Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Now THIS is worth writing home about...

Ok, so first of all, we had our first snow that actually stuck last night! I'm looking outside to a white ground right now! :) And last night was so much fun to watch the all the college kids out in the snow, sliding around, taking pictures, reminded me of college, which in turn reminded me of home. It was kind of nice to think of winter at home though-it was something I hadn't thought of much since winter started here.

So, yesterday, the teachers at my school went out to eat together (a celebrating finals type of thing I think) and we went to a restaurant that one of our student's parents owns. We had some sort of bulgogi/shabbu shabbu thing, chop chae, and various other sides. Now, if you recall from before, Shabbu Shabbu is a food that is loaded with mushrooms, but I somehow like it. After we ate our meal, the principal came through to each of us and poured us a shot of cider (Sprite) and told us about the things we'd done well this year and the things he looked forward to for the next year. I thought that was pretty cool. After this, the owner of the restaurant brought out a special dish as a thank you. The English teacher sitting across from me was like "Oh, Tori you need to try's raw beef." Now, to those who don't know, the girl that's speaking right now is the same girl who wouldn't even eat the meat cooked for dinner if she SAW it raw. However, this is also the girl who wants to fit in culturally and not seem like a stuck up American who won't try new things. So, I did. Mom, Dad, Bud, did you hear me? I ate raw beef...straight up raw beef with just a little bit of sesame seasoning on it, paired with little slices of raddish. Can you believe it? It was the size and shape of meat that comes out of a know, those little tubular shapes strings of meat? Yeah. Now for the kicker. Ready..................................................................... I liked it. Yeah....I liked it. It had a really good taste to it. And had I not been wigging myself out psychologically, I would've probably enjoyed it even more! Haha. Anyway, all this to say, I think my fear of uncooked meat has gone away. I had gotten over the site of it (especially when you walk past markets and stuff here where there's like pig hearts and intestines out for sale), but I've just taken it one step further. Now all I need to do is get over the mouth-noises-annoy-me syndrome. :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A First Time for Everything

As I thought about writing this blog, I thought about how intricate the human mind is. I have found it so interesting that sometimes the things that make me go "Huh...", the things that make me homesick, the things that make my heart soar....they're often such tiny little details in life. The silliest little thing can make me so happy for an entire day. And the silliest little thing can make me really sad for a while as well. It's just interesting to me how complex of beings we are.

Anyway, now onto the "real" message here. Today is a first for me. It's my first family oriented holiday out of the states. Now, I've spent Thanksgiving away from my family before, but I think it's just different when you're so far away. Also, it makes a big difference when you're living somewhere that the particular holiday you're experiencing isn't celebrated. Korea already had their main Thanksgiving-esque holiday, so today is nothing special here. I feel like I'm overlooking something, like I'm missing out on something big! And Thanksgiving never really "feels" that super just "feels" weird to not have it present. That's all. On a happy note, there are some people from my church and such that are getting together for a big Thanksgiving meal on Saturday. So that should be fun!

Tonight, I'm going out with the young teachers at my school. They're super fun, and their English for the most part is pretty bad, so it makes for a really fun and challenging evening! I don't know where we'll go to eat, but I am sure it'll be something very traditionally Korean. It tends to lean that way with that group. :) Another random thought is this: I am almost going bonkers trying to make sure things are in order for the first Sunday of Advent. I am partnered up as a head of the worship planning committee at my church. It's really interesting working with that, because it's not the kind of "committee" I've ever been on before. It's a different kind of responsibility within the church than what I'm accustomed to, so it's kind of a fun challenge. And I feel good being involved in the church too other than just the worship team. It feels like I have some responsibility to the church, which is nice. So yeah. I feel like I'm just throwing out random thoughts here and there, so I'm going to go ahead and go now before I say something ridiculous! Haha...enjoy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Swine Flu and Slippers in School

So, today I'd like to start by saying that it's a miracle thus far that I haven't caught the swine flu. I have now been in direct contact with 3 people that had it, and am still (as far as I know) healthy as a bean. I hope beans are healthy, because that would be a poor analogy otherwise. Anyway, last Tuesday I got an email informing me that my roommate was prescribed medicine for the swine flu and that I needed to go buy a mask and move out of my room for the week. So I did so, and I moved into a room with a broken shower and barely any heat (in fact no heat on the first two days I lived there). It's been an interesting week to say the least! The girl I teach piano to also has swine flu, and my friend and Bible study leader found out Friday that he has it as well. Awesome. So, I'm staying away from it with all my might! So far so good! I feel like I've been cautious about it, but I haven't become a germaphobe or anything. Maybe I'm not cautious enough, I don't know, but I guess since I'm still living healthy, I'm doing something right!

Also, I have to make it known how much I love the whole "wear slippers in school" thing. During the summer I hated it, because it was just more hassle at the door. But now, while it's winter and cold on the way to school, it's awesome. I can wear my snow boots or tennis shoes to school in the morning, and then put on my school slippers from there. This is really convenient when I don't have to "look dressy" anywhere after school. Also, everyone wears crazy colors and patterns of socks. Your socks don't have to match what you're wearing at all! So the other day I wore bright pink socks that said "Wednesday" on was Friday. Needless to say at this point, what used to seem like an extra task at the beginning of my day has now become a blessing to me-getting to wear whatever shoes I darn well please at the beginning and end of each day!

So I hope this finds you readers out there well. I know I haven't written much this month. I've been a bit ADD and I've also been a bit captivated by some Korean dramas online, lol. Pitiful excuse, I know, but it....helps me learn the language and the culture. Yeah. That's it. Lol. Anyway, one of the shows is kind of Alias-esque in nature, all about secret agencies and what not. Then the other show is kind of a childish one, but it's fun to watch. Anyway, I'll be trying to get on here more in order to keep you faithful readers updated on my life! Haha.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Writing for the sake of writing...

I wonder...should I write just for the sake of writing? I don't really have any earth shattering news to talk about when it comes to things these days. Normally I write with a certain topic in mind. Right now, I'm just rambling, but I feel like it's been long enough since I last wrote that maybe I should write something!
Well, here's a topic...the students in the middle schools in my town are participating in a pop song contest. Then they compete at the school level and get narrowed down for the city wide contest. I was asked to work with the students and get them ready for the competition. At first I thought "Wow, piece of cake...teach kids to sing in English...." but then I realized just how hard it would be. The kids participating in this aren't necessarily awesome at English...they can just sing pretty well. So, sometimes getting my point across can be a bit of a challenge. I'm so used to teaching music in English, that it becomes difficult to stray away from those typical words or phrases used in English and try to find other ways to describe what they need to do. I can't exactly pose the "Lift your soft palate" business with them! Their like "Lift my what??" However, as challenging as it may be, it's also very rewarding. I feel my joy in teaching music to these kids, and they think that I'm some amazing singer so it scores me hardcore brownie points when I want them to do something that seems a little off the wall!
Also, I should tell you about 패패로 (Pepero) Day. This is a day that most Koreans say was designed by Lotte (the makers of Pepero) as a marketing scheme. Pepero are these cookie/pretzel type of sticks and they're either filled with or covered in chocolate. Pepero Day is on Novemeber 11th (11.11) because the sticks resemble the date. People are supposed to give pepero to and eat it with their lovers, but it's turned into the same type of deal as Valentine's Day where people give them to classmates, teachers, fellow workers, etc. It was a fun day, and I got 6 boxes of Pepero! I'm gonna be a fatty soon!
So...there's a little look at my week, through Pepero Day and Pop Song Contest preparation...I hope you enjoyed!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Konglish = English spelled out and pronounced in Korean

So, I had some really good topic to write about on here, and I was going to write yesterday...then I didn't, and now I can't remember what I was going to write! Also, this might get interrupted, because I'm helping kids with this poetry reading contest thing-helping with a more natural sounding influxuation and such.
So, Konglish...I'm getting better at the Konglish side of things here in Korea. First off, it's something that makes reading in Korean very satisfying, because it's one of the few things that can be understood when you don't know many words. I think maybe my first Konglish that I read was "Cap hey lot eh." I read it and was like "hmmm...Whoa~ cafe latte!!" So, this dear language was getting easier to learn with random Konglish words thrown onto signs and on menus. The only problem with that was that when there wasn't any Kng on the signs, it was very was like "I just read that whole sign and have no idea what it says."
Now, reading is one thing, pronouncing is another! I, at times, have gotten so excited when I saw something in Kng, then walked with confidence up to the counter and said "hazelnut white mocha." "Pardon?" "Hazelnut white mocha?" "Ummm...sorry. What?" "Hazelnut white mocha?" "Ummm....." "Uh, hay-ee-jul nuh wah-ee-tuh mo-ka?" "Ah!! Hot?" Lol. That's about how it goes. It's really entertaining when you're NOT the person experiencing it. However, I'm getting better at pronouncing things in Kng. and anticipate being a semi-pro before I leave. I can't kid myself into thinking that I'll know the language well, BUT, I sure will be able to speak Konglish.
Well, that was the bell, so I should probably go now...I have class in just a bit. I will try to get on here again soon and write...maybe if I end up thinking of whatever topic it was I was going to write about before!! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

꿀호떡, the downfall of my healthy Korean diet...

So, in Korea, there's lots of street vendors and such selling random things out of trucks on the side of the road. Now, as some of these seem appealing, none are quite as addictive as the one that says 꿀호떡 on the side. This is pronounced "gool ho-duck." It's a pancake sort of thing, cooked on a grill (with plenty of oil) and inside this wonderful pancake-esque substance is brown sugar, crushed nut and a little bit of cinnamon. Now, this is one of the hardest things to eat while's hot and a bit crispy on the outside, but it's ooey-gooey on the inside. I've spilled on myself at least twice trying to eat them. And yet, I still get them. Why? Because they're so stinking good!
On the flip side of this, I had a tasty American treat the other day that made me so happy! We had a little bonfire with the youth group at church, and we made smores. I was a little skeptical about how our Korean smores might turn out, but I ended up liking it more than smores back home! The only difference really was the crackers...we had the closest thing to graham crackers here, but they were circular crackers with a sweet glaze on them. They tasted like Teddy Grahams. Just think....marshmallow, chocolate, teddy graham....yum!!!

Ok, now that I've sufficiently made myself sound like a dessert enthusiast, I'll say that life is going well here. I have somehow, even while living in a different country, managed to book myself up 4 nights out of the week. I'm pretty good at keeping my life busy. :P And although it's busy, I'm really enjoying it. The things that keep me consistently busy are as follows:

Monday nights: After school, I play badminton with some teachers at my's gotten some of them to open up a lot to me, and it's good for their English and my Korean. After that, I teach piano to a 6 year old Korean ends up being a dual piano/English lesson, as some of the things I teach will be a LOT easier once she knows some simple English words.
Tuesday nights: Bible Study with some of my friends from church....we're studying the Old Testament which is good for keeps me challenged.
Wednesday nights: don't freak out when you read this, lol...Korean lessons from some new found Mormon friends. They are missionaries here, and they know full anf well that we're Christian and don't have any intention of converting to Mormonism, but they have to do community service time for their they're teaching us Korean. It's two Koreans and two's actually a lot of fun and really helpful for my Korean vocabulary.
and Thursday nights: free talking with a former teacher from my school. She's a friend of mine, but she wants to get better at her English. So, I talk to her in English, and she buys me dinner....I think it's a fine tradeoff. :)

Ok. Well, now that I've told you a little more about my schedule, I've got to go teach a class. My 2nd grade (8th grade) students are talking to my friends on Skype this's been really fun so far, and hopefully it will continue to be! Anyway, enjoy, and I'll be back on sometime next week to write again! ^^

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's about time...

It's about time I put some pictures up on I'm going back through pictures I've taken (or that others have taken) and showing you a bit of where I live. Please enjoy. :)

The picture above is the building I live in. It's called 믿음관 ...that's helpful, right? Haha, it's pronounced Mee-deum-gwan, which means Faith Hall.

The first picture below is my kitchen. It's kind of small but not bad considering most people in our program don't have their own at all.

The second picture is of our shower. Most bathrooms in Korea don't have a shower curtain up, but most also don't have a shower head that's separate from their sink head.

The third picture is of the rest of our bathroom. Please notice the pink heart rug given to us by the program. :P
The fourth picture is a view from the bedroom. The huge sliding doors look out over a park on campus. The wooden cabinet there is my wardrobe. There's a cabinet just as big as that one by the front door for shoes. Crazy!
The fifth picture is of my may not be the cleanest thing in the world, but it's got lots of space! Without a desktop computer, I kind of don't know what to do with all the space of a regular desk. Directly to the right of my chair is Julie's wardrobe. That's super convenient because anytime I'm sitting at my desk she can't get in her wardrobe's awesome. :P

Next time maybe I'll post some pictures of my town and such...but for now, I'm off to cilmb a mountain with the teachers at my school! ^^

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Random Thoughts

I've had lots of random thoughts cross my mind today. I should've written them down as they came to me, but I didn't. So, you're going to get a completely random compilation of thoughts from Korea. Please enjoy. ^^

*The smell of icy hot now makes me think of bug bites before sore muscles (there's a med here for itching that smells like icy hot).
* I enjoy the adventure of not having access to, nor the appropriate Korean vocabulary for reading, a lunch menu. I really do enjoy going down to the cafeteria everyday and just hoping for the best, knowing that exactly what's on my plate might be a mystery to me right up until I put it in my mouth.
*This ^^ looks more like a smiley face to me now than this :)
*I am still processing the fact that, aside from brain blood, the thought of cooking live shrimp in a pan in front of my face, then eating right afterwards was not an issue for me.
*My camera, the one I saved up and spent so much on (along with money from everyone else) is absolutely nothing special here...everyone has really nice cameras. I think they're cheaper here.
* I feel like my phone is more useful for the dictionary within it than to actually communicate with people. That dictionary saves me SO often.
* Coffee...REAL makes my heart so happy. I think I started to take advantage of it back home. Here, I appreciate real coffee so much, especially when drinking it halfway up a mountain. ^^
* As much as I love real coffee, I've actually started to embrace Maxim...iced is preferred.
*I have learned so much recently to appreciate my language, and have been challenged to be able to explain things about it that I've never had to explain before. For example....give me words, not motions, to describe fold, dot, dimension, believe, accept, mind, etc. etc.
*I don't understand how in the same moment I can feel so homesick and ache to see the people I love back home, and yet completely fall further in love with a culture that I'm embracing here. I feel like it should be one or the other, you know? Like if I truly like Korea, I'm not allowed to miss home....or like if I truly miss my friends and family, I'm not allowed to really like Korea. It's silly, but that's how I feel.
*I never thought I'd be using myself as an example for the definition of strange...I was explaining to my kids that strange sometimes just means different or not normal to what you're used to. I then went on to talk about how most little kids in Korea stare when they see me on the street. Why? Well, I'm a little strange.
*I had a teacher talk to me yesterday that hasn't spoken more than 10 or 20 English words to me in my 3 months here. All of the sudden, he said "Tori?" "Uh...yeah?" "I want to speak to you often. But my English is problem. I will help you Korean and you can help me English. I want you to come badminton every week [he is my badminton coach] and we will talk. My girlfriend tells me....cheer up!" [cheer up is what they translate one of their phrases to that means something like work hard/you can do it/i'm cheering you on...that kind of thing]. All of this to say, I was baffled. I am pretty sure that he's been rehearsing that speech for a while. I was super excited that I got another teacher in my office to come out of their box a little to talk to me. Next mission: the teacher who sits across from me and hasn't spoken a WORD of English to me....
* Fall is coming, and the weather is getting cooler. I really enjoy being able to walk to school without breaking a sweat. Sometimes, I even drink coffee when I get to school!!!

Ok, the bell is about to ring. During passing period, I am NOT able to concentrate on anything...too much motion! But, I'm sure there will be many more random thoughts to add to the list at some point. I'm hoping to write at least 5 blogs this month. I know, watch out, I'm armed and ready to go! :P

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Office Etiquette

So, this is a story about something I love about Korea. Today, I am tired. I'm not entirely sure why I am so tired, but I am incredibly tired. People here don't sleep as much as we do in America (8 hours is prime, all that jazz), but they are constantly in motion. I find that really interesting. Anyway, I walked in from lunch, and my head teacher has just got his head laid on his desk, passed out asleep. Now, in America, we'd be like "Whoa, look at him, he's sleeping at work." Here, no big deal. People just see it as a normal thing- if you're tired and you aren't needing to be in class at that moment, just sleep! I have to say that I really like this on days like today. I was sleeping at my desk about 10 minutes ago, for about 15 minutes. It was great, and it gave me the energy I needed to keep going with my day! It's so funny how different things become "bad etiquette" in some form or fashion in given cultures and not in others. For example, I can sleep at my desk here, but I wouldn't dare hand someone money with my left hand. I can eat off of other people's dishes at a restaurant together, but if I wore my shoes into the house....wrong. That would be just wrong.
So there's my little thought of the day. I love that I can sleep at my desk when I'm tired here. One thing that I do NOT love about "proper etiquette" here is the fact that chewing with your mouth open and making noise while you eat is no big deal. I know that in some cultures, the louder you are when you eat it, the better it is. Well, that's not the case here. And yet, people still chew obnoxiously loud while eating anything and everything. And we eat a lot here...I feel like when I'm around Koreans, I'm constantly eating. So the fact that my biggest pet peeve EVER is mouth noises, I am really being tested here.
By the way, I believe you are seeing the effects of that cat nap I took at my thoughts are a little scatter brained here, and I do apologize for that! Anyway, I should probably go now and do something productive with my time...but I hope you've enjoyed my rant about etiquette and some of its entities here in Korea. As I type this, the lady across from me is picking stuff out of her teeth. Yum. Ok, gotta go. Have fun reading!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You're for me and I'm for him... I sit here and think about what to write on my blog, my co-teacher's phone rings in his desk. It says "You're for me and I'm for him. She's for him and something something something...that's the way the story goOOOES." Ha. And it sounds like a maybe something you'd see on a commercial in the 1950's perhaps? All I know is that whenever it rings, I get a big smile across my face, because it makes me laugh like nobody's business.

So, yesterday was a very up and down sort of a day. It's funny how those kind of days can just stick out in your mind...I'll probably never forget that classes 7,8 and 3,4 made me SO angry one time. Yesterday I just couldn't get control of these two classes. Now, I could talk about the fact that I think a lot of it has to do with who my co-teacher is (as I don't have NEAR this many problems in any other teacher's class), but I'm not going to do that. I am just going to say that those two classes yesterday were the kind of classes that make you question why you teach. Don't get me wrong...I KNOW why I teach. I know that I love to teach but geeze, somedays. And do you know what the hardest part about having an abnoxious class is here? You can't have the "I'm disappointed in you" speech. I mean, you could have it, but it wouldn't be effective like it would be in America. Why? Well, because the "I'm disappointed in you" speech kind of uses a lot of bigger words. You know, disappointed...expectations...respect...those kinds of big words. :P So, my kids don't have a clue what I'm saying and just zone out if I try that. So yesterday, I got to the point where the only other thing I could do punishment-wise was hit the kid, and I wasn't gonna do that (although it would've been completely accepted here), so I just reached my point of frustration.

There. Now that I have that out of my system, I can talk about the good parts of yesterday! Weeeeee! So, a teacher who NEVER speaks to me spoke to me yesterday, in English! I was pretty stoked about that. It's always fun when someone new works up the courage to talk to you in English. It makes you feel like they care to talk to you that much because they are going WAY out of their comfort zone by speaking that language to a native speaker. It takes guts amongst the adults. So I was pretty excited when that happened! Also, I had Bible Study tonight. I just have to say that I love Bible study. My reason is that it's people that I don't get to see that often, and even if I do see them, I get to see them in a new light. So much of our lives here together with foreigners is witty humor and such since we don't get to do that in our everyday conversation. So it's nice to have time where we intentionally dig deeper into the Bible to really discuss it and get something out of it. Plus it's a study on the Old Testament which is a total challenge for me. Aside from Psalms, I never willingly read the OT. I stick to the newer stuff. So this is a total challenge for me, but it's fun to read it through new eyes and really get something useful out of it. THen of course after Bible study a few of us went to coffee. I do love myself some coffee!! (good thing I don't teach my kids to talk like that!) So, coffee and good conversation is always a plus, and a great way to end a day! Speaking of ending, I'm going to end this entry so you all don't start dozing off. Later!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Did I Think

So, there are things that I've been thinking of since I've been here that I never thought I'd like or appreciate that I've come to find as a regular part of my life. I thought I'd share that list with you all.

Never did I think that I'd be living somewhere that every single person had three syllables to their name.
Never did I think that I'd be sitting at lunch picking bones off of a piece of fish to eat it...and actually enjoy it!
Never did I think I'd be craving rice and tuna wrapped in seaweed (참치김밮) for breakfast every morning.
Never did I think kids would be saying that they wanted to be a teacher because they wanted to make a lot of money. Lol.
Never did I think I'd find it so comforting to see someone on the street that was white or black, knowing that I could say "hello" and that it would be understood.
Never did I think that the "broken English" feeling that Ashley and I fought all through Europe would be a constant in my life.
Never did I think I'd find one specific type of people so kind and endearing.
Never did I think that I'd be able to put up with as many mouth noises as I do here without blinking an eye.
Never did I think that I could feel so ignorant, yet so loved all in the same day...or moment at that.
Never did I think I'd be walking as much as I do here...
Never did I think I'd live in a constant state of sweat. As in I sweat....ALL THE TIME here.
Never did I think I'd be making a list like this that consisted of my everyday life circumstances...that's all!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Catch up

So, since I'm 10 days into September and haven't blogged once, I'm going to play catch up. I am just going to give some pieces from my journal so that you know what's been going on in my life! Enjoy!

September 4-

So I'm sitting in my office right now...and it's Friday. Somehow I've let an entire week slip by without journaling. Go team go! :P School was pretty normal this week-lots of people talking about stuff that I didn't understand, know, the usual. So Moon taught me a phrase last week, ma ja, which means "correct" or "I agree." So at lunch this week, the opportunity came up for me to use this when speaking to Olivia (one of the Korean English teachers). So, around a bunch of Koreans, I said "Ma ja." Turns out, that's the way you say it to a friend, not a teacher who's older than me. So after an awkward pause, a guy that was sitting there said "Ma ja yo." Red with embarrassment, I buried my head in my jjajamyeong (Chinese black bean and noodle dish). Oh've gotta learn some way right? If not through error, then how? :)
I had dinner with Kyungran this week which was a blast. She's someone from the International church, and she's Hals' head teacher. She's hilarious, and she loves when I speak in a Brittish accent! Anyway, I think I'm going to start teaching her daughter piano...that should be interesting, especially depending on how well her daughter speaks and understands English!

September 5-
Well, today was exhausting, but really fun! Jordan and I got up, got Rotiboy and headed out to Yawoori to meet Ben. From there, we hopped on bus 24 and headed out to Taejo San (a mountain in the Cheonan area). We made our way up to the huge Buddha statue which is the marking of the bottom of the mountain trek. Then we headed up a path that I haven't been on before. We saw a bunch of rock pile/shrine looking things which were kind of cool...I wish I knew their significance though! Then we came to this resting place where there was an ajusshi (old man) just chillin. We communicated with him a little, but mostly just sat around with him. He and Ben became best buds...he even rolled up his pants like Ben had his! Haha. We also climbed into some cave that had candles and bricks in the end of it, which we saw by taking pictures and watching when the camera flashed! So, the next couple of hours consisted of choosing a random way and somehow ending up on a completely different side of the mountain...possibly even a different mountain all together. We walked down a huge street, taking a break in the stream which was super cold and amazing, and walked around a lake to a part of Cheonan that we've never seen before. It was very countryside-esque, with a random factory, guard tower, and taxi thrown in every once in a while. We just kept walking though, until we found a street that had a bus stop on it. I thought that the numbers 200 and 201 sounded like ones that went to Yawoori (I found out later they all go to Yawoori, lol), so we waited for the bus. We stopped into a local shop and got some 매실 which is like a plum tea. The lady working at the store gave us from free pears also. Now, pears here are unlike any pears I've had before. First, they're HUGE....second, they're so delicious...just the right amount of sweet...anyway, we hopped on bus 200 which came first, and headed off to Yawoori. There was a lady on the bus that held our bag for us and then started getting an English lesson! Haha. She was trying really hard to use any English that she knew in order to communicate with us!
As if this fun filled mountain day wasn't enough, our bus ride home on our beloved 12 bus was the most interesting bus ride I've been on before. First the bus driver started talking...a lot. We had no idea what he was saying, so we were just quiet. Then he turned the radio back on...then he talked, then the radio...then he talked, then the radio. It was like he was dj-ing the radio! Then the bus driver started shouting something in Korean about Americans and goes "Michael J!!!" Then he asked in Korean if we spoke Korean, wondering if we were understanding what he was saying. Then he just kept saying "Ok? Ok? Ok? Michael J, ok?" Once we finally said ok, he continued by playing the song Billy Jean. Good work bus driver man. He is the stereotype of most Koreans in that they believe that we all LOVE Michael Jackson...and that we were probably friends with him.

September 6-
Today was a good day! It started with worship practice at 8:30 this morning. I am going to be observing practice for 3 weeks and then start playing the keyboard. Su jin is certainly an interesting leader to follow! She has her own style of doing things, and it's always an adjustment getting used to someone else's leading techniques again. Also, Su hee/Emily came to church today...she's the new Korean English teacher at my school that replaced Ashley. She's super sweet, and I think she really liked church, so she'll probably be back! I went to McDonald's today with Moon and some of the teenagers. I actually haven't been to McDonald's for a while, so it was alright. The thing I like at McD's here is called the Shanghai Chicken tastes like spicy chicken from back at campus center! Tonight we had a "barbeque"...more properly titled as a grill-out? Haha. It wasn't barbeque, it was hamburgers and hotdogs...maybe I've lived in KC for too long and I'm just sticking my nose up to that, I don't know. Anyway, I sat with Jolie and her husband Yeong-ju. I've never really talked to him before, so it was nice to get to know him better since I adore his wife so much! They're great people. :) To end my night perfectly, Jordan, Julie, Su in and I went to a practice room and sang a bunch of worship songs together. It's so good for my soul to do that sometimes, especially with other singers...the harmonies and stuff just add so much. I love it. Anyway, I have no idea what I'm teaching tomorrow, but I'm so happy I took the time to go and sing with my girls. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's in a Name

I had a really interesting experience yesterday, followed up by some usedul information. First, the info...
As it turns out, culturally in Korea, your name means a LOT. Not just 'good name, bad name' type of stuff, but it actually tells something about you. Supposedly you have certain elements about you that are strong. Your name is supposed to be the thing that balances out those elements, making you a well rounded person. So, people will actually go to someone and pay a lot of money to get assigned a name in order to fit their personality and their element traits. Now, this is all very foreign to me, but it will help you understand the story I'm about to tell you a little bit better!
Yesterday, I was sitting for coffee with Ashley (one of the English teachers) and Sukhee, one of the math teachers. We began talking about English names, and Sukhee proceeded to tell me that she has been searching for a good English name for ten years. She said that since her personality is one that is always changing, she found it hard to choose a name (which makes sense now, but didn't at the time). Ashley brought up the name Sue, and I shot that one down pretty quickly. So, Ashley said, "Why don't you give her an English name?" Geeze, no pressure or anything. "Here Tori, pick a name for the girl who hasn't been able to decide on one for ten years." So, I thought very hard about it. Then we had 5 minutes before class started, so I really needed to come back to my office. I had decided to give her the name Kristi. This is a good traditional English name, but it also suited her well. So, I said "I think your English name should be Kristi." All of the sudden, she starts beaming, ear to ear. She stood up in front of the other teachers in her office and said "Hello, my name is Kristi." It was so precious, and she was SO happy about this name! I was glad that I had chosen well for her. Later on, I heard the information about how important a name is to someone, and I felt so honored that I got to choose her name for her! Anyway, I don't personally believe that your name changes who you are or balances out your elements or anything, but it was cool to be part of that process for someone else who was so thankful to me. I think it was the best gift I've given thus far in Korea, and I didn't even know it!
So, there's my story for the I have a friend named Kristi here...but I'll probably still call her 숙희...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Identity what?

Sometimes when I need to be productive, I am creative ways. For example, right now, I need to be figuring out what on earth I'm going to do with my classes tomorrow. However, since I'm not in the mood to do that, I'm going to blog instead. So in a way, I'm being productive...just not in the way that I should be. Oh well...I'm sure anyone reading this might be appreciative! So, I want to take a moment to talk about identity theft in Korea...or the lack thereof.

I was talking to a Korean girl today about how trusting everyone is in Korea. The whole economy/business aspect of life is based on a trust system, which is so foreign to me as an American. Here is an example for you. For my Korean cell phone, I picked out a phone, picked out a plan, then filled out paperwork including my alien registration number and my bank account number. Yes, you read that right...I give the company my bank account number and they just deduct the appropriate amount from my bank account every month. My mind doesn't quite know how to wrap around this concept. A society where you give out important information freely without a second thought? As I was talking with this girl, I said "Identity theft really isn't an issue here." She responded with "Identity what?" as if she had heard me wrong....foreign concept. Also, I was on the bus the other day, crowded in with several others, with my purse slung to my back side, zipper wide open. I didn't even blink an eye at the thought of this, because there's maybe one person in the entire city of Cheonan that would even attempt to steal my wallet out of my purse. And even if that one person happened upon the bus behind me, there would be enough do-gooders standing around that that person would never get away with it. This whole idea kind of causes problems for some Koreans when they travel abroad. I have heard from many about their time in China or the Phillippines, where they had their purse or wallet stolen, or had at least been pursued in the attempt to steal it. Lesson from this is that I will enjoy it while I can, but I will definitely have to be guarded when I head back to the states!

Ok, especially to any former students of mine that might be reading my blog...random story of the day!!! :)
I'm going to take this opportunity to talk about some of the names that some Korean students pick out to be their English names. Just as some of us are familiar with picking out names for our high school Spanish or German or French classes, the students here often get great pleasure out of picking a name that suites the language. This is very helpful to me, as it's easier to remember the name Amanda, for example, than Hyung Soon...that kind of thing. Sometimes, however, this plan backfires on us as English teachers. Some of these names are ones that I've experienced, but some are ones that others have told me about. So now, enjoy this list of "awesome American" names....
*Cindy, Alice, Stella, Lucy...these kind of names...try calling a cute Korean girl Stella...then you'll see!
*Mex (like Tex Mex? I guess??)
*Jaina (like Jane...but with an 'uh' at the end)
* Exxon (like the gas)
*Starbucks...nuff said.
* Other (I don't know what they were 'other' than, but that was their name!)
* Interesting (that's one way of describing yourself...just name yourself that!)

So yeah...this concludes my story of the day on....interesting English names chosen by Korean students. Good times. :) Anyway, now that I'm heading back to school tomorrow, I'm sure you...whoever you all are, will be hearing from me more that I have access to a computer at my school! But for now, peace out!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I wanted to take this moment... talk about public transportation here in Korea. Yes, that's right folks, public transportation. My favorite. Now, don't get me wrong, that is the primary way that I get from point A to point B here, especially when point B is across town from point A! But, I just have to kind of chuckle at the awesome driving skills of our dear bus drivers...particularly the one tonight. He was just....awesome. So, we're getting on the bus from the downtownish city-life part of our town. A large group of people are waiting around, all for the bus I'm getting on of course. So we all pile in and barely have room to even hang onto a pole or handle while standing. Then all of the sudden this guy comes barreling through the isle, knocking Julie almost off her feet and straight into me, knocking me straight into the lady in front of me. Now, normally I might find the guy who started this domino effect to be at fault, but this time, I blame the bus driver. Now really, let's think about it. If you had a car full of standing people, you might find it slightly humorous to drive really jerk-ily also just to watch them flail around and try to keep themselves on their feet. But, experiencing a bus ride like I did tonight (which was much worse than other bus rides I've been on), I know that if I were a bus driver, I'd try to drive a little nicer than that. That's all I'm saying. To conclude this thought, I just have to say that I think public transportation is great-I just don't want to take out a little old lady while trying to successfully make it home. :)

So I've been in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) classes this week as a student. I just have to say, I do miss learning things, but I do NOT miss sitting behind a desk all day. My little ADD mind is just traveling a hundred miles a minute, trying to pay attention in class. Those around me like to marvel at my little drawings and my little clay creations, but I'd really rather just be able to pay attention like a "normal person." All that to say I'm really ready to be back at school next week, teaching as usual. Also, I'm a little sad today, because my former students back in Garnett started school today. It makes me sad that they're lives are moving on without me there to watch. So, I had to remind myself a few times today that I am here for a purpose and that it was more than just me that brought me here. I am here because of God's purpose, not just my own. That makes it easier, but I do still have a place in my heart for my old students...for sure.
Ok, my roommate is going to sleep, so that means I need to get off my computer. Hopefully this is enough blog to keep you all entertained for a few days. Enjoy!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Moving On...

So I decided today that I'm gonna stop trying so gosh darn hard to "catch up" on this thing in order to make everything happen in chronological order. So, if there are any OCD friends of mine out there that might be annoyed by things not happening in the right don't really know what order they happened in anyway, so it shouldn't matter to you! So, right now, I am going to talk about my trip last week across Korea. I start by saying that Julie and I are completely insane. Someone asked us "Who planned your trip for you?" and we were just kind of like "Uh...well...we just kind of looked stuff up online and wrote stuff down that people told us to see." So, that being said, last week actually went off without a hitch!
The trip started on Tuesday when we went to Seoul. I hadn't been to Seoul yet, so I was pretty excited just to see it. Also, I planned to meet up with a friend from college (Jamie Rehmer, now Greer) and meet her husband, so I was pretty excited about that. We started our little excursion, got to Seoul Station, and patiently awaited the arrival of Jamie and JD. While we were waiting, I saw SO many homeless guys outside the station, just laying all over the curbs and stuff. I really wanted to find a kimbop nearby and just go buy a bunch for all of them to share! But alas, I was on the lookout for Jamie, who doesn't have a phone yet. Once we met up with them, we ate some overpriced "Western" food at Bennigan's. Honestly, I'd rather live a year without "western" food than pay almost 15 dollars for a lunch that was so-so. After lunch, we parted ways with Jamie and JD and headed for Changdeok Palace. This palace is from the Joseon Dynasty. It began to be built in the 1400s, but after it was invaded by the Japanese, parts of it were rebuilt in the 1600s, 1800s and 1900s. Something interesting that I learned here was that back in the day, the Chinese language was considered to be a more intelligent language than Korean. So on all of the buildings and such of this palace, the titles were written in Chinese to show that there were well educated people living there. Our tour group was pretty cool because we were in the English group...English here is virtually everyone's common second language. So there were people in our group from France, Taiwan, Switzerland, Italy, the US, Canada, and many more places! It was pretty awesome! So after visiting the palace, we went to a shopping district called Insadong. This place sold a lot of antique-like and handmade things. It was awesome and the atmosphere there was very warm and friendly. After out time around Insadong, we were exhausted and wanted to find where we were staying that night. So we went to a travel information center, conveniently located at the front of the Insadong district. We spoke with a girl there that referred us to one of the jjimjilbangs on our printed off list that was near her house. Now, first, you might want to know what a jjimjilbang is. It's a public bath house that also has sleeping facilities. A teacher I work with told me that when her family traveled and wanted to save money, they'd stay at a jjimjilbang. So, Julie and I decided to try the Korean way. This place we went to ended up being WAY out of the main area of Seoul. We just might have been the ONLY foreigners to ever walk the streets of this neighborhood! So, after we ate at a KimBop, we headed for the jjimjilbang. The ladies at the front seemed very excited that we were there. As we tried to determine how long we were allowed to stay (since it was only about 8:30 at night), the lady told us "stay...long time!" When we asked "Overnight?" She said "Ok, ok" which in this case meant yes. Moving on, we left our stuff in a locker, took our little pepto bismol pink outfits that they gave us, and headed to the lockers where we're supposed to leave our clothes. As we were stripping down to change into our awesome new outfits (insert sarcasm), we hear this lady say "Oh my! What are you doing here??" We turn around only to see a Korean woman standing there. Queue confusion. As we soon found out, Rina was actually a Korean born here, but she moved to California about 20 years ago. She was in town visiting her family and decided to come relax at the bath house. The reason she was so shocked to see Americans was because of the area we were in of I said, we might have been the only foreigners to ever walk into those doors! Fortunately, Rina took the time to show us around a let us know where everything was and what it was for. This experience was actually really cool...until the sleeping part. We went upstairs and discovered a sleeping room that was dark, quiet and peaceful. As we debated where we might sleep, these young boys came in and said "!" meaning girls aren't allowed in here. Awesome. So, we went downstairs to where the women a cave. Literally, they were these arched cutouts in a wall that were just as long as my body and a little wider than a twin bed. So, you crawl in to the mat on the floor, lay your head down on the brick of a pillow, and squint your eyes at the awkward "peaceful" red light above your head. Awesome. So, sleeping situation at this particular jjimjilbang...not so good. Other than that, pretty awesome experience. The next day, we went back to Seoul Station, got some breakfast and headed out to Namsan Tower or N-Seoul Tower. This place kind of looks like the Seattle space needle thing. I guess there's a restaurant up in the top, but we didn't go inside. We could see SO much city from up there, it was crazy. Also up here, I could see the line where the pollution/smog met the fresh, clean sky. It was really gross, but kind of refreshing just to see actual sky. So I guess Namsan is totally the place that you go on dates...they've got these love benches there that are wooden benches designed to slant in toward the middle. Also, all along the fences, people have written love messages on locks and attached them to the fence. Call me cheesy, but it was actually kinda cute. While we were in the area of the tower, they had some soldiers that were dressed up in traditional garb doing some sort of ceremony. It was pretty cool to see that, and I even got my picture taken with one of them! I put up my Victory V just like any good Korean would do in a picture! Oh, if I haven't said anything about the Vs ya go. Whenever any here poses for a picture, they put up two fingers, like a peace sign. When we asked why, they said "It's a v for victory!"'s great. So whenever we're feeling especially Korean, we sport the Vs proudly. :) That afternoon, we met up with a teacher that sits next to me at school. Her and her son came to meet us, and then she just said "ka-ja" meaning "let's go." We had NO idea where we were going, but we just followed! She ended up taking us to this 63 story building that had an aquarium, an art gallery, a wax museum, and many other things in it. It was a cool building, and in the elevator, you get to actually look at the outside as you go up or down. It travels at a floor per second, so you're covering some serious height in a short amount of time! Julie got a little queasy on the way down...uh oh! Anyway, my teacher friend (her English name is Cathy) dropped us off at Itaewon where we were going to shop some. She was so sweet to take us around and show us part of Seoul! And her English is not great, but she's got a kind heart, and she really yeah. So Itaewon is the foreigner's district where there's supposedly great shopping for foreigners, great food, etc etc. Julie and I were both really disappointed by Itaewon...I think it was just hyped up to us WAY too much so we were expecting a lot. However, we did have some good Mexican food at a place called Los Amigos...I got guacamole with my was wonderful! Our server was from Bali and the owner of the restaurant sounded like he was from Jamaica. The entertainment was some Korean guys singing American cover songs. It was definitely an experience! Oh, something interesting about Itaewon is this. Itaewon actually means "another womb" and was a district that came about after the war when a bunch of Korean women came back from being prisoners and were pregnant from the Japanese. These women were shunned out of the regular society and were sent to go live in this place for those with half Japanese kids in their womb. It's kind of ironic that today this district is where most of the foreigners in Seoul live.
Ok, so for now, I'm done. I will tell you all about our trip to Busan next time! I hope you're enjoying this and that I'm not just blabbering on and on for nothing. That's all!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Well on my way....

Well, I've added a week's worth of time...I'm getting there. Only what, 3 more weeks, and then I'll be caught up? Something like that. Anyway, now, for some more random journaled thoughts from Tori. Ahem...

July 8
School today was fine, aside from the sweating I did all day! I really enjoy teaching with Olivia. She's so animated, and the kids really seem to enjoy her teaching. It's good when you can tell that the kids like and respect their teacher. Tonight I went with Deborah, LeeEllen, David, Dr. Han, Dr. Kim, and one other professor to a high school to speak about KNU's English Dept. We were posing as KNU professors, which is kind of funny. We got into groups with kids and they asked us questions. Then they had to recite what they knew about us in sentence form. I had an enthusiastic group of girls that were into music-they were stoked when they heard that I was a music teacher. Oh, and I got asked my blood type...again! Haha! After that we went with Dr. Han to McD's for ice cream, and Dr. Kim asked me to proofread a paper for's a little preview. The title is "A Corpus-based Lexical Analysis of the Text of Speech: A Collocational View." Yeah, I'm going to enjoy this....

July 9
Today, it rained. Turns out it's monsoon season here right now! So, I put on my rainboots, opened my umbrella & headed out the door. Oh, sidenote, they must not have the same superstitions here about umbrellas, because I see people opening them inside all the time! I found out today that the women in my school play badminton and the men play this foot volleyball game. It's like volleyball, but with a tennis net and you play with your feet instead of your hands. Tonight I did laundry, and I found out that at the end of a load, the washer plays a little victory song. It's funny...the washer just does its thing, as if to say "You have set the challenge before me to clean your clothes and BEHOLD...I am victorious!"'s the little things in life.

July 12
I had the most restless sleep last night! From nightmares about messing up at school to the buzzing of a mosquito in my ear, I'd find myself waking up time and time again scratching my skin (really hard). I still don't know, as I sit here fully coherently, what was wrong with my skin! Weird. Anyway, it POURED rain this morning. It's been raining pretty much all day, but it seemed to rain just a bit harder as we tried to make out way across campus to church. We met a girl at church today named Jolie, and she's Korean-American. It's always funny whenever you see a Korean-American totally takes you off guard! It's like wait a're speaking English...fluently...with an American accent. Haha.

July 13
I just have to say that it's wonderful that Koreans use the same calendar system as the US. I just find slight comfort in being able to look at the calendar and not have to use my brain to decifer. So there's this pet peeve of mine...mouth noises. I can't stand when people make unecessary noises with their mouths. The unfortunate thing about that is that Koreans are LOUD eaters. The even more unfortunate thing about that is that there's a lady in my office who is really nice....and REALLY loud when she eats. It drives me bonkers, but there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. On a different note, I had a really good God experience yesterday in church. We sang the song Blessed Be Your Name, which I think we've sang all 3 Sundays since we've been here. My favorite part of that song has always been where we sing "You give and take heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name." I just started thinking about the critical attitude I've had toward church here and how I was stuck on the fact of missing "real worship" and my church. However, when I think of all I've been "given" when that was "taken away," I rejoice in God's blessings. God has given me such an awesome opportunity, and with that things will be taken away. But I made the choice yesterday in church to accept those changes and say Blessed be Your name. I had to consciously decide to allow my heart to choose to follow His will for me . It's a very freeing feeling though...duh Tori.
As I sit here at my desk waiting for my next class, I remember that I've yet to tell you the conclusion to my skin-itching mystery. I woke up today with HUGE mosquito bites all over me. Huge probably because I scratched them to death that night! So, I just counted, and I have 34 bites, just on my arms...maybe more, but there's 34 that I can see. The mosquitos here are ridiculous! Jenny says I have sweet blood...haha. Ok, let's take this moment to talk about corporal punishment, AKA discipline in Korean schools. I'm REALLY not sure what I think of this. It's such an odd concept to me that it doesn't seem good..but is it? Is it even better than American schools' punishment systems? I have seen kids get paddled, do squats, get whacked by a stick or knuckles on their heads, chest, back and hands. It seems to me that either this method doesn't work, that there are a lot of kids who misbehave, or that the teachers are more strict with who gets punished for what...because there are constantly kids in the office getting their punishment from the previous class. I don't know, but either way, the verdict's still out on my decision on the issue. At the end of my day today I got to help this girl who's preparing for a singing competition in English. So I got to help here sing with correct English pronunciation...isn't that fun? Granted, the song she was singing was "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion, but was fun to be back in the element of music in school! Tonight I'm hoping that I don't get eaten alive again by mosquitoes!!!

One of these days I'll catch up...

So, I had it set in my head that once I have my own computer at school, THEN I will be able to catch up on blogging. Unfortunately, that's not true now...and even if it were, I'm on vacation this week! So, I am going to give some more little snips from my journal to keep you updated on the things I've been doing here. I hope you enjoy!

July 2
...So today at school, I set out to learn Hangul (the Korean letters/alphabet). No big deal, lol. I watched videos & wrote notes for HOURS...aside from the occasional email or facebook break, that pretty much consumed my work day. I've got most of the alphabet learned though...well, not their names, just their sounds.

July 3
I'm currently sitting at my desk awkwardly waiting for what is to come. I'm going out with the single teachers from my school tonight (I was told there are 7 of them). The guy who's giving me a ride has not spoken a word to me on his own yet...that should be interesting! Today in class I gave my introduction. Also, a rumor I heard was proven true today...I got asked my blood type! Lol I couldn't believe that it was something they're actually interested in! Anyway, I taught 2 classes today, and it ended up being about 20-25 minutes of introduction and 20-25 minutes of awkward. I spent a few hours catching up with emails, facebook, and...yes...I even started a blog. Tsk tsk to caving into the norm!

July 4
Happy 4th of July!'s kind of weird being out of the country on a day only celebrated in the US. Today we headed down to Daecheon Beach. I've never been to the beach before today-only lakeside. But today we went swimming in the Yellow Sea-the water between Korea and China! It was great! There was some nasty seaweed, some jellyfish (luckily only seen washed up and dead) and some schools of fish that would congregate beside you in the water. We played volleyball, and even Red Rover. I may or may not have gotten clotheslined...twice. Darn tall people!

July 5
So about that sunburn...ugh. Last night my back felt like there were small razors sticking in it. I could really only sleep on my stomach...if I slept any other way, I would wake up in pain. After church I took about a 3 hour was amazing! Even aching from sunburn couldn't keep me from enjoying that nap! I went tonight to a practice room to play and sing. It was theraputic, but it made me really homesick for Nall and the Gathering...just homesick mostly for pure worship where I felt enveloped by God's presence. Anyway, I haven't gotten much motivation to blog yet...maybe tomorrow.

July 6
Another day, several more experiences. I am currently sitting at my desk enjoying the rest of my 70 minute lunch time. It's ridiculous how much time we get! Anyway, I have the strong feeling I'm being talked about in my office...awesome. Everyone keeps giving me fleeting glances as they chat away to each's wonderful. :P Someday I'll understand what they're saying...or someday I'll just learn to ignore it...maybe a bit of both. Pretty sure they're talking about my nose ring right now, lol. Tonight, Martha invited people over for game night. It was Julie, Ryan, Katie, Abby, Nesheba and me. We played that pictionary telephone game and Hoopla. It was tons of fun actually!

July 7
I'm sitting in my office before class thinking about how much a computer helps in making time pass. KNU has not given me a computer yet, so for now, I have this empty desk that just sits there...holding my pencils and calendar....after school I had to wait around until 5:00 to go to dinner. The principal invited me, the English teachers, the vice principal, and a couple others to a restaurant. We had pork, pork ribs, and duck. Decisions, decisions. I opted for duck which was very chewy, but tasted good. My stomach will probably be digesting it for days though! My decision, however, was made in vain, because I was forced into eating a pork rib as well. But, the main dish was delicious! And not just Korea good...I mean it was really good! It was water, angel hair pasta, some kind of hot seasoning and various vegetables. I don't remember what it was called, but I should probably find out so I can order it again sometime! Also at dinner I got drilled about which single guy at my school is most attractive...I tried to deter them by saying "Oh, I have to know their personality." Fail. They just pushed and pushed! Finally Olivia said "Oh, I think you forgot." Thank you! An out! Anyway, my principal is so excited that I'm here and is excited to see progress in the kids and their English skills.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Journal Entries

I thought maybe the easiest way to catch up would be putting little parts of my journal on here. So, I hope you enjoy! :)

[morning of June 24th]
"After a great morning of exploration, it was off to orientation for us. This included our health examination, which consisted of peeing in a Hello Kitty cup, stripping off our top garments for an X-ray and giving blood, among other things. On this day we also got to meet Dr. Han & have a genuine Korean lunch. It was certainly interesting and I discovered that I might end up having issues with textures of food here."

[June 26]
"Friday we started orientation with videos on Cheonan City & KNU. Turns out, they LOVE using the word ubiquitous to describe their city! Cheonan City is trying to be very cutting edge in their technological advances.....also we went to the Cheonan City Hall. They showed us their U-City (U for ubiquitous of course!) which was a faux apartment full of futuristic technology. It was pretty legit."

[June 27]
"....We also went to get our T-money cards at the subway today & had our first experience trying out the subway system. It was very nice-clean and well kept. Also, there's English letters on the signs and stuff which makes things much easier! We went after that to Baskin Robbins. I had the most wonderful ice cream. It was cappuccino espresso delightful deliciousness...or something like that!"

[June 29]
"This morning, Terry took Julie and me to our schools. I walked in, got yelled at in Korean to take off my shoes, and then was greeted by two English teachers who told me to call them Monica & Olivia. The three of us, Sam, the assistant & head principal all met together. The principal seems very nice-definitely a well respected man! He was a tae kwan do major in college & was a 6th or 7th level graduate! We had conversation about me and the school (all through translation of course). Then he gave me a picture of some duck eggs that were near the school last week & said he hoped it'd bring me luck. He also gave me a vase with a tae kwan do cat on it & told me to use it to keep pencils in! Monica said I was very lucky because she's never received a gift from the principal!........After lunch we all went to the clinic. I had several bug bites that I was having a weird reaction to and Jenny wanted me to make sure they were nothing else. So, for a doctor's visit, a prescription & a bottle of anti-itch solution, I paid less than 20,000 won (about 15-16 dollars). This was WITHOUT insurance. Once I have my insurance, it's 3,000 for the dr. appt. and 3,000 for a prescription. Can you believe it??"

[June 30]
"Tuesday started at 4:00 in the morning when the fire alarm went off! It was this crazy loud siren with some lady speaking in Korean (the same lady that talks in the elevator). We were all so out of it that I'm pretty sure if there had actually been a fire near us, we would've been toast...then when we actually got up in the morning, there was no hot water...wonderful."

Ok, I'll be able to add more later. For now, I'm sitting in a room with no air conditioner, and it's getting very stuffy in here! So I'm going to go back to my office where there's air. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

First of Many

Since I have been here for almost two weeks, I've got plenty of stories to tell. However, it'd take me approximately 52 hours of typing to tell you all of the things that I've found interesting since I've been here. So, I plan to break up my random stories amongst my other blogs as to not overwhelm you with so much randomness at one time. However, to start out, I'll give you a bit of an overview of my time here thus far with a few random facts and stories thrown in for good measure.
So, it took about a 14 hour flight to take me across the world to Korea. I couldn't sleep the entire plane ride (maybe because of anxiousness, maybe because the guy next to me was hogging the arm rest), so instead I watched 5 movies. This plane was legit, with a personal screen in front of you where you could pick movies or games whenever you pleased. After our flight, I met up with another girl that was on my flight, coming to the same program. Her and I got led to a coffee shop downstairs in the airport where we were told to wait for the rest to arrive. This place, however, was not the place we were told in our email. Because of the language barrier, we are not sure if this guy had anything to do with KNU or not. Luckily all he told us to do was drink coffee. Once the last of the 5 arrived, they paged us and we met up with everyone else. That night was a big blur, but when we arrived at the university, I was mildly attacked by Becky and Amanda...also, Julie (a girl that was new with me) and I found out that they didn't have rooms ready for us yet. So, we had one room (twin bed) to share for a few days. Needless to say, we got to know each other well quickly. The next morning, we both woke up super early (part of jetlag I'm assuming) and decided to go explore. We then found out that the lock on our door was a bit finicky and we couldn't get out of our room. After debating the options of shimmying down a pole (5 stories) or climbing across to Amanda's balcony (and possibly scaring her to death), we opted for sticking a note outside the door. I believe it said "We're locked in our room...please knock to help us!!" :) So, after our saviors of the morning (Kendall and Amanda) unlocked us from the outside, we made our way through the town, and down what is now affectionately known as "The Strip." This is the main street of businesses nearest KNU's campus and the place where most everyday needs can be met-there's a grocery store, some clothing stores, some places to eat (including the McDonalds, haha), etc. So, we made our way into a shop called Rotiboy which is kind of now our little Seinfield know, it's the place we always go. Rotiboy is owned by a guy whose [English] name is Jason. He's one of the coolest people we've met here, and he speaks English really well. I don't know anyone who couldn't have their day brightened by Jason! I've now worked out a deal with him that whenever I come in to buy breakfast or coffee, he teaches me a Korean word or phrase. When we made the deal, he said "When you come again, if you remember the phrase, I will give you praise. If you don't remember the phrase, I will give you pain." One of the few times I've had a Korean joke in English with me!
So, in the first day, I think we figured out that we (Julie and I, Ryan part of the time) walked about 9 hours around the town. And we walked in a very small area of our city. Ryan and Julie are two that came at the same time as me, and we just kind of hit it off from the start. We were all music majors in college, so we had something in common right off the bat. So normally when I say we, it can be assumed that it was probably Julie, Ryan and me. Just FYI.

So about where I'm at. I live in Cheonan City (said Cho-nan) which is a "small city" in Korea...about 500,000 people. I live on the campus of KNU (Korea Nazarene University) but not in the dorm. I live in a building that has classrooms and then 2 floors of dorm/apartments. Most of the other English teachers in the program live there as well, but some who have been here longer have moved off campus to make room for us newbies. Julie and I now share a double room, which has one bedroom, a living room (where our desks and couch are) a bathroom and a kitchen. It's like a small apartment, and we have two balconies which is nice.

Ok, this is kind of abrupt, but I need to read over this (for obvious spelling errors) and then I am teaching a conversational class after school. So, enjoy reading, and more from me later...peace.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Ok, so I had right around 10,000 people ask me if I was going to blog as I left the US. I kept saying "No...just read my facebook." However, a blog has just been calling my name, so, I broke down. I'm not going to go into a lot of stuff right now, but I just wanted to get the fact out there that I caved. I gave in to something "trendy" in regards to traveling overseas...oh well. With all due respect, I'm ok with caving on this, but I refuse to Twitter.