But this is the English Zone!

26 02 2012

Okay guys, I just have to share the ridiculousness that is happening in my office right now.

Last year, all 5 of the teachers here in my office were English teachers. We are in the super fancy, never-gets-used-because-it-cost-too-much, English Zone, after all. Now, all of the long term teachers have been moved up to the 2nd floor main office, and I’m the only one left in here.

The other department heads (NOT English) have been moved in here, and now they’re moving all the English materials out of my office and into the hallway, and moving science/math/Korean stuff in. I really want to protest, since the English materials (DVDs, games, books and other supplies) are all on open bookshelves and are going to be destroyed by the kids in about 4 days, and they moved in lockers that are lockable.

They’ve now detached the water dispenser from the pipes, moved it over about 3 feet and put a paper shredder in its place. Why they couldn’t move the broken fridge and put the shredder there, I still don’t understand. I asked if we could move the mini fridge out to the closet in the English Zone (since it is broken), but they said no, we must keep it in this office. GGGAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

Godzilla, you understand, right? So why haven't you come to Korea?!?

Though it’s been said, many times, many ways,

Korea is where logic goes to die.

On the bright side, they’ve just demanded that the principal install walls that are real, not the loading dock door and the plastic dividers with windows like we currently have. Let’s hope that we can get in and out after that… since the maintenance guy said that our door lock can’t be fixed until July.

Where’s the tool box? I’m my mother’s daughter, I’ll do it myself.


Wine in Korea is “meh” at best. Watch as we try to find the best of “meh!”

22 02 2012

So Jessica and I decided that we were going to take advantage of all the wine sales going on lately. Emart and HomePlus have been selling a bunch of red wines at a pretty good price over the last few months. From what I’ve read in Korean magazines, wine is a fairly new thing, except for Korean plum wine and raspberry wine, which are very unique flavors and for many, an acquired taste that demands more than your standard bottle of decent wine… such is my case.

This project was slightly inspired by my friend Sara, my distaste for sickeningly sweet red wine (which somehow always gets served at staff dinners…), and my desire to find a palatable red wine at a price that doesn’t rival the Gangnam clubs. Those are pricey. Jessica call the wines we’re testing out “won conscious wines.”

Tonight’s agenda brings us a wine that I found at Emart for a whopping 8,900 won. This is about $10.

Tasty first try! We recommend this one!

We stocked up last time we went shopping, so we have a lineup of wines that we know absolutely nothing about. This one is a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, 2010, and delicious.

I prefer medium dry wines, not too sweet, fairly rich, but none of that “earthy” crap. I don’t want to feel like I just drank dirt. If my tongue gets dried out, you’re doing it wrong. This one does it right. None of the dry linger, earthy nonsense. Just smooth tasty, slightly fruity, goodness.


(Thanks Jessica for your input. Those were fancy pants, which quickly became sweatpants, by the way.)

Tonight's agenda included not only wine, but also dress up and make-overs, hence the lipstick. 🙂

Anyway. Jess gives it a 9 our of 10, and I’d give it an 8.5. Either way, we’d drink it under most circumstances. Cheers!

Famous on the internet

17 02 2012

When I was a freshman in university, Youtube was a fairly new thing. “Daft Hands” and “The Evolution of Dance” (I met that guy!!) had me mesmerized, and “Charlie The Unicorn” and “Charlie Bit Me” nearly make me lose my shit. They still get me from time to time, you gotta love the throwbacks to 2006.

Now we have things like Bieber and that nonsense Rebecca Black does. (Does she have eardrums? And Glee producers, I’m glaring at you over my Korean hipster frames, since I don’t wear glasses. Unacceptable.) I do love Jenna Marbles and My Drunk Kitchen, so Youtube has its redeeming accounts.

So last year, before I came to Korealand, wonderous world of no-Hulu or America only videos, I saw this little diddy of educational perfections:

I knew I had to do it. They all had such straight faces, but I had to make it fun. Somehow.

But how?

Sing along and dance like an idiot.

My 7th graders were amazing and we put it together (if you take away the drawing signs time) just over an hour. We made the video, and I posted it that night on Youtube. Here it is:

That hooting sound at the beginning is me. I almost dropped the camera while adjusting it on the tripod. Oops. My kids I had so much fun, rocking out and getting into it.

First, facebook liked it. I figured we’d sit pretty at a few hundred views, 303 to be exact.

Turns out, 303 is the number Youtube gets stuck at when a video is going viral.

My friend from Pacific, Vincent, commented on a post that it was moving up on Reddit. I was on my phone and out for the day, so I had no idea the interwebs were blowing up with my lovely students. Reddit has some serious trolls, so I had to do some damage control there. One Redditor so kindly made a meme out of one of my students.

This kid follows me at school. I swear to god he's everywhere, and thanks to a Redditor, now he really is.


After Reddit, it went bananas.

Huffington Post (HOLY CHRISTMAS.)


College Humor


The Independent


Tastefully Offensive!


There were many more, like thedailywhat, buzzfeed, theawesomer, storyful, knowyourmeme, several university websites (like Syracuse, but not Pacific??) and many local news outlets. Sadly, none from Oregon. Cue the sad face. 😦

I did happen to love the commentary from Tuscon Weekly.

And one that I discovered only recently… Perez Hilton posted our video!!

421,666 views right now. Maybe half of them were from me.

I’m SUPER proud of my kids. Here’s to another year of trying to make the textbook irrelevant!

Guess what? It’s cold.

17 02 2012
Photo credit goes to Roooooommate.

These earmuffs were made from lace. Better keep that fabric on the flossy stuff. It doesn't keep you warm.

Aaaaaand COLD = Winter.

Winter = Holidays.

Holidays = Story time.

I’m currently in bed wearing sweats, wool-ish giraffe socks, a dozen layers, a scarf and a hat. I’m underneath 3 comforters and still chilly. It’s only right that it’s snowing outside and my heater is struggling more to heat up now than I do in the mornings. Seriously, getting out of my massive nest of warm blankets and pillows with hot water nalgenes is an epic battle that can only rival the fight scenes of 300... just in slowER motion and not so gory. (PS, I seriously couldn’t help myself on that link.)

Anyway, I haven’t really updated on holiday shenanigans. You should be used to that since I’ve failed as a blogger since I haven’t done too much out of the normal Korea routine. I don’t have a single photo of Thanksgiving. My memory card was full and all my pictures from the spring magically got deleted… so I was nervous. There are people just as bad as me, because there isn’t a single one on facebook either. Moving on. There was lots of wine, lots of people, lots of firewood and lots of fun. Karaoke, cooking, card games, bonfires, and a game that used lots of adjectives and adverbs to describe a few choice body parts. We made it all the way to Y and them for some reason everybody stood up and yelled “good game!” and left for bed. Xenophobic? Zesty? Come on people! Still fun though!

And here it's snowing!!

The weekend after Thanksgiving was Rubber Seoul, which is a fundraiser for an AIDS/HIV education and prevention group. We got to see a whole bunch of live shows at the bars in Hongdae, and that was a lot of fun. Dancing and general silliness ensued. A certain somebody that isn’t me ran into not one, but two of the guys she was seeing while out dancing. Not awkward at all. Hysterical, actually. On a more normal note, one of the bands we saw was Angry Bear, and they had a pretty good show at Gogo’s 2.  Check them out here.

The weekend after that was also amazing. SANTACON 2011.
I got to see my Thanksgiving cooking partner in crime, Kita.  We were a tad slow coming from Gugal (What else is new?) and we missed the mass transit migration of Santas en masse. We rallied in Hongdae at the Ho Bar III, aka “Ho Ho Ho!” There were drinks, dancing Santas, and a generally fun pub crawl. I proudly taught the bartenders at Shamrock how to make Washington apple martinis. Yum.

Rooommate and I at Santacon


We thought it was a brilliant idea to purchase RED red lipstick... hilarity ensued. (This is Kita, btw!)

After SantaCon, we had an awesome Christmas. I traveled yet again with When in Korea and cooked a delicious dinner. Met a slew of new awesome people. It was too cold to play any games outside, but there was a white elephant exchange, and norae-cabin. So much fun singing Christmas carols and ABBA songs.

I also enjoyed photobombing pictures. 🙂

New Years Eve was also pretty exciting. We went to COEX mall in Seoul, where there was a fancy wine buffet. We got classy. I wore a dress and heels that haven’t been touched since they got unpacked last February. More cool new friends and silly stories. Lauren, Kayla and I missed midnight fireworks by missing the subway and having to take the next one. Oops. We hit the karaoke place for several hours and rode the first trains home in the morning. Such a fun night!

The hooligans of NYE.


Even classy pictures get photobombed. I got to play with Andy's fancy camera. Here's one of Lauren.


Why is this always my candid photo face? I'm like my mom in the regard that I can never take a normal candid. Seriously.


Well, here’s to 2012 and another year in Korea!

Exam week in Korea

5 12 2011

Last week, I had to grade the speaking tests for the second semester. Kids worked in pairs and memorized a dialog that is so easy, I could do it in Korean. They had to either role play a restaurant scene or one in a shoe store. Plain and simple, it is way below where they should be for having been taught English since early elementary school.

Before the test, I did a quick review of pronunciation on a few words- the th sound in “thirty three,” the zh sound in “measurement,” and just making an f sound instead of b or p. (In that dialog, lots of priends ate prench pries.) I also told them that gestures, expression, and intonation were also something that I would grade on. This is not new information to my kids. They all know that standing there with a poker face and talking like a robot gets you nowhere close to a top score. They’ve known that since week 1.

poker face. flat expression. flat voice.

I listened and scored something close to 360 students in 2 days. It was pretty easy to score them on a 5-10 scale. No, not 0, but 5. If you just stood there and did nothing, I had to give a 5. Total crap, because I was only allowed to give out so many of each score, just like last semester. If only there were a more accurate scoring system and a more accurate test in which to asses actual speaking abilities… hmm…

During testing of my class that I like to call the “Future Diplomats Club,” (they’re all really bright and many have lived abroad,) I was really disappointed in many of the girls. Usually, my girls are much more active and involved than the boys. In English, they’re also usually much more charismatic than they were on test day. They all acted like they had no clue what they were doing. We had even delayed the test 3 days so that they could have some extra time to prepare for the speaking test. So they should be up to par, right?


Anyway, after I finished with the class, I showed them their scores. One of my girls was absolutely livid that she got a 9 out of 10. She was furious. She demanded to my co-teacher that I change her test, because she “did better than her partner,” who also earned a 9. Her partner was a girl who was always active in my class, came to see me the day before for help with the test, and is generally a much better student in my class. Miss Dramatic here went ranting and raving about how I grade unfairly and blah blah blah. I told her she should have been more expressive and pronounce things better. Then I left.

My co-teacher was nervous, I could see it. I asked her why that whole thing just happened. Apparently Miss Dramatic is the student with the best GPA in her grade, and she has the mom to back it up. I told my co-teacher that if the Tiger Mom had anything to say, she could come talk to me, since I did the grading, and I didn’t plan on changing the score of the little hellion.

MD is still mad at me, but whatever. I haven’t heard from her mother, and neither has my co-teacher. Thank god!

Pretty accurate portrayal of Miss Dramatic can be found in the video below. Enjoy!

Minsu = Miss Dramatic

Let’s be honest…

23 11 2011

I’m a terrible blogger.

I haven’t written since August, even though I promised I’d post pictures and whatnot from the Philippines.

My bad.

So since the last time we saw our heroine, many people have come and gone from Gugal, crazy stuff has happened, and some life plans have been changed.

I didn’t talk about Boryeong Mud Festival from July, how Laura fell off a bus and broke her legs.

Stuck in bed for weeks at a time = everybody brings pizza.

I didn’t talk about Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and the trip to Busan for Mychaela’s Korean birthday…

Me on Chuseok in front of the bridge at Gwanganli Beach, Busan


And I haven’t mentioned the ridiculous clothes that Korea sells…

Why is it that the only things I can wear in Korea are hideous and/or prison uniforms?


So the fall was pretty slow in my neck of the woods, so there’s not really much to update through September/October. November has been fun so far. But cold. Oh, so cold.

I swear once I find my pictures (the spring/summer folder is mysteriously gone…) I’ll post on facebook. But there are 3 computers (2 of which are in Korean) and a hard drive that might have them hiding… “I’ll put them somewhere safe where I won’t forget!”

Right. Because when you’re Dani, that always works out in your favor.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Spend some time with my family and give them lots of love for me!

Komusta from the Philippines!!

8 08 2011

Hey all!

I really haven’t updated much, but that’s because there’s just been a lot of deskwarming and classes, so not much to tell. However, my friend Lauren sent me a message on Facebook about Bali… which brought us to the discovery that we had the same vacation dates, and the discovery that Bali was too expensive to get to for this last minute vacation. Through scouring the flight sites, we found a cheap ticket for her, and then it became us. That was never a plan before that fateful facebook chat.

I’m impulsive, and I know it. I am a Phillips.

It was a really last minute decision (like 3 days before the flight last minute) and so far, it has been totally worth it! Our whole first day was in Busan, because that’s where the flight was from. Our train was super early, as it was the only one still available, while the flight was late at night (we landed just before 1 AM.) We killed time in cafes and a Lotte department store. After all, we had about 7 hours to burn.

When we got to Cebu airport, it was a little overwhelming and disorienting. We just needed a taxi that wasn’t going to rip us off hardcore, like all the books and blogs told about. Strangely, the taxi we took, which was a local metered taxi, was a lot cheaper than the fixed rate guys (almost $5 cheaper.) We stayed at Cebu Guesthouse, which was about as basic as you can get in a sketch “historic and traditional” neighborhood. But hey, for $6 per night, you can’t expect much! It was kind of funny seeing Lauren’s reaction to a few things, but that’s mostly because she’s never been in travel situations like I have. I think she’s more of the all-inclusive/no-bug-net-needed breed.

We had planned on splitting the trip between Bohol and Boracay, a little yin and yang to our travel types. Bohol has my kind of places, and is a little more rugged, and everywhere you look, people are singing praises about the diving. OBVIOUSLY I would want to go there, since well, the last time I went diving was over a year ago in Thailand, and one of them left scars.

Mind you, we’re only here for 5 days/5 nights. We had heard that flights to Boracay are super cheap and leave from Cebu almost every hour. That would have meant that we’d spend Sunday-Tuesday AM in Bohol and leave Tuesday afternoon for Boracay, returning mid-Thursday for our flight home. However, prices for the flights to Boracay have somehow managed to get jacked up, at nearly $250 round trip. Nope. I’m not going to drop that much money for literally a day and a half.

Lauren isn’t diving/snorkeling, so she says that she’s bored. I still don’t know what we’ll do for the next few days, but I’m fine here. I’m on a beach. I went diving today and it was pretty awesome, it’s sunny and cooler than Korea, and the people are pretty nice. All around wins!! I’m thinking we’ll rent a motorbike tomorrow and go check out the Chocolate Hills and the Tarsier Preservation Center. It looked like it was going to rain this afternoon, so we pushed off that plan from today. So we chilled at the beach and got pedicures. Life is so hard for travelers here.


It’s a cake walk.

Life is awesome. 

AND I saw my first frog fish today. It was white and hiding in some coral. It looked creepy as hell! Google it.


You’ll get pictures when I get home!

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