Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!!

It's almost Christmas, and I am missing my family and friends very much! As my Aunt mentioned, it will be the first Christmas that I have not spent with my whole family..... It is Christmas Eve in America right now, and I just realized I don't even know where my parents and Patrick are going to be today and for Christmas. I guess this year I wasn't included in the plans for obvious reasons! I will miss walking into the living room and seeing the magical arrangement of presents that Santa left, having to wait to wake up my mom and dad until I could see the cars in the driveway, and of course finding Patrick passed out with his pants down to his ankles on the shoe pile in front of the door tomorrow morning. I have so many awesome Christmas memories that I couldn't even begin to share, and being alone on Christmas for the first time in my life is VERY strange for me. Luckily, I have Snowflake, my favorite Christmas ornament since 1989, with me to keep my company!!! I will miss everyone, and I wish I could be there to spend Christmas with you! It is 3:15AM and Santa will be here soon so I must go to bed soon!!!! I love you all, and Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Work Hard Play Hard

I had a very very busy week, and a very fun weekend!!!

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

Peas Peas Peas!!!

I just wanted to write a quick blog saying that my life is now complete..... I have found frozen peas in Homever!!!!!! They were $4 for a tiny bag, but SO worth it!!!!! I will send a picture and go into more details about them later, but I'm sooo excited to finally have peas back in my life!!!!

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

Jello Shot Party and more Korean children

I'm sorry it's been awhile since I've written a new blog. I have a lot to share with all of you and it should be well worth the wait!

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.
I have been teaching the second half of morning preschool for a week now. I will be teaching it for the next 6 weeks because one of the Korean teachers is in the hospital. We have been practising the Christmas play all week and will continue to practice even more next week. The play is called the Golden Ax and it is Korean folktale. Some of the kids are good, others of them I can barely understand. The plays are on Christmas Eve. It is hard to believe that parents would send their children to school on Christmas Eve! Some of these kids have class until 8pm the night Santa comes to town! The few American teachers who are going home for Christmas have to leave Korea on Christmas Eve night, and they will get to America on Christmas Eve night because of the time difference.