Korea Livin'

this is a new chapter in my life...let's see where it takes me...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Post Thanksgiving, Belated Update -

I apologize for the late entry...it is already December! It snuck up on me really quick...time is going by really fast here in Suji.

My middle school students have been testing the last couple of weeks which means I have had the chance to take the back seat and coast for a little bit. I have only had 9 classes a week, my elementary levels. For another week, work will be consumed with pre-planning future lessons and anticipating the arrival of new books for our middle school students. This week we have been preparing for our parent/teacher conference. My goal is to get a video of the performance that the other native teachers (my co-workers) and myself put together for the parents. If you have seen the cheesy, yet entertaining movie called, "Bring It On," there is a cheer they do towards the first part of the movie that we used, but our own rendition. We had our first performance this morning, which we had to do twice, one for middle school parents and the second for the elementary school parents. I must say, our performance was a "hit!" The second time we did it, we received a loud applause before we were done...as we continued, they seemed impressed. Looking at the audience, I saw 100+ smiles. It felt good to stand up there, knowing it was a cheesy performance, yet to them, it was amazing. Next Wednesday, we will be doing it again, twice.

Also this week, my co-workers and I have been planning when we are going to have our Christmas dinner, complimentary of DYB. We are thinking of taking a train to a different city for a nice, upscale, formal dinner. We want to have it before Daniel, my team leader, leaves for Australia. He will be gone for Christmas so we want to make sure we get to celebrate with him. On Christmas morning, I have a couple plans...Joe, Trish, Em, and I are going to get together for "family" brunch. It will be potluck style as we always do. Then for the evening, I will be meeting up with my good friends from home, Joe and Steph for Christmas dinner. We are thinking of going to Namsam Tower for dinner...will have to check with them to confirm. If not, we may just enjoy each other's company at their home or mine; we shall see.

As of December 30th, I will be M.I.A for about 6-7 weeks. On this day, my school starts Winter Intensives. This means 12 hour days, possibly 6 days a week + lesson planning (about 2-6 extra hours). I may be teaching up to 9 classes a day (normal schedule is 6 a day). It will be exhausting but worth it. I believe a small raise is involved during this time...YAY! If you did your math right, you will notice it ends the end of February, just in time for Mom's visit. It will be fun to get out and go on fun adventures with her...it will be much needed after Intensives.

Oh, my reasoning for this post......to tell you about my Thanksgiving!!

I had three different Thanksgiving celebrations. On Thursday, because we had to work, we (co-workers and me) decided to go out to dinner. Our favorite placeis an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurant. They know us there...which means we usually visit them once a week. While eating, we went in a circle to share what we are thankful for. It was a nice way to end a long day. My next celebration was Saturday night with a couple friends, Em and Amy. A bar in Suwon called Big Chill is owned by a westerner and his Korean wife. They made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with Turkey, rolls, salad, stuffing, pies, etc. It was decorated with nice linens, candles, and the lights were dimmed. There were around 75 people there I think. I am not good at guessing but we'll go with it. Everyone there, for the most part, are teachers from the area. It was a good evening with the girls. My last Thanksgiving celebration was on Sunday with my "family." Potluck style as usual which consisted of me providing the desserts (Cheesecake and Pumpkin Pie) and drinks (wine, cider, and juice), Em brought mashed potatoes, Daniel prepared fruit and cheese platters, and because Joe and Trish have the amazing crockpot, they made our delicious roast! OH...and Jin Joo joined us as well. She is a middle school co-teacher and also lives in our building. She brought, what we would call, a Korean "pancake." It is made of spring onions (green onions), octopus, and shrimp that is dipped in a flour/water/sometimes egg mixture, then cooked on the stove in a pan. Joe, Trish, and Jin Joo played guitar while we visited. Afterwards, we went different ways. Em and I wanted to go for a walk to feel somewhat better about how much we ate...of which we found a HUGE outlet area close to home! Joe, Trish, and Daniel went to a JimJilBang, which is a Korean sauna. At a JimJilBang, it is open 24 hours. People can go there to sleep. Interesting...huh? The men's and women's showers  are separate but then the sauna room is for both. You wear baggy shirts and shorts apparently. I will have to try it at some point. Anyways...later in the evening we met up at Joe & Trish's for dessert, which I must say, the cheesecake was DELICIOUS (not as good as yours Gma Hornick)! It was a perfect way to end our Thanksgiving week. I will post pictures soon.

I think this about does it for an update, however, really quickly, I need to add that I am missing my family and friends at home. Thanksgiving week was my first moment of feeling a little homesick. Decorating my "Christmas tree" aka houseplant without having mom in the background decorating the house made me miss the little moments we don't think about too often. And not having dad's famous deviled eggs left a small sad face on my heart. Also, I thought about how I was missing the football games on t.v and bouncing from each house to see family. As crazy as the holiday season can be back home, I miss it. I will even admit, I miss Black Friday...although I ALWAYS had to work on this day, it was always a fun and memorable day.

Okay, NOW I am done with the update!

I love you and miss you,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tis the Season

To get the common cold....
Korean pharmacy at its finest!!
After battling with my co-workers for the last couple of weeks about going to the doctor, I finally gave in...KINDA! I went to the local pharmacy...as you can read, I STILL didn't go to the doctor...stubborn? Maybe. Does it sound just like mom and dad? MOST DEFINITELY! My friend, Keith, is in the Army and was going to get me some "American" drugs to help with my cold, but when they try to get cold medicine, they are asked a lot of questions...SO I decided to swallow my pride and head to the pharmacy today. When I walked in, they were immediately willing to help. A man that worked there got the attention of another worker that spoke English. She asked me what I needed and I tried to explain my symptoms. Looking at me a little confused, I pointed at my nose and throat. Then she asked, "Common cold?" After I nodded, she grabbed two things, some pills and little packets that looked like a powder you add to water. She explained to me that after I eat, I need to take two pills and one packet. I needed to do this three times a day. YIKES!!

When I ate lunch today, I grabbed my medicine goods...I took the two pills as instructed. But then I got to the packet of powder....and realized I did not ask her HOW I needed to consume it. What the heck do I do with it? Whelp...Jessie to the rescue...I walked down the hall to Jessie's classroom and asked, "Jessie, what do I do with this?!" She looked at it and said, "Oh no, you're still sick?" LOL She told me that I needed to put it all in my mouth and as it dissolves I need to drink warm water. Jessie got some warm water for me and said the taste was very bitter so I needed to do it fast. Immediately I was reminded of Nyquil tasting like black licorice...GROSS!! BUT...I did it!! Not a good taste...it's like eating chalk...but within a few hours, at least I was feeling more awake and normal. The medicine in Korea, that I know of so far, is AMAZING!! I have taken my second set of pills and powder and feeling okay at the moment. I think that this combination along with my Tylenol PM will help me sleep well tonight. Wish me luck!!

I will make sure to send an update after my Thanksgiving celebration this weekend.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Lazy Weekend

My weekend has been amazing! Saturday when I got off work, I was going to go into Suwon to see Amy but I was too exhausted...it was a good week, but a tiring week. Instead, I had dinner with co-workers then turned in early.

Sunday, I had lunch with Jessie, my elementary Korean co-teacher, at her house with her mom. Her mom's Korean home-cooking was delicious!! She was very honest when telling Jessie I am horrible with chopsticks! LOL Jessie told me her mom wanted to talk more but was nervous because she cannot communicate with me. I let Jessie know that I would LOVE for her to help translate because I want to ask millions of questions. It is a win-win-win situation. Jessie gets to practice her English, I get to hear Korean (and know what is being said), and her mom gets to hear more English and is able to ask me questions too...Jessie said next time she will do that. Her mom said I was welcome any time which means I did okay with Korean etiquette. Also, during lunch, I was asking how her mom cooked the food and we got on the conversation of a microwave for rice. Since I do not have one, Jessie's mom offered to let me use their extra one. Hesitantly, I accepted graciously...like I said, they are SO kind here, always trying to help. I can't wait to have a microwave!!

After lunch, Jessie took me to the place where she gets her hair cut. It is a 5 minute walk from her house. We enjoyed our conversation, getting to know each other on a friendship level, not just as co-workers. The lady that cut my hair did an AMAZING job. Not only did she cut it, she styled it, and gave me tips on how to treat my hair with humidity...she could tell my hair is not used to the weather here...what we call leave-in conditioner is called "lotion" here. She was SO nice...I will definitely go back!! AND it was only 10,000won!!! $10 for a cut and style, DEAL!! I looked at Jessie in amazement and she asked, "Is that too much?" I had to explain to her what haircuts cost all of us in the states...and then if you add color...sometimes $100 or more. Her jaw dropped and then she understood why I was so shocked at the price. I know I get an AMAZING deal in the states with my friend, Amy, but I don't think anyone can beat $10!

Jessie had church at 4pm so we parted ways after my hair cut. I went to Daiso (kind of like a Dollar Tree, only better) and bought some things for my apartment; picture frames, jewelry box, basket for my makeup, bowls that match my plates and coffee mugs, wine glass for the occasion that I have a glass with Em, and a few other things. I saw an ADORABLE little girl while I was shopping. She kept staring at me and then followed me around the store. When I made eye contact with her, she got a big smile on her face and said, "Hi!" When I said Hi back she said, "Nice to meet you." Her name is Sarah and I could tell she was eager to speak English but was nervous. Her mom greeted me as well however it was Korean. Then I saw a boy with two ladies, one looked like the mom and the other the grandmother. He kept looking at me so the women told him to say Hi. Apparently I am very interesting to kids. LOL They were very nice and spoke a little English. ANYWAYS...after I got home, I cleaned a little, and set up some of the things I bought. Oh, I also bought a cute dry erase board for my future grocery list and some candles (Mark was not excited to hear this but I reassured him they are no where near my curtains and that they will only be lit when I am in the room). The dinner I made was DELICIOUS!! I must say, eating a lot of Korean food has helped my cooking skills!! I enjoyed my dinner and a movie solo. It was nice and relaxing. Then I was SPOILED by getting to talk to Mom & Mark, then Dad & Denise. Still waiting to catch Sue on Skype.

Today is Monday...I talked to Matt, Juju & Carson this morning when I woke up which was an awesome way to start my "Sunday." I headed in to work to grab a couple of my books so I can lesson plan today and when I got there, everyone informed I had ANOTHER piece of mail. This time, it was from Bella!!! Yes, Bella is my cat for those of you that don't know or remember...LOL...my mom helped Bella sign the card with green food-coloring paw prints!! I can only imagine the trouble my mom had doing this. At least mom can torture her since I can't be there to do it!! It's with love though; that's the important part. Now I am in a cafe, just finished eating a half sandwich and drinking a delicious vanilla latte. I need to start lesson planning before I head to Lotte Mart (kind of like a Fred Meyer) so I can pick up a few groceries. I am hoping that I can go with Joe and Steph to Costco soon so I can buy some things in bulk (chicken, frozen veggies, fruit, etc).

That is all for now...below are some pictures that will illustrate my weekend for you!!


First haircut in Korea!!

Still working on the decor but it's a good start...

my hard earned money bought me this very comfy couch! the back rest folds down to make it a bed...will be perfect for mom's visit...and if friends need a place to sleep when they come over.

my delicious, korean inspired dinner i made!

While enjoying a vanilla latte and half sandwich in a cafe, I read my card...from Bella!! And she even "signed" it!! LOL The front of the card: "Not much going on here without you. Just keeping out of trouble...." Inside the card: "Hey you don't think the two are connected do you? Miss you!" PERFECT card!!! Wish I was home to torture Bella and make her mad...as much as she hates it, I know she misses it!!! =)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Korean Kids

Each day I am amazed by my kids. Not because they say the darndest things...well, that is one reason...but they continually challenge me, in a good way. When I am tired or my voice is hoarse and I am feeling sorry for myself, I can walk into a class, look at all of them, and immediately, I have a reality check.

My kids wake up between 6-7am every morning. They have Korean public school all day, then come to English private school in the evening. They study their vocabulary and grammar in between classes or breaks, and finally get home between 11pm-12am. When they get home, they study and do homework. By the time they are done, they are finally tucking in for the night around 2am just to repeat this the next day. 6 days a week they go to school. Their one day off is Sunday which they spend doing MORE homework, going to church, reading, or getting to be what we call a "normal" kid by going outside to play soccer or baseball in the park. Not ALL kids have this schedule, but a majority.

My elementary kids have the best spirits. I try my best to not have favorites...but it's inevitable that it happens. They are so full of life and excited to learn English. Middle school students are a little different. They are more challenging for me. There are some students that are awesome and like speaking English, but a lot of times, middle school students just want to speak Korean because it is comfortable for them and a lot of times they are there because their parents are making them. It is my job to keep them entertained while teaching them speaking and writing. This is my biggest challenge...which usually candy as a reward for speaking a lot in class, giving new ideas or using vocabulary, and NOT speaking Korean works wonders!! When the boys say, "MaLeah teacher, you look pretty today," they KNOW they are getting a piece of candy. Hey, if I have to bribe them to speak English, I'll do it!! LOL Now that I have been here for a month (at my school - Suji Campus), the kids have warmed up to me and I only have an issue occasionally. I am quickly learning the tricks to trick them into liking class!!

As much as I hope to teach them how valuable it is to know another language, especially English as it has become a common language, I also hope to learn from them. Sometimes, outside of class, I will ask them questions about how to say something in Korean. Taking interest in their world has helped build their trust. They love listening to me mess up my Korean, another way of entertainment. Our two worlds meeting is an amazing experience. They teach me their norm as I teach them mine and they are my constant reminder of how lucky we are in the states.  =)

He gave himself the English name, Kimchi! He is laughing because he just farted very loud!! And I called him out on it!! Kimchi's twin brother is also in the class. These boys are ALWAYS talking a lot in English, doing charades if I do not understand...always an interesting class!!

Elementary students on Movie Day 10/23/2011. I was in charge of the contest after the movie. There were 10 questions...each question, we brought 6 students on stage. They had 10 seconds to answer the question. If they got it right, they won a prize (DYB stationary)!! My voice was non-existent after this!!

Em's middle school students coming into my elementary class on Halloween. They knew if they said "Trick or Treat," we gave out candy. LOL

One of my elementary classes. After our classroom auction, we made Halloween masks. They are grades 3-4.

Mario reading what he wrote during an activity. After this, he said, "Why are you so beautiful today MaLeah tr.?" Of course I gave him a piece of candy after. They know how to butter me up...I'm a softy...

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Friends! New experiences!

Dinner with the Korean elementary teachers...celebrating the new foreign teachers (me, Joe, Trish, & Em), Daniel's bday, and the remodel of our school!!

Emily aka Em from England...becoming one of my favs...

Suji crew + one (Mike from Bundang, Daniel's bro)

Jessie teacher. My one and only elementary co-teacher...she's my "Go To" girl for help!

Bowling for Daniel's birthday. Suji campus vs. Bundang campus. Suji crew WON of course!

Korean tradition - while making a toast, a beer has to have a spoon in it (kinda like a microphone). Mike is making a toast at Daniel's bday dinner after bowling

Korean women are so helpful. They helped care for Chris and Kellie's son so the couple could enjoy their dinner.

Daniel's bday cake! 

Brian on the left works in Bundang, Daniel is the birthday boy in the purple shirt (also my team leader for my work at Suji branch), and Em. 

Boss Man! Rene interviewed me and helped get me hired at DYB. An awesome mentor.

Just the 5 of us for dinner. Suji branch co-workers are awesome! From the left: Tricia (Trish), Joe, Daniel (Papa Smurf), me, and Emily (Em). Our conversations are always interesting, never dull. At the end of the day, we're like fam.

biggest korean man ive seen! in Suwon 

Happy Halloween!! - Suji crew - Daniel

the things I do to entertain my kids...and myself! 

A Wednesday night with Bundang and Daechi crews. From left: Cathy, Joon, me, Mario
dressing up as a student for Halloween was a success!

A night on the town for Halloween in Seoul. More people to hang out with!

towards the end of the night...getting tired...

a look at some of the sites and my apartment

 Don't leave home without an umbrella...it's acid rain
 One of my closets located in the living room area.
 A drying rack/closet in my bedroom
 As you walk into my apartment, this closet is directly on the right...good place for shoes, books, cleaning supplies, bathroom supplies...
 looking into my apartment from the front entrance
 my bedroom - looking at it from the "hall"
 on the other side of that wall is the front door lol
 small and cozy. no room for mess
 I'm standing in the living area looking towards kitchen/laundry
 a night in Suwon...bright lights!
 the building with the logo/sign is my apartment building. i believe this stream leads to the Han River...haven't checked my geography yet.
 first grocery shopping trip was painful...carrying all this for a couple blocks is rough. next time i'll take the shopping cart my apartment building provides...love learning the hard way...
 grocery bill. oh the joys of growing up. my costco trip will be twice as much...yikes!
 this is looking into the courtyard from my front door. i live on the 5th floor.
 a beautiful sunset by my house. the walking path is amazing!! and there is another path on the other side of the river that begins on the other side of the bridge i was walking on.