Friday, January 25, 2008

Mexican Food

So far, the hardest thing about living in Korea has been the lack of diversity...of food options. Don't get me wrong. I like Korean food. There's a particular stew here that I crave all the time and will surely eat for the rest of my years, but I'm not used to having only one option.

When you think about it - most Americans (or at least the ones I've met) eat food from all over the world on a weekly basis. Even the least adventurous among us eat spaghetti, pizza, tacos, and burritos. Then there's Indian food, Chinese food, sushi, Polish food, Russian food (i.e. stroganoff). I could go on and on but I'm starting to drool.

What do I crave the most? MEXICAN FOOD!!! The stores in Ulsan don't stock anything resembling a tortilla. Last weekend I had a bona fide eureka moment - at Costco in Daegu. They had tortillas, salsa, and tortilla chips. Amen! We bought as much as Jason could carry. ;)

We went to Daegu with a bunch of folks (foreigners) that live near us. There was 13 of us...but we met someone's Korean friend in Daegu so it was a lucky number after all. 14 divided by 2 is 7 - so there! In addition to Costco, we also went to a small amusement park and made fools of ourselves on the bumper cars, stuffed ourselves at an all you can eat buffet/brewery, and slept in a Jjimjilbang. I'll fill you in on the Jjimjilbang's another time. I think it's best to let that anticipation build.

The calm before the waygook storm.

Real Plane - Fake Rocket
Christine and Melissa enjoyed the wildlife at the amusement park. These little devils went a whopping 2 miles and hour and you could ride them anywhere you wanted.

I love bumper cars!

I got the same score as this guy here. 11 pts. I guess that means I'm as strong as a teenage Korean boy. Jason got 13...I was so proud.

Mr. 14 - he complemented the group nicely.

Erin and Rebecca - new Canadian friends.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Teaching - Do I like it?

Hell, yeah! I know many of you will think I'm crazy now, but I can't help it. I'm having a lot of fun. And yes, I know I've only been doing it for two months, and I have plenty of time to become jaded...but so far so good. I'm not sure if it makes it harder or easier that many of my classes don't understand me - but everyone shows up everyday so I think that's a good sign.

Just to give you an idea of what my day is like...I teach lots of classes at different levels from phonics to basic phrases to conversation. The phonics level classes I teach are mainly done with pictured flash cards. The kids are mostly kindergarteners and first graders.

me: (hold up a picture of an ostrich) OST - RICH.

kids: OSTRICH!!!

me: (hold up a picture of a panda) PAN - DA.

kids: PANDA!!!

If they weren't so cute and little I think my headaches would be worse. ;)

The conversation classes are fun since I can interact with the kids and some of them even get my jokes. We're discussing a Beyonce and Shakira song in one them - I'm learning more about American pop music in Korea than I ever did in the U.S.

A big plus is that I get to play a lot of games during the day. I'm getting to be a pro at Uno and Scrabble. I think some Go Fish and Old Maid cards would be a hit. Maybe I'll look for some to buy on the internet. (hint-hint)

I've also been able to use some of the strategies I remember my sister Jaime talking about. She collected a bunch of Dr. Seuss books when she first became a teacher. I'm having a class read Fox in Socks. I didn't realize how long his books were. We've been working on it for a month and we only finished the first page yesterday. Of course I only see the class once a week and I'm not using a book, just pages I printed off the internet but still...we have three more pages to go. I think this is going to be a year long project. They seem to like it though. If we make it through I'll probably spring for the real book as a congratulations.

All in all - I'm having a blast. The kids make me smile and laugh all the time. Of course they also make me want to wring their necks once in a while but that passes quickly. I also love the feeling I get when I see a kid learning something that I've taught them. In one class yesterday, every student get over a 90% on a vocabulary quiz. I was so proud of them. I know that's incredibly dorky but as I said at the beginning of this post - I just can't help it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ringing in the New Year

We went to the big city for the new year, literally. Seoul proper has 11 million people milling around its city streets and the greater Seoul area has a population of 23 million. I thought I would be intimidated by such a place, but I wasn't at all. This may be due in part to the fabulous tour guides we had. Nathan and Kat were gracious enough to show us around the city even though it had to have been the coldest weekend in a dozen years. I still get a chill when I think of Kat braving the whether in her cute mini skirt. She must be more Korean than American. :)

And to anyone out there who knows Nathan....he only got us lost once.

We went to a great Van Gough exhibit. I've never been to such a crowded museum, but after seeing some of the paintings I know why it was.

We hurried through the outdoor markets and only bought a pair of gloves for Jason and a sweater for Nathan. I was too cold to move my limbs much so I didn't get anything.

The Gyeongbok Palace was beautiful. I think it's the setting for a Korean soap opera type show that I've seen a few times. I always wish I could understand it because it seems so dramatic. I'm going to keep hoping for a english language made for TV movie. One that takes place during it's age of glory when the emperor and empress lived there.
Here's some info on the empress if you looking for something to read.

The cherry (or silkworm pupa) on top of the weekend was dancing the night away on New Year's Eve. We had sparklers, champagne, and really bad (but catchy) american pop music.
Although I missed the annual stay over at Carley and Stefan's place - I'm sure we did them proud with our skills. Nicole would be impressed with my Sir Mix-A-Lot moves.

May 2008 bring you all the love, laughter, and sleep you need.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Our Korean Christmas

I feel like I'm falling behind on my goal of keeping up with my blog and I've only just started. The solution I've come up with is to write less and post more pics.

On Christmas Day, Jason and I were able to watch our nieces and nephew open presents (Christmas Eve in Wyoming) by using skype and a webcam. It made the holiday seem more special that I was able to see their adorable faces.

Here's where we spent Christmas Day. It's a bamboo forest (more park than forest actually) in Ulsan.

A few days before Christmas, Jason and I went to a Tol party for Jared and Sarah's son, Luke. It's a first birthday party with more pomp and circumstance than I've ever seen for a one year old. The significance of this is that the infant mortality rate used to be extrememly high - so there was cause to celebrate when a child reached their first birthday. It's also when the child's future is predicted. Several items made of clay are placed on a table in front of the child. Whichever item the child chooses first determines his future.

Bow and arrow: the child will become a warrior
Spool of thread: the child will have a long life
Jujube: the child will have many descendants
Pencil: the child will become a successful scholar
Rice cake: the child will become rich
Paintbrush: the child will be an artist
Knife: the child will be a good cook

Luke choose the spool of here's to Luke having a long and happy life. Kom bei!