First Video

I have never really wanted this blog to be about me teaching English in Korea. The aim was always to give a little humor about whatever I was experiencing as I live, eat, breath--and--teach English in Korea. Well, I can't help writing about these kids. They're awesome.

I made my first video with my new Lumix cam and I am really excited about the quality I get with this thing. Thank you again my lovely family and friends that pitched in for the camera on my birthday two weeks ago.

Untitled from Mark Ratto on Vimeo.

...get Lost my friends.


Cards From Koreans--In English

I'm a kindergarten teacher. And I really like it.













These kids are rad.

...get Lost my friends.


Birthday Camera

My birthday came and went this past Saturday. I'm now 24-years-old but if you tack on the beard years, I can pass for 32. I'm cool with both.

Leading up to my birthday, I did not expect much gift wise. My only loved-one in Korea is my girlfriend Liz and even though she spends her nights on the radio, she has yet land a Laura Schlessinger type of pay check. She told me we were going to a really nice pizza place for dinner and then maybe some drinks after. Anything pizza related makes me giddy and I assumed she would give me a small gift, so I was set. To be honest, I anticipated a $40 hat from the "30's Italian gangsta era" we had seen a week earlier.

Well, what she got me just slightly surpassed my tacky expectations.

I opened a package on Saturday morning that will change my experience here in Seoul. Liz, with the help of my incredible family and friends (thank you guys so much), bought the perfect Digital SLR camera. The Lumix GF1. And trust me, it is a lot more expensive than that stupid hat.

I'm no photographer, but I hate bad pictures. This camera was something I started saving for 4 months ago. And now, I've got it.

The best presents are the one's you use on a daily basis. This present will make my daily basis look awesome. Here are a few.

{Happy B-Day toast.}

{This Korean dude can make pizza straight from my days in Rome.}
{New kicks. 25 bucks...Living close to China has it's perks.}

{Doesn't she have beautiful eyes?}

{As you most likely guessed, I am singing "We are the Champions" at the Karaoke joint.}

I need to thank my family once again. Without them this experience would feel much emptier than it has. If you have not spoken to your family in awhile, I highly suggest a group Skype session. They make the world feel right.

I love you guys.

...get Lost my friends.


Tiny Chairs

Recently, I love sitting on tables. I don't know why.

Maybe it's because I sit in tiny chairs designed for 4-year-old's all day.


...Get Lost my friends.


Dream Plop

Have you ever encountered a brat between, say 5 and 7-years-old? A legitimate brat? Go ahead, take a moment to think about it...Got it, yet? Good. Now picture that little girl with Korean features (black hair, dark eyes, etc.) and try to remember how the sound of her voice made you look at windows and wonder, "If I jump, will I live or just break neck?"

I teach one of those. She terrorizes the last class of my day and out of the 70 or so kids I see daily, her irrevocably bad behavior stands alone.

It's a typical situation. Her younger sister stands at approximately 2-foot-1 and simply dimple giggles her way into everyone's heart, including her parents. So the older sister, let's call her terrorist girl, has resorted to getting attention in other ways.

I'll give you one example of her outlook on life. On Friday of last week, I attempted to show her some kindness. Initially, she resisted but after about five minutes she gave me a side hug and kissed my side, just above my right hip. I felt relieved. "See, all she needed was some love," I thought.


After she fled the scene, I looked down at my shirt, right where she kissed and there was a huge slobber stain with some cookie bits, just for good measure. At that point, I gave in to the notion that my efforts may be wasted on this little girl.

Well, on Tuesday, she (and me) had a rude awakening.

Terrorist girl slept through the class, which was fine with me, but eventually I had to wake her up. I gently lifted her head from the table she slept at and told her it's time to go home. Groggy and confused, she sat up straight in her chair. Meanwhile, I slid the table away to put it back where it belonged. Bad move. In extremely slow motion but too fast for me to react, she fell back to sleep, leaned forward slowly to put her head back on the table that was no longer there and BAM. She dropped straight to the ground, head first.

My heart sank. Both from fear that she actually hurt her neck on impact and/or how bad her tantrum would be once she realized what happened. Well, what happened next was unexpected.

She began to cry and as I knelt beside her in an effort to defuse the reaction, she threw her arms around me and balled in my arms. I patted her back and consoled as well as I could. After a few minutes of sniffling and tears flowing she stopped and looked up at me with a slightly worried look. I then said, "It's OK, you can cry if you want."

"Thanks," she quietly replied and continued a soft cry to recovery.

This moment left me with mixed emotions. This event was completely my fault, so I felt really bad. The sight of her dropping straight to ground was totally America's Funniest Home Video status, so I slightly chuckled. It was also the last thing to happen to me before a 5-day weekend (Chinese New Year), so I felt bummed that I might think about it while on vacation.

But finally, when I thought back on how she looked up to me during her crying session, I realized it wasn't concern that was on her face, it was surprise. She was surprised someone was there for her in an extremely vulnerable moment. She felt loved, and I think that felt weird for her.

So, now I just really sad for her as a person. Little girls need affection and love at that age, no matter what.

Which brings me to my final point. The next time you see that little brat that terrorizes you, forget about the window height, secure all potential falling hazards and give that little girl a hug. Because at the end of the day, that's all she is; a little girl.

Get Lost my friends...