Goyang Foreign Language High School

We went this morning to visit Goyang Foreign Language High School, which is a very good school.  It’s for students majoring in English, Japanese, Chinese, or Spanish.  High schools here are grades 10-12, though they call them 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year.  You have to take a test to get into the school.  We saw a musical perfomance by some of the students, and then had lunch.  The students took us on a tour of the campus which is very pretty and we had the chance to ask them questions. 

Their school day is from 7am to 11pm.  They take 8-10 classes a day.  There is really  no electives, they do some gym in 1st year and art in 2nd year but that’s it.  They have a lot of study hall time.  I’m sure it’s very stressful.  They can only take the Korean version of the SAT once.  They also go to school from 8am-noon every other Saturday.  We left the high school at 2pm, and I couldn’t believe that those kids still had 9 hours of school left. 

They are not allowed to date, or dye their hair.  They wear uniforms, most girls wear skirts although they do have the option to wear pants.  They are really attentive in class, though they goof off in the halls and on the grounds like regular kids.  Most of them speak great English.  A lot of them have lived abroad, many of them in the US for awhile.  One student (I didn’t get to talk to him though) is getting ready to move to Fairfax.  His friend told me he was nervous about it, but the student who is actually moving had gone somewhere else so I never got to chat. 

Students have two  semesters, and the school year begins in March.  They do have sometime off during the summer between semeters, and they have January and February off.  They were shocked at some of the things we told them about American students.  They also could not believe how short the school day is. 

They do have clubs, there are at least 30 at Goyang.  The Saturdays they come to school they go to their clubs.  It seems very stressful and hard on the kids, and we’ve been told several times that the suicide rate among students in Korea is very high. 

Most of them were very nice and talkative and answered all of our questions.  We played a quiz game before we left, we had 10 minutes to ask the students about the Korean education system and then the teachers who were hosting today asked our groups question and we had to answer without help from our students.  My group did not win, but we only missed two questions.

After Goyang, we went to the Korea House which is a cultural center.  We could either take part in a traditional tea ceremony or learn traditional drumming.  Only about 15 women got to do the tea ceremony because they only had a limited number of hanboks, the traditional Korean dress.  I got to do the tea ceremony, so I got to dress up in a hanbok.  Several guys took part too, and they got to wear either light yellow or peach traditional dress. 

Before you can even begin the tea ceremony you have to bow.  A lot.  The bigger your family, the  more you bow.  It’s very difficult and uncomfortable the way you lower yourself and the way you get up.  Lukily we only had to practice it a few times before beginning the ceremony.

About 5 people actually got to make the tea.  Then they served 5 people.  It’s a very elaborate and specific ceremony, you have to hold things a certain way, place them in certain spots, and the spout of the tea pot has to face a certain direction.  You have to pour the water precisely, swirl the cups a in a clockwise direction, it’s very complicated.  It also takes a long time to get just 3 sips of tea.  After you make and serve the tea the first time, then you do it again.  And you can repeat it over and over.  Everyone was kind of glad when it was over, because we were all very uncomfortable on the floor trying to sit the proper way. 

Tonight was our first night with optional excursions.  We could go to th Myeon Dong shopping district, or to N Seoul Tower.  I went to the tower because I thought it would be neat to see the city from up there.  The tower is on a mountain, so it was a good walk up to it and just being up on the mountain gives you a good view.  We had an hour to get dinner before we had to meet to get our tickets.  We went to an Italian bistro (I think everyone was craving something familiar.)  It didn’t turn out to be all that familiar.  I ordered chicken alfredo.  It came in a very thing sauce with onions, and red and green peppers.  It was very very spicy.  But at least I got to eat with a fork. 

We went up into the tower after dinner and it was a great view.  Seoul is just huge and spreads out in every direction.  It was a little hazy, but you could still see enough.  On each window around the observatory they have names of different cities and how far away they are. 

On the floor below the top observation deck are the bathrooms.  It’s important to visit the bathroom.  In the women’s bathroom the sinks are by the windows and you can look out at the city.  In the men’s bathroom the urinals are right in front of the windows.  I know this because the guys told us, but also because they snuck a couple of us in there far enough to peek around the corner.  Those bathrooms probably have the best view in the world. 

After we got back to the hotel, Elsa and I went to Baskin Robbins to get ice cream.  I decided not to get anything, and I sat down to wait for her.  We were sitting there talking when I glanced out the window and all of a sudden there was a huge mass of people walking down the street singing and chanting.  We got up to check it out.  It was tonight’s protest but we could tell right away it was peaceful, not tense like last night.  People were walking and holding candles.  I’m not sure where they were going, we asked a photographer, but he didn’t speak much English.  He did say they were making a big circle though.  I asked what they were chanting, he said they were saying Myung Bak (I may have spelled that incorrectly) out.  (He’s the current president.)  I heard them chanting his name, I just didn’t know what they were saying about him.

This was a huge crowd.  We could not see any beginning or end.  They just kept walking down the street, blocking traffic.  I didn’t see any police, I’m not sure if they were in a differen area or what, but this huge crowd just kept moving.  We were out there for at least a half an hour and the crowd never ended or even thinned out. 

These protests are very interesting, but I think I may skip it tomorrow night to check out some of the other places in Seoul. 

Tomorrow we have three lectures, and are going to see a martial arts production.  Then we have the option of going to the Cheon-gye cheon stream (which we have already seen) or a baseball game.  I think a lot of people are opting to go to the baseball game.  I’m curious to see how it’s different than American baseball games.  I especially want to see what kinds of food they sell.  We’ve been told that if they go into overtime we could be in for a long night, so I hope that doesn’t happen.  But baseball is very big in Korea, so it should be interesting.

No Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House) for us!

We started off this morning with the option to go to a cathedral or the Buddhist temple.  (Actually I started off the morning with a mile and a half run through the park near our hotel.  I ran with a guy from Florida.)  Anyway, then we could go to either one of those.  (Or sleep in if you were so inclined.)  I went back to the temple, thinking it would be less crowded and I could get some more pictures.  There was a 10 o’clock service, and it was packed.  So I didn’t even go back into the temple, but I did wander around the grounds and went back to the giftshop where I bought a few more things.  (It all supports the temple.)

We went to Bennigan’s for lunch, and then had a little free time in that area before we left for Cheong Wa Dae, the Blue House, which is basically our White House.  The plan when we left Bennigan’s was to go up a block or so and get some pictures of the riot buses.  We never made it, because they had all this cool stuff outside.  The Cheon-gye-cheon Stream, which is a big recreational area, runs right in front of Bennigan’s.  So we checked that out, and then there was something going on, there was a band warming up and several tents.  So we went to see what they were.  One was face/arm painting (I got a dragonfly), one was to write letters to anyone in Korea and they would deliver them for you, and one was to make a little cell phone charm.  So we did all that.  Well, we couldn’t write the letters because they wouldn’t be delivered, it was only within Korea, but we did get a postcard.  And they had this awesome booth where you could take your picture and e-mail it to someone!  There were also a couple more screens with pictures and things you could just go up to and touch and drag around the screen.   It was neat.

 After that we had to get back on the bus to go to the Blue House.  Then they told us that we couldn’t go there today because there was a blockade and no one could go in.  So they took us to the Seoul World Cup Stadium.  It was a pretty neat museum, they had some cool exhibits.  You could play virtual soccer or be a virtual goalie.  But since I don’t really care for soccer the museum was only so interesting.  Oh, but we did have our pictures taken and they would impose your head onto a person on a soccer team.  Mine is particularly goofy I think.

After the stadium we went to Changdeok Palace which was awesome.  It was the second palace for one of the kings in the Joeson/Cho sun dynasty I think.  It’s very pretty.  There are a couple of ponds and lots of trees (in certain parts.)  There are a ton of different buildings.  A stone wall surrounds it.  Our group is already pretty large, 48 people, and we had a ton of other people in our tour group.  So you couldn’t really hear what was going on, and they moved to fast to take any really good pictures, so a lot of us hung back a little to take pictures with as few people in them as possible.  Then I broke the rules a little.  We found the bathroom (the old bathroom in the palace, not just a random bathroom) that did not have a sign in it.  I’m sure you probably weren’t supposed to go in there, but I did and got my picture taken.  It’s just a square hole in the floor.  But I jumped (actually was boosted) in there, about 4 people snapped a picture, and then I jumped out really quickly before anyone else came.  It was fun.

I would have liked to have had more time to just sit at the palace.  (Not in the bathroom, by one of the ponds maybe) but after our tour we headed to dinner in the Insadong district.  It’s a huge shopping area. 

Meals here are huge.  I would think the tables would be bigger because by the time they’re done bringing you food, there is no room whatsoever.  There are always lots of side dishes that you share, then you get soups, rice, noodles, meat dishes, and who knows what else.  The food this evening was pretty good, I tried a few more things.  I can’t tell you what they are, but I took pictures of them.

After dinner we got to shop.  It’s a lot of cheap touristy stuff, but you can find some neat things.  This area is more high class than the market near our hotel, so you don’t really bargain in Insadong, but sometimes the shopkeepers will a little bit.  Casey and I were at a counter in one store, she was looking at necklaces and I walked up to look at some jade rings.  I thought the price tag said 15,000 won but wasn’t sure, so I only wanted to ask how much.  I didn’t even say anything and the shopkeeper just turned to me and said “For you, 10,000.”  So I bought them.  I probably would have bought them at 15,000.  I couldn’t go crazy at Insadong though, because I only changed $50 this morning at the hotel, and the rate was horrible.  I spent quite a bit at the temple this morning, and then spent the last bit I had at Insadong.  That’s probably good though, because we still have a long way to go and lots of places to visit.  But I think the plan right now is to go back to Insadong on our last full day here when we have the morning free.  There’s just too much to look at, I don’t think we made it 3 blocks.  There are so many shops, there are tons of stands on the street, and then there are a million side streets off the main stretch.

We could have taken the bus back but several of us decided to walk.  We started with 5, me, Brent, Elsa, Kristin, and our fearless leader Tom.  Then Carol and Jennifer joined us.  I think only Tom knew where he was or where we were going, but that’s why he’s our fearless leader.  We wanted to walk because we wanted to see what was going on.  There are protests every night.  Last night several people went out and reported that they began to get violent.  One of our guys, I think it was Jeff, almost got water cannoned.  I’m sure he got it on video.  I did see the news in the restaurant during dinner, they showed a demonstration in front of the Blue House that was pretty violent, which is why we couldn’t go.  So of course we went to check things out.  The protest the other night was very peaceful, but Tom saw on the news that it got a little violent much later.  They moved the protest to a different street, very near Insadong, it was closer to our hotel.  (Still several blocks down the road, but compared to Insadong it was much closer.)  This protest was very tense, especially compared to the other night.  The people were chanting and yelling very angrily.  Riot buses are everywhere, parked bumper to bumper.  I know there has to be close to 200, if not more.  (Many of them have been torn up, windows busted out, the grates over the windows pulled off, graffiti everywhere, bumpers torn off, all sorts of stuff.)  We watched for awhile, but they began to move more cops in, and it was very early.  (Only about 8:30.)  Then the cops began to push the people, and the yelling escalated, so we moved out of the area.  We stopped to look back and this older Korean guy asked if we were Americans.  Tom told him yes, and he was pretty angry.  He told us to get out of there.  We haven’t gotten that from anyone else, just him.  I didn’t feel like anyone at the protest was angry at me for being an American, but this guy was.  A couple of people were nervous, so Tom led us back to the hotel.  This was pretty difficult, since there were buses everywhere blocking the streets.  We had to criss cross a couple of streets to get around them and back on the main road.  I don’t know if they expected the protesters to move or what, but it was set up very different tonight.  There were many more cops I think, than the other night, and the crowd was very angry.  There were news crews out, but they were in the area where the protests have been the past couple of nights, not near Insadong.  So we don’t know if the crowds are going to move there and the news crews are expecting it or what.  We didn’t stay long and didn’t see too much action, but it was still very interesting.  We met a few people who were headed out to the protest on the way back to the hotel.  We told them to be careful.  I’m sure they’ll have interesting stories tomorrow. 

And that’s it for today.  Tomorrow we are going to the Foreign Language High School to met with some students.  We’re also going to the Korea House, where we’ll take part in a traditional tea ceremony, or a traditional drumming lesson.  And tomorrow night is our first really free evening where we have options.  We can go to a big shopping area or to the N Seoul Tower, which I think is like the Stratosphere.  If it’s not raining I plan to go on that trip.  It’s supposed to have a good view of the city.  Maybe we’ll be able to see the protests from up there!

Day 2

We had two lectures today at Yonsei University.  One on Korean history (a very brief introduction to Korean History,) and one on Korean economics.  I did have to resort to eating my packet of goldfish during these lectures because I was sleepy.  One of our lectureres, Young Ick-Lew is the prominent Korean historian.  The other one is married to a former Ms. Korea. 

When we broke for lunch we were given several options, and each assistant went to one restaurant and you just went with whoever you wanted.  (For meals like this they gave us a food allowance, about 120,000 won, which equals about $120.)  I went to the Chinese place with Elsa and Jennifer and several others.  It was a fancy restaurant and pretty pricey, but we all ordered from the a la carte section so it was much cheaper.  My shrimp fried rice cost 7,000 won.  (As compared to the other things on the menu that ran from 25,000 to 50,000 won.)  After attacking my rice with my chopsticks for about ten minutes, Gio tells us that in Korea you eat the rice with a spoon because it’s not as sticky as rice in Japan or China.   I ended up finishing the rice with my chopsticks just for the practice.  It was a good thing too, we had noodles at one point for dinner and they’re really hard to eat with chopsticks.  A lot of slurping is also involved. 

After lunch and our second lecture on economics, we took the bus to the Korean Music History Museum.  Traffic in Seoul is very scary.  Intersection are huge and confusing.  Traffic is backed up quite often and people do not stay in their lanes for anything.  There have been times when I didn’t think you could slide a piece of paper between our bus and the car next to us.  Once we got to the museum we looked in the very tiny gift shop, but I didn’t buy anything there, I didn’t think I needed any musical instruments.  The museum itself is very small, but the instruments are really pretty.  We only had about 20 minutes to look around before we went to a concert where they played some traditional Korean music. 

I’m pretty sure they played 7 songs.  The last one involved a lot of drums and gongs, it sounded awesome.  Some of the others I think sounded ok, but I can’t tell you for sure because I dozed off.  I am not the only one, many other people dozed off, including one of the assistants.  (But that is why I passed up the protest, visit to the market, and probably a karaoke bar so that I can get plenty of sleep and be ready to go tomorrow.) 

After the concert we headed to dinner which was at a place very close to our hotel.  I can’t remember the name of the meal, but it involved putting lots of vegetables in a large dish of boiling something or other, adding beef (American I wonder?) and cooking the beef then dishing it out.  After you eat the dish with the beef and vegetables, the waitresses come back around and add noodles to the boiling something or other, and then dish that out to you.  I ate the beef, I wasn’t very impressed with all the vegetables, and I really liked the noodles.  But they are hard to eat with chopsticks.  And you’re supposed to slurp them up.  I was told I wasn’t making enough slurping noises.  I guess I’ll have to work on that.  Meals have lots of side dishes, always a soup or two (I tried the pumpkin soup but didn’t really care for it,) kimchi (the spicy cabbage,) and who knows what else  There was really no room left on the table at all.  For dessert we were given a small dish with cranberry juice (or something like it) with two peanuts in it.  It was delicious. 

Elsa and I headed back to the hotel after dinner so I could check on my room key.  Luckily the guy from last night was here again, so I didn’t have to re-tell my story.  He came up to the room to check on the key and they didn’t work. So he let me in and apparently talked to the right person downstairs and they figured out how to fix it.  They just got it working a few minutes ago.

I think I mentioned all the buttons and whatnot in the room.  You have to put your key in a slot by the door to make everything work.  So that means when you leave and take your key, everything shuts off.  Lights, tv, clock, and the AC.  So it’s usually pretty warm when you get back to your room, but it doesn’t take too long to cool the room down.  There is also a motion sensor light that comes on as soon as you open the door, and I just found out when they guy came back to fix the door that these rooms have doorbells. 

I’m going to get up and try to run tomorrow morning before we go back to the temple.  Then we are eating lunch at Bennigan’s and then heading to The Blue House (which is the Korean version of the White House) and to Changdeok (I may have spelled that wrong) Palace.  In the evening we’re going to Insadong, which is a market where you can buy traditional Korean items.  Dinner I belive is on our own, so it will be interesting to see where we wind up. 

One of the professors did mention yesterday that if there are protests near Insadong, we may not get to visit there.  The assistants will have to make a decision when we get there tomorrow.  The protests the past 3 nights have been later, after dark, so I hope we get to go to Insadong because I really want to see what kinds of things they have there. 

Alright, off to bed to catch up on sleep.  One day I’ll remember how to post pictures on this thing!

3 am

I think I’m going to have to break today down into two posts.  We did a lot.

After going to bed at 11:30pm, I did manage to make it up at 3am for the Buddhist service.  We were told it was a 30 minute walk from the hotel.  We were not told it was a 30 minute powerwalk from the hotel.  So I got my cross training workout in today at least. 

The temple is very pretty and very ornate.  There are tons of things hanging from the ceiling and covering the walls.  Three huge gold Buddhas are in the center of the temple.  The doors are huge.  Only the monks enter from the center door, everyone else has to go through the side doors.  You have to take your shoes off, so you need to have socks.  Everyone went in and got mats and found a place on the floor.  Some people followed along with the bowing.  I sat in the back agains the wall with a few other people and just watched.  Before the service starts, people come in and bow 3 times to the Buddhas, then 3 times to the right and left, then one more half bow to the Buddhas.  Then they can start praying and doing their bows.  They need to do 108.  They have prayer beads they use to keep track of how many bows they have done.  (You can tell who was late because they’re the ones bowing as fast as they can towards the end.) 

Anyway, then a monk came in and started chanting and banging a gong.  (Of course, the song “Bang a Gong” immediately popped up in my head.)  He did that for awhile and then a couple more monks came into the center of the temple and conducted the service.  People move around a lot during the service, and come in late or leave early.  (We were told this was because people had to go to work, go home and fix breakfast, etc.)  And when people arrive there is not socializing, they come right in and get their mats fixed and start praying. 

People bring lots of different thing with them.  You get the mats at the temple, but some people brought various types of prayer beads, religious texts, prayer mats, and other similar things.  We didn’t stay for the entire service because we needed to get back to the hotel to eat breakfast (and I was hoping to sleep a little more.)  The assistant who took us, her name is Cedar Bough, gave us some time to take pictures in the courtyard and visit the giftshop.  The giftshop had lots of neat items, I bought prayer beads, a prayer mat (I think anyway), and some bracelets. 

I thought that since I went to this service today, I would go to the cathedral tomorrow, but I think I’m going to go back to the temple.  I want to take pictures without a lot of people in them, and go back to the giftshop.  I wasn’t expecting to buy anything this morning, so I only put a 30,000 won in my pocket just in case.  That was good though, I spent it all. 

We made it back to the hotel around 6:30 am (an hour after we thought we would return) and headed straight to breakfast.  After that I headed downstairs to get someone to let me into my room (key still doesn’t work.  In fact they’re out there working on it right now.)  I thought I would sleep for about an hour, but I couldn’t fall asleep, so I got up, answered e-mails, and dumped pictures from my memory card to my laptop.  So I was very tired today. 

Seoul is very busy all the time, even at 3:30 am.  There were still a lot of cars on the main roads, and many people out walking.  Some protesters were still out when we walked by, and the street was still blocked off.  On the way back to the hotel after the service, around 6:15, they had unblocked the street but there were still about 12 people sitting in the road (they had moved off to one side but were still taking up half of the street.)  Cedar Bough told us they were waiting to get arrested.  Cars, buses, and scooters were swerving around them.

Our fearless leader Tom (who got us to and from the protest) said that he caught the news this morning.  He’s of course not sure what was said, but they showed the protest and it got a little violent later.  People were throwing things at the cops and pushing them.  Luckily this was after we left.  There is another protest tonight, but I won’t make it. 

Another assistant, Gio, said that these protests are unique because there is no Anti-American sentiment.  (This was good for us.)  He said in past protests there were, but not this time.  Someone (though I can’t remember if it was Gio or not) said that the protests are not necessarily just about the tainted beef, but really more about opposition to the president. 

 Oh, and yes, the protests are about tainted American beef.  The South Koreans don’t want to import American beef for fear of mad cow disease.  The protest tonight is supposed to be even bigger than the one last night, but I won’t make it.  I’m not sure anyone else is either, we’re all pretty much wiped out after today, especially those of us that went to the temple this morning. 

 They fixed my key!  I don’t need someone to escort me to my room now!

American Beef is Bad News

Day number 1 was busy!  Breakfast was on the roof which was fun.  It’s very hazy in the morning, and it lasts awhile.  I had to pack all my things up after breakfast and turn in my room key so they could switch me.  I am now in a non-smoking room, but it hasn’t been easy.  We didn’t get back to the hotel until 8 this evening.  Some of us made plans to meet at 8:30 to go out for awhile, so I rushed to get my new key so I could change (we had to dress up today) and get back down to the lobby.  My new key didn’t work.  So I went back downstairs.  They did something to the key.  I went back upstairs.  The key didn’t work.  So I went back downstairs and someone brought me up to the room and let me in.  Something is wrong with the door and won’t be fixed until tomorrow.  So after we got back from our evening excursion, I had to get someone to bring me back to the room and let me in.  (But I also got him to show me how to work the lights and shower.  So that’s ok.)  I have to turn in my key tomorrow morning and it will hopefully be fixed when we get back tomorrow evening so I can stop using an escort. 

We were at Yonsei University today for some general information sessions and one lecture on Korean society.  Lunch was interesting, we had a traditional Korean meal.  I am not yet brave enough to try many of the foods we had, so I stuck to the beef and rice.  (They did have a couple of sides that were fruit and whatnot, so I ate a lot of that.)   We also took a tour of the university, which is very pretty.  I bought a Yonsei University shirt in the gift shop, it only cost $9.50.  That seemed pretty cheap to me after looking at the stuff in ODU’s bookstore. 

 After our tour we had our welcoming dinner which was a mixture of Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and American foods.  At dinner I learned to eat with chopsticks!  I’m not great at it, but I did eat most of my meal with chopsticks, and even managed to pick up some grape tomatoes with them.  I was pretty impressed with myself. 

We didn’t get back to the hotel until a little after 8, and then I had to go through the new key fiasco.   I didn’t make it to the lobby at 8:30, I was about 10 minutes late, but I told someone what was going on and they waited for me.  On the way to the hotel, we passed many police cars and police buses.  We learned there was going to be a protest tonight, so they had all the riot police ready to go.  So that was what we decided to do tonight.  A few of us (about 8 or 9) went to see the protest.  They blocked off one of the main streets, they had a guy on a truck shouting stuff into a microphone, people held candles and signs and sat on the ground. They raised their candles and shouted at various times, and they also sang several songs (to which they raised their candles.)  We were standing on the sidewalk, when a guy walks up to me and hands me a candle and tells me to raise it.  I do not know why out of all of us he gave it to me, but I did my best to follow along with the crowed and raise it at the appropriate times.   One of the people in our group, Pilar, thinks he may have thought I was Asian, but he spoke to me in English.  That is nothing new, people ask me that all the time, and I’ve already had one person on the trip ask me if I’m of Asian descent.  I do not know if this is the reason the guy gave me the candle or not, but I just went with the crowd.  We did make our way all the way up to the front so we could see the huge line of riot police.  After hanging out there for a few minutes we headed back to the hotel.  I still had my candle of course, and after we’d gone a few blocks I blew it out.  Some guy stopped and said something to me, I have no idea what and he didn’t speak English.  I don’t know if I should have left it burning, or should have put it in the street (there was a group of candles after the crowd) or what, but after that I hid it in my newspaper that was handed out just in case. 

 That’s a very brief summary of what we did today, the protest was very interesting.  But it is 11pm here, and if we want to go to the Buddhist temple tomorrow morning for the service, we have to met in the lobby at 3:30 am.  I’m going to try to make this, but I’m not making any promises. 

Since I can’t remember how (or figure out) to put pictures into my posts, I won’t be posting anymore tonight either.  I’ll work on it though, hopefully tomorrow I’ll have some time to play with it and get some posted.  But for now I’m off to bed.

Early in the Morning

As tired as I was, I went to bed at 10pm Seoul time.  I have set two alarms (I think) and asked for a wake up call at 7am.  (Yes, I am paranoid about being late and oversleeping.  Plus, since I don’t know if I set the alarms correctly, I have to make sure they work first before I rely on just those.)  I woke up the first time at 1:10am, then again at 4am, and finally at 5:20am I could sleep no more.  But I am still tired and think I’ll probably go to bed early again tonight and try to sleep normally so that tomorrow I can go out and check things out after we finish with whatever it is we’re doing.  Maybe I can go check out the roof top garden this morning after I get ready.  I just have to make sure I’m in the room at 7 so that I know if my alarms worked or not.

 I think everyone’s hotel room is a little different.  One person has a tub, not a shower.  We all couldn’t figure out the lights and the AC (they brought someone in to explain how to work the AC with the remote control.)  I forgot to mention yesterday that I did spend a great deal of time after dinner inspecting the shower.  While at dinner, after discussing the lights, conversation moved towards the equally difficult shower, which has 4 buttons and a control on the outside of the shower.  Since I had not gotten to really look at my shower yet, after dinner I inspected it.  For a long time, looking for those buttons and wondering what everyone was talking about.  I looked all over the wall outside the shower and even outside the bathroom for this control panel.  Finally I got stepped back into the shower and tried the knob.  I have no buttons or control panel.  Just a plain old fashioned knob.  (It doesn’t turn though, you tilt it out.  It’s weird.  The sink does the same, took me a few minutes of twisting that back and forth before I accidentally pushed it out a little and got some water to run.)  I don’t know if my new hotel room (which I won’t see until much later tonight, probably after 8pm) will have a fancy shower or not.  But at least this time I won’t have to spend 10 minutes looking for buttons I don’t have.


I am finally in Seoul.  The flight to Atlanta was only about an hour, I met up with several other people from my workshop right away.  We were split up on the plane however, so I had no one to talk to.  I was stuck in the middle seat and neither one of the guys in my row were very chatty. 

I did not sleep at all on the 14 hour flight.  (Ok, maybe I dozed for 20 minutes at the end.)  This was in part because I wanted to make sure I could sleep when we arrived so I will wake up in the morning and hopefully avoid jet lag, but also because Korean Airlines are so very awesome.  I had my own tv.  I had 4 pages of new movies to choose from, plus several good classic movies.  So instead of sleeping, I watched 5 movies (Definitely, Maybe, Charlie Bartlett, The Bucket List, Walk Hard, and P.S. I Love You) and 3 tv shows (old episodes of House, Friends, and Two and a Half Men.)  The flight was terrible in that I couldn’t get up and move when I wanted to and it was just long.  But 5 movies and 3 tv shows later we did arrive in Incheon.  (Both pieces of luggage made it too.)  The people from the Korean Foundation rounded everyone  up and we had to take a bus to Seoul, which was a little over an hour. 

 We got checked into our hotel pretty quickly, everyone has their own room which is nice.  My room is a smoking room which is not cool, but I’ve already talked to them and I have to stay here tonight, but I’ll drop my key off tomorrow morning and they’ll move my things into a non-smoking room for me.  I do not know how to work anything in this room.  I couldn’t use the bathroom when I got here because I couldn’t get the lights to turn on.  The only light that I could turn on was the motion sensor light that comes on automatically when you walk into the room.  I hit every button (and there are a lot of buttons) in this room before putting my key into the slot behind the door and all of a sudden things worked.  So I have to keep the key in the slot if I want to use the lights.  The remote works the AC.  It was really hot in here, I think I turned it down, it is cooling off a little.  But for all I know I could have set it for 30 degrees. 

 There are closets everywhere.  6 closets in this one room.  With floor to ceiling shelves in them.  If I brought all of my clothes with me I wouldn’t fill them up. 

 I haven’t had much of a chance to take pictures today, I did take a few of the view from my room.  But I was on an inside seat on the bus, so I didn’t any good ones on the way into Seoul.  I’ll try to get some better ones tomorrow, and get some posted on here.

 I’m off to bed, I don’t think I can stay awake anymore!

Portaportal and Korea

I’ve updated the portaportal today, and added a few links under each grade level.  I’ve marked all the additions “New.”  There are some great lesson plans and review activities. 

 I leave for Korea in one week!  I’m still waiting on travel information but that will hopefully arrive any day now.  I’ve gotten to talk to several people who will also be going, and it seems like we will have a great group.  I’ve already gotten one question to ask while I’m gone (see the comment on the previous post) and I would love to have some more!  If there’s anything you’re interested in knowing just let me (or Sarah) know and we’ll do our best to find out. 

Enjoy your summer!

Summer Travels

Changdeok Palace

It’s almost time for Sarah and I to leave for our summer workshops!  We both hope to blog and post pictures while we’re gone so that everyone can check out what we’re doing.  I’ll update the main page of my blog while in South Korea, so just check back here.  To see what Sarah is up to in Ecuador, visit her blog at http://thetalkinghistorian.edublogs.org.  So if there’s anything you want to know while we’re gone, just leave us a comment/question and we’ll do our best to answer it!  Enjoy your summer!

Hampton Roads Naval Museum Summer Workshops

These sound really interesting!

The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is gearing up for another year of great teacher workshops!  For 2008 we are offering 3 workshops, each giving you the opportunity to earn 6 accreditation points toward your continued learning requirements. That’s a total of 18 points!August 13th: Hidden Jewels of Downtown Norfolk– Join the Hampton Roads Naval Museum as we invite colleagues from our local cultural organizations to share their expertise with you.  Sit back, watch and listen to great presentations from many of our Downtown Norfolk institutions and historic sites.  Learn about the numerous opportunities they offer you and your students.  9 a.m. to 3 p.m.August 14th: Hampton Roads and World War I– Spend the morning discovering the local role Hampton Roads played in the Great War.  Then walk to the MacArthur Memorial for lunch and an afternoon spent with their Curator, examining primary sources and touring the exhibits. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.August 15th: Post Cold War Navy– A wide range of speakers will discuss the changes that the Navy has experienced since the end of the Cold War.  Learn about new technology, ships and weaponry, as well as new strategies developed for the Global War on Terrorism. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.The registration deadline is Monday, August 4th, 2008 The cost is $10 per workshop and includes a boxed lunch and all workshop materials. Each workshop will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.If you have any questions, please call or email Jennifer Hurst at jennifer.hurst@navy.mil 757-322-3168 or Erin Hendrick at erin.hendrick@navy.mil 757-322-2985 -Educators at Hampton Roads Naval Museum.