Saturday, November 19, 2011

I'm Coming Home

My trip home is all planned. Well, not really planned. The plane tickets are bought and that's about it. I leave here on December 1st. (A whopping big "thank you" to my director for letting me to take two additional days to avoid weekend flight prices.) I arrive in St Louis the same day I leave here (which is pretty cool) so I will be there the evening of the 1st. I get to spend two glorious weeks with my family and on the 15th, I will fly to Orlando to see Matt and to squeeze in as many lunches with friends as possible in a week's time. As I've said in a previous blog- if you want to see me, you better start contacting me now. I'm not sure if I'll have a phone while I'm home, and Internet will be intermittent at best while I'm in Missouri. (Chris and Patti you are already on the list!) 6am Christmas Eve (it blows, I know) I am flying out of Orlando to return to Korea. Because I lose a day when flying here I will arrive back in Korea on the afternoon of Christmas Day, hopefully with plenty of time to join my friends for a lovely Christmas dinner.

Then back at work Monday, December 26th! Oh, and to those in Korea - I'm collecting shopping lists. Let me know what you need me to grab for you while I'm home!

8 more working days until I'm on a plane home! Hip Hip Hooray!



I'm coming home
I'm coming home
tell the World I'm coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they've forgiven my mistakes
I'm coming home, I'm coming home
tell the World I'm coming

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Ego of A Weiner Dog

Earlier this week, I found a stash of candy and treats that Charlie had hidden behind his kennel.  He really is like a small child. Matt's mom had sent me cupcake kits for Halloween to make for my students.  I had lost one of the boxes, which seemed a bit strange even for me.  Monday night I found tattered packages of marshmallows, frosting, sugar decorations, a few other little gems hidden behind his kennel.  Apparently the packaging was too strong for a weiner dog to break through.


This is him when I found the stash...
"Marshmallows....they smell so good!!!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Can Breathe Again! And Other Revelations

I know longer feel like death.  That's a bonus.  The last two weeks were pretty rough.  I'm not a sick person but the last two weeks were probably about the worst sick that I've ever been. Minus that whole ruptured appendicitis thing a few years back.

Things here are getting much nicer though the weather is getting much colder.  I had a revelation last week.  A pretty major one actually.  So, homesickness (and boredom) has hit pretty intensely the last few months.  I figured out why. We used to do really cool stuff all.the.timeShark diving. Eric Clapton. Run around town begging random Koreans to say "Merry Christmas" for a camera.  Hiking. and Festivals.  Then I quit doing stuff.  The last major thing I did was ziplining on my birthday-which goes down as my favorite experience in Korea, by the way.  I very clearly remember after that weekend expressing how completely exhausted I was from being so busy every weekend of the last 8 months and I was calling it quits.  4 months later, I still haven't done anything exciting.  And I haven't left Daejeon since my birthday.

The Wiener Dog Essay

It's been a year but Charles finally made his way into our weekly essays.  A few weeks ago when I met the quirky Korean man outside the Family Mart, Charlie and I also ran into a few of my students while conversing with our new friend. Mostly, Charles behaved very well around all these new faces. But, if you know my dog, you know he just can't control himself all the time.  He loves to bark and terrify people and there was one boy that got all of Charlie's ummm, "attention".  It's a little game he likes to play. I think it's probably 20% wanting to protect me and 80% (or more) a hysterical game for him.  It also doesn't help that he doesn't have the usual wiener dog "yippy" bark.  He sounds like a Rottweiler and he's awfully proud of it.  Needless to say, this does not make him super popular in a country where dogs are not the most welcome members of society.  Well, I take that back.  He's plenty popular, but not always in a good way.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bronchitis & the Pharmacy

I am not ok.  I see stars everytime I cough. And I cough like an 80 year smoker, though I've never been a smoker.

I've diagnosed myself with bronchitis. (Thank you WebMD) I've never had it before but several people who have had it, agree with me.  I think I've actually coughed so hard that I've fractured a couple of ribs.  It hurts.

I went to get meds today.  At home, I would just run into Target and grab something over-the-counter.  While Korea has OTC drugs, you can't just go buy Tylenol or Benadryl at the local Home Plus.  Or at least I've never been able to find it. For any and all medicine related things, you need to go to a pharmacy. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

10 Things I Most Look Forward At Home

Being sick is making me melodramatic.  I love Korea but with all good things sometimes you need a little space.  And while Korea is hugely accommodating to the foreigner population (Americans could learn a lot from them), we're due for a little time apart right now. 

Here is what I look forward to most about going home.  Family, boyfriend and friends are intentionally left off the list though they are obviously what I miss the most. Of course meeting my new nephew trumps everything.  And spending time with my beautiful niece, Lily.  And my sisters. I'm in desperate need of some sister time. And my parents.  My God, I miss my parents.  In the words of Madea, "I'm ret-ta-go now."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sick In Korea

Me: Guys, I'm really sick today.  Can you please be nice today?
Student: You look sick.  Your eyes are purple.
I have no idea what that means, but I've been bad sick since Sunday evening.  Monday was the worst day, but today is pulling in a close second. What I should have done last night was go home and take a benadryl and go straight to bed. That was the plan. What I really did was stay up wasting time online until 4 am making today a really hard day.  Really, really hard.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fun Kid Conversations

Me:  Why is your name Pringles?
Student:  Because Teacher Andrea brought me these snacks called Pringles one day.  I liked them very much so I changed my name to Pringles.
Me:  What was your name before Pringles?
Students:  Nazi. 
Me:  Because you like nazis?
Student:  No, because I like Hitler.  He was handsome and powerful and not violent. 
Me:  Hitler was not violent? 
Student:  No.  You are violent, Teacher.  Hitler was not.  Hitler was handsome and powerful.  I like Hitler.
Me:  I might not tell a lot of people that.
*******************************************************************

This Pretty Much Sums It Up…

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You can go here to see a larger version of this, including country wide statistics on student achievement, class size, blah blah blah.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Essay on Disgusting Foods

Yet another exciting day with 5th graders and essays. 
Today’s fun topic: Discuss what you think are the most disgusting foods.  Why do you think they are disgusting?
Most Impressive Answer:  Foie Gras
Most Expected Answer:  Nose Dust  (ie. Boogers)
Most Appreciated Answer:  Dog Meat
Most Disgusting Answer: Cow Eyes
We had a plethora of other answers but those were the ones that stuck out for me.  The "boogers" comment even started a long (and educational) conversation about throw up, vomit and barf. Throw up and vomit can be used with anyone, specifically parents and doctors. Barf should be reserved only for friends and siblings, in my opinion. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One Year In Korea

I have no idea where the last 52 weeks of my life have gone.  It honestly feels like last week that I left the Aflac office with cupcakes in hand, picked up Charlie from his final vet travel exam, and we road tripped our way up to Missouri for a quick visit before hopping on a plane.

5am on October 14th we boarded a plane. 11:30 pm on October 15 we walked through the front door of our new home.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Like vs Love

I was on my way to buy spam kimbap for lunch today and I met a very interesting man outside a convenience store.  It appears that he’s visited several continents, is very intelligent and had an awful lot to say.  We talked a lot about the differences in English and Korean and, after some of my students walked by, he informed me of some of the slang that they use.  And how very perverted and inappropriate it is.  I’m kind of glad that I don’t understand them 98% of the time. He also knew enough about homonyms/synonyms to make quite a few jokes.  Too and two. Well and well.  Bye and bi. Old men are perverts, too.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Notes of Love. Sorta.

Amid teaching a Free Conversation class(read: no agenda, itinerary, text book, or lesson plan),  I look up and see these two signs.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Gift In The Park

Much to my disinterest, Charles did everything in his power to convince me to take an afternoon stroll today.  I even tried to dissuade him with left over pizza from dinner with Lee Ann last night.  It didn’t work.  He still ended up parked at the front door waiting for me to get over myself (and the extra frigid air today) and pick up the leash.

We finally made it out the door and made our way to the concrete park behind our building.  Immediately, we met two of the sweetest little girls, Amy and Erika.  They were 11 and 10, respectively. I assume that is Korean age so they are really 8 to 10-ish. They were so sweet and their English was very good for their age.  Of course our conversation was very basic but my young ones certainly could not have a similar conversation due to the anxiety of meeting a new foreigner in a public, non-school location. My students would have froze.  Maybe we should work on that….

Bad Ideas & Essays

I let some of my students call Matt last week.  That has since turned out to be a very bad idea.  All they want to do now is talk about him, make up superhero stories about him, and call him again since most of them got too embarrassed to actually talk to him the first time around.  Most recently, they like to write essays about him.

The essay topic was where do you want to go for your honeymoon?  A strange question for a group of sixth grade boys, but I don’t write the topics. I just assign them.  This was the response from one of my favorite students. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dear National Healthcare

Dear National Healthcare,

I think you are absolutely awesome.  Let me tell you why.  In my past 11 months in Korea, I have visited the doctor more times than I probably have in my 30 years in America combined.  Why?  Because I seldom have had to wait more than 5 minutes to see a doctor.  Because no appointment necessary for most things. Because I can actually afford to take care of myself here.  Am I going for silly cold and flu type of things?  Goodness no.  I’m going for things that need(ed) to be done.  Primarily dermatology and dental concerns that would have cost me nearly ten thousand dollars at home, even with insurance.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I’m A Good Little Patient

Every doctor I’ve had as an adult has told me that.  Well, except one, but he was not a nice doctor.

Two wisdom teeth were removed on Friday and I’ve been eating pudding galore for the past 36 hours.  It frustrates me that they would only do two at a time, but I’ll work with it.  I don’t know when I will be able to get time off work again for the other two but at this point in time, it’s at the bottom on my list. The two that most needed to be out were removed so, I consider that success.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cracked… And Service-Uh

This is one of my new favorite things.  Cracked nail polish.

I never paint my fingernails because it’s simply requires too much upkeep.  I always have my toenails painted though because I think it’s pretty and no one can tell when it starts to chip so I can be lazy with it.  And I think toenails look gross.

I know they have this in America but its hugely popular here.  I see it on tv all the time and I finally went out and bought it this weekend.  Cracked Nail Polish.  It’s awesome. You apply it just like regular nail polish, only on top of a bright color, and it dries up like cracked glass.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chuseok Gift Suggestions

I took as many pictures in the grocery store as I could, until I was kindly asked to not take anymore pictures.  I hate to be that rude customer.  With Chuseok gift shopping in full swing stores everywhere were set up with gift sets galore.  Here’s just a few…

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This is the ginormous sign on HomePlus. Our Wal-Mart/ Target/Everything-You-Could-Ever-Want-Under-One-Roof store

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We actually did our shopping at Lotte, which is a large posh department store. Floridians – think Millenia.  These pictures were taken in the grocery store located on the basement level.

Happy Chuseok!

Hello and Happy Chuseok!

Chuseok (Chew-Sock) is the Korean Thanksgiving and is the 2nd most important holiday in Korea, behind the Lunar New Year. I spent a lot of time this past week talking with my students about it trying to gain a better understanding of this holiday.  It’s the day where they celebrate the year’s harvest, as well as pay respects to their ancestors. It seems to be the one day a year when the children can be successfully pried away from their computer games.  They often travel to their grandparents house and while the ladies spend all day in the kitchen, the gentlemen play card games and similar activities.  The children sing songs, play traditional games, and they eat a ton food just like we do.  Children love Chuseok.  Oh, and they also receive gifts of “pocket money” from their elders.

My favorite part of Chuseok? I get a long weekend.  And I think that’s just wonderful. 

This blog will not be about the history and traditions of Chuseok.  If you are interested in that information you can read about it here.  My blog is more about the gifts given for Chuseok.  (hehehe)

My director asked me to stop by school on Saturday evening to receive my gift.  My friend Kate was in town from Gwangju so she came with me to pick it up and she got to see my school briefly. I already had a pretty good idea of the types of gifts given but I must say… I am in love with my gift.  Are you ready for this???

Thursday, September 8, 2011

If The Sun Never Set The World Would Be a Desert

Right?

One of my students told me this in my advanced free speak class this week in response to the question “What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?”  It’s some kind of proverb, not sure if it’s Korean or of another descent. And I think she read it in a newspaper, rather than it being the wisdom of a parent or a wiser been there/done that older sibling.

3 Things I’ve Learned in 3 Days

First
Student: Teacher, are you drinking Sprite or water?
Me: Sprite.
Student: Good. You are much happier when you drink Sprite.

Second

Me:  Where do phobias come from?
Student:  Africa.

Third:

Apparently my (Korean) plants are dying because I feed them water and not beer.  My good friend, Chang Lee, told me I am doing it wrong.  I’ll have to go out and buy a beer tonight to try and revive my tree.  His plants are flourishing.  One of mine is. It’s bright and shiny and has beautiful red flowers.  But the tree… it’s brown with no leaves. It’s time for emergency tree CPR.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Students & Their Pets

During our middle school prep period I am given an exorbitant amount of “Free Speak” classes with my elementary students. With these classes, I am expected to come up with hours of games and entertainment for these children, and ensure that they are speaking English while we are “having fun.”  I’m not that kind of teacher. However, every third month I have to be that kind of teacher so we make it work.

One of my most used exercises is that I give them a topic, they have to draw me a picture about said topic, and then they have to tell the class a story about their picture.  Depending on class size this can take only ten minutes, or you can stretch it up to the better part of an hour if you need to.  Here are my two favorite pictures.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Saturday School

Most American students would run kicking and screaming if you told them they had to attend Saturday school.  It’s quite the norm in Korea, though.  According to a quick (unofficial) survey of most of my students, most all of them attend school on Saturdays, for half days, and they are completely ok with it.  They are actually a little upset that Saturday is being taken away from them.

It’s a pretty well-known fact that the Korean president is not well liked.  One of the main reasons is that he is trying to streamline the Korean education system to make it more like the American education system. The primary reason for that is because in a recent study, Korean children were named the least happy (or second to least, I can’t remember) in the world. They spend too much time studying, and not enough time being kids. I put this statistic in the same category as the study that said that Orlando is the angriest city, and St Louis is the most dangerous. While it’s the president’s job to not dismiss such reports, I take them with a grain a salt.

The Batting Cages

This is my new favorite thing.  I know you don’t believe me. It’s okay.

While athletic ability is most definitely a recessive gene in the McCloskey gene pool, I find great joy in this.  It’s not about showing my skills with a baseball bat. It’s about aggression therapy.  And it’s awesome! 

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Crazy Cat Cafe

Despite what the name suggests, this is not a cat café.  This a doll house. A ginormous doll house decorated with lace, paisley, and pink floral glittery wallpaper.  It’s a coffee/gelato shop located in Eunhang-dong, the older downtown area of Daejeon.  And it’s a bit overwhelming.

Joseph, Elizabeth, and I went in one night a few weeks ago during an evening of exploring.  Oh, and yay for finally having Florida friends in Korea!  I don’t think I’ve mentioned that on here yet.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Linkin Park & Wisdom Teeth

Dear Karma,

It’s my fault, I know this.  I taunted you a month ago and I’m sorry you didn’t find it as funny as I did.  I’ve learned over the last few years that you are a force well beyond my own understanding and are one of the only three undisputable facts of life - cemented firmly between death and the IRS. You keep the universe in check.  I respect that. Although you have definitely kicked my bum a few times - and it was always well deserved - I generally am a huge fan of your work. I work hard to be a good person so you have often been very gracious to me. This time, though, it’s personal. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fooooood…

I’m sure many of you wonder what I’m actually eating over here.  While I am surrounded by all the major fast food chains that I love, I try to stay away from them.  The newly open - directly across the street - Burger King seems be posing a bit of a problem, though.  Mostly I try to eat Korean food.  It’s cheap, and generally healthy.  Even if it’s as simple as kimbap.  Over the last week I have tried to take pictures of what I’m eating so you could see this part of Korea. I don’t think I’ve focused much on the food here other than the bbq.

Last week, I got a craving for some fruit.  That’s a very strange feeling for me.  I guess that shows how very little of it I actually eat here.  I stopped at Arista on my way to work. It’s a quick service restaurant/coffee shop that I get sandwiches from a few times a week, and I knew they had a fruit salad on the menu.  One of the fun things about Korea is that no matter how straightforward you think something may be, you never know what you are going to end up with.  Fruit salad seems pretty basic, right?  Well, the Korean version of it is far more literal.  A fruit salad is a salad with fruit.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Glass Houses

I've been inspired.  So much so that I initially wrote this while sitting at my desk with a pencil and paper as this is the 4th day in a row that I have forgotten to bring my computer charger to work.  I’ve been working a lot more the last few weeks which has slowed down the social life, and revved up the World According to Amy. Quiet time by myself always gives me time to work through my frustrations and this one has been frustrating me for months…  Settle in, this is a long one. 

As my little group of friends and I are all nearing (or passing) our one year mark in Korea, restlessness is settling in. The rose colored glasses are off and now visible are the eye rolls and looks of pure disdain and annoyance at cultural differences and daily frustrations.  It's happening to all of us, myself included.

We crave normalcy.  Not "normal" in the way that "America is normal, Korea is abnormal".  God knows that's not true.  Check out the local news for one day and you'll quickly remember just how screwed up American society really is.  I am more referring to our own personal definitions of normal.  We each had our own lives, friends, and routines before we came here and it all got turned upside down.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Gift For Teaching

Hi everyone!

Many of you know him (or know of him), and some of you don’t, but Matt is doing his annual fundraiser for A Gift For Teaching.  This is a really great organization in Central Florida that helps local schools. I’m a big believer in this organization and wanted to help him reach his goal this year.  (He’s already over 60% there!)   

Matt’s already written a few blogs that can tell you much more about this wonderful organization than I can so I will keep this short. I hope that you will take a few minutes to watch the video below and read his blogs here and here.

I Need A Vacation

Desperately.

I love Korea.  Really, I do.  I send home a ridiculous amount of money each month to pay bills, do and buy whatever I want to do during the month, and yet when the next paycheck comes there is still money in my bankbook. Where most people here have an alcohol budget, I have a food budget. a clothing budget.  a dermatologist/dentist/acupuncturist budget. a zip lining and concerts and celebration budget.  a whatever-I-want-to-do budget. And there is always money left at the end of the month. That’s awesome.  And really dumb at the same time.

I am purposely avoiding all the news about our country and it’s swift downward spiral towards bankruptcy.  It’s not going to help matters if I read it.  It’s only going to frustrate me and make me even less motivated to return to the States.  Nothing good can come of that.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Students

This definitely isn’t the best video I’ve ever made, but it’s fun.  I adore my students.

and you can tell who the school clown is.  Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Herb Hillz–The Obstacle Course

Part Two. 

Madelein, Lee Ann, and I did the King Kong course at Herb Hillz in Daegu.  This course ranked 3 out of 4 stars in difficulty.  Those stars were well deserved.

In reviewing my pictures, the crazy high rope ladder was not the first obstacle.  It was the entrance to the obstacle course.  (can you sense the sarcasm?)

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Herb Hillz - Daegu, South Korea

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Rockin’ awesome.  I love it.  I had heard about this place not long after I arrived in Korea and have been wanting to do it ever since. I was told they had amazing zip line obstacle courses and that sounded fantastically fun. Like a Nickelodeon show for adults. Lee Ann and I thought for our joint 30th celebration that this was the perfect thing to do!

(I was frustrated about the lack of information available in English online when I was searching for information to plan this. Because of that, this blog is going to be fun and educational. Sorry to those that it may bore.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hi. I’m Thirty.

It comes as a surprise to most people but I have actually been looking forward to my 30th birthday for quite a while. I’ve embraced it in every way possible.  I was so ready to be 30. It’s not that I expected to feel any different or have any major epiphanies at this great age, I just felt like it was a good marker.  The end of one chapter, and the beginning of another. I enjoyed my 20s.  I actually loved my 20s, I had a blast.  But now I’m ready to bury that decade, volumes 2, 3, & 4 of my life so far, back in the deep dusty corner of the library. The World According to Amy: Volume 5 is gonna rock for completely different reasons.

The birthday celebration started Thursday night, sightly after midnight when I got a call from Marisol, Madelein and a taxi driver who all sang Happy Birthday to me over the phone.  Then we went to my favorite bbq place, LA Galbi, that’s right around the corner from my apartment.  I go there a lot.  Like 2-4 times a week a lot.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Acupuncture

Hello.  I’ve been a terrible blogger lately. Instead of going to sleep like I want to do right now, I’m staying up late and blogging to keep you updated. You can thank me later.

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About 10 days ago I had acupuncture for my foot problem(s). For those unaware of my feet issues here’s the cliff noted version.  In college I broke (read:shattered) my left foot/ankle with the dance team and it never healed correctly. It causes me a little pain now but really it’s not an issue. However, my last year in Orlando I caused severe damage to my right heel by sitting on it while working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  Who knew that could mess up your feet?  Well, it can. And accompanying that damage is an electric like, stabbing pain in your heel all hours of the day more than a year later. It hurts. So don’t sit on your feet, okay?

Now a year later I sit in SoKo realizing that I have to do something to fix my foot because it’s evidently not into the whole self-healing thing.  I figure that a normal doctor is going to tell me to stay off my feet or he is going to do something that will likely cause me more intense stabbing pains.  Pass.  I found this to be a very good excuse to try acupuncture. 

(Please notice that before you hit “read more” there are actual pictures of me having this done.  The pictures are in no way graphic but for those with needle issues *cough*Allison*cough* you might want to think twice before hitting this link.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Letter to Caylee Marie Anthony

Dear Caylee Marie,

I hope you know how many people around the country and world are thinking of you today.  You are loved and remembered by so many millions of people that you will never have the opportunity to meet.  You were a beautiful young girl that died in an extraordinarily terrible way.  Your  innocence, vulnerability, and sweet smile caught the attention of a nation three years ago and you have had a very special place in my heart since that day. The world may never know what happened to you and your family may never be able to move past the grief of losing their angel but I hope you, beautiful Caylee Marie, are finally at peace.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Birthdays In The Park

I never wrote a blog about this but I really meant to.  A few weeks back we had a birthday party in the park to celebrate all the June birthdays in my little group.  The most important birthday of course being Charles’.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top Ten Favorite Things About Korea

In no particular order…

#1.  Dr Fish – The fish pedicure. It’s unexpectedly relaxing to have little bitty fish nibble all over your feet removing the dead skin.  The first time it was a little gross but it immediately crossed over to becoming really, really cool.  Also, it costs only $3-4 for an unlimited amount of time so it’s a fun inexpensive afternoon.  It’s nice to just grab a book, a cushion for the floor and sit back and relax. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Everything I Want To Do In Korea–Updated

Even though I have all but abandoned my blog this month I have been keeping very busy otherwise.  In effort to regroup and reprioritize my remaining 4-5 months (though I will be signing another year contract this Fall) I am posting an updated version of my “Everything I Want To Do In Korea” that was originally posted December 2, 2011.

I’ve definitely kept busy…but there’s a lot more that I want to do still.

1. Learn the language. -I have a private tutor that I meet with twice a week so I think I’m doing fairly well on this one
2. Yoga. -I liked it!  And then I fell out of the habit of doing it when I got sick.
3. Dr Fish-Love it!  Top 10 favorite things about Korea
4. Mountain climbingh.a.r.d.
5. Cherry Blossom Festivals in the SpringBeautiful!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Lovely City

Most importantly, I did not own any of these pictures. I got the link through my friend Trisha’s facebook and these pics are amazing.  I just picked my favorites, you can follow this link for more.

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=328745 This is a forum on large city skyscrapers.

http://blog.paran.com/imck  This is the actual photographers website.  The previous link is far easier to navigate but I thought I should include this so he gets his credit.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time three students lived in a small country.  In their academy an angel lived.  The angel defended the students against the devil.  Amy angel fought evil Kupa and students Jerry and Amy were very sad.  One day a knight with his sword arrived at this academy.  The sworded knight’s name is Daniel.  He attacked the devil Kupa.  Kupa died.  So now this academy is peaceful and so happy.

This was the edited for content version. Below is the orginal…

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Eight Month Anniversary

That happened really fast. I’ve inadvertently skipped over all the previous anniversaries (and I’ve been really bad about blogging lately) so I thought I needed to write something to commemorate this one. 

First off, Korea rocks.  It’s just a really pleasant place to live, at least from a foreigner perspective.  It’s probably a lot like the experience of those that travel to America for education/internships/etc.  We get to enjoy all the wonderful things that the country has to offer without getting bogged down by all the drama and politics of daily life at home.  Korea is a Happy Bubble. And I really like my Happy Bubble.

Being in Korea has given me the opportunity to just step outside of the box for a little bit.  I’ve been able to get (kimchi scented) fresh air and just break away from the drama.  I’ve made some amazing friends in the last few months.  People that I truly feel were all brought into my life, and me into theirs, for very specific reasons at this incredibly unique period of our lives.  We all came here searching for something and I think we’ve found little pieces of it in each other.

But most importantly, Korea has given me the ability to spend the last eight months with myself.  That’s an amazing gift all on it’s own. 

The Cat Cafe

I truly believe that a large part of my (yet to be discovered) purpose on this planet has to do with animals and while I love all animals…cats and I just have a mutual understanding with each other.  Plainly put, I am not a cat person.  At all. However, I have very good friends here that are cat people to the same extent of which I am a dog person.  For that reason alone, I willingly spent about an hour inside a cat café.  And Garfield walked us there.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

SeaBreeze Elementary is Awesome

And has some super rockstar kids!

I mailed a box of Korean goodies to a 3rd grade class in Bradenton, Fl to coincide with a lesson they had on South Korea.  Their teacher is my…aunt?  My uncle’s sister, whatever that makes her to me. These poor kids had to wait through all of FCAT week (the most stressful week for all students in the state of Florida) to be able to open their mystery box from Korea.  You can actually hear some of their angst in these letters. I had sent them Korean movie posters, money, and lots and lots of snacks!  This week I received an envelop of some of the sweetest Thank You cards I have ever been given!  These kids are so smart and so creative!

I wanted to make sure they all got responses to their letters and since June 9th is their last day of school I thought this was the best way to do it. After all, these kids deserve a little international attention!  They are rockstars!

(You can click on any of the pictures below to make it bigger so you can read it better.)

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Hi Leilany!

Aren’t Korean Cheetos good???  I don’t know why they don’t sell them in America!  I love the cheesy Cheetos, but you are right.  The Korean Cheetos are so so good!  I’m glad you liked all the snacks so much!  You are very welcome!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cherry Blossom Festival

This is another slightly belated post.  We visited the Cherry Blossom Festival at Gyeryongsan National Park on April 17.  It was another example of how nothing in this country can ever be easy, but, at the end of the day you always walk away saying, “That was a really cool day!”  And this one definitely was.

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Gyeryongsan can be a bit tricky to get to so we decided to take the subway to the National Cemetery and catch the bus from there for the rest of the trip.  Once we reached the bus stop we waited about thirty minutes for the bus which eventually drove straight passed us.  It was too full to stop and wouldn’t let anyone else on.  Apparently we weren’t the only ones going to the festival that day.  Argh.  (And thank you to a random Korean woman who recognized that this little group of foreigners couldn’t understand the announcements being made and translated for us.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nonsan Strawberry Festival

I actually went to this on April 9th.  I got a tad behind with the whole broken computer situation.  Sorry.

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Maggie invited us all out to her little town of Nonsan for the annual Strawberry Festival.  Her and her co-teacher, Bomi, would be our tour guides for the day.  This has happened so long ago that most of it will be far more pictures than an actual narrative, which might be a nice change of pace for you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Snow Flower Festival

Yesterday we went to the Snow Flower Festival in Yuseong Spa, which is a beautiful upscale part of Daejeon.  It poured rain almost all day but that didn’t stop us.  Kate came up from Gwangju and Maggie and Bomi came up from Nonsan, which is only about 20 minutes outside of Daejeon. 

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Masai Barefoot Marathon

Nothing in this country ever seems to be easy but it always makes a hysterically good story afterwards.  I guess that’s all that matters in the end.

About a month and a half ago I found out about the Masai Barefoot Marathon and thought it sounded so cool!  It’s not a real marathon, it’s only 7km, but it’s up a mountain and (surprise!) you walk the whole thing barefoot.  How fun is that?  The purpose of the Barefoot Festa 2011 is to remind people about living in harmony with nature but also to learn about all the health benefits associated with walking barefoot.  I’m a believer.  Given all the feet problems that I have I had a bit of anxiety about walking 7 km barefoot (up a mountain), but my feet didn’t hurt at all afterwards!  (And that’s a big deal for me since I have two busted feet!)

Honestly though, I was sold by the marketing video.  Sadly, I’m not smart enough to know how to pull it from their website to post here so you will have to go to the actual website.  You might get a Korean pop-up on the left, just scroll down and click the “X” in the bottom right corner.  The video should start automatically.

My Temporary Home

Here’s a video that my blog-friend, Renee, posted. It’s by a gentleman named David Dutton and is amazingly well choreographed.  It shows so many different sides of the Korean culture and what the country has to offer. I would say probably the first two minutes of this video are taken in Daejeon as well as possibly some images towards the end.  I love my little city.  The red and blue bridge is the Expo Park bridge semi-near my apartment and has been seen previously in the blog for Trisha’s birthday.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I do.  Korea has been a wonderful home to me the last seven months.  The country, the people, and even the food have earned a very special place in my heart. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Life

Me:              “What is transportation?”

Student #1:   “Potato chips?

Me:               “ No, traaaans-pooooor-taaaaa-tion.”

Student #1:    “I like potato chips.”

Student #2:     “I like corn chips.”

Student #1:      “High 5!”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Allison’s Last Day in Korea…

Was pretty uneventful.

We took the earliest hotel shuttle back to Itaewon for last minute purchases and gifts for those at home. We did a little exploring and ran into a Children’s Day Festival. (Korea also celebrates Parent’s Day and Teacher’s Day in May.)  I’m not sure if the lanterns were in celebration of Children’s Day or the upcoming Lantern Festival but I thought they were really pretty either way. 

(PS. I didn’t get any pictures of the lantern’s hung for the festival in Daejeon so these will have to suffice for your Lantern Festival blog as well.)

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Seoul – Day Two

For our second day in Seoul we had a full schedule planned.  The hotel had a shuttle that took us through Seoul which was a huge help.  We started out in Itaewon for a late breakfast/early lunch at the highly recommended All-American Diner, aka Richard Copycats.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Seoul Tower

When in Seoul we stayed at the Grand Hilton.  It was absolutely gorgeous and they took amazing care of us.  It was in the mountains in the Northwest part of Seoul and our room had an amazing view.  It was seated on a mountain so they conveniently had a courtesy van sitting at the hotel entrance waiting for new arrivals to drive us (and all of our luggage!) up to the hotel for check-in.  Good idea Hilton!

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Adventures in Seoul Part 1

I label this Part 1 because I am almost certain there will be many more adventures in the next 48 hours.

So I, Amy, had the task of getting Allison and myself to Seoul and to our hotel with absolutely no hiccups.  If this was New York I could probably manage that without any major problems, however, this is not New York.  This is the size and population of New York but in a whole other world. And I’m hugely intimidated by Seoul… but I didn’t tell Allison that.  I called the Hilton in Seoul in advance of our trip to find out the best way to get there from Seoul Station and I felt very comfortable with the directions I was given.  Tuesday morning we dropped Charlie off at Camp Lee Ann and headed off to the train station.

Last Day in Daejeon

Monday was a quiet day as we spent most of our time planning our Seoul trip.  We did head out for lunch and dinner.

For lunch we went to Sinpo Woori (Always Happy) and dinner was at Garten which is a Soju and Hof restaurant. I also want to point out it said “Family Restaurant” on the sign, but it was mainly business men enjoying bottle after bottle of soju.  There was even a drinking game built into the tables.

Allison & Dr Fish

This video needs no introduction.  Just watch it.

Sushi & The City

Sunday evening after old downtown (and after fake naps at Amy’s apartment) the three of us met up with Karissa and headed to California Roll down the street for dinner.  This is Amy’s favorite place for sushi.  Now that I am a master with chopsticks, I had to try out my new talent with sushi.

Here are a couple pictures of our order being made.  We had a California roll, dragon roll and tempura.  Being the adventurous person I am (insert sarcasm), I went out of my box and tried the eel.  I smothered it in wasabi, so it didn’t taste so bad.  I actually had two.

Sunday In Daejeon

Sunday we met with Marisol to go see old downtown.  (I live in new downtown.)

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First we took Allison to a Korean market (above), then headed into the heart of downtown (below).

We did it again…

A bit delayed on this post but we went out again on Saturday night.  We met up with Emily and some of her friends.  It was another night at Yellow Taxi followed up Noraebang.  Here are some pictures.  These are the good ones…the rest were a little rough due to it being our second late night out. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Korean BBQ

The following is written by Allison.  Be nice, it’s my first blog ever.  Amy is sleeping, so I’m taking over.

Saturday night we had dinner at a new Korean BBQ place across the street from Amy’s apartment.  It’s the traditional take your shoes off and sit on the floor kind of place.  And it was delicious!  (Are you noticing a recurring theme here??  Korean food is fantastic!  Well, most of it.)  (Amy wrote this paragraph before passing the torch to me!)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Korean Night Out

As I’ve said before, Korea is like college.  Well, college with a paycheck.  As part of her trip, Allison needed to experience this so on Friday we took her out for a night on the town.

At 10:30 we met up for a dak galbi dinner.  It’s totally Korean and absolutely delicious. There ended up being twelve of us at dinner, but we failed to take any group photos.  Sorry.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Allison & Amy Day One

Today was pretty quiet for us since she is still adjusting to the time change and we have plans to go out this evening. This blog will be pretty short as we really didn’t do anything of merit today. We went to the bank to exchange currency, walked around town, grabbed lunch and a cupcake.

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First stop… Starbucks.  You buy a cake pop, you get a gift box!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Allison's in Korea!

Every day that I'm in Korea I like it a little more.  It's an amazingly welcoming and well-organized, albeit a bit quirky, little country.  And now Allison is here for one week to live it and love it with me.  Wahoo!

After a few minor flight delays she is here safe and sound.  We are back in Daejeon, had a late pizza dinner for her first Korean meal, and we are both about to pass out from sheer exhaustion. Stayed tuned in the coming days to follow the Allison & Amy Adventures in Korea.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Learning the Language - Take 2

I got a private tutor.  His name is Troy.  He's a rockstar.  It's actually more a language exchange - he helps me, I help someone else, that person helps another person, and the circle of life continues.  It's a rockin good time. (and for those concerned about my visa - no money is exchanged for any of these lessons.)

We meet twice a week for an hour each time.  The book already seems to be far more beneficial than the book from the other class I took. (Well, tried to take.) The basis that I have from Rosetta Stone and my previous class that I bombed out of have been hugely beneficial. I already know how to read Korean and how to construct sentences, I just don't know enough verbs to make sentences. With Troy, I teach myself the vocabulary then he works with me on pronounciation.  It's just like any other language - just because you know how the characters sound individually, you still have to learn how they work together, how to know when a letter is silent, when syllables merge into one sound, and how on earth do you pronounce those double vowels?

The Proposal

There's this student...he's taller than most other students, lanky, and a bit awkward in his walk.  He also has this fantastic poof of brown hair that almost has to be chemically altered. He's new (ish) to our hagwon and is in my lower level 8th grade class.  Comprehension, vocabulary, speaking-everything-is very low for his age but he is intent on being a great student. For that reason alone, I adore him. He is willing to study as long as I am willing to teach.  The student every teacher wants. I know you aren't supposed to have favorite students, but he's mine.

My Laptop Died...

It was more of a coma then an actual death, but it was non-functioning for well over a week. My director helped revive it (which is awesome!) but now it speaks Korean instead of English (which is entertaining).

Anyway, I lost e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  No bueno.  Here is to starting over, and to being so incredibly thankful that I have kept up with my blog for the first six months of my tour in Korea.

I will have a new laptop on Thursday.  And a guest blogger all the way from Chicago!!!  yay!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Please stay tuned...

My (new) computer is dead.  In approximately ten days you will be returned to your regularly scheduled blogs... Until then, just re-read the old ones. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Korean Baby

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I made a new friend on the way home from the Strawberry Festival.  He was adorable and it was love at first sight for both of us.  I would have taken him home if his mom would have let me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Little A.D.D. Child

I’ve grown quite the affection for this child.  We battled weekly in the beginning. And by battled, I mean he would usually spend our 80 minutes together climbing under the desks, sleeping, reading comic books or running laps around the 5th floor.  I never won. Now, however, we have a great relationship.  We talk, we laugh, and we respect each other.   It helps that now the class is only him and I so he has my undivided attention, but we have loads of fun together. 

For anyone who lacks a belief in A.D.D. and similar behavior disorders, 5 minutes spent with this child will change your belief in that forever.  It’s truly like every 60 seconds his brain resets and decides he’s bored.  It’s fascinating, yet a little frightening to observe.  And he is SO smart.  Awesome smart.

Somehow this week we started talking about Mickey Mouse.  (I swear I was not the one that brought it up!)  I asked him if he liked Mickey and he responded with a determined “No!”  Then he ran to the desk to help them get the English translation for the words he was looking for.  Here is the result…

Monday, April 4, 2011

Trisha’s Birthday Picnic & My Weird Dog

Today we had a picnic for Trisha’s birthday since the weather has been getting much warmer.  Spring is still playing hide-and-seek, but she’s been a little less anti-social lately.  Here are some pictures from the day.

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Gwangju, Kate, & Shabu Shabu

My friend Kate arrived in Korea this past week.  She is in Gwangju, which is a little over two hours south of Daejeon.  I went to visit her on Saturday and make sure she was getting settled in all right.  She really lucked out, I think.  Kind of like I did.  Great apartment (who couldn’t love sparkly cabinets!), a seemingly well-organized school, and a rockin’ cool co-teacher who took us out for the day.   

I took a 12:40 train so I got there around 2:30.  Her co-teacher’s husband text me our meeting location in Korean so I would have that to show the cab driver once I arrived.  (It’s always handy to have a Korean nearby!) We met at the YMCA (yes, they have those here, too) and began our day.  We spent a lot of time just hanging out at her apartment educating her on the little things that make Korea, Korea.  The things that you won’t read about on my blog. (i.e. public urination.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

And…..Yoga

Finally with almost (but not quite) six months in Korea I made it to my first yoga class.  And I loved it! despite the fact that 10 hours after the class I still felt like my rib cage was going to collapse at any moment. 

I found a gym just a few blocks away that has yoga classes Monday-Wednesday-Friday at 11. Perfect!  I can still sleep in, it’s already a nice set schedule, and I’ll be out in plenty of time to still loiter around town before work. Sold.  Karissa and I went on Wednesday for what was the first experience with yoga for both of us and it was, well, entertaining. 

We arrived at the class right on time and we were joined by a strikingly beautiful instructor, and four fabulous ajummas that clapped and cheered for us.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term ajumma, Wikipedia defines it as this…

The stereotypical 'ajumma' image is that of a short, stocky, tough old woman who wears purple pants, has permed hair, and sharp elbows on the subway.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Things That Make Me Smile

Do you think animals can think like humans?

Animals can think because of three reasons.  First, animals are playful, thus they know how to share.  Second, animals love to move. Hence, animals leave their herd.  Lastly, animals think because they have brains.  They move because they can think.  Animals think because animals move and know camaraderie.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The DMZ Part Dos

Sorry for the delay, (and lack of posting in general) I’ve been grumpy and homesick.

Anyway, on to Part Dos.  We had two stops left on our tour.

Tongilchon - Otherwise known as “Unification Village” is one of only two villages within the DMZ.  It has a population of only 200, and is known for rice, soybeans and ginseng.  All Korean men are expected to serve two years in the military, however the men within this village are exempt.  For obvious reason, I believe.  This is where we stopped to have lunch (as mentioned in the the first blog) and I was able to get a few good pictures of the town from the bus so you could see what it was like.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Crossed The Border

Not really, that would be suicide. Worse than suicide, actually. I’m not built for hard labor and goodness knows I don’t have any political hook-ups like Bill Clinton to fight for my release. However, while few civilians, Korean or otherwise, are allowed within the DMZ, we were able to take a walk about 75 meters deep underground right up to the border.  And at the risk of sounding completely lame…it was cool.  One of those “oh my God, I’m living a huge part of history right now” moments. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I’ve Been Blackmailed

It’s been a rough week.  Homesickness isn’t really something I experience too often, but this week it hit really hard.  I like my job so very much and I’ve made some wonderful friends here, but this week I just craved familiarity.  I miss my Florida life and my friends.  I miss being able to just wake up and walk Charlie in my pj’s without brushing my hair or putting on makeup.  I miss not having to pooper scoop. I miss Netflix.  I miss being able to jump in my car and drive somewhere, anywhere. Although I don’t miss the car payment, insurance, gas and tolls.  I miss being able to call my parents or my sisters just to check in and say hi.  I miss my baby nephew that is only 7 weeks old and I haven’t even met yet!  I miss so many things.

Today I had a fantastic day at work though. That helped a lot. I laughed from start to finish.

Monday, March 7, 2011

“Korean Lessons” & Sushi

So I dropped out of Korean class. A few weeks ago.  It just wasn’t really working for me.  The class was structured for people who want to learn the Korean language in all it’s entirety.  I want to learn survival Korean.  How to get from here to there.  How to order is restaurants.  How to count to ten.

A small group of us have decided to continue to have our own study group on Saturdays.  Needless to say, the studying thus far has been, well, less than productive.

This week we had sushi and cupcakes.

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Charlie Sheen vs Kim Seong-min

I feel a need to write about this…

I’m a huge Charlie Sheen fan. Well, no, I’m a HUGE Two and a Half Men fan.  And while I love the indulgence of celebrity gossip, I also believe in “live and let live.”  His life choices in no way interfere with how I live my life so they are none of my concern nor my place to pass judgment. Until now.  Because his recent antics have brought on the temporary, and likely permanent cancellation of my favorite show, I now have a few things to say about it. 

Since everyone reading this is likely familiar with his current drama, let me introduce you to his Korean counterpart. Sort of.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Another Reason I Love SoKo

Free dental care for foreigners.  Well, sorta. 

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It’s free for foreign workers who don’t have health insurance provided through their employers.  I have health insurance so I won’t go here for medical, but as far as I know I don’t think I have dental.  At home they are two very separate things…here, I think they are two separate things.  I should check on this.

Marisol’s Masquerade Ball

Last weekend we celebrated Marisol’s Birthday.  After a day at the salon and English Breakfast Tea lattes, we headed off to the only Mexican restaurant in Daejeon for dinner.

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The birthday girl & Emily at Taco-K

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eric Clapton Live In Seoul

It was pretty awesome.  My pictures aren’t the greatest, but my new camera is on it’s way so you’ll just have to deal with slightly less than great video for this blog.

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    Poster: Eric Clapton Live in Seoul 2011

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Homelessness In Korea

    I had to create my own essay topic.  I’m not a fan of that.  It was for my 9th graders, my two oldest and smartest classes, so I decided to see just what they are capable of.  The accompanying essay in the book was housing related so I chose to continue with that theme but make it a little more thought provoking.

    Should we help people who don’t have homes? Why or why not? And if yes, provide examples of how we can help.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Red, White & Black Days of Korea

    Koreans love love.  They love being in love and wearing matching outfits, straight down to matching undies. They love having clothes, and notebooks, and pencil boxes designed in love themes. And they love celebrating love which is evident in their ridiculous amount of holidays created purely in the sake of love.

    While everyone is familiar with Valentine’s Day being February 14, Korea has a different take on it. V-Day is also known as Red Day.  This is the day when a woman is expected to give chocolates and gifts to the man in her life.  Simple enough

    The Revival of Steak Day

    Steak Day is a long lost, but very important, tradition.  It is celebrated each year on February 14 by single women everywhere.  Well, in my small social network anyway.  The concept is simple, Steak Day is the one day each year in which you celebrate the cow and all the wonderful things it brings to our lives.  After all, the cow is a vital part of our daily existence.  They provide us with wonderful groceries from milk and Babybel cheeses, to Big Macs and filet mignon.  All of which are important to survival.

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    How to Kill a Pineapple

    I love fresh pineapple. I often forget that, but when I remember… Oh my God.  Anyway, normal people would prefer to call it slicing or cutting a pineapple.  Or perhaps even “preparing” a pineapple.  But that’s boring.  I’ve heard amazing things about the quality of fresh fruit in Korea but haven’t really had much experience with it.  This pineapple was perfect.  

    Here, in photographic evidence, is my first experience in killing a pineapple.

     

    First, you need a pineapple.  I chose a mini pineapple.  He’s Amy-sized.

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    (The Korean actually reads “Mi-ni PIn-A Ple” hehe)

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    A Wonderful Surprise

    Around 8:45 am on Monday my phone rings.  I don’t know the number so I hit ignore and go back to sleep.  I’m in Korea, people.  Answering an unknown number never goes well.

    It immediately rings again.  Ugh.  This time I let it ring out, but I still don’t answer it.  And I go back to sleep after a solid two minutes of the world’s most annoying ringtone.

    10 minutes later it rings again.  Same number. Really people? I answer it.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    에이미 맥클로스키

    That’s my name in Korean…  weird, huh.   If you were to pronounce it as written you would come up with this…

    A-E-mE  Mek-Cul-LO-Su-Key   

    When I first saw it written this way I protested greatly with my limited knowledge of the Korean alphabet.  Now that I’m taking Korean classes and know the letters and the rules of how they are used, I no longer protest it.  Well, I don’t understand the A-E-mE part, but I can deal with that. 

    I’m on vacation for the next five days for the Lunar New Year.  Due to the holiday the entire city shut down today for the next three days.  And as I sit here drinking Coca-Cola out of a whiskey glass, I realize that I honestly have nothing culturally exciting to say.  Nada. 

    So instead, I thought I should make this blog educational. Enter: Lunar New Year.

    Korean Food - In Pictures

    I’ve been really bad about posting pictures lately. My apologies.  Here is a photo blog dedicated to Korean food.  Well, my three months of experience with Korean food anyway.   This is by no means a comprehensive list, it is just the stuff that I eat.  And don’t eat.

    Most popular and most important…

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    Korean BBQ - Yum.  (Not my picture.)

    Sunday, January 30, 2011

    An-nyong-ha-say- WHAT?

    I’m failing out of Korean class.  I’m trying, but it’s just not working out.  I would also like to say that today, out of 25 students, I was one of only three that had done my homework. That should count for something.  I’m one of the newest foreigners in the class so I accept that as part of my struggle, but still.  When I am doing something within a group, I need to be the best.  It’s the youngest child syndrome in me.

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    Eat, Pray, And Move On

    “A true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. Their purpose is to shake you up, drive you out of [a situation] that you needed to leave, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, and make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life.” EPL

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    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    A Message From Our President

    State of the Union 2011 - Tuesday, January 25

    Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders." Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next 10 years, with so many baby boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math.

    In fact, to every young person listening tonight who's contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child -- become a teacher. Your country needs you.

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    My Little Valentine

    My Lovely (intentionally capitalized) friend Liz sent Charles and I a super fun care package this week. Her very handsome dog, d’Artagnan, and my very handsome dog, Charles, are now pen pals.  D’Artagnan sent Charles some Valentine’s Day sweets, including a pretty fabulous little t-shirt.  He’s been rockin’ it all over Daejeon.  Well, our three block walking radius anyway.

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    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    Wa Ba Pu

    Each time I go to the store the sweet ladies working there like to help me find what I need.  And by “help”, I mean that they actually take whatever I am holding out of my hands and give me something different.  The first time this happened I had only been here a few weeks and was looking at olive oil. I had just decided on my selection and was turning to walk away with my choice in hand. Without missing a beat, the little retail helper snuck up from behind and took it away from me. She handed me an obviously lower priced olive oil with two bottles saran wrapped together. 

    “1+1”, she tells me and smiles, while lightly bowing.  At this point I had no idea what “1+1” meant or why she was suggesting I buy the cheap olive oil but I didn’t want to be rude so I gladly took her recommendation, smiled back, nodded, and went about my business.  I know she was being helpful and I appreciated the gesture, but for her to just grab something out of my hands I thought was quite ballsy. And eventually I learned that “1+1” is the Korean way of saying Buy One, Get One.

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Why You Should Come Teach In Korea

    Or at least someone you know should.

    I know everyone has their own thoughts or concerns about the stability of Korea and our lovely neighbor to the North, and while I will completely respect that…  it’s just plain silly. This is a wonderful country that is incredibly safe and filled with kind and sincere people.  You will often see small children walking alone and bicycles resting unlocked on the side of the street. Mail is delivered in unlocked boxes and store owners will often leave their store unattended. And nothing bad ever happens.  Why?  Because here people have respect for themselves and respect for everyone else.  The crime rate is unbelievably low here. It’s a wonderful breath of fresh air from America where you always have to ensure that your doors are locked, credit card bills are shredded and make sure children know to never talk to strangers.

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    My Astrological Universe Just Did A Belly Flop

    I’m one of those people that completely believes in astrology. Well, almost completely.  I don’t believe in the horoscopes so much but the personality traits that accompany each sign are almost always spot on.  I have always been the loyal, emotional and nurturing, though very unforgiving Cancer that the zodiac says I should be. Even before I knew the zodiac said that. Being a Cancer has always been a lot of how I identify myself. I also have a long running track record to prove that I have a love affair for Leo men. While our compatibility isn’t exactly written in the stars, my profound (and often times detrimental) love for that specific personality type is written in stone. It’s hard for anyone to argue with me the inexactness of the zodiac when I have a lifetime of experience proving otherwise.  I’m a believer.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    I’m A Whiz At Excel

    I know this because today one of our new Korean teachers asked me to help him with excel so he could reformat some documents.  We took about an hour and I showed him how to change all the formatting, margins, page breaks, and just overall how to make it look pretty and printer-friendly. He picked it up really well so I was happy. My internship at the Disney Learning Center teaching century old cast members how to use a computer wasn’t in vain after all.  Oh yeah, and the program was in Korean.  Absolutely no English.  I dare you to try it.

    In unrelated news, I’m protesting winter. I think I’ve been quite cooperative the last month and a half and frankly, I don’t want to do it anymore. I have decided that I am officially quitting winter. I left most of my summer clothes in Lakeland, but I have been wearing the few cute warm weather tops I did bring.  Under a jacket.  Under a coat.  With a scarf.  It makes me feel better.  It’s like when you wear a cute new bra.  No one else knows about it, but just wearing it will make you smile a little more that day.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    The Comforts of Home

    You know you are truly at home in a foreign country when you can navigate your way around the grocery store without much difficulty.  I’m not there yet. However, this evening after work, on probably my 5th trip to Home Plus (think Wal-Mart with 5 floors) I am feeling much more comfortable than I did the first time.  I now can easily find dog food (3rd floor in the back next to the toys), shampoo (2nd floor all the way on the right) and tonight I mastered the meat department.  US imported cow is probably 4 times the cost of back home so I purchased Australian cow meat instead.  And some chicken.  (And yes, I know that I probably shouldn’t have told you that I’ve only been to the grocery store 5 times in almost 3 months. But that really shouldn’t surprise most of you either.)

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    New Year Meme

    Ok, I have no idea what a “meme” is (and I’m not completely sure it’s a real word) but apparently this is it.  It’s “borrowed” from my friend Matthew, who got it from someone else and blahblahblah.  I actually really like these and miss them since no one’s on MySpace anymore. 

    1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

    Let’s focus on the positive, shall we?

    I got my passport.  I moved to the other side of the planet.  I started a blog.  I actually have kept up with my blog. (I am most surprised of that one.)  I got a teaching job.  I have taught little Korean children to speak English.  I took a taxi, bus, subway and a train. Sometimes all in the same day. I have climbed a mountain, well, part of it. I sold almost everything I own. And I have no stress.

    I have plans for many more “firsts” next year.

    New Year’s Resolution

    I’m not a believer in New Year’s.  I don’t even think it’s a real holiday and everyone knows that resolutions are made only to be broken. However, I looked forward to the end of 2010, and more importantly, the beginning to 2011 with more enthusiasm and heart than I have ever wanted anything in my life.  It’s the start of a new year- 2011, the year I turn 30, the year that I spend in South Korea rewriting my life story.  Maybe this is just the year to make a resolution and make sure that I do everything in my power to never break it.  I have no idea what the next 10 months will hold for me, but I was inspired by the restaurant where Marisol and I had lunch today.  

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Lessons Learned 2010

    2010 - Good riddance. I will not miss you. Everyone has their own rock bottom and the first four months of this year were exactly that. The following five months can only be described as Purgatory,  and the final three most wonderfully feel like Recovery.  Unlike last year, these are almost all rooted in my life somewhere. It was less educational than 2009 (which I am more than happy with) but with any luck this will be the hardest year I will ever live through…

     

    #1 South Korea rocks.