Golden Week: Seoul, South Korea

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Golden Week! The one holiday that Japanese people actually take off (…mostly, it seems).

I went to Seoul, South Korea with my Kumano ALT friend Summer, and best travel buddy, honestly.

Well, first we went to G-Dragon’s solo concert at Kyocera Dome in Osaka on Saturday, 4/29. It was the same venue that Big Bang performed at. GD unfortunately injured his foot while jumping around during the encore, but he’s a trooper and pulled through until the very end.

Then, we chilled at Larissa’s in Nabari until our flight on Monday, 6 p.m. It still blows my mind how Korea is only 2 hours away by plane! That’s probably less than going to Tokyo for those of us from the Deep South!

We arrives around 8 p.m. and headed straight to our hostel in Hyehwa, a great place to stay — young people town, cafes, restaurants, street food, some shopping, and banks to exchange our money.

The Seoul metro system is great, by the way. Color-coded and easy to figure out. All you need is this and you’re good to go!

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We sorted our money, where we wanted to go the following day, and just had tea that night.

4/30 (Tuesday): Slow morning, with great coffee and then Thai food for brunch in our town. Then headed to Namsan Park, popped by Namdaemun market, eventually found Seoul Tower and went up the mountain via cable car. Checked out what the shopping’s like in Myeongdong and Dongdaemum and kinda got overwhelmed, then headed back to Hyehwa.

5/1 (Wednesday): Ehwa University area for coffee and breakfast and shopping in a more relaxed setting (college area, so cheap! And small unique boutiques). The campus is really pretty. Then went to Gwanghamun, checked out the area with the statue and the castle, saw the guard performance, headed to Insadong where we had soft tofu soup in a tiny sit down kind of place hidden away, then souvenir and omiyage shopping. And the best tea I’ve had in a lovely tea shop. Omijicha (五味子茶) has become one of my favorite teas.

5/2 (Thursday): Got lost but eventually found our way to Bukchon Hanok Village, Insadong again and another tea shop. Gangnam for a late lunch at Yeolbong, Se7en’s restaurant. And of course, so we could claim we’ve been to Gangnam. Namdaemun but things were closing, Dongdaemun for some serious shopping (finally!) until midnight, then collapsing back in our hostel and packing up.

5/3 (Friday): Back to Ehwa for breakfast, final shopping (facial products from innisfree and a small suitcase for me), last boba, and then back to Seoul Incheon Airport for our flight at 4 p.m. Landed back in Osaka at 6, back to Nabari, and then the long train ride back to Owase the following day.

*Pictures and more details to be added to this post later. Just wanted to summarize the days.

“Crazy Story”

I made a Mad Libs kind of activity for the second part of classes with junior high second years today.

Aaand the award for best story?

At [number] 6 o’clock we went to [place] hell for dinner.
I ate [noun] Satan. It was [adjective] bad.

I’ve been quite enjoying work lately. I can’t really explain it very well, like it’s been so much busier, but I feel like I’m back in the swing of things and better than ever before. Perhaps it just takes this amount of time to figure things out, what works and doesn’t work in the classroom? There’s also been changes in schools, classes, teachers (they’re shuffled around in April!), so perhaps it is that too.

Golden Week officially starts for Summer and I tomorrow after school. See you a week later, Owase!

歓迎会

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Had my first kangeikai (歓迎会) or “welcome party” with Owase JHS teachers. It was 8000 yen kaiseki dinner, and while I don’t know if it amounted to being worth that much, it was still great food, and it was nice to socialize with other teachers in a different setting. It’s amazing how different Japanese co-workers can be during an enkai, but then it’s back to business, as if nothing happened, when you see them at work again. It was a great experience seeing how new staff are welcomed, the senpai-kouhai culture… And even got to see the neckties tied around the head happen!

Self-Intros to new Sixth Graders

Yesterday was my first day back at my biggest school, Owase ES. Even though self-intros are less work (especially because we’ve made this stuff already back in the summer), I can’t help but worry and wonder how these new kids will be.

It’s one day only, but I’m already likig these fresh 6th graders better than the previous ones! They’re a lot nicer, less attitude. And though they still needed some coaxing to ask questions, they don’t have an attitude.

After their own self-intros, I played crosses with them, which they got really excited about and became super eager to participate! So glad, I think it makes the first day leave the impression that I want on them: that English can be fun and I can have fun too.

Then the same intro for one random class of 4th graders, and after 4 energy-filled classes in row, I was surprised at how tired I was.

Ate lunch (spaghetti!) with 6-1. Somehow had a whole conversation with 5 other kids just saying “gyuunyuu” (milk)….

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Mukai Elementary, with its botan tree near the swings. The school has a nice library on the second floor with this view. The opposite has a nice view of Owase City and the power plant tower and sea.

Last Friday I went to Mukai ES, a school gained from Beyond (he took Kata ES from me).

Sweet kids. Especially when they adapted their hide and seek game so I could play, when I told them I can’t run yet. Some of the girls asked me to play badminton with them too.

Note to self: Tornado is a great game, but very powerful. Lots of screaming!!

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Mukai 3rd+4th grade P.E. class, which I was asked to join.

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Ladybug or “tentou mushi.”

Walking to Osoneura Station, about 20 minutes. This school is on the other side of town, so it was like discovering a whole new place.

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Let’s Sing S’More

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This Monday I made s’mores for my eikaiwa class, BanBan, which went over very well!

I teach them every other month on Mondays. It’s a nice, casual atmosphere, mostly talking about what we did on the weekend, etc. Lately, members have been bringing in snack too.

S’mores came up 2 sessions ago for some reason, so I thought I would bring some in. Lucky me, got the last marshmallow pack that day at the grocery!

I’m really happy they liked them.

Somehow, we got on the topic of Do Re Mi, which I taught to them in English, and they taught me in Japanese. It was fun singing and writing and drawing things out to explain the lyrics!

And this is how it goes:

ドはドーナツのド
レはレモンのレ
ミはみんなのミ
ファはファイトのファ
ソは青い空
ラはラッパのラ
シは幸せよ
さあ歌いましょう

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