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Thursday (July 22) marked the second day (or first, for me) of Summer Intensive Classes. What are summer intensive classes, you might ask? Extra classes for students to take from 10am to 1pm while they’re on summer break. What could be more fun! YAY!

I don’t know about other classes but mine actually is (or going to be) fairly fun. I’m teaching the newspaper workshop class, where the kids get to write their own newspaper articles and as a final project we make a newspaper. I’m teaching the highest level newspaper workshop so my kids are pretty skilled and we can talk about stuff that’s really in the news. Thursday we talked about the BP oil spill and the Cheonan sinking.

My class is small, 9 students, and most of them I’ve taught before (… it’s funny that I’ve been here long enough that I can say that now…). Also, this is the first time the class has been taught and it’s not a 100% official ChungDahm course which means… We get to design the class ourselves! Yay!

Actually that yay was not in sarcasm. It’s extra work; I have to spend my free period on Friday (7-10pm) designing the upcoming classes. But it’s fun. We get to plan the topics we’ll talk about and the articles we’ll use. There’s a lot more control, which is something that sometimes gets lost in the other classes.

Thursday’s class was pretty good, although the students were younger than we anticipated – so future classes are going to have to push the ‘fun factor’, as it were. Here are some highlights of the class:

Student-written World Cup article headline (aka How it should have ended):

Spain tragically FAILS in World Cup Finale:

South Korea murders Torres

Quotes of sarcasm in a student-written article on the Cheonan:

[North Korea denies involvement in the attack]. They say it was a “rock” [that Cheonan hit ].

PS I have a post for MudFest in the draft stage, but it’s taking me a while to finishing writing it. It should be up by this weekend.


Saturday was the big day! Miss Saigon!

On Saturday, Quinn, Vy and I hoofed it over to Dongdaemun in Seoul to see a performance of Miss Saigon – in Korean! A language of which we have only the most basic knowledge! And between the three of us, our knowledge of the plot was okay, although there was room for improvement.

The only thing I really knew about the musical was what Quinn told me right before we went to see it, and that knowledge came from the performance he saw when he was a kid so… yeah…It would have been easy to just Wikipedia Miss Saigon and read the story but I thought it might be nice to try and figure out the story with my basic understanding of the plot. And that strategy (which is similar to the one Vy was employing) worked pretty well. Kudos to the performers for making it easy for us.

The musical was excellent, although now that I’ve heard the music for the first time in Korean, the English version of the songs just don’t sound right. We bought tickets for the cheap seats but they ended up being great. Being dead center for “The Morning of the Dragon” is definitely a must. I’ve been trying to find another performance of the song on YouTube but nothing that I find is even close to how awesome this one was. Huge flags, a sea of red, on-point martial arts-based choreography. Very awesome. Also awesome – the crazy over the top, video enhanced rendition of “American Dream”. Honestly, I wish there was a video somewhere of their performances. I did manage to find this video of “I Still Believe” (sung by Kim Bo-Kyung and Kim Sun-Young who played Kim and Ellen, respectively, in the performance we saw) which also happens to have the last seconds of “The Morning of the Dragon” in it. So at least you can see their costumes.

And the evening following the performance was just as excellent in a surprisingly low key way. We went to Hongdae, in hopes of meeting with some friends that never showed up. But all was not lost! We ended up in the park outside Hongik University and goofed around on the swings, which was a shockingly excellent way to spend our time. Unfortunately, I also ended up kicking Quinn in the face, something that (I have a feeling) might come back to haunt me. And then we chilled out with some fellow foreigns and some friendly Koreans who taught us words we can’t remember, until the sun rose again.

We stayed in Seoul until the next morning to go to Big Rock Brewery, which serves an American-style breakfast buffet in Gangnam (introduced to us, coincidently, by the people we were supposed to meet in Hongdae). It’s very similar to Butterfingers, which I mentioned in a previous post, but it’s a little cheaper. And it doesn’t open until 11am so we were basically camped outside in the rain until it opened. That’s how much we love Big Rock.

And now I have next weekend to look forward to: MudFest 2010!

This weekend was one of firsts for me. I went, along with several other Yeongtong and Dongtan teachers and a handful of other English-speaking foreigners here in Korea, to Inje. There, at an “Xtreme Sports Resort”,  I:

  1. Got shot in the head
  2. Drove into a hill
  3. Crossed a river in the air
  4. Was thrown off a boat
  5. Plunged 63 feet to certain death
  6. Was flung unexpectedly into the air
  7. Celebrated the Fourth of July, foreigner-style in a soccer field, which was all the more appropriate considering it was sandwiched between watching Germany CRUSH Argentina and move on to the Semi-Finals in the World Cup.

What I first! I got shot in the head (front and back), and multiple times in the leg and a few times in the arm! But I also shot back, and hit quite a few. Of course, we were shooting paint balls. But still!

Following paint ball, some of us went to ride ATVs through a watery (because we’re in the rainy season) track. I had… some issues, shall we say, with the breaks. Hence my driving into a hill. And Rayna (a Dongtan teacher). Multiple times… But it was a lot of fun. Great entertainment if you’re a speed freak.

After paint ball we did a little ziplining, including one of my co-workers who is afraid of heights. Good for him! Facing his fears! Ziplining was pretty fun. Towards the end, we actually zip across a semi-wide river which we later…

Rafted down! Which I wasn’t really planning on doing, but everyone else was doing it so I gave into pier pressure (hahaha, oh puns). Our guide was a little sadistic though. He pushed all of us out of the boat at one point or another and kept baptizing the people who sat in the back of the raft. The trip was nice, but the water was low (despite all the rain) so all the rafts kept getting stuck on rocks.

Then we rested. Sort of. Dinner started around 8 and bled into partying which eventually ended (for me) in letting of fireworks in the soccerfield by the (I think) youth hostel (What was that building?!) we were staying in. I wish I could figure out how to post videos on there because I managed to get some cool ones of the fire works. As one teacher pointed out, it looked like we were in a scene from Harry Potter.

Then, after watching the Germany versus Argentina soccer game (which I’ll go into in another post), of course, I hit the sack, because the 4th of July brought one other thing…

Bungee Jumping! Glorious bungee jumping. Which, despite not really wanting to do it, I had to do. And I was going to do it properly, which meant using the ankle harness and not that whimpy full-body harness. I ended up jumping sixth, which was a good number because even though I had to watch a bunch of other people jumping I didn’t have enough time to really dwell on what I was seeing.

Once I got up to the top platform (63 feet in the air- the highest bungee jumping point in South Korea!), I started to feel the weight of what I was doing. But I only had a few second to think about it and take in the view (which was lovely) before I JUMPED OFF! Or, as I later found out from the video taken, fell off… I really thought I jumped off but… jumping from 63 feet in the air with only a tether keeping you safe can skew your perception of things.

Bungee jumping was definitely an experience but I don’t think it’s something that I’ll do again. It happens so fast and although you do enjoy the initial descent (or at least appreciate it for the odd sensation you get), the recoils just mess with your mind. Or at least they messed up my mind. After I recoiled the first time, I couldn’t tell what was going on, if I was going up or down. I started getting tunnel vision to. It was bizarre.

After bungee jumping, I calmed my nerves by going on the slingshot, which is basically a ball you sit in with a partner. Then that ball is flung into the air as sort of an anti-bungee. But they don’t tell you when it’s going to be launched so there’s a lot of nerve-shattering anticipation. That was a lot of fun (although it made me motion sick). I did not, however, like watching it. Waiting for it to launch when I was sitting in it wasn’t that bad but it was a little upsetting having it surprise me like a jack-in-the-box while I was watching it.

And then… we went home. It was a glorious weekend.