Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Last week was the first week I subbed for the second half of morning preschool, meaning I had to be at work early. Teaching an extra 80 minute class may not seem like it would effect my week, but it really did! I got used to having my mornings free, to straighten my apartment, and catch up with emails and stuff, but this week I was getting up and going straight to work, and I missed my morning time to myself. Then to add to it, another Korean preschool teacher was sick, so Jane, my boss, asked me to teach both morning preschool classes on Thursday and Friday. It made for a very tiring day, especially my Thursday. I had to teach from 9:40am to 5:50PM straight through with only one lunch break. Then after work I went straight to my "Language Exchange" and had to speak English for another hour and a half one-on-one. I didn't get done teaching for the day until 8:00PM!
On Tuesday after work Amanda and I went to Yongsan(where the digital superstore is) and I bought a new digital camera!!! My old camera still worked, but it was starting to take pictures really really slow, and I didn't know why, and it is 4 years old, so it was time for a new one. I get enough use out of it that I was able to justify buying a new one! I bought a Sanyo camera, it is gray and beautiful! The first booth we went to had a guy who spoke perfect English, so he was able to tell me about all of the cameras. When I showed him my old camera he laughed at how big it was, the fact that it used double A batteries(apparently all new cameras use a rechargeable battery), how small the screen on the back was, and that it was only 4 mega pixels(I don't think they even make cameras with only 4 mega pixels anymore). So I found the camera I liked, and he said it would be $170 plus $10 for the 1GB memory card. I asked him to throw in the memory card for free, and he said instead he would give me a 2GB card for$10, when normally it was an extra $30. So I wrote everything down, and I said I may be back, and it was already 7:30 and the whole place closes at 8pm, so I guess he figured if we left we wouldn't be back, so he said if I bought it right then he would sell it to me for $170 with the 2GB card, and I said I would buy it for $165 plus a camera case, and he said sold! I think I got a good deal on it. When I got home I looked online and saw it for $159.99 without a memory card or case! And if you think about the exchange rate, I only paid about $125 USD. I also bought Eagle Eye, my best friend's girlfriend, and 21.
This Friday was our Christmas work party, and we were doing a Secret Santa so on Wednesday after work Amanda and I went to Dongdaemoon to look for a bookstore that sold English books, because I had to buy a present for Jess, who's contract is over and is leaving on Tuesday, and going to Cuba for Christmas. I was going to get her a travel guide of Cuba, but the English section of the store was really small and they didn't have such a thing. On the way home we stopped at Homever and I bought a DVD player! I had been using my computer to watch movies, but I hate doing that because it isn't the same. I looked on Craig's list and there was a woman selling a DVD player with 30 DVD's for $100, and I didn't know how much they would be normally, and at Homever they had one for $55 so I bought it. I felt so High Tech this week, with my new camera and new DVD player! On Thursday after work I went to Homever to get Jess a present and I got her a daily planner, and a sketch book (she is a sketcher), and a picture frame.
On Wednesday after I bought my camera, we went to Fish N Grill to meet Laura, my co worker's, boyfriend who just got to Korea that day. I nicknamed him Dream Boy because there is a very romantic story that brought him to Korea. It is a long complicated story, but I think they should write a book about the whole thing. It will make a great movie! Anyway, we met him on Wednesday. He works about 3 subway stops from us.
Friday after work we all piled onto one of the SLP buses and went to Hungdae for our Christmas party. We went to a sushi restaurant. No one was happy about it because no one liked sushi except for the Korean teachers. Most of the foreigners ate McDonald's before we went. I was pretty excited about trying it. I liked cooked sushi, like eel rolls that we used to eat on Block Island. When we got to the table there were these tiny eggs, that someone said were quail eggs. They were brown with polka dots. They were really tiny. They were hard boiled and tasted just like a regular hard boiled egg, only bite sized! I wasn't really sure what to expect going to the dinner, I didn't know if it would be like a formal uncomfortable dinner or what, but it turned out to be so fun. There was probably about 35 of us all together, including foreign and Korean teachers and our bosses and helper teachers and stuff. It ended up being very loud and so much fun. The sushi wasn't what I was expecting, it didn't come with rice, it was just raw fish sliced. There were some sauces to dip it in. It wasn't bad, and I ate it, but I wouldn't say it was excellent. It tasted exactly what you might think raw fish would taste like..... We ended up staying and drinking after dinner for a long long time. I ended up going to the Korean desk teacher table, which consisted of the Koreans who spoke the least amount of English, they answer the phones at the school. They were the most fun because they were playing Korean drinking games. They were playing this one game that involved banging chopsticks against the tables and plates while singing a Korean song, and then pointing to someone and counting. I don't understand how they determined who had to drink, but at the end someone had to drink the Soju, coke, and beer mix that I blogged about in a previous post. I ended up loosing a few times, and although I didn't want to, I had to drink it because I was with Koreans and I felt like I couldn't disappoint them. It tasted pretty delicious.
After the dinner Tara and I went to Tinpan and continued to drink there. While we were in the bar it started down pouring, so it took us forever to find a cab. Somehow I ended up taking off the sweater I was wearing, and I guess I gave it to Tara so I could go get us a cab, and she lost it. I am pretty sad about that. I didn't even find us a cab. We had to walk around in the pouring rain forever until finally we found a cab to get in. I may or may not have accidental broken a cab window while searching for a cab..... Oops!!! It was a bit of a sloppy night, but lots of fun!!!!
I woke up in the morning feeling like a HUGE bag of smashed apples; I haven't been that hungover in a long long time. Amanda and I planned on going shopping on Saturday, and although I felt like death, I went anyway. We were looking for shoes, but ended up buying dresses instead. By the time we got done shopping it was about 4, and I was really dragging and didn't think I'd be able to make it out Saturday night. I took a long, coma-like nap and when I woke up I was somewhat ready to go out. We were all meeting at 7:30 to go out to dinner for Jess's like night out. She is leaving for Canada on Tuesday. We went to a Thai restaurant that was pretty tastey. After dinner, we went to Alisha's apartment before leaving for Hungdae. The theme was ties and Fedoras, so we were all wearing ties and silly Fedora hats. Amanda and I were matching, she had pink plaid and I had green plaid. We went to a club called Catchlight, and there was a $20 cover that no one was really thrilled with, since we never pay a cover to get into anywhere when we are in Hungdae. But it was Jess's last night out so we went. It was pretty nice inside, and when we got in we found out the reason there was such a pricey cover was because there was a famous Korean rapper who was performing! We got to see him and it was awesome. His name is Drunken Dragon. Google him, he is pretty famous! We had a great night, I strolled home at about 4:00am with my tie, hat, coat, and not a single won! My dogs were barkin while we were walking to get a cab. I couldn't wait to get home and take of my stupid shoes off! As soon as a walked in the door Tara texted me saying her and her boyfriend and some of his friends were at a Nora Bang (karaoke room)right by our house and she wanted me to meet her there. Even though my feet were hurting, and I was cold and tired, I was going to throw on some flip flops and go meet her. I thought she meant it was walking distance, like one of the 10 that are in the buildings surrounding our apartment, but it was a taxi ride away, and besides having zero won on me, I was in no mood to find a cab at that hour, and try and explain to the cab diver where I needed to get, and probably end up somewhere completely different. It was already late, and I was ready to just call it a night. This morning I woke up around 1:30, and although my plan was to sleep until Monday morning to make up for all the sleep I missed during the weekend, I feel refreshed and surprisingly not that hungover.
Ahhh, the peas..... I promised I'd write more about the peas! I was telling Amanda how I had such a hard time finding peas, and she said she had seen some in Homever! She took me to them, and I was the happiest girl in Seoul!!!! I am back to eating peas in my pasta, in my chomchee, and everything else that I eat in my apartment!
It's now Monday the reason I didn't post the blog last night was because I can't get the pictures off my new digital camera!!! I have lots of good ones, and when I can figure it out I'll add the pictures in.
Today we had our Christmas concert rehearsal at the concert hall. It was a mad house like I expected, but hopefully Wednesday will go a little smoother. Jane asked me to assist John in running a raffle for the parents in between classes. We are drawing numbers and my job is to bring the presents to whoever wins. She brought me into her office today to tell me how important it is to use two hands to give the parents the presents. In Korea if you give or take something with only one hand it is considered rood. In every store, even 7/11, when they take or give you money, they use two hands. I've gotten used to it, but at first I thought it was a little strange. I try my hardest to remember to use two hands when giving or taking anything. Jane also told me to only speak English, and not try to use the little Korean that I know because the accent is so bad the parents would not understand me. I would have been insulted, except that she said the same thing to the other teachers too. Tomorrow I am teaching early morning preschool, and then teaching my super long day again. I'm going to so a little more sewing on the project I'm working on, that I will talk about when it is finished!!!
Check back for the pictures soon!!!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I have an exciting weekend ahead of me. Friday night is our SLP work Christmas party, and Saturday is Jess's going away party. I will blog again on Sunday!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
One of the bars we almost always go to is called Ho Bar III. We usually start here and end here every night. There are at least three Ho Bars, and I don't think I've been to any of the other two. Whenever it is someone's birthday they turn on these fancy lights and play these strange version of Happy Birthday. Then they bring over a flaming shot of something to the birthday boy/girl. We pretended like it was Tara's birthday, and they played the song for her and then brought her over a flaming shot. In Ho Bar there are pictures of groups of people covering all the walls in the whole bar. One of the waiters came and took our picture and then photo shopped it so we are wearing birthday hats. He came over with a a few copies of the picture, and I asked him to hang one of them on the wall and he did. Everyone elses picture is like a polaroid, but ours is fancy and photoshopped! Here is the waiter hanging it up.
And there it is! We will probably be hanging on this wall for years and years!!! Next time you are in Seoul, Korea, go to Ho Bar III in hongdae and look for our picture!
This is a park that Amanda and I sat in during our break from work on Friday. We ate popcorn and people watched. We work in the building to the right in the background.
I mentioned before the exercise equipment that are in parks. Here they are. The thing in the middle is like a Tony Little Gazelle Glider, and machine to the left swings left to right, and on the right is a disk you stand on and twist left to right.
These are two twin girls in my Reach Out Bridge class. Their names are Cathy and Lisa, and they are 9 Korean years old, so 8 American years old. They are the same age as my cousins, Madison and Makenzie. I have to tell them every day to put their toys and cell phones and candy away. They always have SOMETHING they are playing with. In Korea people put up the peace sign when they are having their pictures taken and it means cute. Also, instead of saying "Cheese" they say "Kimchi," the famous Korean side dish.
This is one of my Reach Out Bridge classes. They are 9 Korean years old. the back row is Harry(who falls asleep every class), Alex, Julie, Lisa/Cathy(I can only tell who they are in their assigned seats), Jamie, Washington, Lia, Heidi(The smartest girl in the class), and Lucy. Notice how many of them are wearing glasses..... Washington wears glasses too, he just took them off for the picture. There are only 3 kids who don't wear glasses in that class. Most of my classes have similar ratios. Someone told me Korean's have bad eyes because they study and read SOOO much, even as young kids.
This is Cherry class. They are 6 Korean year old preschoolers. One of the weeks I subbed for a Korean teacher, I taught this class in the morning. I also teach them phonics every Friday afternoon. That is Sally all the way to the right. She is so adorable. She is the smallest kid in the class by far. She is like a little doll and I want to pick her up and play with her sometimes! She must be one of the younger Korean 6 year olds, so she is probably barely 5 in American years.
Some more Cherry students hard at work...
This is our office that is on the 5th floor. The classrooms are on the 4th and 3rd floor. Also in the office is the copier room, and Jane and Susan(the directors of the school) have a tiny office in the corner. There are other offices on the floor next to our office.
This is John, he sits in the desk next to mine. We share the computer and phone(although I have never used the phone).
This is my desk. Jess sits across from me, although she is leaving in December so the new teacher will sit there. To the right of my desk are two Koreans. I wonder if they put that bookshelf there so that the Koreans didn't have to hear the Americans....... Across from John is where Adam sits. The plastic bin on my desk is what I take to each class with me. It has board markers, pencils, tape, an eraser, and some other random stuff that I would need for class. I take the books I need for the upcoming class and put them in my bin too. As you can see, I have my own organization for my classes books. I know where everything is, although you might not know it by looking!
This is a bad and blurry picture, but it is of the door to our office. There is a keypad on it and you have to enter a code everything you enter.
This is the sign by the elevator. SLP is on the 3rd and 4th floor. I'm not sure what is on the 1st and 2nd floor but I'm sure something is there! Speaking of missing floors, I don't think I have written about the extra floor I have in my apartment building. I live on the 10th floor, but really it is the 11th floor. When you walk down the stairs, you can walk all the way down, and when you get to floor 2, and next floor is called The Pit, and then below that is floor 1. I think it is a business of some kind, but I don't know why they would not give it a floor number!
On Friday night I had a housewarming party. Tara had Jello in her apartment that Susie left, so I made Jello shots with Soju. They were delicious and reminded me on college and making Jello shots using our RA's measuring cups and water bottles. The party was a good time.
Amanda and I went to Dungdaemoon after work last week, and every building was all out decorated for Christmas. This one mall had a huge sign saying Good Morning 2009. Amanda and I thought it was funny and needed to take a picture of it.
When we were in Dundaemoon we saw this fancy stage and on it was this very young girl, maybe 10 years old, and she was dancing. I don't know if anything else was going on on the stage, like someone famous, but there were a lot of people gathered around watching this young girl dance on a stage.
In the subway stations there are these big cabinets that have stuff to put out a fire. This one didn't have it, but sometimes there are actually fireman suites in the cabinets. I'm not sure who is supposed to throw on the suite and the air supply and walk into the fire... Maybe the person closest to the fire? The bags on the right are in case of a flood I think.
These are the Happiness women. They work in the restaurant that is right next door to our apartment building. They make the greatest suindubu. The younger woman on the right is always so happy, and even if we aren't eating and she sees us walk by, she waves and smiles. She has a daughter in SLP.
Last weekend we went out Hungdae, as usual, and we weren't finished with a cab beers, so of course we snuck them into Tin Pan. We had to go to the bathroom to drink them, and while in the bathroom I took a picture of Janique and a random Korean girl. "KIMCHI!!!!!!!"
We were super classy drinking our smuggled mekjue(beer in Korean) in the bathroom of Tin Pan.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
You can't really tell, but this was some rice drink we got at Korean class. It tasted bad and had rice floating in it!!!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Thursday night was Susie's going away gathering, so we all met at Fish 'N Grill for drinks to say goodbye to Susie, although we will see her when she comes back from her trip to Japan next week. It was her last night in her apartment, so it was a good night to all get together as a group one last time! On Thursday we got talking about a place called a Booking Club, or what a Korean calls a Night Club. It's a place that men go to to pick up women.(You may be thinking, what bar isn't like this? but this kind of bar is a bit special.) So men buy tables and when they see a girl they are interested in, they call over their waiter, and he goes and gets the girl and brings her to the man's table. He buys her drinks and chats her up, and if they get along they exchange numbers. The girls are not allowed to go up to anyone's table, they have to be invited by the waiter. We were going to go, but decided against it. I do want to go sometime though, just to see what it's like. Some of the girls have been before, and they have always been booked.
On Friday night, after work, I went to meet people from work at Pizza Maru, for our ritual of pizza after work. I wasn't planning on getting a pizza because I don't like the leftovers sitting in my fridge all weekend, and Friday nights I get so tempted to come home and eat the whole thing when I come home from the bar. I changed my mind when I got there, and got a pizza, but I am proud to say that the leftovers are still in the fridge and I will be throwing them out tonight!!!
So Friday night everyone was being pretty lame, because all of the preschool teachers had to go into work on Saturday morning and do something with preschool. So Jenn met Jon(From SLP) and me in Hungdea, and we went to a bar, drank and played Tiger(the Korean version of Jenga) and then met up with Adam(from SLP). It turned into a pretty rowdy night that ended with Jon, Adam and myself in a crazy cab ride home.
This was the end of the crazy cab ride home, while wasted Jon was trying to count money, and wasted Adam thought it would be a good time to jump in the front seat with Jon. The cab driver hated all three of us that night....
Jenn had to rock the cash box before we went out, so what a better time to buy a can of beer than when we are in Family Mart waiting to use the ATM???
At the bar the beer comes this this little napkin folded into a hat. I'm not sure why they do it, but I like it. Cafri is the beer that is like Corona.
Saturday morning I did my normal hung over Saturday morning thing, which includes wishing I had someone to whine to and tell how I feel crappy. I went to Korean class and learned more of the alphabet. Janique and Tara have joined the group in going to class. It's fun to have so many friends in the class. After Korean class I went to use the bathroom and saw it had a squatter toilet, and I am happy to say that I used it successfully!!! when looking at it, it looks like it would be easy to pee on yourself, and I thought I'd have to take off one leg of my pants, but if you squat low enough it is fine.
This is the squatter that I actually used, but the picture was not taken as I was using it, obviously. Check out my new Korean sneakers. Again, they are something I would never wear at home, but when in Korea.........
On the way home from Korean class I decided to suggest that we all wear dresses and go Vegas style (Thanks Patrick for giving a name to the act of everyone wearing fancy outfits out!) and everyone agreed. Amanda and Laura came up to my apartment to shop through my dresses and found some they liked. In Korea everyone wears tights, something I would never ever do back home, but when in Korea! So we went to Homever and I bought some crazy black and purple tights.... Totally not my style, but I fit right in in Korea! We went to Alisha's apartment and met everyone from SLP and a few people from other schools, to pregame. We all got into a bunch of cabs and went to Hungdea, and after meeting in one bar, we kind of split up, because there was about 20 people in the group by the time we got to Hungdea and we could not agree on one place. I went with Tara, Janique, Hojin, and Jess to a bar called Tinpan that I have been to a million times. On the walk there Jess tripped and busted her face up on the sidewalk. I actually saw her fall in slow motion and I had flashbacks of a similar fall, and I was shocked she had all of her teeth in her mouth when she stood up. I saw her on Sunday and her face is all bruised and cut. She was shitfaced and ready to go home anyway, and then she busted her face so Janique and Jess went home very shortly after getting to Tinpan. The bar was crazy packed, apparently there are no fire codes in Korea because literally you could not move. Tara and I were loving it but it really was way too packed. We got home around 5:30 and it was overall a great night. Sunday was another hungover morning. Jenn stopped over and we filled each other in on what we missed from the other bar, and then met up with Alisha, her boyfriend Jimno, and Jess and ate shamu shamu, which translates into swish swish. It consists of a pot of soup that you put meat and vegetables into and let cook. It was pretty tasty. Jenn and I went back to my house to watch a movie, but I fell asleep about 2 minutes into the movie. We were supposed to meet the boys to go bowling, which is why Jenn hung out around here all day, but when we woke up it was the time we were supposed to go bowling, and I was sooo tired that we canceled. Hopefully we will be able to go next week. The weekend was very fun, although by Sunday night I was sooo tired.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of when my mom and dad started dating. They met at McDonalds when they were in high school, so my mom thought I should write about McDonalds in Korea this week. So mom and dad, here's to you!
There is a McDonalds across the street from where I work, but I have only been there twice since I've been in Korea because honestly I like Kimbop better than McDonalds. The menu is different than America. They do have a cheese burger and big mac and chicken nuggets. But they also have a shrimp burger, a spicy burger, and a burger called bulgolgi burger, which is delicious. It is a hamburger patty that has been soaked in a kind of soy sauce, and it is sweet. I like my meat sweet, but not off the street.KKKKK (That is Korean laughing.) They do have french fries. They also have corn salad which is mayo, corn, and I think crab meat. It is not very good. When you order you have to ask for a set, otherwise you only get the sandwich. Also, at lunch time there are a few sets that are really cheap, but if you order them for dinner they are more expensive. The bulgolgiburger is $3 at lunch I think for the set. That is cheaper than at home.
On Sunday Jenn and I knocked on my next door neighbor's door because I know that it is a kid that doesn't work at SLP, but he is an American from another school. I have never seen him in the elevator or outside or anything, but I see him out at the bar a lot. Anyway, we knocked on his door and went in, and he had a couch-chair in his doorway that as we were leaving he mentioned he needed to get rid of. I asked if I could have it and he said yes! So now I have two couch-chairs in my room. My apartment gets homier and homier every day! It is bright orange, but its ok... It is in good shape so I like it.
This is Bocumbop, or Korea's version of fried rice. It is not fried and has no soy sauce. It is very good. They put ketchup on it, which is actually very good.
Friday, November 14, 2008
In the alley behind my apartment building(when I say alley it's not what you are probably thinking, it's more of a dead end road with restaurants, a hospital, a church, and some other things on it.) there is this old man who stands outside one of the restaurants handing out fliers. I always shake my head no, and he makes this huge grunting noise and gets mad. He does it every single time anyone refuses his fliers.
In all the subway stops they have bootlegged movies for sale that are 2 for $5. They are new movies, usually still movies out in theater, so it's a good deal. They have Korean subtitles, but that doesn't even really bother me anymore! The one we were at on Saturday had Max Payne, which I wanted to see, but they were sold out of the other two movies I would have chosen as my second choice. If you only buy one movie it's usually $3, but since they were out of the only other two movies I liked, I told him I'd give him $2 for Max Payne. At first he said no, but then I just kept pointing to the one they were out of, and then I gave him $2 and he gave me Max Payne. I was in a real bargaining mood and I wasn't going to pay more for one movie just because they were sold out of the other two movies! I was getting so good at bargaining on Saturday that when Amanda and I bought mittens at a legit store, I was thinking about haggling with the clerk to see if I could get a discount!!!
This is the famous Suin du boo! The big bowl of soup is on the left, and I spoon the tofu and soup over the rice. Most of those sides I do not eat, but the side that looks like noodles is actually some kind of vegetable that I do like, but it is a little spicy. I put a fried egg in the soup too, but that's not in the picture. You can see the tiny tin cup in the picture too. I get all of this for $4. It's very delicious!!
I finally found a famous squatter! I never need to use a bathroom in public, so I have never seen one, but when we were in the subway I wanted to take a picture of one so I went to the bathroom. I'm still not sure how to use it without taking your pants all the way off, or peeing on your pants... When I need to use one I will let you know how it goes....