Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Friday evening, the day before the concert. We were there until 11:30pm doing rehearsal and going over the plan for the big day. Mina took this picture of me when we first went in and saw the venue. You can see the stage in the background, still being constructed.

Some girls that worked for the Visit Korea organization (which is the organization that was sponsoring our dance stuff) wanted to take a picture with us. One of the guys working at the snack bar took it. Also, all of the snack bar girls and the corn dog guy decided they needed to get in on the picture to advertise their products. I'm not sure that was really necessary, since we are not famous and this snack bar is not open to the public anyhow! This was in the area only used by performers and concert staff.
Taking a break during the afternoon, a few hours before the performance.

This must have been during our stage rehearsal, because it seems lighter out and we are standing in a different order. I think I'm just off the camera to the left. I was originally on that side and was going to be dancing FRONT AND CENTER after we rotated between songs 2 and 3, but the event staff didn't think it looked right with me being the only guy in that row and being 8 inches taller than the people around me, so they moved me to the back. ㅠㅠ

Here is our big performance on stage. We are in the middle of our second dance, which translates as "Mirror, Mirror" and its kind of a sexy spin-off of the Snow White fairy tale. The lyrics for this part of the song, when translated to English go "Mirror, Mirror, who is the prettiest girl in the world?" (거울아 거울아, 서상에 누가 제일 예쁘니?). Looking at the picture it seems like nobody was screwing up too bad haha. I think it was pretty successful. But everyone was really tired from all the practice and sleep deprivation. After practice on Friday night nobody got home until after midnight and then we had to be back there at 8am, so i dont think anyone got more than 5 and a half hours of sleep.

We put in about 25 hours of work, and got paid a total of: the t-shirt and jeans that were our uniform, and some cheap promotional items such as a plastic luggage tag and some post it notes with the company name on them that totaled $3 at most. We didn't even get the tickets that they promised us (since we were the first act, we were told that they'd give us tickets so we can watch the rest of the concert).

Considering how it was a FREE VENUE I assumed that wouldn't be a problem... but apparently nobody reserved our seats for us and some other people sat in them. So they just said "sorry, somebody sat in your seats." So we were behind the stage in a skybox where we couldn't see anything at all for the first half of the concert. Then I managed to get my hands on a staff badge and me and some of the other dancers requisitioned some seats on the ground level. I heard there were about 70,000 people in attendance, and it airs on TV this Friday at 11pm.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dance, dance, dance

Tomorrow is going to be my biggest debut, to date.

I'm going to be doing the opening dance for what is probably the biggest concert in Korea. 20 of the most popular groups are coming and doing a joint 3 and a half hour concert. During the latter part of our group's opening 1 and a half minute dance (we are all foreigners) the 3 famous celebrity hosts and the groups will join us on stage.

Overall it seems like a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to it. Did I mention that its also being broadcast on public television? I already told my friends to watch, so I've gotta do it well. After the dance, we get tickets to go sit and watch the concert. I hope there is some time where I can hang out with the celebrities though! I don't really care about getting a signature, but it would be cool to take a photo with them or to make a friend I can go hang out with sometime haha.

So tonight is the rehearsal where we do a run through of everything at the event site, just to work out any kinks. Tomorrow morning is another rehearsal, then we have to wait around at the stadium for 8 hours before the show actually starts... so I guess I'm stuck there all day from 7am to 10pm. But between the concert on Saturday and hanging out with 세진 on Sunday it should be a good weekend.

I'll do my best to put my performance up on the internet for those of you who don't get Korean TV channels =p

Also, got a new haircut so people would stop saying that I look like Harry Potter

Monday, March 7, 2011

Week 2 at the new job

In last weeks episode I was still waiting for my pay and on Thursday a cutie named Alisa was giving me kisses. She didn't come to school on Friday...

But today (Monday) is a brand new week. I didn't get a chance to play with my class today. But when Alisa saw me through the window, she started blowing me kisses! How charming!

So, even though work is pretty crazy busy, I was in a good mood all day. Things were going well until the last 10 minutes when Sunny, a 5th-grader, broke into tears at 5:50. I had punished her for 5 minutes earlier for speaking Korean in class. Then when she got a question wrong on the trivial pursuit game she broke into tears. I guess she really wanted to win. The other teachers say she is a crybaby and cries a lot, but I still felt bad for making her cry!

Today I got randomly invited to some birthday party (I didn't realize it was a birthday party, I thought it was just dinner) for an old Italian guy and his Korean wife. His son is one of my students and I just met the guy yesterday. It was good except there were only a few people my age there. Just got home and brought some leftovers to eat for breakfast tomorrow and got to meet a few more people in Ulsan, so I guess you could call it a good day.

Planning on going to dance classes this week and next week my friends Ji-hye and Jo are going to start doing korean-english language exchange with me, so I should be busy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

First Kiss

It's a new year and been a few months since I posted.
I'm out of Seoul and in a smaller city called Ulsan. It's population is maybe 1/2 of the twin cities, but spread out over much much more area. Also, all of the Hyundai factories and offices are in this town, so it's pretty much Hyundai-ville. There are Hyundai bus routes for employees. There are Hyundai supermarkets, culture centers, and department stores. And I heard if u get married in Ulsan, Hyundai will give you $500 or something.

I've really enjoyed my first 6 days here. The other teachers at my school seem cool, even though they are working overtime a lot to get all of the things ready for the new school year (teaching materials, bus routes, attendance sheets, classroom decorations, student workbooks, the list goes on).

My highlight of the week has been the kindergarten students. Since they are still getting used to going to school instead of being home with mom, we don't have English class with them this week. Instead, I'm just going to my homeroom kindergarten class with Yoon Ga-young teacher and playing with the kids in English for a couple hours. They all kinda just do their own thing but they like it when I play with them. One girl named Linda always sneaks up behind me and gives me hugs.

Anyhow, I got my first kiss today ! It was from an adorable 6-year old named Alisa. She came up to me and whispered in my ear "I love you, Matt teacher" and gave me a kiss on the cheek while I was reading a story with some of the boys. I love you too, Alisa! She was so cute the first day of class... she had a sling on her arm and she started crying because it hurt. But then we sat her down next to me and she stopped crying.

Today was my 2nd day of class with elementary students. Each class is a bit of a different dynamic, because they are different age groups. With the 5th and 6th graders, they think they are too cool to do some things. But the class is only 7 students and they are quiet and listen to me well. My other classes are about 14 students each, so I'm spending half of my classtime just disciplining them this week. On the first day I had to send one student out in the hall because he kept speaking Korean and it was distracting everyone. The class was so much better after he was out of it !

Also, there is one song where they like to change the words (this material is a bit too easy for them. They can already read and know a lot of vocabulary, but their grammar is bad so they need to start from the early levels). So instead of singing "Do you like red? Yes, I do!" they will sing something like "Do you like gold? No, I dont!" and they think its hilarious each time. I took some advice from another teacher today and when they started acting out I'd just stop the song midway. So we didn't finish the red song... but when I came back to it literally 10 minutes later they sang it correctly.

I really like all of the students so far. I can empathize with the bad students because some of these songs are not that fun, especially the 10th or 20th time you sing them. Actually I like their version better. The students that have bad behavior are a product of bad parenting or bad teachers. So it might take a while, but I'll turn them into good students. Its just a bit hard when there are 14 kids in a classroom that is smaller than a master bathroom.

Ulsan is great so far. I like my job and I'm just trying to make more friends. I might go to the dance class tomorrow (k-pop and k-hip hop dance) if I can get off and get there before 7pm. Its about a 40 minute bus ride away and I finish my last class at 6pm.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

soft milk

Shohei, Darae, myself, Hwayeon, Viruck, and Candice at the fireworks festival. The fireworks were nothing to write home about, but it was on the island in the middle of the Seoul river which was cool. And spending time with friends is always fun. It was so crowded that cell phones stopped functioning because of too many signals in one area, so a lot of my friends couldn't meet up with me.

This is at a free concert last weekend in Seoul, hosted by the G20 Summit Committee. There were a ton of big name performers there from Korea and other Asian countries. There were at least 15 performers, each doing 1-3 songs. I was there with Viruck, Candice, and Zou Ying. We went out and had some interesting Japanese food afterwards before calling it a night.

Wouldn't be a Korean Thanksgiving without a night of bowling with Rob & the boys.

Got a math problem? Solve it with some quick-acting "Anti-calculus" toothpaste!

I didn't pass the audition for the play, but Zou Ying did so I'm happy for her. I'm happy for me too. I feel like I don't have enough time and energy to do everything I want to do sometimes, so I can't imagine what it would be like if I had 30+ hours of rehearsal a week on top of everything else. She's a trooper.

I have an interview tomorrow for a part time job teaching 4 hours per week. What I really want to do is find a full time job (or close to full time) teaching at a private school in afternoons/evenings/weekends. Not only would it help my financial situation, but if I have a stable job where I'm not working mornings, I could continue studying Korean beyond this semester (which I really want to do, but I don't have the money/income right now). I've been looking at a couple jobs but haven't found one that fit me, as it would need to be in Seoul and be able to provide a work visa. I am thinking it might be best to just go through a recruiter like I did last time, but I heard its gotten a lot harder in the last two years. I guess being Caucasian and having some experience under my belt helps a bit though.

Next week is the midterm already. I just am getting caught up on homework now (i got behind because i spent alot of time memorizing a speech and planning a halloween party) so I don't really want to think about a midterm. This week is only the 3rd week of class, but when the semester is 9 weeks midterms come fast. My classmates are okay, but I think I enjoyed level 2 and level 3 more. A number of my classmates are hard to connect with because they are a bit older or they live in their own bubble or something, but some of them are cool. Japyeon and Wonbyeo have been playing b-ball with me when we have time and Dusang is just like what I imagined having a little sister would be like. And Dusang and Unseong both speak surprisingly good English. Taking the whole class out for a drink tomorrow night, hopefully will help them loosen up and feel more comfortable.

Yesterday was a field trip to the countryside. We made pear jam, made some traditional rice cookies using flower petals as the designs on top and pan-fried them, picked our own pears off the tree, and dug up some sweet potatoes. We got to take home the potatoes, jam, and pears. I used the time at lunch to teach drinking games to all of my classmates, so we don't need to waste any time explaining the rules tomorrow ^-^

I really enjoy my student life here. Hopefully I can find a job soon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

keeping busy

I didn't have much time last time so I just posted a picture. Our school took the field trip to the biggest amusement park in Korea, Everland. It rained alot, but it was cool to hang out with my friends from 5 different countries. We were all pretty tired after walking around all day.

We finished the final exams on Thursday. Our school and grades are a bit different that a typical school, in the sense that the goal is not to get an A or to graduate, but rather the goal for every student is just to learn as much as they can and pass the test to advance to the next level. As such, instead of aiming for a 95% to get an A, we just aim for a 70% to advance. Since I know I did all my homework and I did well on my speech during the semester, I wasn't too worried going into the exam. We got our Reading/Listening scores back on Friday, and i got a 79 in both. Haven't got the speaking or writing scores yet, but I know i'll be able to go to level 4. Alot of friends and acquintances are on pins and needles waiting for those last scores. We have classes on Monday and Tuesday next week still, so they won't tell us our final grade until then (they are still calculating attendance and class participation, and telling us our grade now would basically kill any motivation to come in to school next week).

There is a school play next semester, acted out entirely by foreign students. I have an audition tomorrow and will likely get in, but the more I think about it the more it seems like a bad idea. The first reason being that it doesn't really seem like a very interesting play to me. It's a well known korean play that seems like a historical comedy, but the lead role is a woman and the two main roles for guys are not very appealing to me. One is a blind old man that walks around with a cane, and one is an evil man who is always up to no good and cheating on his wife. There is definitely no "hero" role to be had. If I take a more minor role, such as the heroine's husband it might be more appealing, but since we will be practicing full time for 6 weeks, at 36 hours a week (while doing a full course load) I don't really want to spend that much time on it if I'm not going to be a main role. I would like the opportunity to perform, meet new friends, and practice my korean all at the same time, but I'd basically have to sacrifice a lot of things due to time constraints, which includes doing the dance club at school, playing basketball w/ friends, working out at the gym, hanging out (And studying with) friends during the afternoon. Also, it seems like it would be pretty difficult to have a part time job, social life, or a girlfriend during that time, as I have to practice until 6pm every day, even sundays. I'll go to the audition tomorrow, but that doesn't mean i'll take the job.

Also, the month i paid for at my current home ends in 8 days, so i was thinking of moving next week. I looked at one place today that seemed better than my current place. The window is really small, which sucks, and it doesn't have a refridgerator like my current place, but it does have an A/C. Also, at my current place the internet always goes down where the weather is bad, and even though the landlord only has to reset the internet to get it back up, he sometimes doesn't do it for a day or two, even if i ask him to. Still contemplating it. I'm asking some friends if they know any good places. I kinda want to get a change of scenery. Also, this place has rice prepared 24 hours a day. decisions, decisions...

Our graduation ceremony is on Wednesday. I will be doing 2 dances with our dance club. All in all it should only take an hour or two for the ceremony, and then we are officially on vacation. Not sure what i'll do on vacation, but I'll try to keep busy.

Monday, August 30, 2010