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It’s that time of year again, when teachers recycle their old papers, clean off their desks and stock up on new white board markets. Monday is the start of Winter Term, which means I’m close approaching my first full year in another country. I came to Korea during week 4 of the 2009 Winter Term. The past two terms have gone by incredibly fast, especially this fall.

This term, my schedule is as follows:

Overall, I have a pretty good schedule. I’m kicking my self a little because I taught Par Reading for this track (there are two tracks, A and B. Winter Term is B track) last winter but I’ve misplaced my books. Which means I’ll have to prep my lessons all over again.

But I’m excited to be teaching Master Reading again. After teaching it one term, then working as the Reading HI (and supervising that class) last term, I’m pretty confident that I’ll teach this class awesomely. The books aren’t as exciting as last time I taught, but they are still interesting. And I’ve read them before which will give me the advantage.

We’ll be reading:

  1. The Most Dangerous Game (short story)
  2. The Lottery (short story)
  3. Lord of the Flies
  4. Of Mice and Men
  5. The Giver
  6. Balzac and the Little Seamstress

The theme for this term is the Individual and Society. This will be fun.

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Last weekend, my dad and I went into Seoul. I had planned to get almost everything done on Saturday and when we could have Sunday to finish anything we missed and then just go around Seoul casually. We managed to get a lot done, especially on Saturday. Breakfast at Butterfingers, the Coex Aquarium, Itaewon and Tartine (Mmmm), Jongno and Insadong, Gyeongbok Palace and a trip to Namsan Tower’s observatory.

Since I’ve now been to two of the Palaces, I have to say, Gyeongbok was more impressive. BUT Changdeok  Palace’s garden are definitely worth a trip. It’s just that Gyeongbok’s grounds are pretty massive. And when you’re walking around inside you can’t here the surrounding area at all (which is true about Changdeok as well). That’s something I’ve noticed about the different palaces and temples around Seoul. When you’re on their grounds, it’s very peaceful. You can’t hear the surrounding area. I don’t know if that’s just because the grounds are large and walled in or if that was intentionally designed, but it’s funny to only hear birds and footstep and then you look up to see skyscrapers not car off.

Moving on, this past Thursday was Thanksgiving. Because that didn’t change our schedules at all, I had completely forgotten about until I remembered that the Yeongtong and Dongtan Faculty Managers were hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. They bought a bunch of American amenities, like mac ‘n cheese and turkey, on a base. And someone brought banana pudding pies. Mmmmm.

Marty had a good Thanksgiving too. I brought him along since the FMs have dogs. Another co-worker from Dongtan brought his dog as well. So Marty got lots of attention from people and he got to socialize with other dogs.

Although I briefly thought about introducing Dad to Seoul today, I though it might be better to spend another day in Suwon. It is the city I live in after all. I’ve always wanted to visit Mt. Gwangyo (광교산 – Gwangyosan)and the Gwangyo reservoir ever since I accidentally went up there after not getting off at the correct stop to start my first tour of  Hwaseong Fortress, back in the day with the training group. Mostly I wanted to visit the second Suwon toliet I had seen: the Firefly (반딧불이Bandibuli) toilet.

So today, I took Dad and Marty there for a leisurely stroll around the lake. Again, pictures will follow after I get them off Dad’s camera. It’s a nice area. There’s a 4.7 (ish) km path around the reservoir, plus many other paths you can hike up the mountain, which is billed as something along of the lines of ‘Suwon’s premier mountain’ (I have to find my tourist map that touts it). It’s considered the Guardian Mountain. There were quite a few people out and about on the mountain and it’s no surprise since a.) the weather was beautiful and b.) Koreans and mountain hiking go together like peanut butter and jelly. As far as the toilet went: it was nice but the Hermit Toilet was better.

Suwon stream (수원천 – Suwoncheon) comes out of the reservoir and we walked along that to. There’s a mini-garden area that runs along it, kind of like Cheongyecheon (청계천) in Seoul but more modest. It’s a nice walk though. Very peaceful and not something that I’ll be wanting to do once there’s snow and ice on the ground.

But next weekend, it’ll be all about Seoul.

Last Thursday (Pepero Day) my dad came to visit. He’ll be staying until November 22. However, he does  not have his own blog so it’ll be up to me to record his adventures in Korea. But not in Korean. He still doesn’t see how anyone can read Hangul.

Because of work, I didn’t really have an opportunity to do anything with him until this Saturday. UNFORTUNATELY, even today we had to wait to go do some tourist stuff because at 11am I had to go to work for the last round of this term’s Speech Contest. Which was fun but, in my opinion,  the wrong students won. So sad… But I can’t complain since I didn’t volunteer to be the judge.

But one of the questions that students could write a speech about was ‘What is the best tourist attraction in South Korea?’. Three of the speeches, including the one that won, were about Hwaseong Fortress. How appropos because…

For today’s tourist stuff, I took my dad and Marty to Hwaseong Fortress. You can take lapdogs on the bus and subway as long as they have a leash and Marty was very well behaved on the rides. It’s no longer time for the gardens to be in bloom at the fortress, which is a shame and I realized today that I’ve never seen the gardens there in bloom. But at least the weather was exceptionally nice.

Marty couldn’t go into the main compound and since I’ve already been in that area I waited outside while Dad looked around. There was some kind of photography exhibit with framed photos of the fortress and other natural areas on easels. And there were some professional photographers there who enjoyed taking pictures of Marty. He was very popular today. At one point these two teenage girls came up to me and asked if they could take a picture with me and him.

After Dad was finished with the main compound, we hiked up the mountain and walked around about 1/4 of the fortress wall. It’s supposed to take 2-3 hours to hike the whole thing and we were too hungry to do the whole thing. And sadly the Dragon Trolley that I took before was sold out.

Eventually, I’ll have pictures from the trip here. But we used my dad’s camera, not mine and he needs to recharge the batteries.

Yesterday was Pepero (빼빼로) Day. Some in the US of A complain about Valentine’s Day being made up by marketing companies, well Pepero Day is like that. Except even more so. Pepero are these skinny wafer sticks covered in chocolate and sometimes nuts. They’re basically Korean Pocky, if you’re familiar with that. And since if you lay them next to each other, they make the number 11, the Lotte company that makes Pepero decided that 11/11 should be Peppero Day, when people give each other Peppero. (Lotte denies they actually started it, but I have my suspicions.)

I’m actually kind of bummed I’m missing out on 11/11/11, but I’m not staying another full year just for that.

Anyway, I was debating if I want to celebrate this day with my students, since I didn’t want to spoil them by giving them all Pepero and even if it is really cheap, buying a box for my 32 students  who I teach today would add up. But for the past few weeks, I’ve been having them get into teams to do their work, so instead I gave a box to the team with the most points by the end of class. A reward for participation and good behavior. Yes, bribery.

I would say that I’m eleven months into owning a rabbit, but sadly Sherlock is no longer with me. At the time, I didn’t want to blog about it and I still don’t really want to dwell on it because I do miss her. I can’t help but feel like I made some kind of mistake in taking care of her.

With the weather getting colder and winter almost here, I’m spending a lot more time at home and I was thinking what a shame it is that I don’t have Sherlock anymore. But I didn’t want to get another rabbit and had given away my rabbit cage. Then, one night not too long ago, I couldn’t sleep. On a whim, I went onto the the Animal Rescue Korea page, which is the group that helped find a new home for Watson, the rabbit one of my students gave me (She was adopted a few months ago by someone who has lots of experience with rabbits. Yay for Watston!). Several of my co-workers and foreigners in my neighborhood have adopted dogs through ARK and KARMA (Korea Animal Rescue and Management Association). And I was thinking, well, maybe I could foster a dog.

I had been thinking about fostering a dog when I first got here but decided against it, because of all the time I’d probably have to spend training a shelter dog. That night, I was still a little unsure about fostering but leaning towards it. I wanted to, but didn’t know if I’d be able to give the dog the time it would need. Then I found Marty.

Marty the Smarty. Originally a resident of a Busan animal shelter, he had been brought to the Asan animal shelter (biggest in Korea) for some reason. He’s a Yorkshire terrier and based on his pictures, video and what they were saying about his personality (smart, loveable, friendly… kind of what they always say…) I was surprised he hadn’t been adopted or even fostered. Until I saw that he was blind in one eye. The Busan shelter hadn’t told the Asan shelter anything about Marty other than he was blind in his eye (and you can tell just by looking at his milky len that he is). My heart went out to the little guy and I contacted the shelter about possibly fostering him.

This Saturday, I went to volunteer at the shelter and meet Marty.  He was super friendly and started licking me the moment they put him in my arms. Which was unfortunate because he smelled horrible and had a bad case of poop-butt. Aside from that, he seemed to be in decent shape for a shelter dog. He was a good weight. I couldn’t feel his bones.

Turned out, the guy’s a little Napoleon, minus the aggression. In addition to having a messed up eye, Marty was being kept in an area with aggressive dogs that were not too nice to him. There was some blood in his coat and I could feel small cuts on him. Because of that, Marty had pretty much no fear while I was walking him. He went straight up to a husky, Ice (whose bones not only could I feel but see, poor guy) and sniffed him assertively until Ice backed off. When two pit bulls got into a scuffle, ending up in a poor little Chihuahua getting nipped (she was okay, though) Marty practically walked right into the fight, tongue out and tail wagging.

After meeting him, I was sure I wanted to foster him and was planning to bring him home at the end of November but…once I get an idea in my head I like to act on it (Plus, it took  FOR-EVER to get to the shelter from Suwon). So I asked the shelter if I could borrow a carrier and brought Marty home with me. My apartment was already pet-proof (thanks to Sherlock) and the shelter actually set me up with leashes, collars, flea medicine, cleaning supplies and a days worth of food for him (thanks to donations) so I had the basics to get him through the day until I could go shopping for him.

First thing on the agenda – BATH TIME. Which petrified the poor little guy. He kept trying to sit in my lap for protection while I was dumping water on him. And I’m going to have to take him to a professional to give him a really deep cleanand a good trim. Luckily, I managed to rid him of most of his poop-butt.

In the apartment, Marty doesn’t have as much of his Napoleon vigor and he clearly prefers the outside. He LOVES walks. Unfortunately, his eye does give him trouble. He’s run into things and I have to carry him up the stairs to my apartment (at least for now). But I seriously lucked out for the most part because he’s 100% house trained. I was very impressed. I was planning on watching him try and pee on my floor and then rushing him to the bathroom the first night to teach him to pee there. To my great surprise, after drinking a ton of water, he walks over to my bathroom and does his business without being prompted. So I let him have free reign of the apartment at night. Not a single accident. And he used the bathroom again the next morning. Not only that, but he doesn’t freak out when I leave, like I was worried he might. When I left him alone to go shopping for him, he only protested a little and was a perfect gentleman when I got back, waiting patiently for several minutes for me to open the bathroom door. It’s such a shame. Someone clearly took the time to train him properly (he walks great on the leash too and doesn’t jump up on my bed), but I guess without his eye he just wasn’t cute any more.

The only thing Marty needs to work on his obedience training. He doesn’t know any commands. Today I worked on ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ with him. He’s getting sit pretty quicky. Stay, not so much. He doesn’t like to leave my side and insisted on sleeping next to me at night. He also needs to be taught how to play. I tried playing the games that my dog back home likes but Marty didn’t understand a single one of them. It took him several tries to get that the jingly ball I got him was a toy that he was supposed to pick up and several more tries to get that when I throw it, he should chase it. But sure enough, as of an hour ago he was actually asking me to throw the ball for him. He’s a quick learner. Marty the Smarty, indeed.

So technically I am fostering him, but honestly… I’m a little hesitant to find him an owner. He’s such a good dog I want to keep him around. Maybe I’ll adopt him… We’ll see. I want to wait until I hear back about grad school to make a decision like that.

 

Someone needs a haircut. But gotta love the tongue

 

 

After doing his business, Marty likes to kick his back legs in this little dance thing. It's pretty cute. Although don't get behind him when he does it.