Friday, September 9, 2011

Chuseok: Year 2

I am working on Vietnam: Part 2. Trust me.. I haven't forgotten! (Well, maybe I did a little)

Until then... Happy Chuseok weekend! The principle surprised all of the teachers with a little "Thanksgiving" present this morning. A box of 12 cans of spam! WOO! I have no idea how to cook spam... or don't know if I even want to. But, it was a very nice gesture nonetheless.

If you were here from the start, you probably remember that Chuseok is about the time I started up this blog (Chuseok 2010). Last year, I arrived the day before the Chuseok holiday started and didn't know anyone, was completely disoriented, and was basically clueless. A year later, I can officially say that I have met some amazing people and have learned so many things that I wouldn't have learned otherwise. I have 4 more days left of teaching... FOUR DAYS!? I don't know how the time just flew by or where the months have gone. In a week, I'm packing up my things and movin' on out-- movin' on out to Seoul for a few months that is. My original plan was, go to Korea for a year and be back in good ole America by this time. Unfortunately for my family and friends, I have met someone worth sticking around a little longer for :) Fortunately for me, I get to stick around with all of these great people for a little while longer (and finally go to Japan in a month!).

For now, Happy Chuseok everyone :) (If you want to learn more about the holiday, I found this helpful link: Chuseok)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

THE GIANT SUMMER VACATION ENTRY: Vietnam Part 1

Happy monsoon season!... Or typhoon season? Hurricane season? All I know is something like this for the past two months:
Rain, thunder storms, and humidity so thick that you can cut it with a knife. And, when it isn't raining, the heat is magnified by the humidity. Oh, and all of my Californian friends and family have NO idea what real rain is like. I mean, for the past 23 years I had no idea what real rain was like. Imagine approximately two months of rain like this... but even harder:
video 
(Video taken by me from an apartment in Seoul)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Daum Street View

Daum is one of the most popular search engines in Korea, next to Naver. They have this cool thing, very similar to Google street view on Google maps. I discovered it a few months ago, although it is slightly difficult to navigate if you have very little knowledge of the Korean language. I can get by, but I'm still very much a novice when it come to typing Korean and knowing what any words mean (although I can read the Korean to you)!
Here's a cool website that I found, describing the features in English. If you live in Korea, you can check out your neighborhood or look around your house to see if you happen to be around while the Daum car was cruising about. If you don't live in Korea, there are some links of some popular places around the country so that you can look around and see what Korea is really like.
Anyway, here it is... Enjoy :)
Daum Street View: How To

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Top 3 Things I Have Bought in Korea

With my contract coming to an end in about 3 months, I have been thinking about my stay here. There has been plenty of good times and I have enjoyed it all. When I first got here, there hadn't been a foreign English teacher at my school for over 6 month. That meant that my school had to let go of the apartment the previous foreign teacher had and find a new one for me. I have friends whose apartments came fully equipped with everything a person could need in an apartment, down to the cleaning supplies. I bought everything myself, which was a huge learning experience. This isn't because I haven't lived on my own before... I learned many of those wonderful "on your own for the first time" things in college. Korea is a whole different world: a new language, a different climate, different appliances, etc. 
Who knows if the laundry detergent I just bought has bleach in it? I guess I will find out when I throw it in my load of colored clothes... when I do my laundry in the machine with only buttons in Korean. You mean one week I will need the air conditioner and the very next I will need a heater? And the heater is in the floor? And it heats the water as well? Everyone drinks instant coffee here? There isn't an oven? Where are all of these mosquitoes coming from? This huge cabinet by the door is actually a shoe rack?
I could go on and on but there are a few things that really helped me get by...

If I had to pick the top 3 things I have ever bought in Korea, they would be:
1. Coffee maker
2. Toaster oven
3. Space heater

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sports Day at My Middle School

Remember back in October when I posted about our school festival? Well, another similar school tradition throughout Korea is Sports Day. It's a day where children and adults alike get to let loose and run around a bit. Korean kids are generally restricted to studying and more studying at all hours of the day, so it is nice to see them get a little free time to run around outside (whether or not it is mandatory!)
Back in October, the school festival was a little awkward. I had just arrived and was thrown into this school wide event (and had to sing). The students didn't know me and I didn't know them. This time around, it was a little more fun. I didn't have to sing and I was able to chat with the kids and cheer them on as they participated in the events. I participated in jump rope and a parent/teacher-student relay. I wasn't quite prepared for the relay... and neither were my muscles according to how sore they were the next few days. It was really only one lap so I guess I am a bit out of shape.... AND it was really hot outside, ok?? All I learned is that Korean moms are super competitive and WILL NOT hesitate to use their elbows (keep that in mind next time you race a Korean mom). One of my kids even came up to me today and said, "Teacher, fast." haha I was bombarded with presents of bread, powerade, soda, ice cream, and more all day; the benefit of being older is that you get treated with quite a bit of respect... aka, gimme all of your food!! There was also a dance contest to "Shy Boy" by Secret. Probably my most favorite memory of the day! (Video of the dance contest, plus more pictures if you click "read more")

Taiwan in 48 Hours

This past weekend, I got to enjoy a 3 day weekend due to Memorial Day in Korea. Luckily, my friend Amber, was visiting her family a short distance away in Taiwan. So, of course this is where I decided to spend my 3 day weekend. I hadn't seen her in almost 9 months (our longest time apart since we met 6 years ago!) I probably took every type of public transportation possible during the weekend in order to go back and forth between the two countries, but it was well worth it!
Fans waiting for Korean group 2am outside of our hotel in Taipei
This cat did NOT want to be on a leash
Games at the night market

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Wedding and the Trick Art Museum

Back in January, during the school's winter break, my coteacher got married. I was invited to the wedding (last minute of course). Weddings in Korea are a lot less about the private celebration and seem more commercialized. Her wedding was at the Novotel in downtown Korea. The wedding started right on time and within 15 minutes, she was out of the wedding hall and a new wedding was about to start... kind of like a rotating door of weddings. We then proceeded upstairs where we ate lunch at a buffet with guest from many different weddings. Meanwhile, my coteacher was off to a traditional Korean wedding ceremony that just involved the direct families of the couple. The whole thing seemed a lot less intimate than many of the Western weddings we are accustomed to, but it was beautiful nonetheless.
My coteacher!
Buffet/ "Reception"
After the wedding, Shaun and I went off to see the traveling Trick Art Show. Imagine: a museum created specifically to take pictures in. There were directions on how to take pictures in order to accurately deceive the eye. It was incredibly crowded and hard to take pictures with so many people around, but it was still a ton of fun! Check out some of our pictures....