Posts Written On June 2012

Attack of the Middle School Zombie Killers

Last week, I did a ‘Zombie Survival’ lesson with my 7th and 8th graders. It’s basically a lesson on what the students would do and how they would prepare for a zombie attack. I went over amazingly well, and I’ve never had my students so attentive. If any of you are teachers in Korea, go to and search for the Zombie lesson. It’s incredible.

During one my favorite 7th grade classes, I began the lesson with a little background story. It went a little something like this.

Me: Imagine that you are on your way to school. You notice that things are a little different. The buses are stopped in the middle of the street. The taxis are on the sidewalk. There are no people around. As you walk up the stairs to school, you see one of your friends in the distance. You start to wave, but you notice they are walking really slow, and they look like they are a green color. All of a sudden, you see more of these green, zombie like people coming towards you. You realize that Cheongdeok has been taken over by ZOMBIES!!!

*Here’s where most of the kids go AHHHH or something similar*

“You run up to the English hall and into the classroom with the rest of your classmates. You realize that you are the only survivors in the school. Everyone is a zombie! Your friends are zombies! The teachers are zombies! The …..”

Students: *pretty much yelling all at once*…..WHAT!! THE TEACHERS ARE ZOMBIES?! AHH OMG AAHHH!

Me: Yeah! *not realizing where this is going* Everyone is a zombie except everyone in this class. What will we do to….

Student 1: *interrupting me* SHERYLL TEACHA! If the teachers are zombies, does that mean we can kill them?!

All of the students: AHHH WE CAN KILL THE TEACHERS! I WILL USE A SHOTGUN! KNIFE!!! I WILL USE A NUCLEAR! (note, not a nuclear weapon, just a nuclear.)

Me: *Realizing my horrible mistake* NO NO NO! Actually, I was wrong, the teachers are immune from the zombie virus! The teachers are here to help us survive!

Student 2: Okay. I understand. The teachers are not zombies. Except the science teacher. He is the only zombie. I will use a gun to kill him.

Me: O.O

Remind me to not get on that kid’s bad side!


The Best Pizza in Seoul: The Pizza Peel in Itaewon

So, if you live in Korea, if you are planning on visiting Korea, or even if you are just curious, you should know that pizza in Korea is pretty much a hot ass mess.


Well for one, Korean pizza features such lovely toppings like ribs (WITH BONES!), chicken (AGAIN, like…a whole fucking chicken, bones and all), potatoes, corn, honey mustard, and sometimes even PASTA. Also, the sauce tastes sort of sweet to me, almost more like ketchup than tomato sauce.

As I mentioned, most of the toppings are just really, really bizarre and totally unnecessary. I even ordered a regular cheese pizza from my local pizza restaurant, and it still had corn on it. WHY OH WHY?!

Also, the cheese on typical Korean pizzas is some sort of heavily processed cheese wanna be, that congeals very fast and sort of tastes rubbery. Not my thing. Of course, this *is* Korea, and I’m not expecting anyone to be master pizza chef or to heavily use real cheese. It’s just not part of a typical Korean diet.

So what’s a girl to do when she really wants a Western style, thin crust, pepperoni and sausage pizza without a bowl of pasta or a rack of ribs on top?

I did a quick Google search and found a number of places in Seoul that boasted “BEST PIZZA!”, but one in particular stood out.

The Pizza Peel in Itaewon.

Review after review showed that The Pizza Peel basically shut down any other pizza place in Seoul. I just knew I had to try it. So one Sunday, Johnny and I made the trek to Itaewon to try it out.

The Pizza Peel is a very small restaurant, but one of the first things I noticed was the huge brick oven. Now we’re talkin’!  I already was expecting great things.

One look at the menu let me know that I was in pizza heaven. Not a corn topping in sight!

Proscuitto, feta, Italian sausage, gorgonzola?!?!?!? UM YES. It was so hard to decide what pizza to get, but in the end we decided to get the supreme pizza.

UM HELLO! Pizzafuckingheaven. Real cheese, lots of pepperoni, crunchy, thin crust, bell peppers…*sigh*

I wanted to cry. It looked delicious. It smelled delicious. It tasted like the best pizza ever, especially after buying a few Korean style pizzas and being highly disappointed.

AND!! They serve craft beers. Tired of Cass and Hite?! Well,  The Pizza Peel is here for you.

So, now I bet you are wondering how to get to this amazing, heaven like restaurant.

Go to Itaewon and take Exit 4. Walk straight for about 5 to 7 minutes, past the McDonalds. Once you pass the McDonalds, start looking to your left for an arch and sign that says “Alley Market”. Turn left into the Alley Market, and you will see The Pizza Peel a few feet down.

Now, if you get that crazy pizza craving, you know exactly where to go!


Cruisin’ Down the Han River

I don’t care what anyone says, but summer is HERE in Korea. It’s hot, it’s muggy, it’s sticky. Everywhere is a sauna. I’ve started carrying an extra shirt with me at all times because by the time I get anywhere, I’m a sweaty mess. And people are saying it’s not even really summer yet………………..

I might melt.

Last weekend, Johnny and I took advantage of a not ridiculously hot day by having a picnic by the beautiful Han river in Seoul. We bought some kimbap, some snacks from Paris Baguette, a blanket, and hopped on the bus.

One thing I learned is that Koreans take picnics VERY seriously. We saw people with full on dinner set ups, tea pots, drinking games, tents, you name it. Intense!

I guess after all of the intense picnicking you gotta take a nap!

After our picnic, we went walking around the banks of the river to find that there are actually river cruises down the Han. One of my favorite things in the world is being on a boat, so naturally, we couldn’t resist. We opted to take a sunset  cruise and it was really beautiful. Being by/near/on water is so calming for me. It was the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

I got this dress on the side of the street by Johnny’s apartment for 10,000W ($9.50ish?). Score!

There were tons of people on the river in motorboats, jet skis, wind surfing! It looked like so much fun.

The Han River cruise was 11,000W for the hour. Johnny and I took the cruise from Jamsil Dock.

How we got there:
Go to Jamsillaru station (Green line/Line 2). Exit out of exit 4 and follow the signs for the Jamsil Hangang River Park. Once you are in the park, take a leisurely stroll along side the river. You’re going to walk for a while, maybe 10/15 minutes. Eventually, you will see the giant C& sign and the dock. Also, according to the Korean tourism site, you can take go to Sincheon station (Subway Line 2 ), Exit 7, then take a taxi to Jamsil Dock.


How I Try (and sort of succeed) in Managing my Korean Middle School Students

When I first found out that I was going to be teaching middle school, my heart dropped. All of my dreams of teaching precious, little 1st and 2nd grade Korean sweethearts went down the drain. I had heard all of the horror stories of middle school students in Korea, how they are wild, unruly, and basically do not give a single fuck.

I went into my classes with a huge knot in my stomach. Would the students send me out crying? Would I be screaming at the top of my lungs?

Nope, not at all.

My students are generally very, very well behaved. I’m not sure how I got so lucky. They like me, they talk to me between and after class, and typically they aren’t a hot mess during my classes. Of course, there are a few “bad apples”, but I think it’s more of an ADD/ADHD issue. And all of the grades definitely have very distinct personalities.

7th graders (1st years): Generally sweet, excited for class, talkative, willing to participate, and the best at English. You would think the younger students wouldn’t be that good in English, but a lot of them are LIGHTYEARS ahead of the older students due to an increased focus on hagwons from an early age. The 7th graders are easily my favorites to teach.

I don’t really have to do much as far as incentives go. Most of them are super excited to have me in class and are eager to learn. If they are quiet and well behaved, I show them a music video at the end of class, I give them stickers, or on a particularly good day, I give them candy.

8th graders (2nd years): Ohhh my 8th graders. It’s generally known that 8th graders in Korea are a hot ass mess. My co teacher says that a very popular joke in Korea is that the main reason why North Korea will not invade South Korea is because South Korean 8th graders are insanity. My students actually aren’t quite that bad, but they can be very rowdy and disruptive. Same with the 7th graders, usually promise of a music video/funny video/candy will do the trick. If they are being particularly rowdy, I just stop talking, cross my arms and stare at them. They know that I’m not happy and shut up. For me, this seems to work much better than trying to talk/yell over them. My co teachers help a lot with my 8th graders and keep them on task. My 8th grade classes are also very small, and some of the my 8th grade classes are all boys or all girls, which helps when I make lessons.

I’ve also learned that sometimes the talking during class isn’t all just random chatter. A lot of the more advanced students will help translate what I’m saying for their friends. I’d rather have the students help each other out than shut them down.

9th graders (3rd years): And now my awesome 9th graders. Something weird happens from 7th to 9th grade. 7th graders are sweet, 8th graders are all over the place, and my 9th graders are just…blah. The apathy and the constant sleeping during class kills me. I’d much rather have a group of chatty teens over ones that stare at me like I’m crazy or just use my class as nap time. And now that it’s getting fucking hot outside and the school is turning into one giant sauna, the kids ALL sleep because their desks are cool. Nope, not having it. I’m going to stand up and teach with sweat everywhere, and you will listen!

How have I decided to combat this problem?
Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

I’ve explained to my class that I’ve decided to bring my camera to class and take pictures of any of the students I see sleeping. At the end of the month, I will compile all of the pictures together and make them into a slide show to show everyone. This has worked like a CHARM. 99.9% of students DO NOT want to be embarrassed in front of their classmates. And now anytime a student even starts to put their head on their desk, their classmates will nudge them because they don’t want to see their friends embarrassed. Wins all around! I still have students who try and sleep, but I’d say it’s 5% rather than the 30 to 40%.

I think the reason why my students aren’t ridiculously terrible is because my classes are pretty small for a public school in Korea. My school is in the middle of nowhere (really…no one knows where it is). I have between 10 and 25 students per class, where the typical average is 35 to 45 per class. My classes are way easier to manage on this fact alone. When there’s only 10 students in the class, I can take the time to learn about them, their likes/dislikes, their personalities. Before I really started teaching, I took a survey with each class and found out things they wanted to learn about, so I can make my classes fun for them. My school is very flexible. I can pretty teach whatever I want, and they actually don’t want me to use the book.

Any teachers or ESL teachers read my blog? Do you have any other tips or ideas for managing your classrooms?