Monday, October 27, 2008

Monkey Beach

I had a VERY exciting weekend to blog about!!! Friday night was uneventful, since I didn’t do anything. On Saturday everyone from SLP met and took cabs to a restaurant where we ate bulgi. It was meat that was cooked on a fire pit that was built into the center of the table. There ended up being a TON of people who showed up, and we took up a large section of the restaurant. I took my first shot of soju and didn’t like it, but I wasn’t expecting to like it because I don’t like shots of anything, including vodka, which I could drink all night long if it was mixed with something. After dinner I went to buy beer for the cab ride over, and I saw an ATM and was able to get money out for the first time!!! I was relieved to find out that I could get cash out, because I was running out of it! I rode to the bar in a cab with Jamie, her friend Colin, and Lindsey. On the walk to the bar from where the cab dropped us off, I saw a tank in a restaurant window and it had live shrimp in it! I’ve never seen shrimp swimming before and they were pretty cute!
The bar was pretty empty when we got there, but ended up getting busier shortly after we got there. The drinks were served in buckets with monkeys on them (The name of the bar was Monkey Beach) and of course I took a bucket home with me!!!

The night got crazy quickly, and there was lots of dancing of tables and forgotten moments! I woke up on Sunday with bruises all over my legs. My shin especially has a huge lump and bruise on it and kind of throbs with pain from time to time. The bruises were worth it because I have a fantastic time. Here are some of the people I work with.

This is John and his Korean girlfriend. It was John's birthday on Wednesday, which is why we were out celebrating.

Jimbo(Alisha's Korean boyfriend), Alisha, and Amanda.

Janique, Jenn, Amanda and Susie.

This is Jenn(She does not work for SLP), Tara in the black dress, Susie behind her, me, Janique in the back row, and Amanda on the end.

Jess and Alisha

Janique and Amanda (And Tara's head in the background).

These are some of the people who I work with.

Amanda, me, Tara, and Janique.

On Sunday morning I got up at around 10:30, and had enough time to go to Homever and get a bagel before meeting Amanda to go Halloween shopping. I was still drunk, and decided it would be a good time to buy these sneakers that I have had my eye on at Homever. I love them, but I know others (KATIE) would think they were hideous, like all of my sneaker purchases!!! They look blue in the picture, but they are actually purple.

Amanda, Lindsey, and I took the subway to a place called Incheon, which is a very Americanized part of Seoul. There were a ton of non Asians walking around, and all of the people who worked in the stores spoke English. There were a million souvenir shops, so I was finally able to buy some post cards to send home. It was sort of nice to see people that weren’t Asian, but I definitely am glad I don’t live there. It doesn’t really seem like Korea! It was very touristy. I like my part of Seoul better because it is straight up Korean, and no one speaks English(which can be very frustrating)! I bought a witch hat to complete my witch costume. We didn’t stay long because I felt like a bag of smashed apples, and Amanda had an injured leg, so we left after only about an hour of walking around. I did buy a Korean touristy key chair that is run by a solar strip on the back, and it flashes this little image of a Korean man.

I told you about my plants, but I haven’t put of a picture of them, so here is my orchid and my cactus.

My classes are going well. This week I am teaching preschool because one of the teachers got married last week and is on her honeymoon. Now I have to get to school at 9:00, which kind of sucks, but it is only for one week. I also have a good week, because Friday is Halloween and we are having a party with the preschool kids! I have all the kids for art class, so they already know me. One boy says the same thing every time he sees me. “Teacher, why your eyes are blue?” and he points to his eyes. It’s so cute when he says it, and I just tell him I was born like that. They probably don’t see too many blue eyes!!! The preschool kids are cute, but sometimes they act ridiculous, like when they cry because they aren’t in the front of the line, or they can’t find their pencil. I’m amazed at the things they can do at only 5 years old. They speak in almost complete sentences, and they do adding and subtracting, and read stories and then put sentences about the story in the order that they happened. Today we read a story about 10 little monsters lying in bed. I think I would be impressed if an American 5 year old could do the things they are doing, and this is their second language!

Today I became an alien!!! I have a card that looks like a license, but it’s all in Korean. It has the same picture on it that I used to apply for my Visa. Now I can buy a cell phone, get a bank account, and get a phone and the internet hooked up in my house. Amanda said she would take me to get a cell phone this weekend and I am SO excited!!!!

There will definitely be more pictures after Halloween!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fire Escape

One of the biggest things my dad was worried about when he knew I was moving to Korea, was making sure I knew where the fire escapes were in my building. He knows they cram many Asians into apartment buildings, and he was nervous that if there was a fire, I wouldn't be able to get out. Well, Dad, you would be very happy to know that I found the answer to your concern today! There has been a box up on the top shelf in my closet, and today I took it down to see what it was.

I obviously don't know what it says on the box, because it is Korean, but inside the box is a rope, a flashlight, and two smoke masks.

I'm not really sure what they expect me to do with the rope... Hang it out my window and dangle 10 stories from the ground? What would I even tie the rope to that would be safe enough to hang from? The smoke masks seem like a good idea, they have a little pouch that goes over your mouth filled with something that would filter the air. It also has a clear area for your eyes so you can see where you are going. The only problem is that it is made out of plastic, and would probably melt right to my head if I tried to walk through fire with it. Those silly Koreans.... If there is a fire in my apartment, I will definitely be taking the stairs!!!

I have a pretty exciting weekend ahead of me! Tonight I am going to dinner and then out to a bar called Monkey Beach, which is supposed to be pretty exciting! Everyone from SLP is coming to celebrate John's birthday. Then tomorrow I am waking up early and going to the Coex mall, which, from what I heard, is HUGE. I am going with three girls from work: Amanda, Susie, and Lindsey. We will be shopping for Halloween costumes because next weekend is Susie's birthday, and she is having a Halloween/birthday party at her apartment!

I was at Homever today and I saw something that I thought was photo worthy.

Buy a 40 oz. of beer and get a huge bottle of water to cure your hangover the next day! So many odd things are pared together in the food stores. Like if you buy certain shampoo, you get a free bag with it. If you buy certain orange juices you get aloe vera juice. It's very strange the things they pair together, because usually they don't really go together. (I didn't really give good examples of things that are paired together, but next time I go to the store I'll pay better attention!) Anyone who knows me, knows I'd rather skip the water and have another beer, but they don't pair two bottles of beer together!
I'll be sure to bring my camera out tonight and take lots of pictures!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Walk to SLP

Thank you everyone who is reading and commenting on my blog. I have gotten a request for more pictures, so I decided in this blog I would write about my walk to school every day! It takes about 20-25 minutes, depending on how many red Walk signs I hit. Some of the streets with a red walk sign, I walk anyway, but some of them are on major 8 lane roads, and I normally don't run those! I start walking to school around 11:30am. I used to just eat breakfast while getting ready for work, and not eat lunch, but then I'd get really hungry around 4:00, and it's not really dinner time, and I'd still be working, so it was a problem. So now I eat breakfast, get some Kimbop to go on the walk to work, and then eat it around 12:45 while I'm at work getting ready for my classes, and then I eat dinner around 7:30 when I get home from work. (I only have done this one day and it worked well, so I am calling it my new routine.) So this is the restaurant where I get my kimbop.

It is on the first floor of my apartment building, so I just have to walk out and around the corner and I'm there! There are about 6 tables that you can eat at, and you can see into the tiny kitchen. At first it made me a little nervous that all of the stuff they put into the kimbop is just left out on the counter like that, but I've been eating it for a week and a half now and I haven't died yet! You can see two premade rolls of kimbop in the left bottom corner of the picture. I'm not sure what they are doing there, since I've never been given a premade roll.

The next thing I pass is Homever, which is literally the next building after mine. It is similar to a Walmart, but it sells name brand clothing, like Nike, and a bunch of other name brands that I don't recognize because they are Korean. You can tell they are name brand because they have their own little section of the store, but you can pay all together. They also have a full grocery store and a big food court. They they have a library, a hair saloon, what looks to be a travel agent, a photo shop, and just TONS of stuff. Everything is on a different floor, and since I can't read any of the signs, I get lost every time I go in! This is the side of Homever closest to me:

And this is the other side of Homever, and the main entrance:

After Homever, I cross this major intersection. When the walk light turns green, people run across and if you aren't quite to the intersection yet, you will see people sprinting to make the green walk light, since it takes a few minutes for it to turn green again. Also, I think there is a hospital right around this intersection because I see a ton of people in hospital gowns and PJs walking around. I guess they let them out of the hospital to shop or smoke, and they don't change their clothes first. It's weird. I've seen people walking with an IV bag in hospital PJs before. So this is the intersection:

Then I pass these parking garages that are the craziest thing I've ever seen. They don't have parking spaces, instead they are just lined up, maybe 15-20 cars deep. I don't know how they get cars out, but it must be a pain in the ass. There are like 3 floors of just lines of cars boxed in. It's hard to take a picture, but I tried:

There isn't a ton of interesting things on the majority of my walk, but there are random fruit and vegetable stands set up on almost every corner. I just took a picture of one of them for you.
The next part of my walk is where a man sets out these yellow boxes full of crap, I don't know how much it costs, and I've never actually walked directly past, I am usually on the other side of the road. He is there usually every few days, he probably has a few different locations that he sets up at. As I took this picture, I noticed a plant sale next to him! A man had a whole bunch of plants set up outside his truck. I crossed the road, and bought a cactus for 1000WON, or $1!

I pass about 10 parks on my walk to school. They have things for kids to play on, and also they have work out areas for adults. They have these things you stand on and twist, and a weight bench, and some other stuff. Here is one of the parks:

Here is a picture of a normal street of store fronts in Korea. You can't tell from the picture, but a lot of the signs are spinning and flashing. I don't know what any of the stores are, because obviously they are in Korean, but most of them are probably restaurants.
The last thing I see before I get to school is this store that sells fish out of tanks. I don't know who buys the fish, regular people or restaurants, but sometimes the fish are dead floating n there.
So that is my walk to work every day. You will have to wait to see my school, since that will be a whole blog just in itself! It's time to get ready for work now!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week One in Korea!

Well Yesterday was my one week anniversary in Seoul! I spent most of the day in bed feeling my first Korean hangover from the night before! (Somehow a kitty got in my apartment on Saturday night when I was out.... Meow!) On Friday I didn't have to go to work until 12:45, which was awesome. I didn't have to wake up early, and I still got to talk to people from home since it was night time in America! After work on Friday, we went to Pizza after work. Apparently that is a Friday tradition for SLP employees! I got a potato and bacon pizza that was delicious, and I have been eating it all weekend! People said they weren't going out on Friday night, since Saturday morning we were supposed to travel to another city for the day to check out a park and China town. After pizza, I went to the dollar store (again, I've been there about 20 times in one week!) to buy more hangers, and I also bought some hooks to hang the calendar Katie made for me, and I bought a few other things. On my walk home, I saw this man selling these beautiful Orchids from the back on his truck, and they were only 2500 WON, so I bought one! It is white and purple/pink, and very beautiful! After I bought it, I had to go back to the dollar store to buy a pot to put it in. I had sooo much stuff in my hands, and had a hard time walking home without dropping anything.
When I got in my apartment, I hung up the rest of my clothes, and realized I didn't have my rain coat. I wore it on Wednesday because it looked like it was going to rain, and Wednesday night was the night we went to Happiness, where I ate the Fire Rice and Pork. I took my phrase book, looked up 'lost' 'raincoat' and 'gray' and I walked into the restaurant. I said my three words, and they looked impressed that I was speaking Korean, (even though I'm sure I was butchering it and not even using a sentence) and they laughed and handed me my coat that was hanging on the hook!!! I was soo happy to get my Rain Slick back, since I would be pissed when it started to rain and I didn't have it! I said Camsamida (thank you) and left.
When I got into the elevator I saw Tara, who I work with, coming out of the elevator ready to go out, and she asked if I wanted to come. Of course I did, so I went upstairs and got dressed and met her back at her apartment. Another awesome thing about Korea, is that you can drink anywhere you want! I brought one of the beers from my fridge that I didn't get around to drinking all week, and Tara stopped at Family Mart to buy a beer for the trip over. We took a cab(while drinking) to another city about 15 minutes away and met this girl, Jenn, who knows someone else who we work with at SLP. She works at a public school and is the only foreigner at her school, she seems to be unofficially a member of the SLP family. We went to many bars, I can't even remember what they were called, but we were drinking this beer called Cafri, it is like Corona but doesn't come with a lime. We were at one of the many bars, and something absolutely unbelievable happened. An American boy at the bar was talking to me, and he asked where I was from, and I said NH, and he said he was from NH too! Not only was he from NH, but he was from Claremont! The town next to mine!!!! I couldn't believe that on my first night out in Korea, when I was on the other side of the planet, I ran into someone who is from the town next to mine! He ended up knowing this kid Chris Picard, who is the brother of someone who I hung out with when I was in high school. I was absolutely amazed that we knew someone in common, and that we happened to meet on the other side of the world. I didn't get to talk to him much because we were on our way out, but maybe I'll run into him again! Crazy!
The bars in Korea don't close I don't think, so we ended up being out until about 5:30am. It was a great night, and I had tons of fun! One thing that I didn't like, was that you can smoke in the bars, so my clothes STINK! I don't want to have to wash my jeans every time I go to the bar, and I also don't want to stink, so I got some fabreeze at the dollar store but that doesn't seem to work.
On Saturday morning I woke up, and I was hung over and my feet were KILLING me from walking around in heels all night, so I knew I couldn't make it to Chinatown. I went downstairs to where the girls were meeting, and as I walked toward them in my Loafing gear, they could tell I wasn't going to make it! I went back to bed until about 1:00, and woke up and went to Homever to buy something to drink. I also bought a new pillow, and a phone. I have a phone card, but I didn't have a phone in my room. Now I have a phone card, and I have a phone, but I don't have a phone line hooked up in my apartment, So I will have to talk to Danny on Monday about that. He will probably tell me I have to wait for my Alien card!
On Saturday I also cleaned my apartment. I turned my empty suite cases into a nightstand, which looks kind of shafty, but it will work. I also used my new swifter to clean my floor. My apartment is looking good!
Last night for dinner I went back to the place where I left my raincoat. I ordered Beep n' Bop, which is rice, a semi-spicy red sauce, some vegetables, and a fried egg. I got it to go, which took a little bit to try and explain, even though I knew the words for "to take away," but I guess I wasn't saying it right! I spooned out most of the red sauce, since they put it on top of the plain rice, and don't mix it in. I spooned out as much as possible, and it wasn't too spicy.
The girls are camping out across the street again, although the seem to be screaming a little less today than last week. They camped out again last night. I wonder if they still camp out as it starts getting cold.....
So in my first week I have set up my tiny apartment and tried to make it as homey as possible! I also have found food that I can stand to eat, and some that I know never to order again! I have met some nice people that I think I will enjoy hanging out with. I am loving Seoul so far, and I wish you all could be here and see it for yourselves!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Medical Exam

Wednesday I went to my medical exam with one of my bosses, Mr Kim, who I found out goes by his first name, Danny. I met him at the school and we took a cab. It was in a hospital, and he filled out all my papers for me since they were all in Korean. First I had my chest X-ray, and they hurried me into a corner with a curtain and I had to take off my shirt and put on this robe thing, and then go into another room and hug this box while they took an X-ray of my chest. Then I had to put my clothes on, and Danny came over and they gave him my sheet and told me what floor to go to next. When I got to the next room the hurried me to take off my shoes and step on a scale that checked my height too, and they did my blood pressure, checked my eyes and ears, and checked to see if I was color blind. I’m not sure why they checked that, if I was color blind would they not let me stay in the country? Lastly they measured my bra size; again I have no idea why they do this… The woman asked my phone number, so I had to go get Danny who was just right in the waiting room, holding my purse. He got my next room and led me to where I had to give a blood and urine sample. The cup was a cardboard cup that you would drink coffee out of, but a little smaller. She handed it to me and pointed to the hallway where the bathroom was. The cup couldn’t have been very sterile; it was just in a pile in the office. I peed in the cup, and then had to walk through the waiting room carrying my pee through the waiting room, back into the office. Next she took a blood sample in a syringe, and I was a little nervous because on the table was one of those boxes that they put dirty needles, but it had blood all over it. She also didn’t wear gloves while she was doing this. She did wipe it with an alcohol pad before she started though. As soon as I was done I was whisked up to the dentist who looked in my mouth. I was nervous she might be surprised about what she saw in there, but she didn’t say anything about it! Then I was rushed into a room where they asked me about my shots, family history, and if I felt well today. After that, I was finished!!! The whole thing took maybe 30 minutes. Everyone was so efficient and I didn’t have to wait at any of the stations, it was like they were waiting for me when I got there! It was funny how Danny led me from floor to floor carrying my purse, which wasn’t a big deal since Asian men carry these bags that look like purses…

After the medical exam Danny took me to a traditional Korean lunch. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but we sat down and the brought over this little hotplate with a big pan on it, and the waitress put on this meat and mushrooms to be cooked, and walked away. Then they brought over about 10 side dishes. They included summer and winter Kimchi (winter Kimchi tastes like the ocean), something that tasted like egg whites, but it was actually beans, seaweed salad, a few different kinds of sauces, and some other stuff that I can’t remember. She also brought over a bowl of soup that was literally boiling when it came over, and a pot of rice for each of us. The soup was wicked hot (Temperature hot) but even after it cooled it was gross. It had squid and tofu in it. After the meat was cooked, Danny took a leaf of lettuce and put in some of the meat, and some of this red sauce, and wrapped it up and gave it to me to eat. It wasn’t spicy and was pretty good. After we were finished we got up, and the waitress came over and sat us down and told us we weren’t finished. She brought over these cups that she said was tea, and I was dreading it because I HATE tea and I would be forced to drink it, but it turned out to be some juice that Danny said was plum juice. It tasted a lot like apple cider. After a few sips we got up, Danny paid, and we took a cab back to school.
That night most of us were finished at 7, so we took the SLP bus home, and went to eat at a restaurant called Happiness. It is right next door to our building. It is more of a hole in the wall than a restaurant. There was only one table, and we were sitting at it. When you eat in Korea, the tables are set with a big cup of spoons and chopsticks and when you sit down you just grab your silverware. There is also a box of these little tissue/napkins that you use as a napkin, but they come in what looks like a tissue box and they are soooo small. Amanda asked if I wanted rice and pork or tofu soup, so I chose the rice and pork. This dish was so incredibly spicy!!! I could not believe how much it was burning my mouth. I was trying to not be a baby and just eat it, but my mouth was on fire! My nose was running, I was sweating, it was awful! It also came with some kind of broth, and I just ate that and a little bit of the rice that didn’t have sauce on it. I will never be ordering that again!!! While we were eating, I got a list of food from the people I work with that I may like that are not as spicy. I have a list of about 5 things that I should try, and I am excited to try them!
Yesterday at work one of the teachers threw up and had to go home sick, so I took over his class alone by myself. I wasn’t nearly as nervous because no one was watching me like the other two times I taught a class. I was lucky, because the lesson Adam had planned, was a lesson I already taught in one of the classes I’m going to be taking over, so I already had a lesson plan and had taught it, so I was feeling comfortable. The class had a few naughty students in it, but they weren’t too bad. When I started doing the lesson in the book, they all yelled together that they had already done that lesson! Luckily, right before I was leaving to teach, the teacher I sit next to in the office told me what she did at the end of that lesson because she had extra time. It was a “game” where the kids came up and finished the sentence: “I feel ________ because________________.” If they came up, I gave them a star (if they get a whole page of stars, they get $10 in SLP Bucks that they can use in the school store to buy pencils and backpacks and stuff). I had to take away two kids stars because they were being naughty. I would also go around and give stars to people who were paying attention, and not to the kids who were naughty. They take the stars pretty seriously. The I thought the class was over at 5:40, but it was actually over at 5:50, so I had them all ready to go and the bell never rang, so I just went through some flash cards with them until it was time to go. Overall it went alright. At lunch yesterday we went to this baguette shop, and I got a salad baguette which had lettuce, onion, banana, kiwi, apple and pineapple in it. It was pretty tasty.

I don’t think I have told you about garbage in Korea yet. It is a huge, messy pain in the ass! Firs of all you need to buy these special bags that I have only found at Family Mart. They are lime green, and the size of a bathroom garbage can, so that is what kind of trash I had to buy for my house! It is so small, and fills up so quickly! Then I have another cardboard box that has cardboard in it. That gets put in the lobby downstairs in a huge pile. In a separate bag goes the cans and bottles, and they are thrown loosely into these buckets that are outside the building and around the corner. That is where the green bags are put as well. You are not allowed to put food in the green bags, because that is supposed to go into the compost cans outside and around the corner. I do not do that because I didn’t know about it at first, and because I am afraid to open one of those nasty buckets!!! So technically you are supposed to have four buckets of trash in your apartment, but I only have three. Did I mention my apartment is the size of a shoe box? The garbage area takes up so much room, and looks so messy!!!

I walked home for the first time by myself from work last night! There are a few turns along the walk to and from school, and it isn’t like I can write down ‘take a left on 7th street, or take a right on Washington Street’ because all of the signs are in Korean. Also, I cant really tell the difference between any of the stores because they all look exactly alike, and I can’t read the names on the signs! I made little land marks in my head, and it worked! One of the landmarks is at a bus stop, and the reason I know I am walking the right way, it because at this bus stop there is this little building that comes to probably my chin, and there is always a man in there on a little stool polishing shoes. The building is the size of a toll booth, it is really small, but it’s also really short, and he can not stand up in it! I don’t know why they didn’t just make it a few inches taller so that he could stand in it…. But he is there every morning polishing shoes!
Here is my address:

#1005, Dongyang Tresbelle Sky Officetel,
1479-8, Gayang2-Dong,
Gangseo-Gu, Seoul, Korea

Monday, October 13, 2008

A word on the smells of Seoul

I forgot to mention what Seoul smells like. That was one thing my mom wanted me to comment on. Usually the smell is pretty normal. Sometimes it smells a little like gas fumes. For the most part it doesn't really have a certain smell. (Oh, except one of the classes that I am going to be taking over that kind of smells like baby wipes) But this morning, when I opened my window to check the temperature, it smelled like garlic and teriyaki sauce! someone must be cooking and getting ready for lunch! On the way to school yesterday morning, I saw a man at a cart on the side of the road rolling out pasta!

My fridge smelled gross when I moved in, but I found this thing that I THINK it an odor killer for the fridge. It was in the section with air fresheners and things for the closet and car and stuff, and it has a fridge on the front of it. That seems to be working a little, but I think it needs some more time in there!

Also when I moved in the washing machine door was shut, so it smelled mildewy in there. But I have just been laving the door open and it smells fine now. The cabinet on top of my dish drying rack smells a little. I'll have to find something to fix that!

So that is what Seoul smells like.....

Work at SLP

Good morning!!! It’s Tuesday morning at 5:30am, and I am wide awake! I haven’t been adjusting to the time zones very easily. When I’m supposed to be awake, I want to be sleeping. And when I’m supposed to be sleeping, I’m wide awake and it’s the middle of the night!!!

On Sunday, my first real day here, I woke up to some screaming girl fans across the street. They were out there until about 2pm, where I could see them waiting by where the cars pulled out, and every van that pulled out they would scream and chase it until they realized it wasn’t the famous person. FINALLY, whoever they were waiting for, pulled out, and I have never seen anything like it. These girls were sprinting after the van screaming their heads off! When the van had to stop at the red light, the girls attacked the can and were surrounding it. A Security man came and was ripping girls off the van and throwing them! It was insane. I think there were also cabs that girls were in that were waiting for the famous person to leave, because about 8 cabs pulled out right after the van. It was unbelievable. Then they all disappeared and it was quiet again!!!

So Sunday afternoon a coworker, Amanda, who I had been talking with before I came to Korea, took me shopping! We went to the dollar store first which was great! It isn’t actually a dollar store, because things cost 1000 won. So it was a 1000 won store. I got sooo many things there! A bath mat, garbage can, hangers(which I need to go back and get more), dish soap, a salt dish(which I will talk about later) a piggy bank, and tons of other stuff that I can’t even remember!
After the dollar store we dropped off my purchases and went to Homever, where I bought an iron, and the cutest tiny ironing board, a hair dryer and straightener, a drying rack for my clothes after the washing machine, and a mattress pad.

This is a gnome that I bought at the 1000 won store because I missed the gnome that Grandma Rose made and gave to me. It's not even CLOSE to the quality of my Grandma's gnome, but it will work as a replacement for the year!

This is an awesome tooth brush holder that I bought. It suctions to the mirror and my tooth brush clips into it. It has a little Asian man on it.

This is my bathmat that i bought at the dollar store.

These are the silly shower shoes I talked about before. They dont have a left or right shoe, so they always look like they are on the wrong foot!

See how tiny my ironing board is? My hair dryer is ALMOST as Barbie-ish as Katie's hair dryer, and it over heats just as quickly!

My piggy bank that is very Asianish.

My Tmoney card that I can use on the train, Sunway, bus, or in a cab!

My Rachael Ray salt dish!

We ate lunch at a real life Korean restaurant. My first Korean meal!!! It is called Kimbop, and it is sushi with cooked tuna. It came with soup, and some other stuff that I didn’t try. It was super cheap! It only cost $2.50!!! And in Korea you don’t tip, so it actually cost $2.50 (well technically it cost 2500 won).

After the shopping trip with Amanda I went food shopping alone. It was a lot harder than I imagined! I had no idea what most of the stuff in the store was! I bought soda, bottled water, pasta, rice, cookies, butter, salt, and the two major brands of beer in Korea so I can try them (I haven’t yet). I couldn’t find a salt shaker, so when I went back to the 1000 won store, I bought a salt jar! I feel just like Rachael Ray!!! That is how she uses salt, she doesn’t use a shaker. Also, so butter is delish and tastes like movie theater popcorn butter!!! That probably means it is very fake, but it is sooo good! Oh, I bought bread and bananas at the store too, and that’s what I’ve been eating for breakfast. A banana and bread and butter, which is my version of toast since I don’t have a toaster. One major problem I'm having so far, is that I don't think Koreans eat frozen vegetables, and anyone who knows me, knows I find it hard to live without peas in everything that I eat!!! Maybe I'll be able to find fresh peas and I will love them so much that I will never be able to go back to frozen peas!!! I will do some researching and let you know how I make out!!!

On my first morning of work I met some girls downstairs and we walked to school together at 8:50. We have an office on the 5th floor of an office building, and the school is on the 3rd and 4th floors. I have my own desk, 5B. I sit next to a boy named John, and I will be taking over two of Johns classes, and I sit across from a girl named Jessica. The people I work with are all very nice. Some are from Canada, one from NY, CA, VA, MD, and FL that I can remember. There are also two people from Newfoundland who have a very funny accent! I haven’t been able to talk with them much, but I can’t wait to hear their voices again!
When I first got to school I had to read some paperwork and talked with my two bosses. Then I watched a movie, and went to lunch with some girls from work. We walked to a restaurant and I had Kimbop again, which was just as delicious as the first time! Again, it was only 2500 won! What a deal. After lunch I observed two of John’s classes that I will be taking over. They are the only classes that I know I will be teaching. The kids are pretty young, about 7-9. The first class is MUCH better than the second class. In the second class, one of the naughty boys took out his penis and was playing with it while laughing. John called in one of the Korean “Desk Teachers” and a woman came in yelling in Korean and dragged him out of the room. I hope she yelled at him enough so he doesn’t do that when I am teaching!!!
I sat in on a few more classes until 7pm. One of the classes was the highest level, but they were still only 12, and they were talking about astronomy, and anatomy in English!!! When I was 12 I don’t think I could talk about those things, let alone in a second language! I was amazed how well they were doing! I noticed so many of the kids wear glasses! In one of the classes, 6 out of 8 of the kids were wearing glasses! Maybe it’s in the water, so it’s a good thing I don’t drink it!!!
At 7pm, after the last class that I watched, we had to run to catch the bus. It was the SLP bus that the kids ride home, but it stops right by our house so they allow us to take it home. When I got home from work I was sooo tired, and I made some microwaveable rice and went to sleep! I slept through most of the night, only waking up a few times. I did get up at about 5am this morning, but I don’t think I’ll be as tired today at work as I was last night!
This morning I was able to talk with my dad on the webcam, but neither of our microphones would work! I don’t know what the problem was, but I was able to give him a tour of my apartment anyway. He was finishing work and it was 5:30am here!
My alarm just went off, which means it is time to start getting ready for work!!! I miss everyone from back home!!!!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My first night/morning in Seoul!

I promised you an exciting blog, and here it is! I will start by saying that Korea is very colorful. When I was driving home from the airport through Seoul, there were so many neon blinking lights. I almost felt like I was in Vegas at first!!! EVERYTHING is in Korean. The only English words I saw on the way home were McDonalds and Outback Steakhouse. Under my apartment is a restaurant, and some other stores on the other side I think. My boss met me at the apartment and showed me all there is to know about it. It’s a little smaller than I imagined. They did leave my sheets and a comforter, which I first thought was ugly, until I realized it was reversible, and the other side isn’t so bad. The apartment was pretty dirty too. The bathroom was really gross. The shower has a glass door that was covered in scuminess. When I opened the fridge I was impressed that the school put in some OJ and water, until I looked on the shelf in the fridge, and saw a syringe.

I was freaked out, and knew I couldn’t eat or drink until I cleaned everything. Luckily all of the dishes, pots, pans, and utensils were all brand new and still in the packages. These are some of the new things I found in my kitchen:

As I was walking out of my apartment, I saw a boy at the elevator waiting for it to go down. I said “Anyohasayo” (Hello in Korean) and I guess he wasn’t buying the Korean accent because he said hello back in English! I told him I just moved in and told him my name was Kelly. He said his name was something real Korean that I can’t remember, but then he said, “you can call my Tiger though.” I almost lost it when he told me his English name was Tiger! So we were in the elevator and I had a map in my hand, and I asked him which way to Homever, and he said he was on his way anyway. I haven’t really had the entire Homever experience yet, and I think that will require its own blog later on. So Tiger showed me where cleaning supplies were, he got some fish and juice, and we walked back home. I’m so glad to have a friend who is a real life Korean, and so soon!!!
After I got my cleaning tools, I started tackeling the fridge, and found out that the syringe was just a part to one of those teeth whitening kits, the one where you fill a tray with a syringe of gel and put the tray in your mouth like a mouth guard. I spend a good long time cleaning the fridge and the bathroom. I took a shower this morning, and the pressure is good and the water is hot. They left m these shower sandals that are really goofy looking, ill show a picture of them later.
So last night when I went to bed, there were mobs of girls across the street camping out. Tiger said they do this so that in the morning they can see someone famous walking into the radio station. (At first Tiger said production, but it sounded like prostitution, but we cleared it up…) This morning about every 30-40 minutes the girls would start screaming. I can’t tell if they saw someone, or if it was a false alarm, because it only lasts a few seconds. I hope this doesn’t go on every weekend!!!
I have a TV in my room, but all the stations are in Korean. I was up late last night, cleaning and stuff, and I found one station that was in English! It looked to be some kind of soap opera, and I was cleaning and stuff, just listening to it, and then when I sat down to watch some of it, I realized it was soft porn!!! You know, the kind with the really cheesy storyline. Right before I went to sleep I did see that Law and Order was on. A girl I work with told me that there are more stations, and she would give me a list of them. Thank god!
This morning I started unpacking a bit more. I need to buy hangers today, and until I do I’m just going to keep my shirts in my suitcases. Everything else I think I have found a home for! I don’t have a night stand which is a MUST for me, but I’m thinking about trying to find some kind of hard surface to rest on my empty suitcases which fit into each other. It is the perfect height, and it would work out great because I need to find a place to keep them anyway! My bed is hard, really hard. It is almost like one of those display beds they use at Penny’s, the ones where when you go to sit on them, you realize it’s not a bed at all, but a box shaped like a bed. That’s almost how my bed is. I’m going to try and find a mattress pad today. This is my bed:

Last night at about 12:00 I got hungry. I also needed to find a phone card. I knew there was a 24/7 little store, like a 7/11 type of thing, underneath my building. I bought two things, in case I didn't like one. One had a picture of rice with this sauce over it, I figured that can’t be tooo bad. On the back of the package it showed the rice being boiled and the sauce being poured over the rice. The next thing I bought was like an oodles of noodles, but it was refrigerated and the pack picture showed empty pouch into bowl, pour in boiling water.

First I had the oodles of noodles. I opened it up, and there were three pouches: a brick of something, one was powder, and the last was sesame seeds and chopped up seaweed. I boiled the water in my new kettle (bottled water of course...) and poured the water in. It turned into this fishy water with fake fish floating in it. Nasty. The noodles themselves weren't so bad, but they were SO slimy and I couldn’t pick them up with the metal chop sticks!!! So I threw that all away and decided to just have the rice, and if I didn’t like the sauce I would just eat plain rice. I put on the boiling water, looked in the box, and it only had the sauce, you have to buy the rice separate. So that wasn’t going to work...... It's a good thing I packed pretzels and peanuts for the plane!!! I have a feeling things like that are going to annoy me the most. I can’t just go to the store and buy something, because A. I don’t really know what it is, and B. if there is no picture, I don’t know how to make it!!! And everything is written in characters, so it’s not like I can even use babble fish to look it up if I was desperate! Last night I got a Coke from a machine. The can was tiny, like a Red Bull can. It costs 700 Won, which is about 70 cents. I did see a half of a two liter bottle(It wasn’t just a one liter, it was tall like a two liter, but skinnier!) for 490 Won I think in Homever. So that is only about 49 cents I’m going to do some major shopping today, and hopefully with the help of the other teachers from my school, I can figure out what to eat!

I love you and miss you all. Patrick and Derek are going on the scavenger Hunt I set up for them in Portsmouth, and I’m really sad that I’ll be missing it. I miss just being able to pick up the phone and call someone, even though I didn’t do it often. Just knowing I can’t do it drives me nuts! I especially go crazy when I see someone talking on their cell phone and I don’t have my cell phone. “I AM NOTHING WITHOUT MY CELL PHONE!!!” That is a famous quote from me, hysterically crying in the back seat of my car after I lost my cell phone at a party Freshman year. Mr Kim, my boss, who is a Quiet Talker, said I can get a cell phone and bank account and wireless internet in about 20 days, after I have my alien card. He is taking me on Wednesday to have my medical exam. I THINK that is what he said, but his English wasn’t great, and he was talking soooo quiet I could barely understand anything he said!
OK, it is time for me to get ready to go out on a tour of the city with a girl from work. Expect another blog soon!!!

Getting To Seoul!

Well well well, what a journey it has been to get here… First, we nearly ran out of as on the way to the Hartford airport. Then in Hartford, I got on the plane that was supposed to be going to Chicago, and there was a problem with one of the engines, so after waiting around for awhile, they took us off the plane and told us to see a customer service desk to rebook the flight. I waited in line for about an hour and a half, where a woman first told me I would have to wait until the following morning to fly out. I told her I needed to be in Korea for work, and she would have to work something out. She was able to squeeze me on the next flight to Chicago, and when I got on the plane, I realized I was in first class!!! It was well worth the waiting in line! I felt like a rock star in first class, all the Bloody Mary’s I could drink in two hours! It was very obvious who booked the first class, and who was bumped up to first class because of the other flight being canceled. The people who were bumped up were looking around in amazement ad checking out all the gadgets in our seats. There was a fold out desk, a telephone, a little drink holder, and of course so much leg room!!! Oh, and besides the drinks being free, they came in real glass instead of plastic! I would never have paid extra for these silly luxuries on a two hour trip, but it was nicer than being stuck in economy!
So when I got to Chicago, I realized I missed the flight to San Francisco by about an hour(even though I knew I would, but the customer service woman promised me I would make it). So I was booked on a flight leaving Chicago but that stopped in Tokyo! That would have been just as good, except that the service hired to pick me up from the airport thought I was coming in from San Francisco at 5:40, and the flight from Tokyo got in at 7:55. I asked a few different United desk staff if they had the code to make an international call out of the airport, and they all told me to go to customer service. So after standing in line for EVER, I finally got to the counter and they told me to stand aside while they waited to get a call back with the code. I had like 3 different people trying to call my recruiters cell phone, but the country code didn’t work, and there were all sorts of problems. It was about 18 minutes until I was supposed to board the plane to Tokyo, and I finally found someone who could get it to work for me. I was nervous that Clara might be sleeping, since it was about 1:00AM in Korea, but luckily I got a hold of her and she said she would make sure someone was there to pick me up.
On the plane I was sitting next to a very nice man from Washington DC who was going to Singapore on government business. He has lived in Seoul a while ago, so he was telling me all about it. The served us lunch, which was chicken teriyaki and noodles and carrots. Later on they came around with oodles of noodles, which were kind of crunchy because the water wasn’t really hot enough. There were also croutons in it, which turned into just soggy pieces of bread. I thought that was strange… About 6 hours later they fed us lasagna and yogurt. I was hoping for some Korean food, but I guess I have a whole year to eat like a Korean! I didn’t sleep very well on the plane, even after taking sleeping pills. On the 12 hour and 45 minute trip I probably slept about 2 hours on and off. One thing that really surprised me, was I kept opening up the window (I was in a window seat) and it was always sunny. I guess the way the were flying, we were following the sun, because it never turned to dark!
After landing in Tokyo, I had to buy batteries for my camera because I realized the ones I had in there were dead. Since I was in Tokyo, when I paid with US money, I got Yen back! I guess I’ll have to go back so I can spend it! Oh yea, speaking of money, when I got to the Chicago airport I converted $180 into 208,000 Won. Now I have a stack of WON bills about 3 inches!
The plane ride from Tokyo to Seoul was only 2 hours and 8 minutes. I sat next to an Asian man who didn’t say one word, even after I said Hello to him. On the flight they fed us a half of a “something” sandwich. The girl said the name but I didn’t catch it. I’m still not really sure of the ingredients, but I think it went like this: white bread, cheese, ham, a piece of wheat bread, scrambled eggs, wasabi, and another piece of white bread. It was served cold like a turkey sandwich would be. Maybe it wasn’t scrambled eggs, but I don’t know what else it could have been. The sandwich was interesting, a little spicy, maybe they are trying to prepare me for what is to come!
Oh, another thing about the Tokyo airport, I went to the bathroom, and there were three different kinds to choose from. The first was a picture of a regular toilet. The second was a picture of a butt with water spraying at it, and the last was a line with a little hill on it. I chose the regular toilet, only because it was also a changing room, and I had soo much luggage I wouldn’t have fit in the other rooms. I’m very curious as to what the line with the hill was, next time I’ll look in there when I don’t have 15 bags with me! It’s probably one of those squatting toilets which I can’t wait to see!
So after landing in Seoul, I flew through customs, and when I passed security, this is what I saw:

If you can't read the bottom, it says "Kelly Campbell Welcome to Korea!" The boy standing in front of the sign wasn't the one who drove me home, some old man came and took my stuff. I was very happy when he called Clara on the way to my apartment and let me talk to her(Since Aunt Rose has been scaring me about getting picked up from an airport and sold into prostitution for days now... hahaha) I knew he was legit after I talked to Clara from his cell phone.

I have sooo much to tell everyone since I've been in Korea(even though it's only been a few hours), but I am much too tired to write it all now. Here is a little preview... I met a new friend in my apartment building named Tiger, I found a syringe in my refrigerator, I have been watching lots of soft porn, and there are 13 year old girls camped out in front of my apartment! And of course I have pictures of my apartment! I will write about all of that fun stuff tomorrow! I promised you all interesting blogs, and my next one will be great I promise!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My last night in America!

When I go to bed tonight, it will be the last time I will sleep in the United States for a long long time! I know I said I was leaving today, but of course things don't go as planned... I had a FANTASTIC trip to Penn State to visit Katie for my birthday. I'm SO glad I got to spend it with her instead of already being in Korea. On Sunday, after a long night of drinking and an early morning of flying, the goodbye tour continued... I got to see the O'Connor family and Patrick one last time before I leave. Then Sunday night I had a little tuberculosis scare, but luckily I do not have it and I am fine. On Monday morning I had to drive to Boston to the Korean Consulate for an interview to get my Visa. I felt like I was in Korea as soon as I walked through the door! Everyone was speaking Korean, they were showing Korean television, and all of the signs were written in Korean! While I was waiting for my interview I met someone who is doing the same thing as me, and we exchanged email addresses so maybe when we are in Korea we can meet up and speak English! The interview went fine, they asked a few pointless questions, (Do you like kids? How did you decide to go to Korea? Do you speak any Korean? Have you had any problems traveling before? Are you an alcoholic?) and then they sent me off and told me to come back in two days. Today I'm going back to Boston to pick it up! I found out from my recruiter that I will be living in a building called Tesville Officetel (although one of the teachers called the building Tes belle Officetel, so I'm not really sure of the name of it.) and I will be living on the 10th floor. My plane ticket has been purchased by my school, and I will be flying out on Friday morning at 6AM from Hartford, CT. I will fly from Hartford to Chicago, then to San Fransisco, and then to Seoul. I will leave my house at 1AM to get to the airport by 3AM, and I won't land in Seoul until 5:40PM on Saturday(which is 6:40AM Saturday for everyone back home). I will be packing like a maniac for the next day, and making sure I have everything I will need.

The next blog I write will be from Korea!!!