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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thoughts from the window table at Starbucks

I'm sitting in Starbucks right now, enjoying the free wireless, a light mocha frapp and some fantastic Cat Power tunes. It's a beautiful day here in Seoul -- temps in the low 80s, bright sunshine and a mild breeze. Why am I wasting this afternoon in Starbucks, then?

Well, I'm doing work for my dad's company and can't seem to get anything productive accomplished in my apartment. There's not really a comfortable workspace and it's much more enjoyable to be cozily set up in Starbucks. I just wish outdoor seating had caught on more in Seoul -- outside of Samcheongdong and Apujeong, there are very few places with tables outside. Unfortunate.

(Side note: A white guy just walked in! It's rare to see anyone non-Korean in my little neighborhood, especially someone I don't know. Definitely did a double-take just now.)

Today was a nice, short day of work. Three Grocery classes in the AM and one Library in the afternoon. Easy peasey. We have a ton of day students this week and normally, everyone dreads teaching them. Because they're only here for the day (as the name implies) they tend not to follow the rules and to cause disturbances. To my surprise, the day kids I had today were exceptional, among the best students I've taught in the past seven months.

Library was especially fun. Most of my students spoke fluent, almost accentless English, so we could have an actual conversation. They told me about their favorite books, many of which they read in English, not Korean. It was interesting to hear what young Koreans enjoy. The Ramona and Junie B. Jones books, anything by Roald Dahl and, of course, Harry Potter were among the favorites.

The kids' English proficiency also made me completely change my lesson plan; after briefly going over a few key words, they spent the rest of the period reading quietly. Whereas usually Library students choose picture books and flip aimlessly through, these kids excitedly devoured Anne of Green Gables, The Wizard of Oz and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. All in English, natch.

It was encouraging to see. So many kids -- Korean, American, every nationality -- seem to have put aside books in favor of video games and the Internet. Reading gave me so much joy as a child, and still does now, and I'll be devastated if my children don't share this love. Call me a nerd (I'll call myself a nerd) but I'd still choose a good book over a good movie anyday. At least Twilight, as appallingly bad as it is, got teenagers reading if only for a short time.

In other news, I'm casting my vote in favor of yoga's healing powers. I begged Jess to recommend a couple positions to help my back pain (possibly a pinched nerve from Shredding?) and after just one short session, the pain is mostly gone. I've kept it up for a couple days now and feel almost 100%.


  1. That's so cool that your kids were able to read non-picture books in English.

    Are you still doing Jillian? I'm going to downgrade to just once or twice a week because half marathon training is starting.

  2. Yoga is incredible. End of story.