10 years ago, I was taking my Leaving Cert. exams. I thought getting through these exams were my life. That there was nothing beyond it. Just this, just these exams. But oh…oh how wrong I was. 10 years ago, I was 17, plotting to move to England, wanted to do nothing but write all day and was studying for exams no one has ever asked me about since. 10 years later, I’m 27, plotting to move to Canada, want for nothing but to write all day and drink wine and haven’t sat an exam in a decade…and I graduated university!

So, 10 years later, how did I spend my day off school?


The Canadian One and I hit up Ttukseom Hangang Park area for some fun in the sun. 10 minutes from our apartment (not too far from the Cherry Blossom date), it’s easily accessible via Line 7 of the Seoul subway. After some pre-boating riverside relaxing (read: drinking) among the Koreans in tents (no comment), we meandered towards the river to commandeer our boat.

Finally, after an entire year of talking about duck boating (I pass it everyday on the way to work), I was venturing towards the Duck Boat Dock to board my our duck boat.

We paid our 15,000won ($13), were told we had 45 minutes, donned our life jackets and hit the water, peddling off into the distance…though not too far or the man in the speedboat will come after us and force us to turn back. Please note: When on a duck boat, do not go past the buoy area, the man will come after you.

The Canadian One models the life jacket!

During our time at sea on the river, The Canadian One took the steering duties while we both peddled.

 We busied ourselves racing trying to crash into our friends in another boat.



We watched the motorised not-a-duck-boats chug slowly past and we realised our boat didn’t like to turn left so we went in circles for a bit.

We had a brief NCIS: Han River moment when we discovered an empty duck boat and went to investigate.

 We listened to SNL’s ‘I’m on a Boat’ and generally tried our best not to tip our boat over.

Then it was time to return our boat to shore (easier said than done) and hit the bar for some cocktails and cheeseburgers…What?! It was a vacation day!!

I think if I could go back a decade and tell that nervous, 17 year old girl that life after the Leaving Cert. was wonderful, I would. I’d tell her noone would ever ask her about the exams, that in fact getting an A in her Math exam would lead to her getting the worst teaching job ever. I would tell her how she’ll go great places, make some fantastic friends, meet some downright weird people, become a teacher and find a Maple Leaf to love and who loves her. I’d tell her two of her friends from her school group would get married and have a baby and it’s not the two she would have thought. I’d tell her not to study writing as a degree but to study something more useful and take an online class in writing instead. I’d warn her against tequila.

If I could go back a decade, I’d show her the picture of The Canadian One and I in our matching life jackets trying not to capsize our duck boat on the Han river. I think it would make her very happy.

For more fun and interesting adventures in Seoul, check out:

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Here in Korea, our burritos come in the mail!

Not a Taco

I have a thing for burritos…except I call them tacos. I call anything that looks vaguely Mexican and is wrapped in a tortilla, a taco. For no reason, other than I like saying the word ‘taco’. I think my limited, only in Korea, exposure to Mexican food probably has something to do with this.

Taccooooooo. Taaaaacoooooooo. See how lovely it is to say!

Burrito: A Taco

Faluta: A deep-fried Taco that’s slightly smaller

Taco: A Taco

Nachoes: Well, I know what a nacho is.

Some of you may remember me writing about Tacocopter a while back. Of course, Tacocopter isn’t actually real but luckily for Korea, Gringos is.

Like all the best things in life (vodka, The Canadian One, that I cannot sing and shouldn’t attempt it), I discovered Gringos while drunk…or well, semi-drunk. I was guarding (read: hovering around annoyingly) the entrance to a live music bar where The Canadian One was stamping patrons and handing out flyers. I took a flyer to look ‘busy‘ and thus, I discovered Gringos!

Here’s how it works: Based in Ilsan, two guys, Mike and Mark, started a business in the hopes of revolutionising Mexican food in Korea. The story goes, feeling a need to save the ex-pat community from lackluster Mexican food, our fearless duo set out to prove if want something done right, do it yourself.

They make all the burritos from scratch using fresh ingredients and their own personal, tried-and-tested-and-tested-again recipes.

So, what makes this different from Dos Tacos (down the street from me, a literal 10 minute walk) I hear you ask? Well, they taste better, aren’t full of random lettuce (why, Dos Tacos, WHY??) and don’t seem to have an oddly inconsistent amount of pico de gallo on them.

Oh and also they come in the mail.


Ok so here’s how it works:

First: You log into their website and place your order. You need to order a minimum of 6 items which comes to 30,000won. The Canadian One and I ordered 6 burritos (2 of each type) and a pot of chili.

The burritos we ordered were:

The Chicken Burrito containing refried beans, Mexican style rice, melted cheddar cheese and Gringos own spicy slow cooked pulled chicken.

The Breakfast Chorizo Burrito containing chorizo, cheddar cheese, salsa, hash brown potato and scrambled egg.

And finally, The Veggie Burrito containing seasoned tofu, Mexican style rice, a veggie version of the refried beans, cheddar cheese and an onion/cilantro/chilli pepper mix.

Next: It asks you if you have any special requests to go with your order. Now, as you all remember from this post, The Canadian One is diabetic and filling him with rice and burritos isn’t the best idea so I wrote to ask that in one of each burrito I would like the rice taken out.

Next: You receive an email confirming your order and then a follow up email regarding your special requests. I explained about not wanting rice because of The Canadian One’s dietary requirements. They offered more beans instead and pointed out that The Breakfast Burrito has no rice, just potato and should that be taken out too. Good catch on their part and I declined the offer of more beans but took up the offer of no potato.

We were told it would be made and mailed the following Tuesday, arriving Wednesday morning.

Now, Korea has an interesting system called Taekbae in place. Taekbae companies (택배) are delivery services that can ship anything within Korea for a low low price, usually around 5,000. When I moved apartments, I packed everything into the BIGGEST boxes the post office could offer and Taekbae’d them to the new apartment at 5,000won each. A simple system whereby the Taekbae dude comes, picks up your package/box/item to be delivered, you give him the money, he takes the item and delivers it to the desired location.

The only problem with the system is he calls before he delivers…and I don’t speak Korean. I got a text in Korean which my phone translated so I knew the burritos were arriving. Luckily, I was at school when he called and my co-teacher gave him directions of where to leave our box.

And so the burritos arrived. Frozen, vacuum packed and mailed overnight, they arrived at 11am and I found them sitting outside my apartment when I got home.

I quickly unpacked the box to discover a cold pack and my still slightly frozen burritos inside.

Mine and The Canadian One’s were packaged separately to avoid confusion and they were clearly labelled with a sticker….which I discovered, after I cut them open to see what was inside. Ok, so they forgot my chili but after a quick email exchange, a refund and a free chili next time I order were offered and I considered the matter sorted.

Following the website’s cooking instructions, I unpacked my burritos (refrigerating the other burritos), placed them on foil, wrapped them up and popped them in the oven for 45 minutes. The Canadian One returned home and cleaned the kitchen while I sat on the floor making him tell me fairytale stories he learned in kindergarten class that day. There was one about a half-chicken that became a weather vane. No, seriously!

The oven pinged and burritos were a go-go. Armed with the salsa and sour cream we had in the house leftover from last week’s Fajita Bonaza, we set out to take our first bites of our mail-ordered burritos.

Pleasantly surprising, not too spicy and, most importantly, authentic tasting, I’d highly recommend The Chicken Burrito…and The Breakfast Burrito I ate for lunch today at school. The smooth cheese mixed with the rice and spicy chicken made my burrito an each-bite different-taste experience. For anyone who’s been in Hongdae late at night and succumbed to spending 4,000won on a street kebab, save your money, order in advance from Gringos and have a delicious burritos waiting for you in your fridge when you get home.


Authentic burritos.

They taste homemade. (And they smell awesome)

Reheat at home for whenever you want.

Take to school for lunch thus avoiding the mystery dishes the school serves.

Cost 5,000 per burrito with a minimum order of 6 and 7,500won shipping. Come on, a for-what-passes-as-a-sandwich will cost you the same from Paris Baguette or insert other bakery name here.

If you don’t live in Seoul and are nowhere near a burrito place, this business was made for you! Tired of eating the same food each night? Email the Gringos boys and within a week (to ten days) you’ll have six glorious burritos to eat by yourself or share with friends.

If you live in Ilsan, they deliver.

They respond to emails quickly and efficiently. No faffing about when it comes to your specific requirements regarding the burrito. Want it not too spicy? – done. Want it less carby? – Done.  Want it to come with a free kitten? – Ok, maybe not….but you can always ask nicely.


Takes 8 days to come to the house so if you want a burrito RIGHT NOW, tis not possible. Also I spent the entire day worrying about the burritos melting…it didn’t happen so I know not to worry next time.

With their 6 order policy, we now have six burritos to eat over the course of three days (my three day rule for defrosted items comes into play here), which is fine but next time I think I’ll order four burritos and two sides. Although, you can always share with a friend.

Dealing with Taekbae can be confusing if you don’t speak Korean but generally, I’ve never had any problems with them and my stuff usually arrives without the need to involve my co-teacher. I just happened to be standing in the middle of her classroom at the time.

Does not come with free kitten.

**Note, you can microwave the burritos, we just don’t own a microwave so we put them in the oven**

For more information on making your own homemade chili, check out Tuesday’s post covering the subject:

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Lucy’s Mum’s Chili Con Carne

 Chili Con Carne - DF/GF/FF: Adjust the spice to your liking, easy weekday meal to have handy to pull out of the freezer and reheat.

The best thing about not living at home is that it forces you to learn how to cook food from home.

When I first moved to England, a month after my 18th birthday, I spent the year living on instant noodles, pasta with jar sauce, microwavable everything, oven pizzas and veggie burgers. I was a vegetarian during my first year prompted by a bout of food poisoning from KFC on day one.

By year two, not only was I a carnivore again, I’d also grown bored of my 10-minute prep meals and longed for something different.

Enter Lucy B.

Lucy and I moved into a houseshare on July 7th 2003 and by August, I wanted her to teach me how to cook. She cooked everything. Fancy lasagna – check. Chili – check. Our Christmas dinner that year – checkity check. She once did a graphic design project on the time it took to prepare a meal versus the time spent actually consuming the meal. The last time I saw her, in July 2009, I happened to be working not far from where she lived in London. She was getting ready to go on one of her first dates with ‘this guy she’d met’, who later became her husband mind you, and yet still, she served me coffee and homemade blueberry muffins.

Now, despite me once twice almost burning the house down and once blowing all the fuses by turning on the sandwich toaster, back in 2003, Lucy agreed to help me learn how to cook. Although, I don’t think we ever told her about the sandwich toaster. She may have been out at the time.

After a few false starts and Lucy arriving home to find me panicking in front of a pan of frying meat, I managed to eventually master my first dish: Lucy’s Mum’s Chili Con Carne.

It quickly became my go-to dish for impressing friends and family and was the first thing I ever cooked for The Canadian One when he travelled to my town to see me in those first few weeks of dating. It’s become a staple dish on our menu as I tend to make a large batch of it and freeze it separately in freezer bags for when it’s The Canadian One’s turn to ‘cook’ dinner…aka make rice and reheat the chili….and he does it ever so well.

It’s become so ubiquitous in our home that when ‘kidney beans’ appears on the shopping list, The Canadian One immediately says, ‘We’re having chili!’

It’s the most requested recipe I have in my repertoire and here it is in all it’s glory:

Lucy’s Mum’s Chili Con Carne

 1-2 onions, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

Vegetable oil for frying (I use olive oil)

2 level tsp chili powder (or more if you like it hotter)

1 red chilli

1 tsp cumin

500g ground beef

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

1 tin of kidney beans

1 tsp tomato purée

salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until soft.

2. Add chili powder, red chili, cumin, salt and pepper. Fry for 1 minute.

 3. Add ground beef, frying until browned. At this point, I usually drain the fat off the beef as I find it makes the dish feel less greasy but it’s a personal preference.

4. Add tomatoes, tomato purée and more seasoning. Bring to boil.

5. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. (I sometimes simmer for 90 minutes)

 6. Add kidney beans, cover and simmer for a further 30 minutes.

Serve with fluffy rice. I often serve it with mixed with some small conchiglia pasta. You can top it with red chili flakes (for a hotter taste), grated cheese or sour cream….or all three! Delicious!

You can substitute beef for pork and add a pinch of oregano to the chili with the tomatoes.


For more recipes, check out:

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Happy Birthday Buddha (and thanks for the day off school)

Tomorrow marks Buddha’s Birthday here in Korea. Following last weekend’s Lotus Lantern festival and a 10-day exhibit of the lanterns, Buddha’s birthday really only means one thing to me: no school for a day and I get to go see pretty lights. Ok, that’s two things.

As a non-Korean and a non-Buddist, I never have any indication Buddha’s birthday celebrations are afoot until countless colourful lanterns start appearing along every street. Although, my calendar at school is marked ‘red’ meaning ‘public holiday’, I quite often have no idea what the day actually holiday is.

The Lotus Lantern Festival’s existence, however, I’m well aware of. A weekend of celebration involving the chance to try out a whole host of traditional events as over 100 booths line the streets outside Jogyesa Temple. It culminates in the Lotus Lantern Parade on the Saturday night. Vistors can try their hand at ceremonial bowing, ceremonial tea-making, Zen meditation, taste some traditional temple food and make a lotus flower lantern.

Now, I’ve been to the festival before, so I didn’t attend this year. I’ve also made a lotus flower before and let me tell you I found it neither a ‘relaxing‘ nor a ‘joyful‘ experience. As someone who has all the patience and attention span of a young kitten, the idea of twisting colorful tissue paper into leaves and then glueing them together in a very specific way was never going to mesh well with me. It was never going to be an enchanting relationship between me and my lotus flower. By the time I had finished I wanted to hit the Buddhist over the head with my stupid flower, and although I protected my flower from the elements and guarded it against being squashed on the ride home, it eventually succumbed to a house move and was discarded. It’s worth mentioning I was also hungover while making the lotus flower…that may also have been a factor in my lack of enthusiasm.

Instead, opting once again to avoid the crowds, The Canadian One and I took a hop, skip and a jump down the road to COEX on Tuesday night where, at the Bongeunsa Temple, the lantern display was in full force.

South Korea

The Problem With Living Abroad

Very very recently, my aunt died of breast cancer. I say ‘aunt’. I mean, older female relative so close to us she could be my aunt. She was most likely one of my mother’s favorite relatives and her passing had a devastating effect on my mother.

She was first diagnosed the week before I moved back to Korea in 2010, went into remission and then it came back.

Like my mam, she loved Irish football and had kids that lived abroad. Kids that returned once it looked like she wasn’t going to make it and they arrived home two days before she passed.

Sure, The Canadian One and I sent flowers to the family (with part of the money going to Breast Cancer UK) and sure, I answered the phone to my mother every time she called. I offered to send money to fund her trip to my aunt’s hometown for the funeral. I tried to help in every way I could but it’s not the same as actually being there.

And that’s the problem with living abroad:

English: pink ribbon

If anything ever happens to my family while I’m here, I’m at least 24-36 hours from home.

And I’ve talked to others about this. How scared they are. How they wish the world was smaller, that teleportation exists. It’s a terrifying feeling. A sense of helplessness, of being at a loss of what to do.

The Canadian One’s mother passed while he was in Korea, while he was a week from travelling home to see her. Other friends have had countless loved ones pass while they’ve been abroad. Aunts, Uncles, Grandfathers, Grandmothers.

In my first year here, five months in, my mother took a tumble from a ladder and broke her shoulder, back and did damage to a whole slew of organs inside her body. A fall she will never recover from. She spent two months in hospital, during which time I spiralled into a continuing default setting of ‘worry’, culminating in me requesting time off to return home, something Korean jobs don’t usually allow. I spoke to my boss. He’d noticed the change in my usual outwardly happy demeanor and thought it best if I returned home to deal with things. He allowed me two weeks off, over Christmas, and as a gesture gave me $100 as a get-well-soon present for my mother. He booked my flights for me, taking the money out of my next pay cheque. I packed my bags and left, returning two weeks later feeling better about the situation.

Icon-type silhouette of an airplane. (Mainly t...

At the same time, I’m sure it’s equally terrifying for the parents. My neighbor’s two sons died, about two years apart, while they were both abroad.

And just this morning, I read of a New Zealand girl who died while studying in the USA.

Yet still, an estimated 3 million people board airplanes every year and leave.

Or we stay where we are for another year, another contract.

And every year, they call us to make sure we’re still alive, we’re still healthy, we’re still eating all our vegetables and putting sunscreen on in the sunshine

But, it’s not the same.

We worry.

And they worry.

And that’s the problem with living abroad.

comedy entertainment funny humor kids Korea random South Korea

‘I am mommy monster!’ – Quote Friday

From Colin LaGesse: One of these things in not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong

As I prep for a three-day weekend, Monday is a public holiday, at school, we’re prepping to finish our books. And so ends the first semester of a new school year. Final tests are finished. Reports are written. Books are…well, books are not yet finished but will be by next week. Why, oh why, my school insists on me giving final tests three weeks before we finish the actual books, I don’t know but anyway, ’tis not for me to judge.

Tests always bring out the hatred in my students. Unhappy they’re being tested. Unhappy they didn’t study and will fail. Unhappy with learning English. They don’t like that I give them homework. They don’t like that I make them do work in my class (unlike my co-teacher) and they don’t like that I have a strict no speaking Korean policy (unlike my co-teacher’s very liberal, all-the-Korean-you-want policy).

They don’t like doing tests, sitting in hot classrooms, sitting in cold classrooms, sitting on their chairs in general.

And of course, they blame me for their unhappiness.  

Kid: ‘Teacher, if you go, Lauren Teacher (their previous teacher) will come back!!’

Me: ‘It doesn’t quite work like that.’


Kid, (who failed his test) counting the pages left in the book: ‘Eight pages.’

Me: ‘Yes.’

Kid: ‘Teacher, where you live?’

Me: ‘You mean where do I live in Korea or where is my home?’

Kid: ‘Your home.’

Me: ‘Ireland.’

Kid: ‘In eight pages, you go to Ireland?’

Me: ‘No. In eight pages, we get a new book.’

Kid: ‘Oh….’


While playing a number guessing game in class.

Another kid gets the answer correct.

Little Girl: ‘Oh, I’m stressed!’


Me: ‘Have you ever been in an accident?’

Kid: ‘Yes, when I am 7 years old, I hug the TV. The TV fall and me back and TV on me and I break my leg.’

Me: ‘WHAT?!!’


Kid: ‘What the hell?’

Me: ‘Ok, you really need to stop saying that in my class. You can’t say that to me.’

Kid: ‘It’s a bad word?’

Me: ‘Yes and no. You can’t say it to me.’

Kid: ‘Do you say it?’

Me: ‘Yes…but not to you.’

Kid: ‘It’s a swear word?’

Me: ‘Not…It’s not a bad swear word.’

Kid: ‘Like shit?’

Me: ‘No, not like that.’

Kid 2: ‘I’m a good swearer!’

Me: ‘I do not want a demonstration of that!’


One of my little kids put her backpack on her front and marched around the class pretending to be pregnant.


And then she started chasing other kids around.


Me: ‘What’s a vegetable?’

Little boy: ‘I don’t like vegetables.’

Little boy next to him: ‘I don’t like YOU.’


Kid 1: ‘Teacher…you like….boys….um….big arms?’

She makes a muscle gesture with arms.

Me: ‘Eh…no…not really.’

Kid 2: ‘Teacher, you like…boys…they….ou, chocolate chest?!’

Kid 1: ‘SIX-PACK!!’

I was laughing so much and I couldn’t speak!


Doing questions in class: A little boy has his hand up.

Little boy: ‘Oh ME ME ME!!’

Me: ‘Yes, Andy?’

Little boy: (shocked I picked him) ‘Oh my God!’


Me: ‘What would you like to do?’

Kid: ‘I would like to…book with people’s skin…’

Me: ‘What?’

Kid: ‘They make book with the people’s skin….pages…I want to touch.’

Me: ‘They what? Who? Who made a book out of people’s skin?!’

Kid: ‘I don’t know. I see on TV. Our science teacher tell us. I want to touch people’s skin book.’

Me: ‘Ewwww, that’s horrible. What TV programme?’

Kid 2: ‘Ohhhh teacher, Lauren Teacher on TV show!!! She eat a banana!!’

Me: ‘What?!’

Kid: ‘No, really!’

Me: ‘What?’

Kid: ‘Lauren Teacher on TV. She eat a banana. On TV!’

Me: ‘I’m gonna text Lauren teacher and ask her that.’

Kid: ‘You know Lauren Teacher’s phone number?!!’

Me: ‘Yes, of course.’

Kid: ‘You give to me?’

Me: ‘I will not.’


While doing listen and repeat:

Me: ‘Sitting.’

One little boy, out of the 12 students in class: ‘Sitting.’

He looks around at his classmates who said nothing and looks a little embarrassed.

Me: ‘Ok, since he was the only one who said it, he gets a sticker.’

Class: ‘WHAT?!!’

The little boy jumps from his seat, arms in the air!

Little boy: ‘YAY!!!’


Kid: ‘Teacher, what’s your Korean name?’

Me: ‘I don’t have a Korean name.’

Kid: ‘Why?!!’

Me: ‘I’m not Korean!’

Kid: ‘But you IN Korea!!’



A friend of mine who works in an elementary school in Ireland sent this in:

Possibly the funniest conversation ever I heard in the classroom yesterday. We were doing these Stile tray self-assessment things with hinged lids and some of the hinges are kind of difficult to manoeuvre.

So one of them says, ‘Mine is stiff.’

‘So is mine.’

‘I love a stiff one.’

‘Me too.’

‘Mine is really stiff.’

‘Mine’s the stiffest.’

I swear I deserve an award for keeping a straight face.


As usual find more quotes on the wall and in the index. Got your own?! Submit it to

comedy funny humor South Korea

Saturday Short – 05/19

Flower the morning after the night before…on top of the mini oven in a pint glass…Classy!

So, this happened:

The Canadian One lies on the bed, attempting to nap. I lie down beside him, wide awake, waving my iPhone around.

Me: ‘Wanna see pictures of my flower?’

He opens his eyes.

Him: ‘Suuuure. Which flowers?’

Me: ‘The one in the kitchen.’

Him: ‘You took pictures of our flowers?’

Me: ‘WE don’t have any flowers. I have a flower. You have no flower.’

I show him two pictures of my flower.

Him (deadpan): ‘Lovely.’

He closes his eyes.

Me: ‘I have twenty more.’

He opens his eyes and looks at me.

Me: ‘No?’

Him: ‘No….’

Oh come on!! Don’t judge me! If HE doesn’t look at my flower pictures, WHO will?!

Let me tell you how I ended up with a flower in the first place.

About two weeks ago, me, The Canadian One and The Canadian One’s British Friend (who I”ve know for two years longer than I’ve known The Canadian One mind you) went to a music gig. We were in the part of Seoul where women with buckets and single roses wander from bar to bar, scurrying through the establishment in an effort to convince men to buy their girls a flower. It’s such a ubiquitous sighting, it rarely registers with me but on this particular night it did. And here’s why:

I’m sitting with The Canadian One (TCO) standing next to me and The British Friend (TBF) standing next to him.

Flower Lady approaches, glances at me and turns to TCO.

Flower Lady: ‘Flower for your girlfriend?’

TCO: ‘Oh, I’m not her boyfriend, he is!’ (pointing at TBF)

The British Friend waves her off and she’s gone.

TCO (to me) : ‘He won’t buy you a flower!'(pointing at TBF)

Me: ‘WHAT? You won’t buy me a flower! Why won’t you buy me a flower?!!’ (joking)

TBF: ‘Fine, here.’

He hands me $2.

TBF: ‘Buy your own flower!’

I turn to TCO.

My Flower Today

Me: ‘He gave me $2!! Should I keep it?’

TCO takes the $2 off me and flags down Flower Lady.

TCO: ‘How much are the flowers?’

Flower Lady: ‘$5.’

TCO: ‘We have $2.’

Flower Lady digs deep into her bucket, pulls out a small flower and hands it to TCO. He gives her the money and presents me with my flower. A very small flower. A tiny flower. I take the plastic off it and it explodes out. Leaves, colour, smell. I loved it. And such is the story of how The Canadian One’s British Friend bought me a flower.

comedy entertainment funny humor kids Korea South Korea

‘Why do you have tadpoles in my class?’ – New Quotes Added

This week marked many things in our semester at school. Firstly, Tuesday was Teacher’s Day, a day when teachers all over the country get random, useless presents (if you’re me) or random, slightly more useful presents (if you’re The Canadian One).

Before Tuesday, I’d always thought Dean & Deluca was a made-up coffee shop in a J.J. Abrams show

I got plastic single flowers, 5 single chocolates, a small blown-up balloon, a pen, a bunch of Mother’s Day flowers (!) and a Burt Bees lip balm set (the most useful gift). The Canadian One, at his far more preppy, expensive kindergarten school, got fancy coffee, fancy horrible tea, some men’s vitamins, Keihl’s face cream, an assortment of tiny bathroom products and another box of fancy, haven’t-tasted-yet-so-can’t-judge-flavor tea. Now, The Canadian One usually gets some expensive shopping vouchers too but his school have put a stop to that and all vouchers received must be returned. God dammit! Last year he got $200 for E-Mart and we ate like kings!! LIKE KINGS!! And I got a fancy, shiny new pot. But alas, no shiny new kitchen appliances this year. Although I did recently buy a Tefal frying pan with a little spot that turns red when it’s ready to use and I frikkin’ love it. By contrast, The Canadian One bought a guitar. Now, my pan was on sale and cost $20. His guitar cost $1,200.

The day he bought the guitar:

Me: ‘Do you like the guitar?’

Him: ‘You know how you felt the day we bought the frying pan and you were all excited to use it? That’s how I feel about the guitar!!’

For anyone who cares, his guitar is the furthest on the right…the black one. The other two are for sale to recoup the costs of the new one. Anyone in Seoul lookin’ to buy a guitar, I shall direct you to The Canadian One cos we ain’t leaving Korea with 7 (YES, SEVEN!) guitars!

This week has also marked my student’s two days of final tests (eventhough we’ve not finished the books and have two and a half week’s left of the semester…do not get me started on the illogical thinking going on behind that one). As such, with a busy week and very little talking time done, my Friday Quotes are short n sweet.

Oh and for anyone who read Tuesday’s post, The Canadian One has made $10 for the Canadian Diabetes Association so far. I’m laughing already!

So, onto the quotes:

This section, I shall title: My Mother and Skype

Mam (on Skype): ‘Goodbye!! I don’t know why I’m waving, I don’t have video on, you can’t see me!’

My brother did the same thing.

Brother: ‘Eh, I’m waving but you can’t see me….can you? The webcam is not here.’


When I first arrived back in Korea, I was placed in a hotel until my apartment was ready. I had downloaded Skype onto the hotel computer which had sound but no microphone. When I phoned mam, she would talk and I would type responses. Several minutes passed and she started typing responses.

Me: (typing) ‘I CAN HEAR YOU TYPING!!!’

Mam: (speaking) ‘Oh yeah!!!’

This happened twice!


Mam: ‘Is that a basin in the background? And Pledge (a cleaning product)? And sponges? Ah, dreams of cleaning….you’ve not gotten very far!’

Frikkin’ video calling.


Mam: ‘Hello? Are you still there?’

Me: ‘Yes…why?’

Mam: ‘Oh, I was worried when I closed the laptop you’d be gone…but you’re not.’


Mam: ‘I’m starting a blog. It’s called The Thousand Island Blog. You’re The Ketchup War. I’ll be Thousand Island. I though about being Mayonnaise but Thousand Island sounds better. You’re writing about me, I’m going to write about YOU!’

So do please look out for that, if she’s writing down stuff I say, it’ll be muuuuuch funnier than what she says, trust me!


From a written test:

Q: In your class, who is similar to you?

A: Amy because she has a lot of action and I’m too.


Me: ‘Ok, on Thursday we have our test.’

Kid: ‘A speaking test?’

Me: ‘No.’

Kid: ‘But it’s a speaking book!! WHAT THE HELL?!’


Me: ‘Do you know the United Kingdom?’

Kid: ‘Yes, it’s the same as Lego Kingdom.’

Me: ‘Not exactly.’

Kid 2: ‘Oh, a king and queen!! And a wall.’


In the middle of a test, regarding a question about writing a sentence about his friend:

Kid 1: (whispering) ‘Teacher, um, question, this…my friend?’

Me: ‘Yes.’


Kid 1: ‘Teacher, Calvin, spelling?’


Me: ‘Ok, where am I from?’

Kid 1: ‘Canada.’

Me: ‘No!’

Kid 2: ‘England!’

Kid 3: ‘Ireland!’

Me: ‘Yes!! Ok, now where is Ireland?’

Kid 1: ‘Asia!’

Me: ‘This is Asia!’

Kid 2: ‘North America!!!’

Me: ‘North America??!!’

Kid 3: ‘Europe!!!’ (puts his head on the desk!)


Kid during test: ‘I’m hungry.’

I was eating candy at my desk so I toss her a piece of candy. Kid behind her sees this happen.

Kid 2: ‘WHAT? Wait, why candy?!!’


Me: ‘What’s a baby frog called?’

Kid: ‘A snake!’


Me: ‘What’s an animal doctor called?’

Kid: ‘A vacation…no….wait….’


Kid: ‘Lara and I are best friends.’

Lara: ‘What??!’

Kid: ‘What are you saying??!!’


And finally, my students bring random pets to school. I’ve had a rabbit, a hamster (in a coat pocket), turtles (in a lunch box), a baby chicken (who screamed so loudly during class I had to put him in the Teacher’s Room) and another hamster who attended class three weeks in a row…and then died but not in my class, I must stress.

Recently, I had tadpoles in my Grade 2 class. A LOT of tadpoles.

Me: ‘Why do you have tadpoles in my class?’

Kid: ‘The science teacher give.’

Me: ‘What will you do with them?’

Kid: ‘Give to mommy.’

Me: ‘Where did the science teacher get them?’

Kid 2: ‘The mountain.’

Me: ‘Why are there two floating on top?’

Kid 2: ‘One baby frog eat two baby frogs.’

Me: ‘Ewwww.’

Kid 2: ‘We give egg so no eat baby frogs.’


Me: “Can I take a picture?’

Kid 3 (who doesn’t own any tadpoles): ‘Yes.’

and she hands me the bottle containing all the tadpoles.

Confiscated tadpoles on my desk
Tadpoles by the window between the scissor box and the crayons

And today, one kid brought back in her tadpoles….one had turned into a very small frog. Yep, just a typical day at work for me!

comedy conversations entertainment funny humor kids quotes South Korea

‘He looks smart.’ – New Quotes Added

Prompted by my 90 minutes spent talking to various call center workers yesterday in a bid to find out some information about Paypal, I’m reminded of some of the best quotes from my student days of call center work:
Caller: ‘Are you American?’
Me: ‘No’
‘Why do you sound American?’
‘I’m Irish, not American.’
‘You sound American, I don’t like Americans. Goodbye.’
And he hung up!
Post spiel regarding security,
Me: ‘So how can I help you today?’
Old lady: ‘I got an invoice for something I didn’t buy.’
Me: ‘Ok, what is it that it says you bought?’
Old lady: ‘I didn’t buy it.’
Me: ‘Ok.’
Old lady (whispering) ‘It says I bought a vibrator.’
Me: (regarding the sales staff a woman dealt with) ‘How flexible did you find the sales staff?’
Woman (slightly confused): ‘You mean like…bendy?’
While doing something COMPLETELY different, suddenly:
I look at him.
Me: ‘Queen mouse?’
Kid: ‘YES!!’
Moments later
Kid: ‘WAIT, QUICK MOUSE….no queen.’
Regarding our story in which a purple alien dog with two tails almost drowns in the water.
Kid: ‘Teacher, dogs swim….but Hoopla no swim!!’
Me: ‘Hoopla’s not a dog. He’s an alien.’
Kid: “NO, he’s a monster dog….Why no swim?!’
Me: ‘I really don’t know.’
Kid: ‘Ok.’
Me: ‘Why are you standing up?’
Kid: ‘I was bad.’
Me: ‘Did I say stand up?’
Kid: ‘…No…but I was bad….’
Me: ‘Please sit down.’
Kid: ‘Teacher, do dolphin ride bikes?’
Me: ‘Ummm, no.’
In our class we have four rules, two of which are ‘Be Quiet’ and ‘No Korean’. A little girl is writing a rule on the board for me. She finishes but gets it incorrect.
Another Little Girl (reading and looking more and more confused) : ‘Be Korean? BE Korean?? I AM Korean!!!’
Yesterday, The Canadian One finished band practice. I call him.
Me: ‘Hey, how are you?’
Him: ‘Eh, I’m good.’
…Him: ‘What’s up?’
Me: ‘Oh I just called to see where you were and to say hi.’
‘That’s it?’
‘I’m on my way home.’
‘Cool….Can you bring home Doritoes??’
‘Is that why you called?’
‘…No…I also called to say hi….Will you bring home Doritoes?’
Kids all have their books open on the wrong page.
Kids: ‘Teacher, loooooooook, IRELAND!!!’
I look. It’s a page all about Ireland.
Kid: ‘Teacher, it’s you!!’
Me: ‘Oh, yeah!’
Kid: ‘Teacher, boy’s name is Kevin?’ (reading the story)
Me: ‘Eh, yeah, his name is Kevin. Why?’
Kid: ‘My boyfriend’s English name is Kevin.’ (She’s 8)
Later: We listen to the CD reading of the story by an Irish boy with a thick Irish accent.
Entire Class: ‘WHAT?! WHAT?!! I NO UNDERSTAND!!!’
Me: ‘Yeah, I’ll just read it to you instead!’
Two little girls are having a conversation while I correct homework.
Kid 1: ‘…your brother….’
Kid 2: ‘I have no brother!!’
Kid 1: ‘Yes, brother!!’
Kid 2: ‘NO, younger brother!’
Kid 1: (staring at her) ‘YES BROTHER!!’
Kid 1 stops talking to Kid 2.
My students are singing a song I didn’t teach them.
Me: ‘Where did you learn that song?’
Kid: ‘Our English teacher.’
Me: ‘The one in there?’ (pointing to my co-teacher’s classroom)
Kid: ‘No, our school one.’
Me: ‘The boy?’
Kid: ‘No, a girl.’
Me: ‘Oh, you have a girl foreign teacher?’
Kid: ‘No, she’s Korean. We have another teacher too. He’s a boy.’
Me: ‘Is he like me?’
Kid: ‘He looks smart.’
Me (teaching them the word ‘fancy’) : Fancy.’
All: ‘FANCY.’
One little boy: ‘Teacher! Alex say PANTIE!!!’
Me: ‘What’s grass?’
Kid: ‘If you have the many money and the big house, you have many grass.’
While teaching hobbies,
Me: ‘What would you like to collect?’
Kid: ‘Money.’
My grade ones have been learning English for 10 weeks. One kid in particular is pretty wild and is constantly having to be told to sit down. He’s yelling.
Me: ‘TED!!’
Ted: ‘Ted, sit down?’
Me: ‘No, Ted,  you are sitting down. Be quiet.’
Ted: ‘No sit down?’
Me: ‘No, be quiet.’
Ted stands up.
Me: ‘Ted…’
Ted: ‘Ted sit down?’
Me: ‘Yes, Ted, sit down….and be quiet.’
Kid: ‘I no understand.’
I look at the book.
Me: ‘Ok, so do you go walking?’
Kid: ‘Yes.’
Me: ‘Does your friend go walking?’
Kid YELLS across entire classroom: ‘LUCAS DO YOU GO WALKING???!!’
Lucas: ‘Yes.’
Kid (to me) : ‘Yes.’
In same class as above: While at the whiteboard explaining something, a kid walked up to me, pulled his tooth out in front of me and spat it out into his hand with a bunch of blood…then tried to hand it to me…then dropped it on the floor…then walked away.

Me: ‘Suhyun, can you read the question please?’

Suhyun: ‘Are there any cucumbers in the music store?’

Me: ‘Really? Why would there be cucumbers in a music store?’

Suhyun (after looking more carefully at the book): ‘Are there any customers in the music store?’

Me: ‘Okay, that’s better. Steve, which answer matches this question?’

Steve: ‘Yes, there are some cucumbers in the music store.’


Find more quotes on The Wall  and Index or submit your own

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Tuesday Timewasters – A Lesson In Coffee – 05/08

So here’s the thing, before I became a teacher, I had never touched coffee. Never ever.

A month into my first year as a kindergarten teacher facing 12 hyper, smily children every morning at 9am and I was begging for something to give me more energy. A slap in the face. A shot of epinephrine. Some cocaine (I kid, never touched the stuff…I promise Mammy!). As is happens, the coffee culture is alive and well here in South Korea with a new coffee shop popping up each week. It was only a matter of time (four weeks) before I got round to tasting the stuff.

And that was it. My morning coffee became a habit and a permanent fixture in my life.

Shelves in grocery stores and convenience stores are lined with coffee in all it’s variations. In a can. In a plastic cup. Beans. Ground. Instant. In sachets with powdered milk. They’ve got them all.

The sachet one you’ll find in most offices near the water dispenser. I once got offered one by a police officer while sitting around the CSI area waiting for The Canadian One to be fingerprinted. I keep some at school for those coffee-related emergencies that plague my day. Although, usually, I’ll make an iced latte at home, fill the container with ice and keep it in a mini cooler so it stays icy cold until I need it at around 2pm.

There’s honestly nothing better when you think you’re about to die getting off a plane in Dubai airport after 15 hours of travelling, going  through a security scanner, having your water – your lifeforce at that very moment – confiscated, tired, beaten and reaching the top of the escalator to see those glorious green letters spelling out happiness: Starbucks! Yes, Starbucks is terrible. Yes, we all read the bad press about them, blah blah blah but oh my good God, on the back of struggling to remember your mother’s phone number to let her know you’ve arrived safely in a foreign country, there’s nothing better than that first taste of familiarity: the tall iced latte.

Near our apartment, at a guess, I’d say there’s about 50 billion coffee shops ranging from Starbucks (of course) to Dunkin’ Donuts, Urban Coffee to Tom and Toms, Mango Six (opening today!) to Christmas Coffee (actual name). My coffee brand of choice ’round here after 10:30am is ‘Angels in Us’, although The Canadian One boycotts them as their barista, well, he’s a little on the hormonal side most mornings. Pre-10:30am, I’m a ‘Fox Coffee’ girl. What with them being right on my way to work as I walk past at 10:00 10:10, who I am kidding, 10:20am and they have this wonderful deal of half priced coffees between 7:30am-10:30am. Ironically, when I wake up late and barely have time for a shower and make my lunch time coffee, I’ll always happily pop in there and wait the 5 minutes it takes to make me my store-bought coffee.

My morning routine usually consists of:

20 minutes: Getting ready for work.

15 minutes: Putting new songs on the iPhone to listen to on the subway / looking for hairbrush

10 minutes: Walking to the subway

5 minutes: Waiting on coffee at coffee shop

30 minutes: Journey to work, drinking coffee and playing on Rumble / reading the news and not listening to music at all

The people over at are selling ‘Grow Your Own Coffee’ kits. Good in theory but alas they cannot ship outside of the US…and also warn that it’s not suitable for under 4’s…which one would think was obvious, no? Don’t Give Coffee To Kids…EVER.

I learnt a lot about coffee this week from The Oatmeal. I’m sure I’ve mentioned The Oatmeal to you…perhaps once before…or twice….or just last Tuesday!! According to them, coffee all started with:

Read the rest of this comic, the next comic and every other comic The Oatmeal has to offer here!!

And finally, here’s a handy lil guide to making your own fancy coffee at home:

To read more about my adventures in coffee and that time I DIDN’T break the coffee machine, feel free to click here. Otherwise, Happy Tuesday Everyone!

comedy entertainment funny humor Korea South Korea

Children’s Day means Wine Wine Wine

The Canadian One and I have had no wine glasses in the house. He broke one by accidentally kicking it into the TV stand and I broke…well, numbers aren’t important here but let’s just say, before Saturday, we had none and I’d taken to drinking wine from a plastic Starbucks cup that had once contained a take-out iced latte (ooooh the classiness). But no more!!

Saturday May 5th marked Children’s Day here in Korea. A national holiday which means only one thing to us teachers: a day off school. But alas, this year it fell on a Saturday so no day off. Well, no extra day off.

Not wanting to go to the park / cinema / mall / outdoors in general given that all the parents would be out in force with their little humans spoiling them as it’s ‘their day’, we set out to find something non-child related to do. As it happens, the 10th Annual International Wine and Spirit Expo was in town and was in full swing in COEX (Asia’s largest underground shopping mall) right by our house.

Alcohol? – Check

Cheapish entry? – Check

No under 18’s allowed? – Checkity check check!

We set off at 12:30pm, deeming post noon to be an ok time start the wine drinking, and after a quick jaunt around COEX to find the convention hall we came across random adults wandering a lobby with wine in wine glasses. An unusal sight for a mall lobby so we figured we must be getting close. We rounded a corner and hit the ticket line.

Several moments of confusion later, we were stood before a smily ticket booth lady.

Me: ‘Two tickets. We pre-registered.’

Ticket Lady: ‘You pre-registered? Ok. 28,000won.’

No proof of pre-registering was required and when we went to pick up our passes at the ‘Pre-Registered Booth’, they made us register again. But oh well, we got 6,000won / $6 off each ticket. (It’s usually $20 a ticket so I recommend pre-registering)

Modelled by The Canadian One


Next we picked up our to-be-used-for-tasting wine glasses and we were on our way through the doors.

Inside, we were confronted with a vast range of wine choices. With wine’s hailing from South Africa, America, France, Chile, Australia (honestly, didn’t know they made wine), Spain and Portugal and spirits from Italy and Japan, we wandered aimlessly for 10 minutes looking at booths, observing how other people went about asking for the wine and most importantly, checking that all the wine was actually free.

It was.

Pretty soon we de-boxed our glasses and hit up an organic Spanish wine booth for our first taste of free wine.

We based our wine choices on interesting names such as Duck Pond, Moon Cat and Goats Do Roam and intrigue, ‘What’s Czar wine?’ ‘Dunno, let’s try it’ and so we would.

Free wine always tastes better. Doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s free, it tastes better. It’s like the free chili we get at our local bar. We wouldn’t pay for it but since it’s free and we’re usually drunk, it’s the nicest thing in the world!

Now, I drink white and The Canadian One drinks red so between us we manged to taste a wide range of differing wines.

During our wander from booth to booth we came across a wide range of intriguing things from blue champagne to The Canadian One’s first taste of apple cider to a giant wine bottle I took up stalking in an attempt to get a picture.

The wines came in lots of different, handy forms. Personally, I’m a fan of the ‘can version’

Reminds me of the time I dressed as a condom and wandered the streets of Seoul to promote a charity event….perhaps a story for another day…

There was, of course, a few booths dedicated to coffee along with a showing by the ever popular Starbucks. There were people selling ice machines. A appearance by Costco offering membership. An entire area dedication to the ‘World Beer Festival’ which was jam-packed with so many people within two minutes, we bailed and headed back to the wine area.

By 3pm, we were spent. We were tipsy enough to realise no more wine was a good idea and yet not tipsy enough to laugh aloud at the outwardly stumbling people in their fancy business suits.

Overall, I’d recommend the International Wine and Spirits Festival as a good place to hang out to avoid children. Equally, a bar is also a good place to go. A theme park is not a good idea. Nor is a normal park / movie theatre or the streets of Gangnam it would seem.

Worth the money (if you pre-registered) and come on, what better way to kill two hours on a Saturday afternoon than at a wine expo! And, of course, now we have two new wine glasses for me to break drink from.

To Children’s Day! Cheers!

comedy conversations entertainment funny humor kids Korea quotes South Korea

‘His skin is bling bling?’ – New Quotes Added

It’s QUUUUOTEEEE FRIDDDAAAAY!! YAY!! Goodness, what a long week it’s been! Tuesday off school, today is party day where technically all I’m doing is ‘supervising’ a scavenger hunt. It’s been sunny all week with a trip to Costco and food and wine all purchased, a trip to The Avengers…clearly this week also marked payday. Have a good weekend everyone and look out for my post about the alcohol expo on Sunday…or Monday if I’m still hungover on Sunday.

First up: Recently my mother called me to A: tell me that she’s going to Barcelona for a weekend and B: ask could I send her my camera to borrow for her trip. Her having no camera reminded me of when her kitten ran away last year and she said this to me on the phone:

Mam: ‘Ohhhh if I had a camera, I’d take a picture of her and put it up in the newsagents…Oh wait, she’s not here. I can’t take a picture of her! Nevermind.’


Kid 1: Teacher, you have boyfriend?’

Me: ‘Yes.’

Kid 2: ‘He Korean?’

Me: ‘No, he’s Canadian.’

Kid 1: ‘Ou Teacher! He is handsome? Like a singer? His skin is bling bling?’

Me: ‘Ha, yes, he is very handsome.’

Kid 2: ‘REALLY??’

Me: ‘Of course!’

Kid 1: ‘Ou, you are lucky girl!’


Kid: ‘Teacher, you boyfriend, he will you marry me, you, ok??’


Me: ‘What is your favorite holiday?’

Kid: ‘Sunday.’

Me: ‘Sunday’s not a holiday.’

Kid: ‘Yes, it is.’

Me: ‘The next question is, ‘When is it celebrated?’ How will you answer that?’

Kid: ‘Every Sunday.’


Me: ‘What’s the difference between a library and a bookstore?’

Kid: ‘The name.’


Submitted by Nicola:

I was on teaching practice teaching 6-7  year olds and the teacher I was working with got engaged. Another teacher prepared the class so when their teacher came in they yelled “congratulations!” and one little fella stands up and says ‘Yeah, congratulations on your enCAGEment!’
Teacher: ‘Did he just…?’
Me: ‘Yep.’
Teacher: ‘Kind of appropriate, really.’

Later the same day, some older girls come in with a card for the teacher and ask ‘When did you find out?’

Teacher replies ‘I didn’t find out – I was ASKED!!!!’


Me: ‘Did you do your homework?’

Little boy: (very slowly) ‘Y…e….s….’

Me: ‘Let me see.’

Little boy: ‘No, no, I no homework.’


My class is falling asleep and not paying attention.

Me: ‘Who wants to read?’


Me: ‘Reading, number one, who wants to read it?’


Me: ‘I’ll give you a sticker.’

Every hand shoots up and one kids screams: ‘WAIT, what page are we on?!!!’


Me: (looking around the classroom) ‘Where’s my homework book?’

Kid: (without missing a beat) ‘I ate it!’

Me: ‘You did not.’

Kid: ‘No, really!’

I find it.

Me: ‘Here it is.’

Kid: ‘Yes….I…. (makes throwing up noise)…you’re welcome.’


Two boys are fighting in my class while I’m correcting homework. The previous class I’d introduced superlatives (big-bigger-biggest) to them.

Boy 1: ‘You no man. You pretty girl!’

Boy 2: ‘You ugly girl!’

Boy 1: ‘You ugliest girl!’

Boy 2: ‘You worst girl!’

Me: ‘BOYS!! The….THE WORST…THE UGLIEST…We learned this last week!’


Me: ‘Name an actor.’

Kid: ‘Megamind.’


In my Grade 3 class, I have a Grade 1 student who’s too advanced to be in any other class. She attended my Grade 2 classes when she was in Kindergarten.

Grade 1 little girl: ‘Teacher, my new name is Erica.’

Grade 3 little girl: ‘Like America????’


Me: ‘Who can make a sentence with ‘how much’ in it?’

Little boy (pointing at little girl next to him): ‘How much is it?’


I’m talking to one of my more advanced kids in class a little quicker than I speak to the other kids because she understands me.

Kid next to her: ‘Teacher, you speaking Netherlands??!’


Don’t forget, find more quotes on the Wall and every Friday.

comedy funny humor Korea South Korea

So you wanna learn Korean…

I don’t speak Korean. Despite living here, I do not speak enough Korean to have a conversation about anything other than a drinks order, directions and occasionally, if we’re in the right part of the zoo near the tigers or the lions, I can point at them and say what they are. Handily, I also know how to say ‘Come here’, ‘Don’t touch me’ and ‘No’…the essentials for teaching small children at school.

I’m also one of those people who can understand more than they can produce and as a result, Koreans tend to ask me questions and, while I fully understand what they’re asking me, I don’t have enough vocabulary to answer them.

Unfortunately, it is possible to live here for three years and not speak that much Korean. Suuuure, I could learn but since I covered all this in ‘Watch out for the Headgehog’, I won’t rehash it here. What I will say is, if you’re gonna learn Korean, check out this handy lil guide to get you started:


Korea random South Korea

Why Korean music stars are the new soap operas

The amount of news articles that have appeared in my newsfeed featuring Korean popstars and their troubles wouldn’t usually astound me. Popstars/actors/mildly famous people/that 16 year old who married the 51 year old Lost actor all share space on my screen on a daily basis. But with Korean stars, it’s not so much the times they’ve been appearing, so much as the things they or their fans are doing to warrant it.

I’d never spend much time thinking about Korean Pop (K-Pop) before until The Canadian One’s band’s recent gig. They played with a pretty popular K-Pop girl group on a Friday night on a busy street corner. When the boys exited the stage and the stagehands had cleared the area of every musical instrument in sight, the girls bounced on all smiles, hair freshly blow dried, sweat carefully dabbed from their faces and dance-mimed their way through their first song. They followed that up with a mixture of synchronised dance moves and singing (when not dancing. When they were dancing they mimed). I actually kinda liked them!

The pop up stage early in the night

As they were leaving the stage, one of the singers with her microphone turned on said ‘You really want us to leave?’ in a prompt to get the crowd to cheer for an encore. The crowd didn’t take the bait but the girls left the stage and triumphantly returned to do one last song anyway. Fair play. When you have a plan, stick to it. Want to do an encore even if no one else wants you to?  Do it anyway.

It got me thinking about K-Pop and the music industry in Korea in geeral. A few years back, I attended a K-Pop gig in an underground nightclub in Seoul. We were told we would get in free (we did) and told it’ll be fun (it was, at best, interesting). Playing at midnight, the five-piece minus one (who was underage and not allowed in the club) played for maybe 20 minutes and then left the stage never to return. People paid a lot of money, queued for a long time and stood out in the horrible Korean winter to view four boys dance on stage for less than a half hour and then leave. As I recall, they didn’t ask us to request an encore.

As far as the media goes, on a whole, I wouldn’t call recent news reports exactly a win for the Korean music industry. Just to share with you just some of the K-Pop drama that’s appeared in my web-world of late, check out these four stories for yourself.

First take this clip. Just to warn you: I’ve seen it twice, once when it was first sent to me, and once when checking this link worked, and that second time was one too many.

If you can’t watch the clip, it’s basically of a girl group who are doing a live performance when one of them suffers a seizure and collapses onstage. Like nothing happened, the other girls just dance around her until some stage hands come out and drag the seizing girl from the stage. It’s terrifying. If this happened in America or Canada or the UK or Ireland, people would not stand for it. They would be up in arms, out for blood, asking ‘how could this happen?’. The rest of the group would be on the morning talk shows explaining themselves. Statements would be released. Apologies made. A donation to a charity produced.

Or this story I read this week regarding Korean hip-hop star Daniel Lee (of Epik High fame). Believing his Stanford degree to be a fake (it’s not), a group calling themselves ‘TaJinYo’ took to the internet and began their fixation on Lee. Within days, the group had over 100,000 members calling for Lee to admit he’d faked his degree. People took to the streets, picketing and campaigning for this man, this hip-hop star, to admit he’d faked his degree. They started stalking him, calling his house, his mother, threatening violence. They caused him to become a prisoner in his own home, a hermit caused by his own success. Stanford spoke out confirming his degree. Newspapers did research. Magazines published articles. Nothing would stop these people from their relentless persuit of Lee and his supposed ‘fake’ degree. Read more about it HERE…it’s truly a shocking story.

Or how about this: back in February, when every member of the group Block B were forced to write their own apology letter for their very public and controversial statements about the flooding in Thailand, which incidentally angered another very popular K-Pop group who came out and commented on the matter.

And finally this, proving February to be a really bad month of publicity for K-Pop, the story of Jenny Hyun, a songwriter for Girls’ Generation and Chocolat, who on February 16th got into a whole lot of hot water for her tirade on Twitter.

Sparked by this:

In what may have gotten way more press than Mayweather intended

 She responded with this:

It was quickly followed up by an apology on her blog:


And then 24 hours later, and most worryingly of all, followed up by this:

Assuming the last statement is true, I wish her well and hope she has full recovery. But as no one’s heard a peep from her since, I can’t help but wonder, when she does resurface, what’ll the public reaction in Korea be towards her? Or for that matter, the reaction around the world? Will she write her own ‘heartfelt’ apology letter ala the boys in Block B or will it just be swept under the rug and we’ll never hear the name ‘Jenny Hyun’ again? I’ll guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

comedy conversations entertainment funny humor kids Korea quotes South Korea

‘Relax!!!’ – New Quotes Added

My students this week have been learning ‘writing’ and my good God, it’s been…well, interesting to say the least. See for yourself! (Some are more cute than funny so I thought I’d throw them up on the post anyway…)

Writing tasks always ALWAYS remind me of back when I used to teach Kindergarten and had to correct their weekly diaries. One kid (6 years old) wrote about how his mom liked ‘black cock’ and ‘was sad there was no black cock in the home’ so she went out ‘to get black cock’…Took me half the page to realise he’d just spelled ‘coke’ wrong.

So anywho, Happy Friday, here’s the quotes from this week:

One kid misunderstands (OR totally gets) the task:


‘When I was seven, I wanted t