Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Reason I Haven't Posted in a While...

So, believe it or not, there is a reason that I haven't posted for a while. Actually, there are reasons. None of them are really all THAT valid, but they're my reasons. :) I stopped journaling on a regular basis and blamed that on my assignment in my Korean class to keep a Korean journal. After trying to think of how to write things out in Korean, I just didn't feel like journaling anymore. Now I don't have to keep a journal anymore, but I still don't write in my regular journal. Wahh wahhhh. As for my blog, I'm blaming the lack of writing on my new found internet networking community: cyworld. Cyworld is basically the Korean version of facebook, but I think maybe it's been around longer (don't quote me on that). So the good thing about cyworld is that I can connect with my Korean church friends, most of which are scared to death of facebook. The bad thing about it is that it's all in Korean!!! So it takes me SO long to do anything on there! And, whenever I write to my friends, I usually have to write in Korean too, which takes a lot of time and energy!
So, speaking of those people that are taking up my time on the web...they're wonderful! I've been forming so many great friendships with the people at my new church! It's so great to feel like I really have a community of friends again...not just a couple friends here or there, but really a community of them. And I was told by one of those friends last night that they seem to appreciate me too. I sometimes think that as the foreigner hanging out with the Koreans that I just become a bit of a bother. Like "Oh, yeah, we need to make sure Tori knows what's going on." So I was pleasantly surprised yesterday in my conversation with my friend. He was complimenting me, saying that my Korean was good and that I had many friends at the church... then he told me that many people had talked to him, saying that I was a blessing at this church.
I have to say....people can tell me up and down that that I do a good job, or compliment me on some talent or another, but whenever someone tells me that they feel like I'm a blessing from God, I feel really special. I think part of it is that this kind of comment is not very common, so it feels even more sincere. Anyway, it was just really encouraging to feel like not only am I beginning to fit in, but also that someone would consider me a blessing as opposed to a hindrance. So I left the car (to go to bowling club, haha) with a great feeling. I'm very encouraged in my interactions with other now knowing that at least some people genuinely do enjoy me being around!
Today's a good day. ^^

Monday, February 7, 2011

An Update

Well, I have successfully gone over 2 months without writing on here....sorry! I figured I should post an update on what my life has been like over the past few months and such.
Something big that's happened in my social life is a complete friend shift. All of the people that I was close to in the past year or so have now moved back to America, leaving me here with no close friends. That was a really hard thing to deal with actually. Being a socially oriented person (shocker, right??) my everyday emotional well being is often charged by the people I'm around and the interactions I have. So, to have all of the people that I'm closest to in life either already on the other side of the world or leave to go to the other side of the world was quite the challenge for me. I was being to get frustrated with the lack of direction for my future, thinking "Why would I stay in Korea anyway? Most of my friends are gone!" I of course still had friends, but most of my deep, intimate friendships had moved away. However, it's amazing how God provides in our lives. I can't honestly say that I have any super close, intimate friendship here the kind where you're the first to tell each other anything and everything, but I have been blessed with some wonderful new friendships. First off, one of my co-teachers at school. Her English name is Angelina, but she doesn't like that name! Anyway, I wouldn't have put us as becoming great friends because she was recently married (about a year ago) and normally in Korea singles tend to hang out with singles, married folk with married folk. However, in some random timing, we ended up with this mutual love for going to coffee shops, trying new drinks and eating some sort of dessert that was oh-so-bad for us. And after a few months time, she has become a great friend that I feel very comfortable around. Another great group of friends I'd like to mention as a true blessing from God recently has been my Korean church friends. In September I began attending a Korean church in addition to the English church I was already attending. I met some awesome people there and really started forming great bonds...and then, they switched our small groups. As a regular routine, the church changes up the people in the small groups every 6 months. I was NOT ready to give up my old group. I loved my old group. And in the first week of my new group, I definitely wanted to go BACK to my old group! We as the foreigners in the church had decided to split up into different groups and experience some different things. So me, Joel and then one other person from my former group joined several new people in a different group. My leader was afraid of me because he didn't speak English, there was a 41 year old man who was trying way too hard TO speak English, and then a bunch of other Korean girls, some of which spoke English, some of which didn't. Needless to say, I was not really looking forward to this new "adventure." And in the process of forming new groups, I felt like I lost a friendship with my former group leader, who was now the new team leader, and therefore had a lot of things on his plate. Anyway, bringing the negative around to a positive, I ended up feeling overwhelmingly blessed by being able to meet and be friends with the people in my new team. My cell group leader is no longer afraid of me, I've made a great friend in one of the girls in my cell, and have been able to spend lots of time with several people from my team.
Last week we went snowboarding (yes Mom, Dad, I went snowboarding!!) which was so much fun! And the only injury I had from it was a whopping bruise on my knee which is now purpley/black, so it's almost gone. I have been sleeping on a heating pad though in order to help loosen out the muscles in my back! Haha. Also last week, we had a little Korean cooking party. We made mandu...lots and LOTS of mandu. I will probably be eating mandu for the next week or two! Haha.

So, update on the job status. I have officially told my current employer that I do not intend to stay in this program next year. Originally my plan of action (after much praying and not a whole lot of direction) was to apply for jobs like crazy, both in Korea and in America and just hope for the best. But in the past couple weeks my heart has been stirred a bit with the thought of staying here in Korea, namely in Cheonan. I am still praying about it for some affirmation and such, but I just really recently have been feeling a strong connection with Cheonan, not wanting to leave, not feeling like it's time to leave yet. However, that means I need to find a job here! Haha. My prospects were looking a lot wider at the thought of going anywhere in Korea or America, but with only jobs in Cheonan, my odds are a bit lower. Right now I'm hoping and praying that I can find a job teaching at a university. I'm not a shoe-in for this kind of job (as I don't have a Master's degree) however, it's not impossible (as some colleges will hire teachers with experience and TESOL certification). Now of course if I feel at some point like this isn't what I need to be aiming for, I'll turn my direction a bit more. The good news stateside? Well, A: there's a possibility that I can take master's classes while working at a university and can therefore complete the things necessary for my recertification in Kansas. B: working at a university would give me a considerable amount more time for vacation, which would give me a REAL vacation back to America each year...which is great!

Another side note before I end this for today, the band "the Glorious Unseen" is wonderful. If you haven't checked them out, you need to. Go to youtube now...ok, after you read this. They have this song that's really touched me recently. It is not on youtube, but I'll post the lyrics of it. It's really been an encouragement to me in a time of waiting, knowing that God is still using me for His calling in my life. :) Enjoy.

We expect the best and nothing less from You,
But will we embrace
The suffering too as part of Your plan for us, oh Lord?

You hold my hand and whisper in my ear of how
You're longing to be near
And how, my pain, You feel it too.

Here I stand, securely, resting in Your presence, waiting on Your voice.
Hold my hand as I walk through the valley of the shadow,
Embracing the call again.

You pull me close and hold me in Your arms,
And show me how Your love is strong,
That never leaves when I'm alone

Here I stand, securely, resting in Your presence, waiting on Your voice.
Hold my hand as I walk through the valley of the shadow,
Embracing the call again.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The hardest part of living here

So, today I got to go into school late! Woot woot! But, why did I get to go in late? Because I was helping my friend carry her bags to the bus terminal because she is leaving the country. Wah wahhh...
There are some days in Korea when I realllllly miss my friends and family back home. And I love my family and friends back home sooooooo much. But missing them is not the hardest part of living in Korea. You see, when we move here, we are missing those people from home, and so are the people around us (because they're in the same situation as us), so we find these friendships in the people around us. Sometimes they are people you wouldn't normally be friends with back home. Sometimes they're the kind of people that you think "how have we never known each other before?!??" because they're so wonderfully fit to be your friend. No matter who it is, we form these bonds with the people around us, and they help us get through all of the awkwardness of living in a new country, discovering the culture and the language, and creating fun memories in between. Unfortunately, there is a start and an end to everything. And for some, it's sooner than others. Unfortunately for me, most people's end is sooner than mine. So, I have to say goodbye, over and over again. This aspect of life is definitely the hardest part of living here. I am not good with goodbyes. I hate goodbyes. And even though I know I'm pretty good at staying in touch with people (so it's not goodbye forever), I know that I won't have that person around anymore. And knowing that they're not around from day to day makes it so hard to see them go. Now, I don't really want to go on talking about this, because the people in my office are starting to stare at me, sniffling and tearing up. :/ But, I thought I'd let you in on the secret...the hardest part about living in another country is having to say goodbye to all of the people who have made your experience there what it is. And on that, travel safely, my friend. Travel safely back to America, and Korea will miss you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cloudy with a chance of homesickness

Hello everyone who might happen to read this!

Today has been a rough day. I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been run over by a, this happens to me about once a semester. I start to run myself too hard, I start to get sick, and then one morning I wake up and feel like I can barely move. And after a day of recouperation and relaxation, I'm good to go again for another 6 months. I find it quite fascinating that my body does this...I'm sure it's perfectly logical, but yeah. Anyway, today I've been feeling quite homesick. Not like "Oh gosh, I want to go home right now!" but just a "Wow, I really miss everyone from home." I don't even really miss American life or America itself right now, just the people there. The problem with that is, I know if I left here, I'd have the same feelings about people here. Funny how that works. So, today has been a little tough, feeling like everything was reminding me of home, or feeling that whole 15 hour time difference thing, not being able to call the people I really wanted to talk to because it was the middle of the night there...luckily, today I went to the doctor (not for homesickness, but a sinus infection), and she prescribed some medicine for me. Once again, in favor of Korea's health care plans, I paid 7,400 won for a doctor's visit and a 4 day prescription for sinus stuff and allergy stuff...and 7,400 won these days is about $6.68. Love it.
So, this feeling of homesickness I think in part is because I'm trying to figure out what the heck I'm going to do next year. I've narrowed it down to a few options (a little less broad than last time). And actually, because of the way things have been going at my school recently, I just feel more and more everyday like I will not be staying in this kind of job in Korea...maybe some other kind of job, but not teaching English in a public middle school. I know, that narrows it down, right? :P

On a happier side of things, yesterday, I had a blast at my Korean church. I don't know if I've said this on here before or not, but I've started attending a Korean church on Sunday afternoons. I am still actively involved in my Internation English church, but I really wanted to get involved more with non-work associated Koreans, and church was a really great way to do that! So, I attend a cell group (like small group) there on Sunday afternoons and really love it. This Sunday was Korean Christian churches' Thanksgiving celebration, so there was a sort of festival going on when I got there this week. I somehow ended up winning a bunch of random prizes. They had little games around where you could win prizes like hot packs and candy. Then one person from the church came up and put these bracelet things on us which ensured us free food. Then, one of my Korean friends came up and was like "Go and dance? There?" and there had been several different things going on on the stage, so I thought he meant later, with a bunch of people. So I was like "Sure" and at that, he grabbed my arm and ran me up on stage with him and started dancing. So, I waved my arms around a few times and then just stood there and laughed. Then the MC guy asked me to introduce myself, so in Korean I said "My name is Tori, nice to meet you." Everyone started cheering and such, and somehow, from that, I won about 50 dollars in gift certificates! Haha...amazing. Here is a picture of my spoils from yesterday...

Anyway, I had a lot of fun yesterday and am constantly grateful for the amazing friends I have here!!! Oh, by the way, Shannon and I are going to look for a hedgehog for a pet soon...stay tuned for more on that!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

축 to the 제!

Ok, so the title of this post is 축 to the 제, or Chook to the Jay. The word for festival in Korean is Chook-jay, 축제, and a couple weeks ago, KNU had their school festival for which they hung up a bunch of signs. One of these signs said that on's like saying "Fest to the val" which I personally thought was hilarious and slightly gangster. So, on Wednesday, my school had their festival, and I couldn't help but think "Chook to the jay." This was the first school festival I had experienced here. Last year, swine flu was a big issue in Korea around this time, so lots of things got cancelled at that time. My school's festival was one of them. So, I was pretty excited this year to experience it. It started off with an "OX Quiz" which is basically a massive true/false test. And when I say massive, I mean all 1300 students at my school were flooding to one side or another, trying to guess the right answer to the quiz. Funny funny. Then they split up into a bunch of games including water balloon toss, limbo, darts, basketball, soccer shoot and karaoke. I of course gravitated toward the karaoke machine. So many students were gathered around there waiting for someone to get up the nerve to sing. A couple students would trickle up little by little, but there was by no means a flood. One of my students said to me "Tori, you should sing." I think he thought at first that I'd be like "No, no, never!" So when I simply said "Ok, I'll sing," he was like "What? Really??" A little while later, I sang the song "Listen" by Beyonce, and the students f-r-e-a-k-e-d out. Out of nowhere, I was like a rockstar, having students crowding around me, students asking to take their picture with me, etc. It was quite the experience! Then later that day, we had festival performances in which the students competed with each other. Performances ranged from dance groups to boys dressed up like girls, from singing to drama. The performances were great! However, there were some of them that were a little too risqué for my taste! One of the boys in one of the dancing groups was lifting up his shirt and such to show off his stomach, and one of the girls in a dance group was dressed in leggings, short shorts, a letterman jacket and a tube top. These kids are in middle school!!! And their dance moves were less than innocent for the most part as well! Anyway, other than that, the festival was incredibly enjoyable. Oh, and the Special Ed. class did a drama/play of the book "You Are Special" by Max Lucado, my absolute favorite children's book. Needless to say, I was in tears watching these kids act out this book, and watching all of their classmates cheer for them.
All around, it was a great day at the school festival. And right now, I'm going to get back to lesson planning while trying hard not to fall asleep!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Random Thoughts with Tori

Now, I know what most of you are're thinking "Shouldn't this be the title of every interaction with Tori?" But there is REALLY no rhyme or reason to the things I'll write today...just random things that I want to get out there!

**Last weekend I went with my Saturday co-teacher and her family to JeonJu. We went to a Korean folk village, ate some bibimbap, and had a good time! It's fun hanging out with just a Korean family by myself sometimes...
**I will never get used to the thought of squid as a snack. I just walked over to the table in our teacher's office, and right next to some crackers, choco pies and coffee was some squid...naturally...
**I was on the phone today with some loan ppl in America because my loan got moved from one company to another. I waited on hold for 56 minutes. I talked to the person for 3 minutes. God Bless America. :/
**I still have no idea what I'm going to do next year when my contract runs up. I have it narrowed down to 3 main ideas: stay in Korea, go back to America, or go somewhere else. Seriously though, pray for my direction for next year, because I don't know where I'm going to be!
** I am addicted to cheesy Korean dramas. I'm watching one now from a few years ago, and even though I'm 98% sure of what will happen, I still cling onto every episode with suspense.
**I am jealous of people who get Reese's peanut butter cups shipped to them...there, I said it.
**I am tired of feeling like I'm the inferior of everyone else in my school...just when I feel like they're starting to treat me as an equal, someone goes and overrules me on something or another just because it's their right as someone older than me. Even though I only knew/experienced the feeling for a year, I miss feeling like an equal with my co-workers, feeling like I actually had a say in things.
**I love every moment that I successfully communicate with a person in Korean. It's funny how things that would be so natural in "normal" life have become such successes (or failures as it may be) in this life.
**I realize that I couldn't live as a single woman in Korea forever...I'm enjoying this life, but know that it's not for me forever.
**I miss singing in a choral setting...I haven't now consistently for about 2 or 2 1/2 years...every time I hear a choir, I get misty eyed.
**I get excited when my school wants me to help with something like an English pop song contest...even though I know they only asked me because I am the Native English Speaker, I tend to convince myself that it's also because of my highly trained background in music. :P
** I enjoy seeing what adventures life leads me on with different people in my life...even though I don't always understand why things are the way they are, or why my timing wasn't clearly better than God's...I appreciate every moment that He gives me with my friends and family and co-workers, knowing that it's blessed.
**I am striving to try harder everyday to be more of a blessing to the people around me. Sometimes I use being a foreigner as my crutch to not be not be as loving and as kind as I normally not give wholeheartedly, knowing that other people's feelings are at stake. I want to be more like myself here in Korea, language barrier or no language barrier.
**I need to stop complaining so much. No need to expand on that.
**I love all of my family and friends, and even though I don't talk to all of you super often, you're in my thoughts and prayers a lot and I care so so so much about you!!
**I need to go be productive at work now, since for 2 1/2 hours I have nothing to show but a picture for the title page of my PPT for next week.
Enjoy your week...and I hope you enjoyed my ramblings.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Discounts and Oreo Balls

So, today I was late leaving my house and I took a taxi to school...on the way, I saw this guy who was holding his hand against his window, trying to get it to roll up...I laughed and then remembered what it was like to have a ghetto car that you have to do ghetto things to sometimes.

Yesterday I made Oreo Balls for Bible Study because it is my friend Hal's birthday this week. They weren't quite all the way dry yet when I needed to leave, so I waited a little longer, put them in a container, and hopped in a taxi to get there. I had to walk for a little while before I found a taxi driving along. I waved him down, got in, told him where I was going, and sat back for the ride. Hands down, this guy was my favorite taxi driver EVER. He was so awesome, he was speaking to me in Korean, which I liked, but he didn't get frustrated with me if I didn't understand...he would just say it a different way or say it in English. He started off by asking me something I didn't understand, then asking me if I spoke Korean well. I told him I couldn't speak it well, and he told me I needed to learn. Haha. I told him I was studying, etc. So this entire conversation went on, talking about my job, where I work, if I'm married, why I'm not married, his family, sports....tons of stuff. Haha, one of the funniest things to me that he said was that his son was tall and handsome, and good at sports, but not very good at studying. Haha. I laughed, because I guess stereotypes are sometimes proven even here. Also, as we were going, he told me that his home was near where I was going, so it was actually helpful to him that I was going there. So, at the end of my taxi ride, he gave me a discount! Heck yeah! And I totally wouldn't have minded paying him, because he was awesome, but I will take a discount where I can get one!! So, I popped open the container of oreo balls and told him that they were an American dessert. So he tried one and said it was delicious. Another funny thing is that he had been telling me I was pretty throughout the taxi ride, but then when he turned the light on to take my money, he was like "Wow, you're really pretty. Really!" Haha. Anyway, needless to say, taxi rides are normally something of a chore for me, with taxi drivers who are a bit disappointed that a foreigner is riding in their taxi, not knowing what to say to you...and this one...this one was a winner!! :)