Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving - Korea Style

Because I’ve been living away from home for so many years the idea of the not being home for holidays isn’t as traumatic as most seem to think. I love my family but I don’t think anyone can truthfully say that holidays are the happiest of times together anyway.  With the great company and great food comes great stress and inevitably great arguments.  (Every family is like this, don’t act like yours is any different.) I made it a point to spend a few good days with everyone in my family before I set off to SoKo a little over a month ago, so I’m ok with spending my holidays with a huge group of foreigners (literally and figuratively.) 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lessons From My Students

The things you don’t learn in American schools…

1. A Korean “Kick Me” sign
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It actually translate to “hit me” 10x, but the objective is still the same.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Koreas

Most importantly, I’m fine.  The area where the most recent North Korean attack took place is very, very far away from me.  For those that don’t know the geography, I’m in a country about the size of the state of Indiana and I am located almost perfect center.  Yeonpyeong island is very far north, and depending on which news site you subscribe to, it’s only 2-6 miles from the North Korean border. According to the South, they have owned this island since the Korean war.  According to the North, they have owned it since 1999.  The North doesn't like the South practicing miliary drills on "their" island.  That's what this is all about.

The most notable part of being here through this is that the country just kept going after the attacks. No one skipped a beat. I think that shows how much this is just a part of their life here. I was at Disney when September 11 happened and it felt like the entire world shut down.  Walt Disney World closed it’s doors for one of only a handful of times in their almost thirty year history.  Universities, airports, and a multitude of companies shut down for the day.  The country literally stopped when the twin towers were hit.  As a testament to the terror it invoked, almost 10 years later I am still getting emotional thinking back to that day even though I was only 20 years old.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nature’s Gym

I worked out in the park today.  I know you don’t believe me but I really did. And here is video proof…

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Life Has Been Forever Changed

And not because of the reason I expected.  It’s far greater.  It’s called Noraebang and it’s the Korean version of karaoke.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Healthcare - Korean Style

So healthcare here is pretty awesome too.

After being here a month I finally had my health check. This is required of everyone when starting a new job in Korea, alien or citizen.  Most importantly for me, I need this to get my alien registration card, and subsequently get on payroll, get health insurance, open a bank account, etc.  The hospital we went to was so pretty. The waiting area had these huge purple comfy leather couches, and the beds were all outfitted with colorful blankets and pillows. I am told there is quite a bit of competition between the hospitals so each will spend a considerable amount of money making sure their’s is not only the best medically, but also the most attractive and comfortable, far above American standards.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hamburgers and Cupcakes

What a fancy lunch. 

I met a new friend, Lee Ann, for lunch today.  She was kind enough to come to my neighborhood since I am still learning my way around.  We decided on a little hamburger joint nearby called My Father’s Sandwiches. 

Shopping…

After a rough last week I have fallen back in love with my new city.

The last few days I’ve done some exploring to see what the shopping is like.  Truthfully, I was on a quest for make-up and a hair dryer because the voltage conversion blew mine up last week. Nevertheless, it has been an exciting few days.

I was walking to Time World on Monday and I started to hear loud sirens.  I figured it was police, ambulance, etc, but then it didn’t stop.  It continued for at least ten minutes and even though I couldn’t decipher which direction the noise was coming from, it seemed to be stagnant wherever it was.  As I approach Time World (which is this massive and fancy shopping area) traffic had been stopped in all directions. Most people had turned off their engines and there was a person on each corner with big yellow flags signaling to everyone.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happiness

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I woke up Sunday with a To-Do list that was a mile long and my priorities firmly in order.  After spending Saturday up in the mountains with temples and monks, and being exactly one month to the day of my arrival in SoKo, it was my mission.    If nothing else got accomplished that day, I would still make sure that I found my happy place. And find it I did. 

And true to Amy form, nothing else got accomplished that day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gyeoryongsan

HPIM0431I decided that now that I have been here for a month that it was time to start doing the things on my Korea list.  The list that I had been writing for the six months leading up to my new life. 

Autumn in the mountains - CHECK!

Care Packages

I need to start by saying that I don’t expect a care package from anyone. Several people have been emailing to ask so here is a list of suggestions if you would like to send something. Please know that anything you send is very appreciated, whether it is included in this list or not. Also, to cut down on the shipping cost use the “if it fits, it ships” boxes from the USPS. They have a weight limit for international travel but it seems to be much more cost efficient. UPS might also be good, not sure yet.  Mail takes 7-10 days to get to me so keep that in mind also if you are shipping food. Lastly, I am not putting my address on here so if you would like to send me something, and I have not already sent you my address, please email/comment/facebook/etc me and I will get it to you.

Pepero Day

Amidst all my dog drama Korea celebrated a holiday last week. November 11 is known as Pepero Day. If you take a look at the date, November 11th, and use the number “11” in lieu of the month’s full name, you’ll notice that you have four “1”’s all in a row. In Korea that’s all you need to create a popular holiday. It’s a spin off of Valentine’s Day from what I can tell, but I think it’s considered more special.

It’s the day of all 1’s so it’s celebrated with Pepero, or as it’s known to me, the chocolate covered cookie stick you eat with coffee.   There are several myths about how the holiday began in the mid 1990’s but it’s believed to be a corporate contrived holiday, as many of them are. Lotte is a huge corporation over here, something like a mix between Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, and Pepsi Co. They seem to have their name on almost everything from an enormous department store, to a fast food chain, to a bag of chips at 7/11. Lotte is also the largest supplier of pepero. A lot of people deem it a conspiracy theory on behalf of Lotte to capitalize on a signature item created almost solely by them.  I think that’s genius.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wiener Dog Resolution

I think.

After work last night I went out with some co-teachers.  One of them had recently tried to move into my building and learned they have a firm No Animal policy.  She has two dogs herself so she was unable to move in.  Yet they told me to just ignore the letter. This isn’t ok. 

I’m not the type of person that intentionally breaks the rules.  I’m not the person that orders water at a self-serve restaurant to then get tea or diet soda.  I’m also not the person that opts to use the automated ticket machine at the movie theater so I can take advantage of the senior discount.  And I most certainly am not the type of person that lives in a building knowing they are blatantly against having pets on the premises.  Especially not in foreign countries. I am not ok with this.

Wiener Mutt Update

Let me start this by saying that I have a firm policy against putting any naughty four letter words in print. I refuse to sound like an uneducated tool (or possibly offend) people of which I haven’t spoken to in years, or potentially have never met. The rest of you reading this know I’m not a tool. Plus my mother taught me to always be a lady. Well, on paper at least. However, if I didn’t have such a policy this blog would be written differently. VERY differently.  

My director stopped by around noon and brought my new Korean cell phone (yay!), my first paycheck (in cash!), and some news about my illegal animal.  Apparently in Korea passive aggressive is the way to go.  Apparently in Korea it is ok to threaten the life of my animal with no intention to actually follow through.  Apparently in Korea it’s all a contest of who can scream the loudest.  A contest of which I have never lost by the way.  But I’m in a different country now with different rules…

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Korea: The Meltdown

It was bound to happen.  I knew it was just a matter of time.  But for Korea to take the dog route is a punch way below the belt.

I got home from work around 11:15 Monday night and there was a note under my door saying that the building does not allow pets.  Not only does it not allow pets, but that I have 4 days to remove him from the premises or else he will be “disposed of” by legal force. Maybe that’s a translation error, but that is NOT OK. It also stated that “any death of the animal due to legal disposing” was my responsibility.  Commencing meltdown…

Monday, November 8, 2010

I ♥ My Friends

I have the best friends, really I do.  I received my first care package today and Allison, you rock.

I needed a barker collar for Charlie because his behavior has to straighten out over here. The people here don’t appreciate it and honestly, I can’t expect them to.  It’s like being the person with the loud, out of control child that I always shoot dirty looks to.  Not because their child is acting out, young children lack the self-control  and understanding of society’s rules.  I glare because the adult has no control over their child, or concern for social etiquette, and that’s a problem.


I have become that doggy mommy.  That’s not ok.   He's perfectly fine in the apartment, it's just when we go out for walks that he gets noisy so I always carry him through the groups of people.  I'm hoping he can start acting right so I don't have to keep carrying him.  Twenty pounds is a lot to carry all the way to the park.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It’s true what they say

You can’t run away from your past.  You can try. You can run all the way to South Korea if it so behooves you. But it will find you.  In a sweet and unintentional way it will pop up out of nowhere. And apparently it will only take three weeks.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Autumn

Sitting in an empty apartment has never done anyone any good.  Today was one of those days.  I had so many great intentions for today but when I woke up I just really didn’t want to do any of them.  After about three weeks of being mostly alone and in your own thoughts, your brain starts veering towards those places you promised yourself to never go again.  SoKo will do that to you, I guess.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Serenity

I've said it before, but life is easy here.  It’s probably because I’ve only been here a few weeks and haven’t had time to stir up any drama, but truthfully, it is easy. Of course there is the obvious “I don’t speak the language” thing, but that’s really only a problem if you allow it to be.  I haven’t had a functioning cell phone since I flew out of LAX on October 14 and I have tell you, I don’t miss it.  No drama, no stress. This is how it should be.  Maybe life was easier before we became so technology obsessed. I will get one eventually, but right now I just don’t want one yet.

Daejeon is one of the largest cities in South Korea, however they have an incredibly low foreigner population.  Unlike Seoul, I can walk around all day and see no other foreigners. I feel like I have complete anonymity here even though I have just the opposite.  I am the only blonde hair, blue eyed girl for miles.  Then add in the silly looking dog that tries to attack everyone and yep, I’m pretty much famous here. But in my mind I’m still completely anonymous. And I love that.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thirteen Year Old Boys

Unscripted and Uncut.........

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We had a very basic script written on the board behind my laptop.  What you can't see is the boys that went first were slowly erasing every other letter from each word.  By the time it got to the last student he just had random letters left up on the board and he couldn't make any sense out of it.

This poor new girl has no idea what to do in this class.  She's so quiet and shy that I think the boys scare her. Welcome to Middle School sweetie, they only get worse from here!